“Please don’t make me go.” She’d whispered to him in the dark silence of the dilapidated cottage, clinging to him as if her life depended on it.
His heart called out to hers, wishing above all else that she could stay even though he knew she couldn’t. “I don’t want ye to go either, mo cridhe.” He paused, tucking an errant curl behind her ear before kissing the top of her head. “But ye must, for the bairn.” He lowered his hand, then, to rest atop hers and over their unborn child.
She let out a choked sob, the impending loss of the home of her heart weighing heavily on her. He held her tight to him, the fact that it was the last time he would ever do so tearing him to pieces. They fell asleep that way, each hoping and praying that morning would never come.
And yet, the sun still rose and morning still came–the battle to take place inevitable, despite their desperate attempts to thwart it. Jamie would lead his men into battle, knowing all the while he would be leading them to their deaths, his own life included. Though it did not matter, the only thing that mattered now was the safety of his wife and child.
The small bubble of love and warmth and safety that we had created in the run-down cottage the night before had finally burst, and I knew we could no longer delay the inevitable.
I remember when I had tried so hard for so long to get back here, back to the stones, and back to Frank. It seemed like a lifetime ago now, so much had happened, so much had changed.
And now, I felt sick at the sight of the them where they had previously been a sight of hope. Now, I wished to be somewhere else–anywhere else.
I had never intended on loving Jamie, but I couldn’t deny what I felt for him. It was–is–the most powerful thing I’ve ever felt in my life; even more than what I had with Frank.
I couldn’t imagine a life without Jamie. The thought of leaving him alone tore me apart; it felt as though someone had drove a knife deep into my heart and twisted it over and over again.
How could I leave him?
My entire life I never had a place that I could call home, until now. Two hundred years in the past with a man who had become my very heart and soul. In a couple of hours my home would be torn away from me, and I’d be forced to live without a heart. Forced to live a life I no longer wanted.
I moved closer to him and laid my head on his chest listening to the strong and steady rhythm of his heart. My heart.
He was still asleep, lost in a dream where everything was safe and happy, not the harsh reality he would soon face.
But here, right now, in this moment; we were safe. I only wished this moment would last forever.
I must’ve fallen asleep again, because when I opened my eyes Jamie was kissing me with the same love and passion he had on our wedding night.
I wish I could have smiled and looked up at him, imagining all the mornings to come where I would wake up the same way.
There was love and tenderness in his kiss, but also desperation and loss. I kissed him back with everything I had, not even stopping to take a breath.
We couldn’t keep our hands off each other, the looming thought of “this is the last time” weighed heavily on both our minds.
We were both crying, our tears mingling with each other’s as we explored one another for the last time.
Neither of us said anything, for our bodies said what our lips could not.
All I could think about was how this would be the last time I would feel his body against mine. The last time we would make love to each other. The last time I would be held in his arms, safe against his heart. The last time I would taste his kiss on my lips. The last time I would see those beautiful blue eyes and fiery red hair. The last time I would be happy.
He took his time, not focusing on pleasuring me or himself, but prolonging the moment for as long as he could.
My legs were locked around his waist, my hands tangled in his hair as he rocked slowly against me.
Don’t leave. Don’t make me go. I can’t live without you.
My mind raced through all the possible things I could say so that I could stay with him.
“I love you.” Was all I could manage. It came out in a choked whisper as I stared into his face which was just as broken as my own. “I love you.”
“I love you too, mo nighean donn.” He whispered back, kissing me as he spilled himself inside me.
Neither of us moved to leave the other, we simply held each other as we both fell completely and thoroughly to pieces.
He lay there on that battlefield, listening to the desperate cries and moans of his kinsmen as their lives slipped slowly from their grasp.
The whole thing had lasted less than an hour, a massacre of bodies and blood. He didn’t even remember it, the last thing he could recall was the way his heart shattered when he crested the hill of Craigh na Dun and Claire wasn’t there.
They didn’t have time to say goodbye as the English discovered them and chased them down. The last he saw of Claire was of her running towards the stones, being chased by an English soldier. Once he had incapacitated the two surrounding him, he ran up the hill as fast as he could to make sure that she had gotten through safely.
He knew that she wouldn’t be there when he reached the top, but he still hoped she would, so that they might have a proper goodbye. And when she wasn’t there, he collapsed onto the ground and cried until he could no longer breathe.
The sound of the cannons were the only thing that brought him out of it, reminding him of the battle that would take place. The battle they had tried so hard to stop, and the battle that would take his own life along with the lives of thousands of others.
His destiny lie on Culloden Moor.
Only, he did not die. He laid there in unspeakable pain that was not only physical. The sun had disappeared behind the horizon hours ago, leaving him in the dark and cold.
Ash had begun to fall from the sky, remnants of the cannon and musket fire from hours before. It was almost beautiful–resembling the mysterious beauty of snow.
He could still feel the small C she had carved at the base of his thumb, a matching J on hers. “So that we’ll always be with each other.” She had said, and he could still feel her kiss lingering on his lips, though it was fading quickly.
And there she was, making her way towards him through the mess of bodies and ash.
Claire… Oh thank God, Claire.
It wasn’t until she touched him that he realized she was real, she hadn’t gone through the stones, she hadn’t left him.
Part of him was angry that she had broken her promise, but the other part–the greater part– was so unbelievably happy that he might still have a life with this woman. He might get a chance to see the birth of his child, to be a father and husband with the woman who owned his very heart and soul.
She kissed him then, tears streaming down her face, mingling with his.
“I couldn’t do it, Jamie. I couldn’t leave you.” She sobbed against his mouth, and all he could do was smile.
“Shhh, mo nighean donn. I’m glad you didn’t.”