“Are ye sure yer all right, Sassenach?”
He was sitting at the edge of the bed dressed for work in his black slacks and matching jacket with his hair styled neatly back, he looked ravishing. There was one arm around her waist, palm on the mattress as he supported his weight with the other gently rubbing down her side, soothing her to the best of his abilities.
She nodded, offering a smile as she dug her cheek into the cool material of the pillow below her head, “I think it’s passing, but I still don’t feel too well,” she told him.
Claire was underplaying it. Her stomach was rolling nonstop, an unending feeling of nausea crashing over her like waves, she hadn’t been able to hold anything down for a few days, her muscles ached from the hours spent hunched over the toilet vomiting. She felt dreadful, but if she let him know how she was really feeling he would likely call out of work to stay home and take care of her, as much as she would have loved that, she wasn’t in the mood to have him hovering over her.
“I dinna like the thought o’ ye bein’ home alone like this,” he said with concern, tucking a bundle of hair obscuring her whisky-colored eyes behind her ear.
“I can stay home with Mam!” Fergus announced from the doorway, peeking his head into the room to stare at his parents.
“Yer goin’ to school, dinna even try it, laddie,” Jamie said to him, not bothering to entertain the thought.
“Your father is right, you’ve missed far too much school already, and don’t think I won’t be checking in with the substitute to check on your behavior, just because I’m not there doesn’t mean you get to fool around,” Claire said, sitting up enough to meet Fergus’ gaze. A quick call to Colum that morning had freed her from the pressures of work by getting a substitute, allowing her to be miserable at home and in private.
Fergus sighed loudly, but nodded, walking into the room he stopped at her bedside, “You’re sure you’re okay?” he asked, his fingernails pressing into the thin blanket covering her. He was anxious, worried over her, and it warmed her heart.
She smoothed back the curls covering his forehead, “You sound just like your dad, thank you, lovie, but I’m fine, okay? I want you both to go and have fun today, don’t worry about me too much.”
Fergus shared a look of apprehension with his father before leaning down to place a kiss on Claire’s cheek, “I love you,”
“I love you,” she said, shooing him away from the bed to finish getting ready for school. He stopped in the doorway, looking back at her, only leaving at her firm nod.
Jamie moved his hand to her back as he leaned to kiss her, sighing when she stopped him with a hand on his chest, “Don’t, Jamie, if I’m sick, you’ll get it too,” She was sure it was a stomach bug and the last thing she wanted was a game of hot potato with a virus.
“I’ll risk it, I canna leave wi’out a kiss, ye ken that,” he said firmly.
“You’re a bloody fool, Jamie Fraser,” she said, smiling in acquiesce as his lips pressed firmly against hers, pulling away seconds later so he could run his fingers through her hair.
“I’ll call ye later, aye? Keep your phone on and just let me know if ye need anythin’,” he told her, standing from the bed.
“I promise,” she said, “have a good day at work,”
She closed her eyes as he left the room, she could hear his footsteps as he walked toward the door where Fergus was probably waiting for him. If the boy hadn’t already missed so much school– being kidnapped and dealing with the trauma caused a lot of absences– she would have let him stay with her. He loved to doctor her, to keep an eye on her when Jamie wasn’t around, it was his job as the de facto man of the house, she supposed, but school was more important, so she sent him off. She closed her eyes, able to hear the car as Jamie pulled out of the driveway, and soon fell into a light sleep, her body exhausted.
Claire woke several hours later, blinking up at the ceiling she contemplated getting out of bed and finding something to eat, even if it was just a banana or toast. The mere thought of food, however, had her stomach lurching and she rushed out of bed, her head barely over the toilet bowl before her stomach forced up whatever contents remained. She spent several minutes moaning from both the pain of being bent in an awkward position and the acid burning in her throat from the vomit.
Believing her stomach to be empty– she hadn’t eaten a full meal in several days, there couldn’t possibly be anything left– she leaned back against the wall and let herself settle, stretching out her cramped legs. She ran a hand over her face, pulling back her hair into a messy bun with the hair-tie she found on the floor.
“Christ,” she moaned as another wave of nausea hit her, covering her mouth to try and keep back any liquids trying to escape. When she was sure she was done throwing up, at least for now, she stood gingerly from the floor and moved to brush her teeth, reaching down into the cabinet below the sink for mouth wash, she froze.
In front of the mouthwash were an unopened box of tampons and an equally full small basket of pads right next to it. She frowned, counting the days in her head with her fingers as aids, her eyes widening at the realization.
She was late, several weeks late.
Claire quickly shut the cabinet and looked blankly at the mirror.
She placed a hand over her stomach.
She couldn’t be… it took months of trying with Frank for her to get pregnant and even then, the pregnancy hadn’t lasted. There was no way Jamie had managed to get her pregnant in the three months they’d been active, but then again, they hadn’t been exactly safe. Claire wasn’t on birth control given the fact she hadn’t been looking to sleep with anyone after her separation from Frank, falling for Jamie wasn’t a part of the plan, and the sexual aspect of their relationship was relatively new. They used condoms most of the time, but she could remember many instances where the bubbling passion between them was overwhelming, and they hadn’t bothered with protection.
It was a possibility and one she wasn’t quite yet sure how to feel about.
She dressed quickly, pulling on her last clean pair of yoga pants and one of Jamie’s sweatshirts, rolling the sleeves several times so he could use her hands freely. It didn’t take before she was standing in the family planning aisle in their local Boots. She was staring at the pegs, trying to decide between the many brands of pregnancy tests.
Did she want one with the little lines or have the result clearly listed? Should she buy several of them of different makes to even out the chances?
She reached forward, about to grab her first selection when a voice made her jump, “Claire? I thought that was ye,”
Claire turned, her eyes widening as Ellen walked over, “What are you doing here?” Claire asked.
Ellen stopped a few feet away, “I could ask ye the same thing. Jamie said ye werena feelin’ too great this mornin’ and asked me to stop by and check on ye, I was just grabbin’ some stuff before comin’ by,” she answered, holding up the basket she was carrying loaded with tissues, varying boxes of medicine, and a box of saltine crackers. “Why are ye here?”
“I just came for…” Claire paused, not sure what to do. She didn’t want to tell Ellen she was possibly pregnant with her grandchild, not when she wasn’t sure, besides, she was probably overreacting. Claire blindly reached behind her and grabbed the first thing she touched, holding it up for Ellen to see, “this,”
“Ye came here for… that?”
Claire looked at the bottle she had just shoved in her future mother-in-law’s face and could have died right there in embarrassment, she was holding a bottle of personal lubricant, warm for his pleasure. “We, uh, ran out,” she said, offering a weak explanation, letting her arm drop.
“I see,” Ellen nodded, giving Claire a small uneasy smile, “not that I want to ken about ye and my son’s bedroom habits, but aye, I can see ye might need that.”
Good God, Claire thought, feeling the warmth of a blush as it blazed up her neck and across her cheeks.
“Yer feelin’ better than, aye? I mean if yer here for that,”
“Much better!” Claire answered, giving Ellen the brightest, most sincere smile, she could manage given the situation.
Ellen looked her up and down, her gray eyes traveling from the slip-on sneakers on Claire’s feet to the messy bun atop her head, “Are ye sure yer all right, a thasgaidh?”
“I am,” Claire said, getting rather annoyed of being asked that question several times a day, typically by a Fraser.
Ellen gave a brief Scottish noise of disagreement, one Claire had heard several times from Jamie, but said nothing more on the subject, “Aye, well, if yer doin’ fine then I suppose ye dinna need me to check on ye, I’ll tell Jamie that everythin’s fine. I’m glad yer feelin’ better, hopefully, ye’ll stay the same for dinner on Friday.” Ellen set her basket down on the worn carpet, abandoning her shopping, and turned to walk away, stopping at Claire’s shout.
“Ellen, wait!” Claire shouted, ignoring the questioning looks from fellow shoppers, she closed the distance between them, “Can you maybe not tell Jamie I’m here? He thinks I’m at home resting.”
Ellen was silent for several seconds as she thought over Claire’s request, patting Claire’s shoulder comfortingly in decision, “I willna tell him, dinna fash, yer secret is safe with me.” It was clear that Jamie had not inherited his mother’s ability to blink as Ellen gave a prime example of the skill with a matching smile before turning and walking away.
Claire waited until she saw Ellen walk through the sliding doors before turning back to the task at hand. In the end, she grabbed several different brands and sheepishly waited as the cashier rang up and bagged her purchase. The moment she arrived home, Claire threw her purse in the general direction of the couch, not caring that it bounced and landed on the floor, she took the stairs two at a time, eager and desperate to get the testing over with.
She opened four boxes, half needing to be directed urinated on and others she could dip, she set a timer on her phone for five minutes when she was finished and sat on the closed lid of the toilet bowl, waiting.
She wanted kids and so did he, they had discussed that much, but that was supposed to be later after they were married, not before. They were still in the beginning stages of planning the wedding, waiting for an annulment decree from the Catholic church before they could start, though they had been assured by Father Bain that it was more than likely to be granted, they were still waiting. Claire couldn’t bring herself to care about the complications caused by pregnancy and if she was honest with herself, she wanted it.
She wanted to grow round with Jamie’s child, to experience the fluttering kicks inside of the womb reminding her of its existence, and more importantly, she couldn’t wait to see Jamie and Fergus dote on the baby, it would be loved wholeheartedly. Jamie was an amazing father to Fergus; she had never seen a man so devoted to his child before and she couldn’t wait to see him with a newborn. Claire smiled at the possibilities and laid a hand over her stomach, possibly over the child she was carrying, Jamie’s child.
Her phone dinged, signaling the end of the timer and with a deep breath, she examined the sticks. The answer was clear as day and she wrapped the tests with toilet paper before throwing them away. She left the bathroom quickly, doubling back to shove the remaining tests back into the paper bag before hiding it in the lower cabinet. She removed the liner from the waste bin and tossed it in the garbage outside. Once the evidence was properly disposed of, she went back upstairs, much slower this time, and collapsed into bed, quickly falling asleep.
She woke at the feeling of his warm touch, opening her eyes she saw Jamie kneeling on the floor beside her, his hand moving from her cheek to her forehead searching for a temperature, “Hello, Sleepin’ Beauty,” he said with a smile, noticing her consciousness, “did ye have a good nap then?”
She hummed in pleasure as he ran his finger through her hair, “As a matter of fact, I did,” she said, scooting over to make room for him on the bed. He noticed the cue and immediately crawled into bed with her, wrapping himself around her as the big spoon. It never ceased to amaze him how perfectly she fit into him, it was like they were made for each other. “How was work?” she asked, kissing the underside of his chin.
“It was okay,” he said, “I missed ye though, worried about ye all day as well,”
She could see the genuine concern in his eyes and kissed him to quell it, “I’m feeling better, haven’t vomited in hours.”
“When’s the last time ye ate somethin’, Sassenach? I didna see any dirty plates in the sink.”
She shrugged and buried her nose into the base of his neck, sighing as his smell overwhelmed her, it was a mix of sweat and his natural musk, a perfect combination that she loved. He rubbed her back and kissed the top of her head as she carefully unbuttoned his shirt, glad he had ditched the blazer before waking her. She wasn’t in the mood for sex, hadn’t been for several days, but she craved the feeling of his naked skin, and he did nothing to stop her, helping her rid him of the garment. Once the shirt was off, she pulled herself against him and sighed in content, his warmth spreading through her body.
She could feel his smile grow against her cheek, wrapping her in his arms. Claire wasn’t sure how long they laid there in companionable silence, the mere presence of the other sating their desire, but she enjoyed every minute of it until the confused sounds of Fergus pulled them apart.
“Papa,” Fergus said, walking across the carpet to Jamie who had shifted to face his son, abnormally glad that Claire hadn’t pulled off his pants. “What’s this?” he asked, handing a paper bag to Jamie, the sight of which had Claire’s heart racing and her mind reeling.
Jamie sat up and opened it before she could stop him, rooting through the bag to answer Fergus’ question he pulled out one of the open boxes of pregnancy tests, turning to her with wide eyes once he read the label. “Sassenach?” he asked, voice scratchy and confused.
“It’s a pregnancy test,” she said, trying unsuccessfully to snatch the box and bag away from him, “you can both read.”
“Aye, but what is it doing here?”
“Are you pregnant?” Fergus asked when she didn’t answer, jumping up to sit next to Jamie.
Claire shot him a warning look, “What were you doing under the sink?”
“I was looking for an extra toothbrush, I dropped mine in the toilet,” Fergus explained with a shrug.
Claire didn’t have time to question how his toothbrush had ended up in the toilet as Jamie held the box under her nose, “Why do ye have this? Claire, answer me,” his voice was shaking though she couldn’t tell from his face or body language whether it stemmed from anger or anxiety.
“I thought I might be pregnant,” she said, answering his question, “my period is late and the way I’ve been feeling lately is awfully like morning sickness…”
“Are ye pregnant?” he repeated Fergus’ question imploringly, leaning toward her.
She took a deep breath and nodded, tears brimming her eyes, “Yes, Jamie, they were all positive, I’m pregnant.”
And before anyone could react or move, Jamie teetered over and fell off the bed, landing on the carpet with a loud thud.