Shifted ficlet prompt: can we please have some Claire and Murtagh fluff. Maybe Claire helping Murtagh as he's getting older. Discussing their shared concern about Jamie or the bairns. Or even reminiscing about Paris and Murtagh escorting Claire to l'hopital everyday. Their relationship in the show is so close and caring that it would be wonderful to see more of that during happier times.
For the next few weeks I’ll be writing one-shots in the Shifted
universe, filling in the blanks that we don’t see in the main story,
before we resume the main action with Part 7 - The Visitor.
If there is a particular scene you’d like to see, send me an ask and I’ll see what I can do!
In Shifted, the premise is simple - what if Claire had gotten pregnant with Brianna a month or two earlier in the story, and she and Jamie had re-evaluated their priorities and decided that the cause was lost, and they were able to slip away from the army and quietly return to Lallybroch?
Interlude – The Injury
Lallybroch, Autumn 1756
Murtagh hissed as Claire splashed the wound with raw whisky, muttering several very filthy words in the *Gaidhlig*.
Three-year-old William Fraser gasped from the doorway of Claire’s surgery.
“Out!” Claire ordered, head still bent over the deep gash that had sliced the top of Murtagh’s hairy foot nearly to the bone, drawing the lantern a bit closer over the smooth wood of the table Jamie had made her.
“Ye heard yer Mam! Out!” Murtagh echoed weakly, gripping the sides of his chair, bobbing his uninjured leg up and down.
Jenny appeared in the doorway and softly swept William away to the kitchen.
Claire rose from her crouch and quickly crossed the room, taking her tray of needles and the earthenware jar of sutures – the long, delicate strands of catgut Murtagh himself had helped Jamie prepare (based on Claire’s instructions) not so long ago – from the cabinet Brian had made Ellen when Jamie and Jenny were small. As stubborn as the Fraser who had made it, the cabinet had seen many uses over the years – from Ellen’s dishes, to Jenny’s linens, and now Claire’s medicines.
“It’s a miracle you didn’t slice your bloody foot off.” Claire’s voice was even, methodical. From years of practice, Murtagh knew better than to crack a joke when she was like this. “Weren’t you watching what you were doing? And hasn’t it *ever* occurred to you that we’ve already got a number of able-bodied men on the estate who should be doing that kind of work? I daresay your reflexes aren’t as keen as they used to be – ”
“What will ye have me do, then? No’ help Jamie wi’ the harvest?” Murtagh shifted uncomfortably in his chair – keeping his injured foot steady – and glared at the chignon pinned at the back of Claire’s neck, watching her carefully thread the needle. “Ye ken that Ian canna do it. Young Jamie is still too small to do much in the fields. Fergus can help, aye, and so can Rabbie MacNab – but it’s no’ enough.”
“You can stay here in the house – God knows there are enough children running around to keep you busy.”
“So ye want me to be a *nursemaid* then? Hmm?” Were he able, he would have pounded a table in frustration. “Is that all I am, now? Is it no’ enough that my clan and plaid have all been taken away from me? I must give away my *manhood* as well?”
Claire carefully brought the fully prepared tray to her work table and set it down beside the lamp.
“You *know* that’s not what I mean.”
He felt her gaze burning on him – and defiantly matched it.
“What, then? I am getting auld, yes. But must ye remind me, Claire?”
“I want you to take care of yourself.” She paused, pursing her lips. “You – you can’t just do anything anymore. You *must* be more thoughtful. I’m not saying you don’t think – of course you do. But I certainly *don’t* want happening to you what befalls most men your age. Or what happened to Brian.”
Murtagh physically recoiled. “That was due to shock – ”
“Of course it was – but he *had* to have had an underlying condition. Farming is hard. I’ve come to appreciate that so, so much since I came to Lallybroch. And of *course* accidents happen.”
Now she turned to retrieve a needle, the suture trailing behind like a long, shiny trail of dew. Then took the lantern in her other hand, set it on the floor beside Murtagh’s foot, and knelt before him.
“I can’t lose you,” she said finally. “You’re the only father I’ve ever known. And if I have to keep you bloody locked up in this house to keep you safe from yourself, then damn it that’s what I’ll do. You’re too important to me – and to Jamie – and to the children – and to Jenny and Ian and bloody everyone else in this house.”
She splashed more raw whisky on his foot. This time he didn’t – couldn’t – flinch.
“This gash is just an inch from your anterior tibial artery. Had that artery been severed, you would have lost an incredible amount of blood. And I wouldn’t be patching you up – I’d be amputating your foot. And where would that leave you?”
As gently as she could, she inserted the needle and made her first suture.
“I – suppose – wi’out a leg – to stand on,” he hissed.
Claire lay her left hand on the back of his ankle, bracing the foot to help with the stitches. Her face was still turned away from him – but he watched her shoulders shake in a silent laugh.
“Ye ken I’d never purposely put myself in harm’s way. I *do* always have ye and yer wee family on my mind.”
Claire pulled another suture through the two sides of the wound. “I know that. And I appreciate that. I should tell you more.”
“No need, lass. I ken it, and ye ken it, and yer husband kens it. That’s all that matters.”
She worked in silence then, pausing to collect the other suture she had prepared – but not before pouring the rest of her raw whisky in a beaker and handing it to her patient.
“Here – this should take the edge off.”
Murtagh sniffed the glass, then inhaled deeply. “Aye. It’s better than when we first made it – but it’s still enough to knock ye flat on yer back if ye’re no’ careful.”
Claire pressed the sides of the wound closer together. “So, will you be a bit more careful from now on? For me?”
He took a swig, exhaled, and then belched.
“Aye. Ye ken I’d do anything for ye, Claire.”
She nodded absently.
“Hey.” Now he nudged her side with the toe of his good foot. “That’s no’ the drink talking. That’s crabby old *me* talking. Aye?”
“Aye,” she echoed. “You’ve proved that often enough.”
Two more minutes, and then it was all done.
And Murtagh’s whisky was all gone. He handed the empty glass to Claire with a smile so wide that it reminded Claire of the Cheshire Cat illustrations in the book Uncle Lamb had given her for Christmas one year.
“Ye do mind me of Ellen, now and again.” He tilted his head, studying her as if with new eyes. “Foul mouth. Kind heart. Staggering to look at. And a heart so beautifully full of love that she doesna ken what to do wi’ it all.”
Claire flushed. They hadn’t spoken of Ellen since that night in the cave on the beach – a lifetime ago.
“So why would I no’ pledge myself to yer service? Why would I no’ heed every word ye say, Claire?”
Clearly he was waiting for an answer. All she could do was lay a gentle hand on his shoulder and kiss his sweaty brow.
“I’ll be right back, all right? Let’s get you settled in to bed upstairs. You’ll feel much better in the morning.”
And when she returned with Jamie, who helped his godfather stand up and offered his shoulders for support to walk out of the room and up the stairs, Murtagh blessed Claire with another beatific smile.
“Now?” Jamie’s brows rose skeptically. “Ye smell like the still house – God kens why Claire thought *that* was a good way to fix yer foot.”
“First bed. Then we can talk about more whisky.”
Then Murtagh FitzGibbons Fraser blew her a kiss, and for once in her life Claire Beauchamp Fraser was at a total loss for words.