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The Sassenach Queen

Chapter Text

"James?"

The young man looked up from the multiple computer monitors. "Aye?" he gazed up to look at one of the other palace attendants.

"Where's Mr. MacKenzie?" The man asked. 

"Which one? Both of em are out anyway. Dougal is in a security briefing with Colum," he answered. "Can I help ye?"

"Good. His majesty wanted to speak to ye privately. Didn't want to discuss it with the Laird present"

"Me?" Jamie's eyes widened. "Are ye sure?"

"You're James, right?"

"Yes." he nodded.

"Then go meet the King."  He turned to gaze at Ian, one of the other members of the security detail, to cover his position. 

Jamie stood, straightening his tie, buttoning his jacket, and walked towards the King's study where he knew he would find him.

"Yer Majesty," he announced knocking at the door.

"Is that you James?" King Quentin greeted. 

"Yes, your majesty," he came in and bowed at the older gentleman. "Ye wanted to see me?"

"Please come in, sit." 

He took a seat across him in an armchair across the desk from the King, sitting as straight as he could. He took a deep calming breath composing himself before he spoke.

"How may I help ye, your majesty?"

"I'm sure you're aware, I'm not getting any younger. "

"None of us are, your highness."

"No, I suppose not." he chuckled. "However, I'm sure you're aware of my lack of an heir to the throne."

'Then we must keep ye in optimal shape, your majesty."

"You're kind James, I'm still holding out that she'll appear."

"The lost princess?" Jamie asked.

The king gazed out the window and nodded before his eyes settled on a picture on the edge of his desk of a young girl, all smiles and dark curls. 

"They never found her body in the accident with my brother and his wife." 

"And ye still have faith she'll find her way back?" Jamie questioned.

"Ye must think me mad." The king shook his head.

"No sire, hope is something we must always keep." Jamie reassured although he couldn't help but agree with the king's assessment that he was indeed mad. It had been over 20 years since anyone had last seen the lass in question. 

" As for my succession,  I'm sure you're aware that Colum and Dougal have been fighting over it."

"Yer naming one of them successor?"

"Colum is currently listed," he nodded. "But that I fear is not the best decision I could make."

"Oh?" he questioned.

"James, you are a well-read, well-rounded intelligent man. You have the mind of a politician, the fine breeding of a lord, the people would like you. And you're young."

"Well, I thank ye for the kind words, your majesty. "

"Jamie, you should be in line for the throne." His eyes widened.

"But your maj-"

"You have the best of Colum and Dougal's qualities without their brashness. You also have a fine head for figures, I'm told." 

"Sir I'm just head of your security detail."

"Aye, but you should be more. I want you to advise me, and when the time comes it may be you who I choose as my successor."

"I thank ye for the opportunity, yer majesty. " 

"I'll be having Ian take over for the moment, and you will come on as an advisor."

Jamie smiled. "Ian will serve ye well your majesty." 

"I'm sure he will. Please send him in next. I plan for you to be starting next week."

"Aye, of course yer majesty." Jamie smiled as he walked back to the security station.

"Are ye fired Jamie?" Ian asked.

"Not yet." he said ."But he wants to see ye next."

"Are we having quarterly evaluations now?"

"Something like that." he said chuckling to himself as he sat down back at his station. He observed the monitors but his head was elsewhere. Becoming King? That had never been a thought that had crossed his mind, even after working in the palace every day for so long. A life like this could only be a fantasy. 

He couldn't really complain. A life serving the king in general was a bit stressful but afforded him with all the things he had ever wanted. He owned a well-furnished, beautiful flat near the capital. He was able to afford to send money home to Lallybroch where his Da still ran their distillery and to put money away for whatever future he wanted. But a king? he shook his head. There would be no way he would be selected over his uncles,  Colum or Dougal.  Or was there? 

Once Ian returned, they shared a knowing look and a grin but didn't mention their news in front of anyone. A few guards returned from a break and Jamie and Ian decided to go for a walk.

"Jamie, a royal advisor?" Ian asked him. he nodded with a grin. "That's incredible."

"Thank ye. I can hardly believe it myself." 

"Do ye think ye could be king one day?" 

Jamie shrugged. "Maybe but ye never ken." 

 

 

Chapter Text

After a long shift, Claire rushed back to her flat and hadn't even turned the key when she heard a familiar voice. 

"I thought you'd be ready to go by now darling." She turned to see Frank standing behind her, a bouquet of flowers in his hands.

"Oops?" she apologized with a small smile. He let out a small chuckle.

"Its a good thing I made our reservations for later than I told you." 

"You did?" Claire asked. 

"I knew you'd get stuck at work. Go get ready." He urged. 

"Make yourself comfortable. I won't be too long." She told him as she quickly ran into her bedroom and shut the door, stripping out of her scrubs. and into a quick body shower, thankful that she had taken the time to pick out her outfit for her birthday dinner the night before with a well timed FaceTime session with Geillis. She toweled off and slipped into the wine colored dress that hugged her curves nicely without clinging to the wrong places, and applied some light make up, a quick swipe of lipstick and some mascara. She took a breath, put in her earrings before stepping out into the sitting room.

"Ready." she declared.

Frank gazed at her and smiled. "You look beautiful, my birthday girl." 

"Thank you. Shall we?" She took his arm and they headed off to the restaurant.

"Joe! Geillis" she greeted the others as she spotted them, Geillis's red hair announcing them right away.  

"There she is! The lady of the hour!" Joe greeted her with a kiss on the cheek. "Happy Birthday Lady Jane!" 

"Thank you, Joe."

"Happy Birthday Claire!" Geillis declared as she set a sash over Claire's body, reading 'birthday girl', and a crown atop her head.

"Ah yes! The Birthday queen has arrived!" Geillis lead her to the table to see Frank's brother, Alex and his girfriend Mary, as well as their friend John sitting at the table, chatting amicably and sipping wine.

"Thank you all for coming." Claire said, as she sat down. "I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful group to spend the night with." After Claire blew out the candles on a piece of birthday cake, Joe handed her a package.

"For you, from me and Geillis"

She reached into the bag and pulled out a stethoscope, she opened the box to see her name engraved on the edge of the bell "Claire Beauchamp, MD"

"Is it the-?

"Cardiology IV, best model available." Geillis boasted. "Ye can hear a pulse through a bomb with that thing, I tell ye."

"Thank you guys! It's perfect!" Claire said, hugging them both.

"I still think she would've liked the EKG earrings," Joe grumbled.

"Aye, if she were in cardiology that would be 'cute', but Claire is gonna be a serious trauma physician. She needs to be taken seriously." Geillis urged.

"Ah yes, everyone is taking me very seriously in the crown and sash." Claire laughed. 

"You look like a queen Claire, obviously they should take you seriously." John argued. 

"Thank you John. As queen, I think you should be known henceforth  Lord John for your flattery and valor" she said tapping him on both shoulders with a left over spoon from dessert. 

"Thank you your highness," he laughed as he bowed. "Speaking of royalty, how has your proposal gone with the government?"

"My health care proposal? I'm afraid I haven't heard back yet. But I'm sure there are plenty of people writing their politicians."

"I'm trying to see if I can pull some strings," Frank said as he sipped his whiskey. "My family has some connections."

"You know that isn't necessary. If they think my proposal is good enough, then they'll reach out. I just think that restructuring of the NHS would greatly benefit the country as well as possibly save money." 

"You know it's often who you know, not what you know." Frank argued.

"Frank isn't wrong, Claire." John agreed. "But I understand where you are coming from. You've always been a self made woman."

"Yes, I started as an orphan with nothing, not even a memory, and look where I am now." she said sadly.

"You're an inspiration Claire." Joe smiled at her. "Look at how far you've come."

"Ye should be on a poster for hardworking and determination."

"I wouldn't go that far." Claire said with a weak smile. "But I couldn't have made it through these last few years without you all, and I am so thankful to have you all."

"To Claire," Geillis proposed a toast.

"To Claire," they all clinked their glasses and sipped supporting each other.

Frank brought her to her flat not long after that. The two were nestled on the sofa, Claire resting with her head against Franks shoulder. 

"Thank you for helping to organize tonight. "she said pressing a kiss to his cheek. 

"The nights not over yet. I have one present left for the birthday girl."

"Oh really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

He reached over onto the end table and pulled out a neatly wrapped package.

She smiled and carefully removed the paper.

"MyGenes Ancestry and Health kit?" she read. 

"You don't know where you're from or who you really are."

"I thought you said it didn't matter." 

"Who you are doesn't matter to me." Frank tried to explain "But if we one day want to start our own family tree, we might want to know if we need to worry about either of us being carriers for anything. I want to build a life with you Claire, and maybe knowing your roots would help"

She smiled. "Thank you, it's a very thoughtful gift. I'll do it tomorrow." 

"You're welcome darling."

"And speaking of growing our family tree, perhaps we should practice?" Claire winked at him as he lead her to her bedroom.

 

------------------

She awoke the next morning, grateful to have a day off, Frank already gone for office hours at the University. She lazily went about her morning, making tea and eating her breakfast as she watched news on the television.

She sat and opened the box, reading the instructions. The process itself seemed simple enough. Spit in a tube, close it up and ship it off to the lab. She stared at the box for a moment. Did she really want to know about her past? She had made it this far without it after all. What if she learned something terrible? Don't be silly Claire, I'm sure its no special story. You're just an ordinary woman

She tried to push the thoughts to the back of her mind as she allowed her saliva to pool in her mouth before releasing it into the tube, she put in the stabilizing solution, twisted the cap tight and put the tube in the pre-paid packaging to ship it back.

As she headed to the grocery store that day, she stopped by the post box. What did she have to lose? She pulled the handle and dropped in the package. 

Here goes nothing.

Chapter Text

The weeks passed by, and Claire all but forgot about her pending DNA test in the mail. Instead she bustled through the long, busy days in the Emergency Department. 

"Dr. Beauchamp?" a nurse called out. 

"Yes?" she said not looking up from the sutures she was placing on a leg laceration.

"Theres a phone call for ye."

"Can you take a message? I'm in the middle of a repair"

"I'm not sure if it's a prank, but they're saying it's a call from the palace from the Lairds' assistant ."

Claire looked up surprised and looked at the nurse. 

"What? Are you sure?"

The patient looked at her. "Didna' realize I had such a fancy Doctor. The palace calling ye-"

"Let me just finish these sutures, I have two left, and would you mind bandaging the leg for me?"

"Of course Dr. B." 

She finished up with the patient, and put down her tools and picked up the line.

"This is Dr. Beachamp." 

"Hello, my name is Letitia, I'm calling from Laid McKenzie's Office at the palace. He would like to schedule a meeting with ye."

"Oh... of course," Claire said, frantically looking for a scrap of paper to scribble details down on.

"When are ye available doctor?"

"I have off on Tuesday of next week," she offered as she glanced at the schedule pinned behind the nurses station.

"Would 11 o'clock be acceptable to ye?"

"Yes, of course."

"Wonderful. We look forward to seeing ye then. Please bring a valid photo ID and show it to the guards at the gate so they will be able to better direct ye when ye arrive. I will send ye an email with some more details."

"Thank you." Claire said hardly believing that someone had finally looked at her proposal and that things might be coming to fruition. 

She took a few deep breaths.

"Whats up LJ?" Joe asked, seeing the look on her face.

"That was the Lairds Office at the palace. I have a meeting to discuss my proposal."

"LJ! That's amazing! We should celebrate!"

"Its just a meeting Joe. I don't know if anything will come of it."

"But you impressed them enough to even ask for a meeting."

"I'll celebrate when there is change made."

"LJ,"

"No Joe I don't want to get my hopes up."

"Drinks while you practice what you're going to say?"he gave her a sheepish grin.

"Fine, I suppose we can have a cocktail or two while I rehearse my presentation."

"Sunday after work?"

"Deal." she smiled at him.

"Have you told Geillis yet?"

"Haven't seen her yet." 

"Well she should come and pick out something for you to wear."

"I have a suit."

"It's the palace Claire." Joe said with a look. 

"Fine! I suppose we may also do a brief shopping trip prior to presentation practice. It's a good thing we get out at 3PM" 

"You know Geillis would make you."

"I'd make you what?" Geillis said rounding a corner, donning her pink scrubs. 

"Go shopping for her meeting with the palace."

A squeal erupted from the woman. "They finally contacted ye! It took em long enough!"

"I certainly wasn't even expecting a response. But here we are!" she smiled. 

"Congratulations Claire. We're se proud of ye!" Geillis hugged her.

Claire smiled and then set off about the rest of her day, dealing with abdominal pain, a few fractures, a severe case of food poisoning, and uncontrolled high blood pressure. She stripped her scrubs off in the locker room, changing into her street clothes. She walked to the tube station with a bit more pep in her step than usual. 

She couldn't help but feel pride bubbling in her chest as she thought about the potential implications her plan could have on upgrading the National Health System and streamlining wait times for important diagnostic imaging and procedures. She had aimed high, writing the Laird, advisor to the king, but when no one lower had listened ,who else could she have turned to?

She stopped at the liquor store on the way home, picking up some wine and some things to replenish her bar cart that sat in her living room, some whiskey for herself, Frank and Geillis , a gin that Joe loved, and a few other items.

"Having a party lass?"

"Something like that", she smiled as she made her purchases and made her way back to her flat. She unlocked the door, purchases balanced on her hip, and set everything down. She slipped out of her street clothes and into a pair of well worn leggings and a soft sweater, and sat at the table with her laptop, a glass of wine beside her as she dialed Franks' number, it going to voice mail almost instantly He was terrible about turning his phone back on after lecture, so she used her best judgment and ordered him something he would usually like from their favorite Indian take-away. 

The food arrived quickly and Claire set out to review her proposal and to look for any loop holes or weak points that may be in her proposal. It brought her back to Med school and the long nights of studying and writing papers. But she was born for this. She had always wanted to help people, and had a knack for healing it seemed, but there was a small part of her heart that was dedicated to creating policy. She had been in student government in secondary school and university, and had even briefly considered being a lawyer  but instead had settled to do get her medical degree with a  few classes of health care policy and law thrown in.

She ate her food by herself, stuffing her face with curry and naan. She almost didn't hear Frank come in.

"Sorry." he said as he came and set his briefcase down beside her. "Busy night."

"No worries," she said smiling up at him. "How was your lecture?"

"Good, lots of questions afterword in office hours." he shrugged, not quite meeting her gaze as he removed his jacket. "What have you been up to?"

"I ordered curry in for dinner, there's some left for you in the kitchen but, I've been working on my proposal again."

"You don't have to keep revising and resubmitting, I could get you an in if you need it Claire-"

"I don't need you to. I have a meeting with the Laird. Tuesday."

"You do?"

"I do," she grinned triumphantly.

"Claire, that's fantastic."

"Thank you." she gave him a quick kiss. "I've been working through some little tweaks here and there but it's a solid proposal. I can't foresee too many  problems with it."

"I'm glad."

She stood up and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him.

"Care to celebrate?" 

"I would but it's been a long day. I'm going to shower and turn in." he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. 

"Perhaps another time," she mused. She sat back at the table and continued t o read through her project, and eventually turned in laying beside him.

-------------

The days flew by, and a quick shopping trip with Gillian and Joe in tow, yielded a new charcoal skirt, a smart cranberry blouse, and a black blazer that matched a pair of heels Claire already had in the back of her closet.

"Are you sure it's not too much?" 

"O'course not. Have I ever lead ye wrong before?" Gillian asked.

"The Margarita massacre of 2016?" Joe proposed causing them to all laugh thinking about the disastrous results of one night in residency. 

"I still can't have tequila without thinking about that." Claire said shaking her head.

"What a time." Joe said.

Eventually the three settled into Claire's sitting room as she talked them through her proposal.

"Did the idiots who run our hospital not listen to ye when ye proposed any of this?" Gillian said. "This is good stuff Claire." 

"I always get brushed off due to budgets or them being too busy or not getting enough board votes." she said. "But I think that it's all a load of rubbish. They think its easier to leave it and deal with a broken system rather than make systematic reforms that could increase efficiency."

"To making changes," Joe proposed raising a glass.

"To doing the next right thing." Claire agreed.

"Sláinte!" Gillian said and the three clinked their glasses and drank deeply, enjoying each other's company.

The morning of her meeting arrived and she dressed, spending extra time with her hair and make up to make herself presentable before she got in the car and drove towards the palace with a print out of the email she had gotten from the Laird's assistant and was able to leave her car with a valet. 

She carefully managed to walk along the cobble-stoned path in her heels and up the steps, into the palace. 

She felt a chill as she pushed open the large door and looked around the entry hall. Had she been here before? She paused looking around, admiring the high ceilings, the old tapestries, the way her heels clicked, reverberating through the halls.

"Are ye lost lass?" a tall red-headed man asked. His smile was warm, and she instantaneously felt at ease in his presence. The way he smiled at her. 

"I have a meeting with the Laird. I'm afraid I'm a bit lost," she admitted.

"Ah, a Sassenach," 

"A what?" she asked

"It merely means an outlander.", the man said a small blush rising to his cheeks. "Your accent, you weren't brought up around here."

"No, I wasn't." She smiled back. 

"Let me show ye the way then. I'll be headed to see Colum myself." 

"First name basis with the Laird?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Aye but he's also my uncle so I Dinna think he'll mind too much."

"Oh, family business working at the palace then?"

"Something like that." The man laughed. "I worked my way up through my ranks though. Not nepotism. Promise ye that"

"I'm sure." she grinned at him.

"I'm Jamie," he said.

"Claire. Dr. Claire Beauchamp" she introduced.

"Pleasure to meet ye, Dr. Beauchamp." 

He led her down a series of corridors, finally arriving at a set of double doors, opening it for her.

"Mr. Fraser" a woman greeted.

"Good morning. Letitia, I have a Dr. Beauchamp for Colum."

"Ah yes, a pleasure to meet ye, Dr. Beauchamp. Ye can take a seat.  The Laird will see ye shortly." 

"Thank you for your help, Jamie." Claire smiled.

"Dinna fasch, Sassenach." Jamie smiled. "It was ma pleasure. Good luck in yer meetin'" 

"Thank you." she sat down on an upholstered armchair, ankles crossed briefly skimming over her materials once more. 

It wasn't too long before Letitia guided her into the vast office that belonged to the Laird.

Two men were before her, both older, one balding with a goatee, the other with long silvery hair tired back.

"This is Laird Colum McKenzie and Warchief Dougal Mckenzie. Gentleman, may I present Dr. Claire Beauchamp?"

Claire suddenly felt very nervous, should she bow, should she curtsey?

Instead she settled on a slight nod. 

"A Pleasure gentleman." she said.

"Likewise, please have a seat." Laird McKenzie said "I'm sure you're wondering why we brought ye all the way here."

"My proposal for healthcare reform." she said confidently. "I brought several print outs of it and I'd be happy to review the revisions to the current system in greater detail-"

"That's not it lass." the bald man, Dougal

"It's not?" she asked, suddenly very deflated, and very confused. "Then why am I here?"

"Lass, tell us about your past." 

"My past?" she looked at them. "I attended the University of Edin-"

"Not your credentials. Your Past" the man emphasized. 

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"Where are you from?"

"I... I don't know. I was found..."

"Found?" the Laird asked. 

"They said I was found at the side of the coast. With the waves crashing down, the wind all a blow. I remember..." she stood and walked over to a window. She felt herself back with the sand covering her skin. "The darkness, and cold. The waves and the breeze. I had no memories."

"How old were you?"

"Maybe 8?" she said. "I just remember once they brought me to the orphanage. Rain against the windows, and the scratchy sheets.The nuns all around me trying to get me to tell them anything about my past."

"How'd ye ken yer name was Claire?"

"I didn't. One of the nuns gave it to me at the orphanage," she said.  "She went through a few but Claire felt best. Why are you asking me all of this?"

"You recently took a DNA test."

"Yes, I received it for my birthday." 

"You are the same age and the same features of the lost princess and yer DNA suggests that ye may be her."

Claire nearly fainted, and quickly collapsed into a nearby chair. 

"A princess? What?" 

"Twenty years ago, King Henry and Queen Julia went on a small boat with their daughter Claire to the summer palace. Their sailboat ran aground and they were lost to the sea but the princess's body was never found." Colum said. 

"And you think its me?"

 "Perhaps." Dougal shrugged. "We'd like to repeat the tests to make sure." 

"So you brought me here for that."

"We wanted to watch the specimen be collected directly." Dougal admitted. "Make sure yer not a spy or something faking the data."

"What kind of sample would you like? I'm afraid I just had some tea before I got out of the car if you want saliva, you have to wait a few more minutes." 

"Blood is faster." Dougal countered.

"I don't suppose either of you are certified, phlebotomists?" 

"We have one waiting." Colum noted."Letitia send Beaton in." Colum said pressing a button. 

A man came in with a small cart and Claire rolled up her sleeves for him. 

"Most people go for the left AC." she said raising her arm, pointing out a more prominent vein. The man started applying a tourniquet and setting up a small needle, and some tubes.

"Yere taking this remarkably well." Dougal commented. "Did ye ken?"

"Did I know I might be a princess? I bloody well didn't"  she said, her head snapping toward the man as she struggled to hold still for the man. "Life would have been a lot easier if I had known."

It didn't take long for the sample to be drawn and once a bandage was applied to her arm, she rolled her sleeves back down.

"And now?"

"Now we wait." Dougal said. "Ye're more than welcome to take a tour of the grounds. But ye're not to leave until we have the results.

"So I'm your prisoner?"

"No, ye are our guest but ye also might be the heir to the throne. Ye must be protected. Would you care to sit in the library?" 

"I suppose."

"I'll have Jamie bring ye." 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Claire walked beside Jamie silently to the library. The only sound was her heels clicking against the tiles, and a sigh that seemed to escape from Claire's lungs. 

"I take it yer meeting did not go as ye planned." He asked her after a moment. 

"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to say." Claire told him. 

"It was a meeting, not a matter of national security was it?" Jamie asked with a small laugh before suddenly sobering seeing her expression. 

"Here's the library." He said showing her the room. "I'll be back shortly." 

Claire settled down in the library and sat on the couch removing her phone from her pocket, could she even call anyone to talk about this. Probably not, she mused. Still she gazed down a the unread text messages, Joe and Gillian

"You can do it LJ!" 

"You can handle whatever they throw at you! Best of luck darling!" - Gillian

Could she handle whatever they were throwing at her? Could she be a princess if the DNA test came out conclusive?

---- 

It didn't take long before Jamie returned to her with a tray of tea makings.

"I promised I'd be back." He set it down on one of the small tables and sat beside her on a couch.

"Thank you." Claire smiled at him.

"I talked to Colum and Dougal." he looked at her, studying her expression.

"Oh?"

"Aye, I Dinna think ye expected to hear that kind of information this mornin' lass."

"It certainly wasn't."

"How did you feel about it?"

"I... I don't know. I did the DNA test to find out about my past but-"

"But ye never coulda expected this." Jamie looked at her.

"No," she shook her head. "I suppose I didn't know what to expect but a princess?" she let out a laugh. "It certainly wasn't that. I wasn't much for fairytales, growing up in an orphanage. We didn't really believe much in anything, not even Father Christmas." she said. "No point, really."

Jamie's heart ached for the woman beside him. He handed her a cup of tea and the two sat sipping in companionable silence. 

"Why don't we go for a tour while ye wait? No use sitting here pondering what could or might be."

"Might as well." Claire agreed. 

"Ye can leave yer things. No need to lug around yer presentation. They seldom use this room anyway." 

"Thank you."

She followed him with intrigue as he went into great detail describing the magnificent paintings and tapestries, the rich history and architecture. 

"How do you know all this?" she asked wowed by his knowledge. 

"Took the tour a few times when I first started working in security, ye ken to get a good lay of the land as well as to see any potential issues, any trouble spots."

"You're security then?"

"I was but, no. I'm one of the king's newer advisors. He recently added me onto his team."

"That's quite impressive." Claire said. "He must trust ye a lot."

"Aye, he trusts me. It's Colum and Dougal who don't necessarily. Why I didna ken about why they called ye here this mornin. Tryin' to keep me out of the loop"

"I thought you said they were your uncles."

"Aye, they are. I think they still see me as a lad despite the fact that I have proved my worth. Still, I can understand their hesitations. I'm young. I have much less experience."

"But obviously enough that the king trusts you." Claire offered.

Jamie shrugged. "Perhaps, but Dinna fasch Sassenach. I still will do my job to the best of my abilities and show them I'm worthy."

"You are very worthy, Jamie." she smiled at him. Her stomach let out a low grumble.

"Christ ye've been here hours already. Let's get something in yer wame."

"I didn't expect to be here this long," Claire confessed. "And I was much too nervous to eat more than a slice of toast this morning." 

"Follow me."

He took her down a series of corridors into the kitchen.

"Ye'll never find anyone better than Mrs. Crook and Mrs. Fitz. They're the palace chefs and they will make sure yer well fed. "

"Who's this then Jamie?" A shorter Scottish woman asked. 

"Mrs. Fitz, This is Dr. Beauchamp. Her meeting ran a bit long and she could use a meal. Thing we could fix her up something quick?"

"Aye of course lad. What are ye feeling lass?"

"I'm not picky." she said. "I don't mean to be a bother."

"We just finished cooking something up for himself so we're just helping with staff meals now. Whatever ye heart wants." 

"Jamie, you know whats good. Any recommendations?" 

"They make a mean reuben sandwich or a club."

"A club sandwich sounds perfect." she said. "Thank ye so much."

"Aye those'll be right up. Go sit in yer normal spot Jamie I'll have one of the girls bring them over." 

"Thank ye Mrs. Fitz." he pressed a kiss to the older woman's cheek as he guided Claire over to a quiet corner of the kitchen. 

Claire looked at him.

"What?"

"You are just so at ease here." 

"Aye well it's practically home. It was my job to ken everyone and their whereabouts." 

"I don't think I've ever felt like that anywhere." Claire confessed. "I've never quite had a home. I've always had a bit of wanderlust."

"Ye'll build a home Sassenach." Jamie told her with a soft smile. She hated to confess, she felt so incredibly comfortable with this man already.

They were soon brought their sandwiches and ate, Claire relishing something that wasn't hospital cafeteria food for once, or take out.

The sandwich was excellent and she gratefully thanked Mrs. Fitz. 

"Pleasure meeting ye lass. Best of luck with whatever yer meeting was about."

"Thank you." Claire said. "Who knows?You may be seeing more of me." 

Suddenly Jamie froze, taking his phone from the pocket, glancing down at the screen." 

"That's Dougal." Jamie said. 

"And?"

"And I think he wants us in person for the results." Jamie said. Claire let out a shaky breath. "Are ye ready lass?"

"As I'll ever be." 

"Come along then." He offered her a hand and pulled her from her seat and guided them back towards Colum's office.

"They're expecting ye mistress," Letitia offered. "Head right in." 

Claire nodded an walked in after straightening her posture out.

"So?" she asked. 

"The results are in." Dougal said. 

"And?" 

Dougal handed Jamie the paper to glance over. 

"Yer highness," Jamie said with a bow. 

"Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ." Claire's jaw dropped. "You have to be kidding." 

"Ye are in fact the lost princess." Dougal answered. 

"Does the King know?" Jamie asked the other two advisors. 

"Aye he kens we found her. He'll want to meet ye." Colum answered. "He's in the throne room.

"I don't think I'm dressed to meet a king. Perhaps another day." Claire said backing away and turning toward the door. 

"Claire-- I mean  yer highness, ye're perfect as ye are." Jamie assured her. "I'm sure he's dying to meet ye.

Claire sighed. "I'm not sure I'm mentally ready for this. For any of this really."

"It's going to be a lot." Colum confessed. "They'll be press releases and photos and statements, probably some interviews, but we will get ye through this... princess." 

Claire let out a shaky breath but nodded. 

"Shall we gentleman?"

Dougal nodded. "I'll bring her Colum." 

"Thank ye brathair" 

Something about Dougal made her uneasy, the way his blue eyes seemed to pierce into her soul, and made her feel like she was somehow hiding something, despite her innocence. 

"King Quentin is a very busy man so this shouldna take long." Dougal told her, which Claire nodded to.

He pushed open the door. 

"Your majesty, may I present to ye ..."

And somehow once she looked at the man she instantly knew who he was. "Uncle Lamb." she said covering her mouth. How did I know that?

"Claire?" he asked. 

She slowly approached him. "It's me." she said softly, looking at the gray bespectacled man before her. He was short with a soft features, his light eyes peered at her, examining her.

"It is you." he said before wrapping his arms around her taller figure and she hugged him back. She nearly cried in his embrace, it felt right, like she was safe in this man's arms. like she had been there before. 

"My dear girl. It's been far too long."

"Agreed."

"We have plenty of catching up to do. Suzette,"  he hollered. 

"Yes, your majesty?"

"Clear my afternoon. I simply must catch up with my niece. For what was lost is now found." 

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"Come child we have lots to talk about."

And how Claire found herself pouring her life story to her Uncle and his three advisors seemed to flow more naturally than she ever could have imagined.

"How did you find us?"

"I received a DNA test for my birthday or my 'found day' the day the nuns had found me on the side of the coast. My boyfriend, Frank, he wanted to know if I had any gene mutations or anything for future family planning... " she said with a small blush.

"And your sample pinged with our records." Colum said. "We've always been searching' for ye. But now ye're back." 

"I'm back." she nodded.

"And what a wonderful thing that is. " King Quentin said. "We are so delighted you are back Claire. We will have our media team draft a statement. Tell the world the Lost Princess has been found." 

"And then what?" Claire asked.

"And then we prepare you to eventually take over the throne of course." King Quentin said. "I'm not planning on going soon but ruling isn't exactly something you learn overnight."

"Of course," Claire said quietly. 

"Are you staying the night?"

"I have work in the morning." Claire said. "Although I suppose I might have to tender my resignation."

"We'll have someone take care of that for you." Dougal said. 

"I would like to go home and get a few things if that's acceptable."

"Of course." 

"Am I allowed to tell anyone?"

"We'll make the press release tomorrow if you can be here." Colum said. "If you could only tell those who need to know, then that would be best."

"Of course." Joe, Gillian, and Frank. "I will grab a few of my things and return then I suppose?" 

"We can have a driver take ye if you'd prefer to rest."

"If you could-" 

"Aye, I'll put Murtagh on it right away." Jamie said. He shot off a quick message on his phone. 

"I'll escort ye, yer highness" Jamie offered.

"Thank you. I'm afraid I'm still a bit lost here." 

"I'll have ye up to speed in no time." He quickly guided her to the driveway where an SUV was waiting for her. 

She sighed. 

"Ye're adjusting wonderfully Sass-, yer highness."

"You read my mind." Claire said with a weak smile.

"Relax. Go grab your things and we'll have one of the ladies help ye get settled. Dinna fash, I won't let you drown." 

"I'll hold you to that soldier." she said with a grin, as he closed the door of the SUV and she started the journey back to her flat. 

Chapter Text

On her way back to her flat, she requested the driver take her to the hospital.

"Are ye feeling ill, yer highness?" he asked. 

"No..."  she thought for a moment. "Anything I'm feeling now is anxiety induced. But I thank you for your concern. I appreciate it. No, I'm a doctor there. I need to pick up a few things and speak to a few people."

"Of course, your highness." 

They soon stopped outside the door and Claire strolled in through the ED. 

"Dr. Beauchamp, I wasna aware you were working today." One of the nurses said.

"I'm not, Kathleen. Just picking up something I left in my locker. Could you page Dr. Abernathy and Dr. Ducan for me?"

"Consult?"

"Yes something like that." Claire said taking a seat logging on to one of the computers. Somehow just sitting down in the chaos of the ED made her feel more comfortable than she had at the palace earlier today. 

"Claire! Ye're looking fabulous." Geillis said walking into the Nurses Station, admiring Claire's outfit. 

"All thanks to you!" 

"How did yer meeting  go?"

"I'd prefer to tell it once to you and Joe at one time if you don't mind."

"Ye look upset."

"It was not at all what I was anticipating to put it mildly." 

"Awe Claire."

"LJ!" 

"Lets go somewhere a little more private shall we?" Claire found an empty consult room and pulled them both in.

"LJ are you leaving us? You're worrying me."

"I am." Claire said with a frown. "But-"

"They took you on as the new head of Health and Human Services?" Joe said excitedly. 

"No. That's not it." Claire shook her head. 

"Then what is it?"

"I..." she paused and took a seat. "I wasn't brought to the palace for the health care proposal." 

"What?"

"But that doesn't make any sense-" Joe protested. 

"I know." Claire put up a hand. "Do you recall what Frank got me for my birthday?"

" Didn't he get you those shoes you wanted?" Geillis asked. "The cute ones that laced up the-" 

"Well- yes , but he also got me a DNA testing kit. So I could find out about my history and my genetics."

A look of realization spread across their faces. 

"You found your family?" Joe breathed. 

"I found out who I am." Claire nodded, near tears.

"Claire, that's wonderful." Geillis hugged her. "Are you the daughter of the Laird? Is that why his office called you?"

"No. I'm not a McKenzie" she shook her head. "I'm sure you might recall what happened to the late King and Queen."

"A shipwreck, wasn't it?" Joe asked. "I saw the memorial near the coast once." 

"Yes,but they weren't alone on the boat." Claire said. "They had a daughter."

Geillis jaw dropped.

"Yer the lost princess."

"They did more blood tests to confirm but yes. I am apparently that Claire"

"Jesus Lady Jane. Or should I call you queen Jane?"

"I'm still me." Claire protested. 

"Duh" Joe said with a grin

"Of course ye are. You are the best woman we ken." Geillis said pulling her into a hug."Ye are going to be an amazing princess." 

"Thank you Gee."

"Does Frank know?"

"No. Not yet. The hospital was on the way home. I'm not really supposed to tell anyone till they make an announcement, so I'm limiting it to you three." 

"Ye should really tell him."

"It's Tuesday." 

"So?"

"It's his crazy day at work. He won't be back until after office hours at around 6." 

"The man can cancel office hours for a day to see his girl." Joe protested.

"His work is very important to him. I understand. Mine is important to me as well." 

"Claire, what about work?" She sighed.

"The crown said they'd take care of everything for me."

"So you're leaving us?"

"I'm only an hour away." Claire said.

"But you're not practicing medicine." Joe protested. 

"But I'll be able to instill my healthcare proposal hopefully." Claire said.

"That's true." Geilis noted. "Think of all the change ye can make."

"Not just to healthcare but to the foster care system." Claire said, suddenly more solemn then she had been all day.

"You never talk about it." Joe said.

"Not much to talk about it. Not many good memories." Claire shook her head. "But maybe I can change it."

"Yes. You can." Geillis. said. 

"You go tell that man what's going on and get some rest." 

"Yes, darling." Claire told Joe with a small eyeroll.

Each of her friends hugged her once more. 

"Don't be surprised if you see me on the news tomorrow."

"We'll all say we knew her when." Geillis smiled. "Now go!" 

Claire found her way back to the SUV and eventually into her flat. It was almost time for Frank to be back home and so she simply packed a few of her things while she waited for him to return. 

It was half past 6 when he walked through the door.

"Claire?"

"In the bedroom." she called out.

"What are you doing?" he asked. "Conference I forgot about?"

"No, please sit."

"Claire, you're worrying me." Frank said."I'm not in the mood for games."

"I'm not playing games." she argued. "I just want to tell you what happened at my meeting with the palace this morning.

"Claire, did it not go well my love?"

"I wouldn't say that. It just didn't go according to plan."

"I'm sorry Claire darling. I'll see if I can contact my friend at the-"

"Frank that's not it." 

"I can tell them that-"

"Frank will you listen to me?!" she remarked. "I'm trying to tell you what happened but you keep interrupting me."

"I'm sorry you had a rough day darling." he said. "I'll listen."

"I wasn't called in for my proposal. I was called to the palace about my DNA test results."

"Your results are in?" he asked.

"Yes, partly at least. My DNA matched someone in a system of missing persons."

"So you've uncovered who you are?"

"I have." she nodded.

"And?"

"I'm the lost Princess, Frank"

"You're princess Claire?"

"Yes." she nodded.

"Claire... that's amazing."

"It's certainly something." she said. "They'll be releasing a press release tomorrow and I'll be moving some of my things into the palace for now." 

"You found out who you are."

"Thanks to you." she said. 

"Not what I was expecting." he said.

"Nor I." she said looking down.

"What does this mean?"

"What does what mean?" she asked.

"All of this," he emphasized. "What does it mean for us?" 

"I'm not sure I understand the question. I would assume not much for now. I'm going to be moving to the palace for now but we'll have to figure it out as we go."

"I'm dating a Princess." he said with a smirk.

"You always knew I was a queen." she said with a smirk.

"That I did." He squeezed her hands.

 "We will figure this out."

"We will." he said with a quick press to her cheek. "Go get your things. I'm sure you have a lot to do." She sighed, packing a few more sets of clothes as well as some journals into a bag.

Frank settled onto the sofa watching some television. 

"I'm headed out."

"I'll see you soon." he said. He pressed a quick kiss to her lips. "Travel safe." 

"Thank you." she said. "I'll shoot you a message later."

"Of course."

 

The ride back to the palace was quiet and Claire admired the views. She hadn't quite appreciated it on her way to the palace this morning, being too nervous about her potential presentation to have possibly even noticed anything, much less the beautiful architecture of the capital, the quaint historical villages, the statues, the posh parks.

"Have ye never been to the capital yer highness?" the Driver asked. "Ye look in awe."

"Not much," she admitted. "I'd always Been to busy with work or school to explore much. To think, this whole time I've been an hour away from my fate."

"Aye, but to be fair if ye came to the palace without proof, I'm sure they'd think ye were insane." She let out a small laugh. 

"I suppose you're right."

"You'll figure it out."

"I certainly hope so. Thank you."

She arrived back at the palace before too long. She exited the van to find Jamie standing at the entrance waiting for you

"Let me show you're chambers and introduce you to a few people here Sass-, yer highness."

Claire grinned at Jamie, noting the small near slip up. "Lead the way, Jamie" she nodded following. 

"I have yer security team fer now."

"This is Ian," he introduced the blonde. "He's taken over as head of security."

"A pleasure." she greeted.

"The pleasure is ours, your highness." he said with a small bow. 

"No need for that."

"These two inseparable gents are Rupert and Angus." 

"An honor really," The shorter man said. "To protect and serve such a beautiful lady."

"Quit flirting and do yer job." Jamie protested, causing Claire to let out a small laugh.

"And Murtagh, was yer driver. He will also be part of yer team to take care of ye."

"And you?" she asked. "Are you taking care of me?"

A small blush crept onto Jamie's cheeks.

"I'll be here to help ye with everything. The King has made me your personal advisor. It's a privilege and an honor, your highness." 

"I'm afraid that I won't be as interesting as my Uncle."

"I highly doubt that." he said with a small chuckle. "I doubt anything will be dull with ye around." 

"I certainly hope things get boring."

"Not for now." Jamie said with a grin. "Now shall I brief you a bit about what the plan is for tomorrow, if ye find that acceptable."

"I suppose so."

"Make yourself comfortable and I will review some of the key points. I'll have some supper brought up for ye as well."

"What did I do to deserve you?" Claire asked as she settled on a sofa in her new sitting room. "Keeping me fed and in the loop."

"Become a princess?" Jamie teased. 

"I suppose so."

He gave her a brief overview of the plan for a press conference in the morning. A stylist would be coming to prepare her, doing her hair makeup and deciding upon what she would wear. She wouldn't have to answer any questions directly. She would simply say a prepared statement.

"I ken it's a lot Sassenach, but we will figure it out for ye. We will make sure ye get through this."

"In one piece, I hope." she said.

"In one piece,"Jamie nodded. "Yer supper should be arriving in a few minutes, but I will take my leave and let you settle in. Goodnight your highness"

"Goodnight."

 

Claire explored her new accommodations. The room was far more opulent than anything she had ever been in. Marble floors, White and gold accents throughout the room.

A Plush carpet covered the floor in her sitting area, and she kicked off her shoes to feel it. It was quite soft, and she wiggled her toes against it. She paced the room exploring. There was a large desk that Claire smiled at, she could picture herself working at it. The shelves had plenty of room for tomes on Medicine and law. 

Mrs. Crooke came up with a plate for her which she gratefully ate at the large desk, her laptop opened and she responded to a few emails before turning in, grateful she had grabbed her own pajamas at her flat and tucked into the large King sized bed for a well-deserved night of sleep. 

Chapter Text

 She awoke to a knock on the door and sat up with a start. 

"Your highness?" a voice called.

"Come in." she said as she smoothed out her blankets.

"Good morning your highness." A young woman's voice said. 

"Good morning." she said trying to wipe away the sleep from her eyes.

"I'm Suzette, the King has asked me to take special care of you.  I will be assisting you."

"Thank you Suzette. What's going on?"

"I'm here to get you ready for the stylist. I've brought you a robe and some fresh towels so you may shower and I will be taking your breakfast order,"

"Oh, I don't need too much fuss for me. Maybe some coffee and a scrambled egg or two."

"Oui, your highness. Come this way."

She followed the woman to a luxurious shower she hadn't noticed the night before filled with some toiletries. She turned on the tap and found herself relishing the feel of the hot spray against her skin., The water pressure delightful.

She toweled off and got into the robe that was given to her, it was smooth against her skin and she headed back into her suite where she found an outfit laid out for her and her breakfast on the table.

She quickly dressed in the smart skirt suit, and ate the delicious eggs and sipped her coffee.

Her curls were tamed and styled by a French woman named Louise, who then applied some light makeup.

"You look magnificent your highness." she expressed when she revealed her work to the mirror.

"Thank you. You did a wonderful job" 

"I simply highlighted your natural beauty." 

Another knock came at the door.

"Your highness," Jamie said with a bow, a tablet in hand, 

"Jamie," she greeted.

"Good morning your highness. I see that Ms Delatour has gotten you prepared, I'm going to lead you over to the press conference in the main ballroom."

"Thank you."

"But one thing is missing."  He set the tablet down and called someone in.

Claire let out a gasp as she looked. It was the King carrying a crown on a pillow.

"Your majesty," she said with a small bow of her head. 

"It's Uncle Lamb and you know it darling. I came to bring you this tiara. I thought you might like it. It was one of your mothers"

"My mother's?" she asked. 

Lamb nodded. 

" Yes, Julia's. You look so much like her. You have her eyes." 

"I don't recall anything about her." Claire said sadly. "I don't recall anything before the accident really."

"Today is a happy day. I won't allow myself to get upset with talk of the past. But later, I'll tell you all about them. Henry and Julia"

Claire's heart ached.

"Thank you, Uncle Lamb."

He set the brilliant sparkling Tiara a top her head, and Louise fixed it in place. 

"Come, my dear. Let us announce our splendid news."

She nodded and. followed him, Jamie escorting the pair of them to the press room.

"Wait here, your highness. The King shall give his address first, and then we shall call you in."

Claire nodded.

"Are you ready?"

"Let's do this," Claire said.

"That's the spirit," Jamie said with a grin as she entered the room.

There were what seemed to be hundred and hundred of flashes going off as everyone seemed to try and get a picture of her as she walked up to a podium.

"Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce ye to her Royal highness, Dr. Claire Beauchamp, the lost Princess." Jamie introduced.

"Thank you." she said with a shy smile. "After many years of wondering where I come from and who I am, I've finally seemed to uncover the truth. I look forward to the opportunity to re-learn and gain more insight into the traditions of our people, our customs, and uncover all of our pasts. I've been blessed with this opportunity and am thankful that fate has led me back here to my uncle and to you all. I'm sure that you all have plenty of questions but I will not be taking any at this time. My press team will be scheduling interviews so reach out to my press secretary. Thank you."

Claire turned around and followed Jamie back out of the conference room.

"Wonderful job. We will be scheduling you several interviews the rest of the week to let the people know a little bit about you."

"There's not much to know, I'm afraid."

"Nonsense, I find ye very interesting and the people will too. Now come we will have a few photographs taken for the paper."

She followed Jamie to a room where a photographer came in and posed her a few times. She felt Jamie's reassuring gaze on her the whole time but still found herself frustrated as it seemed to be shot after shot, of her and of her uncle. She had never really been in the spotlight and was finding this treatment to be a bit overwhelming.

"That's enough fer now." Jamie said to the photographer."Just a few mor-"

"I said THAT's ENOUGH. Now let her highness have a few minutes and then you can finish up. Go get a coffee or something." 

Claire shot Jamie a grateful look as the photographer walked away.

"Thank you," she said letting out a sigh. "I don't think my face can take any more fake smiling."

"I could tell ye were getting frustrated. Dinna fash, ye look beautiful and I'm sure the photographer got some wonderful shots of you."

"Thank you, Jamie. For keeping me sane."

"Anything for ye-" 

"Your majesty," she heard Dougal's voice.  "You have another meeting with the-"

"Duke of Sandringham I know. I'm coming we're just about finished up here." Uncle Lamb said with an eye roll. "Please excuse me, Claire. I'll send for you later.

"Of course." Claire nodded. 

"I'll take ye back to your quarters Claire. We'll get some more plans in motion for you."

She followed Jamie with a sigh.

"What plans are we setting in motion?"

"The first plan is to get you some lunch." Jamie said. "To give you a break. You were just thrown nearly to the wolves."

"How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Know me so well already."

"Ye have a glass face Sassenach. I can read exactly what yer thinking and feeling." 

"I've always been a terrible liar." she mused.

"Ye dinna need to lie to me. I'm here to help ye. Ye don't have to hide anything."

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"You rest and relax. Someone will bring something in for ye. I'm going to let ye decompress for a bit while we arrange some interviews for you. Dinna fash, I got ye."

"I know you do." she nodded as he headed out the door.

 

It was several hours before she saw her Uncle again. One of his butlers summoned her to his study.

She made herself comfortable in an arm chair and surveyed the room. He seemed to be a collector of sorts, artifacts placed on shelves. 

"Admiring my collection?"

"I've never seen anything like this outside of a museum." she noted.

"My private collection rivals many small museums. I suppose it would."

"Why's that?"

"Like you, my dear, I never planned on being King." 

"You didn't?"

"No, I was the spare, not the heir. Henry was the one who always was born to be King. He was trained for it from birth, attending meetings with our father, acting as a diplomat. I on the other hand, well I was a bit of a play boy."

"You?"

"Ah yes. I was the one out there chasing the high life but more than women, I chased after history. I was a bit of an amateur archaeologist."

"Is this collection things you found?"

"A great deal of them, yes." he nodded guiding her over to a shelf showing a few arrowheads, and some vases. "These I found in a burial pit."

"Extraordinary," Claire said.

"I was not planning on being King. I was on an expedition in Egypt when I heard the news of your parents. I was devastated." He said. 

"I don't even really know what happened. I can't remember."

"They were at the summer palace. " Lamb said. "That's where you were born. It's slightly farther up north on a small island. Their ship ran aground from what I'm told. The waves tossed them off course."

"I was found by the coast," Claire said nodding. "No one else was around." she shook her head.

"That makes sense." he nodded.  Claire reached out and squeezed his hand. 

"But you are here now. God, you have your mother's eyes. And definitely your father's spirit."

"I do?"

"Henry was always ambitious. I can tell you are as well. After all, A doctor? Trauma surgery? Top of your class at Uni"

"I like helping people.  I'm going to miss it." She confessed with a sad smile.

"Well, I'm not dead yet. Perhaps you can still find time to practice?"

"Truly?"

"You never know." 

"Can you tell me more about my parents?" 

Lamb launched into stories of his and Henry's youth, of all the shenanigans they had found their way into, pranks on each other played at State dinners. 

"I met Julia when she first started to 'court' Henry if you will. Henry was smitten with her from the moment he saw her. It was like he had been hit with cupid's arrow. He loved her very much. I hope you know that love one day. I'm afraid it's a little late for me." 

"It's never too late." She smiled squeezing his hand.

"Do you have that with your beau? That love?"

"I... I don't know. I think we might have lost some of that in the three years. Some of the magic." 

"Try and find it. Love is the most powerful thing you can have."  Lamb said wistfully. "I'll have to meet him one day. What did you say he did?"

"He's a professor. I'll bring him around one of these days when he's not busy."

"I'd be delighted to meet him." 

Claire smiled at him. "Sounds like a plan."

 

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the week seemed to fly by in a blur of interviews and introductions to different dignitaries, ambassadors, department heads, and meetings.  Claire found it all incredibly dizzying trying to keep track. An older woman, Mrs. Graham, became her personal assistant and social secretary, and between her and Jamie she was always kept on track with her new jam packed schedule.

Every night before bed, she would have a long chat with her uncle. The topics varied from politics to her parents, and she always walked out of his chambers feeling like she knew something more than she had before. She relished his sage wisdom and advice, and loved to hear him recount stories of their past. 

Claire was delighted to have a visit from Geillis and Joe the following weekend.  She had arranged a car to bring them and met them at the palace steps!

"CLAIRE!" Geillis sprinted from the car and pulled her friend into a hug. 

"Princess," Joe smiled allowing the two girls to have their hug before stepping in, his arms surrounding them both!

"Its so good to see you two! Come on in let me give you the tour!" 

"Like the new crib Lady Jane. Very Grand"  Joe said as he took the palace in. 

"You think? I think it's too small." Claire teased with a laugh. 

"Nah, a fresh coat of paint will tie the whole place together" Geillis joked. 

The three friends were happy to be together, and it brought Claire a sense of normalcy being around them. 

The palace staff was more than happy to ply them with drinks and custom personal pizzas while they watched a movie together set up in Claire's chambers. 

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in!" Claire called. 

"Yer majesty, I'm sorry to disturb ye while ye have guests."

"Who's he?" Geillis asked, her eyes taking him in, a smirk on her face. 

"Jamie,  you're always welcome." she smiled. "This is Dr. Geilis Duncan ,and Dr. Joe Abernathy, my best friends."

"A pleasure, James Fraser, her highness's advisor, at your service." he said with a small bow.

"Likewise, nice to meet you James." Joe said standing and shaking the red-heads hand.

"What is it you need Jamie?" Claire asked

"They are having an urgent meeting of the Department of Health and Human services tomorrow. They didn't notify me until now, and I thought it might be the perfect time to size up the committee before ye put forth your proposal." 

"Don't I have the -"

"The meeting with the Department of Commerce?" Jamie asked.

"Yes that," Claire said with a sigh.

"Yes but I delayed them for two hours so you should at least be able to get into the meeting. Worst comes to worse, I'll duck out of the meeting with HHS and head over to the commerce meeting on my own. I have a head for figures or so I've been told." 

Claire ran up to Jamie and hugged him

"What would I do without you Jamie?" she beamed.

"Oh you'd be very lost, Sassenach." Jamie grinned.

"Well thank goodness for you then."

"I'll allow you to enjoy your company then. I will see you in the morning, Princess" he said with a small bow. 

"What did I say about bowing?" she chastised him.

"Not to do it when we're in private, but ye have company." He protested.

"They don't count." Claire teased. 

"We don't." Joe said with a grin. 

He left a moment later.

"Claire the wee fox cub is quite attractive. Ye failed to mention ye worked with such a fit man."

"Jamie is my advisor Geillis," she chided. 

"Aye and a fine looking one. He can advise me on the way to pleas-"

"That's enough Geilis." Claire said. "You can't sexually harass my staff."

"Yere just jealous yer not allowed to because ye have Frank."

"You're right I have Frank." Claire said, almost sadly.

"Has he even come visit you since you moved?" Jo asked.

"No," Claire confessed. And what perhaps bothered her more was that she didn't even miss him that much.

"If he cared LJ, he'd be here."

"He's just been busy." she protested.

"Hen, we're feckin docotors. We are the epitome of busy and yet I am wine drunk on the floor of yer palace!" 

Claire laughed. "I'll talk to him, perhaps we can arrange a visit."

-------------

Frank did join her for dinner at the palace one night that week, and while Claire seemed to be nervous to see her uncle's reaction, Frank seemed to be cool as could be.

"Darling it'll be fine."

And somehow it was, Frank had been to the palace multiple times before, and was actually already acquainted with the King. 

"You two know each other?" Claire asked surprised.  "I knew you had palace connections but I certainly didn't think it was with my uncle."

"Yes darling I must've told you we'd met a few times." Frank said. 

"I think I'd recall that." 

"We met on an expedition of mine. Young Franklin was an intern with Dr..."

"Snyder from Oxford."

"Ah yes Good old Dr. Snyder." The King laughed. 

"He was a quirky man for sure but did he know how to dig." And somehow Claire felt like she was third wheeling the conversation. The two retired for Brandy on their own.

"How did your dinner go?" Jamie asked her. "I see you brought your.." he paused.

"Boyfriend." she rolled her eyes. "I feel like I was the guest at dinner. Could hardly get a word in."

"If you don't mind, if you have a minute I was wondering if ye had a minute to discuss your debutante of sorts."

"I'm hardly a debutante. I'm nearly 30 years old." Claire said rolling her eyes. 

"Aye, by ye are having a coming out of sorts. The introduction of Princess Claire"

"A coming out to society as someone who I don't know anything about." 

"Well then ye'll have to teach everyone about Dr. Claire Beauchamp, our princess."

"I'm afraid to be a princess."

"I'm afraid I myself am not a princess." Jamie said 

"Really? You're not?"  She asked with mock shock and a laugh.

"No, but I have spent a good portion of my time in these halls and do for the most part how to act like a royal. I'll advise ye."

"Princess lessons?" she proposed. 

"Aye although I suppose wee Kitty and Maggie, my nieces will want them now too."

"Well Uncle Jamie can't let them down now, can he?" she grinned. "Are those your only nieces?"

"Aye, but I have two nephews as well . Wee Jamie, named after his best Uncle, and Ian named after his Da."

"Ian as in head of security Ian?" Claire asked 

"Aye, he's my brother in law. Almost beat him to a pulp when I found he was seeing my sister Janet, or Jenny as we call her but we've gotten over it now." 

He pulled out his phone and showed a picture of the children to Claire and a picture of the whole family from the previous Christmas.

"You have a beautiful family." she said admiring.

"Aye, I'm blessed." he said with a soft smile at her.

"Will you tell me about them?" she asked.

"My family?" Jamie asked surprised.

"You don't have to. It's just-- I only have Lamb and no real memories of my parents. He talks about them and sometimes I feel like there's just a spark of recognition but -"

"THERE YOU ARE!" Frank called out. 

"Oh hello. Did you enjoy your brandy?" Claire asked. 

"I did. And who's this?"

"Frank, this is James Fraser, my personal advisor. Jamie, meet Frank Randall, my... boyfriend."

"Pleasure to meet you Mr. Randall." Jamie said with a nod reaching out to shake hands.

"It's Dr. Randall actually." Frank said with a sneer. 

"My apologies." Jamie said. 

"Frank is a Professor at the University. He's a doctor of history." Claire explained, suddenly very uncomfortable between the two men.

"Shall we retire darling?" Frank said. "You still haven't showed me your quarters."

"Of course. Jamie, rain-check on the ball discussion and your family? Tomorrow"

"Of course, goodnight your highness." he said with a small bow.

---------------------------------------------------

The date for the ball was set in motion and Claire never realized how much work went into planning a party. Fittings, and dance rehearsals as she would have to dance to open the ball.

Her instructor Armando was a wonderful teacher.

"You know your highness, you should really practice with your actual partner instead of me, just so we know what to fix."

"Trying to get Frank here is a nightmare sometimes." she confessed. "But I'll certainly try."

After her lesson and a quick shower, before another meeting, she decided to take a few moments in her quarters to give Frank the call.

"We have ten minutes your highness." Mrs. Graham told her.

"Thank you, Mrs. Graham. I'll be quick." 

The request did not go over well.

"Claire, I already know how to dance. I have office hours and-"

"I'm just asking for one rehearsal with my instructor so we don't make a fool of ourselves at the ball on the 26th-"

Frank paused. "Did you say the 26th?"

"Yes, I've told you the date several times." Claire said. 

"Claire I have to attend the National Conference of Historical-"

"Frank you have known a bout this for weeks and weeks. And you're just remembering now that you won't even be in town?"

"I have a conference Claire. It's what I do as part of my job." He protested. 

"I'm well aware that you work as a Professor Frank, since that's all you have been able to talk about lately. " Claire said exasperated. 

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"I mean, I feel like I have to beg you to come see me and put your work aside for one-."

'You could come visit-"

"Frank I have to have a security detail come sweep the entire building and do a background check on anyone who may come in contact with me. It's easier for you to come here."

"My career is very important to me."

"And so is mine Frank! I'm about to be announced as a bloody princess of this country and be introduced to all of society, and the one person who I want there to support me,  who I thought would be by my side, won't come."

"You're being irrational. I'll talk to you after the conference." Frank said. And just like that he clicked the phone off.

Claire groaned in frustration, and screamed into a pillow.

She heard a soft knock on the door.

"Everything alright, Sassenach?" Jamie and Mrs. Graham entered.

"I apparently do not have a date to my own ball." she said. "Not that I need a date, I'm an independent woman but-"

"Sassenach, yer allowed to be upset that yer plans were changed." Jamie said.

She sighed. "I know but who else is even appropriate to ask? I don't want to ruin anything before I've even started."

"Your highness," Jamie said gently. "I Dinna wish to be too forward but as your advisor, I would be honored to escort ye to yer ball." 

"Jamie, you don't have to." Claire said with a soft smile. "I'm honored and would love to have you but don't you have a-"

"I canna risk losing focus of you that night anyway. I do not have a date, and it would be an honor to be by your side through it all."

Claire smiled widely at him, and slightly blushed. "Thank you Jamie. It's I who am honored to have someone like you at my side." 

"I do have a condition." Jamie said with a grin.

" A condition?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"My mam will definitely want us to send her a picture." Jamie said with a grin.

"Of course, I agree to your conditions, Mr. Fraser."

"Then it's a date." Jamie said with a smile.

"A date." Claire said unable to stop her grin as they strolled into their next meeting.

Chapter Text

Each afternoon after lunch, Jamie would train Claire in the art of being royal, to the best of his ability. Rules of etiquette taught to him by his mother and uncles, and tips he had learned in his numerous years working at the palace. What to order when out, what to drink at an event, which fork to use. She relished the princess lessons. They were her favorite part of the day, where even if she was learning how to be someone else, Claire felt like she could be at ease and be herself around Jamie. 

The day of the ball arrived and the palace was a bustle. Claire scarcely had a moment to breathe or talk to Jamie. She had a ball to prepare for. Louise and her team of beauticians seemed to have her surrounded all day. From skin treatments, to waxing, to manicures, to hair styling, Claire felt like someone was constantly poking or prodding her.

They had debated the color she should wear for for weeks prior, but had finally settled on a red ballgown with gold brocade. Any more lavish designs would be saved for her future coronation. Her makeup was done flawlessly, skin buffed, a glow with highlighters, and eyes carefully painted with shimmery eye-shadow, lashes curled and darkened with mascara, and her bold lips matched her dress.  Her matching tiara sat atop her carefully pinned curls.

Claire had never felt more beautiful as she looked at herself in the mirror. And despite feeling so beautiful, she had never ever been so nervous.

"You have practiced for weeks. You are ready for this Beauchamp!" Claire said to herself in the mirror.

A knock on the door roused her, and she turned to see Jamie pushing open the door. 

Her mouth went dry. A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight—any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored young Highlander at close range is breath-taking.

Jamie standing before her, in a kilt, had taken all the air from her lungs. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, he's gorgeous. 

"Yer highness." Jamie said, Bowing and pressing a kiss to her gloved hand. "May I say you look absolutely breathtaking?" 

"Likewise." She said, their eyes meeting, blue meeting amber. She couldn't help the blush that rose to her cheeks. She fixed his tie. "You look dashing."

"Shall we?" he asked offering her his arm.

"Not quite. You have to take a picture for your mother. Your conditions after all. I wouldn't want to disappoint Mama Fraser." 

"Absolutely not. Canna disappoint Ellen"

"Louise, would you be kind enough to take a picture for me and Jamie?"

Jamie handed his phone to Louise who had them stand in a number of different poses. 

"I feel like we're off to the school dance." Claire said with a small laugh.

"Aye and Louise is my mam taking all the pictures." Jamie let out a hearty laugh

Once satisfied with the photos she had taken she handed the phone back to Jamie who admired the shots.

"You two look like a very handsome couple." Louise said.

"Thank you." Claire said. "

"Ye look gorgeous, Claire." Jamie said admiring the photos.

"You don't look half bad yourself." she smiled at him. With a wave goodbye to Louise they made their way to the ballroom where everyone was waiting for them.

"You're running behind your majesty." Mrs. Graham proclaimed.

"A princess is never late." Jamie countered. "Everyone else is simply early."

"Thank you," Claire said.

"Are ye ready?" 

"As I'll ever be." Claire nodded. She heard the fanfare as she descended the first step.

"Introducing for the first time, her royal Highness, Princess Claire Elizabeth accompanied by Colonel James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser." 

Head held high, she descended the steps, spotting Geillis and Joe off to the side beaming at her. 

As Jamie took her waist, and she took his hand on the dance floor, and the music began to play. A waltz bloomed from an orchestra near by and they began to dance. One two three, one two three Claire counted in her head.

"Ye ken the steps. Relax, no counting. I got ye." Jamie said.

And he did. He had her whole entire soul somehow entwined with his in that moment..

"So Colonel James Alexander Malcolm - Fraser, Did I forget any names in there?"

"Mackenzie. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser" he added with a small laugh as they glided across the floor. "It's a mouthful but I'll forgive ye - this time." he teased her.

"I'm most grateful for your mercy, Colonel." she smiled as she continued to relax into his arms. There was something about being wrapped in Jamie's embrace that made her forget that the whole world seemed to be watching her as they danced. Instead of being nervous, she was lost in his eyes, which somehow even being lost was a far more comfortable feeling.

Their first dance ended and Jamie bowed to her as the floor started to open up to other couples. She was quickly grabbed by Prince Louis from Versaille  who while a splendid dancer, looked at her as if he might ravish her right there in the ballroom which made her rather uncomfortable. She was grateful when Jamie grabbed her and instead began introducing her to various dignitaries, before a formal sit down dinner where she was seated with her uncle and the Mckenzies. 

After dinner there was more mingling and dancing.

"Ah we finally get to talk to ye!" Geillis said approaching Claire, Joe beside her. She was dressed in a green evening gown looking stunning"Ye look gorgeous hen!" 

"Look who is talking!" Claire admired her outfit. 

"Truly, some party Claire." Joe smiled. 

"I'll leave ye to talk to yer friends, yer highness. Can I get ye a drink?" Jamie asked once he saw Claire relax.

"What I want versus what a princess would drink might be different choices. What would the princess choice would be?" she asked jokingly

"Slacking off on yer  Princess lessons I see." Jamie jokingly chided her "Tsk. tsk.tsk." 

"I'm kidding. A champagne would be lovely. Thank you.. Colonel "

"Right answer, yer highness."  Jamie said with a nod of the head. "Anyone else?"

Geillis requested a champagne as well and Jamie nodded before heading off to fetch their beverages. 

"What was that?" Geillis asked as soon as Jamie was far enough away to hear.

"What was what?" 

"You don't see it?"

"See what?" Claire asked once more.

"Are you deliberately being obtuse? What is going on with you and your advisor?" Joe asked quietly

"Jamie is my... companion. He's the one here who seems to always have my best interests in mind." Claire said quietly. "That's all."

"Uh huh." Geillis rolled her eyes. "Well I'm glad you're having a good time with your companion." 

Claire smiled and glanced across the room to look at her tall Highlander getting drinks from the bar. She caught his gaze and slightly blushed before turning back to her friends.

"Just be careful LJ." Joe said. "I love seeing you happy but you should really reconsider your relationship with Professor Pretentious."

The smile left her face. Perhaps Joe was right. Perhaps it was time to say goodbye to that part of Dr. Beauchamp's life, and open her heart to Princess Claire's. 

"Everything alright, princess?" Jamie asked returning with the drinks, handing a glass to Claire and Geilis.

"It's fine. Thank you for the champagne."  

"Yer very welcome."

After sipping and a few minutes of polite chatter. 

"Care to dance again?" Claire asked. 

"Are ye sure ye can handle my moves for a second time?" Jamie asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Try me Fraser." 

"Ye asked for it princess." he grinned taking her by the hand whipping her out onto the dance floor, Claire laughing the whole time. 

He twirled her and swayed with her to the music. The next song was slower and so they moved closer together, Claire had one hand on Jamie's strong shoulder and other wrapped in his large hand.

"Thank you for coming with me Jamie." She said gazing up at him. "I was nervous and you made this whole experience wonderful."

"It was my honor and pleasure to come with ye. These aren't normally my favorite event but being here with ye has made a world of difference."

They were very wrapped up in each others company.

"May I cut in?" a familiar voice asked.

Claire turned. "Frank!" She sprang away from Jamie.

"Dr. Randall." Jamie said coldly.

"Fraser." Frank said stiffly before turning his attentions to Claire. "Hello darling."

" What are you doing here? I thought you couldn't come."

"Well the last session ended early so I thought would surprise you. I have to head back for the morning session though. There is going to be a key-note by one of the leaders in the field. Did I surprise you?"

"You certainly have" she said.

"One dance with your beau?" Frank reached out his hand and grabbed Claire's pulling her close to him.

"You look so beautiful tonight." He whispered to her. 

"Thank you." She rested her head against his shoulder and as she did her eyes met Jamie's who was standing across the dance floor suddenly sullen. She saw a sadness she hadn't ever seen in him before and it hurt her.

"Dr. Randall, glad to see you could join us." she heard her Uncle's voice. 

"It's an honor as always your majesty."

"Claire, may I steal you to just say goodbye to some guests?"

"Of course." she nodded. She took his offered arm and walked with him down a hallway.

"This isn't the receiving line?" she asked.

"No, I thought you and I might have a little chat. You don't seem as glad as I thought you would be that Frank was able to come." He commented. "In fact, you look like you're not pleased at all."

"I..." Claire gazed at him.

"I'm asking as your uncle. I'm not looking for a very diplomatic princess response. I'm looking for honesty."

"We fought about him coming at all.  He told me I was being irrational for being upset after he backed out of the ball last minute.  I'm not asking him to put me over his career but sometimes I feel like asking him to move an inch on anything is... an impossible feat." 

"Then you have choices you must make." Lamb said. "But for now, enjoy yourself. Tonight is for celebrating you and we shan't let anyone eclipse that. You are radiant my dear and you must remember that. " 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 The ball had largely been covered by the national press and Claire found it incredibly odd to see her pictures splattered across the news and the tabloids. However, she wasn't the only one getting attention.

"Princess Claire, when you talk to Dr. Randall would you inform him that he has fan mail waiting at the palace?" Mrs. Graham informed her while she was taking her morning debriefing.

"Frank has fanmail?" Jamie asked bewildered.

"You do too, Jamie dear. But ye already said to just chuck it once it's screened.." Mrs . Graham responded with a shrug.

"Its still so odd for me to think of myself as famous." Claire said.

"Ye should see some of the mail ye get." Jamie said. "Some of its lovely but some it is downright disrespectful."

"I suppose I'll have to keep skipping out on it then."

"Everyone gets a standard reply letter from the palace thanking them for their letter." Mrs. Graham explained "But it would be impossible for ye to read it all. We have a team who does it. Security analyzes anything that sounds threatening."

"I have threats?"

"Not that I'm aware of, but they do that fer the king." Mrs. Graham noted. 

Claire shook her head. "What's on the agenda for today?"

"Not much yer majesty. Two meetings, budget and climate committees,  and then we are headed to the historical society luncheon." 

She rolled her eyes "I forgot about that luncheon" 

"Dr. Randall convinced you to do it." Mrs. Graham said. "You didn't want to."

"Thank you for the kind reminder, Mrs. Graham." Claire shot Jamie a look as he rolled his eyes. 

"Let's get to it then."

She and Jamie navigated the first two meetings with ease and Claire was finally starting to have some opinions on what went on in the budget committee rather than just listening. She and Jamie had taken the quiet route at first allowing her to get familiarized with the format and what they were discussing. 

"I think we should decrease the Health and Human Services budget by 5%" Tom Christie, the head of the committee said.

"With all due respect, Mr. Christie, I disagree entirely," Claire said.

"You are new to the committee. You don't und-

"I do understand and having worked front lines as a doctor in one of our government-run hospitals I can assure you that we are in need of additional funding if anything. I am in the process of making a proposal for the department myself to do a reallocation of funding to help provide better primary care services which will decrease the long-term cost of healthcare by preventing problems from escalating. Many doctors do not go into primary care because of the lack of funding for it and so here in our nation, it's very understaffed. We should be promoting it better."

"I won't listen to a-" The man rose his voice snarling. 

"You won't listen to a doctor about healthcare? Or is it because I'm a woman that you feel threatened Mr. Christie?" Claire shot him a pointed look. "You are not cutting the budget from health and human services."

"I agree," Ned Gowan one of the other members of the board acknowledged. "Dr. Beauchamp makes excellent points. If a deficit is needed I think smaller budget cuts across multiple departments would be better suited. The health care budget is important and cannot take the brunt of it to fund whatever new developments you want Tom."

Jamie beamed at her and she smiled back at him. Today was a good day.

They were in the SUV on their way to the historical luncheon when everything changed. Jamie's phone rang, a rather familiar occurrence but watching his face drop was not.

"When?" he asked. "Where? I'll be there as soon as I can."

Suddenly Jamie was breathing heavily.

Claire reached out and grabbed his hand. "Jamie focus on your breathing, focus on me." He looked at her, tears glistening in his eyes. 

"It's my Da. They think he's had a stroke," he said finally.

"What hospital?"

"St. Andrews."

'Good thing I have some pull there. Julio, she hollered. The partition lowering."

"Yes, your highness?"

"Change of plan we're off to St. Andrews hospital." 

"Yes, your highness." 

"But the luncheon-" Jamie protested. 

"Jamie, this is far more important than any luncheon.  You are far more important than my royal responsibilities. We are dropping you off at the hospital."

"But your-"

"Don't you, your highness me James Fraser. That's an order. You are going to go be with your family and I will come and help translate all the medical jargon for you." Jamie nodded at her and let out a sigh.

"Hey," she looked at him. "I've got you." she squeezed his hand tight.

He nodded and breathed a sigh. "Thank ye."

"Anything for you, Jamie," she said. She spotted a little closer to him and he rested his head atop hers. It felt so intimate being that close, and Claire wanted nothing more than to run her fingers through his gorgeous auburn curls to help calm him down, to comfort him.

Claire shot a text to Mrs. Graham to reschedule the luncheon and send an apology on her behalf before she shoved her phone inside her purse, full focus on Jamie and the situation at hand.

They arrived at the hospital and Jamie was thankful that Claire walked in as if she owned the place, and no one questioned her leading him through the units.

"I need the room number for ..." Claire looked to Jamie "Brian, isn't it? 

"Aye, Brian Fraser." 

"Are ye family?" The girl at the desk asked without even looking up. 

"Aye, I'm his son." 

"He's currently in CT but he is on the stroke unit on level..."

"Level 5, thank you," Claire said. She took Jamie by the hand and lead him.

"Mam," he said spotting an older woman sitting in the waiting room. 

"Oh, Jamie! I didna think ye we're gonna be able to make it. Yer so busy with work."

"I insisted he come. This is more important." Claire said.

"Yer highness," Ellen bowed her head.

"None of that." Claire grabbed her hands. "It's so nice to meet you, although I wish it were under better circumstances. Please call me Claire. Have you had any news?" 

"No. He just started to have his face drooping'"

"It's a good thing you brought him in," Claire said. She sat beside Jamie and listened as Ellen recounted the story of what had transpired this morning. 

"Mrs. Fraser?"

"yes?" 

'I'm Dr. Beaton, we just got your husband's CT results. It looks like he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. We are taking him right to the OR to do what we can."

"Ah Dhia!" she exclaimed. "What does that mean? Can I see him before he goes in?"

"They'll be wheeling him past in a few moments." Dr. Beaton said. "It'll have to be quick. It's very urgent."

"Brian!" Ellen exclaimed. "Jamie and I are here. Jenny's coming. Yere gonna be fine love. Keep fighting for me, mo chridhe" She kissed his hands.

"Be strong da." Jamie said squeezing his hand before they rolled him down the hall.

"What did they mean when they said hemorrhagic stroke Sassenach?"

"There are basically two different types of strokes. There is an ischemic stroke which is caused by a blood clot blocking the flow of blood through the brain. In your father's case, instead of a blood clot, there is a burst vessel which is causing bleeding in his brain. The bleeding causes a build-up of pressure in the brain so they have to stop the bleeding and decrease the pressure in the brain to prevent swelling which can cause damage... The procedure might be quite lengthy as they have to get good control of the vascular system." 

"Is it bad? Is he gonna die?" Jamie asked.

"Jamie,  it's not an easy procedure," she said carefully. "But you know your father is a strong man, just like you, he's going to everything to fight to stay with you and your family." 

Jamie nodded solemnly. Claire gently rubbed his back, his elbows resting against his knees his face buried in his hands. 

"Can I get you and your mom something to eat?" she asked. 

"I Dinna think I could put something in m'wame right now Sassenach."

"How about some tea then?" she asked. "The hospital cafeteria can't mess that up too much."

"Tea would be lovely. Thank ye, Claire." Ellen said.

"Of course."

She hadn't even made it halfway down the hall before she could hear Ellen saying to Jamie "I like the way she looks at ye." she couldn't help but smile. 

"Help!" she heard someone call. 

She found herself dashing in the room, finding a small boy.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I... I'm sorry milady, I had a bad dream and I was lonely." 

Her heart ached for the young boy sitting in bed cradling his hand.

"I'm sorry my darling. What's your name?" 

"Fergus," he introduced softly, a light French lilt in his voice.

"My name is Claire. It's very nice to meet you." She said. "I'm sorry you were lonely. Would you like to talk about your bad dream?"

"It wasn't a dream totally, milady. It was about my surgery." 

"Surgery?"

"Oui, I have bone cancer in my hand. They have to take it out and they may not be able to save my hand." Her heart ached for the boy in front of her.

"Are your parents here?"

"I don't have parents." he said. "I'm an orphan milady."

"Me too," she said and reached out and grabbed Fergus's good hand. "You're not alone though. I have to stop by and get some tea for my friends. Let me ask your nurse if I can get you a hot chocolate and then we can talk about it. I'll be back soon."

"Merci, milady," he called out after her.

She found the nurse for that section, and fortunately, Fergus's dietary restrictions would be in place that night after midnight and he was free to drink hot chocolate to his heart's content.

She found her way to the cafeteria and got the tea and hot chocolate as promised. She stopped at the OR floor and talked to a nurse she knew who gave her an update that they were still working but his vitals were stable. She even managed to get a glimpse at the CT scan.

"Sorry it took so long." she apologized, handing tea to each of the Frasers. "But I did get an update that everything is going well so far and that his vitals have been stable the whole surgery which is a very reassuring sign."

"Thank you, Claire." Ellen said. 

"I'm going to drop this hot chocolate off to a child I met off the unit. I'll be back in a bit."

"D'ye mind if I come with ye, Sassenach? I need ta stretch my legs."

"Of course."

"I'll call ye if there are any updates," Ellen said. "Go take yer walk." 

Claire led Jamie back down the maze of hallways to Fergus's room.

"I'm back!"

"Merci!" Fergus said taking the hot chocolate from Claire.

"Fergus this is my friend Mr. Jamie. He wanted to come with me to meet you."

"A pleasure to meet ye."

"Yer huge!" Fergus said.

"That's not very nice." Claire gently chided. 

"Aye but it's true Sassenach. I'm a large man."

"With a heart of gold," Claire said instantaneously, causing Jamie to blush.

The two of them played a game with Fergus and made him smile. She could see Jamie was still distracted by what was going on with his father but playing with the boy was certainly helping.

"Why don't you go check in with your mother, Jamie?" 

"Aye, I should." He gave one last look at Claire before he headed out the hall.

"Is Mr. Jamie your boyfriend?"

"Is he my... no?" Claire said almost sadly.

"Oh... well he should be. He likes you. I can tell. I'm good at these things milady."

"Oh does he?" she asked intrigued. 

"Oui." 

Fergus nodded before letting out a yawn. 

"You, my dear boy should get some rest. Tomorrow is a big day for you." 

"Will you come to see me again? I never get visitors."

"I will. Promise," she said. She hugged the boy goodbye and pressed a kiss to his forehead and allowed him to drift off to sleep. 

She stopped at the nurses' station and requested updates on the boy and clearly the nurse knew who Claire was and allowed her to add herself as an emergency contact, despite not having any relationship to the boy.

She stopped by once more to the surgical unit to get an update, happy to see that she had come at a good time, Dr. Beaton, heading out of the OR.

"Good news about Mr.Fraser?"

"Very good news." he nodded and she led him back to the family. 

Jamie's eyes were trained on her and she gave him a reassuring smile and she could see the relief wash over him. Dr. Beaton explained to the Fraser's what was going on, that they had achieved control of the bleeding and that it was a smaller area than originally anticipated based on the scans, and that he had a long recovery ahead of him, but with the proper assistance, he would likely make a near-full recovery. 

Ellen pulled Dr. Beaton into a hug, grateful for him saving her husband. Jamie shook the man's hand before turning to Claire and sweeping her into his arms. She relaxed into him and squeezed back, gently rubbing his back. 

"Thank ye Sassenach."

"I didn't do anything," she told him.

"Ye're here. Ye let me come." 

"Anything for you," she said. She gazed up at him. She wanted nothing more than to kiss him in this moment before taking a step back, pulling herself together. "They should be letting you in to see him one at a time in recovery soon. I'll let you take your time with him. He can't have too much stimulation at once." she said.

"Good thing I didna' bring the bairns then," she saw a short dark-haired woman approach.

"Jenny," Ellen pulled her into a hug. 

"Are ye the doctor? What's the prognosis?"

"I'm not your father's doctor. I am a doctor but-" Claire began to explain.

"Jenny, meet Princess Claire."

"Ah Dhia! My apologies."

"Please just call me Claire. I was just explaining that since he had surgery in his brain that he can't have too much stimulation right now as they don't want to cause an increase in intracranial pressure. So the room will likely be dark and you'll only be able to go in one at a time. He will likely require some physical therapy, occupational therapy, and some assistance from a speech pathologist to help him relearn how to talk properly and swallow depending on the severity of his neurological deficits. But he' should remember who you are and how much he loves you all."

"Thank ye Claire." Ellen said. "It has been so nice to get someone to talk to us and explain."

"Of course. I'm so happy I was able to help at all.  Jamie, I'm going to call Julio and head back to the palace. This is a time for family and I should go prep for tomorrow. You are off tomorrow by the way. Don't you dare, think about coming in." 

"Yes princess." She raised her eyebrows. "Thank ye, Claire."

"That's more like it." she smiled at him. 

"Let me walk you out and make sure you get into the car safe."

"It was a pleasure meeting both of you. I anticipate stopping by tomorrow at some point to check on everything." 

"Thank ye for everything Claire." Ellen pulled her into a strong hug. "We appreciate ye."

"Of course. Please do get some rest."

Ellen nodded and Jamie ushered Claire back toward the entrance of the hospital.

"Thank ye again, Claire." 

"Jamie I know you would do the same for anyone. You help me so much all the time. Let me help you the best I can."

She squeezed his hand tight as she got into the SUV, and he closed the door behind her. Tapping the top informing Julio it was good to go. 

She finally looked at her phone after many hours and she saw 10 missed calls from Frank, 17 missed text messages, 2 voice mails.

She sighed and picked up the phone.

"Claire."

"Frank, I'm sorry it's been a bit of a -"

"You embarrassed me in front of the whole entire historical society." He spat at her.

"There was an emergency. It wasn't because I didn't want to Frank." 

"But you didn't want to you fought me on it for such a long time. You purposely did this to spite me."

"I purposely did this to spite you? Oh, grow up Frank!"

"YOU DIDN'T WANT TO GO."

"Jamie's father had a stroke while we were on our way. My lack of attendance had everything to do with making sure everything went well with that and nothing to do with the lack of interest in your luncheon"

"You're not a doctor anymore."

"I will always be a doctor Frank. It doesn't just go away! It's not some switch I can turn off. I will always want to help people."

"But just not me." Frank spat. 

"You're obviously upset and I am sorry that I upset you. I understand that this is important to you but being able to help Jamie's father took precedent over a speech." 

"You made the historical society think I can't even control my girlfriend."

"Because I'm your girlfriend. I'm not your slave. You can't control me Frank and to be quite candid, I've had enough of this behavior. If you think that I'm going to bow down and cave to your every whim, you are sorely mistaken."

"Claire-"

"I'm done with this conversation. Take a day to evaluate what you really want from a partner and I'll be doing the same."

Click. 

Chapter Text

 Claire called over to one of the restaurants she had frequented near the hospital and had dinner delivered for the Frasers and for the charge nurses on the floor at the stroke unit. She couldn't be bothered to look at the messages that Frank had sent earlier and instead just tapped them and swiped away without even looking. 

She headed back to the palace and found Mrs. Graham waiting for her.

"Mrs. Graham, You're still here. "

"I figured I'd stay. I know Jamie normally would have prepped you for the day tomorrow since he stays later but I figured, I'd stay"

"Thank you Mrs. Graham. Is there room for me to head to the hospital."

"Aye, your highness. I have cleared a bit of time in the mid afternoon. Figured you could have Mrs. Fitz prepare some lunch for ye to bring over to the Frasers. How are they?"

"They're doing as can be expected." She acknowledged. 

"I have supper waiting for ye in yer quarters and I'll have Suzette draw you a bath."

"Thank you and could you send up some-"

"Wine? or Whiskey?"

"Wine tonight. Thank you Mrs. Graham." 

She settled down at her desk where a tray was waiting for her, and was happy when someone dropped off a bottle of merlot and a glass. She poured herself a generous measure and sipped as she ate her meal. She took her wine glass with her to the bathroom where her bath had just finished filling, filled with various bubbles and oils. She stripped down and sank into the steaming water, and allowed the hot water to melt away the stresses of the day. 

She sipped her wine and mused how different her life had become in the last few months. How much she had grown and how much she still had to go. ss

She sighed and eventually toweled off as her skin began to prune. She toweled herself off and slid into a pair of soft pajamas and off to bed.

The next morning she sat through a meeting, but her mind was at the hospital. 

She was relieved when she got to the hospital with a picnic lunch for the Frasers and a teddy bear for Fergus, the young boy who had captured her heart the night before.

She stopped in with the charge nurse first, a formidable woman, but was encouraged by her report. 

She spotted Jamie. It was impossible to miss his tall frame scrunched to fit into a hospital chair, his red curls a hopeless mess .

"Hello there stranger." she said as she took the seat next to him, handing him a thermos from her basket.

"Sassenach." He greeted, taking the thermos from her. "Ye are a sight for sore eyes thats fer sure." 

"Did you sleep at all Jamie?"

"Not well." he admitted rubbing his eyes.

"You're no good to anyone if you don't take care of yourself."

"I ken. I just... what if I didn't get to say goodbye?"

"He's stable. he's here and you're here. He's not going anywhere." 

"I'll take a rest later today." Jamie said.

"Promise?"

He nodded. She smiled at him, and reached into her basket pulling out some food for him. 

"Mrs. Fitz made some of your favorites I was told." she said handing him a container.

"Thank ye for dinner last night by the way. My family and I enjoyed it." 

"It was the least I could do."

"Oh Claire! Ye came!" 

"Ellen! How are you?" she greeted the woman with a hug. 

"I'm well. And Brian is doing so well according to the doctors and nurses. I'm so grateful to have ye to explain all the things."

"It's my pleasure." Claire said. "I brought some lunch over from the palace. Please eat something."

"Thank ye Claire.Truly."

"Of course."

She allowed Jamie and Ellen some time to eat, and they filled her in on what had gone on since she had left. 

"What did I miss this morning Sassenach?"

"A very boring meeting. They'll be plenty more for you to attend with me."

"I look forward to them." Jamie said with a laugh. 

"I'm going to visit Fergus. Would you care to join me?"

"Aye, that would be nice." 

Stuffed bear in tow, the two found their way to the pediatric ward. 

The surgery to remove the cancer from Fergus's hand had been successful, and with enough support, chemotherapy, and physical therapy, he may one day regain full use of it. 

Fergus though fatigued was so excited to see them both and was delighted by the gift. He hugged it tight and spoke to the pair about games and how his teacher was sending work over so he could still learn, and that he needed a little help with his math, which was gladly provided to him.

Claire sore her heart was going to burst watching Jamie with his arms around the young boy and teaching him. 

This couldn't be where the story line ended for them. She couldn't leave this boy here to recover with no one to care for him. 

Eventually they did leave Fergus to rest.

"I see that look on yer face Sassenach. What are ye thinking?"

"I can't let him go through chemo and PT, and all of these things that he needs one his own. He doesn't have anyone he's an orphan Jamie." 

"So what would ye like to do?"

"I know it's sudden but I want to adopt him."

Jamie smiled at her.

"I think it's a wonderful idea , yer highness."

"You do?"

"Aye, it's obvious how much ye care for the lad in just the few days of knowing him."

"I know what its like... to not have family, to have no one to really turn to  when things were hard. Thats hard enough on a child just growing up, but to go through cancer-."

"Ye don't have to explain your reasons to me." Jamie said, squeezing her hand. "I Dinna see why ye cannot adopt the boy. I'll have Colum look into it a bit while I'm out."

"Do you think- no it's stupid?"

"Do I think what?" Jamie asked her. "Go on."

"Do you think I'll make a good mother? To Fergus?"

"You'll make a wonderful mam to any bairn." Jamie said. "I guarantee it." 

"Thank you."

"What will Frank think about this? If yer together, I'm assuming he'll be taking on a fatherly role." 

 

 

"It doesn't matter. I don't think Frank will be in the picture much longer."  she said.

"He won't?" Jamies eyes lit up.

"No I don't think so." she shook her head. "After yesterday's events well, lets just say more of Franks true colors are showing and I'm not sure I like where we're headed."

"I'm sorry." Jamie said.

"I'm not." Claire said confidently and Jamie smiled broadly at her. She blushed a little under his gaze, and looked down fixing one of her curls. 

Eventually the two made their way back to the Frasers and Claire headed back to the palace. She was in her quarters reading when the door burst open. Jamie rushing in.

"Jamie, what is it?"

"I thought it would be better coming from me."

"Jamie, what is it?  What's happened?"

He grabbed a remote and flipped on the television, flipping it to one of the tabloid stations.

Breaking news tonight: Princess Claire's longtime sweetheart Professor Frank Randall Caught out with unidentified Blonde.

She watched as the story unfolded and revealed pictures of Frank kissing this other woman, a younger woman at what looked like a restaurant she used to frequent with him. She saw the date the pictures had been taken, months ago. That was probably one of his grad students. 

Claire sunk back into the sofa and sighed.

"What do you need?" Jamie asked.

"If you could get the PR team to do damage control."

"They're already on it. I'm asking what do you need, Claire?"

"I need to talk to him." Claire said quietly.

"I'll have someone pick him up."

"It's Tuesday." she said.

"What does that mean?"

"That means that it's his busy day" she scoffed. "He was always so busy on Tuesdays, and his phone is usually off. Which means that probably the whole time he was telling me that, he was probably fucking her." she shook her head. "I've been stupid for so long."

"No ye haven't. Ye are a wonderful trusting person. He didna deserve you."

"No, he didn't." 

"I'll get the lads on picking him up."

"Thank you Jamie." 

"Anything else."

"I'm sure Joe and Geillis will see the news and rush here. So just warn Ian and his team that they can come in."

"Of course." 

-----------

She sat for what felt like hours, just staring at the window. Thinking back all the excuses he had made. Had he been cheating on her since they first started dating? Had it been the same girl the whole time? Had he been playing both of them? 

A knock on the door distracted her from her thoughts.

"Your highness, Dr. Randall is here." Ian announced. 

"Send him in. Thank you."

Frank entered a moment later.

"Claire- let me."

"No. You don't get to talk now." she spat at him. "There is no explanation that will appease me as to why you cheated on me."

"It was an accident-"

"Was it though? You just falling all over that younger blonde and making out with her in the middle of our favorite restaurant was an accident?"

"I-"

"Frank how long."

"It doesn't matter."

"How long?" she asked.

"Two years."

"Two whole years?" her eyes widened. "We've been together two and a half Frank."

"Yes but-"

"If you weren't happy, then you should have left rather than using me like that."

"And give up the chance to be King? I think not."

"The chance to be-." The impact of what he said settled in on her. "You knew? You knew who I was the entire time!"

"It wasn't exactly hard now, darling. A dark haired girl, orphaned at the age of 8, washed up on a shore. The Moriston eyes. Please."

"So you played me for the long game?" Claire scoffed. "It doesn't matter now anyway. No more."

"I made you Claire. I brought you all of this. You can't throw me away."

"You're the one who threw away everything we had Frank. You are not the victim here! You do not get to pretend that you don't have everything coming at you. You're the one who messed up. Now get out and don't come back."

"I wouldn't do that if I we're you Claire."

"Get out Frank." 

"You seem to forget that we were together two years. I know you Claire."

"I know perfectly well how long I was committed to you Frank. You seem to not understand that word."

"Then maybe you remember what you gave me our first anniversary." 

Claire froze.

"You wouldn't."

"Your lovely near nude photo shoot? I still have the images saved. It would be a shame if certain members of the press somehow got access to them and leaked them to the press. Perfect doctor princess Claire is not as regal as she appears. In fact she's a right dirty-"

"You're a bloody bastard Frank Randall." She said tears streaming down her face.

"Is that an acceptance of my apology? That you'll take me back then?"

"I'll consider it." she choked out. 

"Good. I'll be in the library having a dram. Come find me." 

She choked back a sob as Frank pushed open her doors. She collapsed into her sofa and tried to muffle her cries with a pillow. And a few minutes later, she felt like she had no tears left to cry. 

She had trusted him. Had loved him. And now? She felt betrayed. What could she do? What was the best course of action here?

"Yer Highness?" She heard a knock at the door. Jamie

"Come in."

"Are ye alright?"

"No but I don't suppose that matters much."

"It does to me. My job is to help the crown." Jamie said sitting next to her. He lifted an arm. "C'mere," She curled up against his side, relishing in his warmth. "I take it things did not go well."

"No." she said.

"Are ye kicking the pretentious prick to the curb?" Jamie asked. Claire shook her head. "Why ever not?"

"I can't."

"To be blunt yer highness, Ye are the princess of this country. Ye are a bloody good doctor. Ye got to where ye are through pure grit. Can't is not in yer vocabulary yer highness." 

The tears flowed once more.

"I'm sorry. Hush mo ghraidh, I've got ye." 

"That's not it Jamie... he's black mailing me."

"He's WHAT?" Jamie sprang from his seat. He took a deep breath. "What do ye mean by that Sassenach?" 

"He... has pictures of me. From a boudoir photo shoot I took. They're... not very regal. Not becoming of a princess."

"Any man of worth, would ken that those are fer his eyes and his eyes only. The fact that he's-"

"He said he'd share them with the press." She offered softly.

"Dinna fasch Sassenach. I will take care of it personally."

"Jamie-"

"Dinna worry I willna end up in prison. I was in intel for a bit in my time in the military. I ken what to do."  

She sighed. "I can't lose you."

"Don't worry. Mo ghraidh, yer advisor will be back in one piece."

"I didn't say my advisor. I could find a new one of those. I can't lose you, Jamie." she peered at him through her tear brimmed lashes.

He sat down beside her and cupped her face gently with his large hands, thumbs brushing away fat tears.

"Ye could never lose me Sassenach." He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. and squeezed her tight, before rising once more. 

"I will be back."  he assured her as he rose and exited the room.

She washed her face, and sat back on the sofa, and was soon joined by Joe and Geillis. 

"I'm sorry WHERE IS THAT ENGLISH BASTARD I'LL BLOODY KILL HIM."

"Geillis, our oath was to do no harm."

"Aye but take no shit Joe." 

Claire hugged the pair. She didn't dare say a word, nervous about breaking into tears once more.

"What do ye need Claire? Do ye need me to print out pictures and find a dart board? D'ye need to relive the Margarita Massacre? D'ye need a good cry? D'ye need a good shag? I can find ye one. Although I'm sure yer wee fox cub would be willing."

"Geillis!"  Claire exclaimed?

"Although wee might not be the word for him. Have ye seen the size of his-"

"I'm not listening to this" Joe said.

"His hands." Geillis said with a cocked eyebrow.

"Geilis." Claire said warningly."

"I'm just saying. He seems to have a thing for ye. And ye for him."

Claire sighed.

A knock on the door roused her from her thoughts.

"Yer highness?"

"Speak of the devil." Geilis said raising her glass to Jamie.

"Its done." he said.

"They're gone?"

"He canna harm ye now." He said and with that Claire wrapped her arms around Jamie's neck, and buried her face in the crook. He held her tight. She was finally at peace.

Chapter Text

James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser was a man who thought in facts and figures. When information was in its place, he was able to minimize the guessing game. It is what had made him an excellent soldier, and an even better advisor. However, the second Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp walked in through the palace gates, that all flew out the window.

He looked at her and suddenly every story his Da had told him about falling in love with his mam made sense. He understood what the poets had been talking about. Why people were willing to fight wars for this. He had been hit by cupids arrow, and he had been hit hard.  Seeing her kind smile as he lead her through the maze of hallways trying to distract her from the life changing news she had just received, and he was done for.  Seeing the curve of her arse when she bent over in her skirt, he was certainly done for. 

He went to dinner that night with his family.

"How was yer day, mo mhacs?" Brian had asked.

"It was quite eventful." Ian said glancing at Jamie with a grin.

"Why?"

"Jamie's smitten with the lost princess."

"Smitten? Lost Princess?" Ellen asked, her eyebrows raised.

"I'm not smitten." Jamie argued, before he explained what had occurred that day.

"I saw the way you were looking at our new charge." Murtagh said.

"She's..."

"A verra bonny lass." Murtagh said. "Smart too Fram what I gather." 

"She is." Jamie acknowledged. "But I'm ta be her new advisor. My job is to guide her."

"Guide her to yer bed." Murtagh teased.

"Oh hush. Dinna tease the poor lad. I think it's sweet that he has a crush on the lass." Ellen said. "I hope she returns yer affection."

 

He had been blessed to be her advisor and to work with her every day. He slowly started to learn her tells. The way she bit her lip when she was concentrating too hard, the way she rubbed her temples when she needed more coffee, the way she lit up the second you got her on the topic of expanding healthcare and foster care budget and her first hand experience with both matters.

He loved the mid afternoon "princess lessons," and how she was somehow able to let her guard down around him, and just smile and laugh as he taught her the way of the new life she had been thrust into. 

He hated whenever he saw the poor excuse of a boyfriend she had. And while he knew she deserved better than any man could ever provide for her, he knew he would do a far better job than Dr. Randall would. 

His heart nearly burst out of his chest when she agreed to allow him to escort her to the ball and seeing her dressed up like that for him was a pleasure, but the greater was wrapping his arms around her to dance. One hand carefully placed on her waist, the other entwined in hers. Her hand was so small in his but it felt like that was the place it was meant to be. He frequently looked at the pictures Louise had taken on his phone and some the Palace had photographer had taken of them. If he looked close enough, he could see how he looked at her like she was the world. And she was. He saw the joy on their faces as they laughed together and he wanted to make her laugh every day for the rest of his life.

The day his father fell ill was one of the hardest days of his life. He had never felt quite so helpless. He was always in control but he was out of his realm here. He couldn't breath. She took his hand and instantly he felt more at ease. The way she explained things and was able to tell him that everything was going to be okay. The way she smiled at him and gently rubbed his back. He wanted to melt into her touch, the way her small hands somehow touched his entire soul.

"I like the way she looks at ye." His mam had told him as she had gone to get them tea.

"Aye?"

"She looks at you like I look at yer Da. You look at her the same way.  Like she hang's the stars in the sky." 

"She does for me."

"Then don't waste yer chance. Tell the lass how ye feel, mo mhac." 

"She has a. boyfriend."

"I don't see any ring on her finger. It's not too late."

"Ma!"

"What? She seems like a lovely lass Jamie that's all I'm saying. If ye want something ye go and ye fight for it."

"Aye."

Watching her with the young orphan boy Fergus, and watching how good she was with him, made him picture her with a bairn, with his bairns, and if possible he fell in love with her a little more.

His heart nearly burst out of his chest when she said that she and Frank wouldn't be for much longer.

He was sitting at the hospital,  and had a news alert on his phone.

" Princess Claire's longtime sweetheart Professor Frank Randall Caught out with unidentified Blonde."

"Shite." He got in a cab cross town, texting the PR team, and made it across time, rushing through the palace, practically sprinting through the palace to her quarters.

When he turned on the television and she saw the news, he watched some of the color drain from her already pale face.

"What do ye need Sassenach?"

"If you could get the PR team to do damage control."

"They're already on it. I'm asking what do you need, Claire?"

"I need to talk to him." Claire said quietly.

"I'll have someone pick him up."

------

He wanted to murder Randall the second he passed through the doors and was thankful that Ian was the one who brought him in. He didn't know if he could control himself. How could someone think they could do any better than the dark curled beauty in the other room.

He sat in the security office with Ian , his  finger tapping against the table, unable to focus, his thoughts all on her.

"Jamie, are ye okay?" Ian asked.

"How could he do that to her?" He spat out.

"People cheat. Listen I don't understand it seeing as I love yer sister with every fiber of my being but people cheat and are cruel." 

"But it's her."

"Listen, I know this is awful, but this is a good thing for ye. With him out of the picture ye get yer chance."

"I don't need a chance if it means upsetting her." He shook his head. "She deserves the world."

"And she'll get it with you by her side."

"He's leaving her quarters." Jamie jumped up and found his way back to her room. 

He found her a way he never wanted to see her, in tears.

He held her as she cried and hushed her. It killed him to see her like this, especially over such a waste of a man. 

"Are ye kicking the pretentious prick to the curb?" Jamie asked. Claire shook her head. "Why ever not?"

"I can't." He couldn't continue his feelings any longer.

"To be blunt yer highness, Ye are the princess of this country. Ye are a bloody good doctor. Ye got to where ye are through pure grit. Can't is not in yer vocabulary yer highness." Her tears began to flow once more and he once more wrapped his arms around her. 

"I'm sorry. Hush mo ghraidh, I've got ye." 

"That's not it Jamie... he's black mailing me."

"He's WHAT?" Jamie sprang from his seat, heart pounding, blood boiling, He took a deep breath. "What do ye mean by that Sassenach?"

"He... has pictures of me. From a boudoir photo shoot I took. They're... not very regal. Not becoming of a princess."  

"Any man of worth, would ken that those are fer his eyes and his eyes only. The fact that he's threatening to-"

"He said he'd share them with the press." 

"Dinna fasch Sassenach. I will take care of it personally."

"Jamie-"

"Dinna worry I willna end up in prison. I was in intel for a bit in my time in the military. I ken what to do."

 "I can't lose you." His heart ached for her.

"Don't worry. Mo ghraidh, yer advisor will be back in one piece."

"I didn't say my advisor. I could find a new one of those. I can't lose you, Jamie." she peered at him through her tear brimmed lashes.

He sat down beside her and cupped her face gently with his large hands, thumbs brushing away fat tears. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her senseless and assure her that it would be okay. Instead, he pressed a soft kiss to her forehead.  "Ye could never lose me." 

 

He sprung into action, immediately calling his friend Hugh Monro, to get more dirt on Frank as well as to hack into his computer. Hugh was a skilled hacker and within minutes he had everything he needed. 

"Hello Dr. Randall." Jamie said walking into the library a folder in hand.

"Fraser," he said. "Come to fetch me? Claire's ready to see me again?" He rose from his chair.

"Not so fast Randall." Jamie pushed him back into his seat. "My job is to protect and to advise the crown."

"Oh I thought it was to advise the crown to not cause a scandal?" Frank said. "I take it Claire told you what's going on. Not the wisest move on her part."

"Actually it was, ye see. I think you should think very carefully. My job is to protect the crown. To make sure no harm comes to the crown. To step in when someone toys with the crown's emotions. If you hurt my girl any further than ye already have, ye will answer directly to me, and whatever crimes I commit against you, remember, I have diplomatic immunity in 46 countries, including Puerto Rico.

"Are you threatening me Fraser? I'll have ye know that fear isn't in my vocabulary."  Frank rose to see him. 

"Aye but it is in yer eyes Randall so I suggest you sit your arse down and ye listen here to me. " 

Frank cocked an eyebrow.

"I've already cleared yer hard drives on all yer devices including yer phone and work computers."

"YOU WHAT?"

"I can however recover your research if you do exactly as I tell you.  Here's what we're going to do Frank. You are going to go back to Sandy, that's her name isn't it? The Blonde who you seem to have a fondness for, and you will keep your head down.  You will go back to your office  and your university. You will keep that ugly mug of yers away from the palace and away from Claire. Do ye understand me?"

"And if I don't?"

"Well I suppose that book ye were planing on publishing next year will have to start at the beginning and start over, and maybe be black mailed from the historical society." 

"I was supposed to be King!" He yelled.

"Ye never would have been King Frank. Give it up."

"You don't-"

"I do. You ruined your chances with her Frank! You wouldna have lasted. Go back to yer books and get lost! She doesna want ye." 

"She-"

"She doesn't. She told me yesterday. So grab yer things and get out. Or I will physically show ye the door." 

"Fine!" Frank scowled and headed toward the door, paying Jamie no second look as he got up.

He found her in her room, anxious despite the presence of her friends. 

"Its done." he said.

"They're gone?"

"He canna harm ye now." She hurried her face in his neck and held on tight, and in his arms was where she belonged. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 Jamie continued to squeeze her tight for a while, longer than probably appropriate but the pair did not care and just enjoyed one another's embrace.

Eventually, Joe cleared his throat and the two snapped out of their trance, and broke apart. Jamie brushed away one of Claire's tears before he took a step back.

"Thank you so much Jamie."

"Anything for you, Sassenach." he said. He looked to Geillis and Joe, as he stepped back and gave them a nod. "I will leave you in your friends capable hands. I'm going to head to my office after I get cleaned up and get some work done."

"Thank you, Jamie. But you should get some rest."

"I'm a bit wound up now. I'll check in with PR and then get some things before heading to my place. Dinna fasch Sassenach. I'll be alright." With the tiniest of bows, he headed out.

After a night of wine, pizza and some sappy movies on the couch of Claire's room, she assured Geillis and Joe that she was fine.

"Sooo." Geillis said giving her a look.

"So?" Claire asked. 

"So when are ye hopping on to the Jamie train? Or ye ken, just into his lap would probably work just fine."

" I just got out of a relationship G, I'm not ready for anything right now."

"That's a good mindset Lady Jane." Joe said. "It's important to focus on you for a bit."

"But ye are gonna pursue something with the wee fox cub, are ye not?"

"I can't lose him Geillis. What if he doesn't feel the same way?"

"Ye've got to be joking." Geillis rolled her eyes. "Have ye not seen the way the man looks at ye?"

Claire shook her head. 

"Here." Geillis scrolled through her phone, and she saw pictures of the ball.

"I've seen those pictures before."

"But have ye actually looked at them hen?" 

She looked through the pictures and she could see the way he looked at her, and her heart melted  a little bit, feeling the warmth of his gaze on her. 

"See? It's not a one sided thing, hen." 

"I still need time." she said.

"Take your time," Joe encouraged. "But you should tell him. I'm sure he'll wait a bit for you. You're worth it LJ." He squeezed her hand. 

"Thank you." She hugged each of her friends"Did I tell you I'm trying to adopt a child?"

"I'm sorry WHAT?"

And she launched into telling them about her new found son.

"Claire, this is so exciting! Do we get to meet him?" 

"Of course. I have to still work out a lot of the details, but I couldn't let him go through something like that alone. I had to."

"Claire, that's wonderful." Joe smiled broad. "We'll swing by tomorrow and check him out when you're visiting." 

-------

The next day as Claire exited the palace she was bombarded by the press.

"Princess Claire! Princess Claire! Do you have anything to say about your relationship with Dr. Randall?"

"Dr Randall and I. are no longer in a relationship, now if you will excuse me I have a meeting to att-"

"How do you feel about it?"

"If you think I'm the the type who will cry in a corner and waste away over a man, you are dreadfully mistaken." She said as she continued to push through.

"What do ye have to say to the whore who stole your man?"

"What did you say?" She froze in her steps.

"What do ye have to say to the whore who stole your man?" She looked the cocky man up and down.  

"She's not to blame in this scenario. I'm not sure she even knew about me, and in either case she is not the one who broke her promise to me. Dr. Randall is. So I ask that you leave her alone and keep that derogatory term to yourself. I hold no ill will towards her."

"What about Dr. Randall?"

"No Comment." she said as she finally secured herself in the SUV.

"Bit of a rough day there, yer highness." Murtagh questioned.

"You have no idea." 

"Well I'm sure a visit to the hospital will help."

"I'm sure it will."

Claire was delighted to find Jamie waiting for her at the door. He looked so relaxed out of his normal suit, and in a cream colored sweater

"Sassenach," he greeted. Opening the car door for her, he helped her out of the car.

"Jamie," she beamed at him, her hand still entwined in his, as they made their way into the hospital.

"Heard ye got bombarded by the paparazzi when leaving the palace."

"I did."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there. I should have-" 

"There is nothing to apologize for Jamie. You are needed with your family. I'm a big girl I can handle it all myself sometimes"

"Da's being discharged to rehabilitation tomorrow."

"That's excellent news." 

"He's finally awake when yer here too. If ye'd like to meet him."

"Of course."

They made their way up to the stroke ward where you could hear laughter ringing out into the hallway. It was almost musical.

"Claire!" Ellen greeted her getting up from the bedside.

"Ellen always a pleasure."

"Da, I'd like to introduce ye to her royal highness, Princess Claire." Claire looked at the man in the hospital bed and examined him. Jamie had his eyes but it was clear where Jenny got her coloring from. His slightly crooked smile was warm and inviting and he had a spark in his eyes that told her that he definitely was not going to give up on his recovery anytime soon. He was still full of life.

"Claire would have sufficed." she said. "Brian, it's a pleasure to finally meet you. I'm so glad to hear that you are on the mend."

"Thanks to you." he said grabbing her hand.

"I didn't do anything." she said. 

"Ye kept Ellen and this one calm. Ye deserve a medal for that." 

Claire let out a small laugh. "I did the best I could." 

"Ye succeeded lass." 

The group chatted and Claire felt at peace. She felt that somehow she wasn't an outsider to this family, and felt like she belonged.

Suddenly her phone buzzed. Text message

"Geilis and Joe?" Jamie asked.

"Yes, they're on lunch and want to meet Fergus."

"Fergus?" Ellen asked. 

"The little boy on the cancer ward. I'm trying to adopt." 

"Beautiful, smart, and a heart of gold." Brian said giving Jamie a look.

"I ken Da."  The look Jamie shot at Claire made her slightly blush.

"You're more than welcome to come with me Jamie." 

"Aye." 

"We'll be back." Jamie ushred Claire from the room. Hand on the small of her back, her breathing hitched a little but she tried her best to ignore it.

"Sorry if they're a bit much." Jamie said once they got a bit farther away from the room.

"They're wonderful. You're lucky to have a wonderful family." she smiled at him.

"Aye, indeed I am."

The pair met Geilis and Joe on the ward.

"Jamie, how lovely for ye to join us." Geilis greeted. 

"A pleasure as always. " Joe greeted him with a handshake.

"Come, lets introduce you to my hopefully future son."

Claire entered first.

"Milady! I saw your picture on the news last night!" Fergus greeted when she entered.

"Oh you did?" She said bracing herself for any questions about Frank. 

"I did not know you were a princess! I thought those were only in fairytales."

"Mostly, but there are a few of us left." she grabbed his hands. "I want you to meet a few of my friends." 

"Okay!"

"Mister Jamie!" Fergus greeted when the tall man entered the room. 

"Hullo lad. How are ye?"

"Good! Thank you for help with my math yesterday! I think I get it now!"

"That's a braw lad."

Geilis poked her head in. "This is Dr. Joe and Dr. Geilis!"

Fergus was suddenly withdrawn.

"Hi Fergus, It's se nice to meet ye!" Geilis greeted warmly.

"How's it going kiddo?" 

"Is something wrong lad?" Jamie asked looking at him. Tears welling up in his eyes.

"Are they going to tell me that I can't keep my hand?" he tried to ask calmly. 

"Oh no sweetheart, not at all." Claire sat beside him on the bed and wrapped an arm around him. "Geilis and Joe happen to be my friends who are also Doctors. They just wanted to meet the strong little boy I talk about all the time. They aren't here about your hand sweetheart."

"Truly?"

"No, we aren't." Joe said. "I work on bellies."

"I deliver babies! We don't work on hands promise." Geilis agreed.

"Oh..."

"I'm sorry I scared you darling." Claire pressed a kiss to the lads forehead and wiped away the few tears that threatened to fall.

"Dinna fasch lad. We will be honest with ye." 

"Okay." Fergus agreed. "Do you want to play Cards with me?"

"That sounds like a wonderful idea." Claire agreed. "Cards is part of your PT for your fingers right?"

"Yes, but it's also fun." 

"Absolutely." 

The group all laughed as they played a hand of uno, getting a bit competitive. 

"Lunch is over for us. It was so nice to meet you Fergus. I'm sure we'll see you soon." Joe said.

"We've got ye lad. Don't worry." Geillis said before departing. 

"It was nice to meet your friends, milady."

"I'm glad you liked them." She said. "Hopefully you'll be seeing more of them."

"Milady, am I going to be in the hospital forever?"

"Certainly not forever my darling. Why do you ask?"

"Oh..."

"Fergus, what is it?"

"I just don't want to go back to the orphanage."

"What if I I told you I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen?"

"You are?"

"I know we haven't known each other long, but I grew up like you in an orphanage."

"But you're a princess."

"I was a lost princess. I got lost from my parents who passed away and I couldn't find my family. I didn't remember how to get home, and no one was able to find me. So I grew up like you. I know how hard it is to grow up like that. I know how lonely it can be, and you are so special and you have a lot of things that the doctors are trying to fix. I think it would be better if you had someone to take care of you. And if you are okay with it, I'm hoping that person could be me."

"You want to take me home?"

"I do. Since the first day I brought you a hot chocolate."

"Really?"

"Of course she does lad." Jamie said.

"To live with you and mister Jamie?"

"Well Mister Jamie doesn't live with me right now but you'll see him a lot. I promise." 

Fergus hugged her tight, and Claire melted and squeezed him back, Pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "I've got you my darling. You're not alone."

She didn't notice Jamie take a photo of the two of them. He sneakily stuck his phone back into his pocket and just leaned against the door frame observing the two of them, wrapped up in their own little world. She slowly untangled herself from the boy and let him rest.

She walked outside of the room and took a few deep breaths and looked at Jamie.

"You are going to make an amazing mother to that little boy Sassenach." He said. "Ye are." 

She gave him a weak smile. "I'm just going to give him everything I needed when I was younger."

"Ye don't speak about it much."

"I try not to." she shrugged. "Not too many happy memories. I used to try and pretend it never happened but there's no real use in that. Bottling it up and swallowing it down, doesn't mean it didn't happen."

"What did happen? If ye don't mind me-"

"I was just a  girl with no name, no memories. I grew up in an orphanage run by nuns but I never found myself to be very religious. All their stories about a wonderful merciful god didn't make sense to me. I mean what god would take me away from whatever life I had, take my memories away, and to leave me with nothing. No one. I thought no one ever came to look for me." She took a deep breath. " I didn't really have any friends there. I was an outlander there too. My accent, its very posh. I was bullied a bit for it but it stuck. I didn't know how to do a lot of things, chores, play some games. I  was shy, plus I had memory loss or suppression or whatever it was . "

"I'm lucky I didn't fall in with the wrong crowd too far. I had a few bad boyfriends back then but I mostly just kept to myself. I knew to be safe, and the second one of them hit me I was out.  I found Geilis in Uni and she sort of kept me on the straight and narrow. We had fun but we knew where to draw the line. We had each other's backs.We both had ambitions to be physicians and nothing was going to stop that. And then Joe joined. And now? Now I'm here.

She let out a shaky breath. "You're the first person I ever told about all that."

"I didna mean to pry."

"You haven't. I just.... I trust you." she looked at him. "With everything."

"I'm honored. I will do everything in my power to not break that trust" He reached out and grabbed her hand. "But I have to ask, would ye trust me with yer heart?"

Her heart began to race. Did he really just ask that?

"I Dinna wish to be too forward." He said looking at their entwined hands. "I just didna want this to go unsaid" 

"I have wanted ye from the second I laid eyes on ye, and I Dinna just mean in a physical way. I want to be there for ye, I want to care for ye and give ye the entire world. I'm not a man of a lot of means but if ye just give me a chance to-"

"Jamie." He looked at her. "Just shut up and kiss me already, you bloody Scott." 

He slowly moved closer to her, a hand cupping her face, another on her waist. As the two slowly approached, lips mere centimeters from each other an announcement came up overhead.

"CODE BLUE: RM 542. CODE BLUE RM 542."

"Isn't that-"

"My Da's room." 

Chapter Text

 Claire and Jamie practically sprinted through the hospital to the room. A million thoughts ran through Claires head as she tried to mentally prepare herself about what she might find once she got inside the hospital room. What  Claire found was  two nurses in there, trying to prep the bedside, Ellen crying at the side of the bed.

"What's happened?" she asked. 

"He just stopped breathing and talking," Ellen said "I swear he was fine!"  

"I think he''s gone into V-fib " one of the nurses said. 

"What's that?" Jamie asked.

"It's a heart rhythm. Where the code team?"

"On another code. They're on their way"

"Damn it, he doesn't have that luxury of time" Claire muttered under her breath. "Back board in place?"

"Yes." 

"I'll start compressions, you bag him. " she said, she pointed to the other nurse. "You get the crash cart."

"Yes, doctor." 

Claire jumped into action, stating compressions, counting quickly but quietly. The nurse would pump air, every 30 compressions.

"Attach the shock pads."  Claire called as the nurse with the crash cart came in, opening the gown, and attaching two adhesive pads to his chest.

"Is he going to live?" Ellen asked, "tell me is he going to live." 

"Jamie get her out of here." Claire pleaded as she continued to provide compressions. Eventually she paused allowing the machine to analyze his rhythm. 

"He's in V fib. Draw up 6 milligrams of adenosine to have on hand. Charge to 120 Joules." 

'Charging" the nurse declared as they drew up the ordered medication. 

"Everybody clear!" Claire called out before delivering a shock. "Still V. fib." she muttered a few choice curse words under her breath. "Charge to 160." Claire ordered. 

"Doctor-" She saw another nurse coming in the room, but ignored them.

"Clear!" She delivered another shock with limited results. 

"Push the adenosine."

Suddenly the racing rhythm on the monitor seemed to flatten out and Claire held her breath. 

"Come on Brian. Come on don't do this to me." Claire said, her eyes trained on the monitor. Just as she went to start another round of compressions, the monitor sparked back to life. "Beep, beep, beep." 

"We have Sinus." she said with a sigh of relief. "I want Respiratory Therapy, and I want him prepped for transfer to ICU or at least step down."

"Yes doctor,"

She reached down and squeezed Brian's hand. "Can't give up on us yet." She squeezed tight and felt a slight squeeze back. "Now that's a good man. You gotta keep fighting for this family of yours."

Suddenly a swarm of people came into the room.

"Wheres the code?" A doctor asked.

"Handled." Claire said. "Back in Sinus."

"And you are?"

"I'm---"

"That's Princess Claire!"  One of the nurses said. Claire let out a sigh but nodded. "Oh my god. The princess ran the code?"

"I was a doctor in this hospital before I was a princess so yes, I can run a code, now if you'll excuse me, I need to update the family."

She found Jamie and Ellen sitting in some chairs down toward the end of the hall.

Jamie stood and she came over and sat beside him and Ellen.

"Is he gone?" Ellen asked.

"Brian's heart went into a rhythm called Ventricular fibrillation. Basically the  portion of the heart that pumps blood through the heart and through the rest of the body had a bit of an electrical disruption that caused them to shake or quiver instead of pump blood to the rest of the body. We gave him a medication that helps to stabilize the electrical conduction and we shocked it back into a normal rhythm."

"He's alive?"

"Yes." Claire nodded.

Ellen hugged her fiercely. "Thank ye so much ye lovely lass. Ye saved my Brian. Ye saved my best friend."

 and Jamie pulled her into a hug, tears streaming down his face. "I've got you Jamie." she stroked his hair as he held her tight.

"Thank you Sassenach. "

"Of course." she smiled at him. 

She turned and squeezed Ellen's hands. "It'll be a longer road to recovery now. He likely has a few broken ribs due to the CPR and he may need to have something called an internal defibrillator placed in case this ever happens again, but if all goes well, he should be able to continue to boss you around for longer."

"Aye, he will." Jamie smiled at her.

"They're going to transfer him to the ICU. I'll keep checking on him. It'll be a while before he can have visitors. They'll have to admit him first. I'll go see what's happening now" Claire explained, as she got up and headed back toward the room. She ensured that he was properly set up.

"Princess?" she looked up.

"Yes?"

"I wanted to say good job." the other doctor acknowledged. "I'm sorry we took so long to get here. That man is lucky you came in here when you did." 

"I was a doctor first. I'm glad I could help."

"Come give report in the ICU before ye go? You know how the code went."

"Surely." She followed alongside as they transported him, her hand entwined in Brian's. 

"I've got you Brian don't you worry. The ICU staff is going to take great care of you. Ellen and Jamie will be visiting you before you know it." 

After giving report, she found Jamie and Ellen and guided them to the ICU where a nurse was doing her assessment for the admission.

"I'll leave you two to visit." Claire said with one last glance before turning around and heading toward the stairs. 

 

"Sassenach wait." Jamie called out catching up to her a few steps later. "About before-"

"You don't have to say anything right now Jamie. A lot is happening."

"I meant everything I said." he finished. "I meant it when I said that I wanted ye and"

"And I want you too." she said softly. She reached out and grabbed his hand and squeezed. "But I think we were a little caught up in emotions at that time though."

"Oh," he said sounding hurt.

"Jamie, I don't want to ruin things by rushing it. You know I just got out of a pretty bad relationship and I'm becoming a mother. I am just trying to navigate that as best as I can. To grow into this new life I'm building." 

"We can grow together." he said. 

"I'm not doubting that. I just want to take things slowly is all I'm saying. I don't regret asking you to kiss me or anything. In fact, I really want to kiss you and have for a while.

"You have?"

She blushed at him and smiled. "Of course I have. But... I can't lose you."

"You could never lose me Sassenach. Take as long as ye need. As slow as ye want." Jamie agreed. "I Dinna mean to push ye."

"You aren't." she smiled back at him and pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek. "We're going to figure all of this out... together."

"Together." he squeezed her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. 

------------------------------

By the time she made it back to the palace, she was exhausted and her fingers had texted up a storm informing Geillis and Joe of all that had transpired in the last few hours

"Your highness, the king is requesting to see you."  Mrs, Graham said as she arrived at the palace.

"Of course."

She found him in his study reading some correspondence at his desk.

"Hello Uncle Lamb. You summoned me?"

"Hello my sweet girl." She sat across from him.

"What are you working on?"

"Just reading a letter from Queen Clarice of Genovia. She's a wonderful correspondent. Such lovely prose. But that's not why I called you here."

"Oh?"

"I saw the news about Frank, I wanted to see how you were faring."

"Its no great loss." she decided upon.

"Even with his infidelity?" 

"I was certainly hurt by that but as you pointed out at the ball, I wasn't enthused by his presence. We no longer made each other happy. He also attempted to black mail me but Jamie took care of it."

"That boy cares for you deeply."

"And I care for him."

"I'm glad you recognize it. I was afraid I'd have to shake it into you." 

"No," she let out a small laugh. "I do care for him greatly and we have intentions of slowly pursuing a relationship."

"A wise move. But please know that I approve. I've always been soft on Jamie. It's why he was a possible successor for me."

"He was what?"

"He as well as Dougal and Colum were in the running to be listed as my successor."

Claire suddenly went cold. Could Jamie only want her for her crown? Could this be the same thing all over again?

"Are you alright darling?"

"A busy days." she brushed it off. "I had to do CPR on Mr. Fraser at the hospital." 

"Oh goodness, is he alright?"

"Yes. He's in intensive care but I was able to revive him."

"You are really an angel. The people are going to love you."

"Speaking of that, I... I'm trying to adopt." 

"I didn't know you were trying to have a child."

"I sort of just happened up on him. And he needs me." 

She poured her feelings into discussing the young boy who she had instantly adored.

"He sounds like a wonderful child."

"He is. I can't wait to bring him home."

"IT'll be good for him to have a man in his life. Jamie will be a good figure for him. Of that I'm sure." She tried to ignore the gnawing thought about Jamie in the back of her head. Could he have been playing her?

"I'm suddenly feeling very fatigued. I think I'm going to eat something and retire for the evening."

"Of course. I'm happy for you Claire."

She gave a weak smile. "Thank you." 

As she grabbed a quick bite from the kitchen.

"Ah I caught ye! Delivery for ye!"

A beautiful bouquet of pink roses, amaryllis, and white hydrangea was handed to her.

"Who are they from princess?" Mrs. Graham asked.

She grabbed the note from the flowers and opened it. 

To the beautiful woman who makes my heart skip a beat, and can is smart enough to get one back in rhythm

I'm forever grateful and in your debt. I canna thank ye enough for all you have done for me and my family. I canna wait to explore more with you and be back working at yer side again.

Yours,

JAMMF

She smiled and sighed. She could push any negativity away for the moment and took a picture of the flowers and sent them to Jamie with a heart emoji.

Jamie: Glad you got my flowers Sassenach.

Claire: They're beautiful, thank you. :) 

Jamie: No, thank ye. <3 

He sent her a picture of Fergus in bed snoozing with a book on his chest. Her heart melted. This man actually cared and he was caring for her son when she couldn't. 

Jamie: Tucked the lad into. bed,  Read him a story. He sends his love 

Claire: Give him a hug for me.

Jamie: Of Course.

Claire: Off to bed myself. Good night, Get some rest.

Jamie: Goodnight mo ghraide. 

 

She showered and got into bed, flowers at the side of her bedside. She sent the picture of the flowers to Geillis and Joe.

Geilis: OMG! THEYRE GORGEOUS! ALSO YOU ALMOST KISSED HIM? AHHHHH!!!

Claire:  They're so beautiful.

Geilis: But seriously?! Is this man real? Does he have a brother? 

Claire: Just a sister. Who is married.

Geilis: A cute uncle then perhaps?

Claire:I don't know if I'd describe Dougal Mackenzie as cute. 

Geilis: All about the silver fox look ;)

Geilis: But also the flowers. Do ye ken what they mean?

Claire: I'm not proficient in floriography

Geilis: This isn't a normal pairing of flowers so Jamie must know. Pink Roses: Gratitude, Admiration, Hydrangea: Thankfulness, and Amaryilis: Incredible Beauty and Value beyond beauty. 

Claire smiled, and could almost feel the heat rise to her cheeks. 

He actually liked her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 The days seemed to pass in a flurry as Claire went through her various royal duties, a speech here, a luncheon there, a meeting cross town, while still making time to go to the hospital to see both Brian and Fergus. Both were flourishing and she was happy that the pair were well on their way to recovery. 

Fergus was almost ready to be discharged and Claire was trying to get everything in order for him to come home with her. Their case worker, Mrs. Baird, had been nothing but a god send. Ensuring that all the papers were in order.

"Just so ye ken, my darling, this is not the adoption paperwork. This is just for temporary guardianship. The adoption will come later."

"Of course."

"However, ye are certainly a woman of means. I'm sure ye will be granted the guardianship without a problem."

"I appreciate all of the hard work you have done to make this happen for us. I'm so excited to take Fergus home and to help get him settled.

She had been working with some of the palace workers to help redecorate one of the rooms adjacent to hers into a room fit for a little prince. The rather ornate rooms were not built for a little boy but with a few modifications, it would be perfect. 

She may have gone a bit overboard buying the boy new clothes and toys, but Claire didn't care. She wanted to spoil him. His whole life he had been cast aside, and alone. But no more. 

She and Jamie hadn't progressed in their relationship. Which to a degree, she was frustrated about. She craved that man but there just hadn't been any time. There was no privacy when they were either constantly in the hospital with his family, or her sons room. An occasional glance, a brush of the hands, she could see the small smile pass his lips whenever it happened, and she grinned back. 

Jamie finally returned back to working at her service. His first day back he was greeted with lots of welcomes.

"Your highness," he greeted her, back in his well tailored suits she loved on him so much.

"Not with this again." Claire said with a roll of her eyes, rising from her seat to approach him "How many times must I tell you that you can call me-"

"We have company." he said nodding toward the door. She turned around, and attempted to hid her surprise.

"Mrs. Baird!" Claire exclaimed.

"Hello! Your associate said now would be appropriate time for the home inspection. Although I think just walking through the property I'm sure you have adequate space."

"Yes of course, Please let me show you what will be Fergus's quarters. They're adjacent to mine in case he should need anything. "

She led them through the maze of hallways. 

"Such lovely artwork."

"Jamie knows far more about it then I do." Claire confessed. "But we have quite the collection here, with each monarch adding their own bit of flair. My uncle, King Quentin, is an amateur archeologist and his collection rivals many. But those are in his study. He has his own wing of the palace on the other side." Claire explained.  They just finished painting two days ago and everything is almost in place." Claire said pushing open the door of the light blue painted room. Neatly organized with a large bed, a desk, several book cases full of books, and baskets of toys.

"I'm not concerned about the accommodations. I know you have a busy schedule, are you going to be able to accomodate for Fergus's Doctors appointments."

"Absolutely."

"I'm already on it Mrs. Baird," Jamie explained. "We've been speaking with the doctors and they anticipate that all of chemotherapy treatments will be on Friday's to help minimize any missed school giving him two days to recover before returning to his lessons. I've cleared her highness's schedule for Fridays and barring any emergencies he should be fine."

"I've also hired a tutor for him. I know he's been struggling with mathematics since being out of school so long and Jamie and I have been helping him, but we will be having someone come in to help him with all of his schoolwork and if he is too ill to go to class, or if his immune system is too weak, we have contingency plans." Claire explained. "My friend Mary Hawkins is an educator and has agreed to come tutor him." 

"You seem to have everything together. I'm very confident that this will be a good fit. It's evident how much the two of you care about the boy." 

"Aye, of course." Jamie said.

"Thank you for showing me around. I'll fill out the rest of the evaluation on my own time and you should hear from me by end of week.

"Fergus is set to be discharged by then."

"I hope to have everything in order by his discharge date."

"Wonderful, thank you so much for everything. Would you care for some tea or something before you go?" Claire offered.

"I'm on a bit of a schedule today. But thank you."

"Of course," Jamie said. He showed her the way out and then he and Claire met in her en suite office in her chambers.

"I wasn't prepared for that." Claire said with a sigh, pacing the room.

"As yer associate I knew you were which is why I had her come. ." He leaned against her desk 

"My associate? Is that what you are to me?" she teased approaching him closer.

"Aye fer now... but I am very willingly at her highnesses mercy. Her will be done." he said, his voice dark, drawing her in. 

"And if her highness wants more?" she said biting her bottom lip, glancing at him through her lashes. 

"Then she will have it." he said. The two of them were facing each other, mere centimeters apart, as the two of them slowly moved closer and closer together, just as their lips were about to meet.

Knock. knock 

"Always interrupted." Claire said with a small shake of her head.

"To be continued." He said, as  she rose from the desk and straightened herself out.

"Come in."

"I apologize for the intrusion, your highness, Jamie, ye are needed for yer fitting for the memorial."

"The memorial?" Claire asked

"Every year your uncle holds a memorial for your parents, and well it was for ye as well but they take a large trip to the shore and have a memorial service."

"Oh... I didn't realize."

"It's 20 years this year. It's a big milestone."

"Oh." Claire was stunned. She hadn't even known. 

"Sass-, Claire?" Jamie asked reaching out.

"It's just a fitting. I'll be fine Jamie. I'll catch up with you a little later." 

She followed Mrs. Graham to the room where her fitting was and slipped into the gown they had made for her. Black of course. Very demure.

And she just gazed into the mirror, lost in thought. She still didn't remember her parents after all this time. Not at all, but she couldn't help but be surrounded by this near overwhelming cloud of sadness.

"Ye seem quiet." Mrs. Graham 

"Lost in thought." 

"This must be hard for ye."

"In a way. It would be harder if I remembered them I suppose."

"Ye have family now though lass."

"I've always been building one of my own."

"And with that lad coming here, ye will."

She smiled. "Of course, I must focus on the positive."

Claire then rushed through meetings through most of the day, barely seeing Jamie for more then a few seconds outside of them.

At the end of the day, she found herself wanting nothing more than a large glass of wine and a good book.

She heard a knock at the door. "Come in."

"Sassenach," Jamie said.

"Hello." she said softly. 

"Up for some company?"

"Only if it's you." she said, gazing up at him. 

"Good thing it is. Come on." He offered her a hand and pulled her up from her seat. "Grab a sweater, we're going for a walk." 

She did as instructed despite the questioning look on her face, and slipped on a cardigan over her dress and grabbed his hand.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"Just for a wee walk in the Palace gardens." Claire hadn't spent much time pursuing the grounds but was enjoying her time taking in the beautiful flowers and shrubbery.

"Thank you, it's beautiful out here." Claire said as she looked around here.

"I'm not finished. I have another few tricks up my sleeve." 

A few more minutes walked revealed a grand blanket and picnic set up for them.

"You did this?"

"Aye you looked like ye could use a glass of wine after today and after we were interrupted this morning I thought it might be nice to have some time together alone."

She squeezed his hand tight. "This is perfect Jamie, thank you." 

"Come on lets get ye fed."

They sat on the blanket and popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly that was in the large picnic hamper.

"To us," Jamie toasted.

"To us." she smiled back. The two dug into a delicious dinner prepared by the palace kitchen and laughed and enjoyed each others companies. When each of them had had their fill of food, they packed their items back into the picnic hamper. 

"Look at the stars with me Sassenach?"

They reclined on the blanket and Claire was in awe of how many stars they could see from where they were.

"It's beautiful," Claire said

"There is still a lot of light from the city.  You have to go see it in the country out where I grew up to see the , but being here with you is the most beautiful site." 

She turned her head to see him looking at her and smiled. He reached out and squeezed her hand tight and she smiled brighter.

" Will you dance with me Sassenach?" 

"Theres no music." she teased.

He tapped on his phone and some soft music came on.

"You really do think of everything, don't you?"

"I'm always prepared Sassenach." he grinned. 

 She  stood and kicked off her shoes and barefoot in the grass, she found herself wrapped in his arms. One hand in hers the other on her waist. 

"I remember the first time we danced at the ball." he said looking at her. "I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest."

"I felt the same. You kept so calm."

"I dindna want to let you down. I felt so lucky being there with you"

"I was the lucky one." she said. She gazed up at him, into his eyes, one hand raising to cup his face.

"Sassenach, I would verra much like to the kiss ye. May I?"

"Please." she whispered. Her voice hoarse. Finally their lips pressed together, and she melted into him. It was soft, and chaste. But it sent fire rippling down to her core.  He slowly removed his lips from hers and looked into her eyes, and she pressed her lips to his once more.  His tongue brushed her bottom lip, and asked for entrance which she allowed. She moaned as he sucked her bottom lip between his teeth and gently tugged. 

He pulled back and looked at her and then pressed another kiss to her forehead.

"Did I do something wrong?"

"On the contrary, Sassenach, I Dinna want to be too forward. I'm trying to be a gentleman and yer wee noises are making it verra hard to do so."

"I do not make wee noises." she protested.

"Ye do, but I like them. And I canna wait to hear ye make some more of them." He pecked her lips again, before pulling her close to his body and rocking her to the sound of the music.  

Eventually, he walked her back to the palace, one hand entwined with hers the whole time. He brought her back to her room.

"I will leave ye here." Jamie said. "I look forward to seeing ye tomorrow, Sassenach." 

He pressed a kiss to her hand, and turned to leave. He hadn't made it more than a few steps away when she called after him.

"Jamie?"

"Yes?"

"No kiss good night?" she asked. 

He took the few long strides back to her and kissed her hard and passionately, before breaking apart leaving her breathless.

"Goodnight your highness."

She slowly returned into her room and nearly collapsed onto her bed in a fit of giggles. The night had been perfect. She hugged her pillow tight to her chest. and grinned. She could still feel his lips on her, his stubble against her cheek, and the smell of his cologne clung to her skin. She didn't want to shower and forget the smell. But she knew she should. 

She quickly turned on the taps of the shower on and stepped under the hot spray, letting it warm her over. She grabbed a generous amount of freesia scented body wash and rubbed it across her body, her nipples pebbling under her own touch, remembering how hot Jamie had made her feel, her hands continued to roam and roam her body, ghosting her own curves, until it got the place she really needed the friction. Her hand slipped between her legs, and touched her sensitive bud. She let out a moan, and continued to stroke and touch herself until she found release, touching and rolling her nipples, her fingers slipping inside her, pumping until she moaned, only thinking of . 

She collapsed into bed and dreamt of him. 

Chapter Text

"Good morning, Sassenach." 

"Good morning, she answered with a grin, looking up from her paper that she read on her sofa. 

"Have a pleasant night?" he asked with a knowing grin

"Certainly," she smiled. "I trust yours was well."

"I like to think so."

"You know, I do have a question though."

"Yes?"

"Think we could manage a good morning kiss to be squeezed into our schedule?"

"I think we could manage some time for that." he grinned taking a seat beside her and pressing several chaste kisses against her lips.

"Good morning." she grinned once more.

"Good morning indeed." he bit his lip. 

"What's on todays schedule?"She asked. 

"A few meetings, lunch with the lad, dinner is free though."

"No foreign minister meeting?"

"No but maybe you could spare a few minutes for a lowly junior palace advisor."

"Hmm..." she fake pondered for a moment. "I suppose. But only if they might consider watching a movie with me after."

"I'm sure we could twist their arm." he grinned.

"What's got ye two se happy this morning?" Mrs. Graham asked. "Oh princess yer lipstick is smudged."

"Oh, I'll have to fix that, thank you for bringing that to my attention, she said a blush rising to her cheeks, Jamie hiding a cheeky grin as he attempted to wipe any that had gotten on him.  She shook her head at him.

"Let's get started shall we." 

They went through the day, a perfect lunch with both of her lads, despite some terrible hospital cafeteria food, before a flurry of meetings in the afternoon. Claire could feel Jamie's knee brush against hers a few time and would occasionally sneak him a look. 

At the end of the day, Mrs. Graham looked at the pair, her items ready for her to go home.

"Jamie,  aren't you going home? It's been a long day, lad and tomorrow looks busy as well."

"Not now, Mrs. Graham. Claire and I have a personal project we're working on."

"Aye, is it snogging?"Claire could feel the heat rise to her cheeks. "Dinna think I Dinna ken what's going on. I'm verra happy for the two of ye but subtle is not something that is in either of your skill sets."

"Sorry Mrs. Graham." Jamie said sheepishly. 

"Dinna be sorry. Just let me know whether or not you two are making this known to other people."

Claire and Jamie exchanged a look.

"We haven't discussed ti fully yet. We'll let you know our decision." Claire said truthfully. Did Jamie want this to be a secret? Was he okay with them going public? 

"Aye a verra good plan." Jamie said 

Mrs. Graham left them.

"Soooo." Claire said.

"I ken its verra early so I Dinna wanna rush ye into making us official or anything. But ken, I'm in. I'm all in. There's only ye, mo ghraide" Jamie said with a soft grin on his face.

"I'm all in." Claire said looking at him squeezing his hand.

 "Good." he smiled. "That's verra good."

"Great." she said. "Now dinner and a movie?"

"Sounds perfect, Sassenach."

The had a quick meal delivered from the palace kitchens and then settled into the palace theater room.

"I've never watched a movie in here," Claire acknowledged. "I haven't exactly watched a lot of movies since becoming a princess."

"We could watch a new release." Jamie offered. "I Dinna watch movies a lot either. My boss keeps me too busy." he joked.

"Ah yes, I hear she's a real slave driver." Claire teased.

"Yes indeed. But she's a bonny lass when she's bossy."

"Oh is she now?" 

"Aye," He pecked her lips before turning his attentions back to the large cinema screen. 

Eventually the pair decided upon a comedy, the two losing themselves in laughter. Claire was very conscious of how Jamie's arm had slowly draped over her shoulders and she leaned into him her head resting against him. She felt very much like a teenager but she felt so free just sitting here wrapped in his arm, without the world watching them. 

At one point he turned his head and their eyes met and their lips once more met. His teeth gently tugging her bottom lip, a hand in her hair, gently tugging her head back so he had access to press kisses to the curve of her neck, a gentle nip and suck on her pulse point causing her to let out a low moan. She could feel Jamie grin into her lips as they returned to each other.

The movie ended at some point and they were still kissing each other, lost in the moment. 

"We missed the movie." Jamie said at some point when they finally broke for air.

"It obviously wasn't that good if it couldn't keep our attention." Claire said pressing another kiss to his lips. 

"Sassenach, I have no attention span when yer around. Ye should ken that by now." he nipped at her neck once more.

"And I don't have one around you either. Suppose we're even then." she breathed. 

"Aye." He kissed her once more before sagging back into his seat, and taking a few deep breaths. 

"Tired of me already?" she teased.

"Not in the slightest, Sassenach." he grinned. "Ye are just making it very ... hard to be a gentleman."

"Who said I want you to be one?" she grinned coyly.

"I wanna do right by ye Claire. Ye deserve nothing less, and if that means we take our time I'm more than okay with that."

Claire groaned.

"What?"

"What are you so perfect?" she asked.

"I'm hardly perfect Sassenach. But I do my best to try and deserve a lass like ye, mo nighean donn."

"What does that mean?"

"My brown haired lass." He pressed a kiss to her head. She smiled and cuddled into him. She felt so safe in his arms, so protected, and so free.

The next morning after a few stolen kisses, they set about their day.

"Claire," Jamie handed her the phone. "It's Mrs. Baird." 

"Oh my goodness. This could be it." she said looking at him. 

"Hello?"

"Your highness,"

"Hello Mrs. Baird. How are you today??"

"Quite well, thank ye for asking. I'm sure yer wondering why I am calling."

"Yes. I'm hoping it's with good news?"

"Aye, you've been granted temporary guardianship of Fergus. And as per my talk with his provider this morning, he could be coming home today."

"That is wonderful news! I am beyond thrilled. I was planning on heading to the hospital in a little bit, but I will be sure to bring some clothes for him and make sure we have everything ready for him."

"Aye, I'll be there with the papers in a little bit."

"Thank you so much Mrs. Baird, I am so grateful for everything you've done."

"You've truly done all the hard work. I'll see you shortly."

"Most definitely!" Claire hung up.

"We've got the lad?" Jamie asked.

"AND HES COMING HOME TODAY!" Claire cheered before jumping into Jamie's arms.

He squeezed her tight and lifted her swinging her around causing her to laugh. 

"We did it!" she said smiling at him when he finally set her down. 

"Lets go get the lad." Jamie said. He offered her a hand and fingers entwined they sat in the back seat of the SUV on the way to the hospital. 

She was delighted to see Fergus awake when she got there.

"Did you hear yet?"

"Hear what milady?" Fergus asked.

"You get to leave the hospital today!" 

"That's tres bien!"

"And you're coming home with me. If that's alright with you?"

"Truly milady?"

"Of course." she smiled at him and he hugged her middle tight and she kissed the top of his head. "I just found out it was confirmed earlier today but I am your temporary guardian and with any luck, if you're okay with it, I can adopt you."

She felt the warm tears in her shirt but she didn't care and suddenly felt her own tears.. "It's alright my darling. I've got you now and I'm not going to give up on you. I remember how I felt when I was your age, but don't worry. You will never be alone. Not as long as I'm around." she kissed his head some more and just squeezed tighter, rocking him against her.

"Your highness, I have the paperwork?" Mrs. Baird came to the door.

"Of course."

"I'll stay with the lad. Isn't that right mo mhac?"

"Thank you Mr. Jamie." 

"Just Jamie is fine lad. Dinna fasch, Sassenach." 

Claire wiped a few of her own tears away before heading out to the hallway with Mrs. Baird to fill out some documents.

"I can tell I made the right choice."  She proceeded to explain some terms and rules and what her probationary period before she could adopt Fergus would be like.

"Thank you, you won't regret it." 

"I'll leave you to it." Mrs. Baird took the papers and took her leave. 

Claire gazed through the glass doors at her two lads together, and it warmed her heart.

"Claire!" she turned to see Geilis. 

"Gi!" she hugged her.

"I thought I saw yer entourage hangin about. And yer wee fox cub and the bairn, adorable." 

"Thank you." she smiled.

"Have ye two done the horizontal tango yet?"

"Geilis we only kissed for the first time two days ago!"

"So? That never stopped me before."

"We're taking things slow. Maybe too slow." she said.

"Ah so you do want to!" 

She winked at the other girl causing her to grin. 

"Are ye all prepared?"

"I could do some tidying up. It's been a while." Claire mused. "But nothing a few minutes won't be able to fix."

"And when was the last time ye were tested?"

All the blood drained from Claire's face.

"Not since ye found out about Frank cheating?"

"I hadn't even thought of that Gi. Oh my god. What if he-"

"Ye were always safe, weren't ye?"

"I mean, yes but-"

"Then ye likely have nothing to worry about but let's get some swabs on some blood work on ye. I'll do it for ye right now while ye're here. We'll put it under a pseudonym .Ye'll be fine hen, Dinna fasch."

She took a few deep breaths before taking a long last look at Jamie before following Geilis back to the gynecology ward and into an exam room. 

"Panties off, legs up. Ye ken the drill." Geilis said, taking out two swabs. 

Claire did as ordered and listened as Geilis walked her through the steps of the exam even though she knew them. 

"You do a good job." Claire said when she was finished and Geilis was drawing her blood. 

"Ye see why my patients like me, and the lads. I got that gentle touch" she grinned. "Now keep your bandage on and get back to your fox cub and your bairn." Geilis said. "Ye'll be fine hen. We'll handle any hiccups." 

She nodded slipping her sleeve down over her bandage, and headed back down the hallway.

"Ye alright Sassenach?" Jamie asked when she came back. "Ye we're gone a while."

"Just paperwork and a trip to the ladies room." she said. "I'm fine.

"Good. The Doctor said theyre filling out the discharge paper and we can bring him home."

"That's wonderful news." she said with a smile. 

An hour or so later, they were finally ready to bring Fergus to the palace. His eyes were wide as he took the city in.

"You live here?"he asked as they approached the palace gates.

"We live here." Claire corrected with a grin.

"Welcome home Princess!" Mrs. Graham said. "and welcome home to ye, master Fergus." 

Fergus remained silent and in awe as he took in all of the grandiosity of the palace. 

"And this is your room."

"I have my own room?" Fergus asked.

"Of course. It's right across from mine. So if you need anything you can come get me." she said pointing to the door across the hall. "You have lots of toys and books. And we have a tutor for you if you miss school so you'll be all caught up."

Once more he hugged her tight and started crying.

"Fergus it's okay my love. You're safe here and I'll take care of you."

"I don't deserve this." 

"Of course you do!" she hugged him tight. "You deserve the world my sweet boy. Now come on let me show you the kitchen and we can figure out what we want for dinner. Whatever you would like"

"Whatever I want?"

"Whatever you want." she grinned. 

"Mr. Jamie are you staying?"

"Of course lad." Jamie grinned. "As long as thats alright with you Princess."

"I wouldn't have it any other way." she grinned. Hands entwined the three walked to the kitchen and made homemade pizzas in the kitchen with Mrs. Cook. Somehow they all ended up covered in flour, but Claire loved it. She was thankful for the palace photographer taking some photos. 

"Uncle!" she spotted him in the kitchen. 

"I heard all the fun was happening in the kitchens. I had to come check out what all the fuss was about. And who is this fine young man?"

"You're the king!" Fergus said wide eyed.

"Indeed, I am." Lamb chuckled.

"This young man is Fergus. I've been granted temporary guardianship, and hopefully adoption at some point."Claire smiled.

"Well it is a pleasure to meet you Fergus." Lamb shook the boys hand. "You may call me Uncle Lamb. That's what Claire calls me."

"Really?"

"Yes of course my lad." Lamb reached down and ruffled the boys hair. "I'll let you enjoy your pizza. Claire, a word tonight, perhaps after bedtime for this young man?"

"Of course." she nodded, trying to read his face. Instead he took his leave. She turned to Jamie. 

"You've worked for him longer than I've spent with him, what did that face mean."

"He's a diplomat, ye canna always read the man but I think it likely has to do with the memorial this weekend."

"Oh." Claire took in a shaky breath.

"Dinna fasch, All will be well." He squeezed her hand. "Now let's get this pizza in the oven.

With a hand from one of the palace cooks, the pizzas were carefully placed in the oven and eventually were devoured in the movie room while a cartoon played for Fergus. 

With some gentle coaxing, Claire got him into the bathroom to brush his teeth before he slipped into a new pair of pajamas and off to bed.

"Goodnight my darling."

"I don't wanna go to sleep." Fergus yawned.

"And why is that?"

"What if this is all a dream and I wake up back in the orphanage or the hospital?"

"It's not a dream my darling. This will all be here when you wake up." She pressed a kiss to his forehead, and tucked him in. "Remember I'll be across the hall if you need anything." 

She found Jamie on the other side of the door. She smiled and pressed a quick kiss to him. 

"I have to go speak to my uncle. I'll talk to you tomorrow?"

"I can wait if ye'd like."

"You stayed late last night you do need to get your rest." she said. "After all I'm sure your boss is such a slave driver." 

"Nah, she's not too bad." he grinned. "But I will see ya tomorrow then."

"Goodbye until tomorrow." she said with a short peck to his lips.

"Goodbye princess." 

 

 

Chapter Text

 "Glad you were able to pry yourself away for a bit.  Interested in a dram?" Lamb offered. 

"Of course Uncle Lamb, what is it?"

"I wanted to talk to you about the memorial and about the boy. I'm afraid you have our legal team at a bit of a conundrum."

"How so?" Claire asked.

"Well for the line of succession namely."

"We have plenty of time to determine that. I only have temporary guardianship at the moment, and you are still alive and kicking." she told him. 

"I'm an old man Claire, I might retire soon."

"Soon? How soon?"

"Maybe a year or two. I'd like to travel more and see the world. To go on digs again. I can't do that if I'm here all the time ruling. I think you're nearly ready."

"Ready? I feel like I've just skimmed the surface of all that I have to learn. I haven't done anything yet." 

"Once Fergus's treatments are established, I'd like you to start taking over more responsibilities. Colum and Dougal will be briefing Jamie on taking on more of the responsibilities as well. We will get you an excellent team established. I've heard about how you run a budget meeting and how you've handled some of our tougher ministers."

"But I haven't had to deal with a crisis or do anything meaningful yet. I just argue-"

"And you are arguing for the important things. You are doing what is right. Claire, you must learn to trust yourself. I trust you."

She sighed. "Do you really think that?"

"Of course I do." He squeezed her hand. "I would not hand you anything you aren't capable of doing. And just because I'm retiring doesn't mean I won't be here to counsel and guide you."

She nodded. "What a day it's been."

"I know you are undertaking a lot but you are a star, and the people love you."

"They love you more."

"They've known me longer. In time you will be the ruler they love, with your little family."

"It's just me and Fergus."

"And your beau. Don't act shy around me. I've seen you and Jamie." Lamb laughed.

"It's very new but I am very happy." 

"I'm glad. Will he be escorting you to the memorial?"

"I believe so."

"Good. I think you should do an interview to introduce the new men in your life."

"I'm sure Jamie will talk to the press secretary." she said.

"Either way, I'd like you to speak at the memorial." 

"Of course." Claire nodded.

"Are you up to it?"

"I'm sure I'll be fine". Claire let out a yawn.

"I'm sure you've had quite the day. I'll let you rest. Believe in yourself Claire. You are doing a wonderful job." 

"Thank you Uncle Lamb." 

She headed back to her quarters poking her head in on a snoozing Fergus. She smiled and then headed into her room to peacefully fall asleep.

She awoke and showered and dressed quickly, so she could wake Fergus up. 

"Good morning darling," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed, gently brushing his hair off his forehead. He let out a small groan before stretching and curling back into his pillow. "Time to wake up." 

"I'm tired, mama." She swore her heart nearly burst hearing him call her that.

"I know my love. But you have to wake up and get ready for the day sleepy head." 

Slowly his eyes fluttered open, and he took his surroundings in, evaluating the room and where he was.

"It wasn't a dream?"

"No sweetheart. You're really here." she said. 

He smiled broadly and quickly jumped out of bed.

"It wasn't a dream!" He hugged Claire. She smiled and hugged him tighter. 

"No it wasn't. Now go get showered and dressed. Breakfast will be delivered to my room across the hall. Join me when you're ready."

"Oui, milady."

She headed back to her room across the hall, and was happy to see Jamie sitting on her sofa. 

"Good morning Sassenach," he greeted.

"Good morning." she sank down beside him on the sofa and greeted him with a quick kiss. 

"Waking the lad up?"

"Yes, he should be showering and dressing."

"How was your night?" 

"My uncle says he would like to start transferring over some more of his responsibilities to me, as he would like to retire."

"Sassenach-"

"I'm not ready," she said plainly. "I'm not nearly prepared." 

"You'll never feel ready mo cridhe," Jamie told her. "That doesna mean ye won't do a wonderful job."

"I just started being a princess what 6 months ago? That's not nearly enough time to learn how to rule a country."

"There's no real time limit and he said just some. He's not leaving ye dry Sassenach." 

"What if I do a-?"

"You are going to do a braw job." he took both of her hands in his and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. "And I will be here by yer side every step of the way."

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"Anything for ye Sassenach." He pressed another kiss to her cheek before he poured each of them a cup of coffee.

"Jamie!"

"Good morning Fergus!"

"Did you have a sleep over with milady? I didn't expect you for breakfast."

Jamie nearly choked on his coffee, fighting back a laugh. 

"No Fergus, he just came over early today. He left shortly after we put you to bed."

"Oh, the people on TV have sleep overs all the time."

"What have you been watching in the hospital on the telly?"

"Days of our lives." 

Claire shook her head. "Those shows aren't so real my darling."

"Madame Elise had lots of men for sleepovers."

"Madame Elise?"

"She ran the orphanage I was at." Fergus explained as he munched on a piece of toast.

Claire's eyes widened. "Well you're here now. I may have a sleep over with Jamie in the future but we'll get there when we get there."

Jamie smirked at Claire behind his coffee.

------------

They slowly began to adjust to having Fergus in their lives. Jamie and Claire would spend time with the lad and then after dinner they had some time to themselves but had not progressed further than their movie night.

Claire breathed the biggest sigh of relief when Geilis texted her a thumbs up emoji and an eggplant beside a peach, and a winking emoji. Her STD testing had come back clear and if Jamie ever stopped being a perfect gentleman, she knew she was at least not going to give him any STDs.

The day of the memorial Claire felt rather numb.

"Ye alright Sassenach?"

"Nervous is all." she insisted as she put her pearl earrings in. Jamie helped her with her necklace, placing a kiss to her cheek. 

"You always speak well." Jamie said admiringly 

"I'm not nervous about speaking."

"Then what is it?"

"I have never seen the memorial. I don't think I've been to that beach at all since I was found washed up on the shores."

"Claire, are ye sure-"

"I'll be fine," she insisted. "I've made it through much worse."

"I ken that ye can do it but ye Dinna have to. We could have someone else say a prayer or something."

"I said I'd do it Jamie." she said sternly.

"Whatever ye say, yer highness." Jamie said coolly 

She sighed and turned to him. "I'm sorry." 

"Ye Dinna need to apologize. I'm pushing." 

"No you are trying to be supportive and I'm being stubborn as a mule."

"A very cute mule." Jamie said pressing a kiss to her temple. "I believe in you. I know you can do this."

"Thank you." She squeezed his hands tight. 

It was a fairly long drive to the site of the memorial. Fergus played on his iPad in the back of the SUV, dressed smartly in a little suit. Jamie and Claire held hands the entirety of the trip.

As they exited the car, Claire couldn't help but shiver, but it wasn't from the cold. She felt the cool breeze but it was more than that. She heard the waves crashing on the shore and suddenly felt like she had as a child. The overwhelming feeling of loneliness. The overwhelming fear taking over her. Her vision started to blur, her heading feeling light, and suddenly air couldn't seem to get into her lungs like they were filling with walk, her breathing rapid. She couldn't hear anything but the roar of the ocean and the rush of blood through her ears. , and it was deafening. Her hands suddenly felt like they were tingling. Her heart pounding in her chest as if she had just gone into v-tach herself. She tried to sturdy herself but her knees were weak.

"Sassenach?" Jamie asked, worried. But she couldn't even hear him. She barely noticed his hand feeling her pulse, and wrapping around her.

"Milady!" Claire heard Fergus cry.

Jamie scooped her up and back into the car.

"Head between your knees lass, and just breathe." He squeezed one of her hands, his other rubbing circles on her back. 

She heard him whispering words to her Gaelic as slowly the roaring in her head slowly faded.

"Sassenach, focus on your breathing, Yer safe, Fergus is with Suzette, yer fine." 

"Jamie," she breathed, suddenly exhausted. 

"I've got you."

"I..."

"Ye Dinna have to say anything. Dinna worry about the memorial."

"No I have to go speak-"

"Sassenach ye just had a very bad-"

"Panic attack, I know. But I-"

"Claire, I ken yer trying to prove that ye are strong. But ye are not weak fer sitting this one out. This is the place where-"

"The place where I was the most alone I've ever even in my entire life. I've- I couldn't "

"Shh," Jamie pulled her up into his arms, into his lap,  and held her tight, salty tears spilling from her. eyes and onto Jamie's suit. He hummed to her and peppered gentle kisses to her hairline. 

"Mo cridhe,"he lifted her chin and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. "I canna bear to see ye in pain like this."

"Take me home."

"Aye, Sassenach." 

They made it back to the palace in near silence. Jamie helped her out of the car and ushered her back to her room.

"Stay," she urged him.

He nodded, closing the door behind them.

"Let's get ye a cuppa." he said, calling for a tray to be brought up.

After he encouraged her to drink some tea, and to take a few bites of a biscuit. 

"Ye must be exhausted." he said, gently stroking her face with a finger.

" I am," she confessed "But I don't want to be alone."

"Ye're never alone, Mo cridhe." 

"You keep calling me that, mo cridhe. What does it mean?"

"My love," he said softly, kissing her palm. "my heart." She looked at him tenderly her face, and smiled. 

"Love?"

"Aye, I love ye with my whole heart Claire. Ye ken that. I have since I met ye and I understand if yer not there ye-"

"I love you too." He grinned at her and pressed a kiss to her lips. She kissed him back fiercely, deepening the kiss. He nipped at her bottom lip, eliciting a moan, his tongue gaining entrance, his hands pulling her closer, she hooked one of her legs over him, straddling him. It was his turn to groan

"Sassenach-"

"Don't you dare say that you are trying to respect me right now and be a gentle man Jamie. I need you." 

"I think I've gone a bit too far for that." He chuckled,  kissing her mouth. "I burn for ye Sassenach." 

He stood, lifting her, her legs wrapping around his waist, as he carried her and gently laid her on the bed, climbing on top of her. His lips captured hers once more before kissing their way down to her neck., a hand gently cupping her heaving breast. She leaned into his touch.

She moaned his name. "Jamie.." 

He grinned at her. 

"We're both wearing far too much clothing." she said getting off the bed. She went to take her dress of but Jamie came behind her and slowly undid the zip kissing down her spine as the zipper slowly inched its way lower and lower, until finally it rolled off her shoulders and down at her feet, revealing her thigh high stockings and matching underwear set. He took in the sight of her for a moment.

"Bloody say something." she said, suddenly self conscious of his gaze.

"Christ Claire, yer the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." He approached her, unbuttoning his own shirt before slowly removing it, tossing it to the floor, revealing his broad, chiseled chest.

"Jesus," Claire said taking in the site of him.

"Not quite." he teased as he pulled her close once more and continued to kiss her. His hands cupped her breasts, thumbs running over her hardened peaks. He made quick work of the offensive lace, and that too joined the growing pile of clothing on the floor.

Claire made quick work of his belt, his trousers not far behind. She gulped when she saw the outline of his manhood through his pants. Geilis hasn't been incorrect in her assessment that a man with such large hands had such a large... appendage  

In a flurry of kissing and stroking, finally somehow all the clothing had made its way off of their bodies and they lay together naked on the bed.

He was beautiful. He was a god amongst men. Her own perfect Adonis. He kissed down from the valley between her breasts to the apex of her thighs before pressing feather light kisses on her inner thighs, avoiding the place she needed the friction the most. But when he finally did, she nearly came on the spot. His mouth pressed firmly between her legs, tongue doing things she hadn't dared dream. Her hands clenched the sheets as he did, she moaned his name. A finger teased her wet entrance before finally inserting itself, moving a few times in conjunction with his  tongue and she clenched around it, her impending orgasm finally pushed over the edge.

"Christ lass yer so wet."

"All for you, Jamie." she said. "Please I need to feel you."

"We can't. I Dinna have protection, and I-"

"Top drawer to the left," Claire said. Jamie eyed the drawer in question, to reveal a box of condoms. "I may not have been in the scouts, but I know to always be prepared." Claire grinned.

"Christ, I love ye." Jamie said kissing her slowly.

Apt fingers unwrapped the foil around it, and a moment later he was ready, positioned at her entrance, the head teasing her stroking up and down her slick folds. 

His gaze met hers and she gave him the most subtle nod before he slowly began to sheath himself inside of her, a moan escaping his lips.

"Christ lass yer so tight." And somehow as if on cue, her walls squeezed tighter around him, and she grinned at him wickedly. His lips captured here once more as they established a rhythm, his hips pistoning and his cock filling her, over and over.

"Fuck..." she hissed as he repeatedly somehow continued to hit her G-spot over and over again, until she finally found release, seeing  stars everywhere, him following her moments later  

He collapsed, his breathing ragged, and kissed her softly, rolling off of her to spoon her. 

“That was...” she looked at him and grinned. “Perfect”

“Aye. Being with ye is  perfect.” He pressed another kiss to her cheek, and squeezed her tighter. 

“Thank you.” She said

“For?”

“Taking care of me today. I don’t just mean now. I mean before too.”

“Mo chridhe I would do anything for ye. I love ye. And I’ll take care of ye over and over again. As long as you'll let me."

"Even if that's forever?" she said a soft smile.

"Forever could never be long enough with you."

Chapter Text

 She was wrapped in his arms, chest to chest.

"You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, Claire." Jamie said, as he traced lazy circles on her back, his  arm still pulling her close.

"Says the man whose built like a God." she murmured.

He shook his head as he lazily pressed a kiss to her lips. "I love ye, Sassenach."

"And I love you."

"We should get dressed." Jamie said pressing another kiss to her forehead. 

"We could. Or...."

"Or?" Jamie asked.

"We could lazily make love to each other all afternoon." she said with a coy smile.

"That sounds like a dream come true. But yer son is gonna come back and worry about ye. Ye did leave suddenly crying."

"I know you're right." She sighed.

"Aye." 

Claire slipped out of the bed, sauntering off to her wardrobe and slipped on a pair of soft yoga pants, and a cardigan, and Jamie redressed in his suit, before settling on the couch. 

"Milady!" Fergus burst into the room.

"I'm alright darling." she assured him.

"You had a hard time breathing. I was scared." Fergus said. 

"I know and I'm so sorry I scared you sweetheart. But Jamie took care of me."

"Why couldn't you breathe? Were you sick?"

"Sort of." she said with a sigh. "The memorial is for my parents who I never got to know, but when I was a little girl, I was found on the beach all alone. And I remembered how scared I was back then, and it was just a lot of feelings at once."

"It's not good to hold in your feelings." Fergus said.

Claire almost laughed in surprise, seeing how wise this boy was."You are absolutely right. I am working on that. Sometimes grown ups aren't perfect at everything either. Some things require more attention and practice."

"I'm glad you're alright." Fergus squeezed her tight.

"Thank you darling. Your hug makes everything better." She pressed a kiss to the top of his head. 

Once he was done, he hugged Jamie too.

"Thank you for taking care of milady."

"I will always take care of her. I swear it."

"Thank you." he smiled. They had dinner as a group before they curled up and watched a movie together in the movie room, Fergus falling asleep between the two of them.

---------------

Fergus's first day of chemo, a Friday morning, Claire appeared to be perfectly calm as she held Fergus's  hand on the way into the doctors office. They had been to several planning meetings where they had discussed what the right medications would be, how long, how often, a plan B if there was a poor response. Claire played the role of Doctor, debating the pros and cons of treatments, having her own recommendations. The doctors took her insight into consideration, and the plan was set.

She may have appeared outwardly calm, but Jamie could see that Claire was a mess internally. He could see how her eyes darted around the room, sizing up the nurses, evaluating their technique as they prepared everything for the little boy.

To Fergus's credit, he didn't cry as they inserted an IV, and began the drip of the medication that would help save him. But Claire almost did. Jamie held her other hand, as the needle went it and she squeezed.

He watched over them from a too small orange plastic chair, as Fergus curled up against Claire, as she read him Harry Potter aloud.. The story filling him with joy, until suddenly there he was, green as grass, Jamie dashing around to grab his hair as Claire grabbed the basin beside them.

"Mom and Dad have got ye, lad." one of the nurses said.

Jamie considered correcting her, that he wasn't the lads father, but it didn't matter because that was his boy just as much as he was Claire's. He wanted to take away all his pain, and make him feel better. He would have done anything to switch places with him and be the one fighting for his life instead. 

They administered him some more medication to try and make him feel better, but he was still incredibly nauseous and felt awful. He barely made it out of the treatment center and to the car. Claire cradled him in the car ride. Jamie carried him back into the palace and to his room. He was feverish, and chilled, his body ached, and he shook. Claire gently wiped his brow, and encouraged him to drink fluids, little sips of pedialyte, as much as possible, only for it come back up again.

Claire gave him another dose of an anti-emetic and got a little fluid into him before he finally fell asleep. 

She and Jamie collapsed on the sofa in Claire's room, a dram in each of their hands. But Claire could barely hold it, her hand was shaking. Jamie took the glass from her and set it aside and wrapped his arms around her tight, as Claire cried 

Jamie tried to hush her.

"He is going to do this every single week." she cried. "He barely understands that this will make him better."

"I ken Sassenach, but ye're here to take care of him. Ye have given him a mother, someone to watch over him."

"I can't believe he was going to be alone."

"Ye changed that. Ye are such a wonderful mam to him."

"Am I though?"

"Ye are a wonderful mam. And I mean it. Ye ken what he needs and ye want him to grow up to be a wonderful man."

"I feel like a failure, Jamie. I can barely get him to stop vomiting long enough to keep him hydrated."

"You are not a failure, Sassenach. That's the chemo. He is so lucky to have ye, to have this life that ye are giving him."

Claire turned to Jamie."Thank you. For being here for me. For us." 

"Of course. Anything for ye."

----------------------------

Fergus recovered over the weekend in time for lessons with Mary his new teacher on Monday. Both Claire and Fergus' doctors deciding that it would be too dangerous for him to be in a classroom with the large quantities of germs. While she regretted that he was unable to play with children his age, his weakened immune system was not something she was willing to risk.

Claire slowly started to take over more and more duties from her uncle as best she could, she was blooming in meetings, finally unafraid to speak her mind and was making decisions. It didn't hurt that Jamie had practically moved in and was beside her nearly every second of the day.

Every Thursday night before Chemo, was date night. Uncle Lamb or someone else would watch Fergus so the two of them could have some time alone. 

To be fair, they had not ventured out of the confines of the palace with their relationship. They had found their own nooks and crannies in the palace that were private.

Claire particularly enjoyed when Jamie took her to the palace stables to go horseback ridings. She was uncomfortable on a horse but she loved being pressed up against on him on the horse, nestled between his thighs, his strong arms around her. Needless to say, the horse was not the only thing that went for a ride that day. 

-------------------

"Your highness?"  Claire looked up from her desk, reading through a report

"Yes Murtagh?"

"I hate to bother ye, but that scoundrel- I mean, Mr. Randall is here to see ye."

"Frank?" Claire asked surprised

'Yes, your highness." 

She exchanged a look with Jamie. "What does he want?"

"He didna say yer highness but he did have a bouquet of flowers."

She shook her head.

"Ye Dinna owe him a thing Claire. Not even the time of day." Jamie said.

"I know. But he's here. Have him go to the library. I'll meet him there."

"Aye, yer highness." Murtagh turned and took his leave.

"I dinna like this." Jamie said, "Not one bit."

"You're more than welcome to come. I don't have anything to hide. You know he doesn't stand a chance. He can't have me." Claire said

"I know. But-"

"James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, are you jealous?" Claire asked.

"Ye ken my full name now?"

"I finally learned. I figured if I planned on keeping you around I should at least get your name right." She pulled him closer and fixed his tie before cupping his face, pressing a kiss to his lips. "I love you. There is nothing to be jealous of"

"I love ye too." He said with a sigh. "I love ye more than anything and I trust ye but-"

"He tried to blackmail me. He doesn't deserve me. He doesn't deserve my time even. But he's already here, I'll tell him to go. You can watch me do it."

Claire took him by the hand and lead him to the library.

"Claire, you look beautiful." Frank said as she entered.

"Funny how getting out of a toxic relationship will do that. Wonders for the complexion." she said. "Why have you come here?"

"I made a mistake."

"You've made many." Claire said with a roll of her eyes.

"I know that now. I miss you."

"I can't say the same. Did Sandy leave you? Is that why you've come?" She was unimpressed, and the look of disgust on her face was apparent.

"No, I came because I'm sorry. I want to be with you Claire."

"So much that you attempted to black mail her?" Jamie said through gritted teeth.

"You aren't needed here Fraser. She doesn't need you to be her guard dog." Frank spat "This is between me and Claire."

"Jamie is here because I want him to be Frank. You came into my palace demanding to see me, you don't get to demand conditions." 

"Claire I just want to talk." Frank said, his voice suddenly soft. 

"What could you possibly have left to say" She asked exasperated. "You admitted to me that all you wanted from our relationship was for you to become King. And I'll have you know, that will never happen. You are not going to be king."

"You need someone by your side to rule."

"And I have someone at my side. Jamie, has been here with me through it all."

"So you're screwing him now?" 

"That's none of your business." 

"I always knew you were a little slut." Frank said with a laugh. "Spending all your time with that oaf."

"Ye better watch your mouth Randall- Or I'll break it." Jamie said, nearly flying from his place across the room.

"Jamie is my boyfriend now." Claire said, ignoring his comment. "And I'm blissfully happy. Far happier than I ever was with you. He's a far better man than you could ever be."Not to mention a far more skilled and generous lover.

"Did you know he's trying to take the crown too?" Frank said. "He's just like me. He was supposed to have the throne. He was in line to possibly have it. He doesn't want you he wants the crown"

Jamie's face dropped in shock.

"Claire, I can explain. I was going to-"

"I know that Jamie was possibly in line to have the throne from Lamb. Along with Colum and Dougal. I have known for months. But I know he's not after me for that. He loves me."

"He loves you?" Frank laughed ."No he doesn't. He's a man. He just loves your arse, and in this case your power. Your best assets"

Claire slapped him straight across the face.

"Get out." 

"Hit a nerve?"He smirked, clutching his face.

'I'll hit more than a nerve, if you do not vacate the palace and never come back Frank. My security team will not let you in ever again. Stay away from me and my family. You've said your piece. I want nothing to do with you." 

"Claire-"

"If you thought the technique of berating me and calling me a slut would get you a place by my side, you are sorely mistaken. Now I will say it once more for good measure, GET. OUT." 

Frank scowled at the pair of them before turning and walking out. A glowering, Murtagh hot on his heels to ensure he left.

"Claire what Frank said about me being in line for the throne-, I can explain." Jamie said. 

"I wasn't lying when I said I knew." She took a seat atop one of the desks.

"You knew?"

"I have since the day you told me your feelings for me.  Lamb told me." she sighed. 

"You must have thought I was an awful man Sassenach. Using you to get the throne. I would never. I didna even want it but I was so scared to lose you, I was afraid to tell ye. I never meant to hide it from ye"

"If I'm being honest,  I was very upset at first and had a million thoughts running through my head. Then I got your flowers, and the picture you sent me of Fergus." she said. "I looked at that and knew that you weren't going above and beyond for a chance at the throne. You were doing it because you cared. I see how deeply you care for your family, how you've done everything to help them heal, how you would do anything for Fergus, anything for me. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, I know you. I know what kind of man you are. You didn't want the throne. You wanted me."

"Aye. I wanted you then, and I want you now, and I will want you everyday for the rest of my life." He reached out and squeezed her hand.

"And you have me Jamie." she brushed back one of his curls. "You have my heart, mind, body, and soul."

He pressed a kiss to her lips. "I dinna deserve ye Claire."

"You are the most worthy man I've ever met, Colonel. You are the most wonderful man I've ever known. I love you Jamie."

"I love you Sassenach." His lips met hers gently. "More than words could ever express."

"No more secrets?" she asked.

"No more." he crossed his heart. He pulled her into an embrace and squeezed her tight. 

Chapter Text

"Every year we hold a large tea right before Mother's Day as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. This year I would like you to host as well as be in charge of the deciding upon the charity" Lamb announced at dinner one night. 

"I don't like tea." Fergus said, his nose crinkled.

"You don't have to drink it sweetheart." Claire told him. "But it'll likely be an afternoon fundraiser with some light refreshments, like sandwiches and such."

"The public has not really seen you two in the pubic eye. Perhaps you'll let down your guards a bit. After all its been a few months since you and Mr. Randall split ." Lamb said.

Claire could tell that Jamie's fist and jaw had clenched and reached over under the table and put a comforting hand on his thigh, and gave a gentle squeeze.

"It's obvious you're together though." Fergus said. "Anyone can see it."

"Oh is it?" Jamie asked, amused.

"Yes! I told Milady that you wanted to be her boyfriend the first time I met you." Fergus said. "You love her."

"Aye I do, lad." He pressed a kiss to Claire's knuckles. "I love her verra much." 

"And I love him too." Claire smiled at him squeezing his hand tighter.

"It's settled. You two will attend as a couple." Lamb said. 

Jamie smiled at her and she smiled back.

----------------------------

As they curled up on the sofa together, each reading a book,  he turned to her. "Are ye sure yer okay with us going public at the fundraiser?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" she asked.

"I ken its early still is all." 

'Jamie, we've already said I love you and assured each other that we are all in. Are you second guessing that? Has something changed?"

"No!" He said quickly. "I love ye. No doubt about that but I dinna want people to talk and say we did anything while ye were still with Frank. I dinna want them to say anything rude about ye."

"Jamie people will talk whether we announce it now or in a few years. I'm not ashamed of our relationship." 

"I'm not either." he kissed her temple.

"And we didn't do anything while I was with Frank, even if I wanted to."

"Ye did?" Jamie asked, a smirk on his face.

"Perhaps I did. Especially toward the end."she said grinning at him.

"What did ye want to do with me?"

"Everything." she said. "I've felt so comfortable with you the whole time I've know you from that very first day. " 

"I have too, Sassenach." Jamie pressed another kiss, this time against her lips. He took the book from her hands and set it down on the coffee table.

"I was reading that Fraser."

"I'm very sorry yer highness." He said peppering her face with more kisses. "I'll make it up to ye."  Lips met and locked, Claires arms wrapped around his neck.

His teeth nipped at her bottom lip, and she moaned, as he gently tugged and pulled her more into him. Her hands immediately began to make quick work of the buttons of his shirt, and his tie, tossing it to the floor. His hands ghosted her curves, leaving her aching for him.

She whimpered as he sucked at the one spot she loved so much on her neck. He loved her wee noises, as his hands grazed against her thighs, kneading the curve of her arse, pulling her up against him, his erection already prominently bulging in his pants.

He lifted her, her legs wrapping around his waist, as he carried her over to the bed. She pulled him down beside her and straddled him,  feeling his bulge press right where she was begging for friction the most. She shimmied down his body, kissing down his chest toward the happy trail pointing to what she wanted the most. Nimble fingers undid the button of his slacks, and she pulled them from his person, until he was bare before him.

She saw the tip of his cock, oozing precum, and swiped her tongue across the head of his cock, eliciting the most delicious of moans from Jamie.

"Christ, Claire." he gasped. "Ye don-" 

She didn't let him get another word out as she continued her ministrations. She grinned as she continued to experiment, figuring out what he liked. Her tongue swirled around the tip, before she kissed a trail down his shaft toward the base. Hands stroking, lips sucking. Claire had never much cared for this particular duty but having Jamie, her big strong Jamie melt in her hands, made it a much more enjoyable task. His moans urging her on, a hand gently holding her hair back for her, but never pushing her.

"Ifrinn, Claire. That's enough lass, I need to make ye feel good" 

He pulled her up to his lips, fingers finding their way toward her honey pot, fingers dancing over her clit, as she gasped and moaned, as he began to pump his digits inside her.

"Yer so wet." He grinned, as he slightly curled his fingers, hitting her G-spot.

"All for you." She gasped out. 

"Aye, yer mine. I dinna care who kens." He kissed her hard. "I am your master … and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own." 

He kissed her hard, as he made her quiver against his touch. He reached for the packet and quickly sheathed himself in the rubber barrier, before filling her with every last inch of him.

"Jamie please" she gasped. "God please..." 

He didn't dare stop what he was doing, he watched in awe as her face screwed up in pleasure, as he moved his hips at a steady rhythm, as she bucked up against him begging for more.  Her moans getting louder and closer together.

"Cum for me lass. That's right," he said, as his fingers began to circle her clit, and the coil in her belly seemed to tighten, and she came around him, him following moments later.

"I love you." she said.

"I love ye with my entire being Sassenach." He told her, pressing another kiss lazily against her cheek. He held her for a few moments, before Claire began climbing out of the bed.

"Where are you going?" HE asked.

"The bathroom. I think I need a shower." he said. 

"We could save water?" He proposed. "Ye ken a good leader cares about the environment." 

"Is that so?" she asked laughing. 

"Aye," he came up from behind and scooped her into his arms, laughing as he carried her to the large shower in the bathroom.

----------------------------------------------------

Chemo Fridays were becoming the normal, and Claire continued to read to Fergus, and the two would hold him, and be there every step of the way. When Fergus was well enough, he and Jamie would play video games together. Although, Jamie had to admit, that even with Fergus's hand still improving from PT, Fergus was kicking his arse.

One day as Claire was using the ladies room, one of the nurses observed the pair. 

"Looks like yer showing yer da a thing or two." One of the nurses said. 

"He's-"

"He's certainly far more skilled than I." Jamie told the nurse. 

"Why do you let them call you my da?" Fergus asked. 

"Because I wish I were. I ken that Claire is technically yer guardian and wants to adopt ye, and ye ken I love both of ye verra much, and someday if she'll have me, I want to marry yer mam, and  maybe someday you'd let me be yer Da."

"You'd be the best da, milord." Fergus smiled. 

Jamie's heart melted, and squeezed him to his side. 

"But we keep the part about me marrying yer mam a secret fer now, ya hear?"

"Oui," Fergus said and quickly returned to the video game as he spotted her coming.

"What did I miss?"

"Jamie's getting his butt kicked." Fergus said, and Claire laughed sitting back and watching her two boys.

------------------------------------------------------

The day of the tea, Claire tried on dress after dress, deciding on a yellow floral gown, and decided to forgo a tiara for the event, and instead wearing a broad brim hat. Jamie wore a navy suit with a yellow tie that matched her dress, courtesy of her wardrobe team. 

“Ye look lovely, Sassenach.” Jamie kissed her cheek as they met at the palace door.

“Thank you. You look rather handsome yourself. Shall we?” she asked, gesturing to the exit.

“Aye we shall.” Hand in hand they walked out to the gardens where they began to greet guests. Eventually, they split to cover more ground, chatting with guests amicably. Encouraging them to take some refreshments.

Claire was helping herself to a glass of lemonade when she spotted Jamie playing with Fergus and a few other children on the lawn. Her heart swelled watching her two men, playing together so well.

“He’s quite a catch.” A young blonde woman said, a slight french accent, eyeing up Jamie.

“That he is.” Claire said.

“I wouldn't waste your time though. I know he has a thing for Blondes’ and he’s married to his work.”

“Is that so?” Claire asked, eyebrow cocked.

“Yes, not one for commitment. Tragic, really.”

“Indeed.” Claire fought the incredible urge to roll her eyes.

“I’m Annelise.” The blonde introduced herself.

“I’m…”

“Claire,” a voice called. She turned to see Jamie approaching the pair.

“Hello Darling.” Claire pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Speak of the devil and he will appear.”

“I thought my ears were ringing.” He pressed a kiss to her cheek, before turning to the other woman. “ Annelise. Nice to see ye again. How is what... was his name...Charles?”

“We’re no longer together.” She said stiffly.

“Oh well I’m sorry to hear that. I see you’ve met Princess Claire, my girlfriend.”

“Your girlfriend?” Annalise asked, suddenly embarrassed.

“Aye.” He said smiling. “Light of my life.”

“Well lovely to meet you… your highness. I think I saw my friend… if you’ll excuse me.”

“What did I miss?” Jamie asked.

“Apparently you have a thing for blondes and are married to your job.” Claire said. “I shouldn’t waste my time on such a man.” she rolled her eyes and turned 

“Well that’s simply not true. I have a thing for dark-haired Sassenach women, who are brilliant, kind, incredibly witty, and have a heart of gold.” He said pressing a kiss to her head.. “And can ye blame me for being basically married to my work when I work with the woman of my dreams?”

“I suppose not. And I suppose that you’re not a waste of time.” she cheekily grinned at him. 

“I surely hope not.” Jamie grinned at her.

“So when were you with her?” Claire asked.

“In my early 20’s. Few months back in Uni. She left me for another man.” He shrugged. “It was a verra long time ago. I hadna thought of her in nearly a decade. I'm surprised she's here, then again I'm not. ”

“And here she was trying to tell me I couldn’t have you.” Claire pouted.

“Ye have my soul Sassenach. Ye ken that.” He kissed her temple.

“Look at the happy couple.” King Quentin said, approaching the pair. 

“Verra happy.” Jamie smiled, wrapping an arm around Claire’s waist.

“I’m glad to see it. Claire would the two of you be kind enough to say a few words?”

“Of course.”

Hand in hand, Jamie and Claire approached the small platform. Champagne glass in hand, Jamie took a spoon and tapped against the side.

“May we have yer attention please everyone?”The space fell hushed and all eyes fell on Claire.

“Jamie and I would like to thank each and everyone of you for attending our lovely little Tea this afternoon. I’m thankful that the weather has held out and that you get to see the Palace Garden in full bloom.” She took a breath.

“Today we raise funds for two causes that are very near and dear to my heart. As some of you may know, after the tragic accident with my parents ship, I suffered some memory loss and was raised in the foster care system. After spending years in the system, despite best efforts, I still struggled with some of my experiences. In addition, earlier this year I began to foster a child of my own. Fergus.”

Fergus came forward and waved as he walked on the stage, to stand in front of her and Jamie. Claire hugged him as he received a small round of applause.

“Fergus has brought so much joy to my life, and I can’t imagine my life without him. What you may not know about Fergus, is that he is also currently fighting Osteosarcoma, a  type of bone cancer. Thanks to our national health system, families do not have to worry about the cost of care itself like they might have to in other countries. However, having to miss work because of appointments, can be incredibly difficult financially on a family, and lead to some tough decisions. On that note, part of today's funds will go to Fergus’s fund, a new charity to help provide services for families with children with chronic illnesses.”

Another round of applause was heard.

“Thank you all again for coming. And on that note please enjoy the refreshments and entertainment”

“Princess Claire! Princess Claire!” A few voices called out.

“Are you and Mr. Fraser together?”

“Yes,” Jamie answered. “Princess Claire and I are officially courting and verra happy together.” He pressed a kiss to her knuckles, as she smiled at him.

“Is that why you and Dr. Randall parted?” Another reporter asked.

“No, Dr. Randall if you may recall was caught in a relationship with another woman. Jamie and I made our feelings for each other known, a bit after that. No more questions about our relationship please. Today is for the children and the families.”

“Fergus, how is it having the princess for a mother?”

“You don’t have to answer, lad.” Jamie said.

“I want to.” he said

“Princess Claire is the best maman, anyone could ever ask for. She is always there to hug me and make everything feel better. She and Jamie take care of me in treatment and take me home, help me with school, and play with me. We have fun together, and they make me feel safe and cared for. I never had that feeling before.” He turned around and hugged Claire and Jamie.

A few “Awe”s rang out in the crowd.

Both Claire and Jamie had tears in their eyes as they bent down and hugged the young boy. Claire pressed a kiss to his head and squeezed him tight.

“Ye never have to doubt that ye are safe and cared for, mo mhac. We will always take care of ye.” Jamie squeezed him.

They ignored the flashing of the cameras, and the chatter of the people as they began to disperse.

“Can I have a cookie?” Fergus eventually asked, causing Claire to laugh.

“Of course, help yourself.” she said. The two stood, and straightened out their clothes, Claire fixing Jamie’s tie.

“I love that boy.” Claire said. “I can’t wait to adopt him.”

“Aye, I can’t wait either.” Claire pressed a kiss to his lips, not caring that the cameras were flashing. He smiled and wrapped an arm around her, and together they went and talked to more people, socializing.

Finally everyone had left.

"What a day," Claire sighed, as she settled on the sofa, her feet resting on Jamie's lap.

"Aye," he said. He carefully undid the straps of her shoes, and began to massage her feet.

"Jamie," she moaned. "You are the most perfect man who has ever lived."

He chuckled to himself. "I aim to please, Sassenach. I was wondering something."

"You could ask me for anything right now, and as long as you keep doing that, I would say yes." she said. "A key to the city? Absolutely.The royal treasury? It's yours. "

"How about dinner with my family at Lallybroch next weekend, with you as my girlfriend and not as my boss?"

"Deal." 

Chapter Text

 Jamie rang his parents the next morning. 

“Saw ye on the news, with Claire today.” Ellen said. “I didna ken ye two were going public.”

“We are mam. Ye ken how I feel about her, and she feels the same. We just decided it was time to stop hiding it.”

“Well I’m verra happy for ye, lad. Yer father is as well. It was obvious that whole time she helped yer father in the hospital, how much ye wanted her and cared for her”

“Aye, thank ye. Actually, I called because I ken ye wanted me to come home for dinner next Sunday.”

“Yes, I havena fed ye in far too long. Ye looked too thin on the TV.  Shall I make a roast?”

“I’m bringing Claire and Fergus, if ye dinna mind.”

“That’s wonderful news! Jenny, Ian, and their brood will be here as well. Ye think Murtagh can make it?”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine considering half of the princesses security team will be there anyway.”

“Dinners at 5:30 as always, I look forward to seeing ye with yer lass.” 

------------------------

"Is there anything I can bring to Sunday dinner? I feel bad showing up empty handed to anyone's home."

"Just yerself Sassenach, Mam always makes enough food for an army."

"Not even wine? Dessert? Flowers?"

"Aye, we can bring flowers but dinna fasch, mo chridee."

"I know I've met both of your parents before and got along but this is the first time I'm meeting them as your girlfriend and I want to make a good impression."

"Mo chride, ye ken the whole family already except for the bairns."

"I barely know Jenny. And Ian and Murtagh, I've seldom discussed anything with them outside of work."

"Aye but they ken ye are a kind-hearted, and fair lass."

She pouted at him as she gazed up. "Are you sure theres nothing else I can bring to make a good impression?"

"Mam loves rice pudding." Jamie said. "She seldom makes it."

"Perfect! I'll be in the kitchen learning how to make rice pudding."

"We could just ask Mrs. Fitz." 

"I want to make it. I am good for something."

"Aye yer a wonderful doctor and mother Sassenach. Ye dinna need to prove yourself to my family. "

"I make you work so hard. I want them to know I bring something to our relationship "

"Sassenach, working with ye brings me such joy, and it hardly feels like work at all. Being able to help ye and guide our country in decision making feels like a privilege. Besides ye bring plenty to our relationship"

"Really?" she asked . 

"Of course." He pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Ye are my better half. Ye bring the brains, the heart, the beauty," he said pressing a kiss to her cheek articulating each one. 

"Oh hush, you are all of those things." She said, wrapping her arms around his neck. 

"Ye are my heart Claire." Jamie kissed her softly. 

"And you are mine." She stood on her tiptoes and pecked his lips. "Now I am going to look for Rice pudding recipes." 

-------------------------

She did eventually find two online that looked promising, and having her boys taste test was a treat. She seldom got a chance to cook anything much less a treat, and they were happy to join in the taste test, agreeing on the second recipe. The morning of the trip, she made her batch of pudding and was letting it cool, and tearing through her closet. 

"Jamie, what do we wear?"

"Typically it's nice shirts and jeans Sassenach. Ye dinna need to fasch too much." 

"I just want to make a good impression."

"They already love ye Sassenach." 

"Still." she looked at him, eyes full of concern. 

"Wear that blue dress I like. that ye wear on the weekends. With the dots."

"That's pre-princess, wardrobe. I've had that for ages." she said, reaching into her wardrobe and pulling out said garment. A navy and white polka dot wrap dress with butterfly sleeves. 

"Aye, it's classic and its you. Thats why I like it so much." 

"You like it because it hugs my arse."

"Well it doesna hurt." Jamie grinned, grabbing said arse and giving it a small smack. "Go on get dressed. Ye ken it's a bit of a drive." 

She dressed and quickly applied some light make up, tying her curls back in a neat bun, before deciding on a bold lip.  She slipped in a pair of earrings, and slipped into a pair of low heels.

"Will I do?" she asked Jamie.

"Aye ye'll do fine." Jamie smiled. "But yer missing something."

"I am?" she asked confused, before she watched Jamie take a box from his pocket and present it to her. 

"What is this?" she asked. 

"Just a wee something I saw that reminded me of ye." He took the lid off the box and revealed a pendant of a thistle and a crown. 

"It's beautiful, Jamie." 

"Aye, I wanted to get ye something. It's been three months of ye putting up with me. I ken thats not all that long in the long run but-"

"Jamie I don't put up with you. I want you by my side." she said, grasping his face in her hands. "I love it, and I love you. It's perfect. You're perfect. Help me put it on." 

He came behind her and clapped the necklace around her neck, and then wrapping his arms tight around her waist, squeezing, planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Come on, we should get going. We have a bit of a drive." 

Hand in hand, they headed to the car, Fergus trailing behind.

Rice pudding, a bouquet, and all members in tow, they piled into Jamie's own SUV.

 

"I've never see you drive. I didn't even stop to think about what kind of car you drove." she said as he opened the door for her to sit.

"Aye, I do drive here to the palace from my flat on the rare occasion I do go home." Once they were all buckled in, he had one hand wrapped around the steering wheel, and the other entwined in Claire's hand. 

"I used to drive a mini." Claire said. "But I mostly took the tube or walked. Not a lot of parking near the hospital." she said.

"I can see that suiting ye Sassenach." He pressed a kiss to her knuckles. 

"Not you though. You wouldn't fit." 

"No, I wouldna." he laughed. 

They drove out of the city and into the countryside, Fergus's eyes wide as they did.

"Ye'alright lad?"

"It's so green!" he said.

"It's beautiful," Claire agreed.

"Aye, ye should see the sky tonight after dinner. Sunset is beautiful as are the stars."

It took a while but they eventually arrived and drove through a large stone archway, along a gravel path to the 

"Jamie you didn't tell me you grew up on such a large estate." 

"Comparatively speaking to Uncle Colum's estate, it was rather small but aye, we have a fair bit of land." 

"It's beautiful." She said.

"Aye, it's our ancestral home."

He parked the car beside several others. 

"Uncle Jamie!" several children came running as soon as he was out of the car.

"Ah my lads."  He was practically tackled to the ground by a darker haired boy and a blonde boy. "Yer growing so fast! Braw laddies ye, are." 

The boys giggled as he swung them each in the air. 

"Who's that?"

"That's dad's boss, Princess Claire." the darker haired boy said, suddenly dropping into a bow.

"Aye, but this also my girlfriend. Claire, meet Young Jamie and Young Ian."

"A pleasure to meet both of you." she smiled. "Fergus, say hello."

"Hello." Fergus waved, still a little weak from his chemo treatment two days prior.

"Want to play shinty with us?"

"Can I?" he turned to Claire.

"Of course. Be careful and have fun." She ruffled his hair once before he ran off. 

"Ready?" Jamie asked grabbing the bouquet from the back seat, as Claire grabbed the container of rice pudding.

"Ready!"

They walked in through the large archway into the foyer, where they spotted a smiling Ellen Fraser wearing an apron. 

"Jamie! Claire!" Ellen exclaimed. "It's so good to have ye both here! I was wondering when you'd arrive. Jenny's boys are out front playing Shinty!"

"Good to see ye too mam. We already saw the lads. Fergus is with them!"

"Hello," Claire said more shy than usual. "It's wonderful to see you again!"

"Likewise lass. Now what have you two brought. I told ye, I had everything under control."

"Aye ken but Claire wanted to bring ye something."

"Jamie mentioned that rice pudding was your favorite and that you don't have it that often so I made-"

"That is so lovely of ye Claire. Lemme put that in the fridge and Jamie ye ken where the vases are. Put those lovely flowers on the dining room table."

"Aye mam."

"Is there anything I can help with?" Claire asked. 

"Na, dinna fasch. I'm used to feeding this whole brood. I've got it well under control .Why don't ye head to the sitting room? Jamie will show ye and ye can make yerself at home. Get the lass a beverage, sweetheart." 

"Yes mam." Jamie grinned. "A dram mo chridhe?"

"Isn't it a tad-?"

"Early? Nah. We run a distillery here Sassenach. It's always fine."

"Oh, alright then. And perhaps water?"

"Aye." Jamie nodded. She found herself in the sitting room, when two smiling little girls came up with her.

"Are ye Princess Claire?"

"Yes, I am. You must be Maggie and Kitty." Claire smiled at them broadly. 

"You know our names!" The younger one asked wide eyed, from the K pendant she was wearing she determined that she was Kitty.

"I do. Your Uncle Jamie told me all about the two of you."

"He did?" Maggie asked. 

"He did. He loves you two very much."

"Mama said he loves you. That he's gone all mushy on you."  Maggie smirked. 

"He is," Claire let out a laugh. "And I love him too."

"Really? Is he your Prince Charming?" Kitty asked. 

"I like to think so." she smiled and caught a glimpse of her tall warrior.

"That's so romantic!" Maggie said, smiling.

"Will you have a tea party with us?" Kitty asked.

"I would love nothing more."  She grabbed hands with the two girls and was pulled down a hallway.

"What're you doing with princess Claire?" Jenny asked. 

"We're having a tea party." Claire smiled brightly. "Care to join?" 

"Dinna get yer Sunday dresses dirty girls." Jenny said sternly. "Good to see you Claire. Glad ye finally are together with the clotheid of my brother."

"Me too." she smiled. 

"Come on!" Kitty pulled and they found the tea set and set it up on the corner of the coffee table in the sitting room. 

She sat neatly on the floor along side the giggling girls sipping tea, occasionally catching Jamie's eyes. Eventually, Kitty had plopped into Claire's lap and together they were laughing and sipping fake cups of tea. 

Jamie had thought she had never looked more beautiful, her arms wrapped around a bairn smiling.

"She looks good with a bairn in her arms," Jenny remarked to him. 

"Aye. She's a wonderful mam to our lad."

"I like how ye said our. I didna think ye adopted him."

"Claire hasn't yet. But when she does I want my name on the papers. I love him as if he were ma own."

"I ken." Jenny hugged his side. "It's good to see ya se happy." 

"I've never been happier, Janet." 

"I'm glad. Now go get yer lass and give her the tour." 

Jamie approached the little lasses on the floor.

"Unca Jamie!" 

"I have to steal my princess away." he said offering a hand to Claire who took it and stood dusting herself off. He pressed a kiss to her lips quickly. 

"Miss me?" she teased. 

"Aye," he grinned. "Come on, lemme give ye a wee tour." 

Jamie proceeded to walk her throughout the large house, pointing out different rooms, art work, family photos, ending in his own childhood bedroom, littered with sports trophies, pictures of Jamie and his childhood. 

"Is that Ian?" Claire said looking at the picture.

"Aye, we've been thick as thieves for as long as I can remember."

"That's nice. I'm glad you have someone to watch your back." 

"And I'm glad that I can trust him to watch yours." Jamie said. "Ye are the most precious thing to me lass. And I ken Ian will always protect ye."He pressed a kiss to her temple as he wrapped her in his arms before kissing her soundly. 

"I love you." she said. "Thank you for sharing this with me." 

"There's no one I'd rather share this with." 

"Supper's ready!" They heard a voice call out.

"I suppose that's our cue." Claire said.

"Oye love birds C'mon."  They heard Jenny call. 

Claire and Jamie descended the stairs.

"Fergus what on Earth happened to you?" Claire asked observing how dirty the little boy was.

"I had so much fun playing Shinty!" he said.

"Wash your hands and face please." Fergus merely looked at her. "Now." 

"Oui, milady!" 

"I'm glad he's having fun."Jamie said.

"Me too." 

"There she is. Her highness herself."

"Murtagh," Claire greeted the man. "Good to see you."

Jamie and the man hugged. "Glad ye could come. It's nice to have my whole family under one roof."

"Aye its a treat. Especially when Ellen's cooking. Best get a seat before the bairns eat all the roast."  

"I haven't seen your father." Claire noted as they took a seat.

"He's coming." Ellen said. "He needed a rest before dinner." 

She smiled as she saw him, but saw his gait was still a bit unsteady, which after everything he had been through was hardly the biggest of problems. 

"Claire," he grinned as he took his seat at the head of the table beside her. "My angel." 

"I'm no angel." Claire shook her head.

"I'll attest to that," Jamie smirked, getting a small smack from Claire. 

"Hush you." she smiled at Jamie, and shook her head.  "It's good to see you in such good spirits Brian."

"It's good to see ye here as well. Thank ye for taking care of mo mhac." 

"You call Fergus that,"she turned to Jamie. "Mo Mhac. What does it mean?"

"My son." Brian said. 

Claires hand found Jamie's under the table and she squeezed tight, tears brimming. 

"Shhh mo chridhe. Dinna cry." He pressed a kiss to her knuckles. 

"I just feel blessed." she said. 

"Aye we are all blessed to be together." Ellen said. "Let's say grace before we all dig in."

They all held hands as Ellen began to recite a quick blessing. 

"Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit". 

They made the sign of the cross before they began serving meat, potatoes, rolls and vegetables. 

Claire noticed Brian wasn't eating, despite Ellen serving him a good portion..

"Trouble cutting your food and eating still?" she asked quietly.

"Aye, Ellen helps me but I wanna make sure she eats first. She's always working sa hard.. I have some movement of the hand but the knives are still a wee bit difficult to use.  I'm working on it with my OT"

"Let me," Claire inched her chair closer to the family patriarch, and began to assist him and make light conversation with him as she cut and served him his roast.

If Jamie hadn't already been sure that this woman was the one made for him, this for sure would have cemented it, seeing her care for his sick Da, going back into healer mode.

At one point the whole table had stopped for a moment to observe, seeing Brian laugh and smile as the woman fed him. Ellen looked to the pair and then to Jamie and smiled broadly.  She fit perfectly in with everyone else. There was no doubt about it.

After helping clear and clean dishes from dinner and enjoying Claire's wonderful rice pudding, Jamie took her for a walk outside on the lands, the sun had sent and the stars starting to appear.

"There are so many stars here." she said, wrapped under Jamie's arm, snuggling against his warmth.

"Aye, there are." 

"Look a shooting star!" 

"Make a wish Sassenach!" 

I want this family I'm building to last. I want my forever with them.

Claire squeezed her eyes tight and prayed to whatever gods above, to the stars that they would hear this and listen.

"What'd ye wish for?"

"I can't tell you. If you say it it won't come true."

"Ye canna believe that. Yer a woman of science." Jamie mock protested.

"I'm a woman who suddenly became a princess over night and has her very own knight in shining armor. Forgive me for believing a little in the tradition of wishes." He pulled her closer, and was about to kiss her when she stopped him. "What'd you wish for Fraser?"

"I didna wish for a thing. Everything I could ever want is here."

He kissed her soundly, and she smiled against his lips, pushing herself against his chest.

His phone began to ring, and he ignored it.

"Shouldn't you get that?" Claire said, returning to kissing him just as fervently as she had been minutes prior.

"It's my day off." he said, ignoring it again. But it continued to ring and ring. 

Finally he sighed and broke away from the kiss.

"What?" Jamie spat out, and suddenly his face turned white.

"We need to get back to the palace." he said, and Claire didn't question it based on the look on his face.. He quickly lead them back to the house, and hastily made goodbyes, hugging everyone they could, strapping Fergus in the car.

They quickly packed up Jamie's SUV and Claire watched as he held the steering wheel, white knuckled, as Fergus snoozed in the back seat.

"What is it?" she asked softly. 

"I can't Sassenach, I can't tell ye right now." he said, as his eyes flicked to Fergus in the rearview. 

They made it into the palace, Jamie gently waking Fergus up to walk in. 

Dougal was waiting for them, a grimace across his face.

"Is she here?" Jamie asked quietly.

"Aye."

"Claire, why don't ye get Fergus to bed." Jamie suggested. 

"Alright," she seldom felt so distant from Jamie but the way he was acting terrified her. 

"Shes-"

"CLAUDEL!" a woman loudly exclaimed and rushed forward to Fergus and hugged him, and he looked completely confused.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I'm your birth mother." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 "You're what?" Claire asked.

"I'm Claudel's birth mother." 

"I'm sorry. You must be mistaken. This is Fergus, not Claudel." 

"I named him Claudel in the hospital. When I gave him up. 10 years ago. I saw him on the news. I knew it was him."  Claire looked from the dark haired woman to her son, and saw his expression. A glance over at Jamie proved no help, and instead she decided to remove her son from the equation for the moment.

"Fergus, my love. Why don't you go get ready for bed?" Claire suggested. 

Fergus looked between the two women, confused.

"It's alright lad. We'll explain everything to ye in a bit."  Jamie said, ruffling his hair. 

"Goodnight milady, milord, Warchief MacKenzie." He hugged Claire and Jamie in turn, and nodded to the strange woman who had hugged him. 

"Goodnight sweetheart." Claire said, she watched him head down the hall, her eyes darting between him and the woman before her.

"What is your name?" Claire asked, eventually turning to the woman.

"Madeline." the woman introduced.

"Well Madeline, you can understand why I'm not quick to trust that you are telling me the truth."

"I know that. I'm sure you have every reason not to trust me, but I'm willing to be DNA tested to prove it. That boy is my son." 

The more Claire looked at the woman, the more she did see of her son. The same dark curls, similar eye shape, and the cheekbones. 

"It's been 10 years. What is it that you want?" Claire asked. 

"I want my son back." She said sternly.

"Even if he is your son, I'm afraid he's currently in my care."

"I'm in a totally different place than I was when I gave birth."

"I'm sure you are." Claire said sympathetically, thinking about how she herself had changed in the past 10 years. How much she had grown

"You don't understand. I was 17. I was in an abusive relationship, I had a drug problem. I've completely turned everything around. I'm clean 9 years now."

"That's wonderful lass," Jamie said. "However, Fergus has a lot of special needs, the cancer ye ken, and we just want what's best for him. He's been with us for a while now, and I dinna think that a change right now would be best for him."

"I'm able to care for him. I have a good job. I'm not poor."

"It's not a matter of money." Claire said. "Once we do confirm via DNA test that you are indeed his mother, I would be comfortable allowing you to visit with Fergus, and to get to know him. But as Jamie said, this is the first and only stable home he has known. He's just getting comfortable here. I don't want to rip everything out from under him." 

"Of course. I understand"

"Princess, if we have the supplies are ye able to perform a blood draw?" Dougal asked.

"I suppose." Claire said. "It's been a while. But yes." 

"We ken its not tampered with then." Dougal noted. 

"If you wouldn't mind, just rolling a sleeve up for me. Its just a tube of blood." 

Claire was almost tempted to purposely miss and have to poke the woman twice, just out of spite, but slid the needle in smoothly without undue poking, and collected the sample.

"I'll have Beaton see to it like he did last time. We should have confirmation within the day."Dougal said.

"Aye," Jamie nodded. "Miss Madeline, why don't ye go home and rest? It's late and Fergus is already headed to bed. We'll have the proper information tomorrow and will go from there." 

"Oui, of course." 

"We'll be in contact tomorrow to set up a meeting to discuss further steps." 

"Merci... thank you." She said, before Rupert escorted the woman out. 

An eerie silence filled the room for a moment before Claire turned to the two men. 

"What the HELL was that?"

"I was trying to take care of it before ye arrived your majesty. I told Jamie not to worry ye."

"You blindsided me with that! You blindsided Fergus with that. He must be so confused." Claire practically growled in frustration. 

"I'm sorry Sassenach. I wanted to tell ye privately but I thought I had taken care of it." 

"We promised no secrets." She glared at him. 

"Aye." Jamie looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm sorry, mo chridhe. I didna mean to hide the truth from ye."

She turned to him, sighing. "We'll do better next time." She wrapped her arms around his neck, and felt his arms encircle her waist, and she nearly broke down.

"I will contact Mrs. Baird first thing in the morning and we will let her know about the developments and see what we can do to stop this."

"I don't want to lose him Jamie, even if he is hers."

"We willna lose him." Jamie assured her, he pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"Let's go tell him what we know." Claire said. Hand in hand they walked down the corridor to Fergus's suite.

They found him sitting up in bed, clad in his pajamas, waiting for them. 

"Are you going to send me away? Is that why she's here? Do you not want me anymore?" Fergus asked.

"Oh my goodness." Claire nearly burst into tears. "Absolutely not. Fergus, let me make something abundantly clear right now. You may not be my son in title yet but you are my son in heart. You will always be my first child. I love you with my entire heart, and perhaps I don't say it enough, but I do. I adore you and would do anything for you. I will never send you away. " 

"Ye ken i adore ye lad. I call you mo mhac for a reason, because ye are my son in heart as well. Ye ken it." Jamie said. "I love ye Fergus." 

Both Claire and Jamie squeezed him tight.

"Then why is she here? She didn't want me then."

"Oh Fergus, I'm not sure that it was that she didn't want you. Perhaps she was just giving you your best chance to have a good life."

"But I didn't!" he protested. "Not till now!" 

"I know darling. But we're going to work it out." Claire assured him. She squeezed him tight and pressed a kiss to his curls. "We will work it out, and talk to Mrs. Baird to see what we can do." 

Fergus nodded and yawned. 

"Sweet dreams darling." Claire smoothed his curls once more before she and Jamie exited his room, turning off the lights.

Claire kicked off her flats as soon as they got into her suite across the hall and practically threw herself onto the bed. 

"Mo chridhe," Jamie gently stroked her back. 

"What a rainy ending to a perfect day." she mumbled into a pillow.

"Aye, I ken Sassenach." He laid beside her and wrapped an arm loosely around her waist. "I loved seeing ye there. Among my family."

She turned to face him.

"Ye belong there. Ye're part of it. Both ye and Fergus. You are my family." 

She kissed him softly. "And you are mine."

He held her closer, and together their breathing evened out and they fell asleep.

 

"The blood results came back." Dougal said.

"And?"

"She is indeed the boys mother." 

"I'm not surprised. You could see the similarities." Claire shook her head. "What do we do now?"

"Let's talk to Mrs. Baird. Perhaps she can shed some insight."

"Well that certainly puts a damper on yer adoption plans." She said.

"It does?"Claire asked, suddenly very anxious.

"The law will almost always side with biological parents in custody cases."

"She terminated parental rights didn't she?" Jamie asked. "From my understanding of the law, if there is no contact in a certain amount of time, its cancelled. 

"No, unfortunately when Fergus was put up for adoption, open communication was left in the contract."

"So what you're saying is that she could have reached out at any time?" Claire said. "How convenient that she shows up now?"

"I'm not disagreeing with ye, yer highness." 

"Please Mrs. Baird, Jamie and I love Fergus as if he were our own. We want to adopt him, and we would more than happily allow for visitation but we think he belongs with us in a stable environment"

" Claire and I are are more than familiar with his Chemo regimen, what signs and symptoms to look out for, what he's good at in school and where we have extra tutoring so he can do his best. We will do anything."

"I'm afraid we may have to go to court and seek a judge's ruling." Mrs. Baird said. 

"Guess we'll need to find a good family lawyer." Jamie said.

"Good thing I know one." Claire said. 

-----------------------

"John Grey, Esquire." 

"John, it's Claire."

"Oh my goodness, how good it is to hear from you." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"I know I haven't been the most communicative friend in the past few months." 

"The phone works both ways. Don't you worry about it. You have obviously had some massive life changes. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I'm calling on business John."

"Oh, are you trying to adopt?" He asked. "I swore I saw you on the news with a child." 

"Yes... However there is a bit of a snag. A Bit of a custody battle."

"Oh? Do tell."

"Over dinner perhaps? My place?" Claire said.

"But of course. Send me the details. I'll come over."

"Thank you. We'll see you soon."

Claire texted him details, planning on having him come over Friday night, knowing Fergus would probalby be down for the count following Chemo, and would be unlikely to pay attention as it is.

John arrived and gave Claire a bow before they launched into a hug, and recomposing himself to shake Jamie's hand.

"Fraser, long time no see."

"It's good to see you Grey."  The two embraced in a quick hug.

"You two know each other?" Claire asked.

"Aye, John and I went to school together." He grinned. "The only man who challenges me when I play chess."

"Indeed. Claire, you know if you hadn't started dating Frank, I was going to try and set you up with Jamie actually." John said with a smirk. 

"Well you would've been quite the matchmaker John." Claire said turning to Jamie with a soft smile. "We are quite happy together. I'm quite smitten with him."

"Aye, and I with you Sassenach."  Jamie pressed a soft kiss to her lips.

"How sweet. Now tell me the scenario with the custody."

"Over dinner? I have wellingtons waiting for us in the dining room."

"My favorite, you remembered." John smiled. 

"Care for a dram?" 

"Always." 

The three sat down to an intimate dinner in one of the smaller dining rooms rather than the formal one, Fergus having already gone to bed.

"I'm not going to lie to you Claire, this will not be an easy trial."

Her heart sank and she looked to Jamie.  "What can we do?"

"I will do everything I can to look into her past, prove she's unfit to be a mother."

"Shouldn't Fergus have a say in all of this?"

"Minimal unfortunately. Typically they don't think children have a say in things until they are at least 12 and capable of making that choice." 

"But he wants to be with us." 

"I know that Claire and you know that but we will have to play by the Judge's rules. I will be with you every step of the way."

--------------------------

A court date was arranged, despite John attempting to litigate with Madeline's lawyers outside of the court room but going nowhere.

"We agreed to visitation whenever she wants. What more can we budge on?" Claire asked.

"She's asking for full custody." John said. "She claims he's better off being raised by his own blood."

"He is our son now." Jamie argued. "And ye ken that family is made by more than just blood."

"I know that Jamie but unfortunately, this will end up in front of a judge." 

"The press is going to have a field day." Claire said with a groan.

"Let me handle that Sassenach. I have a team for that."

"I feel helpless here."  she said near tears. 

"Shhh mo chridhe," 

"Claire we have things under control." John assured her. 

"I just hate to drag Fergus into this."

"I assure you the judge will not pull a Solomon and ask you to cut him in half." John said with a small laugh. 

"I want him to be happy." Claire murmured.

"He kens that Sassenach."

---------------------------------------

John was always charismatic, but in the court room, he was a whole different creature. He became incredibly persuasive, and Claire had to admit she was rather enamored by it. He was a terrific orator as he went through his opening arguments, discussing how Claire was the most fit choice to continue taking care of Fergus. 

He even referenced the video from the day Fergus had been introduced at the tea party, where he said that Claire was the best mother he could have asked for. 

"Well obviously he hasn't been mothered by my client," the opposing lawyer said, as he tried to paint Madeline as the most fit mother. He painted her giving up Fergus up for adoption, as something she had been coerced into.  

John tried her best to crack her, but she stood her ground firm, discussing her new life.

The judge allowed them to bring forward witnesses, to testify to each of their fitnesses as parents. Mary, Fergus's tutor, and Claire's friend testified on her behalf, as well as Mrs. Baird, discussing how excited Claire and Jamie had been to add Fergus to their family from the beginning.

She was confident, the judge would decide in their favor. How could he not?

However, then the judge did make his ruling, it was not in their favor. 

"I'm ruling in favor of Ms. Madeline, she should be given the opportunity to raise her son."

"NO DONT MAKE ME GO!"

"Young man, you will be going to your birth mothers.

"Come here Claudel."

"My name is Fergus and I'm not going anywhere with you! Milady, don't make me."

Claire bent down to Fergus's level, and hugged him to her tight. "I am so sorry my love. Believe me, I will fight this, because I want nothing more than to take you home with me right now. But the judge says you should go live with Madeline. "

"I don't want to. I don't know her."

"I don't want to let you go either mo mhac," Jamie squeezed him.  "But believe me, we are always going to love you and be only a phone call away. Ye can call us any time of any day, and we will answer."

"You promised you wouldn't make me go away." He cried into Claire's arms. 

"I don't want to darling. Believe me, I would never send you away willingly. But sometimes there are things we have to do even if we don't want to."

"But you're a princess."

"I know. That doesn't make me different than anyone else." Claire said, tears streaming down her face. "If love was enough, you'd be ours forever."

"Come along Claudel." Madeline said, impatiently.  "Time to go to your new home.

"I'm saying goodbye." he said bitterly. 

"We'll have things from home brought to you. Is there anything you want?" Claire asked.

"To stay with you!"

"Your honor, Please. Can ye not see how ye are tearing this boy away from everything he's known?" Jamie pleaded. 

"Mr. Fraser, I understand you're upset but my ruling is final at this time. The boy will go with his mother." 

"Come along," Madeline offered him a hand which he begrudgingly took, eyes full of tears as he walked out of the courtroom. 

"Mr. Randall? Yes we won." 

--------------------------------

Jamie took Claire home to the palace. She was numb. 

"I'm so sorry Sassenach."

"Jamie, how could this happen?"

"I don't know. It isna fair." He held her tight, pressing a gentle kiss to her lips. She returned the kiss, pulling herself closer to him. 

"We can't let this break us." she said.

"Why would you think that?" he asked, stroking her hair.

"I've heard stories of couples breaking up after losing a child and I know its not the same-"

"Claire, look at me." he urged her. "You will never lose me. Ye are the love of my life, Sassenach. I will be yours forever." 

"And I am yours." she said, kissing him, hand starting to pull at clothes.

"Claire," he looked at her. "Is this really what ye want lass?"

"I need to feel something. Please Jamie. Make me forget, just for a second." 

He deepened the kiss, his tongue swiping over her bottom lip, before he pulled it gently with his teeth, bringing her in closer.

His hands made quick work of her clothes, until she was nearly bare before him.

He shed his shirt and trousers, and kneeled before her just taking her in.

"What?" she asked.

"You're so beautiful Sassenach. How did I get so lucky?" Jamie said as his lips began to cover every inch of her body in kisses, finding her nipples, staring back at him like ripe cherries, and taking one in his mouth, his hand palming and squeezing her other breast as he gently suckled her eliciting a moan, before switching to the other. He listened to her wee noises he loved before kissing further down her navel, to just above her panties, kissing the inner part of her thighs, coming just short of where she was most desperate for him.

"Please Jamie." she whined.

"Patience is a virtue lass." he gently tutted, slowly hooking his fingers into the side of the small scrap of lace acting as the barrier between them, and puling them slowly down her legs. 

He stripped his own boxers off and kissed her slowly once more, a hand cupping her sex, and gently starting to part her folds, already slick, and ready for him. He gently inserted one and then two fingers.

She reached out and touched him, her hand wrapping around him, stroking him. They lost themselves in the pleasure of stroking and touching each other. 

"That's right Sassenach, let go. Cum for me," he said continuing to pump his fingers deep inside of her, his thumb circling her clit. He watched as he came undone around him. "That's right my lass." 

"Please Jamie let me feel you. Do it now, and don't be gentle."

It was a matter of seconds before he was ready and positioned at her entrance, and with one deep stroke, he filled her, both of them moaning at the sensation. He was filling her, harder and faster than he normally would, as she asked.  His fingers gripping her hips so tightly, she thought she might bruise, but she felt something, that wasn't emotional hurt and she didn't care.

She came undone around him once more, before he finally collapsed rolling off of her and pulling her into his arms.

"I love you Jamie." 

"I love ye too Sassenach. We're going to be okay. Dinna fasch." 

Chapter Text

 The palace was too quiet without Fergus’s laughter, the constant patter of his feet running down the hallway, the lazy mumbled good mornings as Claire would try and rouse him, the bed time stories, the soft snores at bedtime . Claire tried her best to keep her stiff upper lip, she did, but Jamie knew better and was beside her, hurting just as much, trying to take the pain away.

She tried to hide her sadness, constantly joking, or flirting with Jamie, but he could see what was really going on.

They went through the days, meetings after meeting, pouring themselves into their work, trying to ignore the emptiness they felt inside, the suffering too terrible to name.  Friday came and they had nothing to do. No meetings, no luncheons, no to do lists. It was treatment day and they had cleared their schedules until Fergus was scheduled to be done with treatment.

“He’s at chemo now,” Claire said softly as Jamie wrapped an arm around her, as they laid in bed. “We could call and check on him. I’m sure Glenna would tell us.”

“We shouldna.” Jamie told her. “As much as I wanna know, we have to understand that he’s not ours.”

“He’ll always be ours. We’ll always care, Jamie.” Claire protested.

“Aye, I ken that.” Jamie pressed his lips to her forehead, and squeezed her tight. “We will always love him.”

But Claire didn’t call the infusion center at Jamie’s request. However, the following week they called her.

“Good morning, can I please speak to Claire?”

“This is she. Is something wrong with Fergus?”

“Well that’s what we were calling about. We wanted to ask you if there was something wrong with him. He hasn’t come in for his last two treatments.”

“Fergus had custody changed over to his birth mother. Unfortunately he’s not in our care, but I will reach out to the case manager and inform her. I know that she’s not accustomed to all of the nuances of his care, but this is too important.”

“We’ll keep an eye out for him, and I’ll call ye if he comes in late.” The woman said.

“Thank you.” Claire said. She put the phone down. “Jamie, I’m going to kill her. I know I swore to do no harm but she didn’t take our son to chemo.”

“Let’s call Mrs. Baird. Maybe they switched offices.”

“Jamie, I have an awful feeling about all of this.”

“I ken, but perhaps there is a logical explanation.” Jamie tried to reason, even though his gut was currently tied in knots. This couldn’t be a coincidence.

“Good morning Mrs. Baird, its James Fraser and Princess Claire.”

“Good morning ye two. Are ye interested in fostering again? I didna think I would hear from ye.”

“Mrs. Baird, I’m afraid we’re calling about Fergus. Madeline hasn’t brought him to  his Chemo last week or this week.”

“Oh dear. That isna good.”

“No, it isn’t. We know what the judge ruled against us, but please, we just want what's best for the lad.” Jamie said.

“I understand. I will go round their place and check in on him later today.”

“Thank you.” Claire breathed.

“In the meantime, I think that ye should call that lawyer of yours and perhaps prepare for further litigation.”

“Thank you Mrs. Baird.”

“Of course.” she said.

She and Jamie sighed, and held each other closer. 

“I think we need to hire a private investigator. “ Jamie said.

“Do you know anyone?”

“Aye, I do. Dinna fasch Sassenach. He can do everything by the book. Get the evidence admissible to the court.”

“Alright. Call them.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Between Jamie’s PI friend, John Quincy Myers, and Hugh Munroe, the hacker who had taken care of the Frank problem, pointing the investigator in the right direction, it was clear that something was wrong. There were far too many coincidences that they discovered in mere minutes once they began digging.

“Madeline received a large deposit in her bank account after the trial, from a business account. A Black Jack’s.” Myers told them.

“That’s Frank’s brother's company!” Claire gasped.

“I should’ve known this had that bastards scent all over this.” Jamie seethed, his teeth gritted.

“Phone records show that calls from a new phone number started a few days prior to her arrival at the palace.” Myers said showing her a listing. 

“He’s smart enough not to use his own phone.” Jamie said.

“But he actually isn’t. That’s the university general line.” Claire said looking at the number. “The general line for the history department.”

“How’d you know that?”

“I called it enough times looking for him, when we were together. Since he would turn off his phone all the time,” Claire shrugged.

“Ye ken my phone is always on for ye Sassenach.”

“Jamie, I don’t even know your phone number. You’re beside me so often I seldom have to call.” She turned to him and pecked his cheek. "And I'm always happy to have you by my side." 

“We have linkage that he’s behind this.” Myers said. "That'll be good."

“Is Madeline even the mother?” Jamie asked. "I canna bear to think what if Frank had just picked some young lass down on her luck." 

“I don’t doubt that. Frank is good at tracking down lost branches of family trees. He’s how we found out that I was the lost princess. Fergus does look like her as well. I doubt it would be hard for him to find the information or unseal the adoption records”

"We just have to find someone who will listen. I bet the judge is in on this too."

"I can't see Frank bribing the law." Claire said. 

"Maybe he didnae have to. At least not monetarily." Jamie said.  "Pull up the judge's info. Perhaps they have a connection"

"What do you mean? How else would he bribe a judge?"

"Judge Archibald Travers." Hugh pulled it up, silently. Bringing a picture and information up about the judge who had turned their world upside down .

"Family?" Jamie asked

"Wife, Deborah, Sons, Aiden and Callum, Daughter, Sandra." Myers read.

"Sandra?" Claire questioned. 

"Ye ken her Sassenach?" 

"Pull up the website for the history department at University of Edinburgh. The faculty page." 

"Sandra "Sandy" Travers, PhD, historical linguistics." Jamie read. "Junior faculty". 

"Look at the picture." Claire said. "That's the blonde Frank was with. He must be either very friendly with the judge, or he's blackmailing her and she got daddy to play along. "

"This is a lot of circumstantial evidence. But hopefully it's enough."

"Let's call John."

-----------------------

"Claire, are you sure that's her? It's all very loose evidence." 

"John, look at the pictures. Can't you tell?"

"Its very possible but I don't want to accuse Judge Travers of anything without proof."

"I could call Frank." Claire said. 

"You are not calling the scoundrel." Jamie hissed.

"No, Claire might be on to something." John said. "Go on."

"Frank did this so I wouldn't be happy."

"Aye, so why would you call him?"

"But I'm not supposed to know that. Suppose that I call him and say that you and I are breaking up because of the loss of Fergus? That you turned me against him and I saw the error of my ways"

"Give him false hope, and get him to confess to something he's not supposed to know."

"Sassenach, I am begging ye please. I dinna like the idea of ye anywhere near him. He's a foul man."

"For Fergus?"

"Only if there's not another way. I'm not risking ye both for only a chance."

"You'd never lose me Jamie."

"That's my line, Sassenach." Jamie said. A hand found its way to the back of her head, and into her curls pressing their foreheads together. "Ye are the most precious thing to me Sassenach."

"More brainstorming, less love scenes." John insisted.

------------------------------------

Eventually the pair decide that it would be better for them not to get Claire involved in trying to dupe Frank into telling the truth.

"I'll be fine."

"Sassenach, we just played two truths and a lie, and I could tell when ye lied every single time without question. Yer a terrible liar and I dinnae trust ye to keep your face straight long enough for us to get what we need. There will be another way."

"With the right judge, it shouldn't be too difficult for us to take away custody from Madeline." John said. 

"We need more dirt on her as well." Jamie stated. 

"We didn't find too much during the trial." John said.

"I'll have Myers and Murnoe get on it. Otherwise, we should plan ta discuss our findings later." The two men nodded and headed from the room. 

Claire let the giant sigh she had been holding in out. Jamie wrapped his arms around her tight.

"Let it all out," he hushed her as the tears began to poor.

"I just feel so helpless. I can't do anything to make it better, to try and get our son back home. And he was taken away because of my vindictive ex, and this is all my fault."

"Frank is a manipulative arse Sassenach. Ye Dinna need blame yerself for anything that he's done. Ye are a braw mam to Fergus, and we will get the lad back as soon as we can."

"I just worry will the damage already be done. He'll probably never forgive us for taking him, and he'll have missed chemo and need to go through more." 

"Claire, we will get the lad the best therapist in all the land, the whole world to help him if need be, and he kens why he needs the chemo. He was by himself tryna make medical decisions as an 8 year old lad. He kens how important all of this is." 

Suddenly Claire's phone rang. 

"Yes?"

"Hullo, is this Claire?"

"Yes?" 

"This is the infusion center. Fergus just showed up without a parent. We thought ye'd like to know."

"I'm on my way." Claire said. "He went to chemo by himself. We have to go to him now." 

"I'll grab my keys." Jamie said. Within moments, jackets were on and they had rushed out to Jamie's SUV and were driving to the center. 

Claire had barely let Jamie park before she was leaping out of the SUV and running up to the infusion center. 

"Where is he?" she asked the moment she burst in. 

"He's fine. Dinna worry. He's sitting in one of the chairs" The nurse said. "I heard a bit about what happened. I'm glad I called ye this morning. He came in and was so apologetic for being late but wanted to know if we could still do his chemo. I said he'd have to wait but as soon as we had permission we could do it. I tried calling his mother's number but no response. You picked up right away."

"May we see him? Is he going to get treatment?" Claire asked. 

"Aye, We needed consent." One of the infusion nurses said. "You two are still listed as his guardians in the NHS system, so feel free to sign and we'll get started." 

"Give us a moment?" Jamie asked. 

"Aye, I'll draw up the paperwork."  The nurse nodded.

"Fergus?" Claire asked timidly as she stepped into the infusion area and spotted him in the usual corner. 

"Milady! Milord!" he ran up to them and Jamie lifted him and the pair hugged him between them. "You're crushing me."

"We missed you so much!" Claire said, tears flowing. "What are you doing here by yourself?"

"I know I'm not supposed to miss treatment. Madeline was busy so I took the bus."

"By yourself?"

"It's not like it's hard. I took her bus pass and looked the route up on my phone."

"Fergus, you're not supposed to go places without a grown up with you."

"I knew you'd find me!" He said assured. "I wanted to call you earlier but didn't want you to send me back. You aren't going to send me back. Are you?" he asked.

"I certainly don't want to. And we are working on getting you back to us." Claire looked to Jamie. 

"I'll Call Mrs. Baird and see if the fact that she left you by yourself is enough grounds to give us temporary custody back."

"She leaves me by myself all the time. It's like not having a parent. It's too quiet." he said softly.  Claire hugged him tighter against her. 

"Let's get started on treatment."

"Did you bring Harry Potter? I missed you reading it to me." Fergus said.

"I ran out of the palace. But let's see if I can bring it up on my phone so we can read together." 

Claire signed the consent forms, and the IV was started, Fergus wrapped in her arms as the infusion started, blanket already over them as they prepared for Fergus's upcoming chills Jamie sat beside them, watching over them, a silent guardian. 

Fergus fell asleep against Claire at one point and Claire gazed over at Jamie and he was smiling.  

"We will make this right Sassenach." he assured her. "We will never be apart." 

"I love you" she said. "I love you and I love our family."

"I love you so much. He pressed a kiss to her knuckles. Jamie's phone buzzed in his pocket.

"Where are you? Myers and Munro think they found something. Records linking the judge and Frank, as well as connecting Frank directly to Madeline."

"I'm At Chemo with Fergus. Madeline wouldn't take him, so he came on a bus by himself."

"Jesus, Jamie. Are you serious?" John asked.

"Yes. Claire has him in her arms right now. He's resting" 

"I have a temporary custody grant for you because he missed chemo last week, but you're saying an 8 year old boy came to chemo by himself?"

Jamie explained the situation.

"With a new judge, this case should be an easy win."

"From your lips to God's ears. Let's pray you're right." 

"I'll have a court date for next week, and he'll be in your custody till then. Take care of those two."

"Aye, I will." 

Claire smiled over at Jamie, her chin resting on top of Fergus's head, snuggling him against her.

"He's ours for the weekend. We have temporary custody" Jamie said with a smile.

"I'm glad I get to take him home and take care of him. Maybe we'll have ice cream for dinner to celebrate." she said.

"Me too Sassenach. Me too." He pressed another kiss to her knuckles, and continued to watch the pair. 

Fergus slept for most of the rest of the infusion, and the nurse detached him, allowing Jamie to take him in his arms wrapped in the blanket, and carry him out to the SUV. Claire sat with him in the back seat, buckling him in as he roused before falling back asleep. 

"Wake up sweetheart. We're home."

"Home?" Fergus mumbled.

"Aye lad. Yer home."

---------------------------------

Fergus didn't have ice cream supper, too nauseous for anything except a few sips of ginger ale.  Claire helped him bathe before he was settled into bed, in a fresh pair of pajamas.

"Jamie and I are going to have a chat with some of our friends in the library. But call for either of us if you need anything sweetheart."

"Oui." He mumbled, arms wrapped tightly around his teddybear as he fell asleep.

"Sweet dreams, mo mhac." 

Claire and Jamie quietly exited the room. Jamie wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. 

"He's home." she said, hugging him. "He's home." she repeated hardly able to believe it.

"Aye, he is, mo chride" 

They headed to the library and found John, Myers, and Hugh Munro sitting.

"We found surveillance footage of Frank meeting with Madeline. We think he threatened her as well." Myers said. 

"Wouldn't be the first time he attempted to blackmail a woman." Claire muttered. 

"Aye but it'll be the last time. We should have enough to hold him Sassenach. To get him arrested."

---------------

Having Fergus back in the palace was a blessing. The entire staff seemed happier, lighter, and Claire could see a difference in herself and Jamie although she was much more hesitant to let him out of her sight. 

"He's with your Uncle and Murtagh is keeping an eye on both of them. They're fine Sassenach." Jamie assured her as they enjoyed a private evening to themselves.

"I just worry."

"Ye need not worry, mo nighean donn. It's alright. Now come," Jamie offered her a hand. "Dinner in the starlight awaits us." They ate under the light of a thousand stars and looked at the sky. 

"Last time I wished on a star I was afraid it wouldn't come true." she said. "I wished for our family to last and that was right before Fergus was taken away from us."

"And what did you wish for now?"

"The same thing. Maybe the second times the charm."

"Aye, I hope yer right." Jamie said. "But ye and the lad are all I need Sassenach." 

"Do you ever imagine what our lives would have been like if I had never become princess?" She said. "If all this craziness had never happened."

"Aye, I do but I think that some things are meant to be. And me loving you is one of them. I am made for ye Sassenach. John would've introduced us. We would have been happy. A more simple life, aye but, ye by my side is all I need."

"Likewise." she turned and kissed him softly, snuggling further into his arms. "You are my rock. You are a king of all men." she said pressing a kiss to his cheek.

"I can only hope to be so worthy for my future queen." Jamie grinned. "I can't imagine this life without ye and I wouldna want to. Yere my everything Sassenach."

Chapter Text

 Claire was solemn the morning of the court date. She carefully dressed in a dress and a pair of comfortable heels, She wore her necklace from Jamie, her hair gathered up in a bun, at the nape of her neck. She stared at herself in the mirror, examining the woman before her. If you had told her a year ago that she was going to be involved in a custody battle, and with a new man, she would have thought you crazy. But here she was, putting on warpaint to go fight with all her might to try and get custody of a boy, her boy.

She smiled softly as she thought of him, knowing he was safe across the hall in his bedroom, getting ready himself. He had brought so much joy and purpose to her life the last few months and she really could no longer imagine her life without him. Without both of her men. She smiled softly, as she toyed with the pendant on her neck. Her mind drifted to her strong Scott, who had truly become her everything. He brought her such joy, such strength, and she had never felt so loved. Whatever the outcome of today, he would get them through it.

"Sassenach, are ye ready?" a knock roused her from those thoughts. "We dinna want to be late."

"Coming," she called out. With one last look in the mirror, she stood and strode to her highland warrior. "Ready as I will ever be."

He pressed a kiss to her lips. "We will get through this mo cridhe. It's the two of us now."

"The three of us if everything goes well." she said. "Lets get Fergus."

They found Fergus struggling with a tie.

"Dinna fasch mo mhac." Jamie said.

"I will fix you." Claire dropped to her knees and quickly straightened the lad out, smoothing out his shirt, and smoothing his curls. "No matter what happens today. Remember, I love you with all my heart, and you are always my son in heart."

"And you will always be my Maman," Fergus said, pulling Claire into a big hug. She nearly burst into tears again.

"Come ye two." Jamie ushered them along and into the back of one of the SUVs.

They met John at the front of the court house, fighting through press.

"John," Jamie greeted his friend with a hand shake. 

"Hello you three. Are you ready?" he asked folly 

"Ready." Fergus said with a grin. 

"I guess we're ready then." Jamie said. They found their way into the courtroom and sat down. Madeline, and her legal team sitting at the table across from them.

"Claudel!" Madeline said.

"My name is Fergus." he said coldly. "Don't call me that." 

“All rise for the honorable Judge Matherson.” A tall imposing woman swiftly entered the courtroom and took her seat at the bench.

“Please be seated. Now Mr. Grey, I see here that this case has already been trialed and there was a verdict. Is that correct?”

“Yes your honor, however recent evidence has come to light that there was some conflict of interest and it was re-classified as a mistrial.”

“What was the conflict of interest?”

“It's believed that Judge Travers was bribed into his ruling.” A small gasp was heard from the press gallery.

“I see. Well seeing as no one has bribed me or offered me a fancy beach cottage, or yacht, I suppose we may proceed.”

“Yes, your honor.” John chuckled.

“I do want to remind ye all the reason we are here today. It is for that lad sitting over there. I don’t care for funny business, and we will keep it civil. Understood?”

“Yes, your honor.” John and Madeline’s lawyer said in unison.

Claire felt Fergus squeeze one of her hands and she turned and smiled at him, and squeezed Jamie’s in turn.

“Alright then. Now that we’re agreed, Opening statements please.”

John and the other lawyer began their opening arguments, and began calling witnesses. They talked to many of the same witnesses again, similar things being said until Madeline herself was once more called to the bench. 

She danced around questions as best she could but John saw through her. 

“Madeline, did you or did you not leave Fergus alone on several occasions?” John asked.

"Yes but," Madeline began

"I only need a yes or no."

"I had to work."

"Oh? The 100,000 pounds put into your bank account by Mr. Frank Randall wasn't enough to help you afford child care?" John asked her.

"It is but-"

"It was a yes or no question.  And you didn't deny the money put into your account either but that's another trial." John took a breath. "Let me ask different question. Do you understand the importance of Chemotherapy for Fergus?"

"Of course, but-"

"Then why did you let him miss two appointments back to back-"

"I..."

"Why did you let him miss life-saving medication therapy? Do you understand how cancer works?"

"I---"

"Mr. Gray, that's enough." The judge said.

"Withdrawn." John said. "No further questions."

He sat down, and watched as the defense's lawyer tried to paint Madeline in a better light, and he gave them credit, they certainly tried but it certainly was not an easy feat. They took a brief recess where Madelines team spoke privately to the judge. 

"Your highness, if you dinnae mid I'd like to speak privately to you in my chambers. Mr. Grey is of course invited."

She looked to John, who nodded.

"Of course your honor."

"The rest of ye may take a brief recess. We shall reconvene in a few moments, say 15 minutes?"

"Jamie will you-"

"I'm taking Fergus to the restroom and I'll make sure he's alright before we come back. Dinna fasch Sassenach."

"What does the Judge want?" Fergus asked.

"I'm not sure lovey, but I'll go find out." She pressed a kiss to his head and smoothed back his hair one last time. "I'll see you in a few minutes"

She followed John into the judge's chambers.

"Your highness," she nodded. 

"Your honor."

"I ken this hasn't been easy for you."

"No, but it's been hardest on Fergus and I want what's best for him. He has never had a stable home life prior to coming into my care. Never, he's been in the foster system since birth."

"I saw that in his file. How did you come to the decision to get custody of him? How did you meet him? I don't think I've heard that story."

Claire smiled. "I just happened upon him, walking through the hospital, I heard him call for help, and my doctor instincts ran right in. He had been having a nightmare, and I took the few minutes to speak to him. to comfort him, and I knew instantly I had to do something. I couldn’t allow him to go through all this treatment for cancer alone. I’d known him all of 12 hours I think, when I told Jamie I wanted to take care of him."

"You've never been a parent before." Judge Matherson stated.

“No, I haven't. And I would never say that I’m an expert. I’m certainly still learning the nuances of everything, of how to balance being kind and understanding, with some authority but Fergus has been nothing but an angel the entire time he’s been in my care.”

“Can you tell me more about him?”

“He’s wicked smart. He is incredibly good at reading people's emotions, and is wise beyond his years. He dislikes doing math homework, but still tries hard. He loves to play shinty with Jamie’s nephews, and he loves to play video games. He has a little competitive streak in him, but he’s never a sore loser or winner. He is kind and caring. He somethings he's undeserving of attention because that's all he's ever known, but I'm working on that. He gets frustrated by his hand sometimes, but he’s doing so well with physical therapy and occupational therapy. He knows how important his treatment is, even though it makes him feel awful. I would do anything to take away his pain. He tried so hard to be brave for us during his first chemo. He didn’t cry when they put the IV in, but I nearly did. Jamie held both of our hands, and let me squeeze him out.”

“Jamie is your advisor?”

“He’s more than that. He’s my boyfriend, and my best friend. He’s been acting like a father to Fergus, and sees him as his own. Jamie has been beside me trying to help me get Fergus back this entire time.”

“Do you love him?”

“I love those two with every fiber of my being. I can’t imagine my life without them.”

“I see. Can you tell me a bit about his care requirements?”

“Care requirements?”

“Doctors, medications.”

“As his guardian or as a physician.”

“As a guardian.”

“He has a physical therapist and an occupational therapist video chat once a week to work on movement and motion for his hand. I encourage him to do his exercises daily and thankfully PT is great about making it into games for him, which we try and play. Once a week he goes for a chemotherapy infusion. Fridays. It takes several hours. He’s nauseous, and feverish. He usually throws up at least twice, despite anti-nausea medications. He becomes very fatigued and we get him a bath and in bed. I try and get some fluids in him. Gingerale, pedialite, if he’s up for food, whatever his heart desires. He usually recovers, over the next day or so, and back to studies monday. He’s currently tutored instead of in classes because the chemo weakens his immune system and I don’t want him to be any worse off. Once his immune system is back up, I planned on enrolling him in classes again. He only has a few more treatments until they re-evaluate and see what our next steps are but he’s doing so well. He’s so strong. ”

“I see. That sounds like a lot.”

“It can be… but as they say, it takes a village. It would be much harder to do all these things alone. I have help and I'm grateful.”

"If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to speak to Fergus privately as well. ”

“Of course. I’ll go get him.”

“Thank ye for speaking with me.”

“No, thank you, for your time.”

Claire retrieved Fergus and brought him hand in hand to the room with Judge Matherson.

“What is she going to ask milady?” Fergus asked.

“I’m not sure darling. But just be honest and answer truthfully.”

“Do I tell her how much I want to live with you?” Claire hugged him to her side tight.

“If she asks that, then certainly tell her who you want to live with and where. While I hope its with me, if you wanted to live with Madeline, we’d miss you but we’d support you.”

“She’s not my mam. You are, milady.” Claire felt a tear fall and she hugged him tightly to her chest.

“And you are my son.” She said and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “I love you very much.”

“I love you too.”

“I’ll take him from here Claire.” John said. She watched them walk down the hallway back into the Judge’s Chambers. She returned to the courtroom.

“Have ye been crying Sassenach? Is everything alright?”

“Fergus is just too sweet to me.” She nearly broke into tears again, and Jamie wrapped an arm around her.

“Ye are mo chridhe. Ye are in all the ways that matter. That lad loves ye with all his heart.”

“I love him.” she sighed. “And I love you. You have been my rock through this entire ordeal.”

“I love ye too Sassenach. With my whole heart.” He squeezed her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles.

Fergus happily found his way back to them beside John.

“All rise for the honorable Judge Matherson.” The bailiff called once more. She quickly entered and seated. "Remain standing. I’ve come to a conclusion.”

Claire watched with bated breath.

“Mr. Gray certainly has painted the birth mother as being negligent in the boy's care. While I acknowledge that she is new to parenting, so is her highness, and she has been able to provide me insight about the lad in question, and the requirements of his care.” She took a breath.

“I see that Judge Travers decision was influenced somehow. Mr. Gray you have painted her highness and the care she provides in a positive light. I have spoken to Fergus himself to see what he desires. He has made it clear where his loyalties are. However, I do have some concerns.”

Claire froze. Concerns?

“I always prefer, when possible to, put children into a two parent home. Despite her qualifications, her highness is unmarried and I have concerns-”

“Your honor, that’s an archaic viewpoint.” John argued.

“You’re interrupting, counselor. Do you want to be held in contempt of the court?”

“No, your honor.”

“As I was saying, if we were putting Fergus into a two parent home I would not-”

“But he is your honor,” Jamie said. “I intend to be there for him every step of the way.He is my son ”

“Mr. Fraser, ye are not listed as one of the parties in this case nor did ask for yer opinion. .”

“Ye canna keep the lad away from Claire because she isna married. It isna right-”

“Jamie-” Claire squeezed his hand. “Let’s just-”

“I will marry this woman before ye this verra instant. This verra moment.”

There were gasps heard throughout the courtroom, as Jamie dropped to his knee, taking Claire's hand in his own.

“Sassenach, I’ve know since the moment I met ye that I wanted to spend everyday of the rest of my life making ye smile. Seasons may change, but my love for ye will not. I love ye until the end of time. I will dedicate my life to helping you be the best person you are able to be, and helping you raise this boy, your son, our son. I promise to make you laugh, to be with you and comfort you in moment of defeat, to dry your tears, and to celebrate the moments of triumph. I promise to teach our son how to be a good man to the best of my abilities, and to learn along the way. I promise to do my best to be a man to look up to. Ye ken,  I've never been a father or a husband, but I will do my best for the two of you. For our family. I promise to help ye love life. I promise to be faithful and true. And I promise to love ye more and more every single day. Marry me Claire. I know its fast and I dinna have a ring but -"

Claire's jaw had dropped and she was in tears. "Yes Jamie. A thousand times yes." 

There were cheers and applause throughout the courtroom as Jamie rose and pulled Claire into his arms and kissed her soundly. Fergus's cheer being the loudest.  They pulled Fergus between them and hugged him tight.

"May I please have order in the court?" The judge banged her gavel several times before hush fell over the crowd.

"As you can see your honor, Claire is not going to be a single parent for long. You can marry us right now if ye-" Jamie was cut off.

"Mr Fraser, while I will congratulate you and her highness on your upcoming nuptials, what I was going to say is that despite these hesitations, I was going to award her highness custody regardless as Scotland does not put restrictions on relationship status in adoption cases. So your proposal while grand, was not necessary ."

Jamie's mouth formed an  'o', as he turned from the judge to Claire.

"You mean?" Claire asked excitedly. 

"The court orders in the favor of Claire Beauchamp. You have been awarded custody and if you like we can sign the adoption papers today." 

"Thank you your honor!!!" Claire smiled broadly and squeezed her two men once more. 

"And Mr. Fraser ye can sign them too if ye like."

"Nothing would make me happier." he said, grinning at Claire. They made their way to the judges quarters with John to fill out paperwork. 

"Fergus, I ken ye haven't really gone by any particular last name but since ye're being adopted ye can pick a new name." The Judge said.

"What name should I pick?" he asked.

"You can pick whatever you like my darling."

He pondered for a moment.

"What is your last name again milady?"

"I have always gone by Beauchamp."

"And yours milord?"

"Fraser." 

"I would like to be... Fergus...... Claudel. Beauchamp Fraser." He smiled proudly. 

"A braw name lad," Jamie grinned. 

"I agree. A wonderful name."

"I can't forget my past but I get to represent the best parents." 

"And we have the best son, mo mhac."

They tried to fight their way out of the courthouse with the paparazzi on them.

"Your highness, is it true you adopted?" 

"Yes!" 

"Your highness, is it true you and Mr. Fraser got engaged while in the court room?"

"Will you take his name?"

"Are you knocked up?

"When will you two have the ceremony?"

They made it into the SUV and breathed a sigh of relief. But Jamie and Claire couldn't stop smiling at each other over Fergus.

Fergus went to play video games after they arrived.

"So..." Jamie said as they found their way to Claire's quarters

"So?" Claire asked.

"About before..."

"Are you taking back Fraser?" she asked. 

"Never," he shook his head. "Not In a million years Sassenach. I meant every word I  said to you today. I love you until the end of time, and being your husband would be my greatest honor, matched only by being Fergus's father." 

"Jamie," she kissed him. "I'm totally yours." 

"I ken I should have had a ring and have asked Lamb first. And I ken that we never really talked about it but-"

"But it was perfect. It was from the heart." she fiddled with her hands for a moment. "I.. I know we didn't talk about it before but, when we said we were all in, I meant it and I know you did too. I'm completely, irrevocably yours. 

"And I'm yours."  He pressed a kiss to her lips. "So ye still want to marry me?"

"Today and every day." She grinned. 

"Pick out yer wee white dress Sassenach then. I can't wait to call ye my wife."

Chapter Text

 “Your uncle is going to kill me.” Jamie said as they stepped out of the car, Jamie offering Claire a hand.

“I highly doubt that. He adores you Jamie. He’ll be too excited about Fergus for anything.”

“Let's hope you’re right.” He said. He pressed a kiss to Claire’s knuckles. Hand in hand they walked into the palace, Fergus leading the way. Lamb met them at the top of the steps. 

“I hear that congratulations are in order.” Lamb said as they entered.

“Oui! Milady and Milord are officially my new parents!” Fergus cheered, his grin broad. 

“That is wonderful news, my dear boy. Run off to the kitchens. I hear that Mrs. Fitz may have been whipping up a special treat for you.”

Fergus grinned and ran off toward the kitchens, leaving a tension hanging in the air around the adults.

“You and I need to have a chat, Mr. Fraser.” Lamb said, his face hard. She could feel Jamie slightly stiffen beside her. But he nodded.

“Yes, sir.”

“I should not be finding out about my niece’s engagement via a tabloid.” He chastised. 

“There wasn’t exactly much time to inform you. We were in the courthouse.” Claire said. “It was very-”

“Claire, I’m not looking for excuses. I want to speak to the young man.”

“ But Uncle Lamb,”

“No buts, young lady. I’ll return him to you in a few minutes.” he was stern. “Why don’t you go call your friends and tell them your exciting news?”

“I’ll see you in your quarters in a bit then Sassenach.” Jamie said. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, and followed Lamb.

Claire slowly wandered back to her quarters and shot messages to Geilis and Joe.

“Group facetime quickly?” she texted.

“Perfect timing just out of surgery!” Joe texted.

“Same here!” 

The three quickly connected.

“What happened?” Joe asked. “You had court today right, LJ? I tried to keep up with my phone but I just got out of a Whipple. Took forever."

“I did.” she said. 

“Well?” he asked. 

“The judge had some concerns about me being a single parent for Fergus.” Claire said.

“Yer a bloody princess. It's not like ye dont have means to take care of the lad. They’ve seen how much you care for him.”

“And besides, you have help.” Joe protested. “You know Jamie is your endgame. He’s your person.”

“He apparently felt that way too. So he argued with the judge that he was going to be there for Fergus and I.” 

"As he will. He's a good one hen."

"But he's not listed on the suit, so she couldn't take that into consideration."

"You didn't get custody of Fergus?" Joe asked, his face dropping.

"Jamie proposed to me right on the spot."

"HE WHAT?!" Geillis asked, her eyes wide. "And what did ye say?"

"Geilis he was so romantic, I was nearly in tears. I of course said yes."

"Congratulations LJ." Joe said. "I'm so happy for you. " Jamie's a good guy."

"AH MY WEE HEN IS GOING TO BE A BRIDE."

"And she is also officially a mother. The judge was going to rule in my favor anyway." 

"AHHH!!!! TODAY IS THE BEST DAY!" Geilis cheered.

"Everything's coming up Claire. Congratulations!"

"Did ye pick out a day yet?"

"No, not yet. It's been a few hours. We don't have a ring or anything yet but..."

"But ye ken ye made the right decision." Geilis smiled.

"I've never been so sure of anything in my life." Claire grinned. 

"I'm so happy for you Claire." Joe said. "You deserve it." 

"You do hen," Geilis smiled. Suddenly Geilis looked down.

"Being paged?"

"Aye, babies don't wait to come into the world too long. Gotta go! We'll have to have a Pizza night soon!"

"Agreed. Send me your schedules!"

"Congrats again hen!" Geilis said clicking off

"Congrats Claire!" Joe said before ending the call.

Claire smiled, and settled on her sofa, curling up with a book. The work could wait. Today was a special day. 

A knock roused her from her thoughts a few minutes later.

"Sassenach," 

"Jamie, this is your room too. You don't have to knock."

"Aye," he sighed. He settled on the couch beside her. 

"How'd it go?"

"He was not happy." Jamie said. "He's right. I should have asked. There was more to think about than just-"

"Jamie, do you regret it?"

He turned to her, his gaze so tender as he gently held her face in his hands.

"I could never. I love ye more than anything in this world, Sassenach. You are everything to me. I would never regret asking ye to share your life with me."  He kissed her softly.

"And I love you Jamie. I know I don't say it enough but-"

"Ye don't have to. I can see it in the way ye look at me. In the things you do." He pressed a kiss to her lips once more. "I always feel it, Sassenach.” 

"I do too. Don't worry about what Lamb said." 

"I just want to do right by you. You deserve a well-thought out proposal, and a beautiful ring, and romance."

"I certainly got romance, and I had you speaking from the heart which was perfect. I don't need lavish."

"You're a princess."

"So? I grew up with nothing. This all still feels like a dream, and I'm going to wake up some day and it will all be gone."

"No, Claire. This isn't a dream. It's all real, mo ghraide. You are the most amazing woman I know, and you deserve the best." She smiled and snuggled farther into him.

"I have it. I have you."

He smiled and squeezed her tighter and just held her. 

They called and informed Jamie's parents who were over the moon for them, as well as a few of their other friends, but predominantly spent the rest of the day in each other's company, wrapped in each others arms. 

A celebratory dinner was held for Fergus's official adoption, but the boy was tired and had nearly fallen asleep at the table during dessert. 

"I'll put him to bed, Sassenach. I'll join you in a few minutes."

"That's good, I wanted to talk to you as well Claire." Lamb said. Claire nearly rolled her eyes but nodded and followed Lamb to his study.

"I know you are excited about  today's events."

"I'm a mother, and soon to be a wife."

"That you are." he said. He poured himself a dram and then one for Claire which she gratefully accepted.  "And soon to be Queen."

"Uncle Lamb,"

"I want you to take the throne first. Before you get married."

"Why?"

"So you can carry on the family name. We won't have a Fraser Queen"

"Is that why you're mad at Jamie? Because of the name of the dynasty?"

"He should have discussed it with-"

"It's a name! A name that I didn't use most of my life because I was lost. A name I still don't feel very connected to. I have not felt like I had a family until I built one with that man and with you. I don't care if I'm a Fraser Queen or a Moriston Queen or a Beauchamp queen. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to be happy with the man I love and to be a good queen to those people, and a good mother to my new son. I don't need your permission to do this. I'm a grown woman , I make my own decisions. But I desperately want your blessing on this union. It feels like Jamie is the only person who has ever seen the true me. The only person who I feel knows me and really has my back. I love him, and heaven knows that sometimes I don't know what I did to deserve such a good, kind, strong, honest man like him. But-”

“Claire,”

“What?”

“You have my blessing.” Lamb said. “I wanted to know that you were sure about this. It’s why I was pushing you.”

“You wanted to push me?”

“I know you Claire, and you aren’t going to do anything you don't want to do. But I wanted to make sure you didn’t feel pressured because of the public nature of the proposal.”

“No.”

“I know you care for Jamie and for the boy.” Lamb said. “And as your Uncle, I know that I will never think that anyone will ever be deserving or worthy of your affections. I do know however, that Jamie is one of the good ones, and that the boy loves you more than life itself. I’ll admit that I was a bit harsh on him earlier, and upset that he didn’t ask for my blessing, but deep down I know that you don’t need my permission to do anything.”

“Thank you for trying to protect me.” She hugged the older man. “I appreciate that and your blessing. Jamie is my one great love.”

“I can see that.” Lamb smiled. “All I want is for you to be happy.” 

“And I am. Blissfully so.”

“Good. Now go off to your man, you have much to discuss.”

She found Jamie in their bed, scrolling through something on his phone.

She curled up beside him. “Lamb gave us his blessing.” 

“He did?”

“He did.” she nodded.

“And how did ye manage that?”

“He wanted to make sure this was what I wanted. That I didn’t say yes because of the setting we were in, and that I was happy.”

“No one could force ye to do something ye didn’t want.” 

“I almost stayed with Frank.” she said. “He nearly forced my hand.”

“Those were extenuating circumstances. And e’en then, Sassenach, we took care of it. Together.”

“Together. It’s you and me now.” 

“Aye.” He kissed her soundly, and held her close, and the pair soon fell asleep, exhausted by the day's event.

----------------------------

Louise soon became Claire’s personal wedding planner.

“Louise, I appreciate your eagerness, but I would like to actually speak to my future groom about some of his desires. It’s his wedding as well.”

“But there is so much to do! We must start now!”

“One day won’t make a difference. I promise.”

Curled up in the cinema room, after watching a comedy, Claire and Jamie started discussing what they envisioned for the wedding.

“I’ll be honest Sassenach, I want it in a church, and I want ye there, with my family, and our son and that’s about all the thought I’ve given it.”

“No time of year preference?”

“Maybe the spring or the fall? So I dinna freeze my bollocks off in my kilt.”

“Can’t have you losing those,” Claire grinned and kissed him. “I’ve grown rather fond of them.” 

“Aye,” he smirked. “Ye’ve become verra acquainted with them.”

“Verra.” she teased. She slipped out of her chair and onto her knees in front of him. Her hands finding his belt buckle, and unzippering his trousers.

“Sassenach,” Jamie let out a moan, as he felt her fingers graze him over his boxers.

“Pants off Fraser. I think I may need to be reacquainted with your bollocks.” He lifted his hips as she pulled down.

Her lips found the tip of his cock, wrapping around, her cheeks hollowing out. His hand gently in her hair, holding it back for her as she continued to em extra special attention, rolling one stroke him and suck his length.

“Christ Claire. If ye keep it up like that I will not be able to - fuckk,” he hissed. 

“Who said I want you to?” She kissed her way down the shaft to his balls, which she claimed to be quite fond of, and gave them special attention.

She swallowed down every drop of his seed a few minutes later. Jamie quickly refastened his pants and picked her up, bridal style.

She laughed. “What are you doing?”

“Taking ye to bed Sassenach. I’m going to worship every inch of that skin. It’s so beautiful, like pearl.” 

And oh he did.

-----------------------------------------------

Life was good. Claire was the happiest she had ever been even if she was probably the busiest. Between taking over more royal duties, taking Fergus to chemo, and trying to do it all, she seldom felt she had a second to breathe. But Jamie was beside her, with a comforting smile, a hand squeeze, and it didn’t matter. 

She knew she would get through. They would get through it, together.

Their next date night, Jamie planned them a picnic under the stars, just like their first date. He looked handsome as ever, his eyes popping due to his blue shirt.

They reclined on the blanket, his arms wrapped around her securely.

“This is perfect.” She said, resting her head against his chest. She listened to the sound of his heart, thumping in his chest.

“You’re tachycardic.”

“I’m what?”

“Your heart is beating fast.”

“What can I say Sassenach? Seeing ye like this with your curls fanned out on my chest, ye make my heart skip a beat.”

She smiled at him and curled into him further. 

“I love you.” 

“I love you too. More than I ever thought possible.” He pressed a kiss to her curls. “Which is why, I’m asking ye for the second time, under the light of a thousand stars, if you’d be mine till death do us part. I love ye Sassenach. And being yer husband, would be the greatest honor ye could ever bestow upon me.”

He turned to her, opening a small black velvet box. A beautiful diamond ring, alternating round and marquis diamond, surrounding a larger center stone, smaller diamonds wrapping their way around the band.

Claire gasped.

“Jamie it’s beautiful.”

“You deserve something better but I-”

“ Jamie, I will always say yes. I want to be your wife. I want to die knowing that I had a long full life wrapped in your arms. I want forever with you.”

He kissed her sweetly, as he placed the ring on her left fourth finger.

She examined it, in more depth. “It’s gorgeous Jamie.”

“I had a wee bit of help from Geilis and Jenny picking it out. But I picked out the engraving.”

Claire pulled off the ring for a moment and looked at the engraving on the inside. Da mi bassia mille

“Give me a thousand kisses.” she smiled at him.

“And I’ll give you a thousand more.” Jamie grinned at her.

“Better start counting Fraser.” she teased, and he started to pepper her face with kisses.

“A thousand is not nearly enough to show ye how much I adore ye.” he continued to kiss her, capturing her lips. 

---------------

Louise was much happier once Claire and Jamie did start taking a more active role in planning. Geillis would be her maid of honor, Ian, his best man. Fergus the ring bearer, and wee Maggie and Kitty would be their flower girls. 

They toured a few of the cathedrals nearby in their free time. Deciding on the same one that Claire’s parents had their wedding. Claire loved the old stained-glassed windows that cast the church in an array of light.

Louise managed to get dresses designed for her, and she looked through the sketches. 

“I need to try something on, to know what I like on me.”

“You want to go shopping?”

“Yes,” Claire decided. 

“I could just have them make up their designs as samples. 

“I don’t want to waste their time-”

“Believe me your highness, you wouldn’t be.” 

“Alright then.” Claire agreed. “We’ll make a party out of it. Have Geilis, Jenny, and Jamie’s mum, come and help me decide.”

Ellen and Jenny were elated to be invited to the dress try on. They came over for tea prior, and women sipped champagne as she tried on the gowns. Louise curated the affair, giving facts about each of the gowns. 

She tried several different styles, ball gowns, mermaid, trumpet, but wasn’t overly impressed with any of them.

The second she pulled on this particular gown, she knew that was it. She didn’t need to try on any more. It was off the shoulder with long sleeves, that seemed gauzy, a corseted back, and silver embroidered flowers over lace.  She gave a twirl before standing in front of the mirror. 

“Claire, ye look beautiful.” Ellen said. 

“Agreed, Hen, you’re a vision. Ye look like an actual angel”

“Jamie wont know what hit him.” Jenny chimed in.

“Louise,” she turned to her. “This is the one.”

“Oui, your majesty. This one drew inspiration from your mothers wedding dress. It draws elements from that classic design, it has similar embroidery.” 

Claire had to fight back tears.

“Hen, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t even remember her.” she let out a small sob. 

“Aye, ye may not remember her but just think what a beautiful way to honor her, by wearing something inspired by her.” Ellen said. She wrapped her arms around the girl. “Shh, mo leanan, we’ve got ye.” 

Claire struggled to calm herself down. 

“Calm yerself down enough to change back into your clothes, and I’ll get Jamie.” Jenny said. 

Geilis helped her out of the dress and back into some comfortable clothes, through her tears. She had settled on the couch and was trying to sip some water when Jamie burst through the door. 

“Sassenach,” He sat beside her and pulled her into his lap, and she sobbed into the crook of his neck.  He whispered to her sweet nothings in Gaelic.

“My parents wont be there.” she said.

“I ken mo ghraide, and I’m so sorry.” 

“I… I mean I knew this. I knew they wouldn’t be there basically my whole life, but i don’t even remember them and I just---”

“Shhh it’s okay. Yer allowed to be upset. Yer allowed to grieve for all the things ye missed out on mo chridhe. Ye have been so strong, but ye dinna have to be fer me. Dinna fasch, Sassenach, I’ve got ye.” 

The other women had left Claire in Jamie’s capable hands, and he had carried her into bed before setting up a bath for her, using her favorite soap and bubbles. 

“Come, ye’ll feel better after a bath mo chridhe.” He guided her in, and helped her out of her clothes. 

Jamie had undressed her dozens of time before. But this was different. It wasn’t passionate or sexual. He was taking care of her. 

He got her settled in the bath.

“Join me?” she asked. 

He quickly stripped off his suit, and settled in the tub from behind her, and she relaxed her body into his.

“Thank you for taking care of me.” 

“Always Sassenach.” He pressed a kiss to her neck, and slowly began washing her body, soapy hands rubbing against her arms, her torso, her breasts. 

He washed her hair for her, gently scrubbing her scalp, making her moan in delight. 

As he finished, she turned around and straddled him in the tub and began to wash him, and his hair. She pressed her chest to him and held him. She could feel his erection, press against her core.

“Youre the king of all men, the man of my dreams.”

“And you’re the woman of mine.” He kissed her softly.

“Let’s go to bed.” she said.

“To bed? Or to sleep?” Jamie asked.

She sank down on his cock, right there in the tub. And he let out a loud moan.

“I think you know the answer Soldier. Now come on, before we flood the bathroom. “