Imagine if we had more of the Escape story... That would be lovely. It kind of ended on a cliffhanger... Pleaseandthanks.
Imagine if Claire went back to the 1940s, but instead of going back to Frank decided to stay in Scotland with her baby (staying in Inverness or buying a rundown Lallybroch). Flashfoward a couple of years later (less than 7), through Reverend Wakefield, Claire discovered that James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser’s innocence was proven by evidence provided by his wife, Claire Fraser.
Between one breath and another, he stood in my doorway (left open to encourage the light), his shadow falling over me long and alien.
“Sassenach,” he whispered.
“Jamie,” I breathed, looking at him. Without thought, I launched myself at him, his arms going around me by instinct.
“Oh thank God you’re here. You’re alive.”
He smelled unfamiliarly of filth hunger and fear, and yet his arms knew me and mine knew him, and when he kissed me, my body responded to him as it always had, lighting like dry kindling to his spark.
He murmured in Gaelic as he pushed me back into the cottage, kicking the door shut behind him, his mouth moving restlessly across my face, my neck, along the neckline of my gown. Sometimes it was my name, sometimes “Sassenach,” and sometimes it was prayers.
As far as I could tell, he never looked up from me, and yet he pushed me inexorably toward my small bed in the corner of the cottage, his hands rucking up my skirt, continuing to breathe prayers and curses into my hair.
(bias list? pffft, more like a lame appreciation post! wow, so um, i never really thought i’d reach this far with say’ri?? i remember back in october of last year, i decided merely on a whim to play an obscure character in the fire emblem franchise… especially since i felt like i couldn’t do any other muse justice at the time and the fact i’ve been wanting to be a part of the fandom back while i had been an observer as an oc whom some of you might know by the url of unladylikc.
true, now that i’ve been in it, i do recognize the fact that it is less than perfect, realistically speaking? but all the same, however, it will always hold a precious place in my heart for it is the first fandom i’ve ever really joined and where i met some of the most talented writers that i had the fortune of writing with.anyways,i had always been such an insecure little bean, that more often than not, i would question if i truly belonged here.
by now of course, i kinda know my doubts are unfounded and i want to thank everyone for sticking with me through thick and thin. like i have oftentimes been saying, say’ri is a difficult museto play, yet you all put up with that, despite my initial portrayal being a shaky one. well, before i start delving into a long winded speech, i think i’m just going to get on with addressing/mentioning cool folks beneath the cut… though do keep in mind i’m just going off by memory here for this list, so forgive me if i forget anyone. )
Imagine the conversation between Jamie and Ian right after they left Claire at the brothel in order to look for Young Ian in Voyager. Did Ian demand an explanation as to why she had returned? Thanks, and keep up the great work!
Ian glanced back as the door to the… house closed behind them. He was glad to be away from the place- it had made him uncomfortable from the first moment he’d stepped in- but it did hold…
“Claire,” he said, turning to look at Jamie now. That word was statement, question, exclamation, and censure in a single syllable.
“Aye, Claire,” Jamie said, quietly, answering them all.
Ian glanced at his brother-in-law. He hadn’t heard that name cross his lips in twenty years. Even when she’d been among them, Jamie had rarely called her by her name, preferring to call her “Sassenach” in affectionate teasing. To hear her given name on his tongue seemed to cement the strangeness of the situation.
Jenny had told him that Jamie had spoken of Claire to her only twice in the time since she’d died.
No, he corrected his own thoughts, not died. Gone.
He felt suddenly furious with his sister-in-law for having left them. For having left Jamie. How could she not know how much they would need her? How much he would.
Jamie, seeming to catch his friend’s thought, answered it. “No, it isna what you’re thinking. She did not leave me, I sent her away.”
“Sent-” Ian began, stunned. That didn’t track with anything he knew of Jamie or Claire- they had been mad for each other from the moment they had met, so far as Ian could tell. For Jamie to have sent her away would have been…
Jamie sighed and stopped. He glanced around, then pulled Ian into one of the small alcoves between buildings that pockmarked the city of Edinburgh. Jamie faced his best friend, his blue eyes looking directly into Ian’s hazel, and for the first time, he spoke of Culloden.
“I knew I was dead, Ian,” he said, and his voice rang with that bleak emptiness that it had held for so long after Tcharlach’s cause had been lost. “Every man standing on Drumossie moor that day knew that the Prince’s cause was lost, and every man knew we would die in droves, but I knew more than that. If I did not die on the moor- if I tried to run or even if I were to somehow survive the battle,” and here his eyes lit with a wry amusement, for this he had done, “still I knew that I would be dead. If not there, then at Tower Hill in London, upon the scaffold.”
Yes, Ian knew that. Had known it, even then, though he had not gone with Jamie to war. Not that time.
“I chose to die at swordpoint, standing for Scotland. But I couldna do it with Claire by my side. And she would have been too,” Jamie shook his head, and looked away from his friend to hide the tears that had sprung to his eyes. “She said that she would put on breeks and go to the field with me. Die beside me. The brave wee fool.” He shook his head at that. “But I couldna do it. I did not have the strength to do what must be done if it meant her death. So I sent her away.”
“But did you never look for her?” Ian asked, appalled. They had all believed her dead for twenty years and Jamie had…
“After Culloden? How?” Jamie sounded angry now. “In case you’ve forgotten, I lived in a cave.”
“I could have looked for her,” Ian objected. “Or Jenny. Or Jared. Or your uncle Alexander. Anyone could have done it.”
“And if she’d been alive and we’d found her, what then? What had she to return to? A fugitive husband? Starvation? The chance of being arrested as a traitor along with me? No. If she were by some miracle alive, she was safe.”
“But what about-”
“I did look for her once,” Jamie interrupted. “When… after I left Lallybroch.”
During his years as a prisoner and a slave, Ian knew he meant.
“I thought… maybe. But she wasna there, and I knew for certain then that she was dead. Or thought I did.”
He must have done. So many things would have been different in the last few years had he harboured even the smallest doubt that Claire still lived, Ian was sure.
“But now she’s back,” Ian said.
It was as though a fugitive sunbeam fell on his brother’s face then. He smiled, and his eyes lit with life again. “Aye. Now she’s back.”
Ian did hate to see that look go, but there was still one thing to ask. “And Laoghaire? Does she know?”
Jamie’s mouth compressed, and Ian knew that she did not.
“Come along,” Jamie said, not answering the question. “We must find your son.”
Imagine Claire gets pregnant in voyager after their night at the brothel
They were on the road again. Her arse was still getting used to the business of being in the saddle day after day, and she found she was looking forward to the ship to France… even if Jamie was going to be an utter mess. Perhaps this time, they’d find some way to care for him better. Things were quite different, after all.
She shifted for the thousandth time in her saddle and groaned when her stomach lurched a bit. She felt antsy and slightly ill. Had she eaten something bad? Claire glanced toward Jamie, wondering if he was feeling ill as well, but he was riding next to her, studying her with an intense sort of look that had her shifting in her saddle for an entirely different reason.
“What?” she huffed.
Jamie straightened and blinked as if only then realizing he’d been staring at her- or perhaps just realizing she’d noticed. “Hm?”
“Why are you bloody looking at me like that?”
He rubbed his knuckles against his lips, gaze flicking toward young Ian, who was riding a way ahead of them. Then he looked back to his wife and his lips twitched toward a crooked smile. “Yer hair seems… shinier, Sassenach.”
Claire rolled her eyes. “Yes, it’s turning grey. I didn’t need you to point it out.” Good lord, she was in a mood. Jamie had better just watch himself.
“Nay, Sassenach, it’s only- Hmph.” Now he was rubbing at his chin. Still staring at her, the bloody bastard.
“If you don’t spit it out, James Fraser, I’m going to shove you off your horse in about two seconds.”
“Aye, well- ye’re rather a bit rounder these days. It’s only, I was thinking-”
“Are you calling me bloody fat?!”
“Well no’ in a bad way!” He ducked his head and reached up to run a hand through his hair, looking only slightly guilty, that goofy smile still playing on his lips. “I like ye just fine when you’re soft and round. But that’s no’ what I’m about.” He gave a wave of his hand. “Now I ken yer cycles are likely no’ so regular anymore, but I am thinkin’ ye must be pregnant.”
Claire reined her horse in and Jamie halted with her, watching her as she sat atop the thing, staring at him, utterly dumbfounded. A moment longer of staring, then she promptly turned away and retched. “I bloody- hate you,” she muttered breathlessly, snatching the flask he was offering, and swished out her mouth.
Grinning even wider, Jamie swung down from his horse and walked over to pull Claire down from her own. He pulled her in close and kiss her hard on the mouth, hugging her tightly. “I love ye verra much, Sassenach. Dinna fash, we’re no’ so old yet, and France has the best doctors.”
She huffed at that. “It will have the best doctor, once I get there. And don’t you even think of letting some fool lay hands on me.”
“I would never-”
“Mhmm.” She glared up at him for a few breaths, then finally smiled just a little, a faint flush coloring her cheeks. “I don’t know how this happened, I-”
“Oh, ye ken well how it happened, mo nighean donn,” he teased. “As I said, we’re no’ so old yet. It’ll be all right, this time. This time we’ll go through it together, aye?”
Claire was biting her lip, clearly worried, but she gave a little nod. The only two pregnancies she’d had had ended in awful, hard labors- of course, Faith’s was a labor of miscarriage, but still. She was afraid, she couldn’t deny that. But to stay here with Jamie, to go through it with him… maybe it’d be okay after all. And now he’d have the chance to be a father that he’d missed before; because there was no way in hell she was leaving him ever again.
“Yes,” she sighed at least, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tightly. “Yes- it’ll… it’ll be alright.”
He leaned down to kiss her softly. “Come, Sassenach. Ye can ride wi’ me. I’ll soothe yer sore saddle arse.” He gave that fine round arse a gentle squeeze before leading her to his horse, pausing to grab the reins of hers, then swinging her up onto the animal’s shoulders before climbing up behind her. “Mmm. I’ve missed this,” he murmured in her ear as he slipped an arm around her waist and set off once more.
“Me too,” she breathed, settling back against him and closing her eyes. If she concentrated hard enough, she could believe it. Everything is going to be all right.
Imagine when Claire goes through the stones at the end of DIA, she doesn't go back to the 40's and gets frozen in them for 20 years and emerges still young and still pregnant, then is reunited with Jamie who has aged
There was no sense of time within the veil. There was no time within the veil. It was a blackness, a purgatory of lost souls, though most of them never had the chance to be free. They were all there, lurking about in the darkness, clawing and scraping and screaming out their misery. For Claire, it was at the same time just the blink of an eye and every. single. second. counted. When she woke, the air had changed, but there was no question as to where she was.
When, however, was another question entirely.
They didn’t trust her at Lallybroch. Witch, they whispered. They crossed themselves and made the signs against evil, not bothering to wait until she wasn’t looking. Jenny, dark hair streaked with grey now, eyes wrinkled at the corners and a new set of worrylines across her forehead. How long? she wondered. How long was I gone?
Jamie’s in Edinburgh, young Jamie (who was no longer quite so young) had told her. He’d given her some money and some food, then sent her on her way. Whatever it took to get her out of there as quickly as possible.
Edinburgh. Alive. Jamie was alive. And if Jenny was going grey- Had he found someone else? What if he’d married again, had a full family of his own? What if he didn’t want her anymore? The year was 1766. Claire had been lost for twenty years. Good God, anything could’ve happened. She clung to that knowledge that Jamie was alive, though
When she arrived in Edinburgh, Claire got herself a room and began her quiet inquiries. Jamie found her first, though. She was dining alone in her room the second night after she’d arrived when the knock had sounded at her door. She dropped the piece of bread from her hand and stood to walk to the door. Perhaps someone had heard something and came with news. She pulled the door open and choked out a soft breath.
“Jamie,” she whispered.
He gaped at her in confusion, and her own gaze wasn’t any less understanding. He had aged some, yes; a glitter of silver here and there amidst the auburn locks. But he was as strong and handsome as he ever had been. He looked so troubled, though.
“I’ve had… a letter,” he said at last. “From Jenny.”
He was trembling. Bloody hell. Claire reached out and gently took his hand to pull him inside. She closed the door behind him and took a deep breath, running a hand over her head, trying to figure out where to begin. Fear boiled in her guts. He didn’t want her. She could feel it. She was young still and he was older and he didn’t want to be a part of the witchcraft everyone accused her of.
“I don’t know what happened, Jamie.” Claire released Jamie’s hand and walked over to sit down on the bed, feeling vaguely ill. “I touched the stones, I got away. But I didn’t… go through.”She’d been having nightmares ever since she’d come out. The screams wouldn’t leave her mind. “I couldn’t really tell how much time was passing- or that it was passing at all. I don’t know how to explain it but I was stuck. It was like purgatory. And when I finally got out- twenty years had passed.”
Jamie stood there still, simply gazing at her. It was clear he didn’t know what to say, and she didn’t know what she could tell him to make any of it better. Christ, did he hate her now? What was he thinking? She hated that bloody empty mask, that skill of hiding his emotions that he had always had.
“What of the child?” he asked at last.
Claire’s eyes widened, then her face softened in understanding, and her hand went immediately to her stomach. She was still half-starved, and she still feared for the baby, but when she turned inward, she could feel that glowing life within her womb. The baby was strong. A traveler, like her, perhaps. “I’m… still pregnant,” she answered quietly. “Jamie, please-”
“Alive?” he asked breathlessly, taking a step toward her.
“Alive. I don’t- I can’t say how I know. I can just… I can feel him, I can feel his life. He’s strong, Jamie.”
She smiled a little and shrugged. “Well, we did call Faith a ‘he’ and we were wrong there. We won’t know until they’re born, of course.”
Jamie released a long, slow breath and finally moved forward to sink down next to his wife. There was a bit of space between them, but he angled himself toward her. He was nervous, unsure. Good lord, it was worse than their wedding night, and Claire still hadn’t a clue what to do. He was gazing at her intensely, drinking in the sight of her, and she was doing the same, trying to take note of every new wrinkle, of every little flash of silver. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath.
“Do you- not want me anymore, Jamie?” she whispered, voice wavering even soft as it was. Her eyes filled with tears and she dropped her gaze to her hands in her lap. “If you’ve found someone else-”
He made a noise of distress and reached out to catch her face between his hands, lifted it up, and pressed his lips to hers in a deep kiss. “There could never be anyone else, Sassenach. It’s always been you. I’ve prayed for yer safety, and the bairn’s all these years and I hadn’t thought-” He gripped her tightly and pressed their foreheads together. “If it’s as ye say- if the child is well wi’in yer womb… I’ll have the chance I thought I’d missed.”
Hot tears spilled down her cheeks, but Claire nodded a little against his forehead. Now she was terrified. If something happened to this baby? Then what? Would he wish to be rid of her for good? Slowly, she reached out, fingers running along his hand before taking it into her own very tentatively. Jamie squeezed her hand and wrapped his free arm around her shoulders, tugging her in against his chest, face buried in her hair.
A shuddering sob escaped her and she pressed in against him, clinging tightly to his hand. Jamie held onto her, though rubbing her arm, the damp heat of his own tears wetting her hair.
“Thank God ye’re safe, Sassenach,” he whispered brokenly into her hair. “Thank God ye’re back.”
Maybe things were going to be difficult, maybe life was going to be different, but it’d be all right. All that mattered was that they were together again. And together, they could get through anything.
Would love to see your take from Voyager when Claire goes off to visit Faith's grave but adding Jamie finding her there.
Jamie hesitated at the entrance to the graveyard. He twirled the stem of the flower between his fingers, watching his wife for a long moment. She was on the cold ground before the grave, skirts spread out all around her. Surely she must be cold, but- no, of course she wouldn’t care. She was speaking with her daughter. He should go, perhaps. Turn around and leave her alone with Faith, but this would be the only chance he’d get to visit his daughter himself. Who knew if, or when, they’d ever be back?
He wished Claire had told him she was coming. Perhaps they might have come together. Ah, but no, she hadn’t said anything for the same reason he hadn’t. Jamie took a deep breath, gathering his courage, and strode forward at last, moving quietly over the frost-covered ground, though it crunched softly beneath his boots, warning Claire of his arrival. Silently, he bent to lay the violets he held down over the grave, only to give pause at the sight of a pink tulip. He smiled a little, and glanced back at Claire, who watched him with watery eyes. Jamie nodded and set the flowers down, then took a step back to sink to the ground next to his wife.
She reached out for him immediately and he took her gloved hand between both of his own, rubbing it lightly as his eyes trailed over the scrawled engraving of their child’s name in the stone. They sat together in silence for a time, then Claire scooted closer to lean against him, her skin cold against his warmth. How long had she been there? Jamie wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight against him.
“Ye told her about her sister, then?” he asked softly. “She’d be glad to ken she’s a sister.”
“I told her,” Claire whispered, breath puffing out in front of her as she spoke. “I told her everything.”
“Oh, aye. Weel. I guess there’s no’ much else, but-” Jamie sighed and reached out to lay his hand upon the cold stone, closing his eyes for a moment. He was silent for a while, then he began to tremble with the effort of holding back the emotion that welled up within him. Claire must have noticed this, for she hugged him tightly and pressed her face into his neck. And it was a comfort, truly, it was. But it didn’t take away the guilt that he would live with forever. “I’m sorry, lass. I’m so sorry I f-failed to protect ye,” he cried softly.
He shook his head as his wife tried to comfort him. His hand fell away from the stone and she grasped it hard. Jamie turned his face into her hair as he cried softly, mourning the loss of one daughter and mourning the fact that he would never meet the other. Claire held tightly to him as he cried. When he’d finally fallen still and his breathing had evened out once more, they rose as one, said their silent goodbyes to Faith, and turned to leave the graveyard.
After all, she wasn’t there, anyway. It was in their hearts she lived now, and they would take her with them wherever they went.
Imagine if Claire had stayed after DiA, and Murtagh had survived the battle and Brianna had Murtagh as some combination of best friend/uncle/surrogate father (when Jamie was in prison).
A letter delivered by gypsies to Alex Mackenzie, known as Mac, a groom at Helwater in the South of England, to be kept in a secret place under his bed in the loft above the stables.
My Dearest Jamie,
I do pray that you are well, my love. I could write tomes about how much I miss you, but to do so would be a waste of time and paper, since I know that you miss me as much as I miss you. Suffice it to say that an hour never passes that I don’t think of you and wish you were here beside me.
I am pleased to tell you that things continue as well here at Lallybroch as ever. All of Jenny’s children are well. Young Ian has lost yet another tooth, giving him the appearance of a Hallowe’en jack-o-lantern (where I’m from they are carved from pumpkins rather than turnips, and frequently snaggle-toothed in aspect). This lack of dentition does not stop him eating nearly anything (and everything) that comes under his nose. The child will be nearly your height if he keeps up this way.
I spent last night serving as obstetrician (it means midwife) to a badger. Murtagh has been teaching Brianna and young Ian how to hide in the heather (only the most recent of such useful skills he spends his time trying to drill into their heads, you’ll remember that I wrote you about the knife-throwing lessons last month?). During some part of this instruction, they discovered the beastly creature and, seeing that she had a broken leg, contrived to wrap her in Murtagh’s plaid and bring her to me for healing. I don’t know enough about badgers myself to have realized that she was pregnant until she started giving birth. Murtagh and your daughter found my shock and horror rather funny.
The pair of them are, as you know, inseparable. Since you’ve been gone, they have become even closer. I caught Murtagh teaching her a wildly inappropriate Gaelic song the other day. I told him off about it, but I must admit that it was hard not to laugh, listening to your sweet Brianna singing about whores and… well, I don’t understand all of the words, and I hope that Bree doesn’t either.
It’s hard to get angry at them. I can see Murtagh’s eyes when he looks at her. He sees you.
He misses you.
So do I.
Brianna sends all her love, and so do I. Enough love to span the distance between us and back.
i know i would be absolutely crucified by the book's uber-fans for saying this, but can u rewrite the part in voyager where jamie tells claire about willie and geneva (and tells her everything about what happened, about how he was forced to consent, forced to do what he did 2 save his family AGAIN etc.) but with extra angst (and like a lot of extra angst) bc i always thought diana half-assed this part and missed a perfectly good opportunity for writing angst
“She had my letter.” His voice was quiet, eyes far away, lost to the memories of that time, of her. Claire felt a hatred bubble up in her chest, and she wanted to rant and rave and smash every delicate thing within sight. “My letter to Jenny. I wrote them often, slipped them out when I could. I couldna go wi’out news of them, Claire.”
She was silent, unable to speak, but she wanted to tell him he didn’t need to apologize for writing to his family. As if she would blame him for having a connection with them when she’d not been able to have one of her own with him all those years. Her chest ached and her face burned hot with anger and frustration, with hurt because someone else had given Jamie the chance that he’d missed out with her child, with the flesh and blood child from his marriage. She couldn’t stand it. Her heart felt as if it was going to explode from beating so wildly. It needed to escape, to flee, to be anywhere but here.
“I had no choice. She’d ha’ gone to her father wi’ it, and they might ha’ arrested Jenny or Ian, or- I didna ken what would happen, Claire. So I gave in. I told her, damned foolish girl- I told her when it should be, so she’d not get wi’ child.”
Claire felt sick. She got up and paced away, one hand on her forehead, then she suddenly spun and threw the shutters open to be sick out the window.
“Claire-?” He was right behind her. She hadn’t heard him move, but he was there, ready to support her, as always.
“Don’t-” she whispered. “Please don’t touch me yet. Keep- keep talking.”
He hesitated. Still facing away from him, Claire could hear the soft shuffle of a half step toward her, but then he stepped away, giving her space. “Aye, well- she didn’t survive long after childbirth. Her husband- he kent the bairn wasna his. He meant to throw Willie from the top of the stairs and I… I shot him. I shot him to save the boy, and the family- Geneva’s family- they covered it up.”
She gazed out at the darkness of the night, inhaling the salty sea air as she listened. When she said nothing still, Jamie went on.
“The boy grew. I didna see him much until the family began bringing him out for riding lessons. Aye, well, he was a braw lad and he took to me quickly.”
Hot tears ran down Claire’s cheeks.
“They- they spoiled him rotten. Let him have and do whatever he liked. But I didna let him do as he pleased. I had a hand in raising him for a time. A very small hand it may have been, but I tried to teach him what I could. A Dhia, Claire, ye’d have loved him. He’s a beautiful lad. Well- aye, ye saw the miniature, but…”
“She gave you what I could not.”
She felt his eyes on her suddenly, boring into the back of her head. He was taking steps toward her again.
“Claire- mo nighean donn, It wasna the same. I couldna even claim him! My own son!”
His son. Named- not purposely, but all the same- after his dead brother. Jealousy, hot and painful, seared through her ribs, and she clutched tightly at the window frame. She thought of Brianna and Frank. Frank, who had refused to allow Brianna to be anyone else’s daughter while he lived. Brianna growing up with Frank as her father, when she might have been here… when Jamie might have written letters, might have known her and come home to her. Brianna, who had a brother. The son Jamie had always wanted.
“And you feel guilty for her death?”
She turned to face him finally, and Jamie watched her warily. Suddenly, Claire’s hand came up and slapped him across the cheek hard enough that it stung her own palm. “Don’t you dare feel guilty for what she brought upon herself.”
Jamie opened his mouth to protest and she lifted her hand again as if to slap him a second time, but this time he caught her wrist. “She was a foolish child, Sassenach. She shouldna have been marrit to the man to begin wi’! She only wanted-”
“Stop it. Stop. Shut up!”
He did fall silent, then, aside from a soft sigh. Claire closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening them once more. She was still hurt, but there was more resignation in her gaze than anything.
“Congratulations. On your son.”
Jamie gave her wrist a gentle squeeze and brought her hand up so he could press a kiss to her palm. “It doesna mean Brianna is any less important to me. She is the most important child. She’s everything, mo nighean donn. Ye must believe that.”
She did, but she hadn’t the energy anymore necessary to truly convince him. So she gave a simple nod and released a sigh of her own. “I’m tired. It has been a long day, and- I want to go to bed.”
“Oh. Aye. I’ll help ye wi’ yer laces.” Before she could protest, he pulled her in and began to undress her, fingers light and professional as he removed each piece.
By the time she crawled into bed, she was ready to pass right out. But Jamie was hovering there at the end of it, still fully dressed and watching her, unsure. “Come to bed, Jamie,” she requested quietly.
He did. Claire curled up in his arms and lay her head over his heart, her eyes closed. She fell asleep knowing well that a piece of that heart would always belong to the boy with the catlike eyes and the viking facial structure. But the rest of it was hers. Hers, and Brianna’s. She draped herself over him and tipped her head up to drag her teeth along his collar bone. A bite and a hard suck at the muscle just below- and Claire had marked him.
“Mine,” she hissed.
“Aye. Yers, for all eternity, Sassenach. Sleep now.”
Her hold on him didn’t ease even after she had drifted off. Mine, she swore, even in her sleep.
They’d felt the baby move, on and off, healthy jabs to Claire’s ribs and organs and swiping a foot or a hand across the walls of her womb so that Jamie could watch with a sort of wonder as his child showed every sign of life and strength. But they were both nervous about the impending birth. What if something was wrong with the baby? What if something had happened there, in the veil of time? Perhaps a demon had entered Claire’s womb, or a faerie? Claire still woke screaming with nightmares of the place, clothes soaked with sweat and her whole body trembling. God only knew how the child might be affected.
Early on, they’d sailed to America to escape all that had happened in the Highlands. Jamie’s wife wasn’t welcome in most places, and everyone looked at them strangely. Shehaving appeared so suddenly out of nowhere, pregnant, of all things. People didn’t believe she was Jamie’s wife; and some thought she was his mistress, his whore. The looks and whispers had been far more unbearable than the murmurs of her being a witch had ever been.
But here, on Fraser’s Ridge, life was peaceful. Fergus was off traveling along the coast in search of new tenants who would come in the spring. For now, there were just the four of them. Claire, Jamie, Young Ian- who had sneaked aboard the ship after Jenny had outright refused to allow him to join his uncle and the witch-auntie, and Fergus’ wife Marsali. Ian and Marsali had grown used to Claire and had come to love and trust her in their months of traveling together. Seeing her struggle with her pregnancy had surely helped them to see her as little more than a woman, no matter what had happened in the past.
There was a storm raging outside at the present, but the cabin was warm and comfortable, shutters closed against the snow and a warm fire burning on the hearth. Claire had been experiencing a sense of disquiet all day, though. She’d paced back and forth, feeling faint contractions. The babe was coming. Jamie was terrified (though he certainly wasn’t the only one.) He kept leaving the cabin for one thing or another, Ian trailing along after him, only to return when the cold got to be too much. They didn’t want to be there when she was giving birth, Claire knew that, but there was little choice for it now. Marsali, of course, several months along in her own pregnancy, was there to help every step of the way.
Claire had taken to bed to rest for an hour or two, Jamie curled up against her with his hands spread over her shuddering stomach. When she woke, she knew it was time. Two more hours of pushing followed, in which Ian had gone off to the pantry to hide with Rollo. But Jamie was trapped inside, Claire’s hand grasping his hard enough to break bones, were he a weaker man.
At last, a broken wail filled the room, and Claire pushed herself up some, straining to see the baby. “How is he? Is he whole? Let me see him. I need to examine him!” she demanded. She needed to know that her baby was normal, healthy, that no complications had arisen due to their time in the void.
“Weel, ten fingers and ten toes, mo nighean donn. But I’m afraid he is missing something,” Jamie said, holding the baby in a blanket while Marsali tied off and cut the cord as Claire had taught her.
Claire felt her stomach drop; a look of fear pulled at her face, and she tried to push herself up, reaching for the baby. “What is it? What’s happened?”
Her husband was beaming, though, eyes alight with excitement and glittering with tears of joy. He looked toward her, finally shifting over so she could take the little bundle. “The babe’s missing the very vital part that makes him a man, Sassenach, seein’ as he’s a she, after all,” he assured her as he lay the writhing baby on her chest.
“Oh- oh! It’s a girl?” She laughed and looked down, eyes scanning the newborn before she leaned in to do a few quick checks of the baby’s vitals. Healthy. Strong lungs, surely, for the whole cabin seemed to be echoing with her cries. “Brianna,” Claire whispered. “Brianna Ellen.”
“Eh?” Jamie frowned. “What kind of name is that?”
She snorted and tilted her head back to gaze up at him for a moment. Then she looked back down at their daughter, watching as she took to her breast, quieting as she guzzled down her first meal. “You told me, when I’d gone through the stones, to name the child for your father. Seeing as he’s a she, Brianna will have to do, won’t it?”
Jamie snorted at that and bent to kiss the top of his wife’s head. “Aye. Aye, I suppose it is a beautiful name, after all. Brianna,”he echoed, elegantly rolling his tongue around the ‘r’. “She’s a sweet lass. And she’s well, Claire? Truly well?” He sat down on the edge of the bed, draped an arm around his wife, and brushed the thumb of his other hand over the baby’s cheek. Claire could tell that he was already in love.
“She’s well, Jamie. We’ve both made it through just fine.” She tilted her head up to kiss him, their lips lingering together for a moment. Then she lay her head on his shoulder. “I am very tired, though. You’ll take her when she’s finished eating?”
His eyes widened at the thought of having the baby all to himself, a hint of worry crossing his features. But then he nodded, beaming all over again when that little hand curled around his finger. “I’ll take her, then. And ye’ll need yer rest, mo nighean donn. Ye’ve done so well.” He kissed her head again. “Thank ye. Oh, thank ye for this blessing, Claire,” he added in a whisper.
She was already dozing against his shoulder, but she smiled softly and nodded. “Thank you for loving us. For bringing us back, when we were lost.”
His arm tightened around her, free hand supporting the baby as Claire’s hold sagged. But Brianna had begun to drift off as well, so he gently took her, wrapping her up tight against the chill, and moved to sit by the fire where he could better admire this beautiful baby girl- who looked just like him.
I always wondered what would have happened if jamie were able to go after Claire rather than young Ian in the aftermath of the fight at Lallybroch.
She jumped and nearly fell right into the river she was drinking from. Fucking hell. He’d slipped up behind her so easily, and it irritated her to no end. She straightened and dried her hands off in her skirts, unwilling and unable to look at him. “Go back to Lallybroch, Jamie. I have nothing else to say to you.”
“I ken ye dinna want to talk to me, Sassenach, bu’ I still have some things I’d like to say to you. Now, I think I’ve earned the right to at least have the chance to explain myself. Sit down, please.”
Claire felt her resolve slipping. She was desperate to be gone, her heart aching and anger still burning deep within her chest. She couldn’t do this, couldn’t sit down and listen to him speak, because then she might stay. And if she were to stay, then- then what? Would Laoghaire always be between them? Would Claire ever be able to not picture the two of them together in their marriage bed? He’s mine! her mind hissed. Not hers.
She turned as if to head back to her pony, but Jamie stepped in front of her, blocking her way. Her whiskey gaze was burning with challenge as she looked up at him, but his own eyes were sincere, and he held his hands out, empty, silently begging her to stay.
“Ye canna tell me ye came all this way only to hear one half-truth and decide to go back, Sassenach. Ye told me ye’d love me still, no matter what kind of man I’d become. And that man is- was- in part, the husband of Laoghaire MacKenzie, no matter how little any of us likes it. Please just give me the chance to explain myself, and if ye still want to leave, then I will let ye go off and forget me for good.”
She took a deep breath, glanced around him at the pony , which was happily munching away at a bit of greenery. Releasing the breath on a heavy sigh, Claire turned back toward the river and walked over to seat herself on a large rock at the water’s edge. Jamie watched her warily for a moment, then finally walked a little closer and shoved his thumbs through his belt. He took a deep breath of his own, then launched into the story of how he came to be married to Laoghaire.
Claire’s heart ached for the sadness and desperation she saw in his features as he spoke of how he’d barely been alive, how he’d only existed without her there. Anger bubbled up in her chest all over again, however, as he went on to speak of Laoghaire, a widow in need of a man to help support her and her daughters. To hear that Jenny had set it all up seemed to be the cherry to top it all off. She spat out her own story of Laoghaire and the witch trial, and watched as horror filled Jamies face.
“I didna ken, Claire. Ye never told me! If I’d kent it’d been her–”
They both fell silent for a while then, Claire staring at her hands in her lap and Jamie gazing at the water rushing past them. Very quietly, he told her about how he’d never really been able to lay with Laoghaire, how she had always seemed to fear him. He spoke of his choice to leave and how he’d been in Edinburgh ever since.
“She tried to shoot me,” he mused.
“What, when you went to Edinburgh?” Claire asked, looking over at him in alarm.
Jamie snorted and shook his head. “Nay. She left, Laoghaire did, after she saw us. And she came back with a damned pistol.” He touched a hand to his right arm and Claire noticed that his coat was dark with blood.
She slid off the rock immediately and was next to him in the span of a breath, sliding his coat from his shoulder.
“’Tis but a scratch, Sassenach. Dinna fash,” he told her softly, but his eyes were bright with hope as she prodded at his arm and peeked between the torn, bloodied bits of his shirtsleeve.
“I believe I’ve heard that before,” she grumbled reprovingly. “Right before you fell off a horse, passed out from blood loss.” A bit more prodding and she released him, apparently content that it was indeed just a scratch. She stood there in silence for a moment, staring at the sleeve, then curled her hands into fists and spun away toward the pony. “I’ll kill her with my own bare hands! That little-”
Jamie grabbed hold of her arms and turned her back to face him, unable to bear this business between them going unfinished for any longer. “She can wait. Will ye forgive me, Claire? Will ye stay here wi’ me? Or do ye still intend to go?”
Claire gazed up at her husband, and slowly, the hurt and anger faded from her face, shifting into a sort of resignation. “I hate it, Jamie. I absolutely hate that it was her. But I-” She swallowed hard. “I do understand why. I forgive you, and I… want to stay. But I cannot see Jenny. She was unspeakably cruel to me, Jamie.”
He frowned at that but gave a small nod. “To Inverness, then. We’ll get a room there and decide where to go next. And Sassenach?”
She’d reached up to stroke a hand over his cheek, thumb brushing lightly along the sharp line of his cheek bone. “Yes?”
“I love ye. More than anything in this world or the next. It always has been and always will be you. My heart is yers, and I pray ye never think otherwise ever again.”
She let out a soft breath and went up on her tiptoes to kiss him. “I love you too, Jamie,” she whispered. “And I won’t think otherwise, never again.”