“I wish I’d known your father,” I said. “Or maybe it’s better not,” I
said, struck by a thought. “He might not have liked you marrying an
Jamie hugged me closer and pulled the quilts up over my
bare shoulders. “He’d have thought I’d got some sense at last.” He
stroked my hair. “He’d have respected my choice, whoever it was, but
you”—he turned his head and kissed my brow gently—“ he would have liked
you verra much, my Sassenach.” And I recognized it for the accolade it was.
Well I don’t know Lynette 🤔 with a little bit of imagination you actually can do SM posts without spoilers…
but I digress as we are obviously in for another 6 months of tweets “look at me I was on Outlander set, but I can’t tell you anything because you know SPOILERS”, for book which was published 20+ years ago…
At the same time Jamie asked, in a similarly accusatory tone, “How much do ye weigh, Sassenach?”
Still a bit addled, I actually replied “Nine stone,” before thinking to ask “Why?”
“Ye nearly crushed my liver,” he answered, gingerly prodding the affected area. “Not to mention scaring living hell out of me.” He reached a hand down and hauled me to my feet. “Are ye all right?”
“No, I bumped my head.” Rubbing the spot, I looked dazedly around the bare hallway. “What did I bang it on?” I demanded ungrammatically.
“My head,” he said, rather grumpily, I thought.
“Serves you right,” I said nastily. “What were you doing, sneaking about outside my door?”
He gave me a testy look.
“I wasna ‘sneaking about,’ for God’s sake. I was sleeping— or trying to.” He rubbed what appeared to be a knot forming on his temple.
“Sleeping? Here?” I looked up and down the cold, bare, filthy hallway with exaggerated amazement. “You do pick the oddest places; first stables, now this.”
“It may interest ye to know that there’s a small party of English dragoons stopped in to the taproom below,” he informed me coldly. “They’re a bit gone in drink, and disporting themselves a bit reckless with two women from the town. Since there’s but the two lasses, and five men, some of the soldiers seemed a bit inclined to venture upward in search of … ah, partners. I didna think you’d care overmuch for such attentions.” He flipped his plaid back over his shoulder and turned in the direction of the stairway. “If I was mistaken in that impression, then I apologize. I’d no intention of disturbin’ your rest. Good e’en to ye.”
“Wait a minute.” He stopped, but did not turn back, forcing me to walk around him. He looked down at me, polite but distant.
“Thank you,” I said. “It was very kind of you. I’m sorry I stepped on you.”
He smiled then, his face changing from a forbidding mask to its usual expression of good humor.
“No harm done, Sassenach,” he said. “As soon as the headache goes away and the cracked rib heals, I’ll be good as new.”
He turned back and pushed open the door of my room, which had swung shut in the wake of my hasty exit, owing to the fact that the builder had apparently constructed the inn without benefit of a plumb line. There wasn’t a right angle in the place.
“Go back to bed, then,” he suggested. “I’ll be here.”
I looked at the floor. Besides its essential hardness and coldness, the oaken boards were blotched with expectorations, spills, and forms of filth I didn’t wish even to contemplate. The builder’s mark in the door lintel had said 1732, and that was plainly the last time the boards had been cleaned.
“You can’t sleep out here,” I said. “Come in; at least the floor in the room isn’t quite this bad.”
Jamie froze, hand on the doorframe.
“Sleep in your room with ye?” He sounded truly shocked. “I couldna do that! Your reputation would be ruined!”
He really meant it. I started to laugh, but converted it into a tactful coughing fit. Given the exigencies of road travel, the crowded state of the inns, and the crudity or complete lack of sanitary facilities, I was on terms of such physical intimacy with these men, Jamie included, that I found the idea of such prudery hilarious.
“You’ve slept in the same room with me before,” I pointed out, when I had recovered a bit. “You and twenty other men.”
He sputtered a bit. “That isna at all the same thing! I mean, it was a quite public room, and …” He paused as an awful thought struck him. “You didna think I meant that you were suggesting anything improper?” he asked anxiously. “I assure ye, I—”
“No, no. Not at all.” I made haste to reassure him that I had taken no offense.
Seeing that he could not be persuaded, I insisted that at the least he must take the blankets from my bed to lie upon. He agreed to this reluctantly, and only upon my repeated assurances that I would not use them myself in any case, but intended to sleep as usual in the cover of my thick traveling cloak.
I tried to thank him again, as I paused by the makeshift pallet before returning to my fetid sanctuary, but he waved away my appreciation with a gracious hand.
So today I was visiting a patient and he had his laptop on, watching Vikings. And suddenly I have this crazy need to have/read a viking Jamie and his shieldmaiden, Claire. My mind is blown. Someone make it happen!!!
“D‘ye remember when we gave each other blood for blood?” Ian‘s eyes were closed, but he smiled.
Jamie‘s hand tightened on the bony wrist, a little startled but not truly surprised that Ian had reached into his mind and caught the echo of his thoughts. “Aye, of course.” He couldn‘t help a small smile of his own, a painful one.
They‘d been eight years old, the two of them. Jamie‘s mother and her bairn had died the day before. The house had been full of mourners, his father dazed with shock. They had slipped out,he and Ian, scrambling up the hill behind the house, trying not to look at the fresh-dug grave by the broch. Into the wood, safe under the trees.
They had slowed then, wandering, come to a stop at last at the top of the high hill, where some old stone building that they called the fort had fallen down long ago. They‘d sat on the rubble, wrapped in their plaids against the wind, not talking much.
“I thought I‘d have a new brother,” he‘d said suddenly. “But I don‘t. It‘s just Jenny and me, still.”
In the years since, he‘d succeeded in forgetting that small pain, the loss of his hoped-for brother, the boy who might have given him back a little of his love for his older brother, Willie, dead of the smallpox. He‘d cherished that pain for a little, a flimsy shield against the enormity of knowing his mother gone forever.
Ian had sat thinking for a bit, then reached into his sporran and got out the wee knife his father had given him on his last birthday.
“I‘ll be your brother” he‘d said, matter-of-fact, and cut across his thumb, hissing a little through his teeth.
He‘d handed the knife to Jamie, who‘d cut himself, surprised that it hurt so much, and then they‘d pressed their thumbs together and sworn to be brothers always.
This is the sixth chapter of A Penny’s Worth of Affections, my Claire / Jamie AU that takes place during WWI!
Ok so I said last time that I would write this chapter more ahead of time, but I am a total liar. Sorry about your long wait, but I did try to make this a little bit longer to make up for that; I hope it was worth the wait!!
If you’re interested in listening to the two songs that inspired the last chapter and this one, you can listen to them here and here!
Shoutout to @internallydeceased for dealing with my ramblings (and that one moment where I started freaking out because I couldn’t find a voyager quote that I never ended up using) you’re the bomb.com and I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. as well as @bonnie-wee-swordsman who is not only my outer conscience but a great friend; she is just a lovely human being all around and thank you so much for being you! 💛
Seeing as this one is longer than the others, I’m going to cut it a bit early in the chapter, so that it doesn’t get too long on the dashboard. I hope you guys like this chapter, and be sure to let me know what you think. ✨
It was when dawn broke that morning that Claire Beauchamp realized what she had gotten herself into. Traveling with Jamie had not been an unusual juncture—he had taken her many places since their first meeting; these destinations, however, were no more than a few miles from Edinburgh. The where wasn’t what had her sweating profusely as she ran about her room, trying to pack a reasonable amount of items for the venture of the next few weeks. It was the who.
Jenny Murray, as well as her husband, Ian, were two very prominent figures in Jamie Fraser’s life. He spoke of them daily, telling stories about their relationships with one another. She knew so much about the three of them, in adolescence as well as adulthood, that she felt as if she was an outsider, intruding in on some secretive circle of small-town Scottish folks. Sassenach, indeed.
Jamie had come to the Inn around noon, taking all of her possessions in his hands and bidding her uncle farewell. Claire also said goodbye to her uncle, kissing his cheek and smiling widely at him. And with that, the pair walked arm-and-arm to the train station. The hustle and bustle around them eased Claire’s nerves a little bit. Jamie noticed her unfocused gaze and smiled slightly, tightening the arm that was looped around her own.
One of the times he had gone over to the Inn, Uncle Lamb had teased Claire for her unassociated behavior. He had called it then her wandering Wendy gaze, because every time she got this glazed-over look in her eye, Lamb had known she was thinking of the lives of those around her.
“She likes to insert herself into other situations when she’s under great duress,” Lamb had told Jamie then, leaning forward so as not to catch Claire’s attention. The lady in question was standing by the window, one arm crossed over her torso with the other’s elbow resting on top if it, her fingers pulling at the plumpness of her bottom lip. “When wandering Wendy comes to town, you’ll know it. But I’ve learned, in my experience, that she isn’t aware that she does this. She’s in some kind of dream-like trance, you see.”
Jamie had nodded, but Lamb wasn’t quite finished. “Have you heard that you’re never supposed to wake a sleepwalker? The same applies in this instance: if you see Claire in this state, you must not try to wake her from her stupor. She usually ends up with more anxiety than she had before Wendy took over. Do you understand?”
“I do,” Jamie had said solemnly, glancing back over to Claire’s still form by the window.
Who was she thinking about? He had asked himself presently, watching as she glanced from person to person as if they were apparitions: not truly there, but floating past her on an invisible breeze.
She followed him into the train willingly, as if she was a dog on a leash, following its owner from one place to the next. Jamie, upon entering their car and making sure their luggage was in the correct overhead compartment, reached for Claire’s cheek. Her eyes were still glazed-over, eyelids fluttering as if she was trying to protect them from something.
“Who were ye thinking of, Sassenach?” Jamie asked her when she came-to. He didn’t bother sitting beside her on the seat, nor across from her in his own. He was kneeling on the floor, right at her feet, moving his hands to rest just at her knees. “Was it the Lady again?”
Claire shook her head. “No, I haven’t thought about her for… a long while. I was just thinking about what your sister is like. I’ve heard so much about her.”
He sensed the underlying fear in her tone, and bid her to continue.
“It’s nothing, really. Just silly juvenile thoughts,” She dismissed his prodding, meeting his eyes with a smile on her lips that she hoped was reassuring.
Shaking his head as he took her hands into his own, his eyes softened from steely sapphire to blue silk. “Claire, I must ask something of you.”
Despite his previous statement, he didn’t start with his request. “I understand that this is strange for ye, coming wi’ me to some place that you’ve never heard of, being ‘round people that are so verra different from you. But remember that I am here with ye; you needn’t be scairt of anyone, so long as I’m with ye.”
She nodded as she looked down at her lap. Their hands had assumed their usual rhythm as she massaged his weaker hand, loosening the kinks and softly cracking his knuckles.
“But also,” he added, voice heavy with emotion, “You needn’t be afraid of me, either.”
Looking up from their woven hands, her expression changed to confusion. Her eyebrows drew closer together, the smooth spot in between them creasing deeply. “Who said I was afraid of you?”
He shook his head, “I’m no’ saying that ye’re afraid of me, Sassenach. I just want you to know that I’ll no’ judge ye, no matter what you tell me. I respect you enough to not pass any judgements on your thoughts, should ye be brave enough to tell me.”
Claire suspected something was off. “Jamie, what’s wrong? Is there something on your mind?”
A brief silence overcame them as he stared at their entwined hands. Claire, still kneading his fingers with her own, followed his gaze to his left middle finger, where the lightning scar ran down the middle of it.
“Before I tell ye this, Claire,” he said after a moment, “I need you to understand that ye won’t see me in the same light ye always have. And that if you wish to depart after all is revealed, I willna stop ye.”
She squeezed his hand tight, bringing his scarred finger to her lips and placing a soft kiss in the space between his distal and middle phalanxes, right where the bolt of lightning rested on his opal skin. “I can tell you now, James Fraser, my feelings for you will not change. For as I know you now, I’m sure whatever you had done was within good reason.”
The corner of his mouth turned upward into a smile. Running his thumb over her knuckles, he took a deep breath and began regaling her in his tale.
It was near to four years ago now. Jamie, in the prime of his adolescence at age sixteen, was still living at Lallybroch with his family. His mother, Ellen, had been pregnant and was nearing the end of her third trimester, growing weaker and weaker by the day. She needed medicinal aid, and with the family being too poor to afford a physician, Brian sent Jamie to obtain it. (As Jamie told her this, Claire made a mental note to research puerperal fever more in-depth, since the symptoms Jamie had described gave her the idea that this had been Ellen’s ailment.)
He had travelled on horseback to a town a bit far from where they dwelled, close to Fort William (where, Jamie described, English officers still lingered to this day). Brian had told Jamie to obtain the medicines by whatever means necessary, and to Jamie this meant to steal them. So he waited in the wood until nightfall, snuck into the apothecary’s shop, and grabbed an assortment of different vials, unsure of their contents.
With a bag full of vials on his back, Jamie wandered back into the wood, before being spotted by an officer of the police force. He tried to run from him then, but instead was captured and taken to Fort William. It was there that Jamie had made the acquaintance of one Jonathan Wolverton Randall (who had also gone by the name Black Jack, as she would find out a while later).
The way Jamie talked about the officer sent chills up her spine. After the fourth or fifth time Jamie had attempted to escape, Randall had decided that the best thing to do would be to essentially destroy his left hand. Seeing as Jamie was left handed, this gave Randall the mindset that if he didn’t have his dominant hand, he could no longer successfully escape. (What a fool, Claire had thought, but didn’t state this comment aloud.) Randall took a nail and drove it into Jamie’s hand with a mallet, nailing him to the table of which he sat. And for a few days, Jamie just sat at the table, staring at his mangled hand. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, he decided he needed to get back to his mother and be with her while he still could.
One night, while Randall was God knows where, Jamie pulled the nail out of his hand and escaped from the prison, this time being successful. Upon arriving back at Lallybroch a few days later, he was able to see his mother one last time. She, along with the child, had died the night he returned, early in the morning while everyone else was asleep.
Feeling as if her death was his own fault, Jamie had fled to Edinburgh to stay with his godfather, Murtagh, where he had been ever since.
“I haven’t seen my family for four years now.” He added, their hands still joined in Claire’s lap. Jamie had moved beside her now, the two of them squished together on the small bench. His closeness left Claire’s heart fluttering in her chest, but she did not act on the multiple impulses that rushed through her body. This was no time for juvenile affections. “My father passed away a year or so ago, from a stroke. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him.”
“I’m so sorry, Jamie,” She murmured, removing one of her hands from his grasp and resting her palm on his cheek. He leaned into it, like a cat being pet behind the ears. For a moment, she thought she heard a purr forming deep in his throat.
“There’s nothing to apologize for, Sassenach. I’m no but a fool, and a man escaping his past.” He cleared his throat and pulled his own hands from her own, grasping at her wrist tightly. “Do you still see me the same, Claire? Am I still worthy of your affections?”
“Jamie,” she said forcefully, putting her other hand on the opposing cheek. “From what you’ve told me, you were doing something you thought was right. Maybe not through the best means, but you were trying to save your mother.”
A moment of silence passed, the only thing filling the empty void was the sound of their heartbeats, drumming together in unison.
“If anything,” she finally said, scooting closer towards him. “The light from which you shine is much brighter now than it had been before.”
The train ride from Edinburgh to Broch Mordha came and went quickly, mostly due to the fact that Claire slept through the majority of it. After their heart-to-heart, and a brief kissing of cheeks and the wiping of tears, Claire had nestled her head onto Jamie’s shoulder, where it stayed until they had arrived at their destination. And upon getting everything packed into the buggy that Jenny sent for them, they had resumed that position. Jamie, who hadn’t bothered to sleep (for he wasn’t tired in the slightest), decided instead to talk to Claire in her sleep, telling her stories from his youth in the Scottish Gaelic. But after a short while, when he knew her to be too deep in her own dreams to hear him, he started speaking the language of his heart. No barriers would form between them as she slept in his arms.
Claire had woken a little while into his fervent speech, but decided not to let it be known that this was so. Instead, she nestled closer into his side, trying to keep her breathing even as she listened to the words she didn’t understand. Despite this, however, she knew that she hadn’t heard anything so beautiful in her entire life.
They neared their destination some hours later. When Jamie had finished his speech and started gazing out the window, Claire decided to voice an inquiry that had been swirling in her mind since the words left his lips.
“Jamie?” She asked him groggily, running a hand over one of her eyes, feigning drowsiness. “What does mo sorcha mean?”
Shocked, Jamie turned to face her. Trying to compose himself, instead of asking how she knew he had said that, he smiled shyly as a crimson blush rose to his cheeks.
“Well, in Gaelic, sorcha means light. That’s your name, ken; it means light, does it not?”
“Yes, but what about the first part? The mo.”
His blush grew ever darker. “Well, that means my.”
My light, she thought to herself. Her eyes welled with tears. “Your light?”
He nodded, eyes shining brightly. “You are my light, Claire. A shining beacon in the dark sea of my life.”
“You should write poetry,” she laughed. “Since you speak of such a metaphor.”
“I do,” he confided in her. “Sometimes.”
“Would you ever read one to me?”
Smiling, he rubbed his thumb over her knuckles again. That was one of his favorite things to do, she noted, rubbing his thumb over the bumps on her hands. “Someday.”
They finally arrived to Lallybroch some time later. Jamie got out first, helping Claire before grabbing her belongings. They started towards the house before realizing someone was watching them. A woman, standing barely to Jamie’s shoulder, stamped quickly towards them, eyes lit in a dark blue flame. Claire noted how regal she looked, despite her short stature, with dark hair pulled into an elegant updo and an outwardly bulging stomach as she was well within her third trimester. The look in her cat-like eyes could kill anyone who dared cross her, and right now, the look was pointed directly at her brother.
“Where in God’s name have ye been, ye clotheid?!” Janet Fraser Murray demanded angrily. Claire, from her spot standing behind Jamie’s shoulder, thought that if she had gotten any angrier, she might have her child right then and there.
Jamie, unsure of how to defend himself, said back to her in a soft voice, “I understand that ye’re mad at me, Jenny—”
“You bet yer arse I’m mad at ye, James Fraser! I dinna see yer face for four years, heard nothing of you but brief testaments on parchment of yer health and well being, only to see you bring along some woman to our ancestral home! You are bloody damn right I’m angry with ye!”
Claire, unsure whether her presence here was discussed or not, took a step backward towards the buggy, muttering, “Maybe it’d be best if I left…”
“No, Claire, stay.” Jamie begged, dropping the luggage in his hands and grabbing her wrist, pulling her to his side. “My sister is upset wi’ only me, and shouldna take her fury out on you.”
Jenny, nostrils flaring, took a deep breath and turned to Claire, nodding in acknowledgement. “Claire, ye said?”
“That’s right,” Claire nodded, extending her hand towards the angry woman. “Claire Beauchamp, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you from your brother.”
She raised an arched eyebrow skyward but nodded once more, taking Claire’s hand in her own and shaking it promptly. “It’s a pleasure to meet ye, Claire.”
The noise of the door opening and closing pulled everyone’s attention away from the matter at hand. A man came towards them, wiping his hands on his trousers and smiling broadly.
“Jamie, lad! Welcome home!” The man said, pulling Jamie into an embrace. Claire smiled at the joy on Jamie’s face at seeing his brother-in-law, but promptly dropped it as she looked back to his sister, whose alabaster face was still shrouded in anger.
Pulling out of the embrace with his brother-in-law, Ian smiled at Claire politely before picking up some of their bags and making his way to the house. “Why don’t we get ye two settled in, aye? Dinner should be set soon enough.”
I’ve always known I’ve lived a life different from other men. When I was a lad, I saw no path before me. I simply took a step and then another, ever forward, ever onward, rushing toward someplace, I knew not where. And one day I turned around and looked back and saw that each step I’d taken was a choice. To go left, to go right, to go forward, or even not go at all. Every day, every man has a choice between right and wrong, between love and hate, sometimes between life and death. And the sum of those choices becomes your life. The day I realized that is the day I became a man.