anonymous said: Sobbbb. Your newest piece to Claire getting hurt fic :( Now I am sad she might just leave. Can you continue it by Jamie taking her but it not being the right time for them to work so she has to stay? Unless you had another plan for continuing it :)
Would love to see a continuation of the Claire getting shot story now she has told Jamie about the stones?! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed! — jen18jen
They rode in silence for half the day. Jamie was brooding, clearly thinking Claire wouldn’t notice or care, but she did. She tried to remember what he’d said while she’d been burning with fever. Prayers, she’d caught those. She remembered him laying close, a comforting weight against her side that seemed to anchor her to earth when she wanted to drift off into the dark abyss that awaited a person after life. Claire wasn’t entirely sure what had been dreams and what had been real, now that she thought of it. Her mind had been full of Jamie. It’d been Jamie far more than Frank who had called out to her, had brought her back. What could that mean?
“Will Dougal be angry with you?” she asked quietly after they’d lunched and were back atop their horses. She still felt tired and weak, requiring Jamie to help her up into her saddle. He rode close, their knees brushing from time to time, his presence a relief; for Claire knew if she was about to fall, he’d catch her.
“What will you tell him? I don’t want you to get into trouble, Jamie. I know- I know he worries about me going back to the English with what he’s-”
“I dinna ken what I’ll tell him, other than I’ve sent ye home. Dinna fash, Sassenach. It’ll no’ be yer concern.”
He was being so short with her, and she didn’t like it. In fact, it made her angry and frustrated. Claire was silent for a little while, considering his answer. Home. Where was home? It was meant to be Oxford, where Frank had gotten a new job, but what would she do there? She hadn’t had plans yet; hadn’t thought to begin making them, for whatever reason. Hadn’t bought that bloody blue vase. Because she didn’t have a home.
They stopped for the night and Jamie built a small fire. After dinner, Claire gave in to her exhaustion and curled up beneath several blankets, but she was still weak and grew cold too quickly there on the ground. Jamie sat stoically on the opposite side of the fire, gazing into the flames and clearly refusing to lie down and sleep himself. He was wrapped up simply in his plaid, clearly content enough as he was. But, while Claire slept, her sleep was fitful and ridiculous shivers shook the entire little mound of blankets every now and then.
After an hour, those shivers became impossible to ignore. Jamie sighed heavily and got up, stoked the fire a bit, then moved over to slip beneath the blankets with Claire. He was tense and uncomfortable, not wanting to be so close, but there was little else he could do when she pressed in against him and sighed softly in her sleep. He lay there, head propped up with his elbow, and watched her. She was so relaxed against him, not a worry in the world.
“Because ye ken ye’re goin’ home,” he muttered bitterly. His free hand lifted out from under the blankets and he brushed a single fingertip along her cheek, down over the curve of her jaw. Watching to be sure she was still deeply asleep, he dragged his finger over her lower lip, feeling the heat of her breath against his skin. “And I’ll love ye forever, God help me, Sassenach,” he whispered. “Wherever ye are.”
He didn’t sleep. Jamie was content to lay at Claire’s side all night long, watching the rise and fall of her chest, listening to her breaths and the soft sounds she made as she dreamed. Was it Frank she saw? Was this her mind, preparing to go back to her husband? The very thought of it was enough to make him want to slip away, but then her hand curled tight against his chest, holding onto his waistcoat as if to keep him there. And so he stayed.
They rose with the sun and were on their way once more, but there was a new tension between them. There was less than a half day’s ride to the stones. Claire would be gone all too soon.
When they arrived, they circled the hill twice, then Jamie helped Claire down and tethered the horses nearby. Then he walked up to the top of the hill, silently praying for the strength to stand there and watch her go. “Sassenach,” he said softly, halting at the edge of the stones while she stepped forward, fine, dark brows knitted together. “Dinna forget us.” Dinna forget me.
She gazed around the circle of stones for several breaths, not responding to him at first. Bloody fool, she thought, though. As if I could ever forget. Icy fear suddenly shot through her like a bolt of lightening. What if she did forget? What if it all faded as if it’d been nothing more than a dream? What if she forgot Jamie, what he looked like, the feel of his warm body pressed close to hers, the scent of his breath as he slept next to her? Tears bloomed in her eyes. I don’t want to forget!
“I won’t,” she promised quickly. “Not ever.”
“Aye. Ye’d best be off, then.” He stood rooted to the spot, unable to move, unable to turn away. Jamie wanted to grab hold of her and pull her into his arms, kiss her breathless, and beg her not to go. Instead, he curled his hands into his fists and waited. Waited for something to happen. Waited for her to disappear.
But then she turned to face him, whiskey eyes glistening with unshed tears. “Say it,” she demanded suddenly. “Now that I’m awake, I want to hear you say it, Jamie.”
He blinked in surprise, shifted his feet a little, and canted his head as he gazed at her, his own brows knitted together now in confusion. “Say what?”
“What you’ve only said to me in my sleep. I know you’ve said it. I- I know it wasn’t a dream. I want to hear it, Jamie. I want to hear you say it to me now.” A soft breeze picked up, making her curls flutter around her face, and she glanced back toward the center stone, frowning.
Was it calling to her? he wondered. She’d said something about that in her sleep, about hearing them. Did she hear them now? Did she hear him?
“I dinna ken what ye’re talking about, Claire,” he said quickly. Damn her, she needed to go before he fell apart. Did she not understand how hard this was for him?
“So you want me to go then?” She lifted her chin a little, eyes burning. She was challenging him.
He gritted his teeth, keeping his face blank, but something flashed across his eyes. Claire took a step toward the stone, hand outstretched.
“Ye ken well enough ye don’t belong here. Ye’ve nearly just died!” Panic bubbled up in his chest. He couldn’t stop her. He had to let her go. But his gaze flicked from her hand to her face and back.
“That wasn’t what I asked, Jamie.”
Jamie exhaled loudly through his nose. She knew. How did she know? She’d been asleep and feverish and- There was no way she could’ve heard him. And yet here she was, challenging him, waiting for him to say the words aloud. Claire took another step toward the stone, then turned and reached out to touch it.
“I dinna want ye to go because I love ye, Claire!”
She sucked in a sharp breath and let her hand fall back to her side. She was still, gazing at him for what felt like forever, then, finally, Claire moved back over to him, her steps slow and tentative. Her lips twitched and the tears were glittering once more in her eyes as she reached out to take his hands. Jamie watched her in silence, breathing heavily, eyes wide like those of a cornered dog.
“I can’t go,” she whispered, giving his hands a gentle squeeze. “I don’t think. I can’t- I can’t hear them like I did before, and I don’t know why. But–” She took a deep breath and released it slowly as she let go of his hands and brought her own up to frame his face instead. “I do know that I don’t want to go.”
He blinked in surprise and his hands came up to grab her wrists, his fingers gentle as they wrapped around the fine bones. “Y-ye want to stay?”
“I want to stay.”
“I want to stay with you, Jamie. Even if I don’t know your real name or where you’re from or-”
Her words were cut off when Jamie promptly gathered her into his arms and tugged her in against him, mouth claiming hers in a desperate kiss. She melted against him, kissing him back just as deeply. The kiss turned salty and she leaned back a little in surprise, for they weren’t her own tears flavoring their kiss. They were his.
“Fraser,” he whispered, crushing her against him as she thumbed away his tears. “James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. And by God, do I love ye, Claire.”
“Then I’ll stay, James Fraser.” Claire leaned up on her toes to kiss him softly again. “And I’ll be yours.”