why do you think Jamie didn't marry Mary McNab when he came back from Ardsmuir? Could he have developed a real attachment there that could have complicated things emotionally when Claire got back? Unlike Loaghaire, Mary understood and respected what he had with Claire.
“Tell me,” I said. “How it was.”
Now he did look away, and I saw his throat move as he swallowed.
“It … was tender,” he said quietly, after a moment. “Sad.”
“Sad,” I echoed. “How?”
He didn’t look up but kept his eyes fixed on the flowers, following the movements of a big black bumblebee among the furled blooms.
“Both of us mourning things that were lost,” he said slowly, brows drawn down in thought. “She said she meant to keep ye alive for me, to let me … to let me imagine it was you, I suppose she meant.”
“Didn’t work quite that way?”
“No.” He looked up then, straight on, and his eyes went through me like a rapier through a scarecrow. “There couldna be anyone like you.”
It wasn’t said with an air of compliment, more one of flat finality—or, even, of resentment.
“There couldna be anyone like you.”
I think that statement says it all and explains why he never pursued a relationship by his own volition in those 20 years. After loving Claire, no one else could fill that void and he recognized it. Mary was a very submissive person not to mention a maid at Lallybroch. Her submissive nature is in stark contrast to Claire, who is far from submissive. Claire evokes a passion in him that no one else can and that passion is like a drug to him. She challenges him ethically, morally, intellectually and sexually. That’s what he likes. That’s what he needs. 18th c woman weren’t made like that. Perhaps he could have found some kind of solace with someone like Mary, but not the kind of love and passion that would have replaced Claire.