Jamie had often fantasised about taking his Sassenach away on a wee trip. Some place sunny, like the south of France, where they could share a bottle of wine and gaze at the Mediterranean. Eyes meeting across the table and hands under it; fingers caressing sun-warmed skin. A gentle ocean breeze would ruffle her hair and he’d tuck an errant curl behind her ear before leaning in to kiss her. When their mouths met it’d be an expression of all the love between them; her soft sigh both encouragement and desire. Even the thought of it made Jamie giddy and he’d often find himself idly googling flights thinking: one day. The only problem with any of this was that despite the fact that he’d been dreaming of her soft lips for months, his Sassenach didn't even know his name.
Jamie Fraser had been been teaching Physical Education at Fort William High School for three years when she arrived. Old Mr McGregor the science teacher had retired and in his place arrived an English curlywig named Claire Beauchamp. Eyes the colour of honey and whip smart; she was the kind of person who could use the word parentheses and make it sound provocative rather than pretentious. Jamie was completely smitten.
On Claire’s first day the sun shined brightly; a rarity in Scotland. As warm rays hit her hair from behind, Jamie thought it looked like a halo and she an angel crowned with gold. In that moment he knew that whatever it took, he had to somehow make Claire his. Fast forward six months and the plan wasn’t going so well. Every time he’d tried to approach her he’d ended up chickening out at the last minute. Palms clammy and throat tight, he was so worried about saying something stupid in front of the beautiful Sassenach that he said nothing at all. Once in a staff meeting he thought she’d called his name and his heart had soared. It turned out Claire had actually wanted Madame Fréseliere the French teacher and Jamie had walked away all pink ears and embarrassment. All-in-all, it was a hopeless case of lovesickness that he had absolutely no idea how to overcome.
Fate decided to intervene one day by way of some departmental cuts. Due to reduced funding the annual school trip to France was replaced with the more budget-friendly Gretna Green; a tiny Scottish boarder town that was boring to anyone not living in the 19th century and looking for a time sensitive wedding. Each year two teachers were selected to chaperone the trip and all on staff dreaded their name being read out the way one does a call from the tax department advising a surprise audit. Jamie loved his work as a teacher but an overnight trip with twenty-five hormone-fuelled teenagers with the likes of Glenna Fitzgibbons from the Geography department wasn’t his idea of fun. In fact he wondered if he could try and feign some kind of sports injury and be exempt from the draw altogether. Given his disdain for the potential trip, it should have been no surprise that his name was selected first. About to open his mouth to protest and beg for a redraw, they announced the second teacher’s name: Claire. Jamie was sure his heart stopped in shock; could this be the opportunity he’d been waiting for?
When Jamie arrived at school on the morning of the excursion Claire was already there. The chilly air gave her a luminescent glow; a light pink flush that bloomed on her cheekbones and chest. Dumbstruck, Jamie just stood staring, mouth agape. Collecting himself at last, he took in the scene before him. Standing next to the bus with her clipboard and red-rimmed glasses, his sassenach shepherded students aboard with a no-nonsense efficiency - a masterful skill as getting teenagers to do anything was a lot like hearding cats. If it were at all possible, his interest and respect for her increased at the sight. Running a hand nervously through his hair; Jamie wondered how had the universe conspired to give him forty-eight hours in the company of this amazing woman? He just hoped he didn’t screw it up.
“Hello Mr Fraser! I’m Claire, well Dr Beauchamp to the students. Oh and I work in the science department. You probably don't know who I am; I don’t think we’ve spoken before? My fault really; I tend to spend most of my time in the labs”
It was beyond Jamie’s understanding how anyone could not know who Claire was. Drinking in the sight of her, he didn’t even notice that he was staring again.
“Do I have something on my face? I had some honey toast for breakfast and I was sure I’d got the last of it off?!”
“Oh…sorry, no ye um…yer fine lass. I mean Dr Beauchamp…Claire.”
Embarrassed that the first words to his Sassenach had come out sounding like he was a lad who’s voice was half way through breaking, Jamie cleared his throat and tried again.
“We havena met officially, but I’ve seen ye in the staff meetings. It’s so pleasurable…I mean its a pleasure to meet ye properly at last. Ye can call me Jamie if ye like?”
As she tried out the name on her tongue, Jamie shivered imagining her saying it as she was writhing beneath him, breath hot in his ear. Chastising himself for being no better than one of his lust-crazed students, he leapt onto the bus, lest his imaginings become physically apparent.
This was not the dream start to his relationship with Claire that Jamie had hoped for.