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On Our Lips, Begin & Tell

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~Craigh Na Dun: May 1743~

“Uncle!” called Jamie from afar, not wanting to take him unaware.  By the way the MacKenzies were hiding in the trees, it looked as though they were up to no good.  

Dougal saw him and waved him forward.  They were hiding in the thicket not far from the fairy hill.  Jamie dismounted and walked Donas up to meet his Uncle.

“Jamie, laddie.  What in God’s name are ye doing out here?” asked Dougal, embracing his nephew.

“I’m going home,” he said, grinning ear to ear.  “The price on my head is gone.”

“Is that so?  How did’ye manage that?”

“Some friends put a good word in the right ears.”

“Congratulations, Jamie!” said Rupert, lifting his flask to give a toast.  “Slàinte mhath!

Slàinte mhath.”  Jamie accepted the drink and took a healthy gulp, passing it around to Angus and Willie.  “What are ye up to out this way?” he asked Dougal with a knowing smirk.  “Lifting cattle?”

“Aye,” Dougal grumbled with a tone that displayed their lack of success thus far.

Jamie looked theatrically at the land around him, empty of any livestock.  “Blessings on your plentiful bounty.”

Dùin do chab.”

“Ye stickin’ around, Jamie?” asked Angus.  “We’ve a few redcoats on our tail and could use an extra hand.”

“Nay, I’d be a fool to run into a fight wi’ the English when only a short time ago, I was a hair’s breadth away from the gallows.”

“Has the wee Lairdie gone soft on us wi’ his time in Paris,” Angus teased.

“Haud yer wheesht.  Jenny should be having her second bairn soon, and I'll no’ be missing it to help ye steal a coo.”

“Let him be, lads,” Dougal whispered, “and quiet down.”  Dougal was glimpsing around a tree and didn’t even look at Jamie when he said, “Here come the English, Jamie, so if ye’ll no’ be of assistance, I suggest ye move along quickly.”

“Aye,” Jamie whispered, nodding a goodbye to the men and grabbing Donas by the reins to move deeper into the thicket.

He found a perch not far away where he could keep an eye on both the MacKenzies and the redcoats.  The MacKenzies had their swords drawn and pistols out, waiting for the redcoats to come closer.

On Dougal’s command, Rupert fired a shot, scattering the English in the bushes.  The MacKenzies then charged forward to attack the splintered group.  

A flash of white caught his eye from up on the faerie hill.  It was a woman coming down, stumbling on the uneven ground.  Her head turned left and right, wild, brown hair floating around her head, looking as though she was lost.  She wore naught but a clean, white shift that hardly made it past her knees.

“Oh, Christ,” he whispered.  She was walking right into the stramash.

He felt himself moving forward before he even decided to help her.  He was halfway there when he noticed she was spotted by a redcoat with long, dark hair.  

The officer took slow, steady steps toward the woman.  He had one hand on the hilt of his sword, and the other was removing his tricorn hat, tossing it aside.  

Jamie’s gut clenched immediately, turning to stone.  He knew exactly who that man was.  “Randall.”  He sped his pace sprinting to help her.

She tried to run, but was cut off by Randall.  She darted in the other direction, and he blocked her again.  She was cornered, forced against a rock wall with the Devil himself bearing down on her.  

Jamie charged at Randall full speed, his sword and dirk both already drawn.  Randall saw him coming and shielded himself from Jamie’s first blow, then stabbed him in the shoulder.  Jamie pulled back, moving quick and strong, ignoring the wound he was sure would hurt later.  He rained down a fierce assault on the demon who made his blood boil.  The sound of a whip rang in his ear every time he swung his blade, each assault more violent than the last.  

Finally, he maneuvered around Randall and brought his blade to the bastard’s throat.  With naught but vengeance for his father and Jenny on his mind, he slit Randall’s throat and ran him through for good measure. 

Jamie sighed blissfully as the blood drained from Randall’s corpse.

A noise had him turning around to face the woman in white.  Three more redcoats were running at them.  Two came for him, and one went after the woman.  The redcoat hammered a blow with his hilt down on her head, knocking her out cold.  

The sight was enraging.  Jamie’s vision narrowed, and all he could see was red.  He fought them off one by one with savage, brutal blows.  He didn’t stop until the ground beneath him was soaked in English blood.

A noise to his right kept him on his guard, but it was just Rupert coming belatedly to help.  “A bheil e air a dhèanamh a-nis?

“They’re dead,” said Jamie, dropping his sword to his sides and moving toward the woman.  “Are there any more redcoats about?”

“No’ that we ken.”  But his eyes still darted around to be sure.  “Nonetheless, we’ll be on our way, lest reinforcements come looking for them.  Are ye hurt?”

Jamie looked down to see blood on his shoulder.  He was starting to feel the wound Randall left him.  “I’m alright.  ’Tis mostly their blood.”

“And the lass?”

Jamie bent down to make sure she was breathing.  “Took a nasty hit to the head.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.”  He touched her cheek softly, as though willing it so.

“We could take her wi’ us.  I’m sure Dougal…”

“No!  She’s mine,” Jamie snapped.  Realizing he was being foolishly possessive over someone he didn’t know, he looked up at Rupert and softened his tone.  “I’ll see to her care.”

A knowing smile curved the corner of Rupert’s mouth.  “I just bet you will.  Rach còmhla ri Dia, Jamie lad.”

Mar sin leat.”  He turned his attention back down to the woman as Rupert took off to catch up with the other MacKenzies.

O Dhia,” Jamie whispered, eyes tracing the lines of the woman’s face.  She was the most beautiful...the most elegant woman he’d ever seen.  Her skin was as bright white as a lily and her lips as pink as cherry blossoms.  The fervor of the fight already had his heart pounding wildly, but his eyes tracing down her body in that elegant, shapely shift made it feel like it might just hammer out of his chest.  

He looked around at the redcoats' bodies that were littering the ground.  He needed to get her away to safety.

What a stranger like her was doing on the fairy hill, he had no idea, but he couldn’t leave her there.  She was clearly no friend of Randall, and that instantly made her a friend of his.

It took him some time to bring Donas over and get them both in the saddle.  The difficulty was in his injured shoulder.  He could feel the blood coming out of the wound as he hefted her up with his other arm.  

She had the roundest arse he’d ever seen, and though it was more than pleasant to look at from the angle he had her thrown over his horse, his arm was aching, and his head was pounding.

He climbed up behind her and pulled her upright, adjusting her so she fit comfortably between his legs.  Her body was pleasantly soft in his arms, and he begged God’s forgiveness for how much he enjoyed it.  He grumbled at his cock’s interest in the woman—he needed all his blood elsewhere at the moment, but the damn thing wasn’t having it.

He held her as best as he could with his good arm, and steered Donas mostly with his legs.  They couldn’t travel fast; there was no way Jamie could keep them upright.

A sweet, floral scent filled his nose, and it took him a moment to realize it was coming from her hair.  He bent his head down and took a deep breath, and he detected another scent on her shift and in the curve of her neck...a perfume more delectable than any he’d ever smelled before.

He gripped her tightly against him, intoxicated by her strangeness.  It didn’t surprise him that he found her on the dun...perhaps she was something of a fairy.

Her hands hung limp at her sides, rubbing up against his legs.  What he would give to have the life come into her now and touch him with intention.

The overcast clouds blocked the sun from the sky, and the breeze was cool on his skin.  His mind was already racing forward to the cold night ahead of them...there’d be no way to build a fire when the English might find them...they’d have to lie together for warmth.

When they were a good distance away from the fairy hill, he began to worry about what the poor lass would think when she woke up covered in blood, riding around in a strange place, being held in the arms of a strange man.

He didn’t feel himself fading until he snapped his eyes awake.  He and the woman were tipping over, and Donas was doing his best to keep them upright, but together they were just too heavy, even for a beast like Donas.  Jamie gave up on trying to pull them both back on the horse.  Instead, he wrapped his arm tight around her and turned his body to take the brunt of the fall.

Christ!” he cursed.  A searing pain shot up his already injured arm.  His vision went black, and stars shot across his eyes.  He was dizzy and faint and certain he was going to vomit.

He breathed slowly, terrified of getting sick on the woman who smelled of perfume and flowers.  She was laying on his chest, sleeping peacefully, completely unaware of the dangers around her.

He used the rhythm of her lungs to steady his own, synchronizing their breaths to a slow and languid pace.

Finally, he could hear the song of the chaffinch birds over the thrumming of his racing heart and the purling of a nearby stream.  Sounds reached his ears of Donas somewhere in the distance, rooting around a patch of grass to graze.  

His arm ached something awful.  He had to force himself to open his eyes and get a look at it.  By the odd angle in which it was set, he could tell the damn thing was out of place.  He cringed at the thought of riding back to Lallybroch in the pain he was in.  It would take them a week at least...and that was if he could even get himself back on the bloody horse.

He lay there in helpless agony, with no way to protect himself or the woman on his chest.

If he could’ve shrugged in defeat, he most certainly would've done so.  But as it was, he just lay there, taking comfort in the fact that the woman on top of him was still alive and in his possession.

His hand slid up her back and threaded through her hair.  He caressed her head and breathed in her scent for long, pleasant minutes.

Just as he was drifting off to sleep once again, exhausted as he was from the loss of blood, he felt the woman stirring on top of him.  Her breath quickened, and her arms wrapped around him.

Slowly, she lifted her chin and opened her eyes.  The knock on her head had her moaning in pain, and she dropped it quickly down on his chest.  He found he very much liked her using him for comfort.

“Careful now, lass,” said Jamie.  “Ye took no small hit to the heid.”  He stroked the source of the pain, tangling his hand in her hair with each caress. “’Tis alright now. Ye’ll no’ be harmed again.”

She tried again, slower this time.  She squinted through her eyelashes and took in the forest around her.  He could tell she was trying to piece together memories of how she got there.

“Ye alright then, lass?”

“I...I’m not sure.” 

She was a sassenach.  Her voice was low and rich, not at all like a a woman.

“How about you?” she asked. “Are you alright?” 

She turned to meet his gaze, and he sucked in a surprised breath.  Golden eyes as brilliant as any of the royal jewels in Versailles stared back at him. 

He’d only ever seen one other set of eyes with a color that looked anything like that...except those eyes were surrounded in a sea of blue.  

Words from that young woman echoed clearly in his mind.  You will marry...Your wife will be different than any woman you’ve met before...She’ll have wild, unmanageable hair and eyes as gold as honey in sunshine.

An unbridled joy bubbled up in his heart as he took in this sassenach’s untamed locks and leopard eyes.  He knew it was her...the one he would marry...the one who would bear his child...his daughter.

I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes.

And with all his might, he restrained himself from barraging her with a thousand kisses.  She was lost and afraid, and he must do all he could to find a way to show her that no matter where she’d come from, she was finally home.