This was a new one.
With all the strange ways Claire had decided to be close to him in the span of their relationship, Jamie thought that she’d surely run out of novel ideas.
But here he was, standing in front of the mirror brushing his teeth. And there she was, standing directly behind him with her cheek glued to his back and the length of her body pressed along his. She wasn’t embracing him— it felt like her arms were tucked against herself between her front and his back. Without even a word, she’d just entered the bathroom and tucked herself behind him.
“Ehm, good mornin’, lass,” Jamie chuckled.
“Morning,” her voice was silky smooth, still heavy with sleep.
Her hands appeared and ran down the length of his back, and Jamie felt her press a kiss right to his spine in the middle of his back.
Gooseflesh broke out along his arms at the sensation, and he had to lean down to wash his mouth out before he accidentally choked on toothpaste or something of the sort.
When he leaned down, his wee sea urchin went with him, of course, all but laying herself over him as he bent over the sink.
Once his mouth was safely clear and he had straightened up— only for Claire to resume her previous position— he asked, “How are ye this morning, then?”
“Good. Mmmm,” Claire gave a murmur of satisfaction, and suddenly wee hands were sliding underneath his shirt up the skin of his back.
Jamie started, almost jumping away, but she had him truly trapped against the sink.
Another kiss was dropped on his back, this time at his shoulder blade, and Jamie couldn’t stop the laughter bubbling from his chest.
“Am I nothin’ more tae ye than a large body pillow tae cuddle wi? Ye’re worse than Adso. Not even so much as a ‘good morning’ before ye’re using my back as a heating pad.”
“I thought it was greeting enough,” Claire said, but her voice was muffled against the back of Jamie’s shirt.
Hoping to take her by surprise, Jamie whirled around suddenly. Claire let out a shriek of surprise, and was just starting to stumble backward when Jamie caught her in his arms and pulled her against him.
She narrowed her eyes at him before he squeezed her closer and she couldn’t keep up the pretense, letting out a joyful laugh and throwing her arms around his neck to kiss him good morning.
“So,” she said against his lips once they’d given each other a proper greeting, “what are we going to do today?”
“Well… I had a thought…” Jamie said, pausing to peck her lips again. (It wasn’t his fault. They were right there, after all, and Jamie was only so strong in the face of such temptation.) “It’s something I realized recently and I’m actually rather embarrassed about.”
“What?” Claire asked, drawing back enough that she could fix her eyes on Jamie, the honey-gold of her gaze sparkling with curiosity.
“Do ye ken we havena even had a proper date?” Jamie asked, smoothing his hands down along her sides.
Claire stared at him blankly, eyes wide.
“I don’t even know what you mean by date, so no, I don’t ‘ken,’” she replied.
“Right,” Jamie said, smiling at himself, “well a date is a human custom. When two people are interested in each other, they go out and do something fun together, to see if they’re compatible, aye? It’s a part of courtship.”
“Well I’d say we know we’re compatible, don’t you agree?” Claire said, standing on her tiptoes to press a kiss to Jamie’s ear, right in a spot she knew would short circuit his brain.
He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her away, not inclined to let himself fall under her spell at this particular moment. He was far too determined for that. He’d never even taken his wife on a proper date, and he needed to remedy that immediately.
“Of course we are, wife. It’s jes’ that we never got tae do those fun things before we were married.”
“I can think of a lot of fun things we can do,” Claire whispered, her voice dropping low as she tried to get her lips to reach Jamie’s neck. But he held her back, and she rewarded his restraint with a pout that made him laugh.
“That’s no’ the point,” he sighed, “trust me. It’ll be fun.”
“Of course I trust you, Jamie,” she agreed.
“Good, then, Claire Fraser, will ye go out on a date wi’ me today?” he asked cordially, letting go over her and taking a slight step back so that he could have some semblance of formality.
She gave him a smile and a nod. “Yes, Jamie Fraser, I would love to.”
There was a flaw in his plan… Jamie realized too late. He’d planned the perfect date but forgotten one key component.
Claire didn’t have a bathing suit.
He’d had it all worked out, you see. There were very limited options of dates he could take her on. First of all, anything involving food was out of the question. Secondly, anything involving other people was a no go, since Claire would get so anxious about being around other humans. So Jamie had decided to take her to a loch a short drive away, where they could swim together out of the way of any prying eyes or listening ears. Claire would have a nice time, he was sure, and it would even remind her of home.
Imagining her in a cute red bikini made him feel a certain way, but he realized far too late that the only garments she had were the dresses and shoes they’d gotten at Mrs. Fitz’ what felt like a lifetime ago.
Skinny dipping it is, Jamie smirked to himself as he helped Claire into the car.
Maybe it wasn’t a flawed plan after all.
“Where are we going?” Claire asked for about the umpteenth time.
The puir thing seemed to be a mixture of nerves and excitement, which led her to buzz with energy in the seat next to him. It distracted her from her motion sickness at least, so Jamie wouldn’t budge on keeping his surprise a secret.
“Somewhere fun,” Jamie said coolly.
“Humans,” Claire rolled her eyes, “you all are so big on your secrecy. I don’t understand why you don’t just say what you intend.”
“Know many humans to base yer judgements off of?” Jamie challenged, giving her a smirk.
“You’re right,” Claire said, “maybe it’s just a judgement of you.”
“Sassenach,” Jamie sighed, “I willna tell ye because surprises are fun. Besides, we’re almost there.”
This got Claire’s attention, and she straightened up in her seat to press her face against the window.
A minute later, when Jamie had the car parked and Claire had burst out, somehow managing to figure out the car door in her excitement, he quickly grabbed her hand before she could dart off and force him to chase after her.
“Happy first date,” he said, pulling her against him by the hand.
Her arms came around his back, and she smiled up at him. “Happy first date.”
If he were really playing along, he wouldn’t have kissed her, but having her there in his arms, looking up at him expectantly, he couldn’t imagine waiting until the end of the date to have her lips on his. Indulging himself, he leaned down and kissed her deeply, cupping her head to hold her captive for a long moment.
“Is this what you brought me here for?” she asked breathlessly when he’d drawn back.
“There’s more where that came from,” Jamie said softly, “but no. Come on.”
He led her by the hand through the trees. They ascended the hill together, finally emerging from the grove at the top, revealing a small, but nonetheless picture-perfect loch.
“I brought you here so we could swim. Just the two of us.”
Claire gazed up at him, her eyes soft and smile wide. “I love it, Jamie.”
They stepped together up to the edge, admiring the ripples in the loch from the soft breeze that swept over it. Jamie couldn’t spend long on the view though— not when the perfection of his wife was right beside him. His gaze turned to her, caught up in the way her curls swirled around that face that would make even the Greek goddesses jealous. This creature was his, and it struck him in the most random of moments sometimes how lucky he was.
She must have felt the weight of his gaze because she looked up at him suddenly, inquisitive.
“What?” she asked.
“Jes’ admiring the view…” Jamie said softly, tracing a finger over her cheekbone.
“You’re a sap,” Claire rolled her eyes, but the smile she was trying to hide betrayed her.
Jamie was just about to suggest that they take off their clothes and dive in, before he could even bat an eye, Claire was body slamming into him, sending him toppling off of his feet and into the water. He hit the lake with a splash, and the temperature change took his breath away for a second as he submerged. When his head broke the surface and he had sputtered the water from his lips, he glared up to the bank and saw Claire in stitches on the shore.
The wee besom was laughing so hard she was likely to break a rib.
“You… you… had no idea,” Claire was huffing, her arms wrapped around her middle.
“Oh, ye’ll pay for that…”
Jamie was already scrambling up the bank and throwing himself at her before he even finished his threat. Claire squeaked, starting to dash away, but Jamie threw his soaking body at her and managed to get his arms around her.
She was laughing and squirming, a chorus of “no”s escaping her as he hauled her toward the edge of the water.
“Jamie,” she squealed, “Jamie, wait, I—”
Ignoring her protests, he grabbed her by the waist and tossed her as far as he could into the water.
As Jamie had been rudely forced to discover just a few seconds previous, the lake got deep fast. So when Claire hit the water, she disappeared entirely under the surface.
Jamie stood and soaked in his victory. His clothes dripping wet as they were, he’d gotten the last word.
It was then that he’d realized Claire had been under the water for a second too long. Just as his heart started to race and adrenaline coursed into his system, Claire’s head shot above the water.
“Jamie!” She sputtered.
Her arms thrashed wildly as she tried to keep afloat, and he heard her gasp before her head disappeared back under the surface. Waves splashed up around her as her hands beat at the water, floundering.
Her face just barely popped up again, and she gave a desperate, “Jamie! I can’t swim,” before she disappeared under.
Jamie’s blood ran ice cold. He had frozen just for a moment, but as soon as his brain came snapping back, he was diving into the water after her.
He swam out to her, his limbs numb with fear making it terribly difficult to move quickly, and she surfaced again to cry out his name.
Within seconds, he’d reached her. He grabbed for her, avoiding her frantic paddling, and hauled her body toward him, lifting her head out of the water.
He heard her gasp for air, and his heart clenched with guilt so acute he was nearly blind with it, but then he seemed to lose all his senses altogether. One second, he was saving her from drowning, and then next, there were hands on his head and he was the one underwater.
Disoriented, he pushed himself back to the surface. He took in a huge breath when he was safely in the air again, and he blinked the water from his eyes…
Just to be greeted with the sight of Claire a few feet away, treading water expertly and grinning ear to ear.
“You can swim,” Jamie growled. His heart was still racing with the whiplash her prank had caused him, and he was nearly ready to drown her himself for worrying him like that.
“Of course I can,” Claire giggled, “but it was awfully nice of you to jump in to save me.”
“You wee devil, ye nearly stopped my heart,” he glared at her.
“And you nearly stop my heart with the loving you,” her voice dropped to a soft, silky tone, and despite Jamie’s best intentions, he found his frustrations at her abating.
She started to swim toward him, sensing his weakness, and went in for the kill. “Forgive me?” she asked with big eyes and wet lashes.
“Aye, come ‘ere, then.”
This time, his armful of faerie was very capable of staying afloat, and apparently kissing him breathless at the same time. Her fingers carded through his wet curls, tugging softly and making him forget any notion he had of seeking revenge. Jamie wrapped an arm around her back, and with the other arm, he started to tow her back toward a shallower spot. Once his feet could touch again, he stood, allowing Claire to wrap her legs around his waist. She never once broke the kiss, and Jamie was duly impressed.
He let himself lose all track of time, his worries and pressures of reality fading away at the feeling of her lips and her body and the gentle waves that lapped over them both. Nothing mattered but the lass in his arms and the present moment. Jamie was nearly giddy with it.
They swam for some time after, taking breaks between dives and floats to return to each other’s arms, always their lips seeking out the other, and wandering hands beneath the water reaching their marks.
“Are ye sure ye’re a fairy and no’ a water nymph?” Jamie chuckled as he struggled to catch up with Claire as she smoothly cut through the lake.
“I’m sure,” she laughed. The water streamed from her hair and dripped down her face like a caress, making Jamie still question the truth of her words.
It took him a second to process the implications of her response, but when he did, he stopped dead.
“Wait. Are you telling me there actually are such things as water nymphs?”
“Of course,” she replied, taking on that matter-of-fact tone that was so endearing to Jamie.
He grinned, his mind trying to process this new fact, and he shook his head in disbelief. “I dinna think I’ll ever catch up on what is myth and what is reality.”
“That’s okay,” Claire breathed, swimming back toward Jamie until she was just beside him, “that’s why you have me to sort you out.”
She reached out and gave him a quick press of lips, as if she was trying to regain his attention and fascination. Clearly he only had room for one type of supernatural creature in his life.
“Come on, let’s go back to shore,” she breathed.
They laid side by side on the grass, their fingers entwined between them. The sun was beginning to set, painting the sky with oranges and pinks. The air seemed somehow still, calm, as if the world itself was pausing to breathe. It couldn’t have been more perfect if Jamie had planned it himself.
They were quiet, content to just watch the sunset and allow their clothes to dry.
For so long in their relationship, Jamie had felt like if he stopped holding onto Claire for even a second, she would slip through his fingers. Even since she’d gotten back, he couldn’t help but fear something shaking the joy of their reunion. But now… now there was none of that. There was a peace and security that wrapped around them like a blanket. Something akin to… normalcy.
No looming rejection. No fear of loss.
Only two souls that were meant to be, watching the sunset at the end of their incredibly normal first date.
“I love you,” he said as he tilted his face to the side so that he could see her.
She did the same, her cheek resting on the grass.
“I love you.”
Jamie let his thumb brush over the back of her hand, his heart full to aching.
“I think sometimes…” Jamie started, the words coming before he’d even fully thought them in his mind, “about what life would have been if I hadn’t found you on that hill that day.”
She didn’t speak, but the way her eyes grew soft and focused made it clear that she was listening.
“I was so lost,” he whispered, “so alone. I needed you more than you needed me, I think. I— I can’t imagine how hollow everything would be if I hadn’t known the joy of loving you.”
“Jamie,” she whispered, giving his hand a squeeze, “we don’t have to imagine. Because we’re here now.”
“You’re right. I just… think about it sometimes. It feels like a lifetime ago.”
“I know.” She propped herself up on her elbow to lean over him, bringing up a hand to tenderly stroke his hair away from his face. “But you don’t have to think about such things. Just be here… with me.”
She leaned down, barely letting her lips touch his before pulling away again.
“It’s okay, Jamie,” she said, smiling with a depth of emotion behind her eyes. She must have sensed something from him when she touched him, because she was suddenly speaking exactly to his heart and his fears. “Let yourself rest in the good,” she said quietly, “and don’t waste your time waiting for the ground to crumble beneath your feet. We’re here, I’m here. Everything is alright.”
“And I couldna be more grateful,” he said, pulling her head down for another kiss.
They stayed there long after sunset, letting the sky turn from streaks of color into inky black flecked with stars.
And Jamie did exactly as Claire said. He let himself be. And he rested in the good.