This is the latest installment of my Heartlines AU. They might be coming a little less frequently after this chapter as I have a super busy weekend and then I’m back to work, but I will update it as regularly as I can and am happy to try and incorporate prompts if you have them. This is a short chapter and ended up in an entirely different place than I intended it to when I sat down to write it which I am blaming on the two massive Gin and Tonics I drank whilst I was writing.
Thank you everyone for all the wonderful feedback about this series so far. It really is very much appreciated. The other parts of this story can be foundhere along with my other work
He glanced over at her as the drove down the bumpy driveway. Just around the corner Claire would get her first glimpse of the house and he desperately wanted to see her face when she did. Claire, he knew, was the great love of his life,but Lallybroch was the other and his life’s work. His stomach clenched slightly. He wanted her to love it. He needed to her to at least appreciate it. And, he admitted secretly, he wanted her to feel at home here. He had never quite relinquished the dream that one day he would live here at Lallybroch, with children of his own. Only a month ago that dream seemed distant, almost a fantasy, the woman he would share it with faceless and indistinct, but now… Now he saw Claire in the kitchen, drinking tea at the big scrubbed table as she poured over her medical journals, he saw them walking hand in hand across the fields, their children running to and fro. He saw her curled up in the big chair by the fire, her belly swollen with his child, face peaceful and serene in the firelight.
They’d spent Friday and Saturday night in Inverness. They’d had dinner in the town, walked along the river bank in the rain and driven through miles of wild countryside, the top down on Claire’s turquoise porsche. It made him laugh that Claire, the most practical and level headed person he had ever met had such an impractical car. She had bought it when she first started making decent money as a surgeon and she and Frank had divorced, the only extravagance she had ever really indulged in.
“I remember seeing one when I was a teenager and I just loved it. Frank used to roll his eyes and insisted I should have something more practical. The minute we got divorced I sold my Volvo and bought this. It can be a bit draughty in December, but I love it. In fact, until the fundraiser when I spent an obscene amount on my dress and shoes in an effort to impress *you*, its pretty much the only thing I’ve ever splashed out on purely because I wanted it”
She had insisted on driving on this trip, claiming that her car deserved a run on decent roads. Jamie had laughed and acquiesced. She’s even let him drive it after she accidentally had too much to drink at a whiskey tasting.
He’d told her all about Lallybroch. How, whilst it was a profitable working farm, the upkeep of the house, an original eighteenth century building with all the maintenance costs that go with that, had proved difficult. The family came very close to selling the property to the National Trust, who at least would have maintained it, when Jamie had interceded. He had packed in his oil and gas job and invested every last penny he had saved into Lallybroch. They opened the main house to the public initially, building a small tea room and playground. Later he had added a large soft play barn, a restaurant, farm shop and converted some of the out buildings into guest accommodation. A large barn served as a wedding venue. The most recent addition was the craft brewery, which in the current enthusiasm for obscure beers had done incredibly well in a short space of time.
“We’ve made a decent profit the last two years, and set to make even more this year.”
“Jamie?” Claire asked, “If you work so hard on this, why do you live in Glasgow?”
“Ah,” he replied blushing slightly, “Weel, under normal circumstances I live in Glasgow Monday to Wednesday, seeing to the business side of things and the brewery distribution and then I’ll be at Lallybroch Thursday and Friday and then spend the weekend wherever I’m needed most. Though the last few weeks, well, I’ve found I’ve needed to be in Glasgow.” He looked at her with a sheepish grin.
“Jaaamie,” she gave him a push, you shouldn’t be neglecting your life’s work in order to snog me outside pubs on Sauchiehall Street”
“Oh, but Mo Nighean donn, it was totally worth it.”
She pulled up outside. He moved to unbuckle his seat belt but noticed that she was very still.
“Everything alright, Sassenach?” He asked, the strain apparent in his voice.
“Of course, Jamie. It’s just…” she faltered as she searched for the words she needed. “I don’t really know how to act around families. As you know, my upbringing was unconventional and there is really just me now and even when I was married to Frank, he wasn’t close with his parents and they never really approved of me so, it tended to just be the two of us.”
She looked down before inhaling with deliberation and raising to meet his eyes again.
“I know how important your family are to you. What if they hate me? I couldn’t ask or expect you to choose me”
This was the first time since their first date when she told him about Frank that she’d ever really displayed insecurity. He felt a little stab in his heart, a tender spot in the place where he kept her.
“Oh Mo Nighean donn,” I took both her hands in his body twisting to face her. She looked so vulnerable, trying to meet his eyes, breath coming not entirely steadily. “Please know this. I love my family. I love Lallybroch, I love Scotland, I love the glens and the lochs and hills. Hell, I even love the rain.” She laughed shakily and he continued. “But believe me when I say this Claire, I would choose you over all of them and not even give it a second thought. I would walk away from everything and all that I hold dear if that is what I had to do to be with you. And I wouldna regret it a bit, Claire. I wouldna think twice, wouldna hesitate. You are my heart and my soul, Claire. In the thirty eight years that I have walked this earth I have never felt as alive or full of joy as I have in the last 4 weeks. I had no idea it was possible to feel this way. To ken that you have a soulmate and that you’ve found them and they might feel the same.” He looked searchingly into her eyes, for confirmation and she leaned forward and kissed him hotly and with feeling. “Claire, oh my Claire. I didna expect the first time I said these words to be sitting in a ridiculous coloured car in the carpark of my own home, but oh Claire, please know this. I love ye. I have been in love wi ye since I spilled whiskey on ye in that awful club. And every moment I spend with ye only makes me love you more.” He exhaled strongly and dropped his head, spent with the emotion. And then he felt fear. He had no meant to say so much, to lay his heart and soul on the line with such unambiguity. His hands shook and he dragged his eyes up to meet her face as if they were made of lead.
She was looking at him. Looking at him with such a look of utter tenderness on her face that he felt his heart lift a little. She reached out and stroked a finger down his face, like she had done in the club, what felt like centuries ago, but had in fact been a little more than a month.
“Oh Jamie, my Jamie” he could hear the emotion in her voice. A single tear overflowed and ran down her cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb. “I love you, too” He leaned forward and kissed her and his world was complete.