Morning dawned just as the door slammed open, this time jolting Claire awake.
“Up wi’ ye, lass!” Brian barked, his fists knocking rapidly against the thick wood as he waited impatiently. “We dinna have much time, and I will get ye t’ Fort William. Willie, my son, has sent word that yer presence is required.”
He must have ridden hard to make the journey, and get word to his father, Claire thought, dimly. But she didn’t question it, only rose from her temporary dwelling to obey the commands set before her.
To give him his due, Brian didn’t drag Claire straight away, instead he brought her to the breakfast table and sat her down.
“Have a dram, and some bread and honey. I dinna want ye to starve afore we get there, aye?” He *was* joking, but behind his jest lay a very serious concern.
True, she hadn’t eaten a decent meal in a while. But she wasn’t likely to fall foul of death just yet.
Sighing, she took a large bite of the fresh bannocks placed in front of her. The warm dough coated her tongue and she closed her eyes as bliss rolled down her throat. From the other side of the table, a feminine cough brought her out of her revelry, causing her to look across the table.
“We’re all worrit, ye ken?” The girl spoke, her eyes wide as she viewed Claire with a sort of apprehensive wonder, “da doesna mean to be short wi’ ye. He kens well enough that yer hurting, that ye’ve been hurt. But we canna leave him, aye?” She explained, worry lacing her words, “he’s our brother. I’m sure ye understand. After all, I did hear yer prayers, and I’m sure father would be grateful fer them.”
Scrapping her chair away from the table, the older girl bowed and exited, her dress sweeping along the floor as she left, “enjoy the honey, Claire. Dinna deprive yerself, ye’ll need yer strength.”
The ride through the Scottish countryside was filled with tension.
Claire rode with Brian as she had done before. He had enough fillies in the stables to accommodate her, but she was a flight risk and he wasn’t about to chance her bolting on him. Not when Jamie’s life was at stake.
The high rise of the east wing tower came into view on the horizon as Claire sought refuge in her mind. Thinking back, she brought to the fore anything of the life she’d had before the garrison had claimed her. She could see her uncle as he collected clams from the beach, he eager eyes intent on locating the biggest and best for her. She remembered the feel of the sand on her feet, the small grains trapping between her toes as she wiggled them in the ocean.
“Claire,” Brian coaxed, his weight shifting as he dismounted and brought her with him, “ye need to come wi’ me now.”
She did as she was bid, opening her eyes as she watched a troop of army men trot towards them. Behind the first group was Jamie. Clad in irons, Randall had him to heel, his shoulder brushing against the horse’s flanks as he tried to keep up with the captain.
Steeling herself, Claire held her hands at her sides, the blood pulsing through them as she stepped forwards.
“I’m glad to see that you are a man of your word, Mr Fraser. Good work.” Randall praised, a dull mockery to his tone.
Claire nearly vomited at the sound of his voice, but she managed –just about– to keep it together as she dipped her chin forwards, looking only at the floor now. She couldn’t –wouldn’t– look *him* in the eyes. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. She wouldn’t give him the power.
Tinkling of metal kept her grounded as she imagined the soldiers removing poor Jamie’s bindings. She felt, rather than saw, the breeze as Brian pushed her towards the British. Her ankles almost buckled, but she focused on the feel of the damp long grass as it tickled her bare skin.
Anything to keep her from those dark thoughts. Anything to keep her here, on this hill.
“Claire!” Randall called, the pleasure at her re-capture chilling her to the bone, “five seconds and I take the boy back, you wouldn’t want that –would you?” He cautioned, the warning painfully clear.
Eyes still fixed to the ground, Claire began her steady walk back towards captivity, her legs wobbling as she made her way down the small hill.
Sensing Jamie’s close proximity, she stuck out her pinkie finger, brushing it gently alongside his as they crossed paths, ships passing in the bleak night. Warmth spread through her frozen digits as they met, the silent apology flowing from her to him as she pulled herself together and ended the contact.
Thick fingers gripped her as Randall’s guards attached the irons around her tiny wrists, any larger and they would have slipped clean off. But, unfortunately, they just weren’t big enough, and the solid metal hit her fragile skin, tearing it as the jagged material held her prisoner.
Shutting off everything else, Claire locked herself away. She heard nothing but the soft wisps of the breeze as she was marched, unceremoniously back towards Fort WIlliam, her feet barely touching the floor.
Darkness surrounded her, the inky blackness closing in as every inch of her ached. Her back, shredded as it was, protested as a stray boot came into contact with her much abused skin.
Feeling his wretched touch against her scalp, Claire shied away as the stray locks of her sopping hair were pushed away from her damp forehead.
“I thought of you, you know,” he taunted, his voice cruel and callous, “all the while I had him here. He wouldn’t talk, stupid boy. He wouldn’t give you up…oh, but I knew he’d seen you. I could tell. I saw the spark of recognition behind his eyes as I showed him your portrait.”
Claire baulked at the image, her heart going out to Jamie Fraser. A man she’d hardly even spoken to who had been willing to suffer on her behalf.
“I offered him the same out as you. Same words. Same offer…same response,” he sighed, his words filled with pleasure at the thought of his little game.
He liked to play.
He liked to win.
But he hadn’t with Claire, and he never would. She would rather die first. Even the most brutal death was better than –that.
“But now I don’t think you get the choice anymore,” he sneered.
Claire curled herself up into a smaller ball, her legs crossed and pulled under her chin in a fruitless attempt at hiding from her fate.
“…and when I do it,” he continued, horror and wretchedness dripping from his tongue, “I shall think of him. Trussed up here, at my mercy. And then once I’m done with you, Claire, I will go back for him.”
Scrunching her nose and squeezing her eyes closed, Claire tried to hold back the relentless agony as it tore through her, the manacles at her wrists chaffing as she twisted her arms across her bleeding knees.
“Leave him alone,” she choked, letting the gloom consume her once more, “you have me, leave him be…”
Murky dusk pulled at her vision as she tried to bury herself back into sleep, quietly begging for a reprieve.
“Claire,” the voice spoke, the tone of it wavering from one sound to another as she battled to remain unconscious.
“Claire, it’s time…”
The subtle change in pitch made her ears prick.
“Sassenach? It’s time, breakfast is done, please…come and eat today.”
She still hadn’t let him touch her, only his fingers against hers, but he was getting closer.
“J-Jamie?” She stuttered, her mouth dry as she squinted one eye open, daring not to hope.
“Aye, Claire, it’s me. Jamie.”
“No,” he cut in, eager to calm her frayed nerves.
Sitting upright, Claire stretched out her limbs, cracking a few bones in the process.
“But your father–”
“Doesna ken, Claire,” Jamie interrupted again, his cheeks pinking as she turned, pulling the sheets up to cover her chest as she look over at him timidly.
“What did you do, Jamie?”
“Do ye trust me, Claire?” He began, hope burning behind his eyes as he asked the question.
“Is he coming for me, Jamie?” Claire returned, her heart slamming against her ribcage, its jagged rhythm making her breath come in short sharp pants as her fingers gripped the thick blanket.
“Ye understand, mo chidhe, that he couldna be allowed to live, aye? I couldna let him…” wiping his hand across his lips, Jamie stood, his teeth clenched tight at the mere thought, “I *could not* let him take ye to his bed. To *force* ye to lay wi’ him. He told me, ken? What he would do. To me –to you– and he had to be stopped. For everyone’s sake.”
Claire nodded, her bright blue eyes wide at the implication of his words.
“Will they know it was you?”
“It’s been nigh on a month now, Claire. There has been reports, as always, word travels fast in the highlands –it has too– but no, I havena been implicated. And they think ye deid too.”
“Oh goodness,” she exhaled, her hand hovering over her heart as she tried to breath normally and failed. “But your father still doesn’t know?”
Seeing her distress, Jamie fell at her feet, forgetting his dislike of his touch in an instant as he laid his palms against her covered knees and shaking his head as he did so.
She didn’t even so much as flinch, for which he was grateful.
“Jamie, what will he say?”
“You leave that to me, aye? But I needed ye to ken that no matter what, ye willna be returning to that man. Ever.”
Claire raised her head, meeting him eye to eye as she took her first clean lungful of air in a while, untainted by the knowledge of Captain Randall and his merciless rampage.
“B-but…you *killed* him?”
“I set the tower alight as he lay in his bed, aye. I made sure he wasna likely to wake either –after I had ye in a safe place, of course.”
Taking his hands in hers, Claire brought his fingers to her lips and kissed them over and over. Slowly, the sorrow diminished, leaving only a great sense of awe and loyalty.
“You took a man’s life, though. For me. I’m n–”
“Nay!” he returned, raising his voice a little too high.
Claire jumped, but didn’t let go as Jamie righted himself, shaking off the rage at the dismissal of her own worth.
“Dinna ever say that again, sassenach. Do ye hear?”
Claire nodded, fresh tears falling as she slipped forwards into Jamie’s arms.
Wrapping himself around her, he let her sob openly against him, his shirt and chest soaking up the moisture as she cried.
“Ye are no’ nothing, Claire. Ye hear? Nay, mo Sorcha. You are *everything*.”
why is pumpkin an indoor cat? Is it because of the breed or any other reasons?
Fun fact: outdoor housecats are an invasive species!
The domesticated cat is not a native predator to many environments. The kinds of prey animals that we get in areas where cats don’t naturally occur in the wild aren’t used to being hunted by cats. And cats kill a LOT.
Outdoor cats, whether owned or stray, tend to engage in overhunting – they kill for fun, without even eating their prey. This can result in endangerment of surrounding species.
I know this may sound weird considering how common it is in some areas to keep cats as outdoor barn animals for pest control… but the reason they’re so GOOD at pest control is because they’re looking to hunt those pests for fun, not just to eat them.
Let loose in the wild, they do this to all sorts of species.
Not to mention, keeping a cat indoors is also for its own safety – it may know how to hunt, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can take care of itself in the wild. Temperatures up here frequently drop to below freezing, which makes the area a big icy deathtrap for kitties who get stuck outside or try to hide under the hoods of cars. To boot, stray cats can get VERY territorial. It’s not uncommon for strays to be brought into shelters missing ears, eyes, limbs… etcetera. Oftentimes, these are lost in brawls between cats. Other times, they’re lost to machinery or hazards in a human environment.
Pet cats should be indoor animals! Don’t raise ‘em and let ‘em run loose!
the moment before a scratch starts to bleed, kicking up dust at your heels, light catching the facets of a gemstone, using the nearest object as a bookmark, tugging a brush through tangled hair, hot water on sore muscles
crunching across frozen grass, lacing up boots, a stray drop of ink from a pen, the chill of peppermint on your tongue, steel against stone, wind biting at your face as you run, numbed fingertips tingling before a fire
the caress of satin against skin, rifling through papers, skipping stones in a stream, running fingers through fur, scrawling a note on you palm, tracing pictures in frosted glass, scrubbing the sleep out of your eyes
pulling off gloves, spreading butter on warm bread, missing a step in the darkness, peering through a spyglass,trudging through rain on a cobblestoned street, smothering a candle with your fingertips
pausing before knocking on a door, fresh snow shimmering at dawn, a thin fissure in a porcelain plate, the first bite of an apple, finding a coin on the pavement, eyes with a knowing glint
standing at the edge of a cliff, billowing curtains, plucking a fruit from the vine, counting the beats after a bolt of lightning, the shriek of metal on metal, fluttering wings, the pinprick of light at a tunnel's exit
The faint clicking of your boots echoed off the walls as you strode into the Med Bay. You had just gotten off your shift and decided to swing by to say hello to your boyfriend.
“Hey, Bones! I just came by to…”
Your train of thought suddenly escaped you, causing you to trail off as soon as you caught sight of Bones. His nose was red and eyes were glassy, he looked absolutely miserable.
“Leonard McCoy! Why the hell are you at work? You look like crap.” you said as you marched toward him.
“Gee thanks. That’s what every guy wants to hear his girlfriend say,” He said sarcastically with a mock thankful grin before a sneeze attack hit him. You stepped closer to him and put your hand on his arm, brow drawn down in concern.
“I’m serious, Leonard. You shouldn’t be at work right now.” By way of response, Bones shook his head while he recovered from another sneeze.
“I’m fine, (Y/N), it’s just a little sneeze. Not like it’ll kill me.” He explained before beginning to walk rather sluggishly toward a patient.
“Oh please,” You said in a stern voice while stopping him in his tracks, “You have more of a chance of getting someone else sick rather than helping them at the moment.”
You waited a moment for Bones to respond, but when he didn’t you rolled your eyes at the stubborn doctor, “Okay, I’ll make you a deal. You can stay until your next break, even though I know you’ll probably infect half the crew by then. But only if you promise to let me take care of you afterwards.”
“Oh really? You could have just said that in the first place, sweetheart. I wouldn’t have argued at all,” He replied with a suggestive smirk plastered on his mouth, his interest suddenly peaked by your offer.
“For god’s sake! I meant I’d watch after you while you’re sick!” You grumbled while you stormed out of the Med Bay, leaving Bones to just smirk after you before he dissolved in a new fit of sneezes.
“I knew you wouldn’t make it to your break,” You said with a cocky grin while you stood at the foot of Bones’ bed. You had come by his quarters a little early so you could be there when he got back only to find him propped up in his bed already.
“Thanks for that vote of confidence, (Y/N). It really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside,” He sassed at you, causing you to laugh and shake your head. Even though he had been getting on your nerves with how stubborn he was being about this, you couldn’t stay mad when your boyfriend sounded all congested.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry, I should tease the invalid. I’ll go get you some medicine and something to drink.” You apologized while walking off toward the food replicator. You quickly requested a glass of orange juice before pacing to the bathroom and rummaging around for some medicine. Just as you found some medicine you thought would work, the replicator signaled that it was finished. You grabbed the glass and instantly frowned when you saw the purple liquid.
“I think your replicator’s broken. It gave me…I don’t actually know what it is, but it smells awful. I did find the…” You were going to finish your sentence by saying you had found the medicine but you were suddenly cut off as you tripped over a stray pair of boots. The glass of mystery drink instantly tipped over as you lurched forward, completely soaking your shirt.
“Crap!” You shouted before looking to Bones who was trying not to laugh. You pointed an accusing finger at your boyfriend before tossing him the medicine, “You be quiet. Just take that while I go change.”
Not wanting to take too long, you started hurrying towards the door so you could go to your quarters for a new shirt.
“(Y/N)?,” Bones called, still trying not to laugh.
“Hmm?”, You turned to see him lean over and pick up a sweater that he than threw at you, “You can borrow that one if you want.”
You quickly took the shirt and shuffled off to the bathroom, hoping Bones hadn’t caught sight of the blush that crept its way across your cheeks. Once you finished changing, you came out of the bathroom to see that Bones hadn’t even touched the medicine you had given him.
“I thought I told you to take that.”
“Believe me, you really don’t want me to do that.”
A pout formed on your mouth at his words as you sunk down on the edge of the bed, “I suck at this.
Bones leaned forward so he could get a better view of your face, given that you had sat slightly turned away from him. One of his ever-present smirks adorned his features, “Yeah, you do. Remind me never to ask you to help in the Med Bay if we’re ever short staffed.”
Your head whipped around quickly so you could give your boyfriend an indignant glare before you turned it away from him just as quickly and moved to get off the bed. Before you could stand up, though, Bone reached out his arm, caught you around the waist, and pulled you back towards him.
“You didn’t let me finish. You’re a terrible nurse, but I’m glad you’re here anyway. If you weren’t I’d probably just die of boredom.”
The corners of your mouth twitched up in a grin. Though he was infuriating at times, Bones could still be quite sweet. Even if his complements still included sarcasm. You shifted to your side so you were facing Bones and nuzzled closer to him, laying your head on his shoulder and snaking your arm around his torso.
“I’m glad you won’t be dying of boredom,” You murmured.
The two of you lay in the bed like that for a while longer, your ear to Bones chest, listening to his heartbeat. After a few minutes, Bones realized that your breathing had become slow and even and after glancing down he saw that you were asleep. A smile formed on his lips as he leaned down, kissing your forehead.
bedroom is dark when Castiel approaches. He carefully eases the door open and
slips past it, leaving it ajar just enough to allow some light in, enough to
let him navigate the room without tripping over a stray boot. He finds Dean
dozing under the blankets, his steady breathing easily audible in the still
atmosphere, and Castiel’s gaze is helplessly drawn to the peaceful expression on
his face. He’s happy to see Dean resting, recovering from the nasty cold he’d
caught before Sam and Castiel left to pursue a possible job. It had taken a lot
of persuading, but eventually Dean had relented and agreed to stay home sick.
deposits his bags on the floor, making his best effort to minimize any
disturbances, but the sound seems to alert Dean to his presence. “Cas?” he asks
sleepily, stirring and seeking Castiel out.
Dean.” Castiel didn’t mean to wake him, but it’s a thrill to hear his voice all
the same. It inspires something fierce and content in Castiel’s chest that Dean
knows it’s him, that he stays languidly cocooned in the safety of their bed and
doesn’t leap to attention, assuming a threat.
Jungkook: Photography. Flannels. Early morning kisses followed by breakfast in bed. Star gazing. Confessions in the car while it’s raining. Late night gas station runs. Sketchbooks and paintings. Taking pictures and drawing you when you’re asleep. Timberland boots. Stray from the norm. Sings you songs on the guitar. Cabin in the woods trips. Vintage Polaroid cameras. Mason jars filled with wildflowers. Long car rides through the desert. Giving tattoos. Kisses your shoulders. A dog. Drive in movies. Adventures. Immaturity and innocence. “You are my world.”
Taehyung: Walks in the park. Food fights. Movie nights with popcorn. Bike rides. Ice cream shop dates. Sleeping until noon. Mickey ear headbands from Disneyland. “Boyfriend does my makeup” challenge. Board games with penalties. Deep conversations on the park swings. Bubblegum machines. Falling asleep on the couch with the TV still on. “White picket fence” married life with kids. Photo booth pictures wearing funky glasses from the dollar store. Surprise parties with confetti. Lollipops. Biting his nails. Kisses your cheeks. Plays the saxophone. Hot chocolate. Thrift stores and strange unique items. Anime. Does impressions. Strange conversations. “I’ll take care of you.”
Jimin: Amusement park dates. Holding each others hand on rides. Bats your nose with the sleeves of his sweater. Brings flowers to your doorstep, throws rocks at your window. Plays hard to get. Teases you with almost-kisses. Kisses on the forehead. Long, tight hugs. “No, I love you more.” Stares at you all the time. Walks on the beach. Random dancing. Rolling down the car windows and blasting the music, singing along. Earbuds always in. Lunch on the dance room floor. Shopping together. Always holding hands. Animals. Wearing his clothes. “I’ll give you anything, because you are my everything.”
Hoseok: Tickle fights. Social butterfly. Reading books together in bed. Little kisses in public. Lots of laughs. Pinches your cheeks to make a smile. Jumping on the bed and dancing to loud music. Bubble baths together. Sunflowers. Kisses on your fingers. Sipping lemonade in the pool. Sunlight through the blinds in the morning. Eating dinner on the roof with a city view. Walking around the city and interacting with people. A garden. “Just for fun.” Falling asleep on his shoulder on the bus. Long conversations in the corner of Starbucks. Promise rings. “I will love only you.”
Namjoon: Telling you stories in bed at night until you fall asleep. Red converse. Takes you to expensive restaurants. Wonders about anything and everything. Black clothes. Round glasses. Sexually playful. Calls you his baby girl. Kisses on the inner thigh. Plays with your hair. Late night Skype calls. Studying together. Recommends good books all the time. Writes you poetry. Small corner coffee shops. Writing and composing songs together. Singing them all the time. Writes down his thoughts and feelings. “You are my one true thing in life.”
Yoongi: Coffee in the morning. Kisses in the studio. Makes songs for you. Ear piercings. Black, white, and gray. Soft lips. Pale skin. Kisses in the rain. Shy compliments. Doesn’t let go in hugs. Lies with his head in your lap. Reluctant to make first moves. Insomnia. Hugging while sleeping. Watches the sunrise. Finds peace in lightning storms. Likes to watch the waves rise and fall. Making love in the shower. Plays the piano in the early morning. Gloomy skies. Blunt, but sincere. Kisses your eyelids. Screams into pillows. Takes pictures of you. “Don’t ever leave me.”
Seokjin: Anime marathons. Trying new restaurants every week. Pink. Feeding each other. Calls you his princess. Cooking together. Super Mario characters line his wall. Always cleaning up after you. Cute good morning texts. Loves compliments. Takes lots of selfies with you. Matching outfits. Playful hitting. Sharing ice cream sundaes. Steals the blanket away at night. Hums around the house. Notices the little things. Scared of rodents and bugs. Likes clear skies and warm weather. Picnics in the mountains. “You make me the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Another female reader perspective.. and it ended up long. I try to write a short drabble and it always ends up as a short story! QQ
You had been accompanying the Company of Dwarves for some time now. All the way since the Shire. It had been purely as a guide to help them through the wilderness, being an ‘expert’. You were a Dunedain ranger and the wilds were your home.
You had scoffed when they presented Bilbo with the lengthy contract, relieved they had not asked such folly of yourself. Gandalf had secured your place and all that was official of your service to Thorin Oakenshield was the small scrawled parchment denoting the meager sum of money that would be paid to you when you saw them safely through Mirkwood forest.
You would have just gone for the adventure but alas your worn leather boots had seen better days and your threadbare cloak was only for decoration at this point. But as the days wore on you found yourself caring less even about that and valuing the comradery above all. You had spent too many years alone, making more friends of animals than people. And..well, the Dwarves’ attitudes were quite infectious.
Nico’s lost in the soft brush of Will’s lips against his, his face flushed. Can it possibly be true that he’s actually found a piece of happiness? He pulls away and rests his head against the boathouse’s wall. Will smiles at him, one hand propped against the siding next to Nico’s shoulder. He trails the other along the side of Nico’s face, and Nico’s lips twitch into a not-quite-smile.
“Hey, Will. You gotta sec?”
Nico’s almost-smile turns into a frown as Will turns to see who’s calling him.
“Hey, Mitchell.” He turns back to Nico. “Gimme a sec. This won’t take a minute.”
Nico crosses his arms, leaning back on the wall. He kicks a stray pebble with his boot, and scowls as Will and Mitchell huddle together in a whispered conversation.
Of all the times for Will to get called away, does it have to be now? It was their first officially together kiss. He exhales sharply through his nose.
Now that he thinks about it, Will gets called away a lot. At campfire last night, before Will had worked up the nerve to tell Nico he wanted them to go out, he’d been drawn into similarly whispered conversations three times, all from people in different cabins.
Nico narrows his eyes as Will flips open his doctor’s bag and passes something to Mitchell, followed by what sounds like his usual professional lecture of some sort or other. Nico never listens to those. Mitchell’s cheeks turn pink as he nods, and then quickly ducks away.
It’s almost as if … no. Nico tries to squash the thought as Will turns back and approaches him. It’s not possible Will is dealing drugs to campers, is it?
Junkrat: complaining because a stray cat has chosen his seat as a lap and he has things to do. Some asshole: "Push it off then" Junkrat: ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)
junkrat, surrounded by stray animals, like a filthy australian snow white: ugh can you believe this shit *petting a cat behind its ears with one hand and rubbing a dogs belly with the other* ive got shit to do *trying to pet another stray cat with his boot* damn strays
A continuation of ‘For Love’ full fan-fic series over on Archive of Our Own. Thank you as ever to everyone who reads, likes and comments on my work. I am continually overwhelmed by the support and love shown by the Outlander Fandom. You guys are all awesome. xx
Jamie woke just after dawn. The embers of excitement that he had put to bed the night before were glowing hot and fierce in his heart and he all but leapt from the small bed. He hoped Murtagh had found a decent Fraser plaid for him to wear. If not Jamie had his stag brooch to try and smarten himself up a little and he crossed to the window to inspect it in the pale grey light of the early morning. It was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship but he wished he had taken more time over the polishing he had given it at Leoch. He set it on the broad window sill and stepped back with his hands on his hips looking at the large silver brooch and biting his lower lip, his fingers tapping his sides impatiently. If Murtagh could not find him the plaid he would have to present himself as he was but it would hardly do Claire justice to marry him in a grubby shirt and a tartan that was as dull as the worn leather on his boots. A stray thread caught his eye and he plucked it off, twirling it between his fingers. This was no life for a lady like Claire. He would have to do something about the way they were living now that they were to be wed. She was his responsibility or would be soon … How many hours before they had to be at the church? Too many but then at the same time not enough! Jamie was desperate to see Claire in the bonnie dress Ned had found and to take his vows with her and perhaps, if she was not too adverse to it, kiss her when the priest gave blessing to do so but at the same time he was absolutely terrified. What if she was disgusted by him? He had nothing to offer but the protection of his body and that was covered in scars and hardly a bonnie thing! What would he do if he looked into those beautiful golden eyes and saw fear or worse, hate. Fear he could assuage in time but hate … there was little to be done about hate except try to earn his way from it by loving her with all he had. The door swung open and Murtagh bustled in, his arms laden with food, a package wrapped in burlap and two mugs of ale in each hand. “Good, ye’re up.” “Aye.” Jamie took the drinks from him and put them on the table as Murtagh dumped the burlap on the bed and handed Jamie a plate of bread, cheese and meat. “Eat first then we’ll get ye sorted.” “I dinna think I can manage a bite. My guts are floppin’ like a fish out o’ water.” “I ken, but food will help settle ye stomach.” Murtagh offered Jamie a rare gentle smile that reached all the way to his eyes and tucked into his own portion. Jamie took a tentative bite and realised just how ravenous he was. Once they had eaten Murtagh picked up the sack and emptied its contents onto the bed. “Right ye’ll be wanting some o’ this no doubt…” Jamie peered over his shoulder and swallowed heavily. There was a clean, folded Fraser plaid, a dress shirt, it’s white linen bright against the homespun bedding, a comb for his hair, a razor, clean woollen stockings and a tub of polish for his boots. “Where did ye…” “Dinna fash about that. The shirt should fit ye fine and … Oh …” Murtagh fished around in his sporran and produced something that Jamie had not seen in a long time. “Da’s ring! I thought it lost! How did ye come by it?” “I stole it.” Murtagh shrugged and then grinned at the bafflement on Jamie’s face. “Dougal had it, he said as he meant to gi’ it to ye when ye werena afflicted wi’ a price on ye head. I dinna ken what logical thread he sees to the two things so I thought it best to just get it back to ye before it could be misplaced.” Jamie clapped a hand on his Godfather’s shoulder and hung his head, too overcome to speak. “Do ye need anything else?” Murtagh asked gruffly and Jamie shook his head “No mo charaid, ye ha’ given me everything I need and more.” “Mmmpphmm.” Murtagh grunted and jerked his head in the direction of the door. “I’ve asked for a tub o’ water and a bit o’ soap to be sent up to ye.” “Thank ye Murtagh, truly. Thank ye for everything.” Jamie folded the ring into his fist and stroked a finger down the plaid, already feeling more himself than he had in the months since his return to Scotland. Once the water arrived, Murtagh left to seek out beer and ensure Claire was being properly attended to. Jamie would have liked to have someone club his hair properly but he didn’t like to ask Murtagh and supposed that with her own wild curls, Claire might not mind too much if a few of his flew astray. He scrubbed his fingernails, elbows and knees almost raw to get the dirt of the road completely off and felt that he had done a decent enough job, though a couple of grass stains on his kneecaps had proven more stubborn than soap and water would allow for. Jamie glanced over his shoulder to ensure the door was properly shut and scooped a handful of suds into the golden mass of tight curls around his manhood, combing them through with his fingers before rinsing the soap out. He half wondered if he should neaten them a little but quickly dismissed the notion as daft and stepped out of the tub. The razor Murtagh had found had seen better days but his Godfather had clearly given it a quick sharpen for him and as the light of the morning filtered in through the window, Jamie shaved his face as neatly as he could. There was a knock at the door and after quickly wrapping himself in a blanket from the bed, Jamie bade the caller enter. “Ye managed well enough.” Murtagh said gruffly as Jamie frowned and ran his fingers up his throat, finding a few more rough patches that the razor had missed. “Thank ye but I need a mirror I canna…” Jamie spoke out of the side of his mouth as he craned his neck to try and catch a tell-tale gleam of red hair in the light. “Ye canna do anythin’ if ye slit ye throat, gi’ it here.” Murtagh took the razor from Jamie and deftly rinsed it in the tub water before pushing Jamie’s jaw up lightly and getting rid of the last of the stubble. “Thanks.” Jamie wiped his freshly shaved chin on the blanket and turned to his clothes. “I’ll do ye boots.” Murtagh sat down on the floor and proceeded to buff Jamie’s boots with the single-minded ferocity of a berserker. “Do ye mean to skelp the leather right off them?” Jamie teased, wrapping the kilt around his hips and securing it with his sword belt. Murtagh didn’t look up from his work but Jamie saw a small smile alight in the centre of his beard. Jamie eased the shirt over his head carefully, his hands only trembled a little which was better than he had expected as the time to leave edged nearer. As he collected his brooch from the window he noticed that the sun was peeping out from between the clouds and he hoped it would hold, it would be nice for Claire to have sunshine on her wedding day. “Right. How do I look?” He asked, turning to face his godfather, holding himself unnaturally upright and puffing his chest out slightly self-consciously. Murtagh cocked his head to the side and studied Jamie for a moment “Ye look verra fine, laddie. Verra fine indeed. Mistress Beauchamp will consider herself most fortunate to become Mrs James Fraser.” “Mrs Claire Fraser.” Jamie smiled shyly. It thrilled him to think of her as either but he understood feeling completely deprived of being ones old self, understood it more fully now that he once again stood in Fraser plaid and somewhat restored. He would not deny Claire her identity. “Aye, Mrs Claire Fraser.”” Murtagh nodded and stood up, handing Jamie his considerably smarter looking boots. “Come on then, one last dram as a free man!” Jamie grinned and ducked his head as he pulled them on. “If I’m to be a prisoner, I think I may be the most willing prisoner that ever lived.” Murtagh rolled his eyes but a small warmth filled his heart “I ken, laddie. I ken. Je Suis Prest, aye?” “Oh, aye!” Jamie beamed, love lightening his eyes to a sweet, soft blue and excitement adding just a little spring to his step as he lead the way.