Not an ask but just a bit of kudos, I am really diggin "Tales from the Past". I'm very curious to see if Claire thinks it all a big coincidence and how Uncle Lamb will react to all of the info they find? Thank you for the lovely writing.
Scotland was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The land was an unbelievable shade of green and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The image I had of my witch and whisky maker family fit perfectly within this landscape. The rolling hills leading to towering mountains, and the glistening lakes reflecting the scenery around them gave the air of magic and endless possibilities. The deeper into the Highlands we travelled, the easier it was to see how the Scots, and my Scots in particular, transitioned and settled in the mountains of North Carolina. There was a familiarity between the two, but whereas Scotland felt old and full of legends, the North Carolinian mountains had an air of youthful mystery in comparison.
“Are we there yet, Uncle?” I asked as yet another town flashed beyond the car windows.
“Not yet my dear. We’ll be there in no time at all, just enjoy the scenery. Maybe you could come up with your own legend by the time we get to our destination!” He cheered then went back to humming a nameless tune.
I sighed and looked longingly out the window. I just wanted to be there, I wanted to see their home and find out more. “Are we going to Broch Morda and Lallybroch?” I asked not five seconds later.
“No, Claire.” Uncle Lamb said with authority. “We’re headed to a town called Inverness. My correspondent who can trace their lineage back to Lallybroch itself lives there. She’s more than willing to tell her family stories and that of her husband’s as well.”
“Fine.” I grumbled, “I still wish we were going straight to Lallybroch. Something is pulling me in that direction, we need to go there.”
“Patience my dear, we will get there, just after we’ve heard what these Murray’s have to say.” Lamb winked.
Inverness was beautiful, tucked away at the top of Loch Ness I could see the appeal and history all around, but I was restless.
“How long do we have to be here?”
“Long enough,” He laughed guiding me towards the door. “I thought you wanted to hear the legends?”
I groaned, “I do but I want to go see Lallybroch more!”
“Let’s see what they have to say first. We’ll need their story to help further our investigation, despite your curious insistence!” Uncle Lamb cut me off before I could speak further.
“Fine,” I murmured into my arm that rested on the door. My excitement crushed for a moment.
The countryside blurred by until the faintest idea of a town sprung up in spires and stone.
“Inverness?” I asked looking to at Uncle Lamb. He grinned and nodded, weaving our way through the streets to the tea room where the mysterious Murray’s awaited our arrival.
“Here we are, m’dear!” Lamb exclaimed throwing the car door open. “Would you get my satchel from the boot? We may need to take photographs and extra pens and paper! You never know what all they’ll have or have to say!”
His excitement was contagious and I felt my own lift to a nervous bubble. I still longed to see the fabled home, but deep down I knew I needed to hear what the Murray’s had to say.
“Are you Quentin Lambert?” A tall and lanky man with jet black hair and gray eyes asked as he approached our car.
“That I am! You must be Alexander Murray,” Lamb greeted, clasping the man’s hand.
Mr. Murray chuckled and nodded. “Aye, and this is my sister Jennifer.” He gestured to short girl with the same black hair and gray eyes.
“We’ve already got a kettle on, please join us inside.” Her smile was kind, but wary.
“Claire! Don’t forget the books!” Uncle Lamb called from over his shoulder absentmindedly as he entered the quaint stone building.
I took a moment to breathe in my surroundings. The bustle of people and their cars contrasting against the ancient stone buildings. If I closed my eyes and blocked out the modern sounds I could believe I was there when it all began. I could feel the clean Scottish air as it wrapped itself around me and those on the streets, smell the the roasting meats from taverns and hearth fires as well as fresh bannocks and bread, and I could imagine the sounds of wagon wheels and horse’s hooves on cobble and splattering mud. My imagination took me to a world where I could imagine my whisky making Scot walking down the street, and with a swish of a kilt he was gone.
“Miss Beauchamp?” I jumped, startled, my eyes flying open as the pack fell to the street. “Och, sorry. I dinna mean to give ye such a fright. Yer uncle was asking for ye. I came to fetch ye inside.”
My cheeks reddened from getting caught in my fantasy. The real world felt foreign and distant compared to where my mind had just held me. I slowly retrieved Uncle Lamb’s bag and followed Jennifer Murray inside.
“Claire! Claire! There you are, what kept you? No matter, you really must hear what young Mr. Murray has told me about his family! There was a tale that originated from a great uncle of sorts, and that very uncle could be the James Fraser we are striving to find! But I’m very much more fascinated in this enthralling tale of a cave, espionage and freedom! Please, come sit. Sit and listen!” Lamb managed to get all of this out in a single breath, his face red, but eyes alight with excitement. I noticed his hands were already ink-stained and smudged, his left worst of all.
“Breathe Uncle.” I said, laying a hand to his shoulder. “I’m sure Mr. Murray doesn’t wish to recount the tale again.”
“I dinna mind at all! Would ye like some tea before I start?” Alexander Murray gestured to the barely touched tray of tea and shortbread.
“Yes, thankyou.” I replied, pouring my own cup and grabbing a biscuit.
“As I was telling your very enthusiastic Uncle, my family has many tales and legends as does most here in the highlands. But one, we can go so far to say, is one of the more famous ones.” he said lowering his voice with a wink. “This one legend was said to be the Laird of Broch Tuarach during the uprising of Prince Tearlach in 1745. It’s said that the Laird was spared at the battle of Culloden or most likely escaped the clutches of the British and fled back to his homeland. His hair was a fiery red, easily spotted and gave him little chances to hide. My–” he paused and then gestured to his sister, “–our great-great-great grandmother was this Laird’s sister. She hid him in a priest hole that her recently dead sister-in-law had told her to build. You see the Laird’s wife was a Sassenach and a faerie.
“The folk in the highlands were wary of her and her healing abilities, even though the laird loved her more than life. She was among those caught in the crossfire of Culloden. The Laird being so distraught had nearly given up the will to live and when he was well enough to stand, decided to hide in the hillside to better protect his family.”
“Och! You’re tellin it wrong Sawny!” Jennifer interrupted.
“Och aye? Am I? Weel why dinna you tell it then and let me save my voice!” he said and smugly crossed his arms and legs into a relaxed position.
“I will then!” She settled herself deep into her chair.
“As my brother said, our great-great-great grandmother was the sister to the Laird who became legend, and it is from her that we get our story. Before the days of Culloden and the blackened soul of Prince Tearlach set this bonnie nation into strife, the Murray’s and Fraser’s lived peacefully on the estate. The young Laird had taken a faerie to wife, but all that knew her well enough said she was kinder than of any fae, and that she loved the Laird and his family to the ends of time. It was when she caught a vision of great strife and suffering for her beloved’s people, she told her good sister to plant crops that would yield a great amount, and prepare hidden storages including a priest’s hole under the kitchen cellar. The fae and her husband rushed out to protect the people and try to stop the horror she had seen from coming to fruition.
“They had earned the trust of Prince Tearlach, and made their way into his inner council. Night after night, day after day, the Laird tried to convince the Prince of his doomed cause, but to no avail. The horror still approached and overcame the people of this good nation. Killing thousands, destroying homes and the highland culture at it’s roots. The faerie wife, so distraught at the destruction of her adopted home, begged for her people to save the Scots, to turn back time and not let it happen, but they didna answer. Instead, it’s said she curled up on a faerie hill just outside Inverness and died of a broken heart. Unable to save her beloved nor her new people, and the old ones wouldnae have her back.
“However, the Laird did survive! He made his way home to Broch Tuarach where his sister tended to his physical wounds, but nothing could take away the pain he felt at the death of his wife. He hid for months in the priest’s hole, listening to raid after raid from the British soldiers and he could have it no more. He was too much of a danger to his family, and he couldna bear to lose another part of his heart. One night, he hid himself deep into the caves of the hills that surrounded his property with naught but a dun bonnet to his name. Just far enough that he would pose no danger, but close enough that if he was needed, he could be called upon. For seven years he hid by himself in the caves, coming out at night, clad in brown from head to toe, hiding the flames of his hair under bonnet and cloak of night to deliver fresh meat of his kills to his people and family.
“The Laird’s most faithful servant would risk his life week after week to bring the Laird fresh ale, clothes, and news of the town and of his family when the laird could not make his way down the mountain. On a day, not unlike today, where the sun shone high and the temperature mild, the servant raced up the hill bringing his lairdship fresh supplies, only to be stopped by a wicked cluster of British soldiers. They accused the lad of stealing and chopped his hand off for his crimes, then stole the Laird’s supplies for their own gain. Outraged the Laird tended the lad as best he could in the cave before taking him to the estate for proper healing. It was then the Laird decided that his time in the caves were at an end. He had to stand, he needed to fight the cruelty and oppression being imposed on his people.
“Seven years since the uprising, and there was still a traitor’s reward for the Laird. The laird asked his brother-in-law to turn himself in, grab the stirling reward and feed the family and people he could no longer protect.”
Jennifer stood up and went to the window. I blinked trying to come back to the world around me. The tale she had spun so vivid in my mind, like that was the true reality and not this tea parlour.
“What happened to him? The Laird?” I asked, desperate to hear more.
She turned, the light a halo around her silhouette, “The Dun Bonnet Laird went to prison to save his family. If you go back to our family’s ancestral home and speak to the locals they may tell you of him in a different way, the story altering from family to family. But one thing is for sure, they say on the old fire feasts, ye can see the Dun Bonnet standing at the mouth of his cave, keeping his vigil for all who are under his protection.”
Jon Lannister - Sansa and Tyrion’s firstborn, named after King Jon of Houses Targaryen and Stark. Jon Lannister is a brave young man with his father’s sense of humor (and curly golden hair lol). He’s a skilled warrior like his uncle Jamie was. Sansa raised him to be everything she ever wanted in a man once. And he is everything Tyrion dreamed to be when he was a child. Jon is called a Golden Heir of House Lannister. People from the Westerlands are very proud of him. He is popular in the Riverlands also.
Catelyn and Joanna Lannister - the red-haired twins. While Catelyn is this perfect young lady like her mother is and her grandmother was, Joanna is “little Arya”. The girls are good to each other and they don’t fight that often (though Joanna fights a lot with their little brother Rickon). Cat has a little crush on Targaryen prince (but don’t say anyone).
Rickon Lannister - Youngest child. Rickon is bookish, shy and reserved young man (when he’s not arguing with Joanna). He is very intelligent and has a great political mind. He doesn’t understand, but women find him very attractive. Sounds familiar?
The rolling green dominated the landscape. The Range Rover came to a halt in front of a sprawling stone house, somehow managing to look older than the hills it stood upon.
“Lallybroch.” Jamie swept his hand, encompassing the house and the land and seemingly everything around them.
Claire gazed out of the windshield, entranced by the ancient feel of the very stones. “This is not a manor house, Jamie. This is a castle.”
“Ach, no,” he said, ducking his head modestly. “Truly, ‘tis only a farm. There’s a broch, but it’s old and crumbling now. We can visit it later, if ye like.”
“What’s a broch?” Claire unbuckled her seat belt and stepped out of the car.
“A tower, of sorts. The auld lairds of Lallybroch would be called Lords Broch Tuarach, after the north-facing tower.” Jamie reached for their bags in the backseat and joined Claire, taking her hand as they approached the massive front door.
“A tower doesn’t really have a face, you know,” Claire teased.
“Weel, the door faces north. That’ll do.” Jamie smiled, and made to open the door.
“Shouldn’t we knock?” Claire felt nerves and trepidation, about to meet the famous Jenny and the rest of the Jamie’s family. She knew how much they all meant to him, and how big a step this was for them.
“’Tis my home. No need.” He stole a quick, soft kiss to quell her obvious nerves and then called out, “Hello the house!” He dumped the bags by the staircase. Claire stood next to him, taking in her surroundings.
Everything looked antique, but not in a museum-like way. Everything, from the furniture to the paneled walls, looked loved, cared for. Carved tables and tapestries mingled with a modern cordless phone and lamps. Uncle Lamb would have a field day, she thought.
Thundering footsteps broke into her reverie, and a tall gangly teenager came tumbling down the stairs. “Uncle Jamie!” In a blur, Jamie was rocked back in a fierce hug.
“Ian, lad!” Jamie squeezed and lifted the boy straight off the ground. They slapped each other on the back in a great show of affection before Jamie let him go, and slid an arm around Claire’s waist.
“Ian, this is Claire. Sassenach, this is Young Ian, my nephew and godson.”
“Nice to meet you,” Claire said sincerely. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Is that so?” Young Ian grinned easily. “Welcome!” He picked up their bags and shot up the stairs two at a time. “I’ll just put these in yer room! Mam’s in the kitchen!”
Jamie and Claire held hands as they walked down the hallway towards the kitchen. They were assailed by the aromas of fresh baked bread and something delicious and steamy bubbling away on a stove. Claire half expected it to be an ancient cast-iron affair, but it was quite modern, by the rest of Lallybroch’s standards.
Jenny’s back was to them as she washed dishes at the sink. Jamie put his finger to his lips and blinked at Claire. He tiptoed (as much as a man his size might) and prepared to scare Jenny by tickling her ribs. His hands reached out but were stopped by a sudden, “Don’t even think about it, James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.”
Jenny craned her neck over her shoulder and gave them a wicked smile. “Hey there, little brother.” Her hands never stopped working, even as Jamie smiled abashedly and gave her a peck on the cheek. She turned off the water and wiped her hands on the apron she wore, engulfing Jamie in a warm embrace. “It’s been too long,” Jenny said, pushing back and smiling. She looked over his shoulder at Claire, who witnessed the encounter wistfully longing for family.
“And this is Claire, I presume.” Jenny stepped around Jamie, giving her a quick appraising glance—cordial, but guarded. Claire extended her hand, which was enveloped in Jenny’s cool grasp.
“It’s great to meet you. Jamie’s missed Lallybroch terribly, and all your children.”
Jenny’s eyebrows rose like dark wings. Her eyes had that slanted look identical to Jamie’s, resting on high cheekbones reminiscent of Viking royalty. “I’m sure he did. Weel, dinner is stew. ‘Tis something I can leave on the stove and no’ worry, since I’ve been tending the goats and sheep, and cooking for Hogmanay with Mrs. Crook.”
“She’s the housekeeper slash cook, but she’ll be off wi’ her own family for Christmas,” Jamie interjected.
“We can sit down to eat, now ye’re here.” Jenny squeezed Jamie’s hand and turned to the stove. “Young Ian, Jamie, Maggie, Kitty! Dinner! Come wash up!” She glanced at Jamie. “Could ye get Ian from the barn? He’s been tending to the hay now Rabbie’s gone home fer the holidays.”
There was a meowing at the kitchen door as Jamie approached it. He opened it to let a grey cat in, who pranced inside as though he owned Lallybroch. From the way Jenny bent down to coddle it, Claire suspected it might be the case.
“I see Adso of Melch is still alive, Jenny,” Jamie said, an eyebrow raised in amusement.
“He is.” Jenny stood and toed the cat away from the stove. “Ye wee fiend, get on wi’ ye.”
Adso stopped in the middle of the kitchen, as soon as it spotted Claire. Jenny looked appraisingly at the cat, as though almost willing the cat to respond in some way. Claire decided to follow Jenny’s example and squatted, staring into its green eyes.
The cat slowly walked over to her, sniffing about her knees. It purred softly; Adso located her hand and pressed against it, enticing Claire to rub its ears. She obliged, marveling at the soft fur and turned to Jamie, who smiled down at her. “He likes ye, Sassenach.”
Jenny let out a contained breath, and the first truly welcoming smile bloomed on her face. “Never mind my bonny cheetie. Go fetch Ian, if ye please. And shut the door, before we freeze. Claire, we’re so glad to have ye.”
“Let me get this straight. If Adso didn’t like me, Jenny wouldn’t either?”
“Adso is held in very high regard around here, Sassenach. He’s an excellent judge of character. He led Jenny onto a nanny who would steal from her purse and a drunken horse handler.”
They trudged up the stairs after bidding the family good night. Dinner had been superb, Jenny and Ian and their children all gathered at the table. The babble and laughter of a large family tugged at Claire’s heartstrings, making her long for one of her own. The children’s ages ranged from Jamie’s namesake at 18 who attended uni at Glasgow, and Young Ian at 14; the girls Maggie and Kitty who were 12 and 9 respectively. Ian (the elder) had presided over dinner in his role of father—a far cry from the rock star life he led on tour with The Clan.
“And what is that Melch in his name?” Claire took Jamie’s hand as he led her around the dark upstairs hallway.
“Our mam always had a cheetie. They were all named the same, after a German saint. Adso of Melch, Adso of Milk, ye ken,” Jamie said with a smile.
They walked up to a solid wooden door. Jamie pushed it open, to reveal a bright fire set in the grate, and both their bags in the room. Claire swallowed nervously and glanced at Jamie.
They hadn’t slept together thus far, though they had participated in some hot and heavy (emphasis on the hot) make out sessions at Claire’s and at Jamie’s flat. Hands roving, breath panting, Jamie had given her space and time to express what she wanted and when she wanted it. Young Ian had plainly made some assumptions of his own.
And why not? They were both consenting adults in a relationship and what they did (or didn’t do) in bed was entirely their own business. Space and time—the continuum of which was grinding to a halt, as there was nothing Claire wanted more right then and there than to feel Jamie’s arms around her and—
“Claire. I can sleep elsewhere.” Jamie squeezed her hand in reassurance. “Or on the floor if I can have the quilt. Ye don’t have to—”
Claire stopped his words with a kiss her hands tangled in the ruddy mess of his hair. His hands gripped her waist as he walked her back towards the bed, kicking the door shut behind them. They tumbled together onto the carved wooden bedstead, the frame creaking slightly.
“Won’t they hear?” Claire asked breathlessly.
“The walls are made of solid stone,” Jamie mumbled, his lips on her neck. “We can be as loud as we like.”
His hand crept under her sweater; higher and higher, until she could feel it caressing the underside of her breast. It was only then that she opened her eyes and met his own, whiskey and azure, everything bathed in the light of the slowly burning fire laid in the hearth.
Jamie’s hand stilled, and he brought his forehead to hers. “Claire, I want you so much I can scarcely breathe. Will ye have me?”
She almost didn’t recognize voice as her own, so high and gasping, “Yes. Yes, I’ll have you.” Permission granted, his hands were all over her body all at once. Skimming down her back, leaving tingling desire in their wake, gliding over her navel. Their clothes came off in a flurry of wool and jeans.
Slowly and reverently Jamie helped her shed her bra and underwear, his boxer briefs following suit. Completely exposed to each other, Jamie laid his hand on her bare hip, staring at her flush curves gilded by firelight.
“Ye are so beautiful, mo nighean donn.”
Claire felt suddenly shy and made to cover herself, but Jamie stopped her. “No, Sassenach. I want to look at you.” Claire blushed but let him gaze, slowly growing bold enough to return it.
His body came closer to hers, with his own muted fiery glow. He kissed down her neck, licking here and there. His large hands, calloused from playing guitar, teased and nipped at her breasts. Claire’s hands drifted down his back, pressing and urging him ever closer.
As his touch strayed lower, his intentions became clear. Claire raised herself on her elbows, effectively dislodging Jamie’s head from her stomach. His eyes held a question even as they seared with want.
“Jamie… no one’s ever—I mean—” Her cheeks burned red as she gestured with meaning.
He smiled and stretched up to kiss her gently. “Do ye want me to?”
“I don’t know. Won’t it… will it—”
“Let me taste ye.” Jamie trailed fingers up her leg. “Tell me if I’m too rough, or tell me to stop altogether if ye wish.” He brushed his lips over her belly, eyes blazing up at her.
Claire surrendered, falling back on the pillows and putting her arm over her eyes. Her knees trembled as he settled between them, parting them open and his arms locked around her thighs. She felt a brief kiss (right there! she thought incoherently) before she was flooded with pleasure, his tongue working magic on her most secret of places. She gasped as Jamie anchored her body to the bed with his arms, desire shooting through her veins. There were sounds coming from her lips she had never made before. Fleetingly she thought of covering her mouth before the feeling climbed higher and higher until it broke over her, making her shudder in release.
“Oh Jamie…” Her hand traced his jawline, as he smiled at her and kissed the inside of her thigh. Jamie moved and rose over her, kissing her deeply. She could taste herself and found it arousing.
He ground his pelvis gently into hers, swallowing her moans as her legs wrapped around him. Claire could feel the length of him sliding against her, and she urged him to her, hands on the small of his back.
Jamie braced himself on his forearms, and aligned himself at her slippery cleft. With a final nod from Claire, he eased himself inside her, slowly but inexorably moving forward as she dug her fingers into his back. The sensation was intense as he withdrew and pushed inside, again and again. Jamie held Claire close, the hair on his chest tickling her as they panted and he groaned and she whimpered with pleasure.
Their bodies rocked together as though they had known each other for years, simply waiting for the chance to join. Claire lost herself in pure sensation; the weight of his body perfect on hers, the spicy scent of him mingling with the smokiness of the fire, the mixture of Gaelic and English words he poured into her ear as he thrust faster and faster.
Feeling surged as they both chased the illusive spark of completion. Jamie’s hand splayed on her hip, and hitched her leg higher along his body. Her back arched instinctively. As he shifted, he hit a spot deep within her from a new angle, and in a few quick motions Claire shattered, crying out against his shoulder.
Jamie followed soon after, the tension breaking free as every muscle quivered, his mouth a wide O of relief and wonder. Their eyes met, half-lidded with satisfaction. Claire smiled languidly, running her hands through Jamie’s red curls. He withdrew gently, kissing Claire over and over, his lips at the hollow of her neck where perspiration shone and her pulse raced.
The heady feeling gradually dissipated, and the winter chill stole back into the room, making Jamie and Claire shiver with something more than spent desire. Still smiling, they crawled beneath the covers; Jamie pulled Claire close to him, her back to his front as he settled behind her, his arm holding her tightly.
“Oh, Claire… tha gaol agam ort,” he breathed against her skin.
“What does that mean?” she asked drowsily.
“I’ll tell ye tomorrow,” he said, nuzzling the nape of her neck. “We have time. I want to show you the loch, and the village, and take ye on a tour of the farm. I think ye’ll like the wee beasties and…”
She drifted off to sleep, his voice murmuring in the dark, safe in the knowledge of love and safety in Jamie’s arms and in her heart.
“You look lovely today my lady.” He complemented, pulling her closed to his side.
“Thank you, your grace.” You smiled thankfully.
“Joffrey, please.” He spoke kindly, stopping at a bench.
“Joffrey.” You paused, closing your eyes fearing a blow to your cheek but when none came you sighed and look at him, and he flashed you a cat-like smile, “Joffrey, thank you for taking time to walk with me.”
Though it was you who requested my company.
He smiled brighter, growing into a smirk and dropped your arm for your hand, “Yes.. Sit with me.” He spoke emotionless and you obeyed quickly looking at the flowers instead of him, still slightly afraid.
“The flowers are beautiful yo- Joffrey.”
“I’m sure they are nothing compared to the ones Highgarden, I am sure.”
“Neigh.” You forced a smile as the lie fell through your lips, “Everything is more beautiful in the capital.”
“Certainly.” He sighed in a whispered tone as he grabbed your cheek and turned you to meet his eyes, placing his hand under your chin and not moving it. “Y/N… I have brought you here today, to the spot were we first met, for a reason.”
“Yes, your grace.”
“Sorry… Joffrey…” You blinked and portrayed a look of innocence in attempts to hide your fear. But his gripped stronged as he placed his other hand on your cheek.
Joffrey smiled gently, “Lady Y/N Tyrell… I know I am promised to your sister-”
Oh gods… Oh Gods please no…
“And I did love her for her beauty. But then I laid eyes on you.. And the moment I did my world stopped… What I am trying to say is I have moved my bethrothal to you other than your sister and we will be married by months end and I couldn’t be happier.”
You were gaping but you couldn’t hide your shock.
You needed to get out, right now.
“May I be excused, your grace?” You asked, pulling away, standing up and walking off, before getting your response Tears of fear and panic cluttered your face as you bit your lips to stop a sob from escaping your mouth.
The sand felt nice on your as you walked along the beach, your friend carrying your shoes in his hands.
“You are right, Jorah.” You smiled at him, then at the ocean beside you, “This truly is beautiful.”
He smiled thoughtfully at you, nodding in agreement and a calming silence filled the area.
“How is the Khaleesi?” He asked, breaking silence.
“Doing the best she can I suppose.” You shrugged sadly, “She is so strong and brave. yet so graceful. I wish sometimes that I held her faith and strength.”
Jorah smiled at this, grabbing your hand and giving it a small squeeze as you looked at him, then back out at the never ending sea as it spit in your face.
You sighed, knowing that there was no use in waiting.
If I do not tell him, Dany will.
“Jorah?” You questioned looking at him, he made a small hmmm, and looking at you, your hands shaking and you looked away. I must do it now…. “Jorah I have these feelings for you… And I have to know if you share these feelings at all or if… If I not I would not like to lose our frien-”
He cut you off by placing a sweet kiss to your forehead, squeezing your hand tightly. Murmuring against your brow, he said, “I have found myself loving you as well, Y/N”
Smiling at this, you looked up at him, leaning on his shoulder saying a silent thank you to the gods that you did not make a fool of yourself.
Tear flooded your eyes as you looked at his body.
This literally cannot be happening… You thought. Why is this happening…
“M-May I please have a moment alone?” You questioned the men, not looking back to see their response, only hearing the door shut.
It was then when you threw yourself onto the slab and clung to your friends dead body, sobbing uncontrollably.
He is cold. Cold and bruised and scraped. Something he should never be.
Shaking, you placed your lips to his forehead and hugged him, whispering in his ear silent things that you had kept secret. You whispered of your love for his eyes, for his hair, for his mind, for him, and trembled at the sight of his pale skin.
You barely noticed when a women placed her hand on her shoulder and a man picked you up, setting you on a bed where you fell into a dreamless sleep.
You woke up to warm breath and the tickle of beard against your neck, the sent of pine filling your nose. Looking up, you saw those dark eyes that you had fallen for such a long time ago and reached up, cupping his face with your hands.
“Have I died from grief, my love?” You spoke weak and hoarsely, blinking several times as Jon moved closer to you.
He shook is head, a smile brightly on his lips, one you had never seen in your life. You made a small o with your lips, your voice hurting too much to respond causing both of your eyes to water slightly.
“I heard your words.” Jon confessed.
“Did you?” You asked, too weak to figure out if he was truthful or not.
He nodded, “Aye.” He smiled again giving you a small gentle peck on your lips and pulling your weak body up as to hug you tightly. When at last pulling apart, you placed your forehead to his as he mumbled against your lips, “I feel the same.”
“Are you doing alright Lady Y/N? Truly?” He asked panicked as you nodded, grabbing his hand as you knew it calmed him down.
He was afraid, and rightfully so. A Baratheon in the North? It was danger which is why he locked you in his own tent, you sleeping in the day and him at night, though truthfully neither of you got much sleep.
You had told him all the plans you, knew, which wasn’t much but his words fear was one of his men finding you here and hurting you, perhaps even throwing you in a cell with your Uncle Jamie. Who knows what would happen from there.
“Robb your generosity is something I cannot thank you enough for.” You smiled lightly, “I am safer here than I was in King’s Landing.” You squeezed his hand gently, causing him to exhale and kneel beside you, his eyes never straying from yours. “I… I am so sorry Robb.” You sighed gently, tears in your eyes as you looked away. “I wish I could have-”
“You were packing and on your way to me, Y/N. There is nothing you could do.” He sighed to quickly, something you assumed he was doing to mask his tears. “I am sorry about your father as well.”
Smiling at the memory of your Lord Father, you looked down and sighed, “He died justly. Peacefully. It was the only way I could imagine him going I suppose.” Robb and you both chuckled at this and silence once again fell until Robb broke it.
“I.. I think I am love with you, Y/N.”
Your heart panged in your chest and you looked at the ground blinking slightly until you kneeled beside him, wrapping him in a tight embrace.
“I think I am in love with you too Robb.”
“Can’t we go on a walk around the garden?” You smirked at him, “Aren’t you bored?” He looked up from his desk and eyed you as you toyed with books off the shelf. Gently smiling, he looked back at his paper work. “C’mon Tommy!”
“Fine.” He confessed, “I am bored. These people think they get so much for doing so little. But I am the King. It is my duty to finish this. Ser Pounce is sure in need of a bit of fresh air though-”
You sighed, picking up the cat and sitting on Tommen’s desk, the cat being put in your lap as you stroked his ears, “ Tommy I haven’t seen you properly since Joffrey died-”
“Nor I you since the Red Wedding.” He spoke in agreement, taking a free hand to pet his cat. “Look… Y/N I-”
“Is this for the wedding?” you asked, seeing an envelope with the Tyrell Rose on it. Tommen nodded, a strange look on his face and you bit your tongue to prevent yourself from swearing, “I am very excited for you my friend.”
He chuckled curtly, “I am not.”
You eyed him suspiciously and looked him up and down, “Why not Tom?”
“She is a beauty. Any man would be lucky to call her his Lady wife, but there is such an age gap.” He pursed his lips, “Besides, my heart lies with someone else.”
Your heart skipped a beat at this. You knew that it couldn’t be you, but you truly hoped. I am a traitors daughter. A deserters sister. You reminded yourself I mean nothing to him.
“Who?” you asked numbly. Though you did not really want to know, it was polite to ask.
Tommen blushed and dropped his pen, reaching for your hand across the desk with one arm, and the other turned you to face him. His eyes were the softest and most gentle you had ever seen and it as though you were having a conversation with your eyes.
Forcing him to drop your hand you fell into his arms, looking up at him so you could respond.
I love you to Tommen. I have always loved you.
You couldn’t stop crying. You knew you had to, but you couldn’t. It was worse, somehow, when “Reek” had come to walk you down the isle.
Instead, you ran to him, wrapping your arms tightly around him and sobbed into his shoulder.
“Please don’t make me do this.”
“I don’t want to marry him.” You let go of Reek and began pacing. “He’s a foul creature. A monster. He’ll kill me I’m certain.”
He slowly made his way before you to reach out and touch you. “Y/N.” He repeated, still in a whisper, clearly not audible to your panic.
“He’ll poison me with his seed and as soon as I pop out a son he’ll feed me to the hounds like all the daughters I birthed before our boy.”
“Y/N!” He yelled at last but you weren’t listening.
“No… No maybe he won’t.” You pondered, oddly calm, “Maybe he’ll throw me from a tower. Or maybe he’ll cut off my legs so I can’t-”
Reek cut you off by grabbing you tightly and pressing his shaking lips to your temple, knowing it calms you.
“Y/N…” He whispered again, “I don’t want you to marry him either.”
“Re-No… No Theon… Theon…” He smiled gently, “More or less.. Theon Greyjoy would say he has loved you for the longest time and will defend you to the best of your ability. And will kill anyone who tires to catch your fancy,”
You laughed quietly and squeezed him tightly, “Y/N Stark would say that she shares his feelings and would wed him right now to save the two of them to the bastard she is promised to.”
He kissed your chin as he let you go, looking you up to down.
“Theon Greyjoy, and Reek I suppose, must protect their lady. Starting with this.” He dropped a small vial in your hands and you looked at it confused, “Drink it now.”
You almost dropped it when a knock came at your door.
“Reek! Hurry now! Everyone is freezing.” The bastard yelled from outside the door, “Tell my bride to walk down naked if she must! I will not wait another-”
“Take it. Now my lady. Hurry.”
You obeyed and forced the liquid into your mouth, Theon, taking the bottle once you had finished and threw it into the fire, linking arms with you and leading you outside.
And you cried out again. Tears of fear, loss and helplessness, but oddly enough, tears of joy.
“Why are you here, mi-lady?” He questioned you. “Is everything alright?”
You smiled at him, bowing your head before you sat at his desk, a small blush on your face.
“I am sorry to disrupt you, my lord but it is a matter of most importance.”
Tyrion dropped his pen and looked up from his piece of paper, his mind filling with concern as he went through all the possibilities big or small.
Are you dying? Are you leaving?
Did something happen to your family? Did something happen to his family?
Are you hurt? Are you sick?
“My Lord?” You asked, your eyes filling with his concern, “My lord are you all right?”
He nodded, grabbing your hand and forcing a smile, “Quite. What Is the matter?”
You sighed and squeezed his hand tight before releasing the grip to calm yourself, “I have… How do I say it… I have grown feelings… But they are improper.. And I have tried to push them away but I have failed.
“Feelings?” He spoke numbing, fearing the response you would give, “Feelings for Joffrey?”
“For my lord father?”
“For Gods sake.. Please tell me they aren’t for the Queen regent!?”
You chuckled slightly at this, “Nay my Lord. I have grown feelings for you.”
His eyes widened at this and he opened his mouth to release an Oh, but no noise came out as he sat in shock.
“I am sorry my lord. I know of the improper nature, for I am a serving girl and you are a high born Lord but I thought it best to tell you that-”
“Nay.” He repeated and you tilted your head to the sighed, “No don’t say another word about impropertity cause I do not care.” He smiled brightly at you and brought your hand to his lips, “Meet me here come nightfall. We shall take a walk.” You bowed your head, smiling before standing up and walking to the door before he stopped you.
“Oh and Y/N.”
“Yes my Lord?”
“Thank you for telling me.” He smirked at you.
For I feel the same and never would have told you the truth
wish ye could come wi’ me,” he breathed into her ear as he nipped her
arched at the sensation of his hot breath in her ear, pushing her hips back
know I wish I could,” she panted back, running her hands over his bicep, and up
to grasp his shoulder.
kissed her like a man beyond thirst. Twisting
behind her she responded like a starving woman, devouring his mouth, pushing
back against him, hard. She reached
between them and took him in her hand, guiding him home. He grabbed a thigh to hitch it up higher over
groaned at the hot, welcoming feeling that was his wife. Claire purred when her husband filled her,
rubbing her in just the right places.
moved slowly, savouring the last moments with Claire before dawn when he’d have
to leave for the International Whisky Competition. Claire loved when he roused her from sleep,
whispering his desire, running his fingers over her sleep warmed flesh, stroking
her to a fever pitch.
moved deeply, taking his time, feeling the weight of her breast in his hand,
the pebble revealing her desire underneath his palm, drawing out the moment
when she would shatter in his arms. Drawing
out the moment for himself when he would feel his heart beat faster, and his body
she moaned his name, he smiled against the back of her shoulder, for there was
nothing sweeter in this world than his name on her satisfied lips. Seconds later he called hers, lost in
held each other until their hearts steadied and both drifted back to sleep.
have ye seen my shaving brush?”
“Which? Uncle Lamb’s?”
Jamie was frantic, looking through drawers and the medicine chest, trying
to pack his shaving kit.
Jamie, who can find anything in this renovation? I can run up the stairs and check the
bathrooms up there?”
bother. Ye’d have to take the fire
escape as they’re working on the kitchen and blocked off the stairs inside.” He
slammed the door under the sink.
when?” Claire said as she popped her head around the door frame.
“Yesterday,” Jamie murmured, preoccupied. “Maybe I left it at Lallybroch.”
He zipped up the bag and placed it into the
suitcase laid out on the bed. “I think
that’s everything I need.”
grabbed her backpack and met Jamie at the door.
She wound her arms around his neck and raised on tiptoes to kiss
him. “I’ll miss you.”
ye, too, Sassenach,” he bumped her nose with his, “but I’m no’ ready to say
goodbye to ye just yet.” He took her
hand, and opened the door. “Come.”
walked out onto the street to a black Range Rover waiting at the curb. An older man, lean and wiry, hopped to
attention when he saw Jamie. He had a black
knit cap pulled low over his head, and the collar of his navy blue pea coat was
turned up against the cold. His gray
beard was trimmed short, and Claire was immediately drawn to the deep smile
lines around his blue eyes.
this is Alec,” Jamie said as he introduced his wife. “He’ll be yer driver this week.”
reached out to shake the man’s hand, somewhat confused. “My driver?
Jamie. I don’t need a driver.”
ye do.” Jamie clapped the smaller man on the shoulder. “Alec is our company driver. Takes us to the airport, picks up clients for
us, takes us to meetings, and such. While I’m
away he’ll take ye to University. More
importantly,” Jamie looked intently at Alec, “he’ll pick ye up from all those
late nights at the library.”
stood up straight and faced her husband. He could see her stubbornness rise. “Jamie, I can drive myself. I can take our car.”
Sassenach,” Jamie chuckled, “because it’s not like ye never fall asleep on the
way home or anything when I pick ye up.”
He raised an eyebrow and opened the car door.
had the good sense to look embarrassed.
“Well. Thank you, I guess. It’s nice to meet you, Alec. But are you sure you want to do this? My schedule is crazy.”
no worries, ma’am,” Alec said in a thick Highland accent.
and Claire climbed into the back of the warmed vehicle. As they drove to the University of Edinburgh,
Jamie lifted their entwined hands and kissed his wife’s ring. “Seriously, Claire, call Alec. Dinna try to
go home by bus or anything.”
studied her husband’s face. There was
something in his eyes that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Seriousness, yes. Longing, yes, because he wished she could
travel to Chicago with him for the competition.
But something else. It looked
like worry, but on a deeper level. There
was something darker in his eyes that gave her pause.
He needed her promise. So she gave it.
promise, Jamie. I’ll call Alec.”
eyes flashed briefly, then he nodded his head.
“Good. Give me yer phone,
Sassenach, and I’ll put in his number.”
Claire off outside her building, Jamie stepped out of the car and let her
out. He wrapped her up in a bear hug,
and lifting her off her feet, planted a firm kiss on her lips. Forgetting themselves, their kisses became a bit more fevered until catcalls, and whistles brought them back to their
surroundings. Jamie let her slide down his body and
whispered, “Call ye every chance I get.”
of the time difference.” She placed a
hand against his cheek, “Come back to me, James Fraser.”
as I can,” he said, and kissed her lingeringly on her forehead.
He climbed back in the car and watched Claire walk quickly into the old stone building. Damn, he’d miss that fine arse. Alec pulled away from the curb and looked at Jamie in the rear view mirror.
“I trust ye, man.” Jamie said, looking back at him through the glass. “Ye ken what to
Alec assured the young man. “Yer Da was
a good man, and a friend of mine. Ye’ve
shown me a world of kindness, as well. I’ll
take care of her.”
nodded, knowing that the older man understood what was expected of him this
week. When they got to the airport, they shook hands, and grabbing his luggage, Jamie walked
watched him go marveling at how much like Brian he was. Same strong walk, and the same straight set
of his shoulders. He smiled at the
memory and climbed back into the Rover.
How badly he wanted a cigarette right now, but he would never
succumb. He owed it to Brian. They had gone to school together and were
good friends. Then, Alec spent some time
in the military while Brian went off to Uni.
When they crossed paths again years later in a pub, Alec was an
alcoholic chain-smoker crying over a recent cancer diagnosis. Brian had him sobered up in rehab, and gave
him a job at the Distillery as a driver.
irony. An alcoholic working for a whisky
actions gave him back his life. Cancer
in remission. Sober, and
non-smoker. It didn’t help his already
broken marriage, but it did give him his self-respect, and that meant everything. When Brian died he was sure that would be the
end of his job. He approached Jenny and
Jamie, literally with his hat in his hand.
Jenny had showed him into her office and wandered over to her sideboard,
littered with whisky tumblers and decanters, and various refreshments.
poured three cups of coffee, God love her.
His heart melted.
and Jamie had been talking, she explained, handing him a steaming hot mug. They’d decided she and Ian should move to
Lallybroch, now that Brian was gone. She
was pregnant and their growing family would need the space. The commute would be a long one, so Alec
would be needed to drive her and Ian to work from Lallybroch, every day. As well, his current duties as driver would
remain. There was a small cottage in Broch
Mordha that he could have, so that he’d be close to Lallybroch for the daily
commute. Then, Jamie handed him an
envelope containing his new salary. He had
to draw on all of his military training to not cry at the figure on the
page. He stood, shook hands, thanked
them for the coffee and stepped out into the hallway.
that point he allowed himself a good cry, for the loss of his friend and in
gratitude for his children. Jamie
stepped out ten minutes later and handed him a set of keys. He left him alone to find the Range Rover in
the lot. It was all too much. From that day forward ‘Old Alec’, as the Murray
kids called him, became protector of Brian’s family.
family that now included Claire.
checked her phone thinking she’d calculate what time it was for Jamie. Jesus
H! 11:45! She needed to get home and get some rest
before her 8:00 class tomorrow morning.
quickly texted Alec, then started packing up.
Claire was surprised at how fast her phone pinged in response.
Which door will I find you to pick you
texted back. East door. Thank you, Alec.
pulled the car from its spot on the street and headed towards the library. The rain was steady, but not driving
down. Still, he’d get as close as he
The night was dark as pitch but the streetlights helped. It seemed like she
wasn’t there when he pulled up. No
matter. He punched the
button to start the hazard lights and waited for a glimpse of her before jumping out to get the door.
bolted down the stairs. She felt good
about how much work she’d gotten done, but she also felt guilty for keeping
Alec up so late. She wondered what Jenny
was doing for a ride this week. If Alec
was driving her, he couldn’t be driving Jenny.
her preoccupation she took the wrong hallway to the door. Turning quickly to correct her mistake she
bumped into a solid wall of flesh.
“Umpf!” She staggered back, clutching her bag. “Robert!”
Horrocks bent down to pick up the book he
dropped in the collision.
“Sorry. I didn’t see you.” She took a moment to step around him, but he
stood up and filled the narrow hallway. She
stopped, unsure of what was happening for the moment.
fine,” he said, in his charming Irish lilt.
“I saw you moving like a bat outta hell, and I wondered if you were all
relaxed. Of course. That made sense.
going the wrong way.” She made a motion toward her head. “Tired.”
She stepped forward again, and this time he let her pass.
The foyer was well lit and made it hard to see into the darkness. Everything was reflected back at her in the glass, especially Robert, still behind her. However, she could make out the blinking red hazard lights and knew that would be her ride.
“Night!” she said, throwing the words casually over her shoulder.
Just before she opened the door he grabbed her upper
raining, Claire. Let me get my umbrella.” He was standing entirely too close. She looked up into his blue eyes. A very different blue from Jamie’s, she thought. Icy blue.
Not the usual warm, ocean blue of her husband’s. She shivered, and she wasn’t sure why.
be fine. My car’s right there.” Hitching
her knapsack higher on her shoulder, she bent her head and stepped into the
held the door open as he watched her jog to the car.
when it hit him.
wasn’t sure what, exactly. But he couldn’t
breathe for the weight across his windpipe, and the force pressing his face into
the side of the wall, away from the door.
He was trying to get his feet under him from being knocked off balance
but he couldn’t manage. Stars swam
before his eyes.
What if Jamie wasn't an outlaw when he met Claire and Jamie could court her properly? How would Claire react to that when if she was still trying to get home?
Anon asked: what do you think it would have happened if Jamie and Claire didn’t have to get married? Do you think our hero could have find a way to marry the Sassenach or at least, make her fall in love with her without all the amazing sex?
Mod Note: I genuinely did not intend to continue this story (despite many requests), but I am finally bringing one of my first Imagine pieces out of the archives to explore these intriguing prompts! A bit of a slow burn on this one, but hang in there with me! -Mod Bonnie
The canteen hit Jamie’s jaw squarely with a sharp THWOCK.
“A mhic an diabhoil!” he snarled, looking wildly around and finding the culprit at once. “Damn you, Murtagh, what in God’s name was that for?!”
“To see if I could get yer gob to close all the way,” the usually-dour clansman said with a smirk, arms crossed. “A wee brown-haired lass seems to have broken your hinge this morning.”
Murtagh saw the canteen coming and ducked, laughing as it clattered against the nearby tree. “Careful, ye wee smout—that’s the good whisky!”
Despite Jamie’s annoyance, the corners of his mouth were twitching as he returned to finish unlashing the bundles from his saddle; and, conveniently, returning him to the sight of Mistress Beauchamp carrying a bedroll to the place she’d claimed for her lean-to.
The man was right: Jamie hadn’t been able to stop looking at her all day: sidelong as they rode; catching her eye as they stopped for water; training his gaze on back of her head when she nudged her mount past his on the road to speak with Ned. Always and completely: she was all he saw, this day.
He had been drawn to Mistress Beauchamp from the first—when she mended his shoulder; when he held her at Leoch; but now…Christ, he was all but consumed by her; and how could he not be? Having slept with her in his arms? Remembering the scent of her hair? Now knowing the shapes of her under his hands; what it was to hear sounds of desire from her lips as she moved against him, seeking?
And above all, to know that she had stayed. Aye, she had slept in his arms, but any lass might have done the same with any man, to save her own life….but upon waking this morning, she was flustered, had made to rise, and yet at the barest suggestion, she had stayed there in his arms for nigh on an hour, waiting for the rest of camp to awaken. They both had assumed pretense of sleep, but neither of them had allowed themselves to drift away. Her breathing had stayed quick; he could feel it, warm and shallow at the base of his throat. She surely had felt his heart thudding away, with her ear resting so near it.
No, they hadn’t slept; nor had they spoken. They’d held one another
And there, at the last, he’d brought one hand—shaking—to softly, gently, slowly come to rest on the curve of her head. She’d gasped and made as if to—say something? Move? Christ, touch him back?
And just at that moment, the camp had come alive. Before he could blink, she had gotten to her feet and the day began as it always did. Boiling water; folding, packing; bannocks and whisky; back on the long road through the glens; all just as it was every day.
But today, he couldn’t stop looking at her.
At Mistress Beauchamp, who had slept in his arms.
But God, he had to stop thinking about her. She was the finest woman he’d ever met —but he could offer her no future, as a wanted criminal. None. He wouldn’t subject her to the dangers a life with him would entail. He had to stop thinking about her.
He couldn’t stop thinking about her.
“Ye did a good thing, Jamie, lad,” Murtagh said, yanking Jamie back once more from grim reverie, deep brown eyes watching him. “Keeping the lass last night as ye did. You’re the only one that could ha’ done it for her properly.”
“Aye,” he coughed, “well, I… she….” He cleared his throat uncomfortably, unfurling his tent canvas. “I’m glad to’ve been of service to her.”
Murtagh made a noise somewhere between a chuckle and a harrumph.
“And what’s that supposed to signify?” Jamie snapped, tugging at his stock. Hadn’t Claire nearly frozen to death last night? Then why, by Bride and all the saints, was the gathering evening so bloody HOT?
“Haud yer wheesht, lad,” Murtagh, now chuckling in earnest at Jamie’s discomfort. “Your secret doe-eyes are safe wi’ me.”
“Not doe-eyes…” Jamie muttered, feeling all of seven years of age.
“Hey.” Murtagh’s hand clapped warm on his shoulder, his eyes suddenly soft and unusually earnest. “She’s a fine woman, Jamie, Sassenach or no’.”
Aye, Jamie thought, watching the wind lift her curls into life as she rifled her wee medicine box, then made for the wood with a basket in hand, she truly is. And I can’t let myself want her.
And then the messenger rode into camp.
He waited until it was nearing sunset, when he knew she would be out gathering her wee herbs before the light went. He made for the loch under the pretext of needing a piss, seeing Murtagh watching him knowingly. Jamie knew without asking or telling that his godfather would keep an eye on the other men and prevent any from venturing in the same direction. He said a prayer, thanking God for the gift of this protector that had watched over him all his life, and continued down the path.
Sure enough, as the woods opened out into the waning crimson sunlight, he found her seated on a low boulder, looking out upon the loch, basket at her feet.
Seeing her, her unbound curls wafting sweetly in the breeze, his throat went instantly tight.
Christ, how could he do this?
Knowing her…. How could he not?
He cleared his throat and sang out with an attempt-at-cheery, “Take care no’ to fall in.”
Her head turned sharply, surprised, but a begrudging smile was already tugging at her lips. “Ned’s nowhere in sight—I think I should be safe.”
“Good,” he laughed—God, how it delighted his soul to laugh with this woman— “Best stay well shot of him.”
“But he’s such a darling!” She pursed her lips to hold back her mirth. “I’m not sure I can refuse him if he comes calling!”
“Well, do what ye must, lass,” he grinned, “I’ll be standing by to hold ye, anytime.”
She made a small sound of kind acknowledgement but looked away, suddenly shy.The silence rang between them so acutely, Jamie could hear the voices from camp, many yards distant.
“I’ve gotten some good news, Sassenach,” he said, feeling the letter in his waistcoat pocket. “I’ve…been pardoned.”
“NO!” She leapt to her feet, mouth open and excitement dawning. “Oh, Jamie, that’s wonderful news!” She grabbed one of his hands in hers and squeezed it hard, practically bouncing with her enthusiasm. “God be bloody praised!!! I’m so thrilled for you! Whatever happened to bring that about?”
They sat on the boulder and he explained, grinning from ear to ear, the contents of Colum’s letter. Unbeknownst to Jamie, his uncle had been exercising all his considerable influence to get the accusations against him dropped. By some miracle, he had succeeded, and had sent a messenger at once to share the glad tidings.
Jamie read between to lines to gather that His Grace the Duke of Sandringham had been more than instrumental in getting the matter quietly resolved and Jamie’s outlaw record expunged. Jamie could just imagine the foppish gent drawling: “Anything for my DEAHHRRRR Jamie,” in those thick, unctuous tones, wet eyes glittering with anticipation.
The Duke’s predilections were well known, and such attentions had made Jamie supremely uncomfortable at the time of the man’s last visit. However, God bless him and all his house, if such affections had just saved Jamie from a life of flight and ultimately the noose.
And ten times the blessing to him if it meant Jamie’s honor was now completely unhindered…that he was completely free to….
“What have ye been gathering, then?” he blurted, feeling his wame clenching in anxiety.
“Good Lord,” she laughed, startled, “you suddenly want to talk about herbs after such splendid news!?”
“My life is my own again,” he said, shrugging, “I want to talk about anything and everything.”
“Cress,” she said affably, nudging the basket with her foot. “Didn’t manage to bring back any last night, after all, what with one thing and another.”
She paused suddenly, furrowing her eyebrows. She was leaning on her hand, the fingertips just inches away from his plaid on the rock.
When she spoke, her voice was soft and full of feeling. “Thank you again for…for everything. You were so—wonderful about it all.”
Jamie felt his chest swell. “Think nothing of it, lass. You’ve saved my poor hide more times than I can count these past weeks. It was about time that I should do ye a service in return.“
“Did you get any real rest? I’m afraid I must have given you a dreadfully uncomfortable time. ”
“Och, dinna fash, lass. It was just fine.”
It was the best night of all my years, mo ghraidh.
No. Not Mistress.
Even sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, facing forward as they were, he could see her straighten and stiffen at the tone in his voice.
“I find meself—” he said, trying to force his lips to move at his bidding, but finding them slow and wooden, “—that is—”
Help me, woman. See what’s in my heart. Surely ye ken it already.
Thank the Lord it came out sounding calm and clear:
“I care for you, Claire.”
She stopped breathing. The breath actually left her, for more heartbeats than Jamie knew. The absence of it—that rhythm of her that he’d memorized, he now realized— was like whisky thrown on the fire within him, the flames roaring instantly up in fear and anticipation. He wanted so desperately to take her face in his hands so he might look into her golden eyes while telling her all his heart…but his hands were shaking and he didn’t think he could get out the words if he moved.
“I care for you as I’ve never cared for anyone in my life,” he said, mustering his courage only by focusing only on the wonder of the person beside him. “Your wit, your courage, your pigheadedness,” he laughed, his whole body glowing with sudden warmth. “The–” He clenched his hands in his lap, staring at them as if they held the proper words. “– life in you Claire, is unlike anything I have ever encountered. I havena been able to get ye out of my head since the first day we met. And then last night…”
He heard her lips part and a long intake of breath, then a soft, inscrutable, “Jamie…”
“I ken I’ve perhaps no business saying such things. Even though I’m no longer a wanted criminal, I’ve no great wealth, and perhaps I’m nothing you ought to trouble o’er.“ He shook his head, hard. “But surely…surely ye ken as well as I what there is between us, Claire.”
He screwed up his courage and turned to face her. She was staring down into her lap, hands clasped. Her lips were pressed tight, her expression, for once, unreadable.
“I canna believe I’m alone in feeling it…this…whatever it is between you and me.” He laid a hand slowly and tenderly atop hers, his heart pounding.
She jumped when his hand touched hers, and with a jolt, Jamie saw that she had been twisting her golden ring round and round her finger.
Jamie stood at once and raised his hands in a gesture of apology. “Forgive me, lass….”
Fraser, you dolt, have ye no sense to spare a thought for what the lass is going through?
“I’m so sorry, Claire,” he repeated. “I—I ken—that ye still grieve for your departed husband.”
Her lips went tight and Jamie saw her blink several times, hard.
“It…. isna right that ye should forget him, or even try to. If ye loved him, he must have been a good man. But I–I should–”
Courage, man. COURAGE.
“…It would be my honor to see to the care of his wife.”
Finally, she looked up, sharply, her eyes wide. She spoke in barely a whisper. “What?”
“Will you marry me, Claire?”
She simply stared at him, in utter shock.
He went to his knees in front of her in the oath-giving posture, relinquishing all caution and all fear. He exhaled heavily with the relief of letting the feelings for her wash over him. “I care for you—"
I love you, he wanted to scream.
“—and now that I’m a free man, I wish to give ye everything I have. My name—my clan—the protection of my body….Claire, they’re all yours, now and forever.” He reached for her hand, trembling, dying to touch her. “If you’ll have me.”
Jamie felt as though she’d pushed him backward into the icy lake. He opened and closed his mouth, unable to find the words for the pain ripping through him.
“I’m sorry, Jamie. I can’t marry you.” She bolted to her feet, took up her basket, and made quickly back toward the camp.
This couldn’t be happening. This just couldn’t be.
He rose on shaking legs and tried to follow, reaching for her arm. “Sassenach, stop, please—I’m sorry if I was too—I just thought we—”
She threw off his hand and faced him only long enough to say coldly:
“You were mistaken.”
It should have been a night of celebration; should have been the most joyous occasion of his life–to know he was a free man, could go home at last.
But it was hell, every moment, her words tormenting him as he played each memory he held of her over and over in his mind, every time they had ever spoken, touched, laughed, or cried together, culminating in the breathtaking intimacy of the previous night. Was it lust deluding him? Was it pure, lecherous desire for her body that had colored these memories and called them love?
NO, damn it all!
He knew his heart. And hers—Christ, it danced across her face so freely, that—No, he was not mistaken.
Perhaps she was frightened; perhaps it was too soon.
But he was not mistaken.
It made seeing her flitting about all evening, smiling and pouring whisky liberally all ‘round the fireside — the collective mood of festivity ostensibly in honor of his pardon — all the more galling. She laughed and joked with the lads, chatted at length with Ned Gowan over documents, and generally charmed the whole camp with her golden eyes and glorious smile…everyone except him.
She’d spoken to him only once, when she offered him drink— “For you, Mr. McTavish?”— but she wouldn’t look at him.
She didn’t even know his real name. She didn’t want to know his real name.
He had wanted to drink, but hadn’t—couldn’t allow himself the escape of oblivion. This was his penance, to survive the long hours of the evening, watching her; the longer ones of silence and desolation, seething, hurting, long after the rest had fallen into their deep whisky-slumber. He needed to think with a clear head—to feel this, to understand.
Christ, if he could only understand why…! If she felt for him as he for her, why deny him so cruelly? Claire was shrewd, but he’d never known her to be that. Surely she had some reason. Surely, if he could only speak with her…
In the dead of night, the grief and the pain nigh unbearable, his ears pricked up. Someone moving surreptitiously about camp.
Clasping his dirk, he slowly sat up high enough to survey the clearing. Geordie, supposed to be on sentry duty, was sound asleep and Jamie gave a silent prayer of thanks to see Claire moving quietly in the direction of the loch.
Tomorrow, they would reach the crossroads and meet once more with Dougal and the rest; there would be more folk for her to tend; more folk to observe their behavior; to hear about their unorthodox night together. He HAD to speak with her tonight.
He followed quietly, but when they were far enough away to be out of earshot of the sleepers, he spoke. “Sassenach?”
She jumped and whirled, and he instantly raised his hands palms forward. “I’m sorry—” he whispered. He came slowly toward her. “I’m so sorry, lass, I didna mean to frigh—”
He froze, seeing her clearly now in the moonlight. “…You’re running.”
It was not a question. She was wearing her traveling cloak, and the bundle she clutched clearly contained her medicine box. Her eyes were wide and her nostrils flaring with deep breaths. She was pointed toward the road, in the opposite direction of the horses.
“And on foot?” His voice was flat. Dead.
She shrugged stiffly, tensed as though ready to bolt. “Didn’t want to risk waking the men.”
“Where?” he croaked. Why?, he wanted to scream.
Her eyes were defiant, wide with alarm and determination. “Back to where I came from—same place I’ve been trying to go since Dougal took me captive.”
“Ye canna just go, Claire,” he said, trying to sound dismissive.
Her face was stone. “I can. I will.”
“Claire, I willna let ye do this.“
“Didn’t realize you were my jailer. What are you going to do, clap me in irons?” She was backing slowly away from him and his desperation was mounting with every pace.
“It’s wild country out there! Wolves and—brigands, and—” He was petrified, heartbroken, grasping at straws to keep her from vanishing. “At least–let me accompany you to your destination—see you safe!”
A sob rising in his throat. Christ, dinna leave this way.
A hoarse gasping as he reached for her.
“Please, mo chridhe–”
Ice in her eyes. “I don’t need your ‘protection,’ Mr. McTavish.”
A knife in his gut.
‘…the protection of my body, Claire… …yours, now and forever.’
The sound of his heart breaking.
She was leaning into her frenzied defiance. “I did have a life before I fell into your lap, you know!” She realized what she’d said, blushed, and stammered angrily. “I mean—into the–hands of the whole bloody clan. I had a LIFE,” she repeated, “and I’m far past due to return to it!”
“Aye,” he said, low and precise, shaking with anger. “you’ve made it exceedingly clear that there’s nothing whatsoever keeping you here.”
She had the grace to look abashed. “Jamie…” He saw the muscles of her face and throat working furiously; the regret in her eyes. She even took a step toward him and made to touch his arm. “Jamie, please, I’m so…so sorry for—”
He shrugged back from her touch and skirted silently around the edge of camp. She followed him, hissing out his name, but he did not slow his pace until he reached the horses. He located her mount and unhobbled it, leading it a hundred yards away from the others, picking up saddle and gear as he want.
When she at last caught up with him, he plucked the bundle from her arms, fastening it perfunctorily to her saddle.
Her face was upturned to him, so white and so perfect it made the pain writhe within his chest. He marshaled his features into his mask of impassivity and gave a cordial nod. “I wish ye the best of fortune in your life, Mistress.”
She reached for him, pleading. “Jamie, listen, I—”
He pressed the smaller of his dirks into her hand. “Goodbye, Claire.”
And without a backward glance—though he wished to throw his arms around her and beg her, beg her not to leave—he turned on his heel back toward the fires, listening first to the silence, then the jingle of harness and the sound of hooves going quietly off into the night.
He didn’t sleep that night. He couldn’t. He lay awake, breaking apart, wrapped in a blanket that still held the scent of her hair.
He arrived outside Taps for the third time and checked his watch. 6.45. He’d been round the block three times and it was still far too early. Should he go in and wait? Or should he wait outside? Or should he walk around a while longer to avoid looking too over eager?
“Jesus, Jamie. Getting a bloody grip on yerself man. She’s only a woman”
But what a woman. He hadn’t been able to get the image of her out of his head. He’d spent the whole day languishing around his apartment like a lovesick teenager, thinking about her. The soft curl of her hair on her shoulder. The way she looked at him when she’d run her finger down his cheek. He’d also fielded several angry calls and text messages from his friends wondering where he’d run off to.
“Ye’re no Cinderella, ye know’ grumbled Rupert “Ya didna need to be running off before the clock struck midnight.”
“Ah, but my work there was done, Rupe. I’d already been swept off my feet” He recounted his meeting with Claire and his plans to see her that evening.
“Ye were cramping our style there anyway.” laughed back Rupert.
“Aye, I can see how 4 married men in their thirties and forties would have been the toast of the club” Despite his big talk, Rupert had been happily married to his childhood sweetheart for 15 years and was as blissfully happy now as he had been the day he married Gina.
Rupert laughed again. “Aye, well. Gina asks are ya coming to dinner on Wednesday, she’ll likely grill you about the lassie but the kids have been asking for their Uncle Jamie.”
“I’ll be there, wouldn’t want to disappoint the bairns. Or Gina.” he added wryly.
He’d then spent an inordinate amount of time picking out clothes and trying to decide if the fact he had his knickers in a knot about going out for a drink with a woman he had spoken to for probably no more than 7 minutes meant he had severe emotional problems. Why was he so uptight? Whilst he’d not exactly been Glasgow’s version of Casanova, he had been on dates in the last few years. There had been the nice dentist that he met in the supermarket and gotten to talking to over a discussion on the merits of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc versus Napier. They’d had dinner a few times. He’d even kissed her, but he felt no desire to pursue her and when she text him to let her know she’d been asked out by someone else, he’d wished her joy and simply never thought of her again. He vaguely realised now that probably hadn’t been her main motivation is revealing that tit bit to him. Then there was F&B journalist he’d met at a craft beer fair when he’d first started diversifying the farm. They’d gone out once she’d spent the entire night talking about her ex, who was a musician before puking in his car on the way home. He’d seen her at a few events since but she’s given him a wide berth. His car still smelt a bit on hot days.
But this, he knew, was different. He wanted to see her, to be in her company, to breath the same air as her. The thought of hearing her laugh, of maybe being the one who made her laugh…
After his fourth lap of the block he arrived back outside the bar. 6.55. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. It was quiet, being Sunday night and the bar contained about a dozen people. A small group of men in the corner drinking stout and discussing the different brews, a couple at the bar, and Claire.
She sat at a table near the window, staring out at the street. There was a book of poetry spine up in front of her and she had glass and bottle in front of her. Her hair was pulled back slightly, but was starting to escape near the front. She wore black jeans and a black shirt.Her pale skin seemed to glow. She was lovelier than he had remembered.
“I promise to try not to spill that one down you” he said with a smile. She looked up at him and he motioned to the drink in front of her. “I’m not saying I won’t, but I promise I’ll try”
She smiled back and stood. There was an awkward moment when neither of them seemed to really know what to do. He wanted to touch her, but a hug seemed too familiar, a handshake too formal. Claire solved the dilemma by putting her hand on his arm.
“It’s lovely to see you, Jamie” she said sincerely and he felt the heat rise in his face slightly.
“Oh great” he thought, “now I’m blushing” Claire sat, not seeming to notice the colour which had flooded his cheeks. She gestured for him to do the same. “I’ll just get a drink, can I get you another? A whiskey this time?”
“Oh, no, a little early in proceedings for whiskey yet. I’ll have another of these.” She tipped the bottle towards him. Lady Broch Taurach pale ale. He grinned at her. “You like that do you?”
“oh yes, my friend Joe at work introduced me to craft beers and he’s a big fan of a little brewery near Inverness, Lallybroch, I think they’re called. I’ve developed a taste for this one”
He nodded and headed to the bar. Lallybroch microbrewery was the most recent expansion he had made to his family business. Lallybroch had been in his family since forever and was a the main factor in his decision to leave oil and gas and come home to Scotland. He was strangely chuffed that she was drinking his beer, brewed on his farm and although he knew it to be simple coincidence, he could not help but feel the same jolt of serendipitous good fortune that he’d felt when he had, quite literally, bumped into her the night before.
He returned with the drinks and sat down next to her so they could both look out of the window. Its started to rain. Because of course it had. It was Scotland. They chatted aimlessly and easily and Jamie’s nerves dissipated slightly. He was still incredibly aware of her, but she was so unassuming, so funny. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so much fun. She told him about her job at the hospital. She’s a surgeon. He told her about Lallybroch. She picked up the bottle in front of her. “I’m impressed. And who or what, exactly is a Lady Broch Taurach?”
“Well,” he settled in to tell a much loved story. “Lallybroch has been in my family since the eighteenth century. Back then we owned the whole estate, and our family were Lairds. The estate was called Broch Taurach, the Laird and his Lady were named for the estate. We just have the farm now, but it’s plenty. The farm itself is a proper working hill sheep farm and we have some highland cattle as well. We have a tourist bit, with a gift shop and a restaurant and the such. And then about 18 months ago I opened the brewery. We sell to quite a few places. ‘The Laird’s bedroom’, which is a stout and the pale ale” he gestured to Claire’s drink “are probably our top sellers. I live in Glasgow most of the time, running the business side of things and my sister and her husband run the farm day to day”
“A brewer, my dream man” she said with a giggle taking a swig. By this point they’d both had more than was probably sensible or wise on a Sunday night and were both finding life and each other hilarious.
“So how did you end up in Scotland? A wee Sassenach lassie like yer self?” he deliberately thickened his highland accent in the second half of the question and once again felt a warmth in the pit of his stomach at the sheer pleasure of making her laugh.
“Oh, well” her face darkened a bit “Well, it was my husband. Frank.”
“Your, your husband?” he swallowed audibly.
“Oh we’re divorced now. That tends to happen when your wife finds you in bed with your Phd student” She said this flippantly enough, but her jaw was set and her eyes had dulled.
“I’m sorry t’hear that, Claire”
“It’s fine, really, it’s just, well” She gestured vaguely into the air in a manner that conveyed that whilst things might be fine now, at some point in the not very distant past they had been a long way from fine. “It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t just lost the baby” Tears welled in her eyes and he could see her trying to master herself. He reached forward and took her hand.
“You don’t have to tell me. You don’t owe me anything, but if you want to talk. Well, I’ll do what I can to listen” She gave him a watery half smile at that.
“Thank you, but really. It’s in the past. It was very hard at the time. I had to do a lot to move past it, but I did and I try not to look back.”
She squeezed his hand.
“I think I might let you buy me that whiskey now”
Several very good whiskeys later he had in turn told her all about Geneva, his terrible relationship history and the real reason for his being in the nightclub on the previous night.
Claire was doubled over with laughter as he reenacted the various conversations he had with people in the run up to the night itself.
“Why everyone seemed so sure I was gonna meet the love of my life in a dodgy Glasgow disco with sticky carpets and one pound shots I’ll never know? They must have really thought I was a hopeless case”
“I’m fairly certain that was why we ended up there as well. Glenna, one of the nurses I work with, has been trying to set me up for the past year. I know that Altered Images is definitely not poor Mary’s scene and from the way Geillie and Glenna were literally trying to throw me in the path of every man that came by, I suspect this was another attempt at finding me ‘a braw laddie’” She did a truly awful Scottish accent and they both laughed again.
“Ya know what, Claire?” he asked as he regained his composure, “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I have tonight, with you” Her colour heightened slightly at the compliment and she looked him in the eye.
Her eyes are the same colour as the whiskey he noted abstractly. Warm and golden, and so deep and rich you could lose yourself in them.
The moment was broken by the bar man coming over and asking them to drink up. Glancing around Jamie realised they were alone in the bar. He glanced at his watch.
“I er, well” He stuttered trying to find his thoughts. He did not want the night to end, but given that it was a Sunday night could think of no way to extend it.
“Would you like to come back to my place?” Claire asked outright with no hint of nervousness. “I have whiskey” she added teasingly, seeing him hesitate.
“Aye, why not?” He suddenly felt very alive and not a small bit reckless. He had no expectations of her, but the idea of irresponsibly drinking Scapa Glansa on a Sunday night with the woman of his dreams seemed like too good a chance to pass up.
“I only live around the corner, we can walk” Gathering up her book, which lay discarded on the table, and bag she held out a hand to him. He took it and together they walked out into the rainy night
There was a short line of people
standing outside Duke’s, waiting for their turn to go in. Claire, arms crossed,
went up to the security guard holding a clipboard.
“Are you on the list?” he barked.
“Um, Claire Beauchamp?”
“Oh.” His gruff demeanor changed
instantly. “Says ‘ere you’re VIP.” He pulled a lanyard with blue tags dangling
that read DUKE’S. “Go on in. Ask for Duncan at the bar.”
“Thanks.” Claire slipped the pass
over her head and walked into the pulsing, smoky darkness.
Everyone inside looked like they’d
stepped out of RollingStone or something, Claire thought. She
was glad for once she’d listened to Geillis’s advice and dressed up a little
for the occasion; she was wearing makeup on her normally pale face and wild
curls, a short blue dress with heels – and the black biker jacket Mary her
co-worker had lent her to match a certain red-haired singer.
She walked up to the bar. The only
bartender on duty could only be Duncan. As she approached, he noticed the VIP
pass and immediately gave her a glass of champagne, directing her backstage.
“To the green room, love!” he shouted over the din.
Claire was still unsure about
this. And this, exactly, was whatever
she wanted it to be. Wasn’t that what he had said? For now, he was a friend.
And friends could see other friends and support each other at events like this.
As much as she – and Rupert – would have liked Geillis to be there, a seven
hour drive from Edinburgh and a hectic work schedule was not feasible.
Down a darkened hallway hidden
behind a black curtain by the bar, Claire reached a door marked for performers.
Boisterous laughter could be heard on the other side, and Claire wondered which
was Jamie’s. For courage, she downed the champagne all at once, bubbles fizzing
in her mouth. Thinking perhaps they wouldn’t hear her knocking, she decided to
turn the knob and walk in.
A group of faces turned to stare,
but she only had eyes for one. Towering over most, Jamie’s gaze found hers and
a blinding smile widened on his face. Pushing through the crowd sitting on
chairs and sofas, he met her at the door.
“You’re here!” Jamie leaned in and
pecked her on the cheek. Claire was enveloped in the warmth of his scent –
spice, citrus, and honey all at once. Resisting the urge to wrap her arms
around him, she merely smiled and squeezed his shoulder.
“How are you, Jamie? Nervous?”
“A wee bit.” He grinned. “The day
I dinna get the cramp in my wame, I’ll ken ‘tis time to retire.”
“Makes sense,” Claire laughed.
“Here, let me introduce ye.” Jamie
took her hand (with only a minor jolt) and pushed past the throng. Composed of
band members and a few random girls, the rest were close friends of Hugh
Munro’s, who enjoyed the perks of knowing the owner.
Claire was greeted cheerfully by
Willie, Ian, and Rupert, who pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. She solemnly
promised him to bring Geillis next time, regardless of work schedules. All the
while introductions were made, Jamie did not let go of her hand. And neither
Lastly, they approached a taciturn
man who stood off by himself behind the chairs. He nursed a beer, and only
raised an eyebrow as Jamie advanced closer, Claire in tow.
“Claire, this is Murtagh, my uncle
and our manager. Murtagh, this is Claire, whom I told ye all about.” A faint
pink tinged his ears and the back of his neck. Again, he rifled his hand
through the red tresses, embarrassed.
She stuck out her hand and was
surprised by the firm grip, which held hers for a second longer than normal
before he took a swig of beer.
“Mmphm. Ye’ll be the Sassenach
lassie then. Yon lad hasnae shut up about ye since Edinburgh.” A thick Scots
accent permeated his words, mumbled barely audibly. Claire strained to catch
the tone of them, but they lacked any sort of discernible emotion.
“Sassenach?” Claire peeked at
Jamie, who turned even redder.
“It only means English, to a Scot.
Uncle?” Jamie nudged Murtagh, who shook his head.
“Aye, no offense, lass. ‘Tis only he’s
never dated an Englishwoman before. French fer sure, mebbe a Lowlander here and
there.” He winked at Jamie, who covered his face in despair.
“Really? Well now, that’s
interesting. Tell me more.” Claire winked back at Murtagh, who seemed on the
verge of smiling.
“Nay. That’s enough. Thank ye,
Uncle.” Jamie steered Claire away with a broad hand on her shoulder. She turned
back to Murtagh one last time.
“A pleasure, Murtagh!” The man
raised his beer briefly in acknowledgement. She could clearly see that he was
protective of his nephew, and liked him for it.
At the back of the room stood a
long table, crammed with platters of finger food. Squeezed in were bottles and
bottles of whiskey. Claire could glimpse Laphroaig, Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenlivet, and
the odd bottle of Chivas and Johnnie Walker. Jamie insisted on exchanging her
empty champagne glass with the whiskey , which she took neat.
“Sláinte!” Jamie clinked her glass, and poured the liquor straight
down his throat. Claire followed suit, grimacing a bit at the peaty taste and
shivering as the heat of the whiskey lit her insides.
They stood side by side, watching
the men interact with a group of girls. They didn’t look older than 25, some
of them, Claire noted wryly. A few cast furtive glances at the corner where
Jamie and Claire were standing, smiling when they looked at him, frowning
openly at her. Claire tried not to care; she reminded herself that Jamie was
after all famous, and it was only natural that they wanted to capture his
attention. Finally, a girl gathered her courage enough to walk over and
introduce herself to Jamie.
“Hiiiii,” the girl tittered, flipping her long blonde hair and
briefly touching Jamie’s arm. “I’m Malva. How are you?” She smirked, and slid
sideways casually to block Claire completely from sight.
“Hello, Malva. Nice to meet ye.
Who are ye with tonight?” Jamie offered a polite smile, used to fan encounters.
“Oh, I’m here with friends. Can’t
wait for your set tonight. Which is your favorite song?” Malva sidled closer, and
Claire was forced to take a step back, nearly knocking over some whiskey
“Och, weel, I like them all, I guess. Bad if I
didn’t, eh?” Jamie reached out a hand behind Malva, and pulled Claire gently
into his side. “This is a friend of mine, Claire Beauchamp.”
“Hello.” Claire felt the words
stick in her throat. The back of her neck felt alternately cold and hot and
“Hey.” Malva’s stare was anything
but friendly. If looks could kill, Claire thought briefly. She felt the
momentary urge to nuzzle into Jamie’s neck, maybe plant a kiss or two there, marking
him as hers.
Oh wait. Am I… jealous of her?
Claire dismissed the idea and
tried to smile at the girl. She was only a fan, after all. Malva did not return
her gesture and just flipped her hair again, hoping for Jamie’s attention.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you
around. Good luck with the show.” Malva let the tip of her tongue trail over
her lips suggestively. Claire fought the impulse to scratch her eyes out and let
her instincts take over, wrapping her arm around Jamie. Surprised, he glanced
down at her, and smiled briefly at Claire.
“Thank ye. Hope ye enjoy it.”
Malva sauntered off, moving her
hips in a really obvious way that made her look mostly ridiculous. Angus seemed
willing to deal with her, and Claire breathed easier for the first time in
Well. Was it always like this? she
“It isnae always like this, ye
ken,” Jamie said.
Claire, startled, cursed her glass
face again. “Like this what?”
“The fans. Some are pushier, or
even grabbier, than others. Mainly they are respectful, they only want an
autograph or picture. A bit of a chat. A hug sometimes. But that’s it.”
“Jamie, you don’t have to explain
to me. I’m not—”
“Och, yer face looked like bloody
murder fer a second there. I promise, I’d never dally with a fan like that.
‘Twouldna be right.”
“What about me?” Claire asked with
“Ah, weel, ye said so yerself. Ye
didna ken who we were to start with.”
The concert was phenomenal. Close
to two hundred people crowded near the stage, clapping, and singing along. The
surprise performance had gone over spectacularly, the patrons raising the roof
when The Clan was announced.
Murtagh had led her to stage left,
where Claire had stood mesmerized by the show, and by Jamie in particular. He
was great at what he did, playing off
the audience and gauging their mood and
seeming to know just when to kick it up a notch. The band had them all riled up
since the beginning, playing upbeat songs that had everyone, Claire included,
dancing in their spots.
Finally, as the hour grew late,
the songs grew mellower. Claire swayed on her feet, head keeping time with the
rhythm. Every once in a while, Jamie would turn to look at her and smile. Finally,
close to one in the morning, Jamie pulled up a stool and took up his acoustic
guitar. The crowd quieted down a bit to listen.
“Now fer a new song, written verra
recently. This one goes out to the girl with whiskey eyes.”
Despite the screaming of a few
girls who no doubt thought the song was for them, Claire felt her heart quicken
and her palms tingle. He had once told her she was “bonny, with eyes like
whiskey.” Was this song meant for her?
Jamie strummed his guitar,
caressing the mike in a way that was only his.
I know you’re hurting
You know better than anyone
It’s hard to let your heart trust
But this is real
I’m here for you
Good times and bad
This isn’t an ending
Only the beginning of something
I promise I will wait
As long as it takes
Because your heart is worth it
But let these words and actions show
To help you see, give me a chance
I promise I will wait
As long as it takes
Because your heart is worth it
Claire’s cheeks flushed; she held
her hands up to her face, trying to contain the heat. She looked around, but
she was alone in the dark, staring out at the blue-lit stage where Jamie was
calling out to her. Time ceased to matter; what she thought she ought to do or
feel was irrelevant. It seemed like everyone would read it on her damned glass
As Claire realized herself in
that moment, in the space of a ¾ tempo, her heart had
decided of its own volition to tumble over the abyss and into those feelings unknown.
OMG I LOVE THE VIETNAM AU. Finally, the reunion! So wonderfully written. But hold the phone WHAT happened to Jamie and why does he look like that and how is Claire gonna heal him? *sigh*
“Stuffed cabbage, Claire?”
Claire turned to her left, meeting the kind brown eyes of
Ian Murray – Jamie’s best friend and brother-in-law.
“Sure – is it grown here on the farm as well?”
Ian served her a good-sized helping. Jenny – at her right
– poured a bit more wine into the tall glass by her plate.
“Most of the simple vegetables come straight from the
kailyard – always have, as long as we can remember. Nothing is as fresh to us. Or
Claire took a tentative bite, keeping her eyes firmly on
the gorgeous old dinner plate – clearly used only for special occasions – as Jamie’s
foot silently nudged hers beneath the table.
Somewhere around three that afternoon, Ian had hobbled
down to the barn – he had lost his leg in a childhood car accident, Jamie later
explained – finding a doubly rare sight. Jamie Fraser was idle – and Jamie
Fraser was in the company of a woman.
That he had somehow, sometime told Jenny and Ian who she
was had been clear – but just exactly what they knew about her was not. She had
helped Jenny and the kind housekeeper Mrs. Crook prepare dinner – over Jenny’s protests
that a guest should rest – seeking the opportunity to quietly introduce herself
to Jamie’s sister, and needing the time away from him to just reflect on her
whirlwind day. She had had months – years – to prepare. He had had no notice,
and yet had taken it all in so gracefully.
Had pledged himself to her, fully. Unequivocally.
Would she do the same for him?
She’d immediately accepted his offer of a place to stay
for the night. Jamie had proudly shown her to one of the beautifully
apportioned rooms on the second floor of the Big House – Lallybroch – sharing incredible
stories of the many Frasers whose blood and sweat had been poured into the very
stones and floorboards of the house since before the Revolution.
Light streamed through the windows of the room that was
to be Claire’s – the hand-carved bed covered in a worn but exquisite blue
bedspread that had been quilted by Jamie’s grandmother MacKenzie; two plush
armchairs of a 1940s vintage cozily angled before a small fireplace; on the wall
above the bed, a vibrant watercolor of the Big House amid the glowing orange
leaves of autumn.
“There should be some spare clothes in the bureau,” Jamie
remarked softly, remaining just inside the doorway as Claire quietly acquainted
herself with the room. “And my Mam painted that when I was small. We have her
drawings and paintings up all over the house.”
From her position at the window, admiring the kitchen
garden and small orchard of fruit trees clustered near the old outhouse, Claire
turned to smile at him. “Do you paint?”
He shrugged. “I’ve tried. But Jenny has the real talent
for it – some of her pieces are downstairs.” He paused, licking his lips. “Well
then. I’ll be down in the study with Ian. Have some orders to straighten out
for tomorrow. Will – ”
“I’ll be all right,” she reassured him. “Thank you,
His smile – small, glowing – was absolutely beautiful. “Thank
*you*, Claire.” Then he turned and disappeared down the hall.
“The apples in that pie you helped me with come right
from the orchard – great-grandmother Fraser planted them, right after the War
Between The States,” Jenny continued. Claire snapped back to the present as the
toe of Jamie’s boot curled around the back of her shin.
“I’m normally not much help in the kitchen, but you’ve all
been so incredibly warm and generous – ”
“Nonsense,” Ian insisted, tearing up a piece of Mrs.
Crook’s thick homemade oat bread – a bannock, Jamie had called it – for his
three-year-old son – Jamie’s namesake holding court at the worn but homely
kitchen table between his father and uncle. “You’ve made Jamie smile again.
Lord knows that’s been a rare sight since he returned from ‘Nam.”
Jamie withdrew his foot – and Claire looked across the
half-empty portions of roasted pork and Brussel sprouts and corn bread. Meeting
his intense blue gaze. Hoping her eyes could convey everything her voice could
Apple pie and whisky before the fire in the sitting room –
lined floor to ceiling with books dating from the 18th century all
the way up to shiny new editions of Slaughterhouse-Five and In Cold Blood. Comfortable
silence between them when Jenny and Ian departed to tuck the children into bed.
And then when Claire had yawned for the fifth time, Jamie rose, banked the
fire, and helped her rise from the couch. Then gently led her upstairs to the
room that would be hers for as long as she wished. Holding her hand the entire
They paused in the doorway.
“Will you be warm enough? There are extra blankets in the
hallway closet – ”
Claire rested her hands on his solid shoulders. “I’ll be
just fine. I’m not fragile, you know.”
He settled his hands on her hips, eyes creasing with happiness
in the dim light of the hallway. The silence of the house buzzed in their ears.
“I know you aren’t,” he breathed.
Then drew her close – holding her. Enveloping her. Feeling
her melt against him – her heart thrum in time with his.
After a long while she pushed back, kissed the corner of
his mouth, and quietly slid out of his arms.
“I’ll be right here, down the hall,” he whispered. Eyes
She blew him a teasing kiss, then quietly swung the heavy
oak door shut.
On both sides of the door, Jamie and Claire rested their
foreheads against the wood. And sighed.
Despite her exhaustion, Claire slept fitfully. Tossing and
turning on the heavenly soft mattress and under the almost sinfully warm quilt.
So many images flashing through her mind – the bullet-scarred palm tree on the helicopter
pad at Chu Lai; the faded anchor tattooed on the forearm of her anatomy
instructor; the checked shirt Uncle Lamb loved to wear when presenting his
latest findings to a group of his peers. The graceful, invisible shapes Jamie
had traced with his hands as he shared stories about himself and his Fraser
forebears – helping her learn about all the gifts he would give her.
Did she belong here? Could she belong here – the lady of
this great house? Sharing such a well-respected name? Enjoying dinner every
night in the rustic kitchen built two centuries ago, surrounded by so many
Frasers, alive and dead? Quietly at peace here on the ridge which Frasers had
called home for longer than Beauchamps had been in America?
The house groaned and settled around her – easing into
Except the shuffle of steps in the hallway. Pausing
outside her room, then continuing down the stairs.
At least she wasn’t the only restless person tonight. Jenny,
perhaps? Maggie was still nursing – perhaps just another late-night feed?
Claire wrapped the tartan blanket – Fraser colors, Jamie
had told her – from the foot of the bed around her shoulders, draped over the App
State t-shirt and flannel pants that had been neatly folded in the bottom
drawer of the bureau, gently pushed open the door, and stepped downstairs.
Only one room to visit at this time of night – the parlor,
where books and the warmth of the fire could lull even the most restless to sleep.
But it wasn’t Jenny who sought solace, deep in the night.
Jamie stood after adding a fresh log to the fire, rubbing
his face with his hands, clad in an olive-green Army-issued t-shirt and worn
white long johns.
Claire must have made a sound – for his head snapped up,
His wide, sweet mouth twisted in a wry smile. “You could
say that. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in three years.”
Claire blinked harshly in shock. “You mean – ”
“Yes – since Chu Lai. I – well.” He swallowed, grasping
for words. “I re-live all of it every night.”
She crossed the room to stand in front of him. Rested a
tentative hand on his elbow. “Tell me?”
He did. Terrible storied of men blown to pieces. Villages
burned. Dead livestock floating face-down in rice paddies. The faces of men he couldn’t
save. Memories of pain, and anguish, and isolation.
“And the worst one –” his voice broke.
At this point they had curled up together at the corner
of the couch, her legs tucked against his, sharing the warmth of the plaid. She
squeezed his clammy hand. Encouraging.
“The worst one is when the VC attack Chu Lai – and I can’t
find you, Claire. I can’t protect you. And then I’m scrambling down the hallway
and they’re firing at me and I trip over your body.”
He wouldn’t look at her – preferring to stare into the
She wiped the tears from his eyes. Stunned.
“Have you ever told this to anyone?” Her fingers twined
in his hair, damp with sweat. Bringing his face to rest in the curve of her
All he could do was shake his head. Breathing hard.
Burrowing closer to her.
“Nobody here understands. I’m a war hero. The owner of
this estate. I’m not supposed to be scared. I’m not supposed to have a back
twisted with scars. I’m not supposed to be terrified of going to sleep every
Claire eased onto his lap. “Shh,” she soothed. “I’m here.
Just let go, Jamie.”
He inhaled deeply. Shakily.
“Let go,” she repeated. “I understand. I’m here. You don’t
have to pretend.”
“I love you.”
His awed, red-rimmed eyes lifted to meet hers. Smiling through
Then her lips found his – and they clung to each other in
desperation and joy.
Jamie was jittery about his first date with his nephew’s teacher, Miss Beauchamp. He had been standing in front of his open closet attempting to choose the perfect clothing combination for over an hour. It made no sense why he was so flustered with such an incredibly simple task. A few exasperated sighs later the penny finally dropped. He remembered his late father had discussed the feeling he’d get when he found the right person.
A spark. A pull. An urge to be with them. Do you understand what I say? You’ll ken if they’re the one, boy.
When Jenny had first asked him to help out with the morning school run he had balked, saying he needed to be at the office. He was in charge of the family’s distillery business while she and her husband were running the award winning farm. They had several heated arguments on the subject until she pulled rank as the older sister. She loudly reminded him that they were a family who supported each other and that he didn’t get to choose when. He didn’t argue a bit anymore.
A scream from downstairs snapped him back to reality. He dashed downstairs to see Ian cradling Kitty as she red faced bawled louder and louder.
“She tried to get a biscuit in the pantry and fell.” Ian confirmed. “We’re taking her to A&E and need you to stay with Jamie and Maggie.”
The moment he said it, his sister smacked the back of his head as she scowled at him. He returned the glare but decided against verbal retaliation, considering the situation.
“ Jesus, Mary and Bride! I know!” he replied with a wince. “I shouldn’t say such things in front of the wee’uns.”
“Why did you then?” Jenny demanded. “If you know you shouldn’t and you should be smart enough to know you shouldn’t then you should not do it!”
“What?” Jamie shook his head. “Nevermind. Just go. I’ll text Miss Beauchamp to cancel. Go.”
His sister gave him a peck on the cheek as he pushed her towards the front door.
“Take care of Kitty, mo piuthar. We will be okay here, I promise.”
Supper with two rambunctious children left with their young uncle went as well as he expected, although the gravy hitting him square in the face was unforeseen. As they did the washing up his mobile began to buzz in his back pocket.
Both children pointed at him then gave him a smack rather reminiscent of their mother’s. He would have to apologize to her in front of them and a long speech on why swearing wasn’t a good idea would have to be worked on as well.
He flicked his mobile open to answer it when he saw it was his date, well, who he would be dating if he wasn’t trying to wrangle children who were currently hellbent on flooding the room.
“Miss Beauchamp! I am so sorry!” he babbled. “My sister and brother-in-law had to take the youngest to A & E. I can’t apologize enough for not calling you!”
“I was hoping it was something.. No. Erm. I’m glad it wasn’t me.” she sputtered.
“Dinna fash! I do have to get these two hooligans tucked in bed. D’ye think you could help me do that?” he laughed.
Both children decided it was time to be as loud as possible since the adult in charge wasn’t paying enough attention to them. Jamie was sure it was something their mother had taught them just to be extra aggravating
“Certainly, Mr. Fraser. I am a professional, after all.” she yelled over the din. “I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”
By the time she arrived Jamie had the children in pyjamas, teeth brushed, and done toileting. He was honestly proud of himself until they were greeting her at the door. She mentioned Maggie’s top was on inside out and Wee Jamie had put an old pair on that was entirely too small.
“Weel, I did leave it up to them.”
Another half hour later, six drinks of water, two trips to the bathroom and about a hundred questions from a confused little boy who still didn’t understand why his teacher was at his house, the children were asleep.
Claire and Jamie chose the settee in the front room just to make sure they could hear any curious noises from upstairs. They didn’t even have enough time to get comfortable when they heard gales of laughter along with some rather loud splashing. It didn’t take long for them to find out what had happened.
“Why did you put your animals in the toilet, Maggie?” Jamie demanded. “Now it’s made a flood and there’s a massive mess…”
Claire put her hand up to let him know he needn’t continue, she could handle it.
“Okay, you two!” she enthused. “Go get an armful of towels from the linen closet and we’ll get this cleaned so you can get back in bed, alright?”
The young pair nodded their heads and followed everything she asked of them. Everything was cleaned up, returned to order, and might have even looked a bit cleaner when they completed the task set before them. Both Maggie and Wee Jamie yawned as they were tucked in bed for the umpteenth time.
“Night Uncle Jamie. Night Aunt Miss Beauchamp.” they chimed sleepily.
Claire laughed. Jamie blushed red all the way up to his ears.
When they were completely sure the children were asleep they walked downstairs to the kitchen to put the kettle on, tea was much needed after an ordeal it was agreed. But before the water had time to boil, the missing Murray family arrived back home with Kitty sporting a purple plaster cast on her arm.
This would be remembered by Claire to be their first date, but their worst date ever by Jamie. Thankfully, there were more dates. And thankfully for both of them, there was kissing.
Ian woke up the morning of December 27th around 4:45 AM, feeling rather warm–but not hotter than usual.
5:00 AM: He stepped into the shower, quickly rubbed a bar of soap over his body before shampooing his hair and jumping right back out again.
5:15 AM: After changing into his clothes, he ran down the staircase, brushing his teeth. He reached for a banana on the counter.
5:18 AM: His uncle rounded the corner from the study, looking intently at his nephew as he attempted to brush his teeth and eat at the same time.
“What in God’s name are ye doing, man?” He implored of his nephew, setting his newspaper down on the counter and leaning against it, eyebrows raised.
Ian looked from his toothbrush in one hand to the banana in the other, thinking of a proper way of explaining himself. He shrugged slightly, with a sheepish grin on his face. “Killin’ two birds with one stone?”
Jamie shook his head, a smile gracing his lips.
5:23 AM: Ian bid farewell to his uncle, and went to head out the door. Jamie stopped him, however, as soon as he hit the doorframe.
“Ian, the back of yer shirt is drenched.”
“Well,” Ian replied, “I did take a shower, Uncle.”
“I ken that, ye dolt. I mean that ye’re sweating, wi’ it bein’ freezing outside.” Jamie shook his head, then gestured his hand towards himself. “Come ‘ere, then.”
Ian, rolling his eyes slightly, and, shoulders slouched, walked towards his uncle. Jamie put the back of his hand against his nephew’s forehead, pursed his lips tightly before instructing the young lad to cough.
The boy did as he was bid, and a bunch of mucus seemed to jump from his lungs to his throat. The sound was thick and disgusting, and Jamie rose his eyebrows at his nephew.
“Looks like ye’re not going to work today, after all,” Jamie smiled, then pushed his nephew lightly on the shoulder towards the staircase. “Back to bed wi’ ye. Make sure you tell yer mother I told you to stay here.”
“Alright,” Ian agreed. He took a step forward but then turned back to his uncle, eyes wide. “What about Geordie?”
“Dinna worry about that, lad,” Jamie smiled. “I’ll take care o’ yer route for you.”
Nodding, Ian turned back to the staircase and took them two at a time, a wide smile on his lips as he went back to his room. Little did his uncle know that Ian was not sick, and just had taken a very hot shower.
And thank God for allergies, he thought to himself as he curled up in his bed, ecstatic at the idea of being able to sleep in.
Despite several attempts to get himself on his nephew’s bike, Jamie instead opted to drive his truck around the suburban neighborhoods of Boone, throwing the papers out the window as he passed. He was able to finish the route in just under an hour, which was much different than poor Ian Murray Jr.’s two-and-a-half-hour biking escapade.
When he pulled into the small subdivision of Simon’s Landing, his heart started to pound. Not from nerves–of course not from nerves–but just from the sheer knowledge of her presence.
He had tried, multiple times, to pick up the phone book and search for her phone number, skimming the yellow pages for Beauchamp, C. And amongst the Lambert’s and John’s and Harrison’s, his finger had hit that inked letter C–with the eight digits following–and he would slam the book closed. Both of the Ian’s had chastised him multiple times over the matter, and even his sister joined in the proceedings once or twice.
“Ask her on a date, ye clotheid,” she frustratedly muttered to her brother over breakfast one morning. “If you dinna want to do it, then I will do it for ye.”
The opportunity had presented itself to him this morning with Ian’s sickness. Whether this was a sign from God or not, he didn’t know. But he took it graciously, and asked Him not to let him screw this up.
With his nerves clogging up his throat, to the point he was almost suffocating, he walked up the few steps to her porch and approached her door. He rang the doorbell once and heard the shrill ring of it echo through the house. Rocking back and forth on his heels, he shoved his hands in his pockets, the newspaper squeezed between his arm and his side.
Every second that passed seemed like years. Each new breath that he exhaled came out in faster waves as his heartbeat increased, the cold morning air causing them to form into mist in front of him. Getting slightly impatient–and worried that she wasn’t inside–he looked through one of the front windows of her porch in search of her.
As soon as he did this, however, the door swung open and there she was.
“Good morning, Mr. Fraser,” she greeted, a warm smile on her face as she pulled her cardigan closer to her body against the brisk morning chill. She looked from his face to the newspaper in his arm and nodded at it. “Is that for me?”
Flustered, he fumbled with the paper in his hands and thrust it forward, unattractively and clumsily, at her face. “Aye, I–uh–yes, this is yours.”
The smile on her face grew ever wider, showing all of her beautiful white teeth. She stepped to the side and opened the door just a tad wider, inviting him to come inside. Still discomfited, he nodded once and came inside, allowing the warmth to envelope him in a blanket of comfort.
“Would you like some coffee? I just made a pot,” she inquired, gesturing to the kitchen where the coffee pot sat in his view. Shaking his head, but thanking her nonetheless, he watched her walk out of the entryway and into the brightly colored room. A moment passed before she turned towards him, a sheepish smile on her lips as she filled up a mug. “You can come in here, you know.”
He took a step, then realized that his boots were wet from the snow outside. Grimacing, he called to her as he went to place his shoes outside, “I’ll take my shoes off outside, so as to not ruin your floors.”
She waved a hand in dismissal, but he didn’t see it. He popped off his boots in front of the door and stepped back inside in his woolen socks.
“So, where’s your nephew this morning?” Claire asked as he stepped into the kitchen, eyebrows raised as she took a sip of her coffee. He committed her drink of choice to memory: Black, no sugar, no creamer.
“He’s at home sick. He woke up wi’ a fever this morning.”
A concerned look crossed over her face as she set down her cup and crossed her arms over her chest. “What were his other symptoms?”
Jamie shrugged, “I’m no’ one to ken exactly what to look for when someone is sick, but he was sweatin’ a lot; his whole shirt was soaked through. His head was hot to the touch and when I asked him to cough, ‘twas the most disgusting thing I’d ever heard.”
Her fingers tapped on her arm in thought before she asked, “Had he taken a shower this morning?”
“Aye,” He replied, eyebrows shrunk together in confusion as she chuckled lightly. “Why?”
She pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. The look that she was giving him made him nervous, which caused him to voice a nervous, “What?”
“Well…” She tried to suppress laughter as she took another sip of her coffee. “I do believe that you have been played a fool.”
Jamie, flabbergasted, left out a huff of agitation. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Since I haven’t seen him, I can’t say that I’m entirely right, but I do believe that he has nothing more than a small case of allergies.”
Getting rather annoyed, he crossed his arms and stared at her crossly. “And how do you know that, just from the wee bit of information that I’ve shared wi’ ye?”
She was trying so hard to keep her smile contained from behind the rim of her coffee cup. “Because I’m a pediatrician, Mr. Fraser. It’s my job.”
If he thought he was embarrassed before, he was downright mortified. His face flushed and words seemed to die in his throat; not a single one of the apologies he could think of were enough to excuse his error. There was nothing he wanted to do more than to kneel at her feet and beg for mercy.
As much as he thought she was mad at him, though, he could see that it was much the opposite. She seemed amused at his tongue-tied state, Damn her, and the smirk on her lips proved it.
Scrambling to find a way to make it up to her, he stammered out, “Can I take ye to dinner?”
A cringe formed on his face as he watched her eyes widen then return to their normal size, but the smile didn’t leave her face. Before she could answer, he went to explain himself, the words spilling out of his mouth in a long stream of word vomit. “I mean, not that I like ye more now that I know that ye’re a doctor. My opinion has really been the same since I first met ye, it’s just that–”
“I would love to go to dinner,” she interrupted, setting her coffee mug down on the counter. She turned from his shocked face to her refrigerator, where a small calendar rested to mark her schedule. He watched as she pulled a marker from the holder and went to find a day she had off, her slender finger pointing to the 31st. “What are your plans for New Year’s Eve, Mr. Fraser?”
Shifting from foot to foot, he shrugged. “Nothin’ much, I dinna think. I don’t start workin’ again until the New Year.”
“I work in the morning, but maybe we can do something that night,” she started to write his name down as Mr. Fraser but stopped short. She turned sheepishly to him and murmured, “I suppose since we know each other well enough now, we could know each other by our first names, right, Jamie?”
Jamie nodded with a smile, savoring the sound of his name on her lips. “I suppose so, Claire.”
Finally! I found this chapter a slog, but hopefully you won’t!
It follows on immediately from the previously chapter. The rest of this story (and my other work) can be found here
A Wish to the Moon
They were interrupted by the sound of giggling coming from the driver’s side of the car. Breaking apart they turned to find five children of varying sizes looking in at them. The appearance of a chubby hand which left a sticky print on the window suggested that a sixth, smaller child also accompanied them.
Jamie opened his door and stepped out. Moving around the car, he gently shooed the children away and opened the driver’s door for Claire. He was immediately set upon by the crowd with much unseemly jostling and cries of “Up! Up, uncle Jamie.” Jamie extricated the smallest child from the melee and swung him up before he could be properly trampled by the others. The child, a small boy of about two, immediately caught Jamie’s head in an enthusiastic embrace which temporarily blinded Jamie and made Claire laugh. Untangling the small boys arms and swinging him up onto his shoulders he turned to Claire.
“Now then, Claire” he smiled as he turned and affected introductions. “This here is wee Jamie,” He indicated a boy of about ten. “This is Maggie and this here is our Kitty.” He indicated two girls aged about eight and nine. “These are the twins, Michael and wee Janet, and this little tyke here,” he indicated the toddler who was now lovingly resting his cheek against the top of Jamie’s head, whilst patting his cheek. “is wee Ian. These are my sister, Jenny’s bairns.” He said by way of explanation. “And this here,” he turned to the children and indicated Claire. “is Claire”
“Is she your girlfriend, uncle Jamie?” asked Maggie, her head tilted as she considered Claire. “Why were ya kissing her? Are you going to marry her, Uncle Jamie? Will ye both come here and live at Lallybroch after ye get married? If ye have a baby can I hold it sometimes? And maybe give it its bottle. Does she have a baby in her tummy already?”
“Oooh can I be bridesmaid?” piped up the smallest girl. “I never got to be a bridesmaid. Kitty an’ Maggie have, but I was still in ma’s tummy so I couldna do it.”
Jamie laughed and stole a glance at Claire, who looked rather bemused but thankfully not too put out at the barrage of questions being put forth by this miniature interrogation squad.
“That’s enough questions now.” He stated with mock severity. “Ye’ll no want Claire thinking ye’ve no manners would ya?” He reached a hand to Claire and she took it, smiling. Her eyes flicked up to the small boy still clinging to Jamie, who was now playing with a lock of his hair with a beatific smile upon his face, before meeting Jamie’s eyes once again. There was a look in her eyes, a wistfulness, despite her smile, that made Jamie’s heart ache a little. He remembered her story from their first date, he knew of her trials and tribulations in attempting to conceive in her former marriage. And he knew of her fears that now, at thirty eight, it might be far too late and whatever slim chances she might once of had of a child were slipping through her fingers. He reached out at brushed a curl away from her face with a finger.
“Come Mo Nighean Donn, come and make yourself at home.” He wrapped an arm round her shoulders and she placed hers around his waist as they followed the throng of children towards the house.
They followed the children around the back of the main house and out towards and converted outbuilding which had been repurposed into a large family home. What had once been large doors were now huge picture windows which gave the place a sense of light and space.
“When we decided to open up the main house to the public, Ian and Jenny renovated this place rather than living in apartments in the main house.” Jamie explained to Claire. “Tryin’ to keep the bairns away from the eighteenth century decor was just more trouble than it was worth”
“It’s beautiful,” sighed Claire. “Though they must miss the main house”
“Ah, not so you’d notice” a male voice piped up behind them. Both turned to greet the voice.
“We’ve much more space out here and Jenny likes the sense of separation between her work and her home life. It might be only a couple of hundred yards, but we prefer it.” The man turned to Jamie and gathered him in an embrace, careful not to dislodge the small boy. “Jamie, man. How are ya? The kids have been mad wi’ excitement all week about ye’re visit and Jenny, well, Jenny’s done no’ but cook and clean since she heard ye were bringing a friend with you.” He looked archly at Claire waiting for an introduction.
“Ah, Ian, I want ye to meet Claire. Claire, this is Ian, my best friend since childhood who also now happens to be my brother in law as well.” Ian smiled warmly at her, before gathering her up in a hug.
“Welcome to Lallybroch, Claire. Jenny will be along directly. She just had to make a mad dash for the tea room when she realised she had no cream”
“It’s lovely to meet you too, Ian.” Claire returned the smile. “Jamie has told me so much about you all”
At that moment a small dark woman entered the room. As dark as Jamie was bright but with the same slanted blue eyes and high cheek bones, she barely reached his shoulders but gave off such force of personality she dominated the space.
Jamie tensed. He and his sister had always been close, more so since their father died and it was just the two of them but she was a plain speaker and blunt as a dull knife when she chose to be. He had always known she had little time for Geneva, but it had been a simple task to keep them apart for all those years. Family gatherings were few when he was abroad so much and after he returned Geneva’s lack of interest in Lallybroch meant that he often attended things alone anyway. But it was different with Claire. He wanted so much for her to be accepted here. For her to feel at home. He had meant everything he had said in the car, he would turn his back on it all for her, but he wanted more than anything for her to have a place here, for Jenny to welcome her, for Lallybroch to embrace her.
“Jenny,” said Jamie slowly, drawing Claire to his side. “This is Claire.” He had no need to elaborate, just as Claire had heard all about Jenny and Ian, he had told Jenny about Claire. How could he not? When his heart and soul were so unexpectedly brought back to life. Jenny had expressed joy, that he had at last found someone, but he knew her well. She would want to see for herself. The two women looked at each other appraisingly and the moment seemed to stretch forever. Both women knew what the other meant to Jamie and were wary of a false move. The tension was broken as Jenny let out a sudden laugh and gathered Claire into an enthusiastic hug which Claire returned wholeheartedly. Jamie released the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding, feeling a sudden lightness of being.
“Claire and I will just take our stuff over to the apartment and then we’ll have some lunch, aye?” he raised his eyebrow questioningly at Jenny?
“Oh aye, lunch will be on the table at 1.30 sharp. Sharp!” she called after them with a laugh as Jamie led them down the hallway back to the front door.
Jamie led her round the front of the main house. In the lobby a small group of tourists were examining a sabre mark in the panelling made by red coats after the ‘45. Leading Claire past them, he led them both through a door marked ‘Private’.
“Welcome to my humble abode” He added an elaborate bow to this statement and grinned at her. “This part of the house isn’t open to tourists and we keep it as apartments. Its where I live when I’m here at Lallybroch. It’s just this room here, with a kitchen off to the side and then upstairs there’s a bedroom.” The rooms were large but it was clear why Jenny and her expanding family has chosen not to live in them. The voices of tourists in the main house echoed through the quiet. Despite the sturdy build of the house its eighteenth century acoustics left much to be desired.
Claire looked around smiling. “It’s perfect Jamie and I’m just so happy that you wanted to share this with me”
Jamie pulled her close and kissed her gently, first on the forehead, then on the nose and finally on the mouth. “You belong here, Mo Nighean donn, here with me.” He kissed her again brushing a wayward curl away from her face. “This afternoon, I’ll take ye round the grounds and tonight, well, tonight, I shall make love to you in the laird’s bedroom.” he kissed her deeper and she wrapped her arms around him. “But now, now Mo Graidgh, we had better go and have lunch because I know better than to keep my sister waiting”
The laughed and he took a step back from her. They looked each other fully in the eye for a moment. They kissed again and Jamie gave her backside a gentle squeeze. “Come on now, unless ye’ve a desperate desire to see me get a dressing down from my sister.”
The afternoon was just perfect. Jamie watched Claire through lunch. In part to make sure she was alright, but mostly from a simple desire to look at her. To see the way the sun shone through the window and caught in her hair, changing it from a deep brown to red and gold and silver. To see her profile as she laughed with Jenny, her strong jaw and the slope of her nose. To see her help wee Ian with his lunch and her laughing as he succeeded in getting more down himself than into his mouth.
As dessert was being served he caught Jenny’s eye. She and Claire had seemed to be getting along, but he was still apprehensive. Jenny however, gave him a most uncharacteristic wink with a laugh before turning back to the conversation she was in with Claire about a book they had both recently read and, from what he could make out, enjoyed.
He felt a nudge in his ribs which broke up his revery. He turned to see his brother in law had moved around the table. He grinned at him. “Jenny seems very taken with your Claire” he stated casually.
“I know” replied Jamie running his hand through his hair in relief. “I was worried that maybe…” he tailed off.
“Aye,” replied Ian, “I ken better than anyone how Jenny can be. But she knows how important the lass is to ye. In fact given the way you’ve spoken about her round here, I doubt there is a person between here and Glasgow that doesna know how soft you are on her”
Jamie felt his colour rise slightly and Ian laughed again. “Ah, dinna fash, Jamie lad. It’s wonderful to see. Plus the fact is it seems Claire and Jenny share a particular passion for the same kind of smutty literature” He cast a glance over at Jenny and Claire who were now practically head to head with laughter.
“So what are your plans whilst you’re here?”
“Well, I thought I’d take her round the farm and the visitors centre this afternoon, just to let her see the place and also give myself a chance to look the place over. I’ve neglected it a wee bit o’late” he admitted slightly sheepishly. Iam said nothing but made the scottish noise in the back of his throat. “Tomorrow, if the weather is fine I thought I’d take her hiking and then I guess on Tuesday I should probably do some work. Claire said she might take herself shopping into Inverness. We didna really get the chance whilst we were staying there.”
The rest of the afternoon was smooth sailing. Jamie, almost bursting with pride at both the exceptional woman in whose company he was and the chance to show off his beloved Lallybroch to her, took her round most of the main areas.
“And this here, is the tea rooms, those are Jenny’s baby”
“And this here is the gate to the main farm. Tourists don’t generally go in there but we have the community farm bit just down the valley so that people can see the animals and get an idea of the kind of work required in a Highland farm”
After an afternoon of walking, they sat under a tree not far from the house, enjoying the last rays of the evening sun and it shone through the branches.
“Thank you, Jamie” said Claire, taking his hand in hers. “It was so wonderful to see your life’s work, your dream” her whiskey coloured eyes looked into his.
“It was my pleasure, Mo Nighean donn,” he answered softly. “Ye have no idea how much it means to me to bring ye here. To show you all this.” He stroked his thumb down her face.”I never thought I’d have someone I’d want to share this with, never thought that I could be so happy, so utterly content just sitting under a tree, looking at the house, watching the sun go down.”
“Me neither, Jamie.” Claire stopped and seemed to visibly gather her thoughts. She turned and faced him more fully. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I was so so afraid. Afraid your family wouldn’t like me, afraid you’d see me here and I wouldn’t fit, afraid that I’d come here and not feel like I fit.” She looked up at him imploring him to understand her mind. He nodded briefly and she continued. “But… but I think that I might? Does that make sense to you?” he nodded again and kissed her because he did not have the words to articulate his own feelings. She kissed him back pulling him close to her and he could feel the heat of her body pressed against him. He broke the kiss and stood.
“Come Mo nighean donn, it’s time to go to bed.”
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder as they walked back towards the house. He led her inside but instead of leading her towards the apartment he led her up the main staircase to the Laird’s room.
“Should we be in here?” Claire asked as he closed the door behind them.
“It’s still my house, visiting hours are long since over and I want to make love to my woman in this room”
Claire’s eyes widened slightly as he approached her and putting a head to the back of her neck he pulled her close and kissed her. He felt her knees give a little and drew his other hand to the small of her back steadying her. Her own arms wound around his neck as she groaned into his lips. Jamie pulled her closer still, enjoying the friction of her pelvis against his. He walked her back towards the bed never taking his lips from hers. She pulled at his t-shirt getting her hands underneath. She ran her hand down his spine making him shudder. He felt her bump against the edge of the bed and laid her gently down on the counterpane.
“Claire, oh my Claire” he whispered in her ear. His arm reached down her body and slid her dress up her thigh on its return journey. She rocked her hips against his. He returned the pressure as she pulled his shirt up over his head. He felt the warm breeze from an open window play across his back. He was aware of every little thing. He had never brought a woman here before, had never even thought to, but for some reason it felt vital that he make love to Claire in this room, on this bed. In the room that represented who he was and where he came from. He shifted his weight back and pulled Claire into sitting position so that he could lift her dress up over her head. She looked so bonny sitting there on the bed, her hair a cloud around her face, her skin kissed golden by the rays of the setting sun. She reached out to him and unbuckled his belt and he let out a low hiss as she ran a finger along the edge of the waistband. She pushes them down over his hips and reached down and took his hardness into her hand.
“Someone likes the idea of doing it in the Laird’s room…” she let out a little giggle which was swallowed up by him kissing her thoroughly and lowering her back down onto the bed. She hadn’t been wearing a bra and her nipples were tight and hard under his touch. He bent his head and took one in his mouth, worrying it gently with his teeth. Her head dropped back and she let out a moan “Oh God, Jamie, don’t stop.”
He teased a trail to the other breast where he repeated his ministrations, his hand moving slowly down her body. He cupped her gently between the legs, feeling the warmth and wetness there. She jerked her hips towards him at her his touch and stroked one finger slowly up and down just teasing the spot where she was most sensitive. Her breath quickened and he could feel the muscles in her stomach and thighs tighten beneath him. Never ceasing his movements he slid his middle finger inside of her and she made a keening sound that seemed to go straight to his groin. She rocked her hips against his hand with more urgency, her fingers digging into his shoulders. He kissed her jaw and neck and she grabbed his hair, calling out his name urgently. She was clinging to him now, trying to pull herself closer to him as she neared her climax. With a long moan, her back tensed and he felt her clench around his fingers. He kissed her face gently as she returned to earth.
“Jesus Christ, Jamie. Where on earth did you learn to do that” she murmured laughing, when finally she could speak again.
“It’s only for you, Mo nighean donn” he replied smiling. “Only for you”
Claire reached up and pulled his mouth to hers, kissing him lightly at first and then with more urgency. She hooked her leg around her waist pulling her close to him, his hardness rubbing against the inside of her thigh. She flipped him onto his back and ran her tongue deliciously down the side on his neck and along his collarbone.He let out a little growl, pulling her onto him. For second neither of them moved as they savoured the feeling. She moved then, slowly at first, but in a building crescendo of want and need. She ran her hands along the planes of his chest, keeping him flat with her weight. Both were breathless, his hands were on her hips steadying her and pulling her closer to him. She leaned down to kiss him and he raised himself, first into sitting position and then onto his knees, Claire on his lap. His hands tangled in her hair and hers in his as they kissed and gasped and shared the same air. Jamie felt a tightening as he approached completion and tried to slow his pace. “No.” she murmured in his ear. “No my love, come to me, come with me” He felt her pulse around him and with a thrust and a moan he joined her.
They lay on the bed, arms and legs tangled, the moonlight which had replaced the last rays of the setting sun playing across the room. He stoked her hair, her arm , the soft skin of her legs. She ran her finger down his chest, making him shiver. Claire let out a contented sigh and Jamie smiled. As they drifted off, Jamie allowed himself to imagine. Claire, here in the Laird’s bedroom always. A crib in the corner, a ring on her finger. He and Claire walking hand in hand across the meadows, Claire in a white dress walking down the aisle of the chapel towards him. Jamie succumbed to sleep with one last thought echoing around his mind. “…til our lives will be done.”
What if Young Ian never was traded to the Indians, what would his adventures with his aunt, uncle, and cousin would there be on the ridge?
Uncle Jamie had promised him that when the house was finished, Brianna would move in with them and bring the baby with her. He’d invited Ian to join them––they’d been sure to put in more than enough rooms––but he’d had another idea he wanted Ian to consider.
“Ye ken how small the cabin is but the spot it’s on is good and it’ll no be so small for a man on his own,” Uncle Jamie had said.
“Ye mean… are ye sayin’ ye want me to have it?” Ian asked, surprised.
“Ye put as much into the building of it as I did,” Uncle Jamie pointed out. “And ye’re no a lad anymore. I’m no sayin’ ye’ll be lookin’ to wed right away…”
Ian flushed at the memory of his awkward proposal to Brianna less than a year before. There was part of him that thought he ought to have renewed his offer after they’d made it back from rescuing Roger from the camp––especially since he had gone off on his own after hearing about Brianna’s condition. Ian could see part of Brianna still hoped Roger would decide to come back to her but right now so much of her heart belonged to her new son, he was confident she would be fine if he didn’t.
And if Roger didn’t come back? Would Ian try to repeat his offer?
More likely than not she’d throw something at him if he did. She didn’t seem to appreciate her position and that whatever respect she was shown was due to Jamie’s position on the Ridge.
“But it’s no a bad thought to start preparin’ yerself for the day ye do,” Jamie continued.
Ian nodded. “I’ll think on it,” he promised.
And he did––he couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. As Brianna got the fussing baby down for the night and Auntie Claire and Uncle Jamie closed the door to their small bedroom, Ian rose from where he’d been sitting near the fire and bid his cousin goodnight. He ran his finger from the baby’s brow down his nose and watched as the pair of blue eyes crossed as he followed the movement, his eyelids following as well. Once they were so close to shutting, they fluttered a little but it was too much for the baby to force them open again and a moment later he had relaxed and was breathing with energetic force.
Brianna sighed with relief. “Thank you,” she whispered to Ian. She leaned back in her chair to build up the will to move the baby to the padded crate they she’d been using for a crib. It wouldn’t be long before he grew too long for it but as soon as the house was done Ian and Jamie had promised to start making a proper cradle that should last till the bairn could share a larger bed.
On impulse, Ian reached down and carefully lifted the baby from Brianna’s arms. He was heavier than Ian had expected yet still seemed so fragile; perhaps that was because he was so limp with sleep. Ian glanced briefly up at Brianna watching him with her baby. In the nearly two months since he’d been born, Ian had only held the baby a handful of times. Auntie Claire and Uncle Jamie were always there when Brianna needed a break and he was pretty sure Brianna still felt the awkwardness of that misguided proposal hanging between them––or maybe for her it was something to do with Roger and how he should be the one to be putting the child to bed…
Ian settled the baby into his nest of blankets and watched for a moment as the small mouth twitched with sleep. Though the child wasn’t his son, he did feel the tug beyond affection and familiarity, the tug of shared blood. His cousin’s child; family.
The chair creaked as Brianna rose and shuffled to the pallet that served as her bed, the ticking crinkling as she adjusted it to be more comfortable.
Ian nodded to her and drifted to the door of the cabin and slipped into the night. He’d begrudgingly slept in the small loft of the crude barn when Brianna first appeared on the Ridge but between the warmer weather and the baby disrupting everyone’s nights in the cabin, he was only too happy to have a separate place of his own. And if she went with the baby to the big house soon, he’d have that whole cabin to himself.
But now the thought of it being empty left him with an awkward feeling in his stomach. It was a home that deserved to hold a family within it and not in some distant future he still couldn’t quite fathom for himself––holding Brianna’s son like that… knowing that if she’d taken him up on his proposal they would be that family… It was an uncomfortable fit because it was Brianna and much as he wanted to do right by her, he was relieved she’d said ‘no,’ but the sense of having a being a family like that… of having a wife of his own, a son… Someday he wanted that, but for now he preferred what he had with Uncle Jamie and Auntie Claire, with Cousin Brianna and his new nephew.
The straw rustled as he rolled onto his side and closed his eyes. In the morning he would tell Uncle Jamie he’d made his decision.
Ian didn’t want to say anything until he was able to get Uncle Jamie alone. There was a chance––though only a small one––that Uncle Jamie hadn’t mentioned his idea about Ian taking the cabin for himself to Auntie Claire.
A surprise was waiting for them when they reached the field. Ian spotted the dark mass just visible through the stalks of wheat and caught Uncle Jamie’s arm to slow him. From the size, it might be an animal of some kind.
Wary, Uncle Jamie got a firm hold of the shovel he’d been carrying. Ian raised the hoe he held so that he could lash out and strike if the creature charged. With a nod to his uncle, Ian let out a loud and high-pitched yell, somewhere between the Scottish war cries he’d heard in stories of the Rising and those he’d heard his Tuscarora friends demonstrate.
The creature started and screamed, “Jesus fucking Christ!” leaping to his feet before crying out in pain and falling back to the ground.
Uncle Jamie and Ian hurried over to see who the man might be and discovered a shaggy and filthy Roger MacKenzie sprawled on the ground and clutching at a badly injured foot.
“It’s about time ye made it back,” Ian remarked as he lowered the hoe and reached out to help Roger to stand. “I was beginning to think ye were a coward and that it wasna a mistake to sell ye off after all.”
Roger glared at Ian even as he leaned on the younger man to ease the pressure on his aching foot. Uncle Jamie didn’t seem as eager to welcome Roger to the Ridge.
“Are ye here to stay then?” he asked with his arms crossed over his chest and an elbow resting on the handle of the shovel.
“I’m here to see Bree,” Roger declared.
“And the bairn? It’s a lad––a strong and healthy lad,” Uncle Jamie told him.
“Looks like Bree.” Ian’s tone was gentler than his uncle’s. He tried to catch the stern man’s eye and signal him to ease up or help with Roger but the steely blue eyes remained locked on Roger.
“I’m here to see Bree,” Roger repeated.
At last Uncle Jamie nodded and stabbed the shovel into the soil so he could take some of Roger’s weight off his other side. “Once ye’ve seen Bree ye’ll need to see Claire. She’ll ken what to do about this foot of yers.”
Ian managed to keep up a smattering of small talk as they made their way to the cabin. Entering the yard, they could hear the baby crying inside and Roger stopped so fast they came close to all landing in a pile in the dirt.
“I can give ye some tricks for getting him to quiet if ye need them,” Ian teased. “But Bree says ye’re a singer so maybe ye’ll be able to charm him wi’out help.”
Uncle Jamie glared at him over Roger’s head but Roger was too focused on what waited for him on the other side of the door to notice. Ian reached out and fiddled with the door until Auntie Claire heard him and pulled it open from the inside.
Brianna’s gasp was loud and it startled the baby into silence for a moment before he began crying again. She glanced back and forth from her father to Ian before rising quickly from her chair and bouncing the baby as she paced about the room. They settled Roger into the chair and everyone was silent except for the fussing baby.
Satisfied that no one needed him to stay, Ian slipped out of the cabin and started back to the fields, relieved to have something else to do. He’d learned early how important it was to slip away from scenes like that; staying too long and letting your curiosity win meant you risked getting dragged into the trouble yourself––and he’d always managed to find trouble easily enough without his siblings’ help.
Uncle Jamie had wanted to clear more rocks from the land and extend the field for more planting next year. The work moved faster with two but could be started with one using the hoe to turn the soil and locate the large boulders nesting below the surface. Some could be worked out with a few careful jabs or by some strong-armed wiggling while others required the shovel and excavation around the rock before they could be lifted out. Anything too large to handle on his own he left for Uncle Jamie to help him with later.
Sweat and dirt had left his shirt a crusty, muddy mess by midday when Uncle Jamie finally showed up with a meal sent by Auntie Claire.
“Thank ye, Ian,” Uncle Jamie said as he handed over a canteen with cool spring water. “It’ll no take long to move these out. Some look like they’ll make a sturdy fence if we can stack them right.”
Ian wiped his forehead on his sleeve and resisted the urge to upend the canteen over his head; his belly screamed for it more. Taking slow sips he sighed and asked, “How was Bree when ye left?”
“They’re goin’ to make a go of it though there’s still plenty to work out,” Uncle Jamie said, looking away. “Bree didna say before but he tells me they were handfast before…” his face hardened with embarrassment as he stumbled over the delicate details. “They’ve still a bit of time before the year and a day are up.”
“They should have the cabin,” Ian suggested quickly. “When the house is done, that is. They’ll need a place for themselves like that while they settle their minds.”
“Ye dinna mind comin’ up to the big house wi’ me and yer aunt?” Uncle Jamie asked. Ian couldn’t figure out what the light behind his eyes was––amusement, relief, trepidation…
Ian shrugged and grinned. “It’s no me needs to worry,” he insisted. “Whether they take it for themselves or no, I’ll be sleeping peaceful far from the bairn cryin’ in the night. The real question is whether or no you want to have the wean disturbin’ you and Auntie Claire while ye… sleep.”
Uncle Jamie chuckled and started setting out the food while Ian dropped to the ground and started pulling off his damp shirt laying it aside to dry in the sun.
“Once we clear these stones out we should focus on finishing the house. The weather’s no rush but havin’ Roger here now…”
Ian nodded, his mouth full of bread still warm from the oven.
“And ye can start scoutin’ for a piece of land of yer own,” Uncle Jamie continued. “We can start clearin’ it before the harvest and over the winter I’ll help ye plan a house for yerself.” There was no teasing or pressure in his uncle’s face and Ian met his gaze, only gratitude and affection. “I meant what I said about wantin’ ye to have a place for when ye’re ready to settle and have a family of yer own.”
Ian nodded again as he struggled to swallow what was in his mouth without choking on it.
“I think it’ll be some time yet,” Ian managed quietly.
It was Uncle Jamie’s turn to nod. “Perhaps. Ye never know when ye’ll find her––the woman ye’ll want to marry––but ye’ll ken right away when ye do and ye’ll want to have something ready for her so ye dinna have to wait to wed her.”
“Was that how it was with you and Auntie Claire?”
Uncle Jamie grinned. “I kent right away, aye. But I’d nothing to offer her really and if it weren’t for her being in worse straits than me I dinna ken she’d ever have wed an outlaw like me. Ye canna count on the lass ye love being so desperate as you.”
“Mam always did say I had yer luck,” Ian joked. “Though usually she only said that when I found myself in trouble.”
“Aye well… if ye have my bad luck I hope ye can have whatever luck it was brought yer Auntie Claire to me as well,” Uncle Jamie said with sincerity.
Ok so here we have the love of my life, JVR, with children!
I love hockey players with children! It’s like the greatest thing ever! Ok so
@jinglemejamie Request: could you do a JvR imagine where you take him home
with you for a family event and there are a bunch of kids? then he like asks
you when you can have kids and then you tell him that you’re pregnant?? i think
this is such a cute idea!! thanks so much
on the porch swing, watching and laughing as James played hockey with the kids.
A wee one shot of Jamie and wee Ian - set around book 9. Just a spot of fluff with two of our favourite Highlanders. :) xx
“I had no idea what it meant to be her husband when we wed. I ken weel enough that she was a strong willed and unusual woman.”
Jamie snorted and swirled the whisky around his glass, eyeing Ian across the rim. They had been speaking of their wives for some time and the fact of Ian being a grown man with a wife still occasionally caught Jamie unawares.
The fire-light accentuated the string of tattooed dots across his nephew’s cheekbones and made the hollow of his throat appear cavernous. His smile wide and full, a smile that he had grown into as he became a man. Jamie wanted to tell him that he looked like his maternal grandfather, Brian Fraser, in the red glow but the words stuck in his throat.
Ian was well past the age where a likeness to a relative was anything other than a passing curiosity and as he had in fact never met his grandsire, Jamie could not really expect Ian to feel the warmth of that recognition in the same way Jamie did. Besides the lad was concentrating on other matters and unlikely to wish the subject changed.
“I ken well enough what it is to be Rachel’s husband, Uncle. She is not perhaps as unusual as Auntie Claire but … she has a certain grit about her all the same.”
“Och your Rachel is as level headed as they come - I mean that wi’ no disrespect to your auntie, but I feel perhaps Rachel has more notion of delicacy in matters dear to her heart.”
Ian beamed, his smile wide and even, teeth glowing in the half-light.
“She’s no’ cursed me, nor threatened to cut my heart out and make me eat it, that is true.”
Jamie said dryly as he sipped from his tumbler. Ian sipped his own drink and surveyed his uncle openly. It was the sort of intense study that can only be unobtrusive when it comes from someone who one has shared many intimacies with and Jamie sat easily beneath the warm brown gaze.
“Why did ye marry her then? Auntie Claire, I mean. Ye dinna normally do things wi’ out due consideration but Mam told me ye were wed wi’out her even knowing your last name.”
Jamie laughed at that, a fully rich sound that disturbed Adso from his slumber before the quiet settled comfortably around them again.
“As a young man I did many things wi’out due consideration.”
Jamie shook his head at the memory of some of his more reckless endeavors
“and it is true that she didna ken my last name until a wee while before the ceremony but a name is just a thing that others attach to ye. It is no’ something of verra great matter. I loved her and that was enough for me.”
“Passions run high in our family.”
Ian smiled ruefully
“You and Auntie Claire, Grandfather and Grandmother Fraser, Bree and Roger.”
“Your Mam and Da too.”
Jamie said gently and Ian nodded, his smile soft again
“Aye but that was more of a easy love. No one ran across oceans or the barrier of time! No one was swept from a castle. Mam just kissed Da and told him they’d be marrit and he agreed.”
“They had their turbulences and hardships - life after Culloden was harder than ye ken. It would test a marriage, aye?”
Jamie spoke more sharply than he intended to and Ian raised his eyebrows before leaning forward and topping up both drinks from the small decanter beside his seat.
“A ship that sails smooth has a journey as valid as one that weathers a storm, Uncle Jamie. I wouldna deny it. But how does a woman know that ye would weather the gravest of storms for her if ye have never had to? How could Da show Mam? How can I show Rachel?”
Jamie sighed and leaned back in his chair, feeling his back stretch against it, the cloth of his shirt rasping gently against his skin.
“Ye have it wrong Ian, love is not the ship on smooth or troubled waters. Love is the Polaris. It is a fixed point that never waivers and and a guide so that whichever way the storm tosses ye, ye can always right yourself and continue.”
Jamie shrugged at the startled expression on his nephews face. Ian licked his lip and allowed another broad smile to bloom across his face.
“Mam always says ye should ha’ been a poet.”
Jamie chuckled and stood up, placing his glass on the mantel.
“Just be constant, Ian. It is all ye have to do.”
Jamie squeezed the younger man’s shoulder and turned toward the stairs, taking a few steps before turning back
“By the way, ye look like your grandfather tonight. Brian. Ye have his smile and I had never really noticed it before now.”
Ian sat up a little straighter and blinked, taken aback. No one had ever said he looked like anyone besides his Da and that was fine but he had heard so many tales of his grandfather as a lad that it gave his a small joy to think that there was something of the legendary Brian Dubh about him too.