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A Tale Of Two Friends

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This is a tale of two friends, me, Miss Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, and Jamie, full name: James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. 

We have been friends since elementary school. Best friends. My parents had moved to Inverness when I was 7 after my father accepted a position as curator at the Inverness Museum. Scotland was strange and a lot less like England than I had expected. Everything was different. We shared a common language of course, but it was almost impossible to understand people speaking at anything other than a slower than normal pace, the food was weird, and the people were friendly, but wary of a family of educated Sassenach types. 

Walking into school on my first day - full of excitement and bundles of nerves with my Union Jack lunch box - was a massive mistake, one that placed a target on my back immediately, and the then gangly, flame-haired Jamie was the only kid in class to not make fun of it and my ‘posh’ English accent. He was the first one to ask me to sit and eat lunch with him, and was very kind and sweet while attempting to teach me the strange and confusing Gaelic curse words I so often heard bandied around the playground. We quickly became inseparable. He was not only my best friend, but my protector and confidant. 

Jamie’s friendship saw me through the death of my parents, just six months after we met, and adapting to living with my Uncle Lamb, whom I grew to absolutely adore, but barely knew when guardianship of me was suddenly thrust upon him. He was a wonderful man. Uncle Lamb gave up a lot to care for me; abandoning his beloved globetrotting archaeology adventures to take over my father’s role at the museum. It was a perfect solution; it kept my uncle in his chosen field and allowed me to retain some kind of normalcy, plus I could then stay with my cherished Jamie.

Throughout our childhood and adolescence, we had mended each other's bikes, nursed each other's wounds, and trusted only each other with our deepest, darkest secrets. He even helped me get over the multitude of broken hearts I found myself facing all too frequently throughout high school, all while seeming completely disinterested in finding love for himself.

Together, we had made it through the perils of the sand pits, the ups and downs of high school and now, we were navigating the adult world of university side by side.

But over the past year - our second year of university and living independently in Glasgow - me, in an on-campus dorm, and Jamie, off-campus with our friend, John, something had changed. 

I had been dating Frank, a history major a few years ahead of us for almost nine months, when Jamie began seeing a mutual friend, Geillis. And when I say seeing, I mean fucking. 

I had barely seen them speak a word to each other, but had unfortunately witnessed their hot and heavy antics at every party and get together we’d attended this past month. I didn’t know why, but it bothered me immensely. I should be happy for him, finally having fun and finding romance with a nice girl like Geillis, but I wasn’t, I hated it. 

Every time I saw them together, I felt sick to my very core, and had an overwhelming and sudden urge to slap the perfect smile right from her pretty doll-like face and drag Jamie away by the ear.

I saw them together again last night, in the kitchen at a party; kissing, moaning, their hands wandering all over each other. It was disgusting. Jamie spotted me watching, and dared to smile at me before returning to eating her face and disappearing with her into the pantry. 

Thirty minutes later, they reappeared, full sex hair on display, sitting on opposite sides of the room and appeared completely oblivious to each other's existence for the rest of the night.

As I lay in bed the next morning, going over the inappropriateness of their PDA with Frank, I decided to talk to Geillis about it; I just wanted to make sure her intentions towards my best friend were honourable. Of course Frank thought I was overreacting, that there was nothing wrong with a young couple kissing at a party, but he didn’t know Jamie as I did. He couldn’t possibly understand. 

Despite Frank's insistence that I drop it, I called Geillis as soon as he got in the shower and we arranged to meet for lunch that day. The moment we sat down and had finished ordering our pizza and fries, I began quizzing her, trying to figure out exactly what it was between them. 

I convinced myself that the nagging curiosity and perhaps slight preoccupation was all for Jamie's sake. I was merely looking out for my best friends interests. But Geillis had come to play hardball, and expertly dodged and weaved her way through and past every question I threw at her. 

“Fine, don’t tell me anything about your hot little romance,” I snapped, pretending to be offended by her concealment, but truly just being annoyed by her lack of openness and pig-headed refusal to give me what I wanted.

As we halved the one remaining slice of pizza, I feared time had run out. After all my efforts, I was going to leave none the wiser. But my stubbornness, endless harassment and drilling paid off; as she swallowed her last mouthful, she spilled. 

Patting her face with her napkin, she smiled, then took a mouthful of her soda; her bright green eyes never veering from mine over the top of the cup. 

“Jamie and I…” She stopped and took another deliberately, painfully slow mouthful before finally putting me out of my misery. 

“It’s not a romance, we were just mucking around, ‘twas nothing,” she sighed, shrugging her shoulders and flipping her hair.

My heart skipped a beat or two, jumping on her choice of words, particularly the past tense phrasing. I went in for the kill.

“Oh, so you’re not in love with him then?” I asked, popping a fry into my mouth, attempting and failing nonchalance.

“In love…? With Jamie?” she scoffed, apparently finding it a ridiculous proposal. 

“Och no. I called him last night after the party and we agreed to end it.” She dropped her cup and leaned in across the table. “It’s a real shame too. He is so hot, Claire, the most amazing kisser. And those big hands of his, well, ye wouldna believe what he…”

“I don’t need to know, thank you,” I interrupted, maturely blocking my ears with my hands and shifting uncomfortably in my seat. Geillis just laughed and again, disturbingly bore her eyes into mine.

“In truth, he’s completely smitten with someone else, so there is no point in pursuing anything. We’ll keep it as friends.”

She watched my reaction, smirking, as an unabashed, broad grin broke out on my face and a deep sense of relief washed over me. 

“Oh, sorry, that's a shame,” I lied. “I don’t know why it bothered me so much anyway,” I added, trying desperately to hide my still widening smile.

“Do ye no’, Claire? Really?” she giggled. “Ye honestly have no idea why it would bother ye, tae see Jamie with someone else?” She laughed heartily and leaned on my shoulder as she stood. 

“Maybe ye should ponder over that a wee bit longer,” she winked and walked away, continuing to laugh as she looked back towards me.

“Meet us at the lake later. Oh, and bring Frank,” she smirked as she headed to the door. “That should be interesting.” 

Part of me understood exactly what she meant, but I pushed the acknowledgement away, fearing what it could mean, and choosing to remain blissfully ignorant to the fact that I, myself, was in love with James Fraser.

 

Chapter Text



2016

 

It was my final year of senior school, and Hamish McTavish was my boyfriend.

I thought he was so cool, a real bad boy. He swore at the teachers, smoked, never did any of his work and got sent to detention daily. He was the complete opposite to me, completely wrong for me and therefore, I found him to be completely irresistible.

At the time, my innocent concept of boyfriend meant we held hands at school, kissed in every dark, sometimes creepy, hidden spot we could find, and danced together three times at our school dance before he ditched me, and spent the rest of the night sucking face with Laoghaire McKenzie.

Jamie and I had both known Hamish for years, by reputation only, but of course, my interest in him was slightly different than Jamie’s. There were not a lot of cute, bad boys in Inverness, so I had had my eye on him for sometime before our first formal meeting.

Jamie hated him of course, and for good reason. Hamish, you see, was an asshole. But he was my asshole, and for some reason, it was very important for me to have a boyfriend at the time.

Jamie had traveled to France as an exchange student a month before Hamish and I started dating, and had spent the last few weeks, talking incessantly about some random French girl he had made friends with at his new but temporary school. Her name was Annalise, and you’d have thought she’d invented the wheel the way Jamie spoke about her on each of our daily phone calls.

He described her as tall, blonde and ‘verra’ pretty. She sounded horrible and terribly dull to me; each time he spoke of her, I felt like a pin was sticking in and out of my right eye at rapid speed.

So while Jamie was busy chasing around blondes in France, I was asked to tutor a student by our math teacher, Mr. Mackenzie, a tall, bald, creepy man who insisted on speaking too close to all his female students. To this day, I was unsure how he had managed to retain his job around teenage girls for as long as he did.

I had initially refused, but as soon as I found out the student in need of my help was Hamish, I was all in. By the time we finished our second tutor session, Hamish had convinced me it was easier and more fun to let me do his work for him in my own time, and to instead, use our tutor time to make out. It was an arrangement I later regretted, but succumbed to as he was in the process of giving me my first ever love bite.

 

A week or so later, Jamie was filling me in about his day trip to Euro Disney with Annalise and her equally dull-sounding family, and I was more than pleased to be able to tell him all about my ‘adventures’ with Hamish, and level the playing field a little.

“Have ye completely lost yer mind?” was Jamie’s enraged response.

He was horrified to hear I was dating Hamish, and with each subsequent phone call, and every sordid detail I exposed, he became even more so.

By the end of the first torrid month I had spent with Hamish, I had begun to smoke, my innocence was hanging by a thread, and Jamie was beside himself. He’d even gone as far as to call Uncle Lamb to try and convince him just how unsuitable Hamish was for his young niece.

“He rides a motorcycle, Quentin,” I had heard him say on one such phone call. “Do ye really want yer bonny wee niece, riding around town on the back of some... hoodlums motorcycle? What about her reputation?”

What Jamie failed to recognise was, the more that he and Uncle Lamb warned and protested about the unsuitability of my beau, the more attractive he became.

“I dinna understand what ye see in him, Claire,” Jamie said, almost two months before he was due to come home. “He doesna treat ye nice, he doesna take ye out, he almost seems tae be embarrassed of ye at school. What is so great about this lad?”

“He's a great kisser for one,” I answered with a giggle. “He does this thing with his tongue…”

“LA LA LA LAA,” Jamie sang down the phone to block my words, and it made me laugh so hard; he could have simply held the phone from his ear, but that would not be adorable, so of course, it wasn’t his natural reaction.

“Please, stop! I dinna need tae hear anything about that guy’s tongue, or what he can do with it,” he pleaded. “Just promise me, Claire, ye willna...I mean, don’t...ye ken...don’t give him, anything,” he mumbled.

“What do you mean?” I knew exactly what he meant. “Don’t give him anything? Money? Cigarettes? What?”

“Aye, ye’re verra funny, lass,” he snapped, not seeming amused at all. “But I mean it, Claire. That boy is not worthy of yer... precious flower,” he said matter of factly.

“MY WHAT?” I’m sure he would have heard me in France without the need for a telephone.

“Did you really just say my ‘precious flower’ to me? Oh, oh, what is this? The 18th century? This is too good. Say it again so I can record it!” I was laughing hysterically, but Jamie remained silent for an agonisingly long time.

“I gotta go, Sassenach. Bye.” He said quietly.

“Jamie! Jamie, wait!”

He ignored my calls for three days. It was the longest we had gone without speaking since our childhood, and it tore me apart.

I had called him obsessively—sent emails, texts, every form of communication was attempted. He ignored every single one of them. So when my phone rang at six AM one sunny Sunday morning, and I saw Jamie’s number on the screen, my heart leapt into my mouth.

“Jamie! I'm so sorry!” I said, launching immediately into a million apologies.

“‘Tis ok, Sassenach. I overreacted. I was going tae call ye straight back the other day, but I was embarrassed. Can ye forgive me?”

“Me? Forgive you? Jamie, there is nothing for you to apologise for. You were just looking out for me. I was being a smartass. Can we just forget it? Please?” I pleaded.

“Aye,” he said, I could hear the smile in his voice and it made my heart clench.

“I miss you, Jamie.”

“I miss ye tae, Claire, and I’m coming home, tomorrow.”

“What? You’re not due back for another two months. What about your studies? Annalise?”

“Sassenach,” he tutted, “there is nothing between Anna and I. I may have been a bit sweet on her, but nothing happened, okay?”

“Okay,” I sighed wearily, feeling oddly relieved and elated. “I can’t wait to see you.”

“Me tae. I gotta go, they are calling my flight. See ye tomorrow after school. I'll come over if that’s okay?”

“Yes. Tomorrow, bye Jamie.”

Within five minutes, I had decided that Jamie was right. I was done with Hamish and would tell him the next day at school. Before I could change my mind, I sent two messages, the first to Hamish, asking him to meet me in the library in our free period. He replied immediately, saying that he’d love to ‘study’ in the library with me, and that he’d meet me there at two.

The second, was to Jamie: I can’t wait to see you tomorrow. Oh, and I’m going to break up with Hamish.

The next day, I avoided Hamish, which wasn’t hard to do. It turns out Jamie was right, Hamish did ignore me at school, and I was annoyed at myself for ignoring the obvious and putting up with it for so long.

I rehearsed the breakup in my mind, deciding that honesty was the best policy, and I walked into the library a woman on a mission, ready to break the poor boy's heart.

I searched the near-empty library, darting in between the clogged shelves and around the piles of books abandoned on almost every table, but couldn’t see him anywhere. I was just about to quit and dump him via text, when I was grabbed from behind and pulled into a janitor's closet. I couldn’t see who was currently squeezing my ass, but instantly recognised the hands and lips currently roaming my body.

“Hamish, stop!” He ignored me and continued to grope at me.

“Hamish, stop, we need to talk.”

His hands ceased their breast bound travel instantly, and he switched on the light.

“Are you breaking up with me?” He asked, almost in disbelief.

“You are…going to break up…with me?” He tossed his head back and began to laugh.

Son of a bitch.

“Yes, I am.” I snapped, hands on my hips and chin jutting out as it always did when I was really pisssed off. He was going to get it!

“You’re not nice to me, Hamish, and I deserve better. Goodbye.”

Wow, that'll tell him! Way to go Beauchamp.

I turned away from him and attempted to push open the door, but he grabbed my hand and pulled me close to his face.

“No one breaks up with me…especially not a slut like you!”

At that very moment, the door swung open, and in burst Jamie.

“Piss off, Fraser,” Hamish hissed.

Jamie was having none of it, his jaw jutted out at an angle I've never seen before and a new vein popped to the surface of his forehead. He then kicked Hamish right in the nose, grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the closet.

We ran out of the library, down the crowded corridors through the throngs of slack-jawed teenagers, and kept on running until we made it outside. Both huffing and puffing, we looked at each other, both slightly in shock over what had just happened. I should have been relieved and thankful that Jamie had arrived when he had, but for some reason, I became angry.

“I could have handled that myself,” I said, shaking my hand free of his grip. “I don’t need you to fight all my battles for me!”

“Oh, aye. It didna look like it. It looked like ye were about tae be taken by the worst scum in the school right before my eyes. I told ye he wasna right for ye, Claire. This is why ye have tae listen tae me occasionally.”

“I don’t have to do what you tell me. I’m an adult. Well, almost. and I can and will do what I like!”

I stepped in closer to his body and pushed him in the chest. He tripped on his own foot and fell backwards to the ground.

“Jamie!” I cried, jumping down beside him and laying my head on his chest.

“I’m sorry, are you okay?”

He took a deep breath and chuckled, “aye, I’m just fine, Sassenach. Ye bloody big bully.”

The shock and anger of what had just happened dissolved, and it was quickly replaced by laughter, bubbling to the surface and bursting out from both of us.

“You kicked him in the face!” I screamed, laughing hysterically. “Why did you kick him in the face?”

“I dinna ken,” he said sheepishly. I looked at him, still laughing, and tilted my head, demanding the truth.

“Och, well, I didna want him to hit ye, or me for that matter. I figured it might take him by surprise,” he replied, laughing as heavily as I was.

He wrapped his arms around me and held me close until the laughter fizzled out, with the occasional giggle escaping us.

“Did ye break up with him then?” He asked, a glimmer of cheekiness and maybe hope in his eyes.

“Yes, you were right. He was a real bastard, and, not really that good looking either, or that good of a kisser.”

Jamie's grip on me tightened and I felt happy, content and safe, for the first time since he had left. He breathed deeply and if I didn’t know better, I swear he softly smelt my hair as he inhaled.

“Claire, I—I want to tell ye something, about ye, about us, Annalise, and why I dinna...”

“Ughhhh,” I groaned, cutting him off. “Her again? Do we have to? Can’t we just be us for a while? Best friends, like it used to be, will always be. Just you and me.”

“Aye,” he smiled.

He leaned down, and kissed me on the forehead, something he had done a million times throughout our lives, but this felt different. This kiss lingered that little bit longer, his arms holding me that little bit tighter, and he sighed as he slowly pressed his lips onto my skin.

“Just you and me,” he said softly. “Sounds perfect.”

Chapter Text



 

Frank and I sat on the shore of the loch looking on while Jamie, Geillis and our friend and Jamie’s housemate, John, frolicked in the water. My beau had brought a pile of books along with him as per usual, and was lecturing me on the little known history of the Battle of Culloden.

I really did care about Frank, but bloody hell, he could be the oldest twenty-four-year-old in history. I began to wonder if he could be any more boring when he criticised the sugar content of the lollipop I was sucking on, then suggested we ‘stretch out and take a nap’ before heading home for an early dinner. The sun was out, it was a beautiful warm day, the beer was flowing and here we were, watching the “young ones” have fun like a pair of 70-year-old retirees.

Never being one to be able to hide my emotions, my reaction to his suggestion and the apathy I was feeling must have been obvious.

“No, no, of course, we should stay,” he said, putting down his book and pointing towards our friends.

“Why don’t you go and have a splash, have some fun. Unless you’d like me to read to you? I’ve just begun an intriguing chapter on the origins of the Highland charge.”

My lollipop was tossed and my feet hit the water before he’d finished the word ‘charge.’ Jamie was on me in a flash, grabbing me by the arms, lifting me into the air and dunking me under the water. I squealed, desperately grabbed at his hips and dragged him down with me.

As I thrashed around under the water trying to determine which way was up, all I could see was the whites of his teeth, his giant, cheeky smile, then the top of his bare bum, before he disappeared from view.

 

I burst from the water gasping for air and laughed. Jamie was already on the surface waiting for me. Arrogantly standing with hands-on-hips, laughing the same laugh he had always done, but this time it was hypnotizing. How had I never noticed how hot he was?

I mean, obviously, he was clearly a good-looking guy. But right now, as he stood before me, his shorts hanging low under his hips, exposing his incredible tapered V, it felt like I was seeing him for the first time. My heart rate quadrupled as my eyes scanned over his body. He was truly the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen.

A hand landed on my shoulder snapped me out of my trance and I looked over to my left to see John and Geillis, smiling, and hopelessly trying not to laugh at me.

“Lucky ye’re already in the water. I think ye have a wee bit of drool on yer chin, lass,” Geillis whispered. John burst out laughing and nodded towards Jamie, who was now adjusting and cursing at the drawstring on his shorts after I had accidentally pulled them down in our struggle.

“Pretty impressive sight, hey Beauchamp,” he sighed. “Heterosexuality is such a waste.” He grabbed my still open jaw and shut it, before he and Geillis walked to shore, laughing at my expense the whole way.

Luckily, both Jamie and Frank had not seemed to notice my obvious perving and carried on like normal; Frank still reading and Jamie, splashing at me like a ten-year-old.

We stayed in the water, rejoicing in the rarely seen Scottish summer sun, while Geillis, Frank and John sat on the edge of the loch chatting. It didn't take long before Geillis’s eyes began to roll around like a ball trapped in a pinball machine. I knew that face well—Frank and his history books had struck again. Geillis had apparently had enough, and a short, sharp elbow was delivered to John's ribs; he knew exactly what it meant: we need to leave, now!

I watched on as they huddled together, Geillis leaning away from Frank, whispering, perhaps plotting, before she leaned back and wrapped her arm around Frank's shoulder. I grabbed Jamie’s arm and dragged him closer towards shore, stopping as soon as I could hear their conversation.

“Say, Frank love, would ye mind terribly giving John and I a lift back tae town? We’re done swimming but Jamie and Claire are still in the water. Why don’t you drop us off, then Jamie can take Claire home when they’re finished. I mean done…I mean…” Geillis snorted back a laugh and fell backwards against the sand.

“When they have had enough time in the water,” John inserted.

Luckily Frank didn't pick up on any of Geillis’s blabbering and agreed to give them a lift. He waded out towards me in the loch and I met him halfway. He gave me a quick peck on the cheek and asked Jamie to see me home safely.

“Twould be my honor,” Jamie said with a bow. Frank returned the bow with a nod of his head before giving me a strange, almost sad look. He kissed my cheek again, this time, holding his lips still for a moment longer than normal before wading back to land.

“Don’t have too much fun you two!” yelled John, as they headed off towards the car park, with Frank walking slowly, looking back nervously over his shoulder every few steps.

Jamie looked at me and smiled, which I returned while repeating ‘don’t look at his body, look at his eyes’ over and over again in my mind.

“Ye okay, Sassenach? Ye’re cold are ye, here, this will warm ye up.” He ran up behind me and locked me in a tight bear hug, laughing and flopping me side to side like a rag doll.

“Jamie!” I laughed, “stop, put me down!” We laughed together, but as the hug continued and the swaying stopped, the laughter did too. It was just a hug now, and I could feel every defined muscle in his chest and abdomen pressing into my bum and up and down the entire length of my back. It felt good and very wrong at the same time.

“I said stop, Jamie. Let me go,” I wriggled around, squirming to break free from his arms.

“Claire, what’s wrong? I was just fooling around, like we always do.”

“Well, it didn’t feel the same,” I said, sulking and stomping through the water and back to safety.

“Come on, Claire, I’m sorry, I dinna mean tae upset ye lass,” he said apologetically, sploshing up behind me. When close enough, he stretched out his long arms and spun me around.

“Well, you did. Now can you please just take me home?”

“Aye, I’ll take ye home, as soon as ye explain to me what the devil’s gotten into ye. Ye’ve been moody as all heck with me lately. Ye shot me dirty looks all night at that party, and Geillis told me you interrogated her this morning over our…”

“Over your what, Jamie?” I cut in, “Over your cavorting around like a fool? Kissing in front of everyone, fucking in pantries and god knows where else.”

I tore his hand from my arm and threw it away. Undeterred, he grabbed me again and pulled me in, right onto his body. My hand landed squarely on his chest and the feel of his soft, ginger tufts underneath my fingers took my breath away. I had to concentrate to stop myself from caressing my hands over him and remember we were in the middle of a fight, and he was just my friend.

“Let me go.”

“No!” he snapped.

“Let me go!” I repeated, yelling right in his face and shaking my arms violently to free them.

“Aye.”

He released me mid-swing and I fell to my side, splashing straight back, face-first into the water. He roared with laughter and it was like waving a red flag in front of a raging bull. I was incensed.

“You god damn bloody bastard,” I screamed.

Shocked by my outburst, he stood motionless, perhaps weighing up his options, before staring me down with one of his trademark cocky half smirks.

“If ye keep carrying on like this, I shall pick ye up, and throw ye over my shoulder. Is that what ye want?” He asked snidely. It was devastatingly hot.

Yes, yes, it is.

“No, it’s not!”

I stretched out my leg and kicked his feet from underneath him, causing him to lose balance completely, and come crashing down into the water opposite me. He continued to laugh, and it infuriated me even more.

I knew I was being ridiculous, acting like a petulant child, and I was embarrassed, which made me more frustrated and even more upset.

I slapped my hands against the water and burst into tears. Jamie, who had continued chuckling away, quickly stopped. His face went white as a ghost and he crawled on his hands and knees towards me.

“Sassenach, please dinna cry. I canna bear it.”

Almost looking frightened of my reaction, he slowly nuzzled into my side and inched his long arms around me. I resisted at first, using my body weight to push against him, but it was useless. I needed him, and the warmth of his body against me in the cold murky water was irresistible; I gave up, and sank into his embrace.

He held me tight for a few blissful moments, whispering Gaelic musings into my ear as he used to do when we were young, when I was hurt or afraid, until he felt my body begin to shiver. Then, he did as he had threatened—in one swift move, he picked me up, encasing me in his arms, and carried me to shore. I lay my head against his broad chest and could hear his heart racing. The medical student in me began to count the strong, steady beats, a perfect rhythm.

I was afraid to look at him, but I could feel his stare fixed on me. After a few steps, I worked up the courage to look up and met his eyes. He was looking at me in a way I’d never seen before—his blue eyes had lost their usual bright, shining sparkle, and replaced by a dark, longing stare that burned straight into my soul.

We said nothing as we waded in, or as he lay me down on the grassy knoll beyond the sand. I felt like crying as I slid from his arms, wanting so desperately to stay safe and warm within his embrace that I nearly begged him to hold me again.

Instead, I lay back against the grass, motionless, paralyzed with anticipation, waiting to see what he would do or say next.

Disappointment raced through me when he stood and began to walk away. But he only stepped as far as my bag, before he reached down and grabbed my towel. Within only two of his giant strides, he was beside me again, wrapping the soft cotton towel around me to keep me warm.

I noticed then that my bathing suit had slipped down my arms and I was perilously close to exposing my goosebump covered breasts. I moved to fix them, but he beat me, and his finger gently, tenderly, grazed my skin as he slipped the strap back over my shoulder. How could a simple touch be so erotic?

It was like a thousand tiny electric shocks burned into me with every millimeter of exposed skin he touched. His eyes remained glued to his finger as it traced back down the flesh of my quivering arm, wet his lips and looked straight into my eyes.

His fingers remained gracing my skin with their touch while his gaze never wavered from mine. What seemed like an eternity, may only have been seconds, but I had vanished into him, lost all sense of space and time.

 

“Claire, I—I want tae... I mean, I would verra much like tae kiss ye.”

“Jamie, I…”

He moved closer before I pulled away. I had never wanted anything more, yet been so terrified by anything in my life.

“I… we can’t. You're my best friend, Jamie, I don’t want to lose you.”

“That will never happen, I willna let anything come between us. Claire, you are everything tae me. Don’t ye know that?”

I nodded, knowing his words were true, then shook my head as images of him and Geillis, raced through my mind.

“Jamie, we can’t risk our friendship for another one of your flings. What about you and Geillis? I know you were sleeping with her.” His mouth dropped, as though I had accused him of something immoral or indecent, but he wasn’t angry, he looked embarrassed, ashamed.

“I have not been sleeping with Geillis. We fooled around, sure, but I have not slept with her.” He stopped and blushed. “I've been waiting for y…” He turned, hid his face from mine and began tapping the bottom of his feet the way he always did when he was feeling anxious or uncomfortable.

I placed my hand over his to relax him and stop the tapping, then leaned around him until our faces met.

“Waiting for what?” I asked, hoping desperately I already knew the answer.

“For ye, Claire.”

Chapter Text

 



Around 9 months earlier.

 

My heart had nearly exploded. I had just come back from Claire’s dorm, after walking in on her and Frank Randall, together, in her bed. I knew she had been on a few dates with him, but hadn’t realised how serious it was.

I’d snuck in to give her a present, a little blue and white vase I’d found that day in town. It was just like all the others she had collected over the years, but they were all back in Inverness. I knew how special they were to her, how much they always made her feel safe, and at home, so I had to get it.

I don’t know if they saw me, and I didn’t hang around to find out. I just gently left the vase by her door and slunk away.

So now, I lay with my face buried into the couch, stifling the tears that refused to cease flooding from my eyes.

I was so lost in my misery, my heartbreak, that I didn't hear the door open or close, the footsteps, or the first thing he said to me. It wasn't until his hand gently tapped my shoulder, that I realised he was here.

“Jamie,”

“John, leave me be. Please.” I groaned, “please just leave me here to die alone.”

A slight chuckle escaped him before he crouched on his knee beside me and lowered his head sideways to see my face. I slid my hand to my cheeks, trying desperately to wipe the tears before I looked up.

“Jamie, you will survive whatever this is. Trust me.”

“No, I willna ever get over this. I will never get over…” I stopped, somehow fearing my heart would be torn from my chest if I dared to say her name.

“Over... Claire?” John asked.

I sat up and clapped my hand over his mouth. “Don’t! Please, don’t.”

Smiling at me like I was a cute baby kitten, John placed his hand over mine and slowly removed it. “Does she know?”

“Does she know what?” I sniffled. “What a complete eejit I am, yeah, I’m pretty sure she knows.”

He pursed his lips to contain his laughs but maintained his sympathetic expression.

“Does she know you're in love with her?” He pushed my legs deeper into the couch and sat beside me.

I looked at John, in genuine shock that anyone had any idea of my true feelings towards Claire. My first thought was to lie and say he was being stupid, but he looked at me with such deep sorrow, such empathy, I chose to trust him and confess it all instead.

“No. You ken, she doesn’t ken. How do you ken? Does everybody ken?” Panic began to sink in as I thought of how stupid I must look to everyone. Following Claire around like a helpless lovesick oaf, while she is dating a mature guy like Frank.

“I’m sorry, but you lost me at the third ‘ken’” John laughed. “Jamie, I can’t tell you if everybody knows, but I’ve gotten to know you quite well this year, and I have never seen a man more in love in my entire life.”

He patted me on the knee, then walked into the kitchen, returning a moment later with two glasses and a bottle of whisky. He poured a glass and offered it to me, but I chose the bottle instead and promptly swigged straight from it.

“Cheers.” John laughed. “You remember my brother, Hal?”

“Aye,” I replied, taking another swig from the bottle. “He’s in the army right?”

“That's him,” nodded John. “Hal is a good brother, in many ways, and I have always looked up to him and turned to him for advice. But he never let me talk about things, you know, certain things in particular.”

John cleared his throat and sipped from his whisky.

“He hated that I was gay when we were kids. Hated it. And when the first boy that ever kissed me, that I ever shared a connection with, loved...” he paused, fighting back tears trying desperately to compose himself so he could continue. “When Hector died, he refused to let me talk about it, or him at all. He wouldn’t acknowledge my feelings. He was embarrassed of his gay brother you see. All he would ever say was, ‘just forget it’, ‘move on’, ‘get over it.’”

I could see the tears forming in John's eyes. It hurts to see my friend in pain—a pain I had no idea he carried with him all along.

“I've come to discover, Hal is generally right. But not always. Talking about Hector, remembering him and sharing my love for him, helped me heal. Pretending something doesn’t exist doesn't help, Jamie. It just forces the pain deeper, and it gets darker and darker ‘til it eats you up.”

He watched as I skulled more whisky from the bottle and shook his head. “And so will this swill.”

He finished his whisky, wiped the tears from his eyes, then grabbed the bottle back from me before I could take another mouthful.

“So, I am here, and I want to hear it all, right from the very beginning. Tell me everything about you and Claire.” He reached out and placed the near-empty bottle and glass on the coffee table. “Spill!” he said.

The beginning. I sat up, took a deep breath and smiled as the image of Claire on her first day at our school burst into my mind.

“She was such a cute wee thing, John. I can remember it so clearly. She dinna have her uniform yet, and she strutted into the room in this bright red pinny, with a huge red bow in her hair, and a bloody Union Jack lunch box. The sound of twenty kids' jaws hitting the floor at the same time was deafening.” John and I both laughed, and he nodded and motioned with his hands for me to keep going.

“Well, then she spoke. It was the cutest, most proper, ‘hello’ I had ever heard. I was only six, but I was a goner. The teacher asked her to introduce herself, and I sat watching, listening to every word, mesmerized. I couldn’t wait till playtime so I could sit and talk wit’ her.”

I stood from the couch and went to get myself some water. As I entered the kitchen, I passed my most recent birthday gift from Claire, a photo of us from our first Uni party together. Tears welled my eyes, again.

“What if I’ve lost her John? I dinna think I could cope.”

“Jamie. I am convinced that she is just as in love with you, as you are with her. She just doesn’t know it yet. Now stop your blubbering and tell me the rest of the story.”

He tapped the empty space on the couch beside him. I grabbed my water and sat back down, finishing the glass before I spoke.

I told him all about our first few months together at school. How I had become her defender against bullies, how quickly we bonded and how much she struggled to cope after her parents died.

“That’s what’s most amazing about her, she's such a brave wee thing, John. Imagine being seven, in a new country, new school, then losing yer parents and living with an uncle ye havena seen in years. It all happened within six months. She was just so damn…”

“Lucky, to have you,” he said, finishing my sentence.

Blushing a little, I shook my head. “Nae, I’m the lucky one. She’s always given me more than I could ever give her.”

I smiled to myself, thinking over all the moments we had shared together, and which of the millions, I wanted to share with John. But for each treasured memory held so close to my heart, that I was willing to reveal, there were just as many, maybe more, locked away, tightly guarded, protected deep in my soul.

Tiny moments, like the slightest touches and glances she had bestowed on me over the years. The wee noises she made in her sleep, the snorting laughter, that only I could inspire, the different smile she reserved just for me when I kissed her cheek good morning. All the things that probably meant nothing to her, but everything to me.

These were the memories she didn’t know, no one knew, that I cherished.

“I remember the first time I kissed her,” I said, leaning back into the soft leather couch.

“You’ve kissed her? You never told me that,” said John, looking slightly shocked. “When?”

“I’d just turned seven, and it was the night after her parents died. She'd come tae stay wit’ us till her uncle Lamb arrived, she had no other family here ye ken. Anyway, she was sleeping in my room, and I was talking wit' her, telling her silly stories and such tae help keep her calm. And well, God, this sounds really creepy,” I said cringing a little, “but I kissed her while she was asleep.”

I could see John's face from the corner of my eye, and I wasn’t sure if it was an ‘awww’ face or an ‘ewww’ face.

“She just looked so bonny, and so sad. Deep asleep, but with tears still trickling down her plump wee cheeks. I couldn’t help myself. I leaned down, and ever so lightly, pressed my lips against hers and said ‘Goodnight, Sassenach.’”

I sniffled and wiped away the one, pathetic tear that ran down my cheek.

“Her lips were so soft, and tasted like raspberry lip gloss. I told myself then, they would be the only lips I would ever kiss. And they were, for a verra long time.”

“Who was it?” John quizzed distractedly, like a kitten that spotted something shiny to play with. “The one you kissed? You said you’d had only kissed Claire's lips for a very long time, which means you have kissed someone else. So who?”

I could see the eagerness on his face, and knew his desire for this piece of gossip had almost overtaken the concern he held for me just moments before.

“Her name was Annalise. I met her in France when I was an exchange student. She was the first girl that I’d ever been attracted to apart from Claire. We became good friends and I spent a lot of time with her. One day, they took us to Disneyland in Paris, and while we were riding the wee teacups, Annalise kissed me.”

“Ooh, the teacups, sexy,” John teased sarcastically.

“But it was sexy. I wanted her, John, she was so hot, unbelievably hot, but as we spun around, making out, I just kept thinking of Claire. I had this hot, french girl all over me, and all I wanted, was for it to be Claire, squeezed tightly into that pink cup, kissing me.”

I continued my tale of woe to John. Told him how Claire had begun seeing Hamish, how it nearly killed me every time she talked to me about him and I heard how she was changing for him. How I tried to forget her, to have fun and move on, but failed miserably.

“I had tried so hard to protect her, John, but I couldn’t from France. I got to the point where I had to decide—Anna, or Claire. It took me only a few seconds to sort it all out in my mind, and as soon as I could, I told her I was coming home. She was so excited, even more so when I told her that Annalise was just my friend. Then, something happened that made me more hopeful than I had ever been. About five minutes later, she sent me a text telling me she was going to break up with Hamish. It was the one time I really thought that she might feel the same about me. It let me hope, as I had never let myself before, that we might finally be together.”

I stood and began pacing the room, “On the flight, it suddenly all clicked. She was jealous, she was seeing Hamish, cause she thought I was with Anna. It had to be, as soon as Anna was out of the picture, magically, so was Hamish.”

“Wait... Hamish, Hamish, Oh I remember this!” John said, annoyingly clicking his fingers in my face. “Claire told me about Hamish. He was a pig, and treated her terribly. Oh, and one day he mauled her in the library, and you came bursting in, kicked him and pulled her to safety.”

“Aye, she told ye bout that hey? I dinna ken that.” I proudly puffed my chest a little to think of her sharing that with John, and wondered what had prompted her to bring it up.

“Jamie, you had just rescued her. It would have been a perfect time to tell her!”

“I was going tae, but after I walked in on her and that asshole in the closet...”

“And you kicked him in the face,” John interrupted, giggling.

“Aye,” I laughed, “After I kicked him in the face, I took her outside. Once I knew she was okay and had broken up wit’ the lad, I hugged her, and I tried tae tell her, but she cut me off and made it clear she only wanted friendship—‘Can’t we just be us for a while. Best friends, like it’s always been?’—God, how those words torture me, John.

“I was so close, but how could I after that? I was such a coward. I just closed my eyes, smelling her hair as I kissed her forehead. I lay beside her on the grass like a loser, holding her a moment longer than I had ever dared tae before, fearing my heart would split in two when I let her go.”

“Good god man,” wept John, wiping fresh tears from his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.

“That is the most tragic, romantic thing I have ever heard.” He stood and retrieved the whisky. “Maybe we do need this after all?”

He poured two large glasses and we downed them, in one gulp.

“Jamie, I’ve got to be honest here, I didn’t expect this. I knew you loved her, but you really are completely in love, aren’t you? You have to tell her!”

“No!” I protested. “No, what I need tae do, is tae face reality. Every time I have been close tae telling her, when I feel we are getting close tae crossing that line, something happens tae pull her further away. She doesna see me like that, she never has. I can hope and pray that one day, those big brown eyes will look at me, the way they do Frank. But in the meantime, all I can do is wait.”

John sat up straight, smiling like a cat that got the cream.

“I know what you need. A distraction. What about Geillis? She told me she’s into you, and she’s cute and a little wild. Ask her out, go and be young, get drunk at some parties, get a little reckless.”

“I could,” I said after a few moments of silent contemplation. “But it wouldna be fair, John. Tae go out with the lass when I’m in love with… well, when I’m not ready tae give myself tae anyone other than Claire.”

“Christ, Jamie, I said to ask her out, not marry her!”

“Aye,” I chuckled, “maybe. Maybe I will ask her out, one day, but I’m not ready yet. I ken what I do need tae do, something stupid and fun, blow off a bit of steam.”

“I have a suggestion,” John smirked, squishing tighter against me on the couch.

“Are you sure, absolutely sure, you're 100 percent straight? I will take five percent, Jamie, I could do a lot with five percent!”

We both laughed, and I appreciated having him here, to talk with, to finally be heard, to ease the burden and break the tension in the only way he knew how—by hitting on me.

Chapter Text



Current Day



Jamie’s mouth was upon mine before I could reply. My entire being was alight, delightfully torn in a multitude of different directions. My brain was struggling to comprehend what was happening with my best friend, my body exploding in a passion I had never expected to feel for him, while my heart raced, pounding with adrenaline and lust.

We fell backwards onto the grass, and years of pent-up feelings and unfulfilled lust burst free.

“I love ye, Claire,” he said, as he kissed along my jawline before finding my lips again.

In that moment—as he lay atop me, kissing me so passionately like I had never been kissed before—everything felt right, whole, just as it should be. After denying my feelings for so long, I gave in. I reached up, chasing his mouth and pulling him tighter against my body.

He moaned, relishing my eagerness and letting his hands roam. First caressing my shoulders, then collarbone, then, after nervously pausing, my breasts.

We both gasped and he pulled his hand away. Everything stopped and we looked at each other awkwardly, staring, knowing we were edging towards the point of no return.

“Is it okay if I touch ye?” he asked panting, his ocean blue eyes full of hope, with just a flicker of uncertainty.

“Oh god, yes.” I moaned and not waiting, grabbed his hands and returned them to my breasts. I let them go, allowing them to devour me, as my own ran over his back, resting briefly on his hips, before pulling them firmly against mine.

The awkwardness dissolved and was replaced with an insatiable need to discover each other's bodies. I could feel him, pressing hard against my thigh, and found myself desperate to touch him there.

My hand slipped between us and drifted down, over his ridiculously hard abdomen and came to rest just below his waist. I could feel his breath, hot and rapid on my forehead as I looked down.

Then, as my hand touched his hardness, his breathing stopped, his whole body became as rigid as his length. I could sense that it was too much, that as much as he wanted me, he was scared. I withdrew my hand and grabbed his delicious and equally firm ass.

Relaxing immediately, his breathing returned to a rapid pace and we continued to kiss, our hips beginning to move and grind against each other before we again separated breathlessly.

“Jamie,” I mumbled against his shoulder, “should we get out of here?”

“Aye,” he breathed into me, then chuckled, his adorable half-smile melting me even further.

“Just gimme a minute tae...well, calm down, if ye ken what I mean.” I pursed my lips tightly in an attempt to stifle my giggles but failed. We fell apart, both laughing, rolling around in fits of giggles, like we had done so many times together since childhood, and I knew, right then, that we would be okay, whatever our relationship became.

After sucking back a few deep breaths and on and off bursts of laughter, he stood before me and held out his hand.

“Will ye come home with me then?” he asked with the broadest smile I had ever seen on his face. I nodded but struggled to untangle myself from my towel, now wrapped tightly around my lower half after our rolling fits of giggles. Again, he came to my rescue, bending down and lifting me into his arms, allowing the towel to fall gracefully to my feet and my head to return to his chest. Holding me in one arm, he picked up our things and carried me to his bike.

“Your chariot awaits, milady,” he said, gently setting me down on the seat before slipping into his jacket. I jumped as my cold skin connected with the leather, hot from hours sitting in the afternoon sun.

“Aye, be careful not tae burn that lovely round arse, Sassenach. I’ll need that in a wee while.”

“Jamie!” I squealed. I could feel the burn of my blush stinging my cheeks. He was so bloody naughty, a natural flirt, so I had seen him flirt with girls before. But it felt entirely different, and very embarrassing, to be the object of his attention.

He winked- his ridiculous owlish wink-as he tossed me his helmet, before leaning down to help me adjust the straps.

“Ye look bonny, Sassenach,” he smiled, tapping the top of the helmet before kissing me hard and raw.

“Let’s get ye home,'' he said, his lips still pressing against mine. He swallowed hard, then spun and climbed on the seat, grabbing my arms, and wrapping them around his waist. My legs curved around him, my inner thighs squeezing tightly against his arse. He held onto me for a moment, sighing, seeming to enjoy the feeling of my body wrapped around him, holding him, as much as I did.

He started the bike, the vibrations rolled through my core, and I squealed and laughed, as he revved the engine.

 

“Frank would hate this,” I yelled, trying to be heard above the noise.

“Fuck Frank,” Jamie cursed, kicking the stand up before rolling the throttle, and racing away.

~~~

We arrived at Jamie's place, jumped from the bike and practically ran, falling over ourselves to get inside.

Before the door was open, he was on me, kissing me and tearing at my jacket, tossing it to the ground and pushing me through the now open door. We fell to the floor and didn’t bother to get up.

Jamie stretched out his foot and kicked the door shut and I cleverly used the momentum to swing atop him and finally feel him, hard, beneath me.

“Christ, I’ve wanted this for so long, Claire,” he moaned. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for ye tae see me.”

“Jamie,” I stopped my grinding to kiss and hold him. “I see you, I’m—”

“Please, dinna stop, Sassenach, not now. I need tae have ye.”

“Oh fuck.” I cried out, kissing him again and desperately fumbling between my legs to find his zipper. He bit his lip and threw his head back as my hand found its way inside and took his length in my hand. I held him gently at first, then slowly began to stroke, building in intensity until he shied away from my touch.

“Claire, I—I want ye so bad, but I dinna...I mean...I have no’ done this before.”

“Me neither!” I stopped again, springing upright,suddenly remembering my virginity was about to be taken. An overwhelming, electrifying rush of joy and shock sped through me, and I rejoiced in the fact that it was to be taken by Jamie.

“Ye mean... ye never... with Frank? But I saw ye, together, in—in yer bed!” he stammered. The shock on his face lasted only a few seconds, before his eyebrows cocked and a cheeky half-smirk appeared.

“No, never. It just never felt right. We came close, several times, once we even—”

“Uh, uh, stop Claire, please, I beg of ye. I dinna need tae know all the horny details, trust me.” He winced, shaking his head and making a vomit sound and motion. Showing alarming strength and flexibility, he sat up from beneath me and kept me balanced perfectly on his hips.

“Claire, I want ye more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life, but no’ like this. No’ for your first time. It has tae be special, perfect, like ye.” He swept the hair from my face and kissed my forehead, before leaning his against mine.

It felt so right to be sitting like this together, almost like we had been made to perfectly fit together, just so we could lean against each other like this.

“This is perfect,” I whispered, rubbing my nose against his before kissing him, biting his lower lip.

“I want you Jamie, please,” I begged as I ran my fingers down his lip, throat and stomach. He rolled his head, sighing and chewing his lip before grabbing my hand, just as it reached his zipper.

“I must be a complete nufty, but no, we have tae stop.” He rolled me off his lap, kissed each cheek, my nose and chin before pulling me into his chest.

“I've spent every day, for years, dreaming about this moment, of you being with me, in my arms. My lips have ached to kiss yours, Mo Chridhe, my mouth desperate to taste every part of your body.” He took my hand and kissed it, his thumb caressing the inside of my palm, his fingers, tracing in between mine.

“These fingers, so long and elegant. I’ve studied them, longed for them tae touch me, tae run through my hair, and caress my face. I watched helplessly, as they touched other men and I cursed all of them, Claire. Every man who ever held ye, I envied them, hated them with every fibre of my being.”

His words, so soft and sweet, simultaneously managing to break my heart and fill it to bursting point with love. Then, for the first time since our childhood, Jamie began to cry in front of me.

“Each stroke of yer hand was like a blessing tae them, but it killed me a little more inside. But I never lost faith, believing, knowing, that one day, these fingers would be touching me, and no one else.”

He placed a finger under my chin and I watched, as our tears dropped on and rolled down his hand. He raised my face until our tear-stained eyes met, and he again rested his forehead on mine.

“Even when I thought I may have lost ye tae Frank, there was always that part of me that knew we were meant tae be and wouldn’t let me give up. We are one, Sassenach. We share a soul.”

Years of tiny insignificant moments—innocent glances and unforgettable acts of loyalty and kindness—flashed before my eyes. It finally sunk in, just how much he loved me.

He gently wiped my tears away and kissed my lips.

“Jamie,” I whispered, his lips lingering on mine.

“Please, let me do this for ye, let me make it perfect.” He looked into my eyes, the tears magically gone, their usual spark and brightness had returned, and I couldn’t say no.

“Of course,” I said, slapping his chest, grabbing his face and kissing him. “I can’t believe I’ve been so blind, Jamie. I’m so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?”

“There’s nothing tae forgive. Besides, I forgave ye for anything ye ever did, or ever could do, a long time ago. For me, that was all part of falling in love.”

We stayed together that way for a while, fluctuating between tears and laughter, passion and adoration, until Jamie got a text from John, asking if the coast was clear to return home, or if we were still busy playing ‘Doctors and nurses’ in his lounge room.

“So, did everyone know about this before I did?”

“Aye, I reckon so. John picked up on it straight away, the first day we met. He’s a cheeky bastard, but he’s been at me forever tae tell ye how I felt. Geillis too. She knew how I felt all along and helped me tae realise what I needed tae do. We’re lucky tae have ‘em Claire, they’re good friends. I wish I had listened to them earlier.

“Me too,” I said, grabbing and squeezing his bum. “Just think of all the fun we could’ve been having.” As he had longed for, for years, my fingers twisted through his curls as I pulled him on top of me again.

 

“Christ, Claire, ye’re so fecking hot,” he moaned as my tongue roamed his neck. “I wish we dinna have tae stop, but we do.”

“I know!” Pure, unadulterated frustration sent me collapsing against the floor. Laying beside me, smiling—Jamie was irresistible. It took all the strength I could summon in that moment, not to ravage him then and there, but I knew what I had to do.

“As you said, Jamie, If we are going to do this, we need to do it right, with nothing and no one holding us back.”

Jamie nodded, and took a deep breath. “Frank,” we said in chorus.

Chapter Text



6 Weeks Ago



 

“Why do I feel like I’m not going to like this?” I winced, as John wedged in beside me on the couch. Geillis was on the other side of me, and I felt like a red squirrel, lured in, then trapped in a cage.

“We need tae talk, Jamie,” Geillis smiled, placing her hand obscenely high on my thigh.

“S-sure!” I squeaked, flinching, my voice two octaves higher than my regular tone. “Hm-mm, sure,” I repeated, clearing my throat.

“I need ye, Jamie.” Geillis purred, sliding her hand even higher, and causing my eyes to almost burst from their sockets. “I need ye... tae take me tae my mam’s wedding on Friday.”

“Oh, aye. Yer mam. Thank Christ,” I said, wiping my brow. “I was beginning tae worry about what ye two had planned.”

John and Geillis burst into an almost evil laugh that did little to smooth my pricked nerves.

“What? Us?” Quizzed John. “What the devil would we have planned? We’re your friends Jamie, you can trust us.” Another round of maniacal laughter had me up off the couch and heading towards the door.

“Come back,” laughed John. “We’re just kidding around. Geillis was just nervous to ask you, so I agreed to be here to give her some moral support, that’s all, I promise.”

Geillis nodded as innocently as she could, pulled me back beside her and patted me roughly on the knee. “Yer virtue is safe wit’ me, Jamie.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. After the last few weeks I’d had—having Claire and Frank unwittingly tear out my heart and eat it for breakfast each morning—I thought a night out—even if it was for a 60-year-old’s third wedding—might do me some good.

After confirming all the details with Geillis, I went upstairs to get my suit ready and polish my shoes, leaving Geillis and John on the couch looking very pleased with themselves, and oddly exchanging a high five.

As lame as it was, I felt a bit excited to be going out. I had been in such a slump the last few months. A few dances and a lot of whisky, was just what the doctor ordered.

I did feel a little awkward attending the wedding as Geillis’s date, particularly since John had been pestering me for months to take her on one, but they had assured me this was a strictly friends-only event, not a date.

My week got worse as it progressed. In the days after agreeing to escort Geillis to the wedding, I had a flat tire, was attacked by midges on my three morning runs, leaving me itching like a mad man head to toe, I failed two assignments in agriculture, and to top it off, I spent my dinner last night as the third wheel for Claire and Frank.

For years, Thursday had been ‘family’ dinner night with her Uncle Lamb, and it was a tradition we carried on when we left for uni. Up until the last few months, it had been my favourite night of the week, as I was guaranteed Claire’s full attention. But since things had become more serious with Frank, he had joined us almost every night, and something I had once looked forward to all week, prized even, became less fun than individually plucking out each of eyelashes.

Friday afternoon arrived and I was on Geillis’s doorstep at two PM sharp, which was no mean feat since John had demanded I change shirts several times. I knocked on the door and waited. With no answer after a few minutes, I knocked again. Still no answer.

I walked towards my car to grab my phone. Maybe I have the wrong time? Within several steps though, I heard the creak of the door opening behind me. I turned to see Geillis standing in the doorway, smiling and breathtaking.

The fiery red shade on her lips matched that of her hair, and she wore an emerald green dress that brought out the shimmering beauty in her eyes. She looked sexy, svelte... stunning.

“Christ, Gel, ye look... ye look amazing,” I stuttered, quite in shock by the unruly roving of my eyes and the wholly impure thoughts spearing through my mind as she walked towards me.

“Why, thank ye, Jamie. Ye dinna look half bad yerself,” she smiled and hooked her arm around mine. “Shall we go then?” she asked with a wink.

“Aye,” I said. She squeezed my arm tightly and lent into me as we walked to the car. I opened the door for her, and when she slowly brushed her body against mine as she took her seat, I felt a tingle, a spark of attraction. I had not expected this.

The excruciatingly long car ride to the wedding was possibly the most awkward journey of my life thus far. Geillis insisted on maintaining eye contact with me the whole time. I could feel her eyes burning into me, and each time I dared to look at her, she would either smile, giggle or wink. The vixen. She knew exactly what she was doing.

This was not how most ‘friends’ would act on a ‘non-date’, I was sure of it. It was true, I had no experience dating—the time I had spent with Annalise was mainly all in group situations and I had never been on a real date before.

We arrived at the venue, and Geillis began to point out the various family members and friends we must avoid at all possible costs during the evening.

“Here comes one now. Hide me... shit he’s seen me… Uncle, how are ye? Nice tae see ye too.” She smiled at an older gentleman that I’m sure was farting with each step he took towards us.

“As good as one can be when attending their sister's third wedding.” He rolled his eyes and they both laughed the same, cheeky laugh, “How are ye lass?”

“Just peachy,” she replied, then slapped my arse, dragged me away and led me into the hall.

~~~

Our night was fantastic with flirty glances flying thick and fast. We drank, and danced and laughed. Geillis had half of the room - drunk on whisky-convinced I was their long lost cousin, Clyde, by the end of the night, and her ability to spin a tale and hold her liquor impressed me to no end.

As the last two guests standing, we helped load her uncle's car with gifts, centerpieces, that he refused to leave behind, plus several bottles of what I was convinced was stolen whisky, laughing the whole time as he complained over the amount of wedding gifts one should expect when it’s your ‘third crack at it’.

Geillis and I remained, alone in the now empty, confetti-covered hall- well almost alone, the ridiculously named DJ Glas-glow was our only companion. I was clambering around, attempting to find the jacket that I discarded during a hearty whisky-fueled rendition of YMCA. I was ready to leave when I saw Geillis slip the neon-clad DJ ten quid, and whisper in his ear.

I’m so into you, I can barely breathe suddenly echoed through the room and Geillis was on me in a flash.

“Dance wit’ me, Jamie.”

I swallowed hard, sweating intensely as she placed both hands against my chest, ran them down my stomach to my waist, and pulled me tight against her.

Closing my eyes and wetting my lips, my trembling hands wrapped around her waist. Our bodies began to move, finding the beat, feeling the heavy bass vibrating through our chests.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. I couldn’t bear it. I rolled my eyes and sighed, feeling my heart racing, pounding, it was almost painful. Desperately, I searched the room for something to distract me, to keep me from feeling what I was feeling, but it was useless.

I was drawn to her, but didn’t want to be. It felt like a betrayal of Claire, even though Claire was not mine to betray.

Oh, baby, look what you started

The temperature's rising in here

Is this gonna happen?

Been waiting and waiting for you

To make a move

Before I make a move

Perhaps spurred on by the lyrics, or perhaps pre-designed, she began to grind against me. She knew what she was doing with the song choice. It was so damn sexy… like her.

I could feel my body lowering, my lips edging closer and closer to hers. I could feel her breath on my neck, then my chin and cheek. My eyes still closed. So close to kissing her… then…

“Claire,” I moaned, “I mean… shit.” I pulled away, disgusted, embarrassed.

“`Tis ok, Jamie,” she said, not skipping a beat, her hips still swaying to the music.

A little bit dangerous, but, baby, that's how I want it

A little less conversation and a little more touch my body

'Cause I'm so into you, into you, into you

She grabbed me on the very lowest point of my back, and slammed me against her hips.

“I ken ye love her, Jamie. But she’s no’ here, I am. Why don’t ye forget her, just fer one night.” Her fingers traced the collar of my shirt, scratching me lightly with her polished nails, until she loosened my tie, just a little, and slid her fingers down its length.

A Dhia

Standing on the very tip of her toes, she leaned in and kissed me. I hesitated, my hand clinging to the small of her back, conflicted between wrong and right, love and lust.

Lust prevailed.

I took her face in my hands, and kissed her deeply. My angst and confusion twisting into a burning want I had never expected.

My lips travelled up and down the soft, warm flesh of her neck and my hands edged closer and closer to her arse, stopping again on the small of her back. Sensing their intended destination, she grabbed them, and slammed them against her round cheeks. I moaned, molding her arse in my hands, while my tongue met hers and danced, twirling, almost fighting for control.

I could feel myself letting go, my body melting, my cock twitching. She was rubbing hard against me and it felt so good, too good. I tried to talk myself down, urging my body to listen to my brain and not the feel of her body gliding against mine, but I failed.

Slipping her foot from her heels, she slid her leg up and wrapped it around mine, smiling as she felt my body's reaction. I was hard, and I’m sure that’s exactly what she wanted. This had to stop, but I really didn’t want it to. I couldn’t let this go on, shouldn’t let this progress any further, but my hands and lips didn’t seem to agree.

It was not until she slid her hand down the waist of my pants, that I found the will to finally pull away.

“No, Gel, I canna. I mean… I want tae, ye’re amazing, but… I… the DJ is right there.”

We both turned to look at the DJ, who seemed completely oblivious to our goings-on and was busy loading the final stack of vinyls into boxes. Two drunkards getting it on at the end of a wedding, was nothing he hadn’t seen a million times before.

“Do ye wanna come home wit’ me Jamie?” Geillis purred, running one finger up and down my neck and over my bottom lip.

“Yes,” I whispered, closing my eyes, then biting my lip to remind me to resist. “But I canna, Gel. We’re both smashed. We should go home, but not together.”

“Are ye sure?” she sighed, kissing me again and pressing her breasts against me.

“No, I mean, yes. Yes, I’m sure,” I said, sucking in a few deep breaths.

Step away from the redhead

“`Tis a shame, but I understand. I will only leave ye now, if ye promise tae take me out again. I need tae feel those lips on mine, Jamie Fraser. Is it a deal?” she moaned, narrowing the gap I had created between us.

“Aye,” was the only thing I could say, before she kissed me again, dragging my lip with her teeth as she pulled away, then left.

A Dhia, cuidich mi

I walked all the way home. It took me an hour, but I was glad for the fresh air and time to think. It was just after two AM when I walked up the stairs leading to my front door, and stumbled in.

I got myself some water, took two paracetamol in preparation for the massive hangover I was expecting, and walked upstairs, removing the tie that had begun to feel more like a noose around my neck.

“I heard someone had a good night,”

“Hello, John.” I said, chuckling to myself, “Aye, I did. Geillis called ye already, did she?” I popped my head around the corner into his room. “I suppose ye had nothing tae do with her sudden, intense interest in me?”

He was sitting up, leaning back against his bedhead, his arms tucked back behind his head.

“Ye’re verra proud of yerself, are ye?” I laughed.

“I am indeed. I knew you two would hit it off. I knew it. Look out ladies, Jamie Fraser is open for business!”

The following weeks were a blur of fun, whisky and Geillis. Our hot and heavy make-out sessions almost everywhere we went were exciting and new, but with each day that passed, I felt more and more lonely. We connected physically, there was no doubt about that, but the more time we spent together, the more I realised just how special my connection to Claire was.

Geillis and John knew it too, and after a month, I found myself squished between the pair of them again, this time via Face-time.

“Jamie, we need tae talk,” said Geillis, with John nodding beside her. “I really like ye Jamie, and we’ve had a good time. But we both know—”

“We all know,” John interrupted.

“Aye, we all know, ye are in love wit’ Claire. And before ye say anything, `tis fine, I ken what I was getting myself into. John and I had talked about it before I asked ye tae the wedding. I kent ye were never going tae be mine, Jamie.”

“But it was a sacrifice she was willing to make,” John laughed, again interrupting.

“Shut up, John,” Geillis laughed, “but I wanted ye tae have a bit of fun, and experience what it might be like fer ye, tae see yer’self with someone else.“

“Christ,” I said, furiously rubbing my face. “This is sae pathetic, ye must think me a complete fool.”

“No, it’s no’. I really do like ye, Jamie, but ye ken it’s just physical, there is nothing else between us. So, John and I are here as yer friends, tae tell ye, beg ye. Ye have tae tell Claire how ye feel.”

“No! She is happy with Frank. I will no’ interfere with her life like ye two have done with mine. Now I have tae go.” I reached my finger towards the end button but the screaming of the two co-conspirators stopped me.

“Jamie no, wait! Please don’t be upset. We only wanted to help, we swear,” John pleaded. “Please, just listen.”

“Aye, ye got five minutes, and that's it,” I grumbled.

I sat, arms crossed, not even looking at them in the camera. The last remnants of my pride, my anger and embarrassment wouldn’t allow it.

“Claire is in love with ye, Jamie, it’s as plain as the nose on my face,” winced Geillis. “I ken ye don’t see it, but we do. If ye could feel the daggers, the merciless wounds she has inflicted on me with her eyes alone over the last few weeks, ye would understand what I mean.” They both laughed, but I couldn’t. Nothing about this situation felt funny.

“It is so obvious, she is so jealous, Jamie. You know it’s true, you had even thought it yourself once, remember you told me how she broke up with Hamish as soon as she knew Annalise wasn’t a threat. She was only interested in him because she didn’t have you.”

“No, Claire isna like that, she wouldn’t use people like that,” I said, staring directly at Geillis to ram home my point.

“Of course not, we are not saying that she's doing it on purpose,” John said, trying to shift my focus from Geillis back to him.

“She is clearly in denial over her true feelings. But we are here to tell you, if you don't act now, you will lose her. Frank is serious about her, Jamie, this is not a Hamish type fling, this is real. You have to tell her.”

“John is right Jamie, ye have tae tell her. This is the time. Now, John and I have a plan.”

“Och, I am not interested in yer little plans. I will have nothing tae do with it!” I yelled. “I will not manipulate my Claire.”

Both John and Geillis clutched at their hearts and pouted, as soon as I said, “My Claire.”

“That's the thing, Jamie,” Geillis said softly, bordering on tears, “right now, she is no’ yer Claire, she’s Frank’s. And If ye dinna do something now, she will never be.”

Geillis’s words struck me like a bolt from above, and for the first time in years, the path before me was clear. I had to tell Claire. I had to know, she had to know, and I had to do it now before I lost her forever.

Chapter Text



Current Day



As much as it pained us to separate, I tore myself from Jamie's arms and began the short walk to Frank's apartment. With the promise to return as soon as possible, and feel off his pillowy soft lips lingering on mine, I rehearsed my breakup speech over and over as I walked, feeling sick to my stomach. I’d only ever broken up with one person before this and I had no idea what to say. I’d been on the receiving end of several brutal breakups by boys in high school, all of which were devastating at the time, but all completely survivable, mostly because of Jamie’s never-ending and unwavering support and friendship.

Frank lived right beside a small park and as I walked through it, my pace slowed. When I turned the last bend in the path and saw his apartment before me, I stopped, seemingly unable to move any closer. I sat on a park bench and buried my head in my hands. I felt so guilty, and not for the reason I should—not because I was about to leave him, that I was just in the arms of another man—but because I had stayed with him for months, knowing it wasn’t right, but not knowing why it wasn’t right.

All I wanted in that moment was Jamie, and that made it all worse, made the betrayal feel deeper. I began to cry and was just about to turn and walk away when I felt a hand touch my shoulder.

“Jamie,” I said, looking up.

“No, Claire, it’s not Jamie, and that's the problem, isn't it?” said a painfully droll Frank. He sat beside me and took my hand, patting it, as a doting grandfather would their adored grandchild.

“You love him, don’t you? You love Jamie,” he said in a cold, almost emotionless tone.

“That’s what the tears are for, right? That’s why I can never get truly close to you. Why you always keep me at arm’s length, won’t give yourself to me. Should I go on?” He let go of my hand and stood before me, nodding his head, his tongue wedged firmly between his teeth and cheek. God, I hate how he does that.

“How did you know? I didn’t even know,” I asked.

“Oh, come on Claire! We’re all adults here, let's stop with the charades, hey?” The emotionless tone was gone. Now, he was angry and hurt and I could hear it in every word.

“You’ve always loved him. I knew it from the start, but I convinced myself it was just friendship because I wanted you so badly. But from the moment he began seeing Geillis, this...” he said, pointing to the empty air filling the space between us, “all of this, began to fall apart. You couldn't stand the thought of him being with someone else, could you? You didn’t want him, until someone else did.”

He walked away, stopping after a few steps, and looked back at me with nothing but bitterness and contempt on his face.

“Well, you have him now, Darling. Congratulations, I hope you’re very happy together.”

With that, he walked away, and we were done.

The sharpness of his words cut me like a knife, and deep down I knew why. Everything he said was true. I had known all along Frank wasn't the one for me. I had led him on for months; I hadn’t been honest with him, because I couldn’t be honest with myself. This truly was a self-inflicted wound.

I stayed in the park, just thinking and listening to the happy sounds of children playing, dogs barking and the bells of the church tower ringing out to the city in the distance. Six chimes. Bloody hell, I’ve been here for over an hour.

I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and set off for home. My original plan was to head straight back to Jamie’s arms, but I needed a shower, to cleanse my mind as much as my body.

I walked along, kicking pebbles and stones that lay on the path before me, humming to myself and clicking my tongue. I realised, even though I should probably be feeling guilty, remorseful, or even sorrowful for what I had done to Frank, with every step I took away from him and his home, I felt lighter and happier.

By the time I reached my dorm and hopped in the shower, I was positively giddy. Excitement, anticipation and a shit load of adrenaline coursed through my veins. As I cleansed my body, my mind kept drifting back to the way Jamie had looked, standing shirtless, soaking wet in the water, picking me up and carrying me to shore. The way he commanded and controlled that massive Harley, as it sat, vibrating between our legs.

Before I even realised it, my fingers were between my legs—rubbing, caressing my clit, tickling the outside of my entrance. I closed my eyes and saw his hands on my breasts, felt his lips against mine, his tongue on my neck. I collapsed against the shower floor, my legs splayed open and I moaned for him, crying out his name over and over until my back arched, my breathing faltered and my orgasm exploded. I lay breathless on the tiles, panting, tears pouring down my face, colliding with the still running hot water. I had to see him.

As soon as my dizziness passed, and I could summon the strength to stand, I turned off the taps, stepped from the shower and rushed myself to get ready. If just thinking of Jamie could bring on that kind of release, imagine what would happen, what highs my body would feel, when it was his hands, his fingers and hopefully, his tongue, caressing my body.

Chapter Text



The day before the Lake



“What is it about her? I mean, I ken ye have kent her forever, and she’s beautiful, sexy, smart, but what is it exactly that ye canna shake?” Geillis asked sarcastically.

She’d called me a few minutes after the three-way call between herself, John and I, had ended; I think she was feeling guilty and just wanting to make sure things were okay between us.

“Christ, I dinna ken.” I paused for a moment, struggling to find a way to express how I felt and why.

“Tis’ like, she's a million wee things that are everything good and pure, some even brilliant when ye see them on their own. But when ye add those million wee things together, tis’ like nothing else. Tis’ perfect. That tae me, is Claire.”

“For feck’s sake, Fraser. Are ye trying tae ruin all men for me? Bloody hell,” Geillis sighed, before breaking into her wicked laugh.

“Well, ye deserve nothing less than perfect, Jamie. She’ll be lucky tae have ye, if ye take the chance that is. Now, I have tae go before ye make me hate myself even more, and I have an early class. Will ye still pick me up tomorrow? John is going tae meet us at the lake.”

“Aye, it’ll be good tae have a swim and relax a bit. I’ll see ye then. Oh and Gel, thanks for understanding. Ye’re a bonny lass.” I had been dating Geillis for a month, and it had been fun, and exciting, and verra sexy. But, it wasn’t right, and it never would be. We both ken it from the start.

I laid on my bed, closed my eyes, and there she was—the same as every night. For as long as I could remember, Claire had been the last thing on my mind as I drifted off to slumber, and the first thing I thought of when I woke. She even followed me to my dreams.

They had become my friends, my counsellors, my respite. A constant source of comfort in those times when I needed her and she wasn’t there. Not because she didn’t want to be, but because I had never let her know just how much I wanted and needed her.

One of my favorite dreams was actually a real life memory. One that returned to me often, and left me feeling like a child all over again. In my sleep, the outcome would always differ to real life. My dreams were always kinder than reality had been, making sure Claire received her happy ending. After all, that is all I have ever wanted, my sassenach’s happiness.



2007



It was six months after Claire’s parents had passed away.

We had spent a good portion of the last year glued to each other's hip, and were at the point where friends, neighbours and teachers would be shocked to see one of us without the other.

Around two weeks before Christmas, Claire began to change. Perhaps the initial shock and grief had worn off, and the reality of never seeing her parents again had begun to sink in. She was sad of course, and that was natural, but that glow, the inner sparkle that always shone so brightly from inside her, had dulled. I was just a boy, but I knew her magic was fading.

As her best friend, I took it upon myself to heal her. And I had an idea of just how to do it.

Every night, as she tucked me so tightly into my bed that I could barely move, my mam would tell me stories of magic and faeries. Stories that had been told to her by her mam, and hers before her, and so on and so on for generations.

One of her favorites was about the faeries at Craigh Na Dun, and the magic of the stone circle they controlled. As the story goes, the faeries possessed such powerful magic, they could summon people, or send them away through time, through the stones.

I was normally asleep before she would reach the end of the tale, but from the bits and pieces I could remember, I thought I knew just enough to know that the faeries could be the way to heal Claire's broken heart.

For the last few weeks, I had joined Claire and her uncle for dinner on a Thursday night, to keep Lamb company as much as to entertain Claire. Both still learning to live together, I acted as a circuit breaker between the two, and added some light heartedness to their long and lonely evening. It was always fun—even when both were heavy-hearted—as Lamb would share his own stories, but instead of tales of faeries, devils, and water horses in lochs, his consisted of pyramids, lost Incan tribes and ancient buried treasures.

But one evening, Claire’s sorrow peaked, and even with my non stop gags and tomfoolery, I was unable to raise a single smile from her the whole night. As we finished clearing the table and went to her room to play, I began to tell her the story of the faeries of the hill, and the magic of the stones; how they could carry people through them, and my idea to capture the magic.

“Maybe we could go to Craigh Na Dun, find some faeries and ask ‘em to bring back yer mam, and pa?”

She grabbed me by the collar as tears burst from her eyes, trickling down her wee rosy cheeks and dripping onto her hands.

“Do you really think the stories are true, Jamie? The faeries could bring them home?”

“Oh aye,” I answered, “as true as I'm a rrrred-headed Scot.”

Finally she smiled, then hugged me, laughing. “Thank you, Jamie.”

“Jamie, c’mon lad, Jenny is waiting in the car for her dance class. Ye can deal wit’ her if we’re late,” my mam called out, in a tone that let me know she was annoyed, but still had a smile on her face.

Claire squeezed me tightly then released me from her hug.

“Come for a sleepover on Saturday, and we will go then. I’ll make all the plans. Just bring some warm clothes, and a photo of yer mam and pa...Oh and don’t wear green, the faeries doesna like it.”

“No green, got it,” she smiled, giving me the thumbs up. With a full heart, and a head full of steam, I rushed out the door.

~~~

Our plan was hatched and finalised the next day at school over Claire’s marmalade sandwiches and my blood pudding. We agreed to sneak out of the house and catch a cab to Craigh Na Dun. Once there, we would make camp, maybe even set a trap, and catch one, or if lucky, many faeries, and beg them to bring Claire's parents back through the stones.

As soon as I got home from school that night, I snuck into the barn and helped myself to torches, a couple of da’s old plaids he wore in the fields, and some netting and other things to make the trap. I then went inside, and for the first time in my life, I told a lie to my mam.

I asked her for money for school, and to buy Claire a present.

“She showed me this ring in a catalogue Mam, it had little blue flowers on the sides called forget me, something like that, and she wanted to get it, cause her mam liked those flowers. She’s been so sad, Mam. Please...can I buy it for her? Please? I willna ask for anything ever again.”

“Och, Jamie, my boy. Ye are truly the sweetest lad in the world. Of course ye can have the money. Fetch it from my purse, and off ye go and get yerself cleaned up for dinner.”

 

As I slipped the 20 quid from mam’s bag, I immediately felt the guilt begging to gnaw at my insides. But I knew in the long run, mam would forgive me for lying, if we were able to bring Claire’s parents home.

Before Claire arrived, I had made some sandwiches and a thermos full of hot cocoa. My second lie in as many days was told to cover for the amount of food and drinks I made; Claire and I were having a picnic in our room, I’d said, as I carried the stash to my room.

Carrying an oversized duffel bag and covered head to toe in pink snow gear, Claire burst into my room, ready for our adventure. She wouldn’t let me see what was in the bag, insisting it was a secret until we arrived at the stones.

We listened for the sounds of my Jenny and parents going to bed, and waited for all to be quiet before calling the cab, and sneaking out the window.

It was no surprise that our cabbie was highly suspicious of two young kids out on their own at night, but he was won over by our planned adventure to see the faeries. As we left the city and reached the wide open space of the Highlands, the roads darkened and became narrow and spooky. Claire clung to my arm, she had always been scared off the dark, and I remember how much I enjoyed her holding me and the pride I felt in being her protector..

As we travelled along, I could see the cabbie smiled and chuckled to himself as I told Claire more faerie facts and how I planned to trap them.

“Claire, if we do manage to find some, there are some rules ye need tae ken. One: Dinna call them faeries, they dinna like that at all. They prefer tae be called Fair Folk. Two: Be honest. They will ken if ye lie and won’t even come near ye. They can smell a lie a mile away. Three: They like gifts, especially cake and wee trinkets, especially if they are shiny.”

“Well, that’s perfect, cause I made them some cake!” squealed Claire with delight. “Faerie cakes… oops, I mean, Fair Folk cake.” She corrected, receiving a nod of praise from me for remembering.

“And, this is a Fair Folk house,” she said with a nod, as she proudly showed off the cute miniature house she’d made. “I dusted the roof with glitter and made some little blankets from one of my old jumpers. Isn’t it cute?”

“Aye, tis’ perfect Claire. We should have no problem catching some, what with yer house, the cake and ye being such a wee àilleag and all.”

The cab driver chuckled aloud hearing me use the Gaelic term, and I wondered if he knew it meant ‘pretty girl’.

When they arrived at the foot of the hill, the driver pulled up, got out and moved to the rear of the cab. Opening the trunk, he reached in and grabbed a blanket, a fluorescent yellow safety whistle from his first aid kit, and a large battery lantern.

“Now, ye two,” he said, piling the items into Claire’s now conveniently large bag, “there is no way I am leaving ye out here all night. I will wait here, at the bottom of the hill, then take ye both home after. But ye’re tae be no more than two hours. My husband will be cross for being home so late otherwise. Do we have a deal?”

“Deal,” we chimed in, then set off, racing each other to the top of the hill.

“Now, remember, Sassenach,” I puffed, “we must be quiet and still, and only think good, honest thoughts.”

“Yes, Jamie, I promise,” she replied. “Do you think they will be very beautiful, the faeries? Uncle Lamb said some faeries are naughty and bad, especially one called…” She stopped running, and flashed her torch around them in each direction, looking for something, before lowering her voice to a whisper, “Ghillie Dhu.”

“Oh, aye,” I said with a cheeky half-smile, “Ghillie Dhu is wicked, but dinna fash Claire, I have ken all about him. We are here at the right time. He only appears at midnight ye ken, so even if he was here, he’d be long gone back tae sleep by now. Are ye scared?” I asked.

“No, not at all,” she answered, gripping onto my arm. “Are you, Jamie?”

“Nah, ye wouldn’t expect me to be less brave than a wee sassenach lassie, would ye?”

I grabbed Claire’s hand and dragged her up the hill at such a pace she was almost running to keep up. I was only seven, but the tallest in my class, so my strides were already giant compared to the still petite Claire.

We had almost reached the top of the hill when I felt something cold and wet on my nose. I stopped, and looked at the white flake sitting perfectly still as it melted against my warm skin.

Snow. The first snow of the season. It was always a welcome sight, bringing with it much fun and adventure, but I really did wish it had waited until we were at least in the cab on the way home, or better yet, tucked up safe and warm in bed.

When we reached the peak, I raised the lantern and Claire raised her torch. We gazed slack-jawed at the stone circle before us.

“It's so beautiful, Jamie. This is going to work, I can feel the magic, can’t you?”

As the snowfall increased, we chose a place for the Fare Folk house and cakes to sit, then snuggled together in da’s plaids and the cabbie’s blanket. In just a few minutes, the snow had increased so much we could barely see a few inches in front of us.

After 45 minutes and still no sightings of the faeries, we were near freezing and remained huddled together, drinking the hot cocoa and pinching the odd, sweet, semi-frozen cake here and there. But with every snowflake that landed, and every minute passed, Claire’s heart broke a little more. And when no faeries arrived as the cabbie began to toot his horn for our return, she was near hysterical. Claire ran to the tallest stone in the middle of the circle and started to pound her tiny fists against it, over and over; cursing them, cursing the snow for falling, the faeries for failing her, and even her parents for leaving.

I packed up our things, grabbed her hand and led her away. We ran back to the car, her tears making it hard to see anything in the snowfall, and causing her to trip on the root of a tree.

“Claire!” I yelled, running back to her. I dropped our things and picked her up. We were close enough to the cab now that the driver heard us and ran to our aid. I refused to let him take Claire from me though, so he grabbed our things, and walked beside me as I carried the inconsolable Claire to the waiting cab.

I lay her on the backseat, covered her with the remaining dry plaid from my bag, and nestled in beside her—filled with self-loathing and feeling more powerless than I had ever felt in my young life. I would have given anything in that moment to heal her, but I could only watch on. The worst part was, it was my fault. I told her the story, I gave her hope. She would never have known about the faeries, or gone to those damn stones if it wasn’t for me. I had broken her heart.

The cab driver drove as fast as he safely could in the snow, and I could see he was almost in tears listening to Claire crying out for her parents, and me trying desperately to comfort her.

After what seemed like an eternity, we pulled up to my house. The cab driver opened the door for us, then knocked on our front door to awaken my parents.

He waited with us as the lights switched on in progression through the house, till finally the porch light flicked on, and my da poked his head out the door.

“Jamie my boy, Claire! What the devil?”

I rushed inside with Claire in my arms while the cabbie, Arthur—I came to learn—explained how he had come to return two children in the middle of the night. My da grabbed his wallet from the sideboard, but Arthur refused to take a cent, insisting that Jamie should keep it for the wee lass.

“Go buy her something nice,” he said, “the poor wee lass deserves it.” He shook my da’s hand and left, waving to me as he closed the door behind him.

A rather displeased and dishevelled mam joined us downstairs, and after checking over Claire, da carried her to bed, mam dragging me by the ear behind her. He carried Claire into my room and lay her in my bed. Mam tucked her in and kissed her goodnight, while I lay on our spare mattress on the floor beside her.

“We will talk about this in the morning, now off tae sleep wit’ ye both,” da grumbled, giving me a swift tap on the top of the head as he passed.

The moment the light was out and the door slammed shut, I jumped up and sat next to her on the bed.

“I’m sae sorry, Claire. I’ve let ye down. Please forgive me.” I cried, tears flowing freely down my still frozen cheeks.

She didn’t answer, she was fast asleep already. I stayed by her side and watched her for a moment, hoping that the warm, fuzzy feeling I felt in my belly whenever I was near her, would never change. My heart broke a little more for her with each deep, shaky breath she took.

I lent in and quietly, ever so lightly, kissed her.

“Goodnight, Sorcha, my Sassenach.”

Moving back to my bed for the night, I closed my eyes tight, trying desperately to stifle my tears and sobs so I did not wake her. I was so sad for her, angry that I had let her down, scared that she would never forgive me.

Snuggling deep into my quilt, I finally began to feel safe and warm, and the world around me slowly faded. The last thing I heard as I drifted off to sleep, was a soft and sleepy, “Thank you for trying. Goodnight my Jamie.”

Chapter Text



Current day



The door was flung open before my raised hand could even knock and just as quickly, slammed shut behind me.

Jamie spun me around, and using his hips and one hand against my chest, he pressed me against the door. His arms slammed on either side of my head, pinning me between them. He is just inches away, but not close enough. I grab his shirt and pull him against me.

“Christ Claire, why did ye take so long? I thought I’d die without ye.”

He kissed me then, so hard and raw I feared I would ignite and burn right through the timber floor. I could feel his hardness pressing against me, but before I could do anything with it, he spun me again so my back turned to him and the living room.

“What’s going on?” I giggled, as he slipped a blindfold over my eyes. My fingers brushed over the fabric while he tied a tight knot at the back of my head. “Jamie…lace? So kinky.”

“Claire!” he exclaimed in shock.“‘Tis not like that, I swear.”

Although my naughty and hopefully short-lived loss of vision prevented me from seeing, I was convinced that his entire face and ears were covered in furious blush at that moment. He had always been so easily embarrassed, and I’d always loved to be the one embarrassing him.

“T‘was the only thing I could find, Sassenach. ‘Tis a piece of cloth from the torn curtain in the study. I promise, I would never, I mean…I dinna—”

“Jamie, I was just teasing, relax.”

He laughed awkwardly and I felt his head fall between my shoulder blades, as he sighed deeply, sounding relieved.

“Dinna fash, it willna be on ye for long, just till we get tae my room. And that goes for yer bonny dress too.” Following his voice, my head spun around, my jaw almost hitting the floor.

“Now that, I did mean,” he said, voice deep and raspy, almost growling.

My chest began to rise and fall at a rate I’d never felt as he took my hands, and carefully led me across the living room, weaving between the sofas and coffee table. When at the base of the stairs, he prompted me in taking each step, grabbing my waist for extra support when I faltered, till we reached the threshold and entered his bedroom. I felt the soft shag rug we had brought together the day he had moved in between my toes as the scent of freshly cut flowers overwhelmed my senses.

“Now, I’m a mere student, wit’ no’ but two pounds tae rub together,” he said, in an even heavier Scottish brogue than usual. “So I couldna do exactly as I wanted,” standing behind me, he slowly slid the lace from my eyes.

It was an explosion of colour! Flowers in every shade of the rainbow filled his room, candles burned brightly in what must have been every glass and mason jars he was able to find, giving the room a seductive glow. I turned to face him, biting my lip, tears threatening to flood my cheeks. But I wouldn’t allow them. This had to be perfect, it was perfect, and I refused to cry.

“Jamie, I can’t believe you did this for me,” I said as he cupped my cheeks, his fingers lightly caressing my temple. “It feels right, doesn’t it? Being here, with each other, like this."

“Aye, nothing had ever been more right in the world than this.” He kissed me, hard and deep, his tongue grazing my bottom lip, setting my body alight.

“I would do, will do, anything for ye, do ye not know that, Sassenach?” He kissed me again, then lifted me from my feet. Holding me with one arm sitting below my arse, the other gripping the small of my back, he carried me to the bed, lay me down, and stood before me.

Without hesitation, he removed his shirt and my hands instinctively lurched to touch him. He laughed at my eagerness, knowing he was just out of my reach, and seemingly getting a kick from the pained expression on my face.

I needed to feel his body, touch the velvety soft skin of his stomach. But he stayed at a distance, teasing me, as he slowly removed his pants, revealing no underwear and his fully erect cock.

“Fuck me,” I sighed, gasping as his hand reached down, and began a slow and steady ascent up the inside of my leg. He gulped as he reached mid-thigh, and I could see and feel his hands were shaking as much as mine.

“Can I touch ye, Claire?” he asked, his voice deep, raspy.

“Yes, god please.”

His knee lifted to the bed and pushed my legs apart. I lay before him, fully clothed, while he was completely naked—it was the most erotic thing I could have ever imagined. To see the man I adored, that I had known for most of my life, be so open, feel so confident and safe with me exposed as he was, tore me apart, melted me, set me free.

His hand continued to rise as he reached the very last millimetre of skin before my underwear. He wet his lips, his eyes darkened and he made a noise from deep in his throat—not a moan or a sigh—more carnal and raw, like a ravenous lion about to devour its prey. Then, he touched me, caressing me through my panties, making that newly acquired, hungry sound again as he felt how wet he had made me.

He crawled towards me, eyes never straying from mine until our hips connected.

“I have given much thought tae what I wanted tae do tae ye when I finally had ye alone, naked, and willing,”

My breath faltered as he straddled me, but before his body fully sank onto mine, his eyebrow cocked, and he lifted my dress over my hips, my stomach, breasts and finally, my head.

Almost naked.”

He lent down, and kissed me, reversing the preceding order; kissing my lips, my breasts, my stomach and then, after a sigh of apparent appreciation or perhaps anticipation, the outside of my underwear. I shivered as he pressed against me, his tongue lightly brushing against the soft, white lace.

“Matches the blindfold, no?” he whispered, his mouth still against me.

Lifting my hips from what felt like fresh cotton sheets, he slid my underwear down over my bum, thighs, knees and feet. Then again, agonisingly slowly, kissed each part on his way back up.

An urgent moaned escaped my lips and wriggled on the bed, aching, desperate to feel him.

“Touch me, Jamie,” I pleaded, reaching for him and again, falling short.

“There’s no need tae rush. We’ve already waited this long, what's a few more minutes.”

With that, he grabbed my arms, pinned them against the bed, and commanded, “give me yer mouth, Sassenach.”

His insanely soft lips collided with mine, his tongue forcing its way inside and massaged my own. I cried into his mouth, wriggling, beneath him, dying to touch him. His lips left mine and grazed leisurely along my chin and jaw before gliding down to my breasts.

“Christ, ye’re the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”

Looking almost hypnotised by the movement of my breasts, he captured them in his hands—the same hands that have held and cherished mine for so many years—then tenderly guided each breast, one by one into his mouth. I could see him watching my reactions, smirking when he felt me flinched as he lightly bit my nipples. With my hands now free, I caressed the lengths of his arms, over his broad shoulders, then down his muscular back, gliding down until they found his toned, firm ass. I gripped under his cheeks, pulling him closer until his cock came to rest just outside my centre.

“Jamie...Jamie, I want to touch you.” I slipped my hand between our rolling bodies and found his length.

“You’re so hard, and big. Fuck,”

I massaged him between my fingers, moving up and down, each stroke building an insatiable need to be filled until it finally overcame me. I wanted him, but for the first time since I had entered the room, I felt nervous, worrying I wouldn’t please him, and began to feel frightened that his size, as impressive as it was, would be too much for my first time.

With my free hand, I lifted his face towards mine, searching for some kind of reassurance that he felt the same. “Are you frightened?” I whispered.

“Aye, a little, but if ye hold my hand, ‘twill make it easier.”

He grabbed my hand and our fingers wove together, twisting around each other like ivy covering the branches of an ancient tree. He gently moved my arm back towards my head until it hit the mattress, then clung to me.

“Please, Jamie, I want you inside me.”

Nodding, he took a deep, shaky breath. I felt his fingers against me, tickling me, as he slid his cock up and down my folds. “Christ, ye’re so wet.”

Biting his lip, he looked in my eyes, squeezed my hand, and slowly, inch by inch, ever so gently, slid inside. Releasing low, shuddering whimpers, our heads bobbed back and forth as finally we became one, as close as two people in love could be.

His eyes sought mine again and we shyly smiled at each other, both blushing and giggling. We took a few precious seconds, just to be together, to feel each other and the magnitude of the moment.

“Are ye okay, Claire? I’m no’ hurting ye, am I?” he asked sweetly, when he began to gently thrust.

“It hurts a little, just a tiny bit, but I like it.”

Neither of us could speak after that, too overcome by the new, wanton, all consuming sensations surging through our bodies. He released my hand, and placed them on either side of my head, hovering above me on his palms so as to not crush what seemed like a tiny frame beneath him. I clung to his arms, feeling his strong biceps flex as he began to drive harder and deeper, faster.

I was loud and I didn't care, omitting desperate, filthy noises. I cried his name again and again as he swiftly began to lose control. His hips slapped against mine, his body pressing so close to mine it teasingly tickled against my clit with every thrust; just as my fingers had done as I pictured him in the shower only an hour ago.

I could feel the urgency building in my belly, wanting him closer though impossible. I gripped him even tighter, begging him for more, promising myself to him in an impassioned, breathy sob. “I’m yours, Jamie.”

With that, we reached our peak in almost perfect unison. As my walls clenched tightly around him, he made a strangled groan, spilling his seed inside me and breathlessly crying the name I had heard only once in my life, “Sorcha!”

We rolled to our sides, our legs intertwined, so as not to know where one body started and the other began. The darkness that had possessed his eyes had melted away, leaving them the most astonishing, crystal blue I had ever seen. They were locked onto mine and I never wanted them to leave.

Both trembling, he held my face in his hands, wiping away my curls with his thumb before he kissed me, our lips stayed pressed together as we rode the wave of pleasure.

“I love you,” were the only words we both could find.