Claire, June 2014
Given the fact that I hadn’t been particularly given to them as a child, even in the aftermath of the tragedy of my parent’s death, the fact that my brain, which was by its nature rational and given to making lists rather than daydreams, had turned to nightmares to help me cope was… distressing .
The first one caught me well off-guard. I have a tight control on my consciousness on all planes, usually, and can stop a dream from going in a direction I don’t like, but this dream, I was powerless to stop.
It was a place I didn’t recognize -- kind of a vague approximation of every hospital tent I’ve ever been in -- one of the quickly assembled ones, when there’s a skirmish and there needs to be a facility close. I was walking through rows and rows of cots, my arms bent at the elbow in front of my face, gloves on and secured to my sleeves -- I had prepped for surgery.
“Where’s Jamie?” I started out just wondering it. Then I realized I was saying it, and then a sudden, terrible realization had come over me, where I came to know I was scrubbed in to operate on Jamie . “Where’s Jamie?!”
The nurse who was leading me around -- I realized then I wasn’t the nurse, I was the surgeon, kept leading me through rows and rows of cots, cots with bleeding and broken men and women with the kind of war-time trauma that scarred the back of your eyelids so you always saw it when you laid down to sleep at night, but I could spare not one ounce of compassion for them, because none of them were Jamie .
“Where are you taking me?” I grew more and more insistent, more panicked. My heart raced. If I was prepped for surgery, Jamie needed me.
The nurse turned to face me. Up until that moment, she had been a blurry figure, quite without any distinct features. When I saw her face, I knew. She was Frank’s TA -- the last one, the final straw in the coffin of our marriage. Sweet-faced and freckled, a naive child. In the dream she took on a vindictive expression she never would have worn in real life. She said nothing, yet I knew -- she’d kept me from Jamie long enough that he died.
I screamed, and screamed and…
“Claire,” Jamie’s voice. Jamie’s hand on my arm. “Lass, it’s just a dream. Come back to me, for you’re breaking my heart.”
I fought my way to the surface, out of the dream, to find a very worried-looking Jamie holding my hand. “Oh,” I said softly, “well, this is embarrassing.”
“Nothing embarrassing about a bad dream every once in a while,” Jamie retorted, and kissed my cheek. “Want to talk about it?”
“I’m not sure,” I said. “I’ve never really had anyone there to dissect nightmares for me.”
A look swept over his face which he swiftly wiped off. It wasn’t quite pity, but it was quiet compassion. He bent and kissed me thoroughly. “Well, I’m always happy to help you dissect the nightmares, Sassenach.”
“We could,” I said, “or…” I let my hand sweep over his chest, down to that clever, clever V that I loved so much, the one that directed your mind, and hand’s attention to his cock. He was as easily diverted as any other man his twenties would be, bless him. As soon as my hand wrapped around him, his eyes closed in bliss.
“I do like the way you think, Sassenach…”
I let it lay that week, but I wrote it down and, later that week, in therapy, I brought the dream up with Geillis.
“It’s not terribly surprising that you didn’t want to discuss it with Jamie,” she said, “but that is something you might want to work on -- sharing your fears with Jamie.”
“What do you mean?”
“Claire, we’ve talked before about how protective you can be of your mind, your thoughts, what’s inside. You lost your parents at a young age. Your uncle Lamb was good to you, I know, but that rocks the foundation of a child’s world. You rushed into a marriage where you were treated as and felt like the junior partner. It’s natural to be a little protective after that. But if you want a true and lasting connection with any partner, but in this case, especially Jamie, you might want to tell him that losing him is the stuff of nightmares.”
“We haven’t even told each other ‘I love you’!” I protested. “I can’t… look insane .”
“Love is a kind of socially approved insanity,” Geillis said, half-smiling. “Not to be dismissive of your fears. But from everything you’ve told me about Jamie, I think that he would not think that you are insane. I’m sure he has his own fears.”
“I’m a mess,” I said, helplessly. “I just worry that maybe it’s not right for me to saddle myself to someone else while I’m a wreck.”
“You are the farthest thing from a wreck,” Geillis said, shaking her head. “You only feel like a wreck because normally you are very controlled and certain of yourself. Which you will be again. Stop trying to sabotage yourself, Claire. You deserve to be happy.”
I thought about that for a long time. Did I deserve to be happy? I’m not sure any of us ever gets what we deserve, on balance. In Jamie’s arms I felt peace, security. The problem was the minute I left his arms, and the reality of the world, and the uncertainty I felt about everything in the world.
Everything in the world except how I felt about him. I knew, down to my toes, that I loved him. A different kind of way than I had loved Frank, which had been sudden and overwhelming, like being pulled out with the tide. Falling in love with Jamie was slower, sweeter, but somehow deeper. Losing Frank, the family we were trying to build, had been devastating. What would it be to lose Jamie? And yet, time in war had taught me that nothing was certain, anything could be taken at any moment.
So I had to decide to either hold fast and enjoy every moment we did have together, or fret with worry about possibilities vague and dire at all hours of the day night, or set him free in anticipation of pain yet to come.
I tried to savor every minute, without worrying him, but he could see that something was bothering me. I could see he wanted to ask me, but he bided his time, until I woke up, panicked and near-screaming, a week later.
“Claire, this canna go on,” he said. “Lass, what’s bothering ye so?”
“It’s always the same,” I told him. “I’m prepped for surgery, in some kind of make-shift medical tent. I know there’s a terrible war on, or something, outside the walls. I’m walking through rows and rows of soldiers, horribly injured -- like the worst of everything I’ve ever seen, all jumbled together in some kind of nightmare. But I don’t care about any of it. I’m following this nurse, and I know she’s supposed to lead me to you, that you need me desperately. I start to call your name. She turns and -- it’s Frank’s latest mistress, the one right before the divorce. She smiles and I know -- I know it’s too late.”
At this point, my eyes were leaking tears, so fierce as to be a river. Jamie took both my hands in his and kissed them fervently.
“Ah, lass,” he said softly. “You know no other woman would ever keep me from you.”
I laughed through the tears. “That’s what you got from that?”
“I canna control some of it -- I have no intentions of ever going to war again, but it’s true that farming can be dangerous, so I willna make you any promise that I will live to a ripe old age, for we both know that wouldna be fair.” Jamie drew my palm to his mouth and kissed it once more. “And I have little doubt that you would push through armies o’ men if you thought I needed ye, Claire.”
I studied his hands in mine. Beautiful hands, thick and rough with work. Hands that had loved me patiently, and then sometimes roughly, and sometimes sweetly. I looked up to his eyes, which were piercing and blue and full of love for me.
“I think it’s more that I worry that I will… lose you,” I said, taking a deep breath, “without you ever having known how I feel about you.”
“And how is that, Sassenach?”
I swallowed. There was no need to panic. I heard rushing in my ears. “I love you, Jamie Fraser.”
The grin that broke over his face was slow as sunrise -- slowly, and then all at once, crinkling at his eyes and the corners of his mouth. He drew me close to him and kissed me fiercely. “I love ye too, Claire Beauchamp.” He pushed me back on to the bed. “You make me so hungry, lass. Hungry for your words, for your thoughts, for your hands on me.”
I spread my legs. He shucked his boxers and lay between them, and kissed my cheek and my neck. “Oh, my love,” I muttered.
“Call me that again and let me have ye, Claire. In all ways tonight, let me have ye.”
“You can have me always.” His hands stroked down my body, found the well of liquid between my legs. He caressed me there, flicked my clitoris lightly and made me gasp with want.
“You are so wet, mo nighean donn, so wet and so perfect and so warm.”
“You make me that way,” I gasped as he filled me with a finger, then two. Made sure his welcome was certain.
“You make me hard as a rock,” he said, and I laughed again, arching my back at his perfect fingers inside of me, pumping in and out. “Will you go over for me just to watch, once, lass? Before I slide home in ye?”
He bent, kissed my neck and, sliding down, found my breasts. His gentle mouth licked and laved while his fingers pumped, and then just at the right moment, just when I was pleading for more… I felt the slightest nip of his teeth on my nipple.
I felt the ripples and waves, echoing out from my core. I shook with it, the pleasure of it. He held me in his arms.
“Now?” I asked, pulling his mouth to mine for a desperate kiss. “Will you fuck me now, Jamie?”
“I canna wait,” he said in my ear.
“I do not want you to.”
He pushed his way inside me, and I felt once more that delicious and strange queerness of being full of man, making a place for him inside my body which he would hopefully come to know and regard as his own.
The look on his face was between pleasure and pain. “I do not wish to disgrace myself, Claire,” he whispered, “But I donna think I shall last long at all.”
He set a quick rhythm, but a good one. He didn’t object to my fingers finding my clit, stroking myself a little while he sought his pleasure, while we sought pleasure together.
“You have the most beautiful… beautiful…” he made no sense as he spoke now. “Perfect, gorgeous. Wet and tight, my darling, my love… mo nighean donn, I …” He released inside of m, crying out primally. He shook and bent to kiss me while we rode out his orgasm together.
We held on to each other afterwards, touching, laughing, kissing, long after the sun was on its way up and Jamie should have been on his way to work.
Our alarm clock went off and he turned it off. He reached for his night stand, took something out of the top drawer. It was a burgundy box, of a familiar size and shape.I felt my heart race.
“Oh, Jamie,” I whispered. “You can’t mean…”
“I thought to take you out,” he muttered. “In a month or so, so I wouldna look desperate, ye see. Get down on my knee on a restaurant and ask ye in front of God and everyone but now I see.” He shook his head. “That willna do for us. This is us, loving each other in the morning and through a bad night. No matter where we are, Claire, if I’m with ye then I will feel at home.”
He flipped open the lid of the box. A simple diamond solitaire on a platinum band. “I know you probably had a fancy ring with Frank, but I canna afford much. This was my mother’s. I’d like ye to wear it and be my wife.”
My heart about beat out of my chest. “Oh, Jamie…”
“What do you say, lass?” His eyes pled with mine. “Will ye?”
I reached for the ring, slid it on my finger. “Yes.”