“Yes… like that…”
“Am I squeezin’ ye?”
“Go harder, you have to go harder.”
“I dinna think -”
“Claire, I, um… it’s stuck.” The last word barely classified as a whisper, but I heard it fine. And I certainly didn’t like what I heard.
“It isn't bloody stuck, you just have to pull harder!” I all but yelled, built-up annoyance spilling from me like water from a broken dam.
“Darling, I know you’re frustrated, but yellin’ at me willna make the zipper magically go past yer hips.” Geillis, my soon to be ex-made of honour, was trying and failing to zip me up in my wedding dress. My beautiful, white as a pearl, EXTRA-SMALL wedding dress.
“You’re fired, go away.” I meant to say it almost angrily, but I ended up sobbing it out.
I took a step backward and collapsed on the bed. I didn’t even bounce up once, that was how much fat I had gotten.
“Claire-bear, dinna cry. We can make somethin’ work.” Geillis offered, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“The wedding is tomorrow and I’m so fucking fat I’ll have to wear a bathrobe down the aisle.”
“Hey,” she took my hands off my face, and brushed some stray curls from my forehead. “Ye have to stop callin’ yerself fat. Ye ken how much Jamie hates it. Plus, ye are not fat, ye are pregnant.”
“I’m pregnant with twins, Geillis. TWINS! I bloody have two babies, meaning that I’m double-pregnant.” Hiccup. “I’m-I,-” hiccup, “I’m huuuge.” Hiccup.
“Damn, yer hard to talk to right now. I should go get Jamie.” She moved as to leave the room, but I had to stop her.
“NO! Are you crazy? It’s bad luck for him to see me in a wedding dress.” My friend just smiled at me, but that horrible, pity-filled smile that said ‘that’s nice, but who are you kidding?'
“Darling, not to kill the mood completely, but no magician in this world can make ye fit into that dress. ’Tis too small.” She winced, as if that would make me stop crying my bloody soul out.
“The dress isn’t small. It was fine when I bought it… I’m just too big now.” The tears threatened yet again, but I decided to pull my brave front. Also, if I continued to cry, there wouldn’t be any tears left for the birth.
“Do ye want me to call Jamie?” My dear friend asked, in a most somber-like voice. I of course knew it was the fakest bloody thing a person can hear. I loved how whenever hormones took over, she threw me at Jamie, saying “I dinna hit pregnant women, I dinna hit pregnant women, I dinna…”
“Yes, please.” My anxiety decreased just on the thought that I would be marrying the love of my life very bloody soon.
Waiting for my future husband - God, it felt out-of-this-world to be able to call him my husband, mine - to arrive got me to reminisce of how we ended up here after all this time.
Jamie and I had been friends for around two years before the sparks around us caught fire and we weren’t able to extinguish it - therefore we embraced it. It wasn’t easy, and I doubted myself on more than one occasion.
Life got hard before it got better, at least in our case. Our mutual love, compassion and need for each other was what got us through those hard times and led us to the magical moments that we would cherish for the rest of our lives… and then some.
William was now not only biologically, but also completely by law Jamie’s son. It took longer than necessary for our lives to stabilise, however, if I was asked a few years if I could have the same amount of love for a child of my own blood and one of another’s, I would’ve probably had said no.
It’s funny how everything I knew of this world changed when I was surrounded by people who made me a better person. I loved and would always love William with all that I was. I loved him because he was intelligent, too wise for his age, of great fashion taste and incredible sense of humour.
I didn’t love him for his father, although it did help that his Da had all those characteristics and many more that they shared together. I could still feel Willie’s tears soaked up in my shirt, when he hugged me after a nasty nightmare and called me mama for the first time. I loved him for himself only, no matter who gave birth to him or who fathered him. He was the son of my heart.
Then, just after Jamie asked me to move in with him, I was taken away from my freedom and stripped of any willingness by an ex. Frank was arrested for attempted rape, but after further trials and him accepting the plea deal, let it just be said that he wouldn’t be rotting in prison as long as I would’ve preferred - which was close to infinity.
From there, things were only progressing for better. After six months of visits, Willie was done with assigned therapy and a few nights later, Jamie proposed to me while we took Willie out to a park to play with friends. It was unique, perfect and everything that I could’ve ever asked for.
Two months later, I was in a starring contest with two, slightly faded pink lines. Who knew that for me, each line represented a child I was carrying. Not me.
So here I was now, one day before my wedding, more than eight months later, waiting for my baby daddy to take the frustration away.
I was deep in my thoughts, which was probably why I didn’t hear the creeks of the door opening and closing, but I felt the bed sinking from under me, and I definitely felt two large palms grabbing their favourite - my arse.
“Geillis said ye needed some fondelin’, so here I am, Sassenach.” I could feel his smile on my cheek before travelling south and biting my neck. “I’m yer servant, madam.”
“Jamie, stop.” I said through laughter. “That tickles, stoooop.”
But he didn’t stop.
So I tried to turn around, but cried out in frustration when I couldn’t even bloody turn. I was like some unfortunate turtle who was stuck on my arse with my limbs just dangling uselessly from my body.
Jamie propped himself on an elbow and looked down at me. “Claire, what’s wrong?” I could hear as well as see the fear on his face.
“Tell me I’m beautiful.” Without hesitation he obliged.
“Ye are the most beautiful woman in the universe, mo ghraidh.” He smiled sweetly at me, and I was more than pleased with his answer.
“Tell me I’m sexy, not fat and will not go commando down the aisle.” The latter seemed to confuse him a bit, but he still fulfilled my request.
“Ye are verra, verra sexy, Sassenach. No fat, but pregnant wi’ my bairns, and I dinna think I’ll mind much if ye chose to bless me wi’ yer endless, pearly skin.” He bent down and kissed my swollen stomach. “But, why again d’ye want to go commando? Ye look verra braw in this dress. ”
“Firstly, I don’t want to, Jamie. Secondly, don’t get used to the dress, it doesn’t fit me anymore.” I gritted through my teeth, more annoyed than I should be.
“But didna ye buy the dress less than a moth ago?” His innocent question set my blood on fire.
“Jamie, you’re trying my patience!” I was still trying to get up to no avail, when I heard his laughter erupt from his throat.
“Claire, ye are the cutest woman alive. I dinna care if ye walk down the aisle in sweats, a hoodie and flip-flops.”
His finger brought my chin up, and our eyes locked.
“So long as ye walk up to me, all is good wi' the world.”
I married James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser in the backyard of his childhood home. It was a private and rather small affair, only family and a few close friends in attendance.
Jenny, Geillis and I came up with a simple white and red venue, vintage wooden chairs decorated with red strings braided all around, leading up to an all white aisle with a pallet of green hills and meadows of Highland Scotland behind us.
Scotland’s present for us was no rain and all sunshine on a beautiful spring morning. I never gave it a second thought whether we should’ve gotten married somewhere else. Lallybroch was the perfect place from the beginning. This way, Jamie’s parents were right there with us, joined by my parents who watched from above along side Ellen and Brian.
It felt rather unfair that neither of us was able to share our love and happiness with the people who made us and turned us into individuals we were today. But that morning, when I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my bare face, I smiled. I was happy, about to settle in a brand new life with my soulmate, my other half, and my best friend. Those warm droplets were thanks for my parents that I didn’t remember a lot, as well as for Lamb whom I would appreciate and cherish for as long as I was able to take a next breath.
Ian walked me down the aisle, and Jamie and I exchanged our vows and then the vows of his parents, grandparents and so on. It was a blood vow and it was a beautiful part of the ceremony. ‘Blood of my blood,’ we cited to each other. ‘Bone of my bone. I give you my body, that we two may be one. I give you my spirit, till our life shall be done.’ We sealed the oath with a kiss and were pronounced as husband and wife.
We had our first dance, which was awkward a bit, due to my stomach getting in the way, but we managed.
After dinner, I had retreated to now Jamie’s and mine Laird’s room for the restroom, when a pale, rose vase caught my eye from its place by the window, overlooking the endless greens of Scotland. Something warmed up in my chest at the sight.
I was walking down a street on a rainy day around eight months ago, when I bumped into a lady exiting an unfamiliar store.
‘Ah, pardon me. I should really watch where I’m going, especially with this enormous umbrella shielding half Scotland from my view.’ I gushed, feeling the flush colour my cheeks. It happened every bloody time. I just had to bump into people. I swore, I was cursed to embarrass myself at least once a day.
’Tis fine, lass. Ye canna look where yer goin’ when ye have that look in yer eyes.’ The elderly woman smiled, and I blushed even more if that was possible.
‘Well, what do you mean? What look?’ I asked, curious as ever to hear what a perfect stranger could possible see in my eyes.
‘Correct me if I’m wrong, aye, but I ken love when I see it. And ’tis the only thing that’s pooling in those eyes of yers. A special lad, I reckon?’ The lady smiled, but whether it was in victory or to my plain bewilderment, I would never know.
I managed to pick my jaw from the pavement and plastered an awkward smile that hadn’t quite reached my eyes that were apparently a book written by my heart. I bowed my head and caught a sight of the lady’s shoes. They were purple with yellow and green polka dots. That broadened my previously guarded smile. ’Maybe you’re correct.’ I said simply, but when I finally looked up, the strange lady was already gone.
She was no where to be seen, and as I searched for her, I caught the sight of the storefront on my right. It was a vintage shop. There was a rather plain vase, white with pale roses starting from the bottom and than rising to the brim of the vase.
Before I knew it, I was inside said shop, asking to look at the vase more closely. The shop owner told me its brief history - found in the second world war, there was once a handle on the left side, but it was missing now, and the lady that just exited the shop had donated it mere moments ago, with only one request: ‘Put it in the window if ye dinna mind. ’Tis fur someone special to see.’
I couldn’t explain what attracted me to the vase, but somewhere deep down I connected with it and knew that I was meant to own it. I glanced inside the vase, but wasn’t surprised to be met with endless blackness.
I ended up purchasing the intriguing piece of ceramics, and going on with my day. Something about it called to me, whether it was the woman or not, the outcome was already decided for me.
Now I looked at the familiar rose covered vase and felt happiness fill me from head to toe. The vase was holding my bridal flowers picked by a very special lad indeed.
As I made a move towards the vase, I felt warm liquid soak the inside of my dress, splashing loudly on the floor.
“JESUS H. ROOSEVELT CHRIST. JAMIEE!”
to be continued…