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The Oath

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January 20th, 2019

Claire was running late (as usual), and had just texted Frank to let him know she was on her way home from work. Being promoted to Chief Resident at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, while amazing and the highlight of her career thus far, also came with its obvious stress. She had been late more times than she had been early since her new role and while Frank was a forgiving man, Claire knew he could only take so much of her tardiness.

But it’s not like Frank had been perfectly punctual in their entire four year relationship. A history professor at Edinburgh University, Frank Randall had his fair share of late nights grading papers and tutoring students.

A quiet ding came from Claire’s pocket and she pulled it out to check the message.

Frank: No rush

“No rush he says,” Claire muttered under her breath as she wrapped her scarf loosely around her neck. “We’ll see if you’re in the same mood when I get home, shall we?”

Claire had an awful habit of talking to herself and had received her fair share of odd looks on the street and on public transportation. She held her own however, being born and raised in England by strong and loving parents, Claire wasn’t afraid to be herself — strange habits and all.

Edinburgh had become a second home to her after she finished university at Oxford. That’s where she had met Frank who was a teaching assistant in one of her classes. They began dating, taking things slow at first but soon Claire found herself packing her bags and following him to Scotland — a country she had never even been to before.

Call it love, call it a foolish thing to do, but Claire adored Frank and had no regrets about uprooting her life.

Twenty minutes later, Claire unlocked the door to her home, relishing in the warmth as she stomped her snow clad feet on the welcome mat.

“Frank, I’m home!” She called out, but heard no response.

Unbuttoning her brown tweed coat, Claire slid her arms out of it and laid it across the chair in the entryway. How odd. Frank was usually home at this time of day and always called out to her when she entered.

Brushing it off as nothing but good thick walls, Claire strolled into the kitchen to see what Frank was making for dinner. Even odder. There was nothing on the stove — no pots or pans, and no glasses of wine waiting on the counter to welcome her home after a long day.

This wasn’t like Frank to not cook dinner, especially on Fridays, their home date nights. Checking her phone for any missed messages, she saw no new notifications and so she laid her phone out on the counter and resolved to search the house.

“Frank?” She called out his name as she climbed the stairs to their bedroom. If she was being honest with herself, his lack of presence around the house shouldn’t be too out of character… especially recently.

They had been having problems, as most couples do at some point in their relationship. Claire wasn’t too much of a fool in love to admit that Frank had his flaws — as did she. At times, she found herself flinching when he raised his voice above normal volume because the phone company had billed them wrong again. Or when he smashed his fists down on the table angrily whenever Claire had told him about applying for the Chief position at work.

He was always supportive of her dreams, but not when they got in the way of their time as a couple. This was all very understandable — who wouldn’t be upset that their significant other would ultimately be spending less time with them? But Frank had held it over her head… her commitment to her job. Even if he didn’t voice his every thought out loud to her, Claire had felt the iciness in his touch the past couple of months and the greedy way he came to her in the night, spreading her legs and entering her without warning.

She often wondered what her parents would think of Frank if they were still alive. Henry and Julia Beauchamp died in a terrible car accident when she was only fourteen and since then she had been under her Uncle Lamb’s guardianship. Her uncle had been her rock when she lost both her parents, and had encouraged her to follow her dream to become a doctor and save lives — making up for the sheer fact that she wasn’t able to save her parents lives.

The light was on at the end of the hall in their bedroom, and for some reason Claire felt that she needed to be quiet as she padded down the hardwood floor.

“Frank?” She tapped her knuckles softly on the door before pushing it open. “Are you in here, love?”

“In the bathroom, Claire! Just a moment,” came Frank’s muffled voice from behind another closed door to her right.

Looking around the room, Claire noticed that their bedroom was slightly disheveled and wondered what Frank had been doing. He always kept the house in tip top shape, not a chair out of place which frankly annoyed Claire to no end. A home was supposed to be lived in, not simply a shell to hold furniture and things.

Her feet were sore from a long day of speed walking through the hospital hallways and Claire stepped out of her tennis shoes — boring and bland, the kind that were stereotypical for doctors. The sound of running water came from the bathroom and Claire sighed to herself, impatient for Frank to come out.

As she took another look around her room, Claire noticed something sparkle out of the corner of her eye on the nightstand. With her heart racing, Claire glanced at the bathroom door before going over to inspect the sparkly object.

It was an earring. And not one of hers.

In a matter of a few short seconds, Claire’s world turned on its axis. She looked down at the small diamond in her hand and felt hot tears well in her eyes. Her throat was tight and her breath caught in between her ribs like someone had punched her.

She should have known. Frank had been somewhat aloof the past few weeks, his attitude completely shifted from how he used to act. What used to be heated arguments over dinner about her attending another work conference over the weekend, turned into a nod of the head and a “See you on Monday,” farewell.

But he clearly still felt comfortable using her body for pleasure whenever he needed it. Just last night, Frank had kissed the back of her neck sending a chill down her spine. Needing to feel some kind of human comfort from the stress of her hectic week, Claire had rolled over to face him and joined together with him.

Her belly was coiled tight now and she slid her fingers down over her neck, breasts and stomach, fingers trembling at the thought of those same fingers she knew well on another woman.

The bathroom door opened with an ear splitting creak and Claire froze, her back turned away from him.

“Sorry about that darling, I was just in the shower — had a hard day at work,” Frank said and came up behind her, his hands sliding up her back and over her shoulders.

“Don’t touch me,” she whispered and she wondered if he had even heard her. An answering squeeze to the tight knots in her shoulders told her that he hadn’t.

“I said don’t touch me, Frank,” Claire said it a little louder and finally turned around to face him. The sight of his face — the hard lines that decorated his cheeks, the chiseled jaw and brown eyes made her sick now, almost violently so.

“Claire, what’s gotten into you?” He looked at her with almost a scowl, as if it was her that had done something wrong.

Afraid that her words would fail her, she lifted up her fist to Frank and slowly, one finger at a time opened her hand to reveal the diamond earring of his lover.

“Fuck,” he said under bated breath. So it was true.

Claire dropped the traitorous piece of jewelry onto the floor between their feet and stormed for the door. She was jerked back by Frank’s grip on her arm and she whirled around, slapping him with a force so strong her hand stung.

“Jesus, Claire!”

“A hard day at work?!” Claire felt the strength return to her voice as she spoke, and smirked as he rubbed his red cheek. “The only thing that was hard about your day was your cock, Frank.”

“Claire,” he sighed and his hands rested on his hips which were only clad in a towel. “Can we please be civil about this? You must have known, surely—“

“Civil? For fucks sake, Frank!” Claire scoffed and spun on her heel, heading towards the closet to retrieve an overnight bag. Thankfully her best friend, Geillis lived just a few streets over. There was no way Claire could fathom spending another night under this roof.

The fact that Frank wasn’t putting up a fight gave her mixed emotions. On one hand, it made it easy to hate him, but on the other… it only crushed her, making her feel pathetic — like she wasn’t someone worth fighting for.

“Just tell me,” she said seriously as she came back into the room, bag hastily packed. “Do I know her?”

She saw the twitch of his eye and thought she might be sick right there on the carpet.

“You’ve met her a few times,” he confirmed and sat down on the bed. “Her name is Sandy and she works with—“

“Oh spare me the details, please!”

“I’m sorry, Claire. This isn’t exactly how I wanted this to happen.”

Claire looked at him, a feeling of grief for their relationship washing over her, and only felt hatred for this man.

“It isn’t?” She laughed, an almost evil witch sounding laugh. “So you were planning on still sleeping with me while you had your affair? Were you ever planning on telling me?”

“There were conversations,” he mumbled, “Between Sandy and I about ending it.”

“Ending your affair?”

“No,” he said defensively and looked up at her. “About ending our relationship.”

Claire closed her eyes, counted to three, took a deep breath and walked out of the room. There was no use in further discussion with Frank because it wouldn’t be a discussion, only an excuse to make her look like a bigger fool than she already felt.

When she reached the front door, she heard footsteps on the stairs behind her and paused, her hand on the doorknob.

“Claire?”

“Yes?” She said this to the door. Claire wouldn’t spend another minute looking at his face. A face she had loved and spent lazy mornings running her fingertips over. A face that had once looked at her with so much love it was as if she was his whole world.

“You will come back to collect the rest of your things, right?”

“Fuck you, Frank Randall.” She opened the door quickly and slammed it shut behind her, clutching her overnight bag tightly.

As she walked down the street, every step taking her closer to Geillis, she began to look for her phone to tell her friend she was coming over.

“Damn it,” she cursed, her hands franticly searching her jean pockets for her phone. Claire began to shiver in the cold January air and realized that in her haste to get out, she had left her coat on the front chair… along with her phone on the kitchen counter.

There was no way she could return to that house, even if it was to retrieve her phone. Her dignity would not be squashed another time tonight. Instead, Claire wiped away the few frustrated tears that leaked from her eyes and kept walking, only hoping that Geillis was home.

When her trembling hand rang the doorbell and the red headed woman opened the door, Claire’s bottom lip shook and she collapsed into her open arms.

++++++

“There, that’ll fix ye right up,” the ginger scot said as she handed Claire a full glass of whisky. They had stood on Geillis’ doorstep for five minutes before Claire managed to pull herself together enough to make it to the couch.

“Now,” Geillis took a seat beside her, pulling the fuzzy blanket over her feet. “Will ye tell me what the hell happened tonight?

Taking a long sip for bravery, Claire swallowed deeply letting the liquid burn down her throat. Her right hand fidgeted with a loose thread on the couch and she kept her eyes forward on the roaring fire as she spoke, giving Geillis a play by play of her eventful evening.

“That fucking bastard!” Geillis all but stood up, her face beaming red to match her hair. She set aside her own glass of whisky and gathered Claire into her arms. “I’m sae sorry, lass.”

“I just feel so stupid,” Claire wiped at her nose. “When I think back, I knew there was something off but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just didn’t want to let myself think he would still be sleeping with me while he had an affair.”

“He’s a damn fool, Claire. I never liked him and ye ken it well. The moment ye introduced us, I felt my wame turn and I got weird vibes,” Geillis rose from the couch and refilled both their glasses.

Claire welcomed the whisky as it warmed her body. It was like a balm to her wounded soul and made her mind fuzzy. She wanted to curl up in a ball under the covers and imagine that this entire night hadn’t happened.

“Ye ken yer welcome to stay here as long as ye need.”

“Thank you,” Claire smiled sadly and then remembered. “I will need a massive favor from you.”

“Of course, I’ll do anythin’ for ye,” Geillis smiled and gave her leg a gentle pat.

“I don’t think I can face going back into that house. Would you be able to collect my things for me tomorrow? I also left my phone on the kitchen counter,” she sighed.

Geillis nodded and pulled out her own phone. “I’ll make a list of everything so I dinna forget.”

“You really are the best friend a girl could ever ask for,” Claire smiled and then felt a new wave of tears come about, but this time they were happy tears of gratitude.

“Och, dinna cry, Claire — ye’ll only make me start,” Geillis pulled her in to another embrace, stroking her unruly mop of curls between her fingers.

“Sorry,” she sniffed again.

“Ye’ve nothin’ to be sorry about, lass. Now… tomorrow I’ll go and get all yer wee things, but I’m afraid tomorrow evenin’ I canna be wi’ ye, that is unless ye wanted to come wi’ me to Broch Mordha.”

“Broch Mordha? What’s up there?” Claire sat up slightly, trying to recall the geography of Scotland.

“Och, tis a small town, but a few friends of mine ken of a local distillery that is launching their new whisky and I promised to go wi’ them to the grand opening.”

“Oh,” Claire thought about her work schedule and realized thankfully that she had the next three days off. “I don’t mind tagging along, that is if it’s alright.”

“Are ye sure?” Geillis asked. “I would prefer if ye did come just so I can keep an eye on ye to make sure ye dinna off yerself.”

“Geillis!” Claire laughed, a welcome sound and hit her friend on the arm. “I’m not there… yet.”

Geillis winked at her and pulled her into another hug, “That’s my lass. Let’s get ye into a nice hot bubble bath and then off to sleep. Tomorrow we’ll deal wi’ whatever comes yer way.”

They both rose from the couch and Claire followed Geillis to the bathroom. For the first time that day, Claire looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize herself. Her riotous brown curls were a frizzy mess around her slim face which was looking haggard. Bags under her red eyes from the crying and puffy cheeks to add — she didn’t feel too hot.

Once the bath was ready, she shed her layers and climbed in slowly, letting her body adjust to the changing temperature. Claire laid her head back against the bath, eyes fixated above her on a black speck on the white ceiling.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” she muttered and submerged herself under the water, letting the weight of the world wash away.

Chapter Text

January 21, 2019

When Claire opened her eyes to the sun streaming through the window over the white linen sheets, her mind was blank. For a few brief, quiet moments, she forgot the events of the past twelve hours. But then as she turned to her side and realized she wasn’t in her own bed, she remembered why and fear crept in.

What the bloody hell was she going to do?

She moved in with Frank three years ago when they came to Edinburgh after she graduated from university. Their home was her home. A place where they had both created memories, shared Christmases and even talked about getting married.

As she sat up, her hands moved to her forehead, pressing against the temples to ease the throbbing ache. She was going to take things one day at a time. And after all… Geillis had said she could stay as long as she needed to, thank God she had a spare room.

Feeling a bit lost without her phone, Claire sighed as she put one foot after the other on the carpeted floor and stood. Her joints popped as she stretched her hands high above her head.

“You can do this, Beauchamp.” Claire took a deep breath and steeled herself for the day, ready to face whatever new challenges came at her.

When she walked out into Geillis’ living room, she was surprised to see boxes of her stuff sitting on the floor.

“Geillis?” She called out, walking through the house to find her friend.

“In the kitchen!”

The red headed woman was standing in front of the stove, spatula in hand, flipping bloody pancakes. Claire felt overwhelmed by so many different emotions and walked over to Geillis and wrapped her arms around her.

“Oh, Claire.” Geillis smiled and wrapped one arm around her waist. “Ye alright, lass?”

“I will be,” Claire smiled as best she could. “I just… love you a lot. You’ve picked up my stuff from my shitty ex and now you’re making pancakes.”

“Aye,” Geillis grinned and then turned back to the stove. “I’m just doin’ all these nice things for ye so someday when I need a favor, ye have no choice but to help.”

Claire scoffed, “I don’t think I have a choice whether I help you or not. Geillis Duncan does not simply ask, she demands.” They both laughed at the truth of the statement. When Claire had first moved to Edinburgh, she had been quite reserved and was slow to make friends. Geillis had spoken to her on her first day of work and Claire knew they would hit it off.

Her friend was also usually right about everything. Last night, Geillis had mentioned how she never felt right around Frank and now there was a reason why. He was a cheater, a liar and a manipulative bastard.

Biting the inside of her cheek to keep the tears at bay, Claire walked over to the cabinet, grabbing a glass for water.

“Did you get my phone by chance? I hope I don’t have too many missed messages.”

“Och, aye I did. I plugged it in on my charger in my room, ye can go and get it.”

“Thank you again,” Claire smiled and went to fetch her phone. When she unlocked it, she had only one message from a colleague updating her about a patient who was in critical care. Thankfully all was well, but Claire felt a little depressed that she only had one missed message. She really needed to get out more.

Claire joined Geillis back in the kitchen and hopped up on the counter.

“So, what’s this distillery thing again?” She swung her crossed ankles back and forth in the air, trying for any conversation that would distract her from thinking about Frank.

“Tis a company called ‘Fraser & Co.’, a family business I think. Anyways, my friends Rupert and Angus ken the owners and asked if I wanted to tag along,” she smiled, waving the spatula in the air as she talked. “There’ll be free whisky all night long, a good reason to get sloshed eh?”

“Right. Sloshed,” Claire sighed. She hoped with time that she would regain some feeling, some sense of humanness but currently all emotion had simply been drained out of her.

“It is okay for ye to try and have fun tonight, Claire.” Geillis flipped the last pancake and then turned to face her. “I ken it’s been no even twenty-four hours and ye’ve every right to be heartbroken, but sometimes a girl just needs a few stiff drinks and one night to pretend she hasna been hurt.”

Geillis was right. Again. What Claire didn’t need to do was wallow in self pity, that would only get her nowhere. And besides, she didn’t exactly want to keep crying over Frank fucking Randall — he didn’t deserve her tears.

“I’ll try my best,” she offered a warm smile and satisfied with her answer, Geillis turned back to the pancakes.

“Good. I’ll be by yer side the entire night and if ye ever want to ditch, just let me know,” the red haired woman drizzled warm syrup over the fluffy pancakes and just as she passed the plate into Claire’s hands, her stomach growled.

“Christ, I’m starving!” She laughed, took the fork offered to her and dove in. “Haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday, I’ve no idea what got in the way of dinner last night,” she said sarcastically.

Kicking her in the shin lightly, Geillis laughed. “Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp isna lost to the world after all.”

++++++

It took Claire a bit longer than she expected to find something to wear tonight and no surprise there since all of her stuff had been quickly packed into boxes. In reality, she didn’t own a lot of clothes or personal items.

Perhaps it was because when her parents died, she had moved around a lot with Lamb. He was an archaeologist and so every few months, they traveled to a different country which meant hoarding things like band t-shirts, books and any other normal teenage girl items were out of the question.

Once on her way home from work, Claire had passed by a store with a lovely display of vases and almost purchased one. She wasn’t exactly sure why she didn’t buy it — after all, she had a home with Frank and a table or mantle to place it on. She had stability.

Had.

Muttering things to herself like, “foolish woman, should have noticed,” Claire took her time getting ready. Opting for simple black fitted jeans and a cozy sweater, her next task was to tame her curls.

Growing up, she hated having curly hair and had always wished for straight hair like her mother. But Julia Beauchamp had insisted that Claire learn to love her curls and also how to properly take care of them.

Proper care was thrown out the window when she traveled around with Lamb and since then, she hadn’t taken up putting in the effort again. It wasn’t that her hair was unkempt, but it often resembled a bird’s nest… an inviting one nonetheless.

Forcing herself to wear a little bit of foundation and mascara, Claire put the brush down and looked at herself in the mirror.

“Not bad, Beauchamp.”

When she walked out to where Geillis was waiting, she stopped and stared at her friend. She was wearing a short black dress with a deep v-cut and thigh high boots. It was January… in Scotland.

“What? Too slutty ye think?” Geillis followed Claire’s gaze and looked down at herself.

“No, no not at all,” Claire whistled, her eyes wide and then laughed. “You look great actually, but now I feel rather frumpy.”

Giving her a once over, Geillis screwed up her face, “Aye, ye do, but ye have an excuse. It’s no like yer goin’ to be keen on talkin’ to any men. So this way they’ll be sure to stay away!”

“Geillis!” Claire gasped, feigning shock and hit her playfully on the arm. “Okay, now you look like a slut.”

“Grandma,” Geillis retorted and then grabbed her car keys.

++++++

The grand opening party for Fraser & Co. was being held at the owner’s estate according to Geillis’ friend Rupert. The two women had picked up their two companions, also Scots of course and made the short journey to Lallybroch. From the little Claire knew of Gaelic, the word ‘Lallybroch’ meant something like ‘lazy tower’ and she very was interested to see if such a tower existed.

“So, Claire,” Angus leaned forward from the backseat, his face a bit too close to Claire’s to be completely comfortable, “How long have ye known our lass, Geillis?”

Avoiding unnecessary contact, Claire leaned forward so that her back was at an awkward angle and turned her head towards Angus. “Almost three years, feels like ages though.”

“How come we’ve ne’vr met ye then?”

“Claire doesna get out much, ye ken,” Geillis chimed in. “She’s a big boss lady and doesna have time to hang out wi’ the lower class.”

Claire nudged her friend in the side, rolling her eyes. “You know that’s not true. It was Frank who insisted on spending all of my free time with him.”

“Who’s Frank?” Rupert, the burlier of the two men asked.

“No one important anymore,” Claire said and put an end quickly to that rabbit hole.

A short time later, they arrived at their destination. It wasn’t very late in the day, 7pm to be exact, but the sun had set a long time ago and so the only lights on the estate were hundreds of twinkling fairy lights hung all around. The home looked absolutely magical and Claire decided that this is what all typical Scottish fairytale homes looked like.

They had arrived a bit later than expected due to getting lost in the dark and therefore had missed the opening speech from the owners welcoming them to the launch. The four of them quickly found the open bar, however, and Claire was now onto her second whisky of the night.

Rupert had just told a joke that had made the entire crowd around them laugh in hysterics, but not Claire. While she enjoyed the company, her heart wasn’t in it to be surrounded by so many people.

“I’m just going to take a walk around, I’ll be fine,” She said to Geillis, giving her a cheerful smile as she slowly wormed her way out of the crowd.

As she stepped out of the house to get some fresh air and enjoy the pretty lights, Claire was thankful she had worn a comfy sweater instead of trying to give off the impression that she wasn’t absolutely freezing. Even with her hands tucked under the material of her sleeves, however, she still shivered.

“Yer shaking so hard, yer makin’ my teeth rattle just at the sight of ye.”

Jumping a little at the unexpected company, Claire looked over to her right and saw a very tall, broad, red haired man leaning against the wall.

“Do ye want a plaid or maybe a coat?” He asked her kindly and then approached her. She knew the man was waiting for an answer to his question, but when he came closer and she looked into his blue eyes, she forgot any language that made sense.

The man gave her an odd look and then reached out, waving his hand in front of her face and finally she shook her head, and her speech was restored.

“No, thank you. I’ll be just fine,” she smiled and then turned to head back inside the house. Claire had come outside to get away from people, and this man who made her incapable of coherent thought was getting in the way of that.

“Ye dinna seem like ye want to be around people,” He said just as her foot hit the first step.

“Your point is?” She gazed over at him, noticing the subtle quirk of his mouth, and the deep auburn shine to his curly hair.

“I ken of a place wi’ a few less people is all,” he smiled and before she could tell herself no and to go find Geillis and ask to go home, Claire retraced her steps and came to stand in front of the man once again.

“Show me, then.”

Observing that she had come outside for to find quiet, the man didn’t speak as he lead them around the estate and to a large stable. Only when he disappeared inside an office looking room and returned with a plaid, did Claire speak.

“Thank you,” she smiled, accepting his kind gesture to keep her warm.

“Dinna fash. Canna have ye freezin’ to death!” He laughed — a deep laugh that made Claire want to tell a joke just so she could hear it again.

“So why did you bring me to the stables?” She asked and took a few steps in, looking around at the horses that were in their stalls.

“Och, I always find the company of a horse to be more favorable than people,” the man said and walked up next to her, his hands down at his sides.

“I’ve never ridden a horse before,” Claire mused out loud and came to stand in front of a stall with a beautiful black horse. “Don’t know anything about them really.”

For whatever reason, Claire felt comfortable in this stranger’s presence. Perhaps it was being around the horses, but as he stood next to her, she suddenly longed to know everything about him.

“Ye are a Sassenach,” the man chortled, “That doesna exactly surprise me.”

Claire looked up at him and was once again struck by the blueness of his eyes. “A Sassenach?” She pronounced the word slowly, trying to mimic his accent.

His eyebrows shot up and an amused look crossed his face, “I only mean English, tis another term for ye… an outlander.”

“Hmmm, I hope it’s used affectionately,” she snorted a bit and then covered her mouth with her hand. Only did she snort when she felt totally relaxed and right now she blamed the alcohol.

The man only laughed and then suddenly disappeared back into the office. Claire mentally shrugged and wrapped the plaid tighter around her body, returning her attention back to the horse in front of her.

“Would ye like a dram?” The man said from behind her and she turned to see him holding two glasses of whisky.

“What do you own the place or something?” She laughed, remarking at his ability to produce items from seemingly out of nowhere but took the glass he offered her.

The scot stiffened beside her, his left hand tapping twitchy fingers along his thigh. “Och, I ken the owner a wee bit.”

“I see. And he has no problem with you showing random strangers his stable and drinking his hidden whisky?”

The man grinned over his glass, “None at all.”

Claire wondered exactly who he was, but decided not to push further. She took a sip, letting it burn her throat and then took a seat on the bench near the entrance. The man awkwardly stood frozen in place, unsure of what to do but ultimately took a seat beside her.

“What do ye think of the whisky?”

He was sitting very close to her and she could smell his aftershave — minty with a hint of spice that lingered in her nostrils. The man also radiated heat and she no longer felt the need of the plaid, letting it fall off one shoulder.

“It’s very good,” she smiled and remembering the glass in her hand took another sip.

“I’ll be sure to let the owner know that a beautiful Sassenach who’s never ridden a horse in her life enjoys his whisky,” the man said with a cheeky grin and Claire had the sudden urge to poke him in the stomach. So she did.

“Och! What was that for?” He laughed, rubbing at the spot she had poked him.

“Sorry,” she bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing but ultimately burst into a fit of giggles, one so strong that tears filled her eyes.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” she sighed as her laugh began to wind down. The man stared at her, clearly amused, but also maybe a bit frightened at this hysterical woman he had engaged in polite conversation with.

“Are ye alright, Sassenach?” He asked and she thought that he genuinely cared to know the answer.

The simple answer was yes, she was just a bit tipsy, but the real answer was far more complicated.

“I’m not really sure,” she said truthfully, earning her a distinctly Scottish noise from beside her.

“I didna expect such an honest answer,” the man grinned, his eyes full of sympathy.

“I’m not usually one to pour my heart out to a complete stranger,” Claire took another sip of whisky. “But you make me comfortable strange whisky man.”

“Strange whisky man? Yeesh,” the man chuckled and then offered his hand out to her. “Jamie, madam. Pleasure to meet ye.”

It took her a moment to move her own hand into his, but when her skin made contact with his, a bolt of electricity shot up her arm and she dropped the nearly empty glass onto the ground, making them both jump. Glass shattered at their feet, and Claire cursed herself for being so clumsy.

“Dinna move, Sassenach. I dinna want yer wee feet getting hurt,” Jamie stood and carefully avoided the glass. He went into the small office and came back with a small broom and dustpan. That room really did have a bit of everything.

“I’m so sorry,” Claire said. “I’ll buy the owner another glass. Christ, Beauchamp!”

“Dinna fash, Sassenach. Tis alright, I ken he willna mind, besides ’twas an accident,” he brushed up the remaining bits of glass and dumped it in a waste bin. With a final check to the area, Jamie offered both his hands to Claire and she took them, once again feeling that same buzz on her skin.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

“For what?” Jamie hadn’t let go of her hands and she was fine if he never did.

“For cleaning up my mess.”

“I think I’d do anythin’ for ye, Sassenach.”

The air between them was so charged, so electric that Claire was sure if a match was struck, they’d both burst into flames on the spot.

Jamie’s hand moved from hers and slipped around her waist, holding her close to his body and she felt the heat of him against her skin. There was nothing else that mattered in this moment other than the thought of what his lips would taste like on hers.

She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“Sassenach,” Jamie whispered and she stood on her toes and paused, her lips a breath away from his.

“Kiss me.” And he did.

Chapter Text

January 21, 2019

His lips tasted like whisky and his stubble scratched against her smooth cheeks. Claire’s hand drifted to his face, settling with her fingers just grazing his ear. As their lips molded together, a light snow had begun to fall, dropping onto their warm skin.

“Yer shiverin’ again, Sassenach.” Jamie’s hands were on her waist, clutching at the plaid and he pulled it back up around her shoulders.

“I am,” Claire’s teeth chattered together and she let out a soft laugh. They were still standing close together, bodies formed to the curves and hard lines of stomachs and limbs.

“Let’s get ye out of the cold then, aye?” Jamie smiled and took a step back, immediately bringing a chill to Claire’s body without his close touch.

He offered her his hand and she hesitated a beat before taking it, fingers touching rough calluses.

“Do ye want to go back to yer friends?” He asked as they began to walk back in the direction of the estate.

“Not really, no,” Claire laughed, brushing a few loose curls behind her ear. The last thing she wanted to do was be around a bunch of people, especially after the blissful moment she had just shared with Jamie.

“Well,” Jamie inhaled sharply, squeezing her hand. “As I said, I ken the owner fairly well and I dinna think he would mind if I showed ye around the inside of the estate.”

“Ah, the grand tour,” Claire pulled the plaid around her with her free hand and looked up at Jamie. “Do you often give tours of the place?”

He chuckled softly, “Only to verra special guests, Sassenach.”

“Well I’m honored,” she dipped her head slightly, trying to hold back a smile. Claire wouldn’t realize it until later, but she hadn’t thought of Frank once since she met Jamie.

As they made their way back inside, the party was still in full swing with people scattered around the room, drinks in hand. Any other time, Claire would have been right there in the thick of it, joking along with Geillis and enjoying the live music. But now she was thankful for Jamie who pulled her quickly up the stairs and out of view of the crowd.

“This place is like a fairytale,” Claire said as they walked past paintings of children and pictures of family memories. She could tell this was a home well lived in, one she always pictured having.

“Tis, ye should see it at Christmas time, the lights and the big tree in the main room,“ he looked down at her with a wide grin on his face, his eyes lit up at some memory. “And in the summers, the land is beautiful with the garden out back flourishing.”

Claire had had a suspicion that Jamie wasn’t telling her exactly who he was. And he talked about Lallybroch as someone who was very familiar with the ins and outs of the home; she wondered why he was keeping the fact that this was his home from her.

“I’m sure it’s lovely in each season,” she smiled giving his hand a gentle squeeze.

He lead them down the hallway, past closed doors and little nooks. Just as she was about to ask a question about a painting with a little red haired boy, she heard a woman’s voice come from around the corner. Jamie cursed under his breath and quickly pushed her into one of the little nooks where it was dark and their bodies had to be pressed closely together.

“Jamie, what—“

“Shh, Sassenach. I dinna want to be seen,” he said softly, gazing down at her. His blue eyes met her amber ones and she was suddenly thankful for the sturdy wall against her back to hold her up.

Claire was trying to figure out who he was hiding from when the voice that belonged to the woman spoke again.

“Have ye seen Jamie, Murtagh? He disappeared after his speech and I canna find him anywhere, the wee numptie.”

“I saw him step outside,” answered a man Claire assumed was this Murtagh. “I’m sure he’s fine, the lad just needs to clear his mind, ye ken how hard this all has been for him, Jenny.” 

“I ken, it’s no been easy for any of us.” The woman sighed and then both her voice and the man’s disappeared down the hallway and Claire heard footsteps on the stairs.

A few silent moments passed and Jamie’s breath had sped up, and Claire felt his fingers tapping against her side.

“I’m sorry I missed your speech,” Claire broke the silence. Jamie laughed and stepped out of the nook, reaching for her hand once again.

“It wasna very good I’m afraid, only simple.”

“Why didn’t you tell me who you were? That this,” she pointed around the house, “Is all yours?”

Jamie ran his hand back through his hair, making a few curls stand up adorably on his head. “I was outside to take a break from all… this,” he waved his hand around them just as she had. “Tonight is a proud moment for me, Sassenach. The launch of the business, but my father was supposed to be here wi’ us… this was his dream.”

“Oh, Jamie.” Claire slid her hand up to cup his cheek. She had only known him for an hour, but already felt more connected to him than anyone, especially Frank.

He closed his eyes briefly, leaning his face against her palm. “Enough wi’ the depressing pitiful story,” he chuckled. “Come wi’ me — please?”

“Of course,” Claire smiled and followed him down the hallway and into a room that was lined with shelves of books, lit with soft lamps, and a comfortable looking couch strewn with cozy blankets.

“This was my mother’s favorite room,” Jamie said as he shut the door behind him. “She spent most of her time in the garden, but she wasn’t cooking for me or my sister, ye could find her here wi’ a book in hand.”

“Your mother’s passed too?” Claire asked, hoping it wasn’t too sensitive of a subject.

His face shifted slightly, his eyes touched with sadness, “Aye, when I was just fourteen.”

“I lost both my parents when I was fourteen as well,” Claire surprised herself at offering this information up to this man. Only Geillis and Frank had known about her parents death, but she rarely talked about it, let alone would bring it up with a near stranger.

But he wasn’t a stranger — not anymore, at least not after that kiss.

“I’m sorry, Sassenach. I ken —“ Jamie’s voice trembled slightly, “I ken.” He smiled warmly and Claire felt safe with him and with him knowing about a tragic detail of her life. She knew he understood; that he had felt that same pain of losing both parents so young.

“Where are my manners,” he smiled and walked over to a small bar cart in the corner. “Would ye like another dram?”

“I don’t see why not,” Claire accepted his offer and took a seat on the couch, sighing as she sank into it. “This room is so cozy, the only missing thing is a roaring fire.”

Jamie chuckled and handed her a glass of whisky, “Well give me a moment, lass and ye shall have yer fire.”

Watching with peaked interest, Claire sipped her drink slowly as Jamie poked around in the fireplace, lit a match and started to stoke the fire. Apparently there was nothing he couldn’t do.

Once the fire turned from a few flames to a great blaze, he sighed contentedly and came to sit next to her, their knees bumping slightly.

“This really is very good whisky,” Claire smiled, taking another drink.

“Thank ye,” Jamie smiled proudly. “Twas my father’s own recipe, I just followed his instructions.”

“I’m not even quite sure how many glasses I’ve had,” Claire could hold a drink as well as any scot, but her head felt a bit fuzzy. She wasn’t positive, however that the fuzziness had anything to do with the drink, but with the man sitting next to her.

Her body was turned slightly towards his with her leg open on the couch next to his. That same energy was there from the stables, the buzz that coursed through her veins whenever they touched.

“Yer no drivin’ are ye, Sassenach?”

Claire shook her head, “Oh no, that’ll be my friend Geillis. I should text her to let her know I’m alright and that I haven’t been kidnapped!”

“How do ye ken I’m no goin’ to kidnap ye?” Jamie asked, raising one brow in question.

She pulled out her phone and sent a quick message to Geillis to tell her of her whereabouts, but left out the small detail of Jamie.

“I don’t think a kidnapper would take me to a library and start a fire, although you have supplied me with a lot of alcohol,” she laughed and with every passing moment she felt herself become lighter and the weight of the past twenty-four hours leave her tired shoulders.

“Indeed I have,” he grinned and Claire noticed his fingers tapping against the rim of his glass. She wondered what those fingers would feel like between her thighs and then she blinked rapidly to dispel that very intimate vision.

“What is it that ye do?” He asked a moment later.

“What is it that you think I do?” She smiled, playfully biting her lip.

Jamie finished his drink and took her empty one and sat them on the table nearby. He ran his hand back through his curls and leaned comfortably against the couch.

“Ye seem quite intelligent,” he mused and his eyes raced over her face. She felt a blush creep up her neck from the intensity of his gaze. “Perhaps yer a professor at some university?”

Ouch. If only he knew she had been dating a professor not too long ago.

“But ye also dinna seem like ye would love to be up in front of a bunch of students… am I correct?”

She nodded, grinning to herself, “You are correct. I love working with people, but public speaking is not my area.”

“Loves working wi’ people,” he said out loud and squinted his eyes at her.

Claire was rather enjoying this guessing game and wondered how long it would take for him to figure out.

“No a teacher — probably no someone who sits in a cubicle all day either,” he said and Claire shook her head.

“Can ye give me a hint at least, Sassenach? There are many jobs to choose from,” he laughed.

“I work with my hands,” she said and then snorted at the innuendo.

“Hand is it? What are ye… a doctor?”

“That was rather quick!” Claire clapped her hands at his speedy guess.

“Och, well ye love workin’ wi’ people but no big crowds, yer good wi’ yer hands and ye have a sweet temperament. A doctor seemed like a wise choice,” he grinned and dipped his head a bit.

Claire’s stomach fluttered as he made these observations about her. In such a short time, he had learned all of this information about her and seemed interested for more. Perhaps it was because her and Frank had been together for more than four years, but as time went on, he stopped asking her questions about herself — assuming he knew all the answers.

There was a beat of silence, and she felt herself being sucked into his gaze once again. She desperately wanted to kiss him again, but wasn’t sure if it was the smartest thing to do. As he leaned forward, she abruptly rose from the couch and walked over to one of the shelves of books.

“Do you have a favorite?”

She thought she heard him curse in another language, but wasn’t positive.

“Aye,” he said and came to stand beside her. He was tall, but he still had to stand on the tips of his toes to reach a book on the highest shelf. In his hands was a well loved copy of The Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings? I wouldn’t have pegged you for fantasy,” she said touching the front cover.

Jamie held the book in his hands as if it was very precious to him. “I read it around the time my mother passed, and I suppose it was a way for me to forget my own life and pretend I was a hobbit going on my own adventure.”

“I’ve only ever seen the first movie,” Claire admitted. “It was good… just a bit long,” she laughed.

Jamie grinned and placed the book down on the shelf. “Aye, tis long and the third one is even longer. If ye get a chance, ye should read them someday — if ye want.”

His fingers rested on the book and Claire looked up at him, her heart beginning to race. Inch by inch, she moved her hand and the tips of her fingers touched his just barely.

“I will,” she said softly and stood still, scared for the moment to end. Claire knew she was far from ready to push this any further, but Geillis had told her to have a little fun — forget the past.

“I would verra much like to kiss ye,” Jamie said and slid one hand around her waist. “May I?”

She responded by closing the distance and pressing her lips against his. This time the kiss wasn’t gentle, but a there was a fierce need to be as close to each other as possible. Claire tugged on the front of his shirt, bringing him down to her level, deepening the kiss.

His breath was hot on her face as he pulled back, staring into her eyes. A silent agreement was formed and he moved both his hands to her hips, digging his fingers into the flesh where her lifted sweater left skin exposed.

Don’t think, Beauchamp.

Claire pushed aside all rational thought and allowed herself to give in to the pleasure of her body. He had her pinned against the bookshelf, and she felt every spine of each book press against her.

“Christ,” Jamie sighed when Claire’s hand trailed slowly down his chest and gripped onto his belt. “We dinna have to do this, if it’s too—“

“Shhh,” she placed her finger over his lips and leaned in, kissing the skin exposed from his open collared shirt. “I want to.” I want you, she thought.

Jamie made a slight whimpering sound in his throat as Claire unbuckled his belt and pulled it from around his waist, dropping it onto the floor with a thud.

Chapter Text

They really should have made sure the door was locked, but neither one of them was really thinking in that moment. When Jamie’s belt hit the floor, he slid his hand up to cup her cheek and he brought his mouth down on hers. He had never done anything like this — in fact he had only ever had sex with two women in his life.

His first time had been with a lass from his small town, his first girlfriend Laoghaire when he was sixteen. It hadn’t been anything spectacular and had lasted all of about thirty seconds from beginning to end. They dated for only a year and slept together only a few more times, she had been just a girl… in his arms now was a woman. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

When Jamie was in Paris for university, he was infatuated with a girl named Annalise, but very briefly. He thought he was in love, and they spent all his free time together. After months of trying to woo her, she brought him into her bed and he thought his world had been shaken. Surely Annalise was a woman — a frenchwoman who made his heart race and belly quiver. But he soon realized that what he felt for her was simply lust… not love.

As a young lad, his father Brian told him that he would ken when he met the right woman for him.

“She’ll show up when ye least expect it son,” Brian placed his hand on Jamie’s shoulder firmly. Jamie had just informed his father of his first crush, a girl named Mary from school. He was only eight years old, but his father thought it important to teach him the ways of the heart.

“How will I ken it’s her, Da?”

“Ye’ll feel it in yer heart. When I first saw yer mother, I imagined our life together and was hers from that verra moment. Ye see lad,” Brian said seriously, “A woman may no’ always speak her heart to ye, but she’ll show ye how she loves. When ye see that woman who shows ye kindness and love… that’s the one.”

Jamie held the one in his arms, and he kissed her mouth deeply, hungrily. He felt a desire swell from deep within him to have her, possess her… to never let her go. From the first moment he laid eyes on her, admiring her fuzzy sweater and noting how curly her hair was, Jamie knew. This was it. She was it.

Of course it was quite possible she didn’t feel the same, and why would she? They had only met a couple of hours ago and he didn’t even know her first name.

She said his name, “Jamie,” in a whisper as he pressed fervent kisses along her neck. Swiping his tongue against her skin, he tasted her — salty from the heat of the fire making her sweat and something like vanilla, perhaps perfume hastily sprayed as she walked out the door.

Her hands were still gripping the front of his trousers and he pressed himself against her parted thighs, feeling the heat of her. Slowly, she unzipped his pants, hooked her fingers in his waistband and tugged them down over his arse, along with his boxers.

Feeling underdressed, he slid his hands over her stomach and pulled the sweater over her head. She was wearing a lacy black bra and he cupped his hands gently over her breasts. “Sae soft, Sassenach,” Jamie breathed heavily, his fingertips grazing her breasts. Fingers traveled to her straps and he pulled them down over her shoulders, then moving his hands to the clasp at the back.

He unhooked it swiftly and she shrugged her shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. “You’re pretty good at that, hmmm.”

“I canna say I’ve had much practice,” He chuckled and then cupped her now bare breast in his hand, rubbing his thumb over her nipple, feeling as it puffed up at his touch.

“I would never have known,” She glanced up at him through thick lashes. She was biting her lip, that beautiful full bottom lip that Jamie had been thinking about ever since he kissed her that first time. He wanted to taste her and not just once. Not just a sample, like he would a whisky. Jamie wanted to own her, to hear her call his name over and over again, because it was him that made her heart beat fast and her legs shake.

Next her hands, slightly chilled, unbuttoned his shirt. Finally reaching the last button, Jamie let it fall to the ground and the only thing left were her wee black panties. With a slight smirk, Jamie hooked his fingers into them, tugging slowly over her perfect round arse. Just the sight of it made him want to commit unholy acts — let alone the feel of it, juicy and plump under his fingers.

With his help, she stepped out of them and then he leaned in close, his breath mixing with hers and he swore he could hear her heart beating just as fast as his.

“I dinna think I can be gentle wi’ ye, Sassenach. Do ye think ye can bear if I’m rough?” He didn’t want her to think him a brute, blind wi’ need, but that accusation might not be far off. She was standing there, pressed against a shelf of books, her body bare for him and he wanted so desperately to be inside of her.

“God yes, please,” she sighed and reached for his face, kissing him hard. Her moans were soft and sweet and Jamie wanted to capture every one of them between his lips. His cock had grown hard in the act of undressing and now it was pressed against his stomach, twitching with every rub of her body. She was desperate for it too, her body molding against his, and he brought one of her legs around his waist, angling her just so against the shelf.

“Ah Dhia,” Jamie said a prayer in gaelic and watched her face as he took hold of his cock in one hand and pressed it against her slit. She was slick as waterweed and hot on his length. Her hands gripped his shoulders, urging him to press deeper. He wanted to kiss her badly, but her face was looking down at the place of their joining and her open mouth and fluttering eyelashes were a sight to behold.

“Oh fuck,” she called out, biting her lip as Jamie pushed forward roughly inside of her making the shelf shake. He couldn’t stand it any longer so he leaned down, pressing his mouth to hers and parted her lips with his tongue. Snaking her fingers through his hair, she gripped onto his curls and bucked her hips against him.

He began a steady thrust, his fingers holding onto her thigh possibly too tight — tight enough to leave bruises that would show in the morning. His heart was beating out of his chest, and his eyes filled with tears at the sheer pleasure he found of being inside of her. His tongue met with hers in the most deliciously satisfying way and he moaned loudly.

“Jamie,” she sighed and pressed her face into his neck and he felt a sloppy kiss to his skin. He wrapped his other hand around her back; she was so small he could hold her in one arm. His hips thrust upward again and again, stretching her, filling her… claiming her.

He could feel it, how close she was as her body began to shake in his arms. Jamie thrust again, pushing her back against the shelf and a few books came tumbling to the ground, narrowing missing both their heads. She laughed and he moaned at the heavenly sound.

“Sassenach,” he uttered with a groan and slid his hand up her leg and gripped her arse, squeezing it. He flinched when she bit his shoulder, but it was what sent him over the edge, muttering a string of gaelic curses as her thighs clenched and he spilled himself inside of her.

Her breasts were heaving against him as she breathed and she pressed her forehead against his chest. With her grip tight on his neck, he kissed the top of her head, nuzzling against the soft curls. Slowly he pulled out of her and released her leg from around his waist and she planted both feet back on the floor.

He suddenly felt very self conscious and cleared his throat nervously.

“That was—“ she said and her eyes met his. She had the loveliest color eyes, like whisky and he drowned willingly in them.

“Aye, that was incredible, Sassenach,” his cheeks blushed furiously. “At least it was for me.”

Her hand came up to his cheek, palm resting against his face, “I don’t even have the right words to describe it, Jamie.” She smiled softly and then he bent to kiss her again, this time wrapping his arms around her waist.

Jamie took a few steps backwards, still holding her in his arms and then released her briefly. The fire was still lit and giving off plenty of warmth and light, and Jamie quickly grabbed a blanket from the couch and laid it out near the fireplace.

“Would ye like to lie for a bit?” He asked her, awkwardly standing naked awaiting her decision.

“Yes, I would love to,” she said a bit shyly and went to her knees before rolling onto her back.

“Och, here, Sassenach.” Jamie sat down beside her and placed a pillow underneath her head.

“Thank you,” she smiled.

He rolled onto his side, propping his head up with his hand. Cautiously he laid his hand gently over her knee and searched her face, but she gave no signs of not wanting it there. She was so bonny, with her skin like white velvet and body that he craved to touch.

“Do you often make love in libraries?” She chuckled, her fingers reaching up to stroke a few curls beside his face.

“Nah,” he shook his head. “All these wee books were in for a shock I think.”

“Certainly not getting much action in here,” she laughed and his heart nearly leapt at the sound.

Jamie smiled warmly, not wanting anything to interrupt this perfect moment. He tapped his fingers lightly against the inside of her thigh, his eyes cast down over her body.

“Yer skin,” he traced his fingers then up and over her stomach making her squirm, “So soft and smooth like pearl.”

“Are you saying that I’m pale, Jamie?” She chuckled lightly making her breasts bounce and he slid his hand up to cup one. It fit perfectly in his palm and her wee nipple hardened under his touch.

“Ye are fair, Sassenach, aye.” He laughed then, splaying his fingers over her chest. “But I think I could touch yer skin for hours and never tire of it.”

“You’re just a bit tanner than me,” She smiled, moving her fingers slowly up and down his arm.

“I like the outdoors, Sassenach. The sun, the warmth,” He grinned, sighing happily as he looked down at her.

Jamie leaned down to kiss her, a soft kiss and only brief before he pulled back to look at her face. He let his hand drift back down over her stomach and his fingers touched her pubic hair, soft and curly. His eyes lingered on her face as he watched the way her mouth made an ‘O’ shape as he slid his palm over her mound.

He had never felt such a need to give someone this kind of pleasure — to give and not receive. One of her hands reached up and slid around his neck, holding onto the curls at the nape. She let out the prettiest moan as he swiped one finger along her entrance and he felt his cock twitch between his thighs.

With parted legs, she gave him permission to explore her body with his fingers. Slowly, he pushed a finger inside of her, feeling how her walls were tight but wet around him.

“I want you inside me,” she breathed deeply and leaned up to kiss him but he pushed her to lie down with his hand, his fingers hovering over her heart.

“Nah, I want to watch ye…” he smiled and moved his finger in and out of her, watching her face and she fell apart. As he slid his finger in, her hips bucked up, trying to urge him deeper.

Jamie prayed to God himself that no one would come looking for him and walk past this room. She was moaning with abandon, her eyes fluttering open and closed, legs clenching on his hand. Gently, he pushed another finger inside and her eyes shot open boring into his.

Sliding her hand around to cup his cheek, he turned his face and parted his lips, flicking his tongue lightly against her finger. She bit her bottom lip and he slid his tongue over her finger then, taking it into his mouth.

“Oh fuck,” she cursed and pressed her hips up, keeping her eyes focused on her finger in his mouth. Jamie swirled his tongue around her long digit, hollowing his cheeks and then released her finger.

“Show me,” he said softly and with his other hand he guided it between her legs and placed her slick finger against her clit. Adjusting his body to a better angle above her, Jamie continued to pump his fingers in and out of her. Her breath was ragged, her chest heaving and he could tell she was about to break.

“Show me how to touch you,” he smiled softly and then looked down at her hand and watched as she moved her finger in a slow steady circle on her clit. This was the most erotic thing Jamie had ever seen and he felt he might burst soon.

Whimpering underneath him, he leaned down and kissed her open mouth. Her tongue tasted sweet and she kissed him back deeply, wrapping her other arm around his neck.

“Please, Jamie,” she begged but he would not take her, no matter how much she begged. Instead he chuckled softly and pushed a third finger inside of her making her gasp.

“Christ, Sassenach,” he muttered against her lips, “Ye’ve no idea what yer wee sounds are doin’ to me.”

In one exuberant moment, her back arched, pressing her chest against his and she made a strangled sound as her thighs clamped on both of their hands. Taking her bottom lip in between his teeth, Jamie sucked lightly and then let go of it with a wet sound.

As she released his hand from the grip of her thighs, Jamie pulled his fingers out and moved to grab a tissue from the table, but she put a hand on his arm.

She had a wicked smile, “Give me your hand.”

Jamie brought his hand that hadn’t been inside of her and held it in front of her face, but she laughed and reached for the other one, slick with herself.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Jamie muttered as he watched her take his wet fingers into her mouth and suck. Watching her orgasm had only increased the need for him to come, and with her mouth sucking on her fingers like she would his cock, he uttered a muffled groan and came right then.

He had been laying on his side and when he opened his eyes he felt ashamed. “Oh God, I’m sae sorry…” Jamie had spilled his seed on her thighs and this time moved quickly for a tissue to wipe it away.

“I can’t believe I did this, I shoulda-“

“Shh,” she laughed and he looked up at her face, surprised. “It’s okay, Jamie. With your fingers in my mouth, I wanted you to come,” she admitted shyly.

“You wanted m-me…” he stuttered. “Christ,” Jamie let out a deep sigh and then laughed. “Yer no like any woman I’ve ever known — yer,” he gazed into her amber eyes, “different.”

“Different,” she repeated. “I hope that’s a good thing.”

He nodded and placed the used tissue on the table. “Tis, Sassenach.”

They both smiled, not knowing what to do until she sat up, her face hovering just inches from his.

“I should probably tell you my name,” she grinned.

“Aye… I canna keep callin’ ye, Sassenach.”

“I don’t mind it,” she blushed and Jamie reached his hand up, cupping her chin.

“Tell me, Sassenach… what do I call ye?”

His heart was thumping wildly in anticipation. He knew that once her heard her name, there was no going back — as if he wouldn’t have tried everything to find her again after tonight.

“My name is Cl-“

A loud ringing interrupted her, making them both jump out of their skin at the sound.

“Jesus,” she placed her hand over her heart and then moved to find her phone. She answered it and as she started talking, Jamie stood to collect his clothes from the floor, feeling that their time together had come to an unwanted end. 

“Sorry, Geillis, I lost track of time,” She said into the phone. “I’ll meet you outside in five minutes.” She hung up and then turned around to see Jamie zipping up his pants.

“I’m so sorry, Jamie.” Claire stood up and then realizing she was still naked, blushed and picked up her clothes from the ground near Jamie and started getting dressed.

“Nah, tis fine.” He slid his arms through his shirt, leaving the buttons undone for the moment and watched as she pulled the sweater back over her mop of curls. Jamie felt a sadness at watching her, but also a kind of excitement that one day he could be watching her dress every morning.

He wasn’t one hundred percent positive that she would feel the same, but based on her actions tonight, Jamie hoped that she would want to see him again — get to really know him.

Once she grabbed her phone and slid it into her pocket, she came to stand before him. “Tonight was…” pink crept over her cheeks and Jamie knew his as well. “Not what I expected, but I’m very glad I met you, Jamie.”

“I’m glad to have met you too, Sassenach. Hey —“ he smirked. “Ye still havena told me yer name.”

She laughed and then stood on her toes to kiss him, placing her hand against his bare chest. “If we ever meet again… I’ll tell you my name,” and with another soft kiss, the strange Sassenach turned and walked out of the library, leaving Jamie speechless.

Chapter Text

January 22nd, 2019

12:09am

Geillis had given Claire a “you better tell me exactly what you’ve been doing” look as she came down the stairs. Claire hoped that she didn’t look like someone who had just had sex in the library of some stranger’s home. She thanked God that her hair was a mess ninety percent of the time, but still tried to assemble it into a bun on top of her head.

Once they found Angus and Rupert, the four of them climbed back into Geillis’ car and headed back to the city. Before Geillis could ask her any questions, Claire turned the radio on and it was a Beyonce song, making both Rupert and Angus break out into an off key singing battle.

Claire sat there in the front seat of Geillis’ car, a smile never leaving her lips as she thought about the evening. She had never been a woman to have a one night stand, especially not with a man in his house full of guests. Only feeling a little bit scandalous, Claire sighed happily which only made Geillis glare at her.

Not even two seconds after the car door shut as they dropped off Angus and Rupert, did her friend turn on her.

“Tell me what ye did, Claire! I can see it all over yer face…”

“What? I didn’t do anything,” Claire lied, but couldn’t help the grin that her lips formed.

“You met someone, didn’t ye?” Geillis questioned her, trying to study her friend.

“Perhaps I did,” Claire nodded. “But he doesn’t even know my name and I will probably never see him again. Just a one time thing.”

“Just what was a one time thing, Claire?” Geillis’ eyebrows rose to her hairline in surprise. “Did ye kiss a strange man, lass?”

“Ohhh, we did more than kiss alright,” Claire suddenly laughed and covered her mouth with her hand. She had lost count of how many drinks she had over the course of the evening and its seems her tongue was extremely loose.

Geillis gasped and smiling she clutched Claire’s arm. “Oh please, Claire. Ye canna leave it there, ye have to tell me. How far did ye go? Hand job?”

Claire didn’t answer, instead she only pretended to zip her lips and throw away the key.

“If ye dinna answer me Claire Beauchamp, I’ll assume ye went all the way wi’ a stranger at a party,” Geillis said firmly and when Claire started giggling again, her mouth dropped. “Well, well, look who’s the slut now.”

“I am not a slut!” Claire hit her friend on the arm. “I am tired though so if you will please drive home.”

“I bet yer tired lass, ye disappeared around 8 and I didna see ye for the next four hours,” she winked and moved the gear shift into drive. “Ye look like a lass who has had her corn grinded well.”

“Oh my God,” Claire laughed. “You were the one who told me to have some fun, so that’s what I did. I didn’t even think about Frank the entire night.”

“That’s great!” Geillis smiled. “Are ye goin’ to tell me who this strange man was or do I have to guess?”

“He was the owner,” Claire said freely — one way or another Geillis would have found out anyways.

The car swerved on the road as Geillis looked over at Claire, “James Fraser? Ye slept wi’ the owner of Fraser & Co. tonight?”

“I wouldn’t say we slept together per say since there was no bed involved, but there was a bookshelf and—“

“A bookshelf?! Claire!” Geillis laughed. “I didn’t think ye had it in ye to be honest.”

“Well I did and I don’t regret it for a moment,” she said crossing her arms over her chest.

“No lass, dinna every regret having sex wi’ that fine piece of man.”

Claire rolled her eyes, “Just drive, Geillis. I’m sure in a week I’ll have forgotten all about my wild night. We have to change some policies at the hospital so I’ll be really busy the next few months.”

“Ye just had amazing sex with a bookshelf involved and yer still talkin’ about work,” Geillis clicked her tongue. “Ye never cease to amaze me, Beauchamp.”

“He was a better shag than Frank,” she admitted. “With Frank, I often found my mind wandering to work… but not with Jamie.”

“Oh Jamie is it? Ye dinna call him James like everyone else?” Geillis smirked.

“Well we are intimately acquainted,” Claire joked.

“I’m glad ye had a good night, Claire. Are ye happy ye went?”

Smiling to herself once again, she nodded. “Yes, very happy actually. It turned out to be way better than I was expecting.”

“Oh yes…” Geillis smiled. “Ye had enough fun for the entire party.”

++++++

The next morning, Claire woke up with possibly the worst hangover she’d ever had. Not only was her head throbbing, but she had a delightful ache in between her legs and heat crept up her chest as she remembered the previous evening.

It’d been so long since Claire had felt this light and carefree. The last year of her relationship with Frank had been heading downhill and she only just realized it. He treated her as an accessory. Showing off his perfect girlfriend to all his colleagues at work, but never once caring for her opinion on anything he was discussing. She was a prop, not a lover — only to speak when asked, otherwise she must sit in her pretty little corner.

It was toxic. Claire furrowed her brow and ran her fingers through her curls. More than heartbreak, she felt like a complete fool. But there was nothing she could do to change the past save to go back in time, but that was impossible. So the only thing Claire could do was to move forward with her life and to put the past behind her.

It had only been two days since her horrible break up and yet Claire had learned so much about herself. She found out that she was able to not fall apart as easily as she once might have. She had been bold last night with Jamie and hoped that boldness would continue to grow in all other areas of her life.

She still had the next two days off, however, and planned to spend the next 48 hours sitting on Geillis’ couch watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Geillis smiled from the couch, a cup of coffee in her hands as Claire walked out from her room.

“Good morning,” she mumbled on her way to the kitchen. Claire was far from being a morning person and add alcohol into the equation and she was a right nightmare.

“Did ye have any sex dreams about yer man?” Geillis asked once Claire returned with coffee in hand.

She nearly spit her first sip back into her cup as she sat down next to her friend. “No, I did not have any sex dreams. For your information, I didn’t dream at all.” This wasn’t entirely true. The truth was that Claire had dreamt about Jamie, but they weren’t sexual in nature. Her dream consisted of the two of them, sprawled out on a picnic blanket, limbs intertwined as two children ran around the garden. But Geillis didn’t need to know this. No one did.

“Fine then, lie to me.” Geillis settled back into the couch, propping her feet up on the coffee table.

“Are you working tonight?” Claire asked.

“Aye, from 4pm to midnight. Ye’ll have to fend for yourself for dinner.”

“I think I can manage ordering in,” she smiled and started to plan her pizza option for the night.

“Great, now hush… ’Tis my favorite episode, the one wi’ the bomb.” Geillis grinned and turned up the volume.

“Don’t you think it’s ridiculous that we watch this show? Being doctors and all?” Claire laughed as she pulled up a blanket around her feet.

“Nah,” Geillis smirked. “We both know we dinna watch it for the surgeries, but for McDreamy and McSteamy,” Her friend nudged her leg with her foot.

“Oh God, now we just sound like horny women.”

“I know I am, ye…” Geillis glanced at her, raising her brow, “Ye are horny for only one man wi’ flaming red locks, Beauchamp and ye know it.”

“Shut it,” Claire blushed, throwing a pillow at her friend who just laughed, knowing she was right.

They spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon watching tv and talking. Claire had never spent this much time with Geillis and found she quite liked the companionship. Frank had been so demanding of her time that she had spent very little of it with anyone else but him.

At 3:30pm, Geillis left Claire on her own as she headed in for work so Claire decided the best thing to do was to draw herself a bath.

Filled with bubbles and Eucalyptus oil, Claire climbed into the warm water, letting out a sigh as her muscles relaxed. With nothing in particular to think about, Claire let her mind drift and soon she found she was thinking about Jamie.

Even though she was submerged in hot water, her skin prickled with goosebumps whenever she thought about how his lips had felt against her skin. How his hands had touched her, leaving their imprint.

Her head fell back against the rim of the bath and her eyes shut, heavy with desire. Claire recalled the way his fingertips pressed roughly into her flesh as he held her against the bookshelf. With parted lips, she trailed her hand over her chest, lightly ghosting over her nipples, making them stand to attention.

But as she slid her hand over her stomach, she froze and her eyes snapped open.

“Claire Beauchamp, you will not have a sex fantasy about Jamie Fraser!”

She shook her head to rid any images of his strong lean arms holding her up and splashed water over her face. Then she settled back against the bath, closing her eyes and thought of sutures and broken limbs — anything to keep her mind off of Jamie.

After going over in her mind a very complicated procedure to remove a spleen, Claire found her mind drifting back to Jamie. She wondered if his company had any social media and so she innocently picked up her cell phone and went to Instagram.

“Fraser & Co.,” she muttered as she typed in his company and it popped up immediately. Her heart raced as she clicked on their profile and started scrolling through the pictures.

Considering they were a fairly new company, there weren’t many pictures. One of Jamie and a man that looked a lot like him, but with jet black hair; they were holding their first bottle of whisky. A few of the different types of whisky they sold, one of the distillery and then the most recent were from the grand opening last night.

In one picture, Jamie was on stage giving the welcoming speech that she had missed. Her lips curved into a smile as she zoomed in closer on his face and took a screenshot. She felt silly, but wanted to be able to pull up his face whenever she wanted. Another picture was of the crowd, people mingling and drinking at the party, but when Claire zoomed in to try and find herself she saw something in the top right corner.

They were barely visible and she probably only knew who it was making their way up the stairs, hand in hand because it was her and Jamie. If people cared to zoom in or brighten the picture, they would see Jamie talking Claire up the stairs! Heat fanned over her cheeks as she blushed, realizing that this was their first picture together and so she took another screenshot.

“You are not some high school girl, Beauchamp,” she rolled her eyes and locked her phone, setting it down beside the bath.

Later she would end up deleting the screenshots and she didn’t dare follow the account. Claire wanted to see Jamie again, but she knew that the only thing she would bring to any kind of relationship was baggage. And the last thing she wanted was to make another relationship complicated from the start.

Drying off from the bath, Claire re-twisted her hair into a high bun and slid into her favorite silk robe. It was only 5pm, way too early to go to sleep. Instead she ended up ordering pizza with extra cheese and turning on a Christmas movie called A Princess for Christmas. It wasn’t very good, but the guy playing the prince was kind of charming and so she watched until the end.

Her eyes were heavy with sleep, and she must have dozed off near the end of the film and only woke from the sound of the door opening. Claire lifted her head from the couch to see Geillis putting her bag down near the entrance.

“Hi there stranger,” Geillis smiled.

“Is it midnight already?” Claire yawned, reaching for her phone to check the time. In fact it was nearly 1am, she had slept for at least a few hours.

“Have ye been sleepin’ the whole time I’ve been gone lass?” Her friend chuckled and came to sit beside her on the couch.

“Not the whole time,” She sat up, stretching her arms above her head. “Only a few hours and I feel like I could fall right back into bed.”

Geillis yawned, covering her mouth with her hand. “Yer makin’ me tired too. Ye still have off tomorrow right? I do too. How about we go into town and do a wee bit of shopping?”

“Oooh yes please,” Claire smiled. “I could use a new sweater or two.”

“Och, ye have plenty of sweaters, Claire,” Geillis shoved her foot as she stood up. “Find somethin’ a little less modest aye?”

“It’s the middle of winter,” Claire rolled her eyes. “I’ll do no such thing.”

“Whether ye like it or no, I’ll find ye somethin’ sexy tomorrow, Beauchamp,” Geillis winked and then said goodnight, heading off to her own room.

Yawning again, Claire rose slowly from the couch and after brushing her teeth, climbed into bed with a sigh. She never usually had this many days off in a row, but was thankful considering the week from hell she’d had.

Except it all hadn’t been bad. Meeting Jamie for one had brightened her week considerably.

Sleep claimed her again, laying heavy on her chest and soon she found herself dreaming of a tall red headed scotsman.

His fingers touched her cheek, softly, caressing. Lips pressed just under her ear, sucking the skin lightly. Claire whispered his name and he pulled her closer to him, once again making her forget everything, but him.

Clutching at the sheets, she cried out as he parted her thighs and thrust home.

“Oh, Sassenach,” She heard him say before Claire sat up in bed, her heart pounding.

Taking a deep breath, Claire lay back down. She had dreamt of him — Jamie. Of course she had, he was all she had thought of since she met him. It was only normal, she told herself.

Feeling out of sorts, Claire closed her eyes and then imagined that he was there with her once again. Slowly she let her fingers drift down her body, over her breasts, nipples hard and standing to attention. Her lips parted as she found the relief she was aching for. It was Jamie’s fingers she imagined as she worked herself to completion — it didn’t take long.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” she sighed, hoping that sleep would take her away again… away to Jamie.

Chapter Text

January 28th, 2019

It had been a week since Jamie met her.

C. Beauchamp.

She had started to tell him her name before her phone rang and the only letter he caught was a C and she had called her self Beauchamp when she’d dropped the glass in the barn.

C. Beauchamp. Jamie had written her name probably a dozen times over his notebook and felt like such a fool every time he looked at. He knew Jenny had seen it when she came in to his office one day to drop off a package. She’d given him a curious look, but didn’t say anything; only left with a wink.

Jamie had searched for a “C. Beauchamp Edinburgh” on google but there were too many results to even begin to scour. Without knowing her first name, his search was nearly impossible, but he didn’t want to give up just yet.

His fingers were typing her name and an Edinburgh hospital just as Murtagh knocked on his door, making him jump.

“Oh, did I scare ye?” His godfather laughed.

Jamie exited out of his search and clicked to his home screen. “Nah, just didn’t see ye there.”

“I’ve got some more papers for ye to sign,” Murtagh came in and handed Jamie a stack of files. “More things that yer Da had approved but we need yer signature as well now.”

He flipped through the papers, glancing at the tops of each one. They were mostly legal documents regarding the ownership and patent for their whisky and name.

“Aye, I’ll have them done by the end of the day,” Jamie grinned and set them aside.

Murtagh grunted and turned to leave but stopped in the doorway. “Are ye alright lad? Ye havena been yourself since the opening.”

Jamie’s thoughts had drifted to the woman again and so when Murtagh tossed a crumpled piece of paper at his head, only then did he look up. “What? Sorry…”

“I said are ye alright? Ye dinna seem to be all there,” Murtagh observed.

He nodded slowly, his fingers tapping against his thigh. “Aye, I’m fine. I’ll be fine,” Jamie assured him and Murtagh made a distinct Scottish noise and left Jamie on his own.

Jamie’s eyes grazed over the stack of papers and they landed on his father’s signature. Jamie hadn’t spoken his father’s name out loud in nearly a year; not since his funeral.

Brian Fraser had died of lung cancer 11 months ago and Jamie still hadn’t coped with the loss of his father. It was his idea, his dream of owning his own distillery and company. While Jamie was on board with helping in any way that he would be of use, stepping up to his father’s position was not one he had in mind.

What Jamie really loved to do was write and he hadn’t had much time for it in the last year. In fact he hadn’t written a single sentence since just before his father’s condition worsened. He knew he had to put aside his dream for the time being and hoped that it wouldn’t be like this forever.

Jamie was just a lad when his mother passed. He was learning the ways of the world and was an adventurous teenager who got into an awful lot of trouble. It was his older sister who told him — they were at school when it happened.

His mother, Ellen had taken the car to go to the grocery store and the roads had been icy all week. Jamie would never forget hearing his father’s voice warning his Mam about the roads and to just stay home. If only she had.

“Do you want anythin’ particular from the store today lad?” Ellen asked him, kissing the top of his head as she passed by in the kitchen.

Jamie shooed her away, he didn’t need his mother’s kisses anymore, he was a grown man. “Just get me some snacks, Mam.”

“Snacks,” Ellen repeated and then smiled as her husband walked through the door. “Would ye like anythin’ from the store love? I need to make a run today.”

“Ye shouldna be out there, mo cridhe, the roads are still dangerous.”

“Tis only a few miles down the road and I canna walk there,” she put her hands on her hips. “Besides, this family needs food or we’ll all starve!”

“Fine,” Brian sighed and walked over to his wife, wrapping his arm around her waist. “Ye just promise to drive slow and watch out for any slippery spots.”

“Aye, I will. Always am careful,” Ellen grinned and kissed him.

Jamie looked over at Jenny across the table from him and rolled his eyes. She laughed and grinned — their parents were always kissing in front of them.

A couple hours later while Jamie was trying to concentrate in his chemistry class, he was called to the headmaster’s office. As he rose to walk forward, everyone went ‘oooo’, assuming he was in trouble. Jamie couldn’t recall anything he’d done lately to warrant such a visit to the headmaster’s.

His best friend Ian hit him on the back as he walked past him and Jamie laughed, swiping at him. That was the last time Jamie truly laughed for awhile.

When he reached the headmaster’s office, he was surprised to see Jenny there as well. Her eyes were red and puffy as if she’d been crying. She looked up at him and rose from her chair, her arms flying around him.

“Jamie,” she cried and he just stood there frozen, unsure what to do.

“What’s goin’ on?”

“Come sit,” she pulled back, wiping at her eyes and they both took a seat in front of their headmaster Mr. Bain.

“Jamie… Jenny,” Mr. Bain leaned forward in his seat, his hands folded in front of him. “It seems that your mother has been in a car accident and is in critical condition. She’s been taken to the hospital and your father is on his way to pick you both up. You’ll be excused from your classes for the rest of the week.”

“Mam got in an accident?” Jamie sat there stunned, tapping his fingers on his leg. She was in critical condition and wasn’t dead… yet.

Jenny sniffed beside him and he looked over at her and felt he was going to be sick. He had never seen his big sister cry. All of a sudden, Jamie rose to his feet, crossed the room and threw up in the waste basket in the corner.

“Och, Jamie lad,” Jenny rose and laid a hand on his back. It was on that day that she took on the roll of a mother. “Let’s go and wait for Da outside, some fresh air will do ye good.”

Jamie didn’t remember the ride to the hospital or the walk down the sterile corridor. The only thing he knew he would never forget was the pale look of his mother lying lifeless in a hospital bed.

By the next morning, Ellen had died from a brain aneurism. And at fourteen, Jamie closed himself off from the world and from most people around him. What he regretted most in his life was that he had blamed his father for not keeping his mother at the house — somehow not forbidding her to go to the store.

Perhaps that was why Jamie felt like he needed to make sure that his father’s dream didn’t die with him. He had never voiced to his father that he blamed him for his mother’s death but Brian knew. He knew there was something Jamie was keeping from him — had been keeping from him, but he just didn’t know what.

“Do you resent me for pullin’ ye into the business lad?” Brian said one evening to Jamie as he laid in bed. The cancer was beginning to spread throughout his body and the family knew that Brian was in his last days.

“What?” Jamie looked up from his book he’d been reading quietly in the corner.

“Och, maybe tis no that,” Brian smirked. “But I ken ye have an opinion of me and it keeps us from growin’ closer.”

“I dinna resent ye Da, no for the business. I’m glad to help out,” Jamie placed his book aside and moved to sit in the chair closest by the bed.

Brian sighed and looked up at his son. Jamie didn’t know it but Brian had cried himself to sleep for years wishing that he had made Ellen stay at home and not drive to the store that day. He lived with regret and the loss of his wife everyday. He’d even been close to ending his life, but received advice from an old friend who told him to find something he was passionate about and pour himself into it.

And thus the whisky business was born. For the next seven years, Brian concentrated on creating a fine whisky and with the help of his friend Murtagh, they had established a company, Fraser & Co. Brian knew of his son’s plans to become a writer, but knew that he also needed something with a steady income so he asked him to join in on the business on the basis that Jamie had had his fair share of whisky in the past.

“I’m sorry.”

Jamie’s brows furrowed, confused as he looked at his father. “For what?”

“For anything I’ve done or no’ done to ye, son. I’m a dyin’ man and I wish to make my peace,” Brian grinned.

“Da—“

“No, lad. I ken there is somethin’ between us, there always has been since yer Mam died and ye shut yourself off. I dinna want to ken just exactly what it might be but I have my suspicions. Just know that I loved yer Mam verra much and I love you,” Brian reached for his hand and held it steady. “Yer my pride and joy lad and I’d do anythin’ to see ye happy again.”

The words were stuck in his throat and all Jamie could do was let the tears he’d been holding in for years freely flow and buried his head in his father’s chest.

That night at the launch of the company, the very one that his father had worked so hard to build — he’d felt that happiness his father wished for him. When he saw her, C. Beauchamp, he felt something inside of him change. It was like she was the missing piece of the puzzle that he’d just found under the old rug. Or the key to unlock whatever door he had bolted shut inside of himself. Whatever she was, he needed to find her again.

++++++

Another week passed by in a blur and Jamie hadn’t had a chance to look more into finding her. But today was a Saturday and he had a rare day off, so he decided to visit every nearby hospital in the area and ask for a C. Beauchamp. He didn’t care how crazy he sounded.

The first two hospitals didn’t have any Doctors with the last name Beauchamp and the third wouldn’t give out that kind of information. By the end of the day, Jamie wondered if he had heard her wrong and she hadn’t said Beauchamp or if Beauchamp was just something she said when she was clumsy.

He walked through the doors of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and hoped for some good news. This was the last one on his list and if nothing came up, then he feared his search would be over. Jamie only had the barest of details to base his search on.

“Excuse me?” Jamie approached the front desk and waited until a woman turned to help him.

“Can I help ye sir?”

“I’m looking for a Doctor Beauchamp, do you have anyone here by that name?”

The woman unashamedly trailed her eyes up and down the length of him and then finally shook her head, “No. We dinna have any nurse or doctor here by that name.”

“Are ye sure?”

“Aye, verra sure,” the woman smirked and then turned back to something on the computer in front of her.

“Damn it,” Jamie cursed and walked back outside to the cold air. Little did he know that a one C. Beauchamp was inside that very hospital at that very moment. And that she had informed the ladies at the desk to turn away anyone who asked for her by name in fear of her ex, Frank coming to speak to her.

With no hope of every finding her, Jamie abandoned his search for the mysterious curly haired woman and only prayed that he would one day — and soon — run into her on the streets of Edinburgh.

Chapter Text

February 8th, 2019

“What does it say?” Geillis knocked lightly on the door.

“I haven’t looked yet, my timer hasn’t gone off,” Claire dared a glance at her phone — thirty seconds left.

Thirty seconds until she found out if she was pregnant or not.

How could she have been so stupid that night at the party? Of course, there was an equal chance that the baby could be Frank’s.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” Claire cursed under her breath, stamping her foot on the tiled bathroom floor.

She hoped it wasn’t Frank’s. There was no doubt whether she would keep the baby or not — Claire had always wanted to be a mother. But her circumstances were not quite what she had expected.

What Claire expected was to be married by now or at least engaged. At twenty-seven, she imagined that her personal life would look very different to how it actually was. Here she was, pacing in her friend’s bathroom, waiting to find out if she was pregnant or not. And not only was she single but one possible father had cheated on her, while the other was a near stranger!

“Please don’t let it be Frank’s,” she whispered to the empty room and then her timer went off.

“What does it say, Claire?” Geillis asked a second later.

“Would you be patient please?” Claire took a deep breath and walked over to the small stick that had the power to change her life. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to see but tears filled her eyes as she looked at the results and a smile spread across her face.

Geillis opened the door, holding the key in one hand and looked at Claire. “What does it say, lass?”

“I’m going to be a mum!” Claire smiled and held up the test with two pink lines and then fell into Geillis’ open arms.

“That’s wonderful, Claire! I ken ye wanted a baby, it doesna matter that it was a one night stand, look at what ye got out of it,” she laughed and then Claire released her.

“Well that’s the thing…” Claire twirled a lock of hair around her finger nervously. “I’m not entirely sure it’s Jamie’s.”

“I thought ye said ye and Frank hadna—“

Shaking her head, Claire looked down at the test again, “We hadn’t for a bit, but the night before I found out he was having an affair, we slept together.”

“Ye mean the day before the party?”

“Exactly,” Claire sighed. “And I’m not on birth control because Frank and I had decided to try for children a few months back and I feel like I was half asleep anyway.”

Geillis crossed her arms and leaned back on the doorframe. “And ye didna use protection with the wee fox cub,” Claire shook her head. “So it could be Frank’s, but it could be Jamie’s.”

“I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a situation haven’t I?”

“If this is what ye call a ‘bit of a situation’ then I need a whisky,” Geillis smirked and then walked towards the kitchen, forcing Claire to follow. “None for you though, mam.”

“Oh Christ, that’s right. No alcohol,” Claire ran her fingers through her curls. “How the hell am I going to get through this without alcohol?”

“That’s what ye have me for, lassie,” Geillis smiled and winked as she poured herself a glass. Claire looked at the bottle and her heart leapt. It was one of Jamie’s and she remembered that they had given out a bottle to everyone as the night ended.

“Are ye goin’ to call him?”

“Who?”

“Well that’s up to ye,” Geillis laughed, taking a sip of her drink. “Do you want either of them to know?”

The last thing that Claire wanted was for Frank to find out. Perhaps she was being selfish, but she knew that he would come to her and demand that the child was his. He was a proud man and he was the kind of man that wanted the seemingly perfect family. A wife at home to cook him dinner while she also folded the laundry and took care of their child. Claire didn’t want that life — even less with Frank. He certainly didn’t care for her and if he found out about the baby, he would only pretend to so he could be a part of the baby’s life.

“I’m not calling Frank,” Claire decided then and there. “Ever.”

“Will ye call Jamie then?”

“I don’t have his number, we didn’t get that far,” Claire blushed.

“Ye went so far to possibly create a bairn wi’ the lad, but ye didna exchange numbers?” Geillis laughed and finished off her glass. “Ye are a feisty one Beauchamp.”

“I found his company on Instagram,” Claire blurted.

“Then ye can message them and ask for Jamie’s number, easy as that.”

“I’m just—“ Claire fidgeted with a button on her sweater. “I don’t know if I want him to know either. Geillis, it was one night. One perfect night and if I tell him I’m pregnant and he could be the father… it’ll just mess everything up.”

“Having unprotected sex tends to make things a wee bit messy, Claire,” Geillis leveled with her and then seeing Claire’s defeated posture, set her glass down and embraced her friend. “Och, lass. Ye dinna have to decide now, ye only just found out yerself.”

“That’s true,” Claire sniffed. “I’ll take a week to think about it and then decide.”

“A week and no more,” Geillis rubbed her back. “I saw yer wee fox and if he is the father then ye’ll have a beautiful bairn.”

“Geillis!” Claire laughed. “You’re not wrong. And well… if the baby has red hair then that’ll be quite obvious.”

“Ye can have a paternity test while they’re still in the womb though nowadays ye ken?”

“Wouldn’t it be loads more fun to wait nine months to find out?”

“Or ye just dinna want to find out yer carryin’ that bastard Frank Randall’s child before ye set yer sight on the wee bairn?”

Geillis was always right and Claire just rolled her eyes, leaned back against the counter and looked the test one more time.

“Pregnant,” she said softly. “I’m going to have a baby.”

++++++

Two weeks flew by and Claire was so caught up at work that she didn’t realize how much time had passed. She promised Geillis that she would decide whether or not to call Jamie and that was a week ago.

She wasn’t even sure how he would react. How does one react when you find out the woman you slept with at your business’s launch party is pregnant and you may or may not be the father?

When she got back to Geillis’, Claire took a slice of pepperoni pizza from last night’s dinner and ate a bite cold. There was nothing better than leftover pizza. Her stomach rumbled and she had the oddest craving for pickles all of a sudden.

“I haven’t had a pickle in years,” Claire grinned and then slid her hand over her still rather flat stomach. “What are you making me eat little one?”

With the slice consumed, she pulled out her phone and searched for Fraser & Co. again.

Pressing message, she typed out a greeting, “Hello, my name is Claire Beauchamp and I met the owner Jamie,” she backspaced on his name and instead typed, “James Fraser. I’m interested in buying some whisky and need to get in touch with him.”

Staring at her words before she pressed send, her heart started to race as doubts crept in. What if he didn’t want to see her? Or what if when she told him she was pregnant, he accused her of lying to try and get at his money?

“He’s not Frank, Beauchamp,” Claire muttered to herself but her thumbs still hovered over the keyboard. Sighing, she pressed the delete button and locked her phone. She sounded insane and she felt insane for what she’d gotten herself into.

Of course, she knew that she should tell him he might be a father just like she knew she should tell Frank as well. But there was something holding her back. Claire hadn’t had the best experiences with men and she didn’t want to bring anything in to her latest predicament that would shake things up. Her life, while not going the way she planned at the moment, was slowly turning around.

All of her belongings now had a place in Geillis’ home and she felt she could call it that too. Her job performance was doing well since she now had nothing else in her life, she poured herself into it. And she was going to be a mum.

Sitting at the kitchen table on a late February day, Claire decided that she wanted to keep things just as they were… at least for awhile.

“It’s just you and me baby,” Claire smiled and laid her hand across her stomach.

++++++

Throughout the next several days, Jamie entered her mind often. While she was at work one day, she treated a little boy with a mop of red hair. And on her way home, she could have sworn she saw him on the street walking into town.

Perhaps it was a sign that she should contact him and tell him. Or maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her. Whatever it was, Claire was still unsure what her next step was.

She did, however, know what she was going to be doing when she got home. Yesterday after work, she had gone to the bookstore and purchased a copy of The Lord of the Rings — Jamie’s favorite.

Claire told herself that it wasn’t creepy at all. He had told her to read it and so now she was. It had been raining all day as well, so what else was better than curling up in bed with a good book?

As soon as she got home, she put on the kettle, brewing her favorite cup of tea and then climbed into bed. Claire had started the book last night, but had been so tired, she’d fallen asleep in the first chapter.

Hours later, she was still laying in bed, turning page after page. She paused at something Gandalf had said, "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”

Her hand moved to cover her stomach, rubbing slowly. “You arrived precisely when you meant to didn’t you wee wizard,” she laughed. As she continued to read, she couldn’t help but imagine Jamie’s thick Scottish accent in her head and she saw him in her mind — that fourteen year old boy who’d just lost his mother, reading about hobbits and wizards.

She certainly didn’t regret being pregnant — at least not the short time she had been. Claire only hoped she wouldn’t regret her decision whether to call Jamie or not. Shaking her head to clear her mind, Claire focused her attention back on the book in front of her and lost herself once again in the Shire.

Chapter Text

June 2019

Time had always been a funny thing to Claire. At any given moment she could find herself transported back to the day she found out her parents had died. Or even when she had her first kiss with a boy in the town her and her uncle were exploring in Egypt. It wasn’t just the big moments either, but the smallest most mundane of things would happen and she found herself thrust back in time.

She was sitting in a coffee shop, sipping on a peppermint tea with her favorite book, Jane Eyre when she read the line “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” Suddenly she was thirteen, sitting in her father’s study reading this line for the first time, her feet dangling over the armrest.

“I am a free human being with an independent will,” Claire said aloud. She liked Jane. Her independence, her respect for herself and her quiet strength.

Claire looked up from her page as her father came into the room, his glasses perched on the end of his nose. She couldn’t help but let out a small laugh which made her father turn his sights on her.

“Why are you laughing Claire-bear?”

The book closed on her finger to hold her spot, “You just look a bit silly, papa.”

“What makes me silly looking?” Henry came to crouch before her and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.

“Your glasses were hanging on the tip,” Claire smiled and pulled them down his nose again. “It made me laugh is all.”

“I aim to make you laugh darling,” Henry smiled and smoothed his hand over her curls. She had curls just like him and the same whisky colored eyes. “Are you enjoying the book?”

“Oh yes, Jane is so incredible and I can’t read fast enough to find out more about Mr. Rochester, there is something shady about him,” Claire mused and then opened her book back up again.

Henry patted her head gently and rose to sit in his chair, pulling out his own current book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Claire and him had made a trade. She picks a book for him to read while he chooses one for her. Henry wanted to enlighten his daughter on the writings of Charlotte Brontë and Claire wanted to enlighten her father on the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

They spent many lazy afternoons like this — lounging in Henry’s study, both with a book in hand. And Claire’s mother, Julia would always bring them tea and sit with them for awhile, reading her own books on gardening.

A smile spread slowly across her lips as she thought back fondly on those afternoons spent in her father’s study. A different smile formed as Claire remembered what had happened the last time she had been in a home library.

Her hand slid down over her bump, now five months along, Claire had grown considerably but still had months to go. In the end she had decided not to contact Jamie. She didn’t want a baby to be the reason why he stuck around and the last thing she wanted was to be in some kind of relationship out of obligation.

When she had the day off from the hospital, which were few and far between but came more frequently as her stomach grew, Claire visited the local coffee shop and spent hours there reading. It was something she looked forward to each week, a chance to escape the four walls of her house and the white walls of the hospital.

In the mood for a chocolate macaron Claire laid her book down on the table and rose to stand in line. She’d had all sorts of cravings during her pregnancy so far, but chocolate and other sweets were at the top of the list.

“Can I please have two chocolate macarons?”

“Of course, ma’am,” the lady behind the counter smiled. A moment later, Claire had the macarons in hand and turned to walk back towards her table but immediately bumped into someone.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry!” She looked up and found that she was staring into two very familiar blue eyes.

“That’s alright lass,” Jamie said, his arms on either side of her to steady her balance and then he saw her. “Oh… it’s you.”

++++++

The last four months for Jamie had been a whirlwind. The business had taken off and was doing extremely well — considerably so. Fraser & Co. was slowly becoming a household name, but Jamie didn’t feel responsible for it at all. His father had perfected their whisky recipe and all Jamie had done was tell him that it tasted damn good.

Murtagh wouldn’t let him push off all the credit they were getting, however, making sure that everyone knew how helpful Jamie had been in the actually selling and negotiating of their product. While this wasn’t exactly what Jamie had pictured for his life, he did enjoy talking with people and found that day by day he was coming out of his shell.

With the business being as successful as it was, Jamie didn’t have time to think about anything outside of work, let alone his personal life. At first, Jamie had found his thoughts lingering on the Beauchamp woman daily, but as the weeks passed and they turned into months, he thought of her less and less.

So when Jamie walked into a coffeeshop on a warm June afternoon, the last thing he expected to see was the very woman that had consumed his thoughts and dreams.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry!” She said with her thick British accent and he flung his arms on her arms to steady her. Only when he looked into her amber eyes did he realize just who it was.

“That’s alright lass. Oh… it’s you,” Jamie smiled. “Remind me of your name?”

Her eyes squinted and she bit her lip and just like that, Jamie was consumed again — up in flames in the spot he stood in.

“I didn’t give you my name, Jamie Fraser.”

His heart leapt at the sound of his name on her tongue. He had thought of her for so long, imagined what it would feel like to see her again. Jamie never imagined the overwhelming sense of relief he would feel at seeing her riotous curls and faded freckles dotting her cheeks.

“You did promise to tell me if we ever saw each other again,” Jamie smirked and then dropped his hands from her side after realizing he hadn’t let her go.

She was holding a plate of macarons in her hands, but shifted the plate to offer him her hand. “I’m Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, it’s nice to see you again.”

“Tis a pleasure, Claire,” Jamie smiled and shook her hand before bringing her hand to his lips. As he cast his gaze down, he finally saw past the plate in her hand and focused on what was beneath it. An obvious swell in her stomach — Christ, she was pregnant!

++++++

As Jamie bent down to kiss her hand, she noticed him tense up and then it hit her. For a moment she had forgotten the bump that had been attached to her for months. For a moment in time she had thought things were easy — but they never were.

“Congratulations,” Jamie smiled though it didn’t reach his eyes as he released her hand.

“Thank you,” Claire moved her hand to rest on her belly. She didn’t want him to leave, but she didn’t think she could explain things to him just yet either. “Would you like to sit with me? It’s awfully crowded in here.”

His fingers ran back through his hair and he nodded. “Aye, I’ll just get my coffee and then I’ll join ye.”

Claire smiled back and then moved around him to walk back to her table. Immediately she pulled out her phone and called Geillis. As the phone was ringing, her eyes glanced over at Jamie who was thankfully facing the register.

“Hello, lassie, enjoying your day off?” Geillis said through the phone.

“He’s here!”

“Who is? The King of England?” She laughed.

“No, Jamie! You know…” Claire looked at him again, noticing the shine of his red curls and the long lines of his muscles through his shirt.

“The possible baby daddy?”

“The very one. I bumped into him, quite literally and asked him to sit with me.”

“Are ye goin’ to tell him?”

“No. Yes, well I’m not sure,” Claire nervously bit her lip and as Geillis started to offer her some sage piece of advice, Claire looked up to see Jamie coming towards her and hung up the phone.

“How have you been?” Jamie said as he sat down in the chair opposite her. She saw he ordered a coffee — black and admired his choice of drink.

“I’ve been well, very busy these last five months,” Claire said a bit too fast. She took a deep breath then and tried to relax, leaning back in the chair.

“I see,” Jamie grinned and then his eyes grew wide. “I didna mean ‘I see’ as in ye’ve obviously been busy as ye’ve grown quite a bit since the last time I saw ye — Oh Christ!” He scrunched his face and hit his forehead with his palm.

“I’m so sorry, Claire, I just—“

“It’s alright, we don’t have to talk about it,” Claire smiled and reached her hand across the table, touching his arm to reassure him that this was just as awkward for her.

“Aye,” he grinned and then took a sip of his coffee, anything to stop the words from flowing freely out of his mouth.

“How have you been? How’s the company?”

“Och, it’s been the most hectic time of my life!” Jamie smiled. “Since day one of the launch, it’s been all about expanding the company and it’s growin’ faster than any of us ever thought it would.”

“That’s amazing, Jamie. I’m so happy for you,” Claire’s hand was still on his arm and she found that she didn’t want to remove it. Her heart began to flutter as Jamie moved his hand over hers then, giving it a squeeze.

“Thank ye, Sassenach.”

At the sound of her nickname, Claire realized that her feelings for Jamie had never gone away. Not really. While she had thought of him less and less each day, now that he was sitting before her, she knew that she couldn’t let him get away.

“I’ve bought a few bottles of your whisky myself,” Claire smirked. “Well, not me exactly — obviously,” she glanced down at her belly, her cheeks turning red. “My roommate has. She loves the stuff.”

“I’d be happy to send ye some anytime, Sassenach.”

“Geillis would love that! She loves free things,” Claire laughed feeling much more at ease with him now.

They spent the next two hours talking and catching up. Throughout their conversation, they both admitted to having tried to look each other up. Blaming it on timing, they both were just glad to see each other again.

Jamie had managed to mostly forget about the elephant in the room — the fact that she was pregnant. A million thoughts had raced through his mind the moment he saw her stomach. How far along was she? Was she married now? Who was the father? Was it him?

These were all questions Jamie was burning to know, but felt it improper to just come out and ask each one. It was clear she was several months along. Jamie’s sister Jenny had three children of her own and he’d witnessed all of her pregnancies. If she were here then she would be able to tell just how far along Claire was.

Claire glanced down at her phone and realized that the coffeeshop would be closing soon.

“Oh goodness, it seems were about to close the place down.”

“Did you walk here?” Jamie asked as he rose to help her out of her chair.

“Yes, I just live a few blocks away. You?”

“Aye, I’m no far from here either,” He paused with his hand on her back. “Would ye mind if I walked ye home? Saw ye safe?”

She nodded, “I would love that, thank you.”

Claire waved goodbye to the owner of the shop and they both left, heading in the direction of her house. She knew that now would be the perfect time to bring up the question she knew he must be dying to ask. But instead she found herself asking him if he liked pickles instead.

“Pickles? What kind?” He chuckled.

“Um, dill of course,” Claire rolled her eyes at herself. She seemed to be very good at avoiding topics.

For the remainder of the walk back to her house, they talked about different kinds of pickles and both came to the conclusion that dill was the ultimate winner.

Claire walked up the steps and Jamie followed, awkwardly lingering. He was waiting for her to say something, but she just stared down at her feet, her hands tapping against her thighs.

“Twas lovely to see ye again, Claire,” Jamie said after another silent moment and Claire looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

“Sassenach, what is it?” He cupped her face with his hands, swiping with his thumb as one tear fell free.

“I’m not sure,” Claire said softly.

“Och, maybe tis just the hormones.”

“No,” Claire said a bit louder and then looked up into his eyes. “I’m not sure… who the father is.”

Jamie’s whole body froze. So it was possible.

Claire looked up at him with what could only be described as fear and he came to and pulled her against his chest. Her arms instantly wrapped around his waist and she wept. For so long she had felt alone in this. Not able to truly share what it had been like — wondering if she’d made the right decision.

Now she stood in his arms and she felt safe — and loved. Claire shut her eyes on the world and let herself be held.

Jamie spoke softly in a language Claire didn’t understand. His hands rested on her back and he wanted to weep himself at the feeling of her belly pressed between them.

“Shhh, dinna cry a leannan,” Jamie said and as he spoke he felt a gentle nudge on his stomach and realized that it must have been the bairn that kicked inside of Claire’s stomach.

He did weep then. He pressed his lips on top of Claire’s head and clung on to her, thankful that the universe had seen fit to bring them together again.

Chapter Text

Claire ended up inviting him inside and she left him sitting at the small kitchen table while she went to the bathroom. Her eyes were puffy from crying, but she felt a peace she hadn’t felt since she’d found out about the pregnancy.

Jamie knew now and the only thing she needed to do was figure out where they stood. Easy enough right?

Splashing cool water on her face and neck, Claire took a deep breath and rested her hip against the sink. It was already going better than she thought. She imagined a scenario in her head of telling Jamie about the baby and him leaving her, wanting nothing to do with them.

It’s why she had waited this long to not tell him. If she was being honest with herself, she had to admit that she might not have ever told him had they not bumped into each other. Drying her face off, she then tied her hair up into a bun on top of her head and walked back out into the kitchen. He was sitting there with a cup of tea, his eyes focused on the table and he had a very serious expression on his face.

“Don’t think too hard,” Claire smiled warmly as she took the seat next to him.

“Feeling better?” He smiled softly, whatever thoughts he’d had leaving his mind as he looked at her.

Nodding, Claire looked up at him, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry I didn’t try and find you sooner.” Might as well come out with it, lay all her cards on the table.

“Dinna fash, Sassenach,” Jamie leaned forward. “I ken ye must have had a few hard decisions to make, but I dinna begrudge ye for no’ tellin’ me. I am a stranger after all.”

“Not quite a stranger,” she smirked. “But please, Jamie…” resting her hand on his arm, she felt the strength and power coursing through his body. “Please accept my apology.”

“Aye, I will — of course.” He smiled and laid his hand over hers. She found that when he was touching her, she no longer felt nervous so she moved her hand to hold his.

“Do ye mind if I ask who else could be the father of the wee bairn?”

“No, not at all,” she shook her head. “He’s my ex — Frank Randall. I found out he was cheating on me the day before I met you.”

“Does he know?”

“No. I don’t want him to,” Claire admitted. “Does that make me a horrible person?”

Jamie moved his hand up to cup her cheek, “Nah. It only makes ye a good mother from protectin’ the bairn from that man. He cheated on ye — broke yer trust as well as yer heart. That isna a man that deserves ye.”

“But does he deserve to know he might have a child?” Claire slid her hand over her belly and she saw Jamie’s eyes drift down to it.

“I dinna ken, Sassenach. I suppose if it were me,” he smirked, “I would want to know. But I am no this Frank Randall so I canna say what he would want.”

“He always wanted a child. We were together for years and I thought we would be married someday,” Claire’s voice broke and a tear slid down her cheek. “I thought a lot of things back then.”

“Claire,” Jamie held her hand firmly, resting their joined hands on her knee. “Ye are the mother of this bairn and therefore ye decide who gets to be in the child’s life. I willna lie to ye and say I dinna want that privilege if ye see fit to allow me.”

“Oh, Jamie,” Claire smiled. “Of course I want you to be apart of our lives. However messy or confusing it may be or even if you’re not the father after all… if you want to be in my child’s life then we will have you.”

Tears brimmed the surface of Jamie’s eyes and he let his head hang. Slowly, he released Claire’s hand and moved it to rest lightly over her bump. He had missed so much already; if the child was truly his then he didn’t want to miss another moment.

“I suppose we should exchange numbers,” he laughed, leaning back to reach into his pocket to pull out his phone. “Shoulda done this on the night I met ye, Sassenach.”

“I should have just told you my name,” she smiled, rolling her eyes. “I don’t know what I was trying to even do.”

“Well ye thought ye’d never see me again and now ye tell me ye’d just had yer heart broken,” Jamie said. “Ye were protecting yourself.”

“I was,” Claire agreed and then reached for her own phone and they swapped devices, each entering their numbers.

“Now ye know how to reach me,” he handed her back her phone. “If ye ever need anythin’ and I mean anythin’ at all, please dinna hesitate to call me day or night.”

“I wouldn’t want to be too much of a bother,” Claire said shyly.

He grabbed her hand, “Tis no a bother, Claire. I suppose I still havena wrapped my head around all of this, but dinna think that I’m no happy about it, aye?”

“I can see that,” Claire smiled. It was true, Jamie had been nothing but supportive of her since he’d found out about the baby and the confusing parentage. She tried to imagine Frank in his shoes, but could only see him starting a fight and becoming angry with her that she’d withheld the truth from him. Jamie was not Frank, that much was obvious.

Jamie rose from the table, “I wish I could stay longer wi’ ye, but I’m meeting my sister and godfather for dinner.”

“Will you tell them about the baby?” Claire stood and walked with him to the door.

“Maybe no just yet. And I’ll only tell them wi’ yer permission of course,” he said.

“You can tell them,” she nodded. “I’d like to meet them one day… properly,” she laughed, recalling the time she had only heard their concerned voices.

“I’d like that too, Sassenach.” Jamie leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “Please call me if ye need me.”

“I will,” Claire smiled and then opened the door and watched him leave. She did need him and as she watched him walk away, she felt a tug on her heart. It was already complicated enough — adding in a relationship between her and Jamie was absolutely out of the question. They had enough to deal with at the moment and besides, she wasn’t sure if she could handle the heartbreak if Jamie decided this was all too much for him.

++++++

As Jamie ate dinner with his sister and Murtagh, the entire evening he kept thinking about telling them about the bairn. It would be happy news to be sure, but the circumstances were not what he had envisioned. He thought that when he would become a father, he would also have a wife. Deep down, Jamie knew that he would marry Claire if she agreed to it, but he didn’t want to rock the boat.

Of course, he knew what his sister’s reaction would be. She would hit him over the head and tell him he shouldn’t have spread his seed foolishly. Jamie knew he’d been a fool not to wear a condom that night, but he hadn’t exactly been thinking clearly either. Even now as he sat around the table with Jenny who was telling them about something her daughter Maggie had done, his thoughts drifted to Claire.

He wondered what she had done when she found out about the bairn. Had she cried of happiness or fear? Did she ever think of not keeping it? He also wondered just how much he should involve himself in her life. If she’d have him, he would be there for it all — every kick, every movement and he would be there after the bairn was born.

“Have ye somethin’ on yer mind mo bhràthair?”

Shaking his head to dispel the vision of Claire’s body under his, her belly pressing between them, he looked over to see both Jenny and Murtagh staring at him.

“Och, tis nothin’.”

“It is not nothing, Jamie. I’ve no seen ye so distracted in months,” she tsked and rose to grab the kettle, coming back and refilling all their cups.

“I ran into someone earlier today,” Jamie said with a small smile on his lips.

“A lass?” Murtagh elbowed his arm.

“Aye, a lass,” he rolled his eyes. “The same lass from the launch party a few months ago.”

“Ahhh, makes sense now.”

“What does?”

“Ye scribbled her name all over yer wee journals and things for weeks lad and dinna pretend ye didn’t try and search for her too,” Murtagh chuckled.

“Is this the same lass I saw ye take into mam’s library?”

Jamie nearly choked on his tea and it burned on the way down. “I wanted to show her our collection.”

“Hmph,” Jenny smirked. “I ken ye may have shown her some other things too.”

“How would you—“

“Ye think I dinna ken what goes on in this house?”

“I…” his cheeks turned bright red and he felt like a kid again being scolded for not doing his chores.

“Just tell me ye wore protection, Jamie and ye didna knock her up,” Jenny snorted into her tea and Jamie sat there in silence. Jenny’s mouth opened, her eyes boring into his, “James Fraser! Ye didn’t!”

“Oh lad,” Murtagh shook his head, softly laughing under his breath. “And this was the first ye’ve seen of her since?”

“Aye,” Jamie nodded, suddenly feeling ashamed of himself. “I didna ken her name and as ye kindly pointed out, I did try and look for her.”

“Ye are so irresponsible ye wee numptie,” Jenny looked at him disapprovingly. “Ye get a woman wi’ child and ye dinna even ken her name. I would ask what ye were thinkin’ but it’s clear ye were only lettin’ yer bollocks do the thinkin’. At least tell me yer goin’ to marry the lass now?”

“Marry her? I only just saw her today for the first time in nearly five months. I wasna goin’ to suddenly offer her marriage,” Jamie scoffed. “It’s a bit more complicated than that anyways.”

“Please,” Jenny rolled her eyes as she leaned forward. All Jamie wanted to do was run and hide, but he wouldn’t be able to get away from her this easy. “Enlighten yer family on why tis so complicated that ye canna marry the lass and save her baby from bein’ a bastard. Och, when Ian finds out about this he’ll bang ye over the heid.”

This was the part Jamie never intended on telling them — at least not for awhile. “Claire isna sure that I am the father.”

“Oh so she’s a whoor too,” Jenny let out a half-laugh, half-bark and Jamie rose to his feet.

“She is not a whore, Janet! I willna have ye speakin that way of the mother of my bairn!”

“The bairn might not even be yers, Jamie. I will call her a whoor because that tis what she is for layin’ wi’ multiple men and getting herself wi’ child.”

Jamie walked over to the wall, slamming his fist against the beam, trying to let his anger die down. “I’m just as much to blame, if no more so than she is. Claire has had to deal wi’ this all on her own.” It was then that Jamie noticed Murtagh had slipped out and it was just him and Jenny facing off.

“She shoulda told ye about the bairn when she first found out, how could she keep such a thing from ye?”

Jamie took a deep breath and sat back down, eyeing his sister. “We didna exchange numbers, Jenny. I ken it was a foolish thing of me to do. I’ve already beat myself up about it enough, I dinna need ye yellin’ at me.” He hung his head low, running his fingers back through his hair. “I didna force myself upon her, if ye were wonderin’ that too.”

“Och, Jamie,” Jenny laid a hand on his arm. “I never thought ye would. This whole thing is a mess, but I have faith in ye that ye’ll make it right by marryin’ the lass.”

“Jenny I can’t just—“

“Ye will lad. Mother and father would want to see the bairn raised in a proper family, ye ken that.”

“Aye, I do, but it’s complicated. Claire and I slept together one night, we were both drunk and hurting for different reasons. There may not be love between us and I willna force her to marry me if she doesna want to.”

“Then ye must learn the ways of her heart,” Jenny said and then rose from the table, leaving him sitting there with even more questions than he had before.

Did he love her?

++++++

It had been a week since Claire had bumped into Jamie and since then they hadn’t stopped messaging each other. She informed him every time she felt the baby kick and had even sent him a video one night where you could clearly see the feet of the baby pressing against her stomach.

Claire didn’t know the sex of the baby. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know until it was born. She had also always gone to her ultrasound appointments alone and Jamie had promised to go with her to the next one — perhaps they could find out together.

It was comforting to know that Jamie was there for her if she needed him.

Geillis was working a night shift which meant that Claire was at home alone. She’d just settled herself on the couch with a giant bowl of popcorn and planned to watch Pride & Prejudice when she felt a sharp pain in her stomach.

“Oh, God,” she winced, sliding her hand over her belly. Sometimes when the baby kicked her in the wrong spot, it hurt like this and normally happened only once. Claire took a deep breath and rubbed her hand over the bump, “It’s alright little melon.”

A moment later another sharp pain went through her, but this time all over her body and she gasped in pain. The bowl of popcorn fell to the floor as she doubled over, her face twisting as another pang went through her.

Her phone was on the coffee table and she managed to slide to her knees and grabbed it. Geillis wouldn’t be able to come to her, so she called the only other person she could think of.

“Sassenach, how are ye?”

“Jamie, I need help,” she said and then grunted as another pang happened.

“What’s wrong?” Claire could hear that he was moving and then she heard the jangle of car keys.

“I’m not sure, but my stomach hurts. I need you to take me to the hospital.”

“I’m on my way, do ye want me to stay on the phone until I get there?” The sound of his car turning on came through the phone and Claire tried to take another deep breath.

“Yes… please.” Closing her eyes, Claire laid her head back on the seat of the couch and took three deep breaths as she listened to Jamie’s voice. He was telling her about his day, trying to distract her from thinking of the pain and for the most part it was working.

Thankfully he arrived shortly after and was there at her side, sliding his arms under her legs as he carried her out of her house and down to his car.

“It’ll be alright,” he said in assurance and buckled her in.

On the drive to the hospital, Jamie’s hand never left hers and she squeezed it every time another sharp pang hit. She’d never been so grateful to have him here.

Within an hour, Claire was sitting in a hospital bed listening to the doctor tell her that there was nothing wrong and most likely the baby just got itself into an odd position. She sighed and laid her head back against the pillow, letting the stress and worry seep out of her body. “Silly little bean,” she whispered.

Jamie laughed from beside her and she opened her eyes to see him looking down at her. “Sorry, I didna mean to laugh.”

“It’s okay,” she smiled and reached for his hand and pulled it to rest over her stomach.

“Sassenach,” Jamie’s voice trembled and he bent to his knees. “I dinna know what I’d do if somethin’ happened to ye and the bairn. I couldn’t bear it.”

“Well we’re both alright, Jamie. Don’t let your mind go there,” Claire smiled warmly.

She saw something shift in him then and his hand moved to cover her entire belly as if he could protect what it was holding inside with just his touch.

“Claire, I want to promise ye somethin’. I want to promise to ye that I will be here for ye and this bairn. I vow to protect ye from any harm and God willing I will protect this bairn too.” He moved his other hand to cup her cheek, “It doesna matter who the father is, Sassenach. If ye say ye need me, I’m yours. And if the wee one decides he or she doesna want me in their life then I’ll step back. I dinna want to ever be a burden to ye.”

Claire was silent, tears filling her eyes as she listened to him make her these promises. Jamie then reached for her hand and laid it on top of his over her stomach. “I make this oath to ye and the bairn, Claire. And it is my duty to uphold it as long as I should live. My word is my promise and I swear to never break it.”

“I know you won’t,” she finally spoke and then pulled his head into the crook of her neck and embraced him. However he felt towards her, Claire knew that he would love this child with his whole heart. She also knew that if she allowed herself… she could grow to love him too. In fact, she knew she had already begun to love Jamie when she first met him — only after the baby did she close off her heart so that she wouldn’t be hurt again.

Jamie Fraser was in her life now, whether she loved him or not… she knew he would never leave them.

Chapter Text

August 5th, 2019

Claire and Jamie had gotten into a routine over the last several weeks. Feeling guilty for Jamie not being around for the first five months of the pregnancy, Claire invited him over most nights she wasn’t working. They would wind up eating dinner together, sometimes pizza or Chinese take out, but one night Jamie had offered to make her something.

“What exactly is this?” Claire looked down at the pan that Jamie was using.

“Tis stir-fry, Sassenach. Rice wi’ a wee bit of carrots, peas, chicken and other vegetables,” he smiled down at her. “It’ll taste better than it looks.”

“Oh no, it looks delicious, smells good too,” Claire smiled and leaned her head against Jamie’s arm, one arm wrapping around his waist. A second later, they both froze and Claire removed her arm and walked to the fridge.

“Um, do you want some cider?” She asked nonchalantly, hiding her face behind the fridge door. They had decided to keep things focused on the baby and what Claire needed to stop doing was touching Jamie like she just had. But she couldn’t help it when he was here, cooking her dinner, smelling like a mix of mint and natural musk, looking the way he did.

Geillis had told her she was crazy to not just be with him. She also said she should take him to her bed and that’s when Claire told her to keep her mouth shut about Jamie.

“Sure,” he answered and she grabbed one cider and a bottle of lemonade for her. “I’ll be so happy when I can finally have a proper drink again!”

“I’ve been dyin’ to let ye taste some of our new whisky we’re workin’ on,” Jamie smiled, thanking her for the cider. “I think ye’ll really like it. But ye have a bit to wait.”

“The wee babe is taking its sweet time,” Claire laughed, sliding her hand over her stomach. “Do you want to eat on the couch? I’ll find our place in The Office.”

“Aye, sounds good, Sassenach,” Jamie smiled and then continued to finish up cooking. He loved having someone to cook for. Normally he cooked for himself or when he could go, he would eat with Jenny and Ian at Lallybroch. Claire had tried to make him dinner one night, but ended up cooking the noodles too long and they were way too soggy. Jamie tried not to laugh and eat the pasta, but Claire stopped him, saying that she knew she was a terrible cook and they should just order a pizza.

As he scooped out the stir-fry onto his and Claire’s plates, he thought of all the meals they would have together in the future — maybe as a family one day. Jenny’s voice was still in the back of his head, nagging him about asking Claire to marry him. But now wasn’t the time. He was enjoying getting to know her — he found he never got tired of hearing her speak.

“Here ye are, Sassenach,” Jamie handed her the plate and then sat down on the other side of the couch.

“Up,” Claire grinned and Jamie lifted his arms to allow Claire’s feet to rest. He should have thought it was gross that he was eating his dinner with her feet so close to his food — but instead he thought it was endearing.

“What happened in the last episode?”

“Um, Jim just asked Pam on a date and that was the season three finale,” Claire said in between bites.

As they ate and watched, laughing at the jokes and the inappropriate comments, Claire found that she never wanted Jamie to leave. It was far from simple, but what they had, worked for them. As unconventional as it was, Claire wouldn’t have it any other way. She slept easy at night now with the thought that her baby would have a loving father that wanted to be in its life.

“Are you coming to the ultrasound tomorrow?” Claire said as she sat down her plate on the coffee table.

“Aye,” he smiled, his hands resting on her ankles. “Tis at ten a.m. right?”

“Yes,” Claire nodded, jumping a bit as she felt a push from inside her stomach. “Oooo,” she moaned lightly.

“What is it?” Jamie looked over at her, concern clear across his face.

“Just a kick, don’t worry,” she smiled in assurance. “Would you like to feel?”

“Aye, I would.”

Claire lifted her feet off his lap so that he could move closer and he gently laid his hand over her bump, pausing as he waited to feel something. His face broke out into a thousand different emotions when in the next minute, he felt a nudge against his hand.

“A leannan,” Jamie grinned, rubbing his hand over Claire’s stomach. “Mo chuisle.”

“What does that mean?”

“Och, just the ghàidhlig… mostly just sweet things to call the ween,” Jamie smiled warmly up at Claire. “Tis incredible that ye’ve life growin’ inside of ye.”

“It is rather remarkable,” Claire smiled, her heart filling with joy once again at the thought of finding out the sex of the baby. Before Jamie had found out about the baby, she was going to wait until it was born. But now the idea thrilled her. “What are your predictions? About the gender?”

Jamie grinned, placing his plate on the table and pulled her feet back up in his lap. “Och, well I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance.”

“I think it’s a boy,” Claire said, rubbing her stomach. Jamie squinted his eyes and placed his hand back on her bump.

“I ken it’s a girl, Sassenach.”

“How can ye ken it?” She laughed, mocking his strong accent. He rolled his eyes at her, a slight smirk on his lips.

“She told me, in a dream,” his eyes went wide. “I saw her wi’ red hair and a wee birthmark just behind her ear.”

“You dream about her?” Claire felt tears fill her eyes.

“Often, aye,” Jamie smiled. “Ever since I found out about her, that I was goin’ to be a Da, I dream of her and of —“ he cut himself off, holding back the rest of the at sentence… of you.

“And she has red hair?” Claire smirked, leaning off the pillows and ran one hand slowly back through Jamie’s own red curls. “Just like yours?”

“Aye,” he let out a shaky breath. Whenever she touched him, like she was now, he wanted to pull her to him and kiss her. He also wanted to lay her flat on this couch and take her, use her, fill her body with him and it took all the self control he had in him not to.

“I hope she does have red hair, Jamie,” Claire said softly, tugging gently on the end of one curl. He looked at her, his face just inches away and moved his hand to cup her cheek.

“She’ll be beautiful…” he whispered, aware that they were moving closer together by the second. “Just like her Mam.”

“Jamie,” Claire gulped, afraid to move lest it break the spell. Her eyes closed and she resigned herself over to him to do with as he pleased. She felt her chest constrict as his lips pressed lightly against hers in invitation and she opened her mouth in response. Their tongues collided and Jamie wound his fingers through her mess of curls.

With her legs still in his lap, she could feel that he was hard against her calf and couldn’t help a proud smugness overtake her. Claire hadn’t exactly felt too positive about her body and the way she looked ever since she’d been growing larger by the day. Jamie moaned against her mouth and Claire wanted to weep from the sound and from the relief she felt of touching him.

“Oh Christ, Sassenach,” Jamie sighed and leaned down, pressing her to lie back against the couch. Just as she slid her hand under his shirt, feeling deep rivets in his flesh, wondering what had happened to him, she heard keys jangle in the door and they hastily broke apart.

As Geillis walked through the door, Jamie had scrambled to the other end of the couch, his chest heaving and he was holding a pillow over his lap. Claire wanted to burst into a laugh from the look on his face.

“Hello you two,” Geillis smiled. “Had a lovely evenin’ w’out me?”

“Um yes,” Claire almost choked out, meeting Jamie’s eyes she saw that he too was about to laugh. “Jamie made us dinner and we’ve just been watching tv the whole night, nothing else.”

“Sounds boring,” Geillis yawned. “I would join ye, but I’m beat. Been on my feet all day. Ye’re workin’ tomorrow right, Clarie?”

“Yep. And Jamie’s coming.” She bit her tongue at the innuendo, correcting her statement, “To the hospital for the ultrasound that is.”

Geillis looked at Claire, mouthing something like, “Tell me later” and winked before stalking off to her own room. Sitting up, Claire moved one leg under the other and sighed. “That was close,” she smiled.

“Aye, twas,” Jamie remarked, running his fingers back through his hair. “I’m sorry…. I shouldna have kissed ye. I ken we said we wouldn’t do that.”

“It’s fine, Jamie. Just a slip up,” Claire grinned. What she really wanted to say was to get back over here and just kiss her, but they had put boundaries up for a reason.

She cleared her throat, “Your back,” Claire pointed. “Did you get hurt? I don’t think I saw those… the first time,” she blushed.

“Ye wouldna have seen those from yer position,” he smirked. “I was in a car crash when I was nineteen just a few months before I left for university in Paris.”

“A car crash, like your mother? Oh Jamie…” Claire moved to his side of the couch, laying her hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry.”

“I felt close to her, ye ken,” he looked over at her, a sad smile on his lips. “Like she was there wi’ me, almost protectin’ me in a way, ye ken?”

“Your guardian angel,” Claire nodded, knowing the feeling. So many times in her life, she had felt the presence of her parents — had felt like they had truly never left her.

“Thankfully twas just me in the car, but I laid there for who knows how long before someone found me. I dinna like to admit it, but I wasna wearin’ my seatbelt — hence all the scars on my back.”

“You’re lucky to be alive.”

“Aye, I am,” Jamie squeezed her hand. “I dinna take one day of my life for granted, Sassenach. Nor do I take for granted the people that I meet.”

“I never thought you would,” she blushed. “Can I see it — your back I mean.” He hesitated, frozen on the couch and she added, “Only if you’re comfortable with that, of course.”

“Aye, tis alright,” he nodded and then stood up from the couch. Slowly he faced away from her and reaching behind him, he pulled off his t-shirt, balling it up in his hands. Claire rose to her feet and coming to stand behind him, she gently laid her hand on his back. He flinched from the coldness of her touch, but relaxed as she ran her fingers along each scar.

“There’s so many scars,” she whispered. “You must have been in a lot of pain,” Claire almost choked on her words — to see the deep flesh carved out, it made her heart ache.

“I was and I wasna,” he huffed. “I had so many drugs racing through my bloodstream, I dinna remember most of it. But sometimes—“ he paused.

“What?” Claire pressed her hand flatly against his back.

She felt him tense under her touch, the fierce strength coursing throughout. “Sometimes I wake in the night, screaming as I remember the crash — as if it has happened again. And I remember my Mam and think of what pain she must have been in, no one to help her.”

“Jamie,” Claire’s throat closed up and she wrapped her arms around him, resting her cheek against his back, her tears wetting his skin. “You’re alright now, it’s all in the past.”

His arms wrapped around hers and she felt him shake under her, silent tears falling from his own eyes. Throwing caution to the wind, Claire turned her head and placed a kiss on his back, feeling his shoulders relax. He turned around in her arms and held her close, resting his chin on the top of her head. “What would I do wi’out ye, Sassenach?”

Closing her eyes, Claire let herself feel all the emotions she had been trying to hold back. She wanted him and it had been clear before that he wanted her — but there was still something getting in the way. She figured it was the ever present bump that was now physically between them. While Claire believed Jamie when he said he would love the child no matter who the father was, she was still not sure if he would love her.

++++++

The next day, Claire waited in the lobby of the hospital for Jamie who was coming to join her at the ultrasound. Today, they would find out the sex of the baby, a little girl or boy. Claire wasn’t partial to either gender, only excited to finally find out — and with Jamie there beside her.

He was running a few minutes late, and Claire was growing restless. At last, she looked up from her watch to see a tall figure with a mop of red hair come running through the doors.

“Sorry, Sassenach!” He kissed her cheek in greeting, “I got stuck in traffic.”

“That’s alright,” she smiled and took his arm. “Ready to go find out?”

“More than ready,” he smiled through his heavy breaths.

Together they walked down the corridors of the hospital and Claire led them to the room where the technician Jules was waiting.

“It’s good to see you here, Claire,” Jules smiled. “And is this the father?”

“Um,” Claire stammered, avoiding Jamie’s eye and simply nodded, “Yes, mhmm.”

Jamie helped Claire climb up onto the table as he took a seat next to her, his hand never leaving hers. His left hand tapped a staccato rhythm along his thigh, Claire found it cute that he was so nervous.

“How far along are you?”

“Just passed the six month mark,” Claire smiled happily and lifted her shirt up. Jules applied the cool gel, making her skin prickle with goosebumps.

“Sorry, I know it’s cold.”

The wand pressed against her stomach, and Claire and Jamie both focused their attention to the small screen.

“Are we supposed to be able to tell anythin’ from that wee blob?” Jamie squinted his eyes and Claire laughed.

“That wee blob is our baby.”

“Och, tis cute of course,” Jamie blushed, feeling foolish for not being able to read the funny shapes on the sonogram. “Just doesna look like a bairn.”

“It rather looks like a squirrel, doesn’t it?” Claire joked and Jamie shook his head in laughter.

“No child of mine will come out lookin’ like a squirrel,” Jamie said and met Claire’s eye. She held his gaze, her own eyes full of sympathy. She knew how hard it was for Jamie to not be certain of the paternity, but she was thankful that he wasn’t pressuring her to take the test. Her fear that it might be Frank’s child was crushing her, keeping her up some nights with doubt. Once she laid eyes on the baby — then she would know, then she could know.

“So what is it?” Jamie asked Jules.

“It looks to me that you’ve got a baby girl on the way! Congratulations Mam and Dad,” Jules smiled and then pointed up at the screen, showing them the hands and feet of their baby girl.

“A girl,” Jamie said, nearly breathless. “A wee lass.”

“You were right,” Claire smiled, squeezing his hand. “Perhaps it really was her in your dreams.”

“I know it was, Sassenach,” Jamie leaned his forehead against her arm.

A few moments later, after the cool gel was wiped away and their next appointment made, Claire and Jamie walked out into the hallway.

“Can I come over tonight, Claire?”

“I’m working until late tonight, and again tomorrow, but you can on Monday.”

Jamie was lingering, not wanting to leave them just yet, “Sounds good. Don’t work too hard, please. Take breaks when you need them and drink plenty of water.”

“Yes, I will,” Claire smiled. “I promise.”

Jamie reached for her hand, his fingers lightly touching the inside of her palm, “Call me when you get home, aye? So I ken ye made it safe?”

“Of course, Jamie.”

“Okay,” Jamie took a breath. “I suppose I should get back to work as well. Ah, Sassenach,” Jamie smiled, “A wee lassie.”

“A wee lassie,” Claire smiled and then hugged him as tight as she could. “Our wee lassie.”

++++++

On Monday night, Jamie had come over as planned only this time Geillis was joining in eating dinner with them and watching The Office. Claire hadn’t told her about their kiss, nor had she told her of Jamie’s scars and the way she had kissed them — that was just for them.

The next episode had just started when a knock came from the door.

“Dinna move, I’ll get it,” Jamie rose from the couch, patting Claire’s knee as he passed her.

“Do we have anymore strawberries, Geillis?”

“Aye, I think so, is wee baby girl hungry for some?” She smiled.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” Claire smiled happily. It’s not that she couldn’t get her own strawberries, but it was nice having her friends getting her things simply because she was pregnant. Geillis got up from the couch to walk into the kitchen. As Jamie opened the door for whoever their guest was, Claire looked over — and gasped.

It was Frank.

“Is there a Claire Beauchamp here?” His thick British accent that had once whispered endearments to her now sounded like pure acid in her ears.

“There might be, who is askin’ for her?” Jamie said, his body standing in front of the door, shielding Frank’s view of her.

“If Claire is here then I need to speak with her, she’ll know who I am. The name’s Frank Randall.”

From her position on the couch, Claire could see the set of Jamie’s shoulders when the realization hit of who was standing before him. Before things could get out of hand, Claire rose to face her demons head on.

“Frank,” she smiled, resting her hand lightly on Jamie’s. She hoped Frank would assume she was with Jamie — he was strong and fearsome looking, surely Frank wouldn’t be stupid to try and pull anything with him here.

“Claire,” he muttered his hello and then his eyes trailed down over her body. “Ah so it’s true?”

Her hand slid down protectively over her belly and she turned slightly against Jamie who she felt nearly trembling with suppressed rage. She had told Jamie about Frank and how he cheated on her — how he could possibly be the father of the child she was carrying.

“Yes it’s true and I know why you’re here, but I’m sorry… the baby isn’t yours, Frank.” As she said it aloud, she dearly hoped it was true. The last time she’d seen him he had been at the top of the stairs as he watched her walk away on the night she found out about his affair. Claire had done a good job of protecting her heart and now as he stood before her, she knew she no longer harbored any old feelings of love for him.

“What? So it’s his then?” Frank slurred a bit and then Claire and Jamie both realized he was drunk, his eyes glazed over slightly.

“I think ye should go, lad,” Jamie took a step forward towards Frank.

“I’m not going anywhere until Claire admits that the baby is mine,” he looked at her. “It’s not possible for it to be anyone else’s unless you’ve been a whore and slept around.”

His words hit her likes daggers and she visibly flinched as if he’d struck her with one. “Yes it bloody well is possible, Frank!”

Frank scoffed, pressing his finger hard against Jamie’s chest, “Well then mate, was she a good fuck?”

That’s all it took. Those few words caused something in Jamie to snap and he pulled his arm out of Claire’s grasp, winding back to connect his fist with Frank’s jaw.

“Oh God!” Claire took a step back and then she turned and saw that Geillis was standing in the hallway, gripping a bowl of strawberries. Her friend came over to her, wrapping her arm around her shoulder.

Jamie had only punched Frank the once, but with enough force that there was blood dripping from his nose and mouth.

“Perhaps she wasn’t then,” Frank laughed and then spat blood out on the ground as he gripped his jaw. “I didn’t come here to fight, Claire. I came to collect you because that baby is mine.”

“Collect me?” Claire stalked forward out of Geillis’ reach and came to stand before him. “You think I’m your property, don’t you? That you can just use me whenever it’s convenient for you? Even if this baby is yours, you’ll have no part in it’s life!” As she turned to walk away from him, Frank gripped her arm, “Stop it! Let go of me, you bastard!”

“She said dinna touch her!” Jamie shouted and then Frank was on the ground and Jamie’s fist was colliding with his face again and again. All Claire could do was stare in horror, not knowing what to do. Frank was barely even fighting back he was so hungover.

“Jamie! Jamie stop, please,” Claire knelt down on her knees, begging for Jamie to look at her. “He’s going unconscious, can’t you see that?”

Another blow and Jamie stopped, his chest heaving and then he shook his head as if he’d been in some kind of daze. “Christ,” he muttered and then climbed off of the man, flexing his knuckles.

“I’ll take him to the hospital,” Geillis touched Claire’s back. “Jamie, will ye help me get him into the car?”

Only nodding, Jamie took a look down at Claire who was sitting still on the floor and picked up the man he’d just beat up and carried him down to Geillis’ car. When he returned, Claire was still sitting on the floor, her head in her hands. When Jamie touched her shoulder, she flinched.

“Claire,” he whispered. “I’m sorry, I dinna know what came over me.”

Sniffing, Claire wiped her eyes as she looked up at him, staring into the deep blue of his. “That bastard happened. I never thought I would see him again, Jamie.”

He tested it again and laid his hand gently on her shoulder. When she didn’t flinch, he wrapped both his arms around her and pulled her onto his lap, cradling her. “Ye willna have to ever again, Sassenach. Besides,” he smirked. “I dinna think he will want to be comin’ around here anytime soon after that.”

“Do you think he’ll press charges?”

“I dinna ken, but if he’s smart he willna mess wi’ Claire Beauchamp again,” Jamie stroked her hair.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” Claire felt tears spill down her cheeks as the adrenaline began to wear off and she sank against him, letting everything out. “I don’t want it to be his.”

Jamie didn’t have to ask for clarification — he knew what she meant. And it meant everything to Jamie. While Frank Randall was a mean bastard, it made his heart soar that Claire would want him to be the father. Not that she had any choice in the matter now, but if she meant it now, perhaps she would want it in the future when they could decide for themselves.

As Claire wept in his arms, Jamie flexed his bloody knuckles and held her, knowing that he would doing anything to protect her and his child — no matter the cost.

Chapter Text

August 8th, 2019

After Frank showed up and ruined their evening by demanding that Claire come with him, Claire had spent the night cleaning up Jamie’s bloody hand. His knuckles were split and the skin around them was angry and red. As she touched the skin lightly with an alcoholic swab, Jamie winced, cursing under his breath.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “It’s going to sting a bit.”

“Aye, it does,” he said through this teeth.

“Do you get into fights often?”

Jamie looked at her, a smug expression on his face. “Nah, och well maybe a few when I was younger. Just a stramash here and there wi’ the lads.”

“A stramash,” Claire repeated, a smile on her lips as she looked up at him through her lashes.

“A wee fight,” he smiled back softly. Slowly, he reached his uninjured hand up to cup her cheek, “Claire, I’m verra sorry ye had to see me like that, I canna hold my temper sometimes. I’d understand if ye were scairt of me now.”

Sighing, she turned her head, kissing the inside of his palm. “I’m not scared of you. Perhaps I was a bit frightened, but no… I’m not afraid.”

“Good,” he grinned. “Because ye need no be scairt of anyone or anythin’ when I’m wi’ ye.”

“And when you’re not with me?” She paused her work on his hand, holding it in her lap.

“I’ll not be far,” he ran his thumb over her cheek.

The air between them was buzzing with an electricity that made Claire’s heart beat fast. Shaking her head slightly, she bent it back down to continue to tend to Jamie’s hand. Just a few minutes later, she had it cleaned up and bandaged.

“Don’t go punching anyone for at least a week alright?”

“Aye, Sassenach,” he blushed.

Claire stood from the ground and held out her hand to help him up. When he came to his full height, Claire was standing close to him, her nose just a breath away from his chest and she looked up at him.

She thought he was going to kiss her, but instead he took a step backwards, running his unharmed hand through his hair. “Would ye like to go to Lallybroch next weekend? That is if yer free?”

“Lallybroch? Your house?”

“Aye, well ’tis Jenny and Ian’s now — her husband. My Da left it to me, but I didna have much use for a big ol’ grand house and they’ve bairns to fill it wi,” he shrugged then his expression softened and he placed his hand over her stomach.

“I’d like them to meet ye both,” he smiled. “If ye want to meet my family?”

Claire covered Jamie’s hand with hers, squeezing it gently. “I’d love to meet them. Do they know?”

His cheeks blushed pink, “Aye, they ken. It might have come up a few weeks ago.”

“What did they think? That I was some gold digger after you and your successful business?” Claire sighed, letting her hand fall to her side.

“Nah,” Jamie shook his head.

“What is it?”

“Och, ’tis nothing,” he smiled, but Claire could tell there was something else.

“Jamie, you better tell me before I meet them…”

His hand slid from her stomach and he pinched the bridge of his nose. “My sister Jenny, well—“ he sighed, his shoulders heavy. “She thinks ye to be some kind of whoor since ye dinna ken who the father is.”

Whatever she had been expecting him to say, that was not it.

“Oh.” Claire gathered her first aid kit, walking back into the kitchen to put it away.

Jamie cursed under his breath, following after her. “She doesna even ken ye Claire, ye mustn’t take it too seriously.”

“Well she’s right though isn’t she?” Claire said, her back facing him, her hands on the counter in front of her. Claire wasn’t embarrassed of her baby, nor was she embarrassed of Jamie. But the fact of the matter was that she had had a one night stand with a stranger and had gotten pregnant. Of course, it could still be Frank’s, but Claire shoved that thought aside quickly.

“Sassenach,” Jamie reached out, touching her elbow. “Ye are the furthest thing from a whoor. Yer beautiful. And smart, a good doctor wi’ a kind touch…. I know it.”

Her shoulders sank and she turned to face him. “Then I must be on my best behavior,” she smirked. “I’ll show her I’m no whore.”

Jamie laughed at hearing her speak in such a way. He’d never met a woman who swore as much as she did. “Ye’ll be meeting my godfather, Murtagh as well. I’ll ask him to come over,” Jamie smiled. “He was my Mam and Da’s best friend, been around all my life.”

“And he helps you with Fraser & Co. right?”

“Aye, he started it wi’ my Da and now wi’ me,” Jamie smiled sadly.

Claire reached up, cupping his cheek, “You miss them?”

“Every day.”

“I miss my parents as well,” Claire agreed, dropping her hand from his cheek to her stomach. “I wish they were here to meet the baby.”

“I wish that as well, Sassenach.”

Claire glanced at the clock on the wall, it was past eleven at night and Geillis had been gone for just over an hour. She knew Frank would be at the hospital all night from the beating Jamie had given him; he was also very drunk and would be hungover as well as in pain.

“Jamie,” Claire looked up at him. “Would you mind staying the night? Or at least until Geillis comes back? I just… don’t want to be here alone.”

“Och, of course, Claire,” Jamie smiled, grabbing her hand and squeezing it.

“I’ll um, just make up the couch.”

What she wanted to do was ask him to her bed and not even to sleep with her, but to hold her. Claire walked to the small hall closet and pulled out a blanket and pillow for Jamie, setting it up nicely on the couch in the living room. It was probably not long enough for him, but it would have to do.

“I hope this is alright,” Claire waved her hands at the makeshift bed. Jamie smiled, sliding his arms out of his jacket and took a seat, his hands patting the cushion.

“Tis perfect, Sassenach.”

Nodding, Claire grabbed her phone and started walking back to her room.

“Claire?”

“Yes?” She turned back to him.

“Would ye,” his cheeks turned red as he sat on the edge of the couch, one hand holding a shoe he’d been taking off. “Would ye like to come and sit wi’ me for awhile? My hand,” he held his bandaged hand up, “Tis hurts a wee bit and ye always make me feel good.”

Jamie mentally cursed himself for saying such a stupid thing to her, but Claire smiled and walked back over to him. Sitting beside him, she pulled his arm around her shoulder and leaned into him as they laid back against the couch. Neither of them spoke, but simply lay there listening to the other breathing.

Two hours later, Geillis came home to find Jamie laying on the couch, his arms wrapped around Claire — both asleep. Geillis couldn’t help herself as she tip toed over to them, taking out her phone and snapping a pic. It was their first “family” photo and she knew Claire would secretly be happy she had taken the pic.

“Night, love birds,” Geillis whispered and went off to her own bed.

Being a light sleeper, Jamie had woken up when the door opened, but kept his eyes shut. He’d have to ask Geillis for the picture she’d taken, but that could wait until tomorrow.

++++++

A week passed and finally, Claire and Jamie drove up to Lallybroch — the place where they first met. A strange expression crossed over Claire’s face and Jamie noticed.

“What is it, Sassenach?”

Looking up at the estate, she remembered that she wanted to know if Lallybroch really meant “lazy tower”.

“Aye, it does,” Jamie grinned and pointed up to the large stone tower near the back. “Broch Tuarach means north facing tower.”

“But it’s circular,” Claire laughed as they stood on the gravel outside of the house. “How can it be north facing?”

Jamie smirked, staring down at her. “The door faces north, Sassenach.”

“Bloody Scot,” Clare rolled her eyes and followed him into the house. They were staying for the weekend and Claire was only slightly nervous about meeting his family — considering the situation.

“Dinna fash, Claire,” Jamie whispered to her as he set their bags down. “They’ll be in the kitchen, then.”

He took her hand, leading her through the house. It looked different in the daytime. It also looked different with less people and less alcohol coursing through her system. God, what she wouldn’t do for a dram right now.

Claire had only heard Jenny and Murtagh’s voices in the hall that night, as Jamie hadn’t wanted anyone to see them sneaking up to the library. When she laid her eyes upon his sister, she was taken aback; she wasn’t at all what she pictured.

Hair as black as the night, small frame that just reached Jamie’s chest — Jenny Fraser Murray looked almost nothing like her tall red haired brother. Claire made a mental note to ask Jamie for a picture of his parents later on.

“Janet!” Jamie embraced her, kissing the top of her head. “Tis good to see ye.”

“Aye, ye too mo bhràthair,” The woman smiled, standing on her toes to kiss his cheek and ruffle his hair as a big sister would do. Claire’s eyes followed Jamie as he then embraced a man who must be Murtagh — a tall fellow with a thick beard and kind eyes.

Jamie came to stand beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder, making her feel safe, guarded. Not that she needed to be afraid of them, but she couldn’t help but feel inadequate.

“This is Claire Beauchamp,” Jamie said proudly. “And this is my bairn,” his hand slid over her stomach and Claire’s heart skipped a beat.

“It’s so nice to meet you both, I’ve heard so much about you from Jamie.”

Jamie’s godfather, Murtagh walked over to her, immediately embracing her. “We’ve heard all about ye, Claire. It’s good to finally meet the woman Jamie canna stop talkin’ about.”

Her cheeks blushed red and hot as she released him. She still felt the cold stare of Jenny in the corner and took a step forward out of Jamie’s reach and held out her hand to Jenny.

“Hi Jenny,” Claire waited, hand outstretched. “Thank you for having me in your home,” She added.

With a look over her shoulder at her brother, Jenny then cast her gaze to Claire, having to look up slightly at her. Then Claire’s heart leaped as she saw a familiar smirk on the woman’s lips and suddenly she was being embraced by Jenny Murray.

At once, Claire felt accepted. Like she belonged in whatever weird way that she did. No matter what happened between her and Jamie, they had this baby and this baby girl now had more family to love and protect her.

“Where’s Ian, Jenny?”

Jenny slid her arm around Claire’s waist, squeezing it a bit. “He’s wi’ young Jamie and Maggie in the stables, feeding the horses.”

“And Katherine?” Jamie smiled.

“Just laid her down in her crib for a nap,” Jenny smiled back and then looked up at Claire. “I’ve the three bairns, my youngest is but a few months old.”

“I’d love to meet them,” Claire grinned. Cousins. Her baby would have cousins. Growing up, Claire had always wanted siblings and cousins and she loved her Uncle Lamb, but she always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a big house with people running around it.

“Och, ye will, Claire. They’ll be screamin’ the second they get inside. The weens love meetin’ new people,” Jenny laughed.

“Ye’ve only just got here though, how about I show ye where ye’ll be stayin’ — ye’ll both be in Jamie’s old room.” Claire tensed at that and Jamie coughed awkwardly from the corner in the kitchen.

“Two rooms, Janet.”

Jenny nodded, understanding crossing her face. “Ah, two rooms. Well, Claire ye can still have Jamie’s old room. Tis nicer than the guest room which is where I’ll put Jamie.”

“Thank ye, Jenny. I can show her,” Jamie held out his hand to Claire for her to take. “We’ll be back down after we settle in.

A distinct Scottish noise come from Murtagh and Claire turned her head to see him wink at Jamie and had to try her hardest not to laugh.

“Well that went better than I thought,” she sighed as Jamie led her up the stairs.

“Aye,” he chuckled. “At first I thought Jenny was goin’ to snap yer head off, but I think she’s trying to understand and just accept what we have goin’ on.”

They walked down the same hall as that night, past the same pictures, the same doors. “That’s the library,” Claire commented as they passed it.

Jamie squeezed her hand, “Aye, tis.”

They both laughed, if only from a kind of bashfulness that came with remembering what occurred in that very room. Then Jamie opened a door further down the hallway and Claire was in his room. It was clean. Simple. And very Jamie. Or at least the Jamie that had lived here those years ago.

The bed was huge, as it had to be for someone as tall as him. A four poster wood bed with grey linen sheets and comfy looking pillows. Because Jamie only visited Lallybroch and didn’t live here, most of the personal effects that made a room its owners were gone. But there will still traces of Jamie here. Books on the shelves, a Scottish rugby team poster on the wall by the dresser.

“It’s nice,” Claire walked over to his desk, fingers tracing over a few of his items. Her eyes landed on a journal and she opened it, flicking through the pages.

“Och, dinna look at that,” Jamie came over to her quickly, shutting it fast.

“Wot? Why not?”

“Tis nothing,” Jamie laughed nervously.

“What’s in the journal, Jamie?” Claire smiled, trying to open it again.

“It’s just… well, ’tis wee stories I wrote as a lad. I dinna ken why it’s still out here in the open for anyone to be readin’,” He blushed, pulling it out of her hands.

“Will you ever let me read something you’ve written?”

“Aye,” Jamie nodded, hiding the journal behind his back. “But no today, Sassenach.”

“I won’t forget you agreed,” Claire smiled and walked over to the bed, plopping down with a sigh, “God, I could just fall asleep right here, I’m so tired.”

“Then take a nap, Sassenach.” Jamie smiled down at her as he placed her bag near what must be the closet. “We dinna have anythin’ to do.”

“What will you do?” Claire asked as she moved back on the bed.

“I’ll go and see Ian for a bit, visit my horse Donas,” Jamie nodded.

“That sounds nice,” Claire said slowly as her eyes fluttered shut. She didn’t hear Jamie leave the room, but knew that he’d left and she rolled to her side letting sleep take her.

++++++

Jamie had been nervous about introducing Claire to his family. Mainly because it wasn’t the traditional way of things. His father had told him to find a lass and marry her then start a family. Jamie had gotten those things a wee bit out of order.

He left Claire asleep on his bed, curled up on her side with her hand on her stomach. It was a beautiful sight to see, her so round with his child growing inside. At least he hoped it was truly his daughter.

Ian was where Jenny said he’d be in the stables. Young Jamie — named after him — and Maggie were leaning over the gate to feed hay to a horse named Brimstone, a mare with a lot of spirit.

“Och, Jamie lad, tis good to see ye around here. Ye brought her then?”

Nodding, Jamie couldn’t stop the smile that spread over his lips. “Aye, I did. She’s takin’ a nap upstairs. She gets tired a lot as the bairn grows.”

“I ken all about that,” Ian ruffled his hand through Maggie’s curls. Jamie squatted to her height, pinching her cheek.

“How are ye lass? Do ye remember me?”

“Of course I remember you Uncle Jamie, I saw you two weeks ago!” The little girl burst into giggles and Jamie picked her up, throwing her over his shoulder.

“Ye and Claire are havin’ a girl, are ye no?”

“Aye, a wee lassie,” Jamie smiled and then blew a raspberry on the side of Maggie’s stomach, only making her laugh more.

Ian smiled watching his best friend and daughter and then noticed Jamie’s bruised and bandaged hand. “What did ye do this time, man?”

Jamie followed his gaze to his hand and flexed it, still a bit sore. “Claire’s ex,” Jamie’s brows rose and he carefully set Maggie down on her feet and she ran off to where her brother was feeding another horse.

“He came by the other night, demandin’ that Claire come wi’ him and that the bairn was his,” Jamie sighed, crossing his arms tight over his chest.

“Is it his?” Ian asked.

“I dinna ken. Claire is afraid to find out, so I told her we wouldn’t, but it’s killing me,” Jamie’s shoulders sagged with the weight of the pressure he’d been holding up. He wanted to know and very badly, but he didn’t want to push Claire into anything.

“Of course it is,” Ian clapped his hand on his back. “Tis only normal that ye’d want to know if the bairn is yers or not. Will you stay wi’ her, if the lass isna yers?”

Jamie turned to face his brother-in-law, “Of course. I made her a promise that I willna break. She doesn’t have anyone.”

“Just because she doesna have anyone, doesna mean that she must rely only on ye brother,” Ian said, shrugging as he returned to his kids. Jamie knew that Claire was strong and that she didn’t need him. But Jamie wanted Claire to need him — to want him to stay and be with her. And she’d told him as much. But Jamie also wanted to have every part of her and then he remembered that this visit to Lallybroch wasn’t exactly just for Claire to meet his family.

He walked back into the house and upstairs to what had once been his mother and father’s room, but was now Jenny and Ian’s. Jenny had kept all of their Mam’s jewelry and had told Jamie where to find their mother’s wedding ring should he need it.

Jamie found it. A beautiful simple silver band with thistles carved into it and took it from the box and stashed it in his pocket. He didn’t know when, but only hoped there would be a time that he would need it.

Chapter Text

They spent the weekend at Lallybroch, and there were two important conversations that changed everything.

One with Jenny and the other with Jamie.

Claire sat in the kitchen, peeling potatoes while Jenny cut and seasoned the beef. Jenny was a far better cook than Claire was and she now saw where Jamie learned that skill.

“Was it your mother that taught you and Jamie how to cook so well? Dinner last night was delicious!”

“Aye,” Jenny smirked. “She taught us the cookin’, the cleanin’ and how to clickit.”

“Clickit?”

“Knitting, wi’ the needles and such. Do ye no ken how, Claire?” She looked up at her, brow raised in question.

“Um no, that’s not something I ever learned,” Claire shrugged, putting the peels to one side of the table.

“Everyone kens how to clickit!” Wee Jamie chimed from Claire’s feet. He was sitting under the table with his favorite toy cars, moving them in between her feet. Looking down at him, and over her belly, Claire laughed. “Well, I don’t know how. Should I learn?”

“Aye,” the little boy grinned. “Mam will teach ye.”

“I guess that’s something you can show me,” Claire smiled. “Maybe a nice pair of booties for the baby.”

“Och, aye. I can show ye in no time,” Jenny smiled. “Twas Jamie that knit Maggie her first pair of booties. He can probably clickit better than I can.”

“Really?” Claire laughed, her hands pausing on the potato in her hand as she tried to imagine someone like Jamie with a pair of knitting needles in his very large hands.

“Aye, he may look intimidating, but he’s a softie at heart,” Jenny smiled fondly.

“I know that much at least,” Claire agreed. “How many potatoes do we need? I think I’ve got at least ten!”

“That’ll do, should be enough,” Jenny glanced down at the pot. “Do ye mind cuttin’ them too? Then we’ll get them to boil.”

“Of course,” Claire reached for the knife.

“Jamie, will ye go and find yer sister and clean the mess ye made in yer Da’s study? Then I need ye both to wash up for dinner.”

“Aye, Mam,” Young Jamie sighed, crawling out from under the table and went off running down the hallway.

The two women worked in companionable silence for the next while, chopping vegetables and as Claire listened to Jenny humming a mindless tune, she found herself smiling, thinking about coming back here again and again.

“How are ye doin’?” Jenny said and then motioned to her stomach and at Claire’s.

“Oh um,” She glanced down, rubbing her hand over the bump. It was getting bigger by the day. “Mostly tired, but thankfully the morning sickness has mostly stopped. The first few months were pretty rough. I’ve been around a lot of pregnant women at work — Jamie might have told you I’m a doctor?”

Jenny nodded, turning to put the meat into the oven. “Well, I’ve been around a lot of pregnant women, but I never really thought what it would be like to actually be pregnant.”

“Like a fish, tugging on a wee bit of string?” Jenny smiled and came to sit down in front of her. “The moment ye feel that first kick, and ye know that life is growin’ inside of ye, ’tis beautiful.”

“It really is,” Claire smiled. That feeling that her body wasn’t just hers anymore, but that it was a vessel to grow and protect another human life was a huge responsibility. A responsibility that Claire thought she would have planned, but timing hadn’t always been her strong suit.

“Can I ask ye somethin’, Claire?”

“Of course, ask me anything you’d like.”

“Did ye ken about Jamie?” Jenny said seriously, hands folded in front of her on the table. “About the business and everythin’?”

“You mean… did I sleep with him because of his success? Because of his money?” Claire asked, a bit taken aback by her bluntness.

“That is what I’m askin’ ye, and I apologize for it, but he’s my brother ye ken. I canna bear to see his heart ripped to pieces should ye choose ye dinna want him to be a part of the bairns life later on.”

Glancing down, Claire felt a kick from her daughter, as if she was begging to be part of the conversation. To put her two cents into it. Claire had never even thought of telling Jamie to leave — not now.

“Is this because I didn’t tell him for so long?” Jenny’s nod was her answer. “I didn’t tell him,” Claire took a deep breath, “Because I wasn’t sure who the father was and I thought that if I didn’t think about it, then everything would be alright. That if Jamie or Frank never knew then it would just be me and my baby without any complications.”

“Jamie was a complication then?” Jenny’s brow arched, just the same as Jamie’s did when the wheels of his mind were turning furiously.

“Well yes, sort of. Jenny… he was a stranger,” Claire sighed. “I had spent one night with him and the previous night, well — I’d slept with my ex and found out he had been cheating on me for months. I was in a bit of a difficult situation.”

Taking a breath, Jenny then reached out for Claire’s hand and she took it. “Ye said ye weren’t sure who the father was, do ye ken now?”

“No,” Claire shook her head. “I know I can take the paternity test now, but that’s just it.” Tears brimmed to the surface as her throat closed off. “I’m afraid. I’m afraid that she isn’t Jamie’s and I want more than anything for him to be the father.”

Jenny squeezed her hand, making Claire look up at her. “I like ye Claire. And I can tell my brother does too. I only had to ask because I care about him and this bairn yer carrying is my niece after all.”

“I know that,” Claire smiled, wiping a tear off her cheek. “I expected as much, I knew it had been too easy!”

Laughing, Jenny reached across the table, wiping at another tear as it fell down Claire’s face. “Jamie is an honorable man, I ken he would always do right by ye. Ye must know that as well?”

“Oh yes, he’s been so supportive with everything. It makes me wish I had contacted him sooner about all of this,” Claire shrugged, sad that she had been fearful of what Jamie would have said.

“I said that my brother likes ye,” Jenny said with a smirk as she rose from the table. “I’ve seen the way he looks at ye. The way he talks about ye… ’tis more than just a feeling of obligation he has for the bairn.”

Claire dipped her head, cheeks blushing and chest growing hot. Surely Jenny would know her brother well enough to be able to tell these sorts of things.

“Dinna be afraid of what ye feel for him, Claire.”

“Wot?”

“Och, I can see it clear as day on yer face as well. Just dinna wait too long,” Jenny grinned.

Claire finished cutting the potatoes in silence, contemplating everything Jenny had just told her. And it was her words that Claire held in her heart when she found herself alone with Jamie after dinner in the library.

“I read The Lord of the Rings!” She said excitedly as she leaned back against the couch. As Jamie poured himself a dram, Claire tried to shove all thoughts of what had occurred the last time she had been in this very room out of her head.

“Och, did ye like it?”

“Yes, actually. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you had the second one I could borrow.”

“Of course I do,” Jamie grinned and walked over to the bookshelf, reaching for the book and handed it to her as he sat down beside her.

“Thank you,” She smiled, holding it close to her.

“Do ye think the wee one will like to read it someday?”

“Maybe, when she’s older of course. Not too young, it’s a bit violent,” Claire laid the book down between them.

“Och, she can handle it. Maybe when she’s twelve, thirteen? Like me.”

“Perhaps, but she will be reading the classics like Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, oh!” Claire grabbed Jamie’s arm, tugging on his shirt sleeve, “And Harry Potter of course.”

“Of course!” Jamie laughed, nodding in agreement. “Our daughter will be well read.”

Our daughter.

It was the first time either of them had said it — like that. Ours. Not just Claire’s. Not just Jamie’s, but the both of them. Claire was beginning to think there really was something more between them. That the fluttering feeling she had in her stomach right now wasn’t just because of the baby.

“She’ll be the smartest girl in her class.”

“And the prettiest,” Jamie smiled and reached out, placing his hand on her bump.

Gingerly, Claire placed her hand over Jamie’s, squeezing lightly. “Of course, she’ll be known for her brains, not her looks. This is the 21st century after all.”

“Aye, of course, Sassenach. She’s free to do whatever she likes, whether it be a mother, a teacher or a nurse.”

Frowning, Claire looked up at Jamie. “Did you only mention those occupations, because they’re primarily for women or?”

“I didna ken I did,” Jamie shrugged. “Those are jobs that women do, are they no?”

“Well, yes of course and men as well.” Claire shifted, moving so that Jamie’s hand slid from her stomach. “Would you be fine with her wanting to be a policewoman or have a career in sports?”

“Well of course, yes.” Jamie sat up straighter, confused as to how this conversation even happened. “But those are usually jobs that a man does. Surely she will find something more suitable that isna so… so intense.”

“My daughter can bloody do what she pleases and I’ll have no objections,” Claire huffed, trying to stand up from the couch. When she couldn’t get up, Jamie’s hands were at her back, helping her to stand. She turned to look down at him, “Next you’ll be telling me it’s alright to spank her as well.”

As she reached down to pick up the book, feeling that this conversation was going nowhere good, Jamie made a Scottish grunt — almost a laugh.

“Wot does that mean? That sound?” She sneered.

“I was spanked as a lad by my father, Jenny as well. We turned out all right,” he shrugged. “If the lass deserves a slap to her bum, then she’ll get one.”

Claire’s mouth dropped, and she dropped the book back down on the couch. “Not a single hand will be laid on her and that is final. I will choose how she is to be raised.”

“Oh, ye will?” Jamie finally stood to his full height, towering over her. “Do I no have a say in the raising of our daughter anymore? Is that how it’s goin’ to be? I say somethin’ ye dinna like so ye can just cut me out of her life?”

“No, Jamie. Of course not, that’s not what—“

“It sure sounds like it, Claire.” He looked down at her, eyes boring into hers. “I gave ye my oath that I wouldna leave and if I truly am the father of this bairn then I have just as much say in how she’s raised as ye do.”

“I know, I didn’t mean—“ Claire tried to reach for him, but he walked away, hand running back through his curls.

“We dinna have to agree on everythin’, but I have the right to discipline our child as I see fit. If she behaves like a beast, thrashing and cryin’, then she’ll deserve a smack on the bum.”

“Jamie,” Claire said through gritted teeth. “No.”

“No?”

“No!” Claire shouted, turning to head towards the door. “She will not be hit, by you, by me or anyone! I will not have my daughter grow up being spanked by anyone, not a hand will be laid on her!”

“Sassenach,” Jamie took a step towards her, but she flinched.

“Don’t touch me. I don’t think I can talk to you right now. At least not until you’ve come to your senses and changed your mind,” Claire nearly spat out and then turned, leaving Jamie standing in the library, wondering what had gone so wrong.

++++++

The next day was filled with many tense moments. Awkward glances across the dinner table and only a few words spoken between Jamie and Claire for the remainder of the trip. Claire let out a huge sigh of relief whenever Jamie started packing their bags back into the car. She would be sad to say goodbye to Jenny, Ian and their kids for a bit, but she needed some space to think about everything that happened this weekend.

“Dinna hesitate to call or send me a message about anythin’, Claire,” Jenny smiled, hugging her tightly at the bottom of the steps outside.

“I promise I will,” Claire smiled, squeezing her back and then hugged young Jamie and Maggie goodbye as well. “Thank you for having us,” Claire waved and then climbed into the car, her door open and being held by Jamie.

Neither of them spoke a word for the first thirty minutes of the car ride. Claire sat there with her arms folded and resting on her bump. She wouldn’t be the first to speak and she knew that Jamie was as stubborn as they come.

It was Jamie that ended up speaking first.

“Sassenach…”

“Hmmm,” she hummed.

“I havena changed my mind about what we said the other night.”

“Well I haven’t changed my mind either. This is not something that can be negotiated, Jamie. This is a hard pass, my child will not be spanked!” She thought she saw his hands tighten on the wheel of the car whenever she said ‘my child’.

He took a deep breath, his eyes staring straight ahead at the road. “What do ye want from me then? Ye really want me to change my mind?”

Claire scoffed, “Yes. It should be easy to not hit a child.”

“Och,” he tsked, “Ye havena been around young Jamie when he’s screamin’ at the top of his lungs and thrashing about. When the bairn is running circles around ye flingin’ his own poo and ye promised yer sister ye would watch the wee bastard. When ye are around that, sometimes ye do want to smack ‘em. Even just a pat on the bum to make ‘em stop!”

“I was never spanked as a child, I certainly seem to be well behaved,” Claire huffed.

“Oh aye,” Jamie rolled his eyes. “Ye are the most well behaved princess in all the land. Ye always make wise choices such as sleepin’ wi’ a man ye barely ken.”

Claire turned her head sharply, her eyes staring daggers into Jamie’s profile. “That man was you!”

“And I didna ken that ye had just slept wi’ another man!” Jamie nearly spat out, his grip tightening on the wheel in front of him. “Perhaps a loose woman such as yerself shouldna be makin’ all the decisions for a bairn.”

“Jesus Christ,” Claire gasped. “Drive faster. I want you to drop me off at my house.”

“I thought ye were comin’ over to mine for dinner?”

“You think I would come over to your house for dinner after that load of bullshit you just spewed at me?” Claire rolled her eyes, biting the inside of her cheek to keep herself from crying.

“Fine,” was all Jamie said and then he pressed on the gas, desperate himself to return back to Edinburgh.

Less than an hour later, Jamie pulled up in front of Claire’s building, put the car in park and climbed out to get her bags. He opened her door for her without a word and then proceeded to walk in front of her towards the building with the car still running.

Claire glanced at him from the corner of her eye as they rode up the elevator together. This weekend was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be relaxing and full of learning things about Jamie and getting to know the people he loved. Instead, Claire came back feeling more confused about them than ever.

“Have a goodnight, Claire.” He sat her bags down in the entryway of the flat after she unlocked the door. Jamie turned on his heel and ran back into the open elevator, his head hung low.

They had been spending so much time together, Claire never thought they would find anything to disagree on, but this? This was something she would hold firm to and wouldn’t budge. Claire only hoped that Jamie would come around to her way of things because it wouldn’t be her to make the first call.

Chapter Text

September 22nd, 2019

It had been nearly a month and a half since Jamie had dropped off Claire after their fateful weekend at Lallybroch. They had exchanged a few brief messages and had met once for dinner nearly a week later, but things were on thin ice.

Claire didn’t want to fight — she didn’t want to feel this way about Jamie. She had just been allowing herself to feel something for him and then their conversation about how to raise their daughter wrecked it all.

It didn’t matter to her that Jamie had been beaten as a child by his own father — that was not going to happen to her daughter. The thought of anyone laying a hand on her child made her furious and it only hurt her thinking that Jamie was perfectly fine with it.

She knew it was ridiculous to keep fighting about this for so long, especially since Jamie had already missed out on the first five months of the pregnancy. Also, Claire missed Jamie dearly. She missed texting him when she felt the baby kick, or calling him after work to hear about his day. It was during this time of separation, that Claire realized how much she needed him after all.

After she had come back from Lallybroch, Geillis had asked her all about her weekend getaway.

“How did it go with his family? Were they nice?”

“They were lovely,” Claire smiled. “I met his sister and brother-in-law, their kids and then Murtagh, Jamie’s godfather.”

“Aye, what else?” Geillis leaned forward on the couch, sipping her cup of chamomile tea.

“It started out well…” Claire looked down, her fingers worrying a stain on her jeans.

“Did it no end well then?”

“No,” Claire sniffed. “We had a fight. Jamie and I.”

“Oh, Claire,” Geillis reached out her hand, laying it over Claire’s. “I’m sure ye’ll be just fine. Ye two havena fought yet, it was bound to happen.”

“Yes, but this isn’t something either of us is likely to get over.”

“Och, ye canna just leave it there, spill it lass!”

Claire ran her hand over her forehead, pushing her curls back from her face. Perhaps if she just said it all out loud, it would sound ridiculous and then Claire could move on and call Jamie.

“I had a really lovely conversation with his sister, Jenny about Jamie’s feelings toward me and mine towards him. That was fine — gave me plenty to think about. But then later that evening, Jamie and I got to talking about our daughter and how we would raise her.” Geillis nodded, a sign for her to continue. “He said that she would be the prettiest girl and that she would be a great nurse or teacher — all jobs that women normally do.”

“Aye, and men.”

“Yes and men!” Claire laughed. “Well, I told him how men do those jobs as well and if he would let our daughter do a job a man normally does. He said he would, but he wouldn’t prefer it. That wasn’t the issue… the issue,” Claire took a breath, “Is that he sees no problem with spanking our child if she misbehaves. I’ll have no part in that!”

“Jamie would hit the lass?”

“If she was acting up or crying, he said he would give her a tap on the bum,” Claire rolled her eyes. “He went on and on about how as a lad he was hit by his own father. And I know he wasn’t saying he would beat our child black and blue, but it’s just the thought…”

“Well, tis a bit different wi’ the lassies. I’m sure his father didna spank his sister as hard as he beat Jamie.”

“You think Jamie’s father would have spanked Jenny as well?” Claire gasped a bit at that.

“Aye, I do. I wasna hit by my own parents, they were too much of hippies to be doin’ that,” Geillis smiled. “But I wouldna doubt it.”

“Hmmm,” Claire sighed. “I’m sure I’m blowing this way out of proportion…”

“Maybe ye should call Jamie’s sister and find out what she thinks. Maybe tis just Jamie’s way of thinkin’, but maybe tis a Fraser was of thinkin’…”

“Perhaps,” Claire said and took a long sip of her tea, mulling over the weekends conversations yet again.

It was Jenny’s number that Claire was dialing now. She should have called earlier, but as usual, life got in the way and Claire seemed to be a professional procrastinator. Jenny answered after the third ring.

“Hello?” Came the soft Scottish lilt.

“Hi, Jenny. This is Claire… Beauchamp.”

“Claire! ’Tis good to hear from ye, I was just thinkin’ of ye the other day in fact.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner or that I haven’t been back to see you and the children,” Claire said sadly.

“Aye, tis alright lass,” Jenny said. “Jamie told me that ye two got into a fight, but he didna say what about. I take it that is what yer calling about now?”

“Yes it is. It’s a bit of an awkward subject though.”

“Shoot. I’m an open book,” Jenny said.

Claire checked her watch, she still had an hour before she needed to be at work, one of her last shifts before she went on maternity leave. She wasn’t really doing a lot of work these days, mostly just checking patients files and doing busy work — anything to keep her mind occupied.

“Jamie and I got into a disagreement about how to raise our daughter. About… whether or not we should punish our child physically.”

“Ah, so he told ye how Da used to spank him?”

“Yes, and I can’t agree with it at all. I was hoping for your insight on the matter.”

“Jamie was a troublesome lad, him and Ian both got into fights with the neighbor lads. Those two were thick as thieves, still are,” Jenny chuckled on the other end. “When they got into too much trouble, then my Da would take the strap to both of them, ten whacks each.”

“Did he ever spank you?”

“Only when I was verra young, Claire. And never like he did wi’ Jamie — my Da was a sensitive man and I kent it pained him to have to even hit Jamie.”

“But then why did he do it?” Claire asked, trying to understand.

Jenny was silent a moment on the other end and then spoke, “I think he felt it was the only way Jamie would learn. I also ken that my Da said that it should hurt him too, to have to punish Jamie in such a way. Our Da didna beat us black and blue if that’s what yer askin’, Claire. He was a just man, but a kind one too.”

Claire sighed, knowing that Jamie had never said he would beat their daughter, but only a smack on the bum every now and then. It still didn’t sit well with her, however.

“May I ask what all Jamie said to ye exactly?”

“He said that if she was misbehaving or crying, then he wouldn’t hesitate to give her a wee pat on the bum,” Claire smiled, recalling the sound of his voice — she missed him, even if he had been a bit of a dick to her.

“It sounds to me that Jamie willna take a strap to the lass, only use his hand when he sees fit and Claire…” Jenny said. “Sometimes tis all ye want to do when they’re screamin’ at the top o’ their lungs. When tis just ye and them, a face off and ye want so badly to just smack ‘em. Ye love them of course, no doubt. But can ye maybe see where Jamie is coming from? Tis just how he was raised.”

Claire nodded and then remembered that Jenny couldn’t see her, “Yes. I think I do. At least I’m beginning to.” She hadn’t changed her mind, she didn’t want her daughter to be hit — ever, but perhaps her and Jamie could now have a more civilized conversation about this. Too much time had passed and she didn’t want to waste another moment. “Thank you, Jenny. There was, however one other thing Jamie said…”

“Aye, what now?” Claire could hear the smirk in her voice.

“Well I think he’s upset that — that I slept with someone else, he called me a loose woman and said how I shouldn’t be making decisions since I wasn’t wise about that,” Claire rushed out. “I mean, I did also say the baby was mine, Christ, Jenny…”

“Sounds like two stubborn people that said a bunch of things that they didna mean,” Jenny sighed. “Ian and I have said a fair share of things in the heat of the moment that were none so kind, even if we did maybe feel they were true.”

“Right!” Claire ran her hand back through her curls, starting to feel a bit better about things. “I know Jamie didn’t mean it, at least I hope he didn’t, because I didn’t mean what I said… we’re still just getting to know each other and I wish more than anything I could just be open, as open as he’s been with me.”

“Claire, ye two are in a tricky situation. I ken my brother and I ken that he’s as stubborn as a bull and we get into fights of our own from time to time. And I also know that he’s probably beating himself up about what he said to ye,” Jenny said.

“I know I am,” Claire took a deep breath. “Well, thank you, Jenny. You’ve given me a lot to think about, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about this.”

“Anytime, Claire. I mean it, yer part of the family now whether ye like it or not.”

“I’ll let you go then,” Claire smiled. “I think I need to call Jamie and sort some things out.”

“Aye, sounds like ye do. Goodbye, Claire. Hopefully we’ll see ye and the wee bairn soon!”

Claire hung up the phone and let out a deep sigh. Just past the eight month mark, Claire was growing tired of being pregnant. She was impatient to meet her daughter and also so physically uncomfortable — it was nearly impossible to find any position that didn’t hurt her back.

Too tired to move, and with too many thoughts racing in her head, Claire shut her eyes and dozed off, only waking hours later to the sound of Geillis coming home.

“I see yer playin’ hooky now,” Geillis said softly as she stood over Claire whose eyes were opening slowly.

“Oh Christ!” Claire tried to sit up, but her belly was making that rather hard to do. “I overslept! What time is it?”

“It’s just past five pm, lass. When ye didna show up after twenty minutes, we all assumed ye’d fallen asleep,” Geillis laughed. “No one’s mad at ye, dinna fast about it.”

“Thank God,” Claire relaxed once again back into the chair, then the baby started pushing on her bladder. “Can you help me up, Geillis? I need a wee.”

“Aye,” Geillis came over to her, holding out both hands.

As Claire stood up from the couch, a wetness came from between her legs. “What the bloody hell? Have I wet myself or…”

“Did yer water just break?!” Geillis looked down between them at the puddle on the floor.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! It did!”

++++++

Jamie had been going mad thinking about Claire and his daughter. Were they alright? Did they need anything? He had been keeping in touch with Geillis for updates over the past month or so since he knew Claire wouldn’t want to speak with him.

He knew what he had said to Claire in the car was wrong, he’d just been so angry and had held in so many feelings about the pregnancy. Before he even knew what he was saying, the words just came flying out and he regretted them immediately.

Work had been slow and he had managed to accomplish next to nothing with worry over Claire and the baby. It was nearly 5pm, time to head home for the day.

His phone started buzzing in his pocket and he hoped it was Claire, he desperately wanted to see her. When he saw the caller I.D. his heart panicked a little — Geillis.

“Hello?”

“Jamie? It’s me Geillis.”

“I ken tis ye, Geillis,” Jamie chuckled. “Why are ye callin’? Is everything alright?”

“It’s Claire,” the woman said and Jamie nearly dropped the phone. “She’s gone into labor and well, ye ken the babe wasna due for another few weeks. I’ve just driven her to the hospital, this is the first chance I’ve found to call ye.”

“She’s already at the hospital?” Jamie said and rose from his chair, looking around for his keys.

“Aye, the same we work at, ye’ll ken where it is then?”

“Yes, I do. Geillis, tell Claire I’m on my way! I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Jamie said quickly into the phone and then flew out the door, shouting about Claire having the baby as he passed an odd faced Murtagh.

It was too early. Several weeks early.

Just wait, Sassenach. I’m coming.

Chapter Text

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! It did!” Claire gasped.

“I guess ye’ll be goin’ in to work after all,” Geillis smiled. “Do ye have yer bag to take to the hospital?”

“Yes, but it’s not finished!” Claire started to panic. The baby wasn’t due for at least three more weeks. It was close enough to the due date, that everything should be fine, but it was still early — early enough to cause worry.

“Stay here, tell me what else ye need and I’ll pack somethin’ quick!” Geillis raced to Claire’s room to pack her bag.

“I’ll need a change of clothes, and then the baby clothes for her should be sitting on the chair in the corner of the room. Oh Christ,” Claire’s hands started to tremble. This was really happening now. Of course she knew one day she would hold her baby girl in her arms, but today was now that day — it had all happened so fast.

She should call Jamie. Claire looked around for her phone, but couldn’t see it anywhere — it must have fallen when she’d gotten up from the couch. No matter what kind of argument they had had, Claire needed Jamie to be there for the birth.

Geillis rushed back into the living room, her red hair flying around her face, green eyes wide. “Alright lass, I’ve got a bag packed best I could. It’s time to have a baby!”

“Can you— OH!” Claire doubled over, a contraction making every previous thought leave her head as she groaned through the pain. “Bloody hell, that hurt!”

“Tis goin’ to get a lot worse, I’m afraid,” Geillis said sympathetically.

It took some time, but eventually, Geillis had managed to help Claire into the car and buckle her in. There was a bit of traffic, a wreck on the other side of the road, but they finally arrived at the hospital.

“Only for ye, Claire Beauchamp would I come back to work after my shift has ended,” Geillis joked.

Claire half laughed, half barked as she was placed in a wheelchair and wheeled inside. She reached for her friends hand, squeezing it hard as another contraction came. When it was over, she took a deep breath, looking up at Geillis. “Call Jamie, please.”

“Aye, I will lass. I’ll see ye settled into yer room first,” Geillis smiled and bent down, kissing her on the forehead.

Admitted into her room shortly after, Claire closed her eyes, trying to focus on her breathing. Her and Jamie had attended several lamaze classes and she laughed now, remembering.

“The cervix will dilate to 10 cm, that’s when it will come time to push,” the instructor said. Claire of course, knew all of this being a doctor and having gone to medical school, but it was one thing to know it and another altogether to experience it sometime in the near future.

“The baby will move further down the birth canal and then out of the vagina. It sounds rather simple, but ladies,” the instructor said, looking all around the room. “Ye should expect a fair amount of pain and some rippin’ down there.”

“Ripping?” Jamie gasped beside Claire, his face horror stricken. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”

“Oh yes, it’ll be quite a mess,” Claire looked at him, noticing how his face was looking rather pale.

“Jenny has had three bairns, but she didna say anythin’ about rippin’ um… down there,” Jamie said bashfully.

“I don’t expect her to tell her brother those sorts of things,” Claire laughed. She was almost six months along and they’d finally found out they were having a girl. Claire wasn’t planning on going to any of these classes, but thought it best to at least attend one so that Jamie knew what he was getting himself into.

“Nah, Jenny has nay problem tellin’ me anythin’,” Jamie chuckled. “I was there for all three of her bairns births. Not in the room, mind ye, but I heard the screamin’.”

“Do ye think ye’ll scream, Sassenach?” Jamie asked her, holding out both hands to help her off the ground to leave for the night.

“Oh you bloody bet I will,” Claire laughed. “You try pushing out an eight pound human being through a small hole and we’ll see how much you scream!”

Jamie winced at the thought, his hand reflexively going over his stomach. Claire noticed and reached for his hand, “It’s a good thing you don’t have to do that then, just me.”

“Och, lass,” Jamie’s face softened and he cupped her cheek. “I wish I could take the pain away from ye though. I’d do anythin’ so that ye wouldna feel it.”

“That is what an epidural is for,” Claire smirked.

++++++

“Did you call him?” Claire asked the second that Geillis walked back into the room.

“Aye, just got off the phone, he said he was on his way.”

“How did he sound?”

“Sounded a wee bit nervous,” Geillis smiled. “That wee fox of yers is a good man, Claire. I ken tis not been easy for the both of ye… all of this, but just think, it could be Frank that’s here by yer side instead.”

Frank Randall. Claire hadn’t thought of him in quite some time. In fact, she hadn’t thought of him since he had come over to her house that evening and Jamie had punched him, well a few punches. The only thing Claire thought of was her baby and Jamie. The only two things she needed.

“I hope he gets here soon,” Claire sighed. Another contraction came and Claire shut her eyes, moaning through it.

“It looks like we’ve got a long night ahead of us,” Geillis smiled, pulling her chair up next to Claire.

An hour later, Claire was only 4cm dilated and Jamie still wasn’t there.

“You did call him right? Jamie Fraser? Possible father of my child?”

“Aye, I did. He said he was leaving work and would come right away. The lad works not far from here?”

“Yes, just a few miles away actually,” Claire took a deep breath, placing her hand on her stomach. She tried not to think of the worst possible outcome, but she couldn’t help it. Jamie lying dead in a ditch, or run off the road. Or perhaps even worst of all was maybe he had changed his mind and he didn’t want to be there — with her and the baby.

“He’ll be here, lass.” Geillis smiled, but Claire could see she was worried too. “I’ll try callin’ him again.”

Claire watched as her friend dialed Jamie’s number, anxiously waiting for him to pick up. The phone quickly went to voicemail, “I think his phone’s dead.”

“Where the hell are you Jamie Fraser!” Claire half shouted through another contraction.

Another hour passed and still… no sign of Jamie.

“It’s been two bloody fucking hours, surely he could have walked here in that time,” Claire rolled her eyes. The worse possible scenario of Jamie not wanting to be there with her was now seeming the most likely. “Christ, I can’t just lay here. I need to do something.”

“Ye can take a walk,” the nurse in her room said. “Yer only 5cm dilated, and sometimes walkin’ helps to speed things along.”

“Help me up, Geillis. We’re going for a walk,” Claire held out her hands. With grunting and moaning, Claire was on both her feet, making her way slowly down the hall. Her back ached and her stomach felt like it was going to explode. All she wanted was her baby girl and Jamie — in the reverse order.

“What if—“ Claire started, tears springing to her eyes.

“Dinna go there, Claire. Dinna let yer mind go to bad places,” her friend squeezed her hand.

“But where is he? What could have happened to make him two hours late?”

They continued walking down the hall, one slow step at a time. “I dinna ken, but he will be here, I know it.”

Claire was just about to open her mouth and say ask how Geillis could possibly know that, when she looked up and saw a bright red flash of hair. Taller than everyone else, Jamie towered over them, his face red and his eyes wide.

“Jamie!” Claire shouted down the hall making everyone look at her.

“Claire!” Jamie saw her, his blue eyes locking on hers and then made his way through the throng of doctors, patients and nurses, jogging slightly to where she was waiting for him.

“I’m so sorry, Sassenach,” Jamie huffed and Claire noticed he was a bit sweaty as he ran his hand back through his hair. “I left just after Geillis called me, but there was a six car pile up on the highway and I couldna get out! I tried everythin’… I even tried to get out of my car to run here, but the police wouldna let me just leave my car.”

Claire reached out her hand for him, holding onto it tightly. Tears fell from her eyes at the relief she felt of touching him. “It doesn’t matter, you’re here now.”

“Oh, Claire,” Jamie took a step forward, wrapping his arms around her, his own tears flowing freely. “I missed ye so much.”

“I missed you too,” Claire cried, burying her face in his chest. “Don’t ever leave me again.”

“Aye, as long as ye dinna leave me,” Jamie laughed as he bent his head to kiss her forehead.

“Come on ye lovebirds, we should get Claire back to her room,” Geillis snorted.

Together, all three of them made their way back to the hospital room, tucking Claire safely back in bed. This time as a contraction came, Claire reached out for Jamie, squeezing his hand as tight as she could.

“Ifrinn! Ye’ve a tight grip on ye,” Jamie winced, shaking his hand after Claire let go.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Claire laughed, feeling a light sheen of sweat break out on her forehead.

“Sassenach—“ Jamie said softly a moment later, his head bowed. “I’m sorry.”

“Good,” Claire said and Jamie popped his head up, mouth open to reply, but Claire held up her finger. “Good… because I am too. For everything.”

“Ye’ve nothin’ to be sorry for, Claire. ’Twas me that said awful things to ye, and wouldn’t see yer side of things. I’ll ask yer forgiveness for what I said, I was sore and I said more than I meant.  I willna hit our daughter, even if she deserves a wee tap every now and then,” Jamie smirked.

Claire held his hand, this time not as tight and brought it over to rest on her stomach. “Thank you, Jamie. For understanding. But I was rather foolish about the whole thing and I talked with Jenny earlier today actually about your upbringing, and while I still don’t agree with hitting a child — I think I might be able to understand just a little bit more. She told me that sometimes all I’ll want to do is smack their bum when they’re misbehaving,” she breathed deeply. “Of course I forgive you.”

Jamie nodded, his body still tensed. “I’ll do anythin’ ye want, Claire. Just as long as I can have ye and the bairn in my life. Whatever ye say goes.”

Claire laughed, bringing her hand up to cup Jamie’s cheek. “We both get a say, Jamie. She is our daughter after all. I don’t want you to just agree with everything I want. There will be times that a decision is made that one of us doesn’t like… just as long as we both come to that decision together.”

“Aye,” Jamie’s voice cracked. “Together.”

“There’s three of us now,” Claire smiled. “And I want you with me for every single day of our daughter’s life.”

++++++

Two more hours and a few more centimeters dilated and Claire was exhausted. It was nearly ten pm and she just wanted to push.

“How much longer?” Claire asked the doctor once again as he was checking on her.

“Och, ye’ve got just two centimeters to go, hang in there lass,” the doctor smiled kindly and then left the room to check on his other patients.

Geillis had left a little bit ago to grab some food for her and Jamie, so it was just Claire and Jamie together now, sitting and waiting.

“Claire,” Jamie said softly, scooting his chair a bit closer to her bed.

“Hmm?” Claire said with her eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply.

“I’ve been wonderin’ about somethin’ for awhile now…”

This made Claire’s eyes pop open and she looked at his face, red as his hair and a small smile forming on his lips. “And?”

“I ken we’ve got things a bit backwards now, wi’ the baby first and everythin’, but well… I was thinkin’ as how it would be nice for the lassie to have a proper Mam and Da,” he said with his eyes firmly on hers.

“Are you… are you proposing, Jamie?”

Jamie smiled then, “Would you say yes, if I was?”

Claire’s heart nearly leapt out of her chest at his words. They had never fully admitted their feelings to one another, but they were there — just on the surface waiting to bubble over.

“I think…” Claire said, squeezing both of Jamie’s hands. “That sounds like a good plan.”

“So it’s a yes?” Jamie’s eyebrows rose.

Nodding, Claire felt a tear spill down her cheek, “It’s a yes, Jamie!”

“Oh, Sassenach!” Jamie stood from his chair with a screech of the wood on the tile floor. He cupped both of Claire’s cheeks and paused, his face just a breath away from hers. “I’ve been wanting to say this to ye from the moment I laid eyes on ye…”

“Say it,” Claire whispered.

“I love ye, Sassenach. I love ye so much,” Jamie kissed her, his heart beating fast as if wasn’t able to contain the joy he felt.

“I love you, Jamie,” Claire said in between kisses. It was a wet kiss from both of their tears, a saltiness on both of their lips. “I love you, I love you,” she repeated.

Jamie held her face and then slid his hands down along her shoulders, as the kiss deepened. Claire arched up suddenly, accidentally biting down on his lip as a contraction came.

“Ow!” Jamie shouted, pulling back and placing his hand on his bleeding lip. Claire shut her eyes, groaning at the pain before falling back against the pillows as it passed.

“I’m sorry!” She said and then started to laugh.

“Nah,” Jamie wiped at his mouth. “Tis alright, mo nighean donn.” Jamie then turned and reached for something in his jacket that was hanging over the back of his chair. He pulled out a small blue velvet bag with drawstrings.

“I ken it might no fit just now,” Jamie nodded at her fingers which in fact had swollen up rapidly through the evening. “But I want ye to have this,” Jamie brought out his mother’s silver ring, the one he had been holding onto for months.

“It’s beautiful, Jamie…” Claire said softly, admiring it. He attempted to slide it over her ring finger, but it wouldn’t go past the knuckle. Laughing, Claire took it off and slide it over her pinky finger. “There. It’ll do for now. I’ll have to take it off in a bit though.”

“Aye, I just wanted to see it on ye,” Jamie smiled and then picked up her hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the finger with the ring on it. “’Twas my mother’s ring.”

“I love it, Jamie. I love you,” she smiled. Claire thought that she could say ‘I love you’ one hundred times a day to Jamie and it still wouldn’t be enough.

“And I you,” Jamie said and leaned up to kiss her. “I’ll never be away from ye ever again. I canna bear it. It almost killed me the past two months.”

“Me too,” Claire said sadly. “But we have time now, and soon we’ll have our daughter.”

“Speaking of,” Jamie glanced down at her stomach. “Have ye thought of any names for the lass?”

“I have one in mind actually,” Claire bit her lip. “Madeline.”

“Madeline Fraser,” Jamie tried it out on his lips. “Madeline Elizabeth Fraser.”

“It’s perfect,” Claire smiled. “A perfect name for a perfect baby girl.”

“Who I canna wait to meet verra soon,” Jamie bent his head, placing a gentle kiss to Claire’s stomach. “It’s time ye come out wee one, time to meet yer parents.”

“I bloody hope it’s soon!” Claire sighed and laid her head back on the pillow.

It was soon. Another hour passed and finally, Claire had dilated to 10 cm and the doctor instructed her it was time to push. All in all the actual giving birth part didn’t take terribly long. Jamie stood by Claire’s side, holding her hand, allowing her to squeeze it as tight as she needed. Claire screamed like she never had before, sweat dripping down her face, her body doing what it was designed to — everything was suddenly simple.

At one point, Jamie had walked around to look between her legs at their daughter and his face had immediately turned white. “Oh Christ,” he muttered, quickly joining Claire back at her side.

With a final push and a scream loud enough to wake the whole floor, Madeline Elizabeth Fraser came into the world, crying as she left her mother’s womb.

Jamie cut the cord, and immediately she was brought to lie on Claire’s chest. “Oh,” Claire said softly as she looked at her beautiful daughter with a small tuft of red hair.

“Oh,” Jamie echoed her and then that was all it took for his knees to give out and he fell to the floor, his head falling onto the bed as he began to weep.

All doubt was erased from Claire’s brain and she joined Jamie in weeping at the sight of their daughter. She was beautiful and she was all theirs.

Chapter Text

The hours after Madeline’s birth passed slowly. As if time had frozen. Jamie laid next to Claire in the small hospital bed, barely enough room for the both of them. Madeline lay sound asleep on Claire’s chest, and both of them couldn’t take their eyes off her.

“She really is perfect,” Claire whispered, her thumb stroking her small pink cheek.

“Aye, she is mo ghraidh.” Jamie turned slightly, bringing them both closer to him, holding them both in his arms. Bending his head down, Jamie placed a gentle kiss to his daughter’s head and a small smile broke out on her lips.

“She’s smiling!” Claire whispered excitedly.

“Jenny says I do that in my sleep,” Jamie said, watching his daughter.

“Jamie,” Claire said softly and she turned her head slightly to look at him. “I love you. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. And… well, I’m just glad it’s you.”

Jamie kissed her deeply, “I’m no goin’ anywhere, lass. Yer stuck wi’ me now.”

Laughing, Claire kissed him and then laid her head against his chest. “I think we should do a paternity test though, just to be sure,” she looked up at him.

“The red hair is a dead giveaway,” Jamie smirked, cupping Madeline’s head. “But it would give me peace of mind and I’m sure ye as well.”

“Now we just have to get Frank to agree to one,” Claire rolled her eyes. “I’m sure he’ll be demanding that she’s his no matter the outcome.”

“Frank canna have ye, nor can he have Madeline,” Jamie kissed her forehead. “Yer my lasses and I will never let ye go, no matter what.”

Together as a family, they fell asleep for the next several hours until they woke to the squirming and gurgling of Madeline in between them.

“Someone’s hungry,” Claire said and moved her to her breast. It took a few tries, but thankfully Madeline latched on to her nipple and began to suck. It was an odd sensation, but a beautiful sight no doubt to look down into her daughter’s beautiful eyes. “Jamie,” Claire said. “I think she had your Fraser cat eyes too, I wonder if she has anything of me!”

Jamie laughed at that and looked over at Madeline — cat eyes, red hair and smiled in her sleep, a Fraser through and through. “She has yer fair skin, Sassenach.”

“Well she’s a baby,” Claire snorted. “She’s not goin’ to come out bronzed and tanned.”

“Aye, of course no. She has yer lungs though, that’s for sure… did ye hear her screamin’ and wailin’ when she came out of ye? Yeesh!”

“Ha ha, very funny, Jamie,” Claire narrowed her eyes at him. “If I hadn’t just given birth and you hadn’t just proposed to me hours ago, I would punch you.”

“I’d like to see ye try, Sassenach,” Jamie smirked, his lips hovering just inches away from hers.

She closed the distance first, pressing her lips against his, then moaned as his tongue slid between her lips. Sighing, Claire cupped his cheek, feeling the scruff of his cheek. She had wanted to kiss him like that for so long, ever since they’d had that first night together. Now she felt a bit silly for having waited all this time to be with him, but it was better late than never.

Jamie pulled back, his eyes dark and Claire saw a look of love and lust staring back at her.

“Jamie,” she said breathless.

“I ken,” he sighed and laid his head back on the pillow. “We must wait at least two months. Well yer doctor did say six weeks, but I ken ye said ye’d feel more comfortable wi’ eight weeks.”

Claire laughed, momentarily looking down to switch Madeline to her other breast and then returned her attention back to a restless Jamie. “Tis been nearly nine months ye ken,” Jamie looked up at her. “I just… I want ye so much, Claire.”

“I want you too, Jamie. God I want you, but now we have to wait. Just because we can’t have sex though, doesn’t mean we can’t kiss,” she said shyly.

“Oh aye, I ken that,” Jamie leaned up onto his elbow. “I plan on doin’ a lot of that at a later time.” Just as Jamie leaned up to kiss her again, Madeline came off Claire’s breast with a small ‘ahh’ sound, one of complete satisfaction. They both looked down at her, seeing how she smiled again as she fell back into a deep sleep.

“I think this parenting thing is going to be a piece of cake with this sleepy baby,” Claire laughed. Jamie reached out and touched her tiny hand with his finger. Madeline opened her hand, taking his finger and holding onto it.

“We’ve plenty of restless nights ahead of us, Sassenach. Tis only the beginning,” Jamie said. “A new beginning for us all.”

“A fresh start,” Claire echoed his thoughts and leaned her forehead against his. It was them against the world now and nothing would stand in their way. A year ago, they didn’t even know each other, and now they had a beautiful daughter and a firm foundation of love between them.

Hours later, when it wasn’t the middle of the night, Geillis dropped by to check in on them, followed by Jenny, Ian and Murtagh who all came to meet the newest member of the family.

“What did ye call her?” Murtagh asked, smiling down at their daughter in his big arms.

“Madeline Elizabeth Fraser,” Claire smiled.

“Fraser?” Jenny said, her brows raising.

“Oh yes,” Jamie smirked and then reached back into his pocket, pulling out the ring, sliding it back onto Claire’s pinky finger. “We’re gettin’ marrit.”

“Marrit?” Jenny said, surprised. “It’s about damn time!”

Everyone cheered quietly so not to disturb Madeline with too much commotion and came over to hug both Claire and Jamie. It was a happy day, one of the happiest days of Claire’s life that she would always remember.

For so long, she had closed off her heart — not allowing herself to fully love Jamie. Now it seemed she was overflowing with love, for her daughter, for Jamie and for all of her new family.

Madeline was gently passed around for the next several hours to all her new family members. Thankfully she was asleep for most of it, but when Murtagh held her in his arms, she took one look up at the grisly man’s face and let out a howling cry.

“Ah Dhia!” Murtagh cursed under his breath and walked quickly back over to hand her to Claire. “She doesna like the beard.”

“Probably thinks yer a bear or something,” Jamie laughed.

“She hasn’t even seen a bear ye wee numptie,” Murtagh hit him on the arm.

The next day, the Fraser’s got the all clear to leave the hospital. This was it, out into the real world. Claire was terrified, not only did she now have a baby in her arms, but Jamie was the one holding her heart.

It took some time and a few colorful Gaelic words, but Jamie managed to fasten Madeline’s carrier into the car. She was dressed in the cutest little pink onesie that Jamie’s sister had picked out. It was time to go home.

But as they started driving, Claire realized that they weren’t taking the route back to her home, the one she had been sharing with Geillis.

“Where are we going? You missed the turn…”

“Did ye really think ye and the bairn would be stayin’ wi’ Geillis?”

“I… well, I didn’t really think that far ahead, you know. I suppose with everything that’s been going on, I thought she would just sleep in her crib for at least the first few months, she doesn’t need a room or anything.” Claire glanced over at Jamie, one hand on the wheel.

“Aye, she does need her own room and I ken just the place.”

“What?” Claire asked him, but he wouldn’t say more, he only kept his eyes on the road ahead, driving throughout the city. A little later, they pulled up in front of a house, and it occurred to Claire just then that she had never been to Jamie’s place. “Is this yours?”

“Aye,” he smiled as he shut off the car. “I’ve got a wee surprise for ye. Both of ye.”

Jamie picked up Madeline, not bothering with her carrier for now and then took Claire’s hand, leading her up the stairs. Releasing her hadn’t briefly to unlock the door, Jamie then took it again and pushed the door open.

It was a lovely home. White walls, decorated with beautiful portraits and landscapes. It wasn’t perfectly clean either, but a home well lived in and loved. So unlike the home she shared with Frank — with not a thing out of place. There were stairs that led to the second floor that Jamie was now walking up and Claire followed closely behind — the tour would come later.

“That’s my room,” Jamie nodded his head down the hall to the left, but turned right instead towards another door. “And this…” he pushed it open with his foot. “This is Madeline’s room.”

Claire took a step forward, her eyes darting around the room. It was a nursery — fit with a crib, rocking chair and all the soft new baby things. The walls were covered with a light pink wallpaper with giant peonies taking up the space.

“Jamie…” Claire looked at him, words failing.

“I meant to tell ye, to ask ye to properly move in wi’ me months ago, but…” he trailed off. “I’m askin’ ye now.”

“Well of course I’ll move in with you!” Claire laughed. “You asked me to marry you didn’t you?”

“Aye,” Jamie chuckled. “I did that.”

“It’s beautiful, Jamie. Did you do all of this by yourself?” She asked as she walked over to the crib along the wall.

“I asked Geillis for some ideas of what ye might like and such, but I put everything together myself, ye ken,” he said proudly and came to stand by her. Gently, he placed Madeline down in her crib. She stretched her little arms and legs, adjusting to her new surroundings.

“She seems to like it alright,” Claire smiled down at her.

“There’s somethin’ else I want to show ye,” Jamie grabbed her hand and led her back out into the hallway and down to the door he had pointed out earlier, his room — their room.

“Oooo, very nice,” Claire smiled as she looked around the room. It was simple and neat. Very masculine and Claire couldn’t wait to bring her touch to the place, to settle in and help make it their home. “A very nice big bed you have there.”

“I’m a verra big man, ye ken,” Jamie smirked and walked over to the bed, sitting on the edge. He opened his arms to Claire and she sat on his lap, hooking her arms around his neck. “Oh God, Claire… I want ye so much I can scarcely breathe.”

“Not yet, my lad,” Claire said softly as she leaned in to kiss him. Jamie’s grip tightened on her waist and he leaned back on the bed, taking her with him. They lay there, kissing and touching, laughing and sighing — content to be in each other’s arms at last.

++++++

The next month was filled with late nights and early mornings. Time seemed to slip through their fingers from one feeding to the next. It was one night after Claire had finally put Madeline to sleep that she remembered they still need to request the paternity test.

“Have ye found the place?” Jamie asked, brushing his teeth.

“Yes, it’s called Hawkins Lab, it’s one of the places recommended at the hospital. I can call them tomorrow,” Claire walked into the bathroom, placing a kiss on Jamie’s shoulder. “Then I just have to contact… Frank.”

“Will ye call him? Or see him in person?”

“Call him, definitely. You’re working all this week and that would mean I would have to take Madeline with me to see him and that is not happening.”

“Do you think he’ll argue wi’ ye?”

“Probably not,” Claire squeezed out a bit of toothpaste onto her toothbrush. “You saw how he was months ago, drunk, but he’s always wanted a child. He’ll leap at the chance to have one.”

Jamie was quiet as they both finished brushing their teeth and then he turned to Claire once she rinsed her mouth out, wrapping his arms around her.

“No matter what happens, Jamie… you will have some rights as my husband,” Claire kissed him, minty and fresh. “But I know it, in my soul — I know that you are her father.”

“If ye say so,” Jamie smiled softly and held her for a long while, fearing that everything was going to change with the results.

++++++

1 month later…

“Sassenach?”

“Hmmm?” Claire glanced over at Jamie who had laid his book on his chest.

“Are ye tired?” He asked, his fingers tapping against the book.

“Always,” she laughed. “Why do you ask?”

His cheeks blushed pink, as did the tips of his ears. “Well… not that I’ve been countin’ the days, but today Madeline is two months old now.”

“Two months already?” Claire smiled as she let her own book fall against her chest. Two months of crying and wiping spit up off clean shirts. It had been the most exhausting two months of their lives, but they wouldn’t change a thing.

They had crawled into bed each night, barely able to kiss each other goodnight before dozing off to sleep.

“And ye had yer check up a couple weeks ago and the doctor did say everythin’ was lookin’ good,” Jamie said shyly.

“Yes he did. Everything looks perfectly in order,” Claire teased him.

“Well…” Jamie finally looked over at her, his eyes lighting a fire deep in her belly. Claire felt far from sexy — sitting in bed in a stained t-shirt and sleep shorts. Her hair was a mess and she hadn’t shaved her legs in a few weeks. But the look Jamie was giving her was enough to melt her on the spot. “I ken ye said ye wanted to wait another few weeks…”

“You really want to have sex with me when I look like this?” Claire asked.

Jamie blinked several times, as if it only just occurred to him that Claire wasn’t dressed in lingerie and holding a whip. “Ye look beautiful, Sassenach. And besides,” he snickered, “There is never a time when I don’t want ye.”

“Oh you sodding man,” Claire snorted, playfully hitting his arm. Jamie caught her hand and placed his over his heart.

“I’ll wait as long as ye need to, mo nighean, but I—“ he rambled. “I just dinna ken how much longer I can lie next to ye, feelin’ yer sweet smooth skin against me and not have ye. To feel yer curves and that fat wee bum wedged between my thighs… God, yer arse makes me want to do indecent things.”

Claire’s mouth dropped at this confession. “Well, if you say you’ll wait as long as I need…” she bit her bottom lip. “Will you allow me a few moments to freshen up in the bathroom?”

Jamie perked up at hearing this, almost like a dog being told he was about to go on a walk. “Aye, Sassenach. Take all the time ye need!”

Laughing, Claire leaned over and kissed him, eager as he was, it was charming and also a little arousing at how badly he wanted her. The man had been counting the days and Claire would be lying if she hadn’t also kept track.

She would also be lying if she didn’t admit that she was a bit nervous. Jamie and her had sex just the one time, almost exactly a year ago. Back then they had both been drunk and Claire’s body had just gone through nearly nine months of growing another human being and then delivery of said baby.

Taking a deep breath, Claire looked at herself in the mirror. The way Jamie had looked at her earlier made all sorts of feelings rouse in her body. “You can do this, Beauchamp,” she said quietly to herself and began by splashing cold water on her face.

She was quite sure that Jamie would take her as she was, hairy legs and all, but he had waited patiently and this was a special occasion. So Claire hopped in the shower and shaved her legs as quickly as she could without nicking her skin. Once she was smooth as Madeline’s cute wee bottom, she dried off and grabbed her robe from the hook. It wasn’t sexy or glamorous, just a soft linen, but she didn’t want to put on her grubby clothes from before.

Another quick check in the mirror, pushing back curls and a few deep breaths and Claire was ready. Her heart hammered as she opened the bathroom door. Jamie had gone back to his book, but let it fall to the ground as he caught sight of her.

“Sassenach,” Jamie rose from the bed. “Yer the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

Blushing, Claire walked over to stand in front of him and placed her hands on his chest. “Ever?”

“Aye,” he smiled softly and grabbed her hands. “I knew I loved ye from the moment I saw ye standin’ outside Lallybroch. Yer wee curls flying around yer face. And I’ve wanted ye every day since.”

“I wanted you too, Jamie,” Claire admitted. “I think… it took me a little longer to realize that I loved you, but it’s always been you. Always.”

Jamie leaned down, kissing her deeply as he moved his hands to settle on her waist. He gripped the belt of her robe, pressing her against him. They stood there kissing for what felt like hours and Claire moaned as she felt something hard against her stomach.

“Hello there,” she laughed and Jamie glanced down at the obvious bulge in his pants.

“I told ye, ye are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, Sassenach,” Jamie smirked, tugging on the belt of her robe.

“You weren’t lying,” Claire said a little breathless as he pushed his hips against her. Letting her hands move from around his neck, she slid them under the hem of his shirt, feeling the hard planes of his stomach and lifted the material up and over his head. Leaning in, Claire placed her face against his chest, breathing deeply. “Mmmm, you smell delicious.”

“What?” Jamie laughed.

“You just smell,” Claire laughed as she leaned back to look at him, now running her fingers through the dark golden chest hair. “You smell really good. Like — oh I don’t know, like a bloody man!”

“Och, well I’m glad I smell like a man!”

Their laughter died as they both looked into each other’s eyes and that burning feeling returned once again deep in Claire’s stomach and between her legs. Suddenly, Jamie dropped to his knees, his hands still on her hips. Looking up at her, he untied her robe, letting it fall open. Jamie leaned in, pressing his lips against her stomach — scarred with stretch marks and still not quite as flat as it once had been. “Beautiful,” Jamie said and kissed her stomach once again before inhaling her scent.

“Ye smell delicious too, Sassenach.”

“Jesus Christ,” Claire muttered and then ran her hand through his curls. His face was so close to her, and this all felt so incredibly intimate. Jamie put his hands on her hips again, turning her so that she sat down on the bed. He came to kneel before her and reached up, his hands tugging on the robe from her shoulders.

The material fell from one shoulder and then the other, pooling around her waist to reveal her sizable breasts, tender and nearly full of milk again. Jamie touched them gently, only softly stroking and then slid his hands down to her waist. Claire took her arms out of the robe and finally she was bare before him. His eyes raked over her body, and then he rose.

“I need ye, Sassenach,” he said as he pulled off his sweats and boxers in one fluid movement. He was more than ready — his cock hard and throbbing, curved slightly against his stomach.

“I’m yours,” she admitted as she moved backwards on the bed, laying herself out for him. Jamie was there, his thigh wedged between her legs and she trembled with anticipation. So many nights she had dreamed of him, of his touch and now finally he was here, again in her arms.

“I love you,” she said as she reached between their bodies and took hold of him. He gasped at her touch, biting his bottom lip at her firm grip.

“Oh God,” he moaned. “I love ye, mo nighean.”

And then he was home. Claire arched her back, pressing herself against him, feeling the heat radiate off his body. It was too much and not enough all at once. The fullness of him inside of her.

Jamie held still for a moment, simply enjoying the warmth of her, trailing his hands along the smooth curves of her body. Then he leaned down, capturing her mouth against his and began to thrust gently, still mindful of her sensitive body.

Limbs entangled and hearts racing, they gave into one another. Unlike the first time, they held each other’s hearts in the other’s hand. Their first time had been primal and they had devoured each other. This time — they joined together almost languorously, all those sleepless nights making it hard to stay awake, but the intense feeling of being one keeping them awake and desperate for more.

“Sorcha,” Jamie mumbled against her lips — her name in Gaelic — steadily thrusting deep into her. Claire wrapped one leg around his waist, shifting the angle of his hips. He moved his mouth to her neck, gently rubbing his scruff along the exposed skin as she liked. She was putty in his hands and he brought her to the edge only to jump off with her, following her wherever she saw fit to take them.

Claire ran her hands along Jamie’s scarred back, pressing gently as he rolled over onto his side, his arms still cradling her. Leaning in, she kissed him deeply, tracing his lips with her tongue. Just as she thought he might be ready for a second round, a small cry came from down the hallway.

“Madeline,” Claire immediately started to sit up, but Jamie put his hand on her shoulder.

“I’ll see to her, Sassenach,” he kissed her nose. “At least she waited until I was done wi’ ye.”

Claire hit him on the arm, “Oh you think you’re done with me, Fraser?”

Jamie leaned down, his lips brushing hers, but then another, louder cry came from Madeline’s room and he groaned. “I love her, I love her, I love her.

“You keep saying that,” Claire laughed and moved back to settle under the covers, sighing as her legs trembled slightly. Jamie made her feel so complete, as if all her life there was a missing piece.

Soon the cries stopped and Jamie returned to their bedroom, rubbing his hand over his sleepy eyes. Claire yawned and then realized that Jamie was still naked, not bothering with any clothes as he attended to Madeline’s needs.

“Get back here,” Claire said softly, sitting up so the sheet fell from around her. “Now.”

Jamie’s eyebrows rose as well as something else further down and he laughed, nearly jumping on the bed and Claire as they made love for the second time that night.

++++++

2 weeks later…

December 6th, 2019

Everyone had come round to their house to help decorate for Christmas. Claire had never cared much for decorations, her parents usually just put up the tree and that was it. But she quickly found out that the Fraser’s went all out for Christmas and Hogmanay.

Murtagh was in the living room with Geillis trying to hang garland to Geillis’ exact specifications. Jenny and Ian were in the kitchen cooking with their children running around the house shouting “jingle bells” at the top of their lungs. Claire wanted to cry at the festive scene before her.

She was in the hallway, trying to decide what wreath to put on the front door, when Jamie came up from behind her, holding mistletoe above her head.

“A Christmas kiss?”

Claire smiled, and turned in his arms, standing on the tips of her toes to kiss him.

“Don’t you look cozy,” she placed her hands on Jamie’s chest. He was wearing the new cream colored sweater she had bought him and it fit snug in all the right places.

“And ye look rather cozy as well,” Jamie kissed her again, moving his hands around to her waist and settling his hands on her arse. “Those jeans dinna leave much to the imagination, Sassenach.”

“I’m just glad I fit back into them!” Claire laughed. “Can you believe it’s already Christmas?”

“Nah, Sassenach. It feels like just the other day when I bumped into ye at the cafe,” Jamie laughed against her lips, his arms coming to wrap around her. She sighed then, a sound that was music to his ears for it meant she was happy and he had a small part to play in that.

They pulled apart and Claire leaned her head against his chest before remembering something, “Oh did you get the mail?” She asked. “The Lab said that we should be getting the results sometime this week.”

“Aye, I just brought it in a little bit ago, tis on the front table,” Jamie said. “Want me to take a look?”

Sounds of squealing came from behind her and they both turned to see young Jamie running circles around Madeline’s basinette. “I’ll just go check on that,” Jamie smirked.

The pile of mail was exactly where Jamie said it was and she flipped though, finding bills and junk mail. Then the top left corner of an envelope caught her eye. Hawkins Laboratory.

The results.

She opened it, her heart pounding and read.

Claire only shook her head slightly as she read again and again the words on the document in her hands. It was a whole bunch of numbers she didn’t quite understand, with Madeline’s name, Jamie’s name and Frank’s name at the top. But there at the bottom where it said “Probability of Paternity” next to Frank’s name it read 98%…

“Claire? What’s that say? Ye dinna look so good,” Jamie came to stand beside her and finally looked down at the paper.

“It’s Frank,” was all she could manage to say.

“Christ…” Jamie took the document from Claire, his eyes racing over every word. His heart sank as his biggest fear came to life. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

Her hands clenched into fists and she wanted nothing more than to punch Frank Randall in the face — anywhere… just as long as he suffered.

“He won’t take her, Sassenach. I willna let him, I made ye a promise and I plan to keep it.”

“It’ll be alright, Jamie,” Claire turned to him, cupping his cheek. “Madeline is your daughter. I know. She has your red hair, your slanted eyes… she is half of you and me. Frank can’t possibly be her father…”

Jamie brought her close, kissing the top of her head, “We can go somewhere else, to confirm.”

“But what if the results say the same thing,” Claire turned her head to look at him. “What if—“

“Shhh, mo nighean, dinna fash about it now,” Jamie pulled her in close, hiding her face from his only so that she wouldn’t see the tears that spilled down his cheeks. It had all been perfect, nearly too perfect. What now?

 

End of Arc I

Chapter Text

December 6th, 2019

Everyone had come round to their house to help decorate for Christmas. Claire had never cared much for decorations; her parents usually just put up the tree and that was it. But she quickly found out that the Frasers went all out for Christmas and Hogmanay.

Murtagh was in the living room with Geillis trying to hang garland in a way that matched Geillis’ exact specifications. Jenny and Ian were in the kitchen cooking, with their children running around the house shouting “Jingle Bells” at the top of their lungs. Claire wanted to cry at the festive scene before her.

She was in the hallway, trying to decide what wreath to put on the front door, when Jamie came up from behind her, holding mistletoe above her head.

“A Christmas kiss?”

Claire smiled, and turned into his arms, standing on the tips of her toes to kiss him.

“Don’t you look cozy,” she remarked, placing her hands on Jamie’s chest. He was wearing the new cream-colored sweater she had bought him and it fit snug in all the right places.

“And ye look rather cozy as well.” Jamie kissed her again, moving his hands around to her waist and settling his hands on her arse. “Those jeans dinna leave much to the imagination, Sassenach.”

“I’m just glad I fit back into them!” Claire laughed. “Can you believe it’s already Christmas?”

“Nah, Sassenach. It feels like just the other day when I bumped into ye at the cafe,” Jamie laughed against her lips, his arms coming to wrap around her. She sighed then, a sound that was music to his ears, for it meant she was happy and he had a small part to play in that.

They pulled apart and Claire leaned her head against his chest before remembering something. “Oh, did you get the mail?” she asked. “The lab said that we should be getting the results sometime this week.”

“Aye, I just brought it in a little bit ago, tis on the front table,” Jamie said. “Want me to take a look?”

Sounds of squealing came from behind her and they both turned to see young Jamie running circles around Madeline’s basinette. “I’ll just go check on that,” Jamie smirked.

The pile of mail was exactly where Jamie had placed it and she flipped through the stack, finding bills and junk mail. Then, the top left corner of an envelope caught her eye. Hawkins Laboratory.

The results.

She opened it, her heart pounding, and read.

Claire only shook her head slightly as she read again and again the words on the document in her hands. It was a whole bunch of numbers she didn’t quite understand, with Madeline’s name, Jamie’s name, and Frank’s name at the top. But there at the bottom where it said “Probability of Paternity” next to Frank’s name, it read 98%…

“Claire? What’s that say? Ye dinna look so good.” Jamie came to stand beside her and finally looked down at the paper.

It’s Frank,” was all she could manage to say.

“Christ…” Jamie took the document from Claire, his eyes racing over every word. His heart sank as his biggest fear came to life. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

Her hands clenched into fists and she wanted nothing more than to punch Frank Randall in the face — anywhere on him, really,just as long as he suffered.

“He won’t take her, Sassenach. I willna let him, I made ye a promise and I plan to keep it.”

“It’ll be alright, Jamie,” Claire turned to him, cupping his cheek. “Madeline is your daughter. I know it. She has your red hair, your slanted eyes… she is half of you and me. Frank can’t possibly be her father.”

Jamie brought her close, kissing the top of her head, “We can go somewhere else, to confirm.”

“But what if the results say the same thing,” Claire turned her head to look at him. “What if—“

“Shhh, mo nighean, dinna fash about it now.” Jamie pulled her in close, hiding her face from his, only so that she wouldn’t see the tears that spilled down his cheeks.

It had all been perfect — nearly too perfect. What now?

++++++

Claire’s hands wouldn’t stop shaking. She felt both anger and sadness, all-consuming, and she couldn’t think of anything else but the results. In her bones, she knew it was a lie — that Jamie was Madeline’s father, not Frank. There was truly only one way to find out.

Jamie put the letter down on the table and took Claire’s hands in his, kissing them. His eyes searched her face, looking for warning signs.

“Are ye alright, Sassenach?”

Nodding, Claire finally met his eye. “We have to find out the truth, Jamie. That test is a lie and I know it.”

“I ken,” Jamie agreed and sighed, looking back down the hall where the rest of their family was. “Should we tell them? Ian, Jenny, and Murtagh?”

“And Geillis,” Claire added. “Maybe they can help us figure this fucking mess out.”

Jamie saw Claire’s bottom lip tremble and he pulled her once again into his arms, holding her close to his chest. She smelled of vanilla and sugar — the cookies she had just put in the oven. He wasn’t sure who was more scared between the two of them, but he knew that they would figure it out. Of course, he always knew the day might come when they found out that Jamie wasn’t the father. But Madeline had red hair and the same Fraser cat eyes, though they were  amber like Claire’s.

“It’ll be okay,” he said out loud for the both of them and then released her, sliding his hand into hers as they walked to join the rest of their family. As soon as Jamie met Jenny’s eye, her face changed from a smile to one of worry.

Dropping the tinsel to the couch, she came over to them. “What’s wrong? Ye two look as though ye’ve seen death.”

“We need to talk,” Jamie said softly as the kids ran around them, still screaming the lyrics to a Christmas song on the stereo. “It’s about the paternity results.”

“Aye,” Jenny nodded, and that was that. She managed to gather all the kids in front of the tv and turned on Elf. Claire picked up Madeline from her bassinet and cradled her to her chest, wanting to feel her small body against hers.

Their family gathered in the kitchen, sitting around the dining table, and Jamie placed the lab results on the table.

“The results from Hawkins Lab came in. Tis says that Frank Randall is the father.” Jamie winced at his own words. Claire moved her hand slowly up and down Madeline’s back, her warmth a comfort.

“That babe is a Fraser if I ever saw one.” Murtagh glanced at Madeline in Claire’s arms. “She’s the spittin’ image of the both of ye.”

“How are you, Claire?” Geillis placed her hand on Claire’s arm, squeezing gently.

“It’s all just a bit shocking,” Claire sniffed. “I was so positive that the results would come back and confirm that Jamie is Madeline’s father. And I still believe that…”

“But…” Ian said, “the paper says otherwise.”

“Aye,” Jamie nodded, his brows furrowed. “Jenny, do ye have Ned Gowan’s number?”

“The family lawyer?” she asked. “Aye, I’ll send ye his details.”

“Thank ye,” Jamie smiled at her and then looked around the table. “I just want to say how grateful I am for all of ye. For accepting Claire into the family as well as our bairn. This isna a fight I ever wanted, but I’m just glad I have all of ye with us.”

Murtagh made a Scottish noise, followed by a soft pounding of his fist on the table.

“Claire and the bairn are part of this family. No bastard named Randall will be sayin’ otherwise.”

++++++

Everyone left an hour later, leaving Jamie, Claire, and Madeline all on their own. Claire let out a deep sigh as she laid Madeline in her crib and took a seat in the rocking chair. Her heart ached for the future and what was to come. The past few months had been exhausting, of course, but they had also contained some of the best moments of Claire’s life.

“What are you doing?” Claire rolled over onto her side, wiping the sleep from her eyes. The alarm clock read 3 a.m.

“Shhh, a nighean,” Jamie said softly. He had placed Madeline in between them on the bed and she was asleep, her arms above her head. It’d only been three weeks since they’d brought her home, and Jamie couldn’t take his eyes off her.

“It makes me so nervous to sleep with her in the bed,” Claire said, but smiled nonetheless. “She’s just so small.”

“Dinna worry, Sassenach, I would have scooped her up if ye’d rolled over,” he laughed. “She just looked so lonely in her wee crib.”

“I could watch her for hours.” Claire stroked her soft cheek, then laid her hand gently over Madeline’s stomach. For a newborn, she was sleeping decently through the night, only waking when she was hungry.

They were silent for awhile, both laying on their sides as they watched their daughter sleep. It was still so new — sleeping together in the same bed. Just as waking up next to each other and kissing each other good morning was new. But it was a newness that neither of them minded.

“Did ye ever think ye could love somethin’ so much that was so small?”

“No,” Claire admitted. “I never imagined this kind of love would feel so… intense,” she smiled up at him and then reached for his hand, intertwining their fingers. “When I found out that I was pregnant, I was scared at first because I didn’t know if I could do this — be a mother. But then as she started to grow and I could feel her kicking around, I knew that I would love and protect her no matter what.”

“Yer a wonderful mother, Claire,” Jamie said as he leaned over Madeline to kiss her. “I can imagine yer face when ye found out,” he chuckled at that. “Yer eyes growin’ wide and yer mouth droppin’.”

Claire laughed, squeezing his hand and laying it on her hip. “It was certainly not what I expected!”

“Did ye ever—“ Jamie started but then shook his head.

“What?” Claire pressed him.

“I just… wondered if ye ever wish ye had found me sooner, or called me after ye found out.”

She moved her hand to cup his cheek, turning his face to look at her. “Jamie, of course I did. I thought of nothing else for the first few weeks — what to do. And I do wish that I had called you sooner, but I was scared and unprepared for what was to come.”

“We just lost so much time together,” Jamie said sadly.

“There’s still plenty of time for you to be there the next time I find out,” Claire said quickly, looking at Jamie to gage his reaction.

His eyebrows lifted to his hairline and he looked at her, a potential tear forming in his eye, and smiled. “Ye mean ye want to have another bairn?”

“Yes, of course I do! Not now though, probably not for at least a couple of years.” Claire slid closer to him, careful not to disturb Madeline, who was still sleeping in between them. “But I want to have another baby with you.”

“Just one?” he asked, a smirk on his lips. “What about eleven more?”

“Eleven?!” Claire said rather loudly and immediately covered her mouth. “Eleven?” she whispered, “I cannot give birth eleven more times. Once was bloody painful enough.”

“Then what about two more?” Jamie pushed the curls back from her face. “Three seems like a good number, doesn’t it?”

“I’m not agreeing to any sort of number, Jamie Fraser,” she laughed and rolled onto her back, looking up at him. “I’ve agreed to another baby sometime in the near future. Sound good to you?”

“Aye,” he smiled and raised himself over Madeline to lean down and kiss Claire. “Sounds like a mighty fine plan there, Sassenach.”

Claire’s eyes were beginning to close as she watched Madeline in her crib, not yet asleep. Her mind however was still buzzing, trying to figure out how Frank could have — if he did at all — fake the paternity test. Just as her head lolled to the side, Jamie came into the room.

“Och, sorry, I didna mean to wake ye,” he said softly as he got down on his knees beside the rocking chair. “I cleaned all the dishes downstairs, everything is tidied away.”

“My hero,” Claire smiled softly, cupping his cheek.

Jamie didn’t want to bring it up and ruin the peaceful moment, but it was eating away at him. “Do ye have any idea how Frank could fake a paternity test?”

“I was just thinking of that,” Claire sighed. “If he did, he would need to have connections at the lab to pull that off. Which means that the lab is engaged in some type of fraudulent activity.” 

“Aye,” Jamie agreed. “Well, dinna fash yerself about it too much, mo ghraidh, these troubles will still be here tomorrow.”]

He held out his hand to help her out of the chair. As she stood up, her legs trembled slightly, but Jamie easily scooped her up into his arms.

“You really are my hero,” she laughed, and he walked out of Madeline’s room, bringing the door to a crack with his foot.

“I can think of something to take yer mind off of today,” Jamie said as he kissed her neck, barely making it into their room without dropping her. He sat down on the edge of the bed, cradling her against him.

“And what might that be?” she smiled. “It’ll take an awful lot to make me forget this horrible day.” She ran her fingers through his hair at the nape of his neck.

“I’ll have ye forget yer own name when I’m done wi ye, Sassenach,” Jamie said softly and placed a kiss just under her jaw. Claire was clay in his hands and she let him mold her into whatever shape he fancied. She was wearing a soft grey sweater dress that allowed easy access for Jamie’s hand to slide up.

She shivered when his fingers touched her inner thigh and she moved one leg over so that she was now straddling him. Both his hands came to her hips, pushing up the dress so it lifted over her arse.

“Not too sexy, I’m afraid,” she remarked on her plain nude cotton panties.

“Anything ye wear is sexy, Sassenach,” Jamie smirked as he hooked his fingers into them, pulling them down her thighs. “Especially when ye take them off.” Claire placed her feet on the ground to take them off and then climbed back onto his lap.

“This kind of talk will only get you one place, Fraser,” she laughed and kissed him, wrapping her arms around his neck. As his fingers made their way to her thigh, squeezing it gently, she moaned. Her belly tightened and she began to grind her hips against him, feeling the bulge in his pants.

“No,” he muttered, stilling her hips. “Wait a minute,” he chuckled and then continued to move his hand up her thigh until his finger landed on her slit — wet and aching for his touch. Claire sat up a bit to allow his fingers more room to move and he pressed his thumb against her clit, watching her eyes flutter shut.

“What’s yer name, a nighean?”

“What?” she laughed, looking down at him and then he slid one finger inside of her, opening her up. “Oh, Christ.”

Jamie laughed and placed his other hand on her hip to keep her steady on top of him. Slowly, he pushed another finger inside of her, feeling her clench around him. She was slick and the smell of her was driving him wild. Claire pressed down, arching her back as he pumped his fingers in and out.

“I asked ye… what’s yer name?”

“Cl— ah!” He pressed his thumb in circles on her clit while his two middle fingers sped up. He was watching her, seeing how much pleasure he was giving her. He reveled in it, knowing he could do this anytime.

Again, she began to grind her hips against him, riding his hand as he continued to pump it in and out of her. Her breath became labored and heavy, and she gripped his shoulder tightly.

Jamie bit his lip, trying to concentrate on her and not his hard cock, straining to get out of his trousers. She was beautiful, her riotous curls bouncing behind her, her mouth slightly open, and the sounds she made — God.

“What’s yer name?” He asked her again, moving his fingers at a maddening pace.

Claire looked down at him as she rolled her hips once, then twice. “I don’t— fuck,” she moaned and pressed her lips against him, biting his bottom lip as she came, riding his fingers.

He held her close to him, and flipped her down onto the bed. “I told ye I would make ye forget yer name, Sassenach,” Jamie smirked and then descended, kissing her neck, jaw, and lips over and over again. Nothing mattered in that moment except loving each other. Whatever problems they were about to face, they would do it together.

“Jamie,” Claire moaned, breathless as he fitted himself between her legs.

“That’s my name, a nighean,” Jamie laughed and then he was home, right where he belonged.

Chapter Text

December 7th, 2019

Ned Gowan’s office was located in old town Edinburgh near where Claire worked at the hospital. Jenny had sent Jamie his details yesterday, and thankfully, Ned had time to meet with them today. Jenny had also agreed to stay with Madeline for the day while they figured out what to do next.

Claire clocked out for her lunch break, wrapping her new tartan scarf that Jamie had bought her for her birthday around her neck. The air was crisp, with that cold bite that comes with winter in Scotland. Jamie was meeting her at Ned’s office and he had just pulled up when Claire crossed the street.

“Hello my love,” Claire smiled and stood on her toes to kiss him as he closed the car door. “It’s been too long since I’ve last kissed you.”

“Ye mean four hours?” Jamie chuckled and then kissed her again, his lips lingering after. “Any time at all is too long, Sassenach.”

“I suppose we’d better get in there, I only have 40 minutes left of my lunch break,” Claire sighed and took his hand, both walking towards the entrance of the building. Inside, it was nicely decorated — smaller than she thought, but at least the place wasn’t falling apart.

“Ned Gowan is your family’s lawyer?” Claire asked as Jamie checked in with the receptionist.

“Aye,” he nodded. “He helped my parents when my Mam’s side of the family was furious with their marriage.” Jamie led her over to a small couch in the corner while they waited. “My Mam and Da ran away together, ye ken, and got marrit. My uncles Dougal and Colum — both passed away, bless their souls, well… they didna like my Da, especially because he was a Fraser.”

“Well what’s wrong with being a Fraser?” Claire asked, rather intrigued. “Is there something I should know before I marry you, Jamie?” She poked him lightly in the ribs.

“Fraser’s are verra stubborn,” he laughed. “But ye already knew as much.” A glint of mischief shined in his eyes and Claire could imagine a troublesome young Jamie, refusing to eat his vegetables or take a bath. “Nah, there’s nothin’ wrong wi’ bein’ a Fraser, Sassenach. Tis just that for hundreds of years there was a distrust between Clan MacKenzie, which is my Mam’s family, and the Frasers.”

Claire loved listening to Jamie tell stories, especially about his past. She found that whenever he talked, she was almost enchanted — he was a natural born storyteller and she hung on every word.

“So ye can imagine my uncles’ displeasure when they find out that their lovely sister, Ellen, has run away wi’ a Fraser! ‘Black Brian’ they called him, for his silky jet black hair.” He raised his brows, touching his own auburn locks. “It sounds a bit old fashioned, clan rivalries and such, but the MacKenzies are nothin’ if no loyal to their history.”

“What did they try and do? Your parents ran away and got married, surely they didn’t have any other option but to accept it,” Claire said.

“Ahh,” Jamie grinned. “That’s where Ned comes in. Colum tried to track down my Mam and Da, but they’d gone into hiding after the marriage. It was Dougal that found them eventually, back in Broch Mordha, already starting to make a home for themselves. He’d brought Ned wi’ him to try and persuade my parents to annul the marriage. Or perhaps try and prove the marriage was false,” Jamie recalled.

“But when Dougal walked inside and saw my Mam, nearly five months pregnant, there was no’ much to be done. My father presented him wi’ their marriage certificate, and Ned confirmed twas legitimate.” He chuckled then, remembering something as if he’d actually been present and not just a thought in his parents’ minds. “My Da said that Dougal just looked at Ned and called him a bastard, saying that he was supposed to be on the MacKenzie side of things!”

“Ned wouldn’t lie, you mean? He wouldn’t try and force your parents to separate?” Claire ran her fingers slowly over Jamie’s palm, smoothing them over the lines of his hand.

“No, he wouldna. He said he could never break apart true love,” Jamie smiled down at her. “He’s a bit of a romantic. Ever since then, he’s helped our family wi’ small legal matters. Twas very helpful wi’ the whisky business and what kind of permits we needed and such.”

Claire took a deep breath, absorbing all of this new information. “Well, I’m very much looking forward to meeting this infamous Ned.”

Not a minute later, the man himself walked out into the lobby.

“Dear Jamie!” He embraced Jamie, a good foot shorter than him, his head barely reaching Jamie’s chest. “How have you been, lad? Been a long time…”

“Too long, Ned,” Jamie smiled, patting the man’s shoulder, and then turned to Claire. “I’d like ye to meet my fiancé, Claire Beauchamp.”

Bowing his head slightly, Ned reached for her hand, kissing it softly. “Tis a pleasure to meet you, Claire Beauchamp. I’ve known the Frasers for many years, yer in good company!”

“I’m glad to hear it,” she smiled. Ned Gowan was a short man with grey hair and round glasses perched on his nose. She trusted him immediately, hoping that he would be able to help them with the matter at hand.

“Let’s go into my office, shall we?” He turned back and welcomed them into his office with tall floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books, a fireplace on the wall opposite them, and a large mahogany desk in the center of the room.

“Now,” Ned said, sitting down in a brown leather chair behind his desk. “Jamie didna tell me just exactly what ye needed my advice on. Marriage advice?” Claire saw him glance at their clasped hands where Claire’s engagement ring rested on her finger.

“No,” Jamie squeezed her hand. “We’re settled on that front, wi’ luck the weddin’ will be in the summer.”

Claire smiled at him and then let go of his hand to reach into her bag, pulling out the envelope with the paternity test in it. “We’ve come to ask about a delicate matter… one involving our child.”

“A child?” Ned looked surprised, but kept his expression in check. “Let me see how I can help, lass.”

“Our daughter, Madeline… well, she has two possible fathers. Jamie, of course, and then my ex, Frank Randall. We only just got the results of the paternity test yesterday,” Claire said as she slid the paper across his desk. “It says that Frank is her father, but we just know it can’t be possible.”

“She has hair as red as mine,” Jamie smiled and pulled out his phone, pressing the side button to show a picture of the three of them on his lockscreen.

“I dare say.” Ned moved his glasses on his nose and leaned in. “She’s the spittin’ image of ye, Jamie.”

“Which is exactly why we think that Frank has somehow messed with the results, or maybe the lab made a mistake.” Claire twisted her hands in her lap, her stomach in knots.

Ned glanced at the results, reading over all the information carefully. Jamie’s fingers tapped nervously against his thighs, waiting to hear what actions they should take.

“Well, my first bit of advice would be to find another lab and have only Jamie take a paternity test.” Ned slid the paper back to Claire and she put it back in her bag. “That will tell you for certain whether or not the results have been tampered with.”

“And if the results say that Jamie is Madeline’s father?”

“Then ye come back to see me and we’ll figure out the next move. Legal action would be required on either this Hawkins Laboratory or on your ex, Mr. Randall. But I don’t want to put anything into motion before we know the results from Jamie’s solo test.”

“Of course,” Jamie nodded, grabbing Claire’s hand again. “We should be able to get that done sometime this week. I dinna want to take this to court, but if it means proving that Madeline is in fact my daughter, so be it.”

The three of them rose, nothing further left to discuss. “Thank ye, Ned. It means a lot that ye would be the one to help us wi’ this.” Jamie shook his hand tightly and Claire laughed a little when she saw Ned flexing his hand after.

“Tis not a problem, Jamie. I’ll always help a Fraser in their time of need,” he smiled, and then they all said goodbye. Once Claire and Jamie returned to the street, she took a deep breath and leaned her head against his chest.

“That went well. As well as could be expected,” she said.

“Ye ken that I love Madeline,” Jamie looked down at her. “No matter if she is Randall’s blood and no’ mine… I love her wi’ all my heart, Sassenach. No test result can ever take that away.” He met her lips, kissing her slowly.

“I know that, Jamie. I also know how much it would mean to you if she was your blood, stubborn Fraser and all,” she grinned. “I feel good about this. Once we get the test done and get the results, I’ll feel even better."

“Aye.” He rubbed his thumb over her cheek. “So will I. I’ll research a few labs when I get back to the office and let ye know what I find when I get home.”

“Sounds good,” Claire kissed him again. “I’ll see you at home tonight, then.”

Jamie climbed into his car to head back to work while Claire made the short walk back to the hospital, where a store-bought salad was waiting for her in the fridge.

++++++

As she walked into the hospital, Claire walked past the front desk, smiling at her friend Liesel. She waved her over, holding up a note.

“While you were out, a gentleman called for you, said he used to be a patient of yours,” the woman said and handed her a sticky note with a number to call on it.

“Did he give a name?” Claire asked, wondering why any patient of hers would call.

“No, but he was British. He said that he had a question about some kind of operation you helped perform,” Liesel shrugged. “Sounded a bit weird, but I told him I’d give you the message.”

“Hmm, well thank you, Liesel. I’ll call him later.” Claire shoved the note into her purse and walked down the hall and into the staff lounge. With only ten minutes remaining of her lunch break, Claire scarfed down her salad and reminded herself to call this mysterious patient on her way home from work.

The only thing standing in her way from going home to Jamie and Madeline was a simple cholecystectomy — a gallbladder removal. In surgery, Claire’s mind was blank, only focusing on the task before her. There was no Frank or paternity tests or potential lawsuits. Only the patient before her and the scalpel in her hand.

Two and a half hours later, Claire was changing from her scrubs to her blue jeans and white t-shirt. The next time she would have to go into work would be after the holidays thanks to her new baby keeping her occupied.

As Claire started her car, she remembered she needed to call back that patient that Liesel had mentioned. Surely, it would be just a simple call she could handle while driving home. Claire pulled out her phone and retrieved the sticky note from her bag, punching in the numbers. It rang four times before someone picked up on the other end.

“Hello, this is Dr. Beauchamp, I’m returning a call that was left for me at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.”

“Claire,” uttered from a voice that chilled her to the core. A voice she hadn’t been expecting to hear on the other end.

“Frank.”

Her knuckles tightened on the steering wheel. Thankfully she hadn’t started driving yet, or she might have just run off the road at the sound of his voice. “Why are you leaving messages for me at my work?”

“I didn’t have many options now did I, Claire? I knew you wouldn’t answer if I were to call your phone, so the hospital was the only option,” he said.

“What is this about?” She already knew what this was about, but was hoping he had called to chat about something else.

“I received a rather interesting letter in the mail yesterday from Hawkins Laboratory. I assume that you did as well…”

“Yes, what of it?”

“The results were stated very clearly, Claire,” Frank sighed on the other end, as if he was annoyed. “I am that child’s father. I don’t want to take this to court, I’m hoping we can resolve the matter of custody between ourselves.”

“Custody?!” Claire snapped. “You’ve lost your mind if you think I would ever let you get any kind of custody, full or joint, of my daughter.”

“I have rights as her father and you know it,” Frank replied. “You can go and play house all you want with that Scottish bastard, but at the end of the day, it’s not quite as picturesque as you’d like it to be.”

“Shut your damn mouth, Frank,” Claire rolled her eyes. “I don’t want you to call me ever again, especially not at work. The next time I’ll speak to you will be with a lawyer present, now goodbye!”

Claire hung up and tossed her phone down onto the passenger seat. Her heart had started racing dangerously the moment he said her name, sending a chill down her spine. Her worst fears were all coming true and it seemed there was nothing she could do.

Closing her eyes, Claire punched the steering wheel and let out a scream — a sound she didn’t even know she had in her.

When she opened her eyes, she noticed that two people standing on the sidewalk near the car were staring at her and she waved her hand at them. “Sorry,” she softly muttered, and they kept walking, probably wondering who this crazy woman was.

“Christ, Beauchamp, keep it together.” She took a deep breath and put the car in drive.

++++++

Jamie was in the kitchen, Madeline swaddled to his chest in her sling, while he made dinner. Claire simply stood in the doorway when she got home, watching the two of them. It filled her heart with contentment to see them both, knowing that they were all hers. Jamie caught her eye and grinned, softly singing off-tune to Madeline.

“What’s on the menu, Chef Jamie?”

“Burgers!” He flipped a patty. “And I ken I shouldna have Mads so close to the stove in case the grease pops up, but she was cryin’ in her crib and the meat was about to burn…” he reasoned with her.

“It’s alright, she seems to be enjoying her sous chef duties,” Claire laughed and kissed her daughter on the head. As Jamie finished making their dinner, Claire unraveled her scarf from around her neck, shedding her winter layers on their bed. She would have to tell Jamie that Frank called, and he would rightfully, be furious.

Thankfully, Claire was still partially on maternity leave — giving her plenty of time now with Madeline. Also, this meant she could give all her attention to dealing with the paternity results.

Claire changed into comfier clothes, sliding one of Jamie’s old sweatshirts over her head before joining him back in the kitchen. He was just sliding their burgers onto plates as she took a seat at the table. Madeline was still strapped to his chest with no signs of wanting to leave, though she would need to be fed soon.

“How was the rest of yer day, Sassenach?”

Claire picked up a knife to slice her burger in half and then sighed. “Frank called me,” she spat out and then held up her finger in front of Jamie before he could respond. “He called me at work and posed as a former patient because he knew I wouldn’t answer my phone for him.”

“What does he want?” Jamie asked, his burger in midair.

“What do you think he wants?” Claire’s eyes landed on Madeline. “He got the results in the mail yesterday, same as us. He wants her… at least, he wants joint custody.”

“Joint— No. No, Sassenach. He wasna there for ye during the entire pregnancy, he cheated on ye and now all of a sudden he wants some kind of claim on her?” Jamie scoffed and took a huge bite of his burger, the juices dripping down his hand.

“Thanks for reminding me of all that,” Claire raised her brows and sighed.

“I’m sorry,” Jamie said with a mouthful of food and swallowed. “Claire, I’m sorry, I—“

“I know what you meant,” she reassured him,  one side of Claire’s mouth turned up in understanding. “But… if he is her father then he has the right to ask for custody. Of course, this is where we will need Ned’s advice. Oh! Also, did you find another lab to take the test?”

Jamie wiped his mouth with a napkin, “Aye. I did, I meant to tell ye when ye walked in, but now’s a good time as any. It’s called Edinburgh DNA Centre and it’s only a short distance from where I work.”

“Great,” Claire nodded, mentally checking that off her list. “We’ll need to do that as soon as possible. I’m sure Frank will want to move forward with any kind of custody agreements.”

Jamie made a grumbling noise, rolling his eyes. “I wish that bastard would just leave us alone.”

“Trust me,” Claire said. “I would be happy to never see his smug bloody face again.”

They finished their meal, and Claire took Madeline from Jamie to feed her. She was hungry and latched on quickly, her greedy little hands tugging on Claire’s curls.

“I’m thinking about calling Hawkins Lab,” she said softly, peering down at Madeline.

“Why?” Jamie said from the kitchen as he cleaned up the dishes. “They surely wouldn’t tell ye if they’d tampered wi’ the results.”

“I just want to know who handled our files is all,” she shrugged. “I also have a weird feeling about the name Hawkins… it sounds strangely familiar.”

“How so, Sassenach?”

“Well, I’m not sure. I swear I’ve heard that name mentioned to me several times though,” she said. “I’ll do that tomorrow probably.”

“I won’t stop ye, a nighean,” Jamie said, and then a few minutes later he joined her on the couch, sliding his arm around her shoulder. “I’ll call the DNA Centre tomorrow, book an appointment. It doesna feel like only yesterday we got the results.”

“I know,” Claire cupped Madeline’s head. “I just hope this is all resolved before Madeline’s first Christmas.”

“Me too, Sassenach.” Jamie kissed her temple. “Let’s just pray for a Christmas miracle then, aye?”

“Aye,” Claire grinned and leaned her head against his shoulder and they both watched their daughter, small and precious, their reason for living and for fighting to get the truth.

Chapter Text

December 8th, 2019

Jamie kissed Claire goodbye as he left for his morning run. She looked so peaceful with her curls fanned out around her face. The last thing he wanted was to leave her side, but he needed to clear his head.

He ran at a much slower pace than normal, going over the events of the last two days. It was all such a mess, and now he was wishing they never bothered with the paternity test in the first place. Knowing that Frank Randall could have any part of Mads’s life was killing him. It was Jamie that had been there for Claire. It was Jamie that loved them both, and he’d do anything to protect them.

As he rounded the corner and approached Holyrood Park, he picked up the pace. He thought of Claire and the future they had together. The past few months they had spent together and the love that was growing day by day. He thought of Madeline and her sweet gummy smile looking up at him as he rocked her to sleep.

His legs carried him through the park, his chest heaving as he banished all fears and doubts that were trying to cripple him. Jamie slowed down to catch his breath, his hands on his hips as he walked down the path. Without thinking, he walked up to a tree, pulled back his left arm, and punched it. After all… trees were safe.

++++++

Madeline was being fussy and, frankly, Claire was growing restless as well. She’d just changed her shirt for the second time that morning after Mads had spit up on it. If she stayed in the house for another minute, she’d go crazy. Jamie had gone to the office to work for a couple of hours, even on a Sunday, and she missed him already.

“Wanna go for a walk, darling?” She looked at Madeline in her crib, laying on her stomach.

“Mama will get you all bundled up and we’ll take a stroll down the road or mama will go crazy!”

She made a gurgling noise and stuck her hand in her mouth. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Claire smiled, heading over towards Mads’s small wardrobe to retrieve her warmest articles of clothing. Fifteen minutes later, Madeline was dressed in the cutest cream knit sweater and tights, paired with a light pink fluffy coat. The last bit consisted of a warm beanie to cover her small red head and a teeny tiny pair of gloves.

“No, sweetie, don’t take those off.” Claire pushed the gloves back onto Madeline’s hands, and once they were secured and her arms were under the blanket, Claire pushed the buggy out the door and made her way down the street.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold for them to be outside — just a light chill — but Claire wanted to make sure Mads wouldn’t catch anything. She seemed to be content, smiling up at Claire as she was being pushed. Every time she did anything remotely cute, Claire fell in love with her all over again. Even when she spat up on her cute new coat, Claire couldn’t help but smile. She grimaced too, of course, but she was too infatuated to care.

“You’ve got to stop doing that, little miss.” Claire stopped pushing the buggy and sat down on a nearby bench, pulling out wet cloths to clean the mess. She’d stopped in a nice little park near their house, one she hadn’t ever paused to really look at before.

Once Madeline was mostly cleaned up, Claire tucked her back under the blankets. Remembering that she needed to call Hawkins Laboratory, Claire pulled her phone out of her coat pocket to look up the number lest she forget.

“Just a minute, baby,” Claire grinned at Madeline. “Mama’s got to make a very important phone call.”

All she wanted to know was who had handled their case. It rang three times before someone answered on the other end. “Hello, this is Moira, thank you for calling Hawkins Laboratory, how may I be of assistance?”

“Hi Moira, this is Claire Beauchamp. I recently had some tests done at your facility and I was just wondering if I could get some more information about it.”

“Yes, I’d be happy to do that,” said the woman. “Can ye just give me a little bit more of yer information?”

“Of course.” Claire placed her finger close to Madeline’s lips and she started sucking on it; she’d need to get home soon to feed her again.

“When was the appointment and who was involved?”

“It was just a few weeks ago, November 3rd, and it was for a paternity test. James Fraser and Frank Randall were both tested. But I’m more interested in finding out who was the lab technician that handled our specific case. We received the results just the other day.”

“Was there a problem miss?” said the woman. Was there ever…

“Well,” Claire chuckled, “if I told you all the problems I’ve been having, we’d be on the phone for hours. Are you able to give me the name of the technician?”

“Yes, miss. Let me just look up yer file.”

A few moments of silence passed while the woman on the other end typed in more information and brought up their case file. “Yes, the technician primarily involved with your case was Mary Hawkins.”

“Hawkins?” Claire’s brow furrowed. “Is she of any relation to the owners of Hawkins Lab?”

“Why yes!” Moira said cheerfully. “She’s the niece of the owners. We’re a family business here at Hawkins Lab. Do ye ken Mary? Such a sweet lass…”

“I think I do,” Claire muttered, her mind beginning to race. Mary Hawkins… the name was very familiar indeed. “Um, thank you very much Moira. I think that’s all the information I needed.”

Hanging up the phone, she turned her attention back to Madeline, making sure she was all bundled up before continuing their walk towards home. Mary Hawkins was a name that sparked something in her memory. A name she had first heard from Frank Randall a couple of years ago.

++++++

Jamie had gone to the office for a couple of hours, but not for work. At least, not for his usual work. He’d been trying to write again, and had texted Claire to let her know where he’d be if she needed him.

Ever since he had taken over his father’s whisky business, Jamie had put aside his dream of writing — it didn’t feel important anymore. Plus, he didn’t exactly have time for it anymore. That’s what he told himself, anyways. He knew Claire wanted to read something he’d written, but he never felt it was good enough.

But ever since that day he bumped into her at the cafe, her belly round with child and her eyes shining back at him, something had clicked inside of him. It was that same feeling he’d experienced the first time he met her. As if a puzzle piece was clicking into place.

The words seemed to pour out of him when he sat down to write. Jamie was working on a children’s book, and he was nearly finished. The reason why it was taking him so long was because he was attempting the illustrations himself and his hand wasn’t always so steady.

The title of the book for now was, “I promise to…” and it was about a father and all the promises he made to his daughter. Technically speaking, it was an autobiography of sorts — the story of the love he had for his own daughter, Madeline. He kept all the files on his computer at work, just in case Claire stumbled upon them at home. He wanted to show her it when it was just perfect.

With all the mess surrounding the paternity issue, Jamie felt even more compelled to finish the book. There was no way of knowing if anyone would even read it, but he was writing it for Madeline, so that she would know how much she was loved.

“I promise to…” he said out loud, finishing up one last page before he headed back home.

++++++

When Jamie arrived home in the afternoon, he didn’t see Claire or Madeline in the living room or kitchen. He ventured upstairs and finally found them both asleep — Claire in the rocking chair and Madeline on her chest.

“I promise to always let ye sleep,” Jamie whispered and smiled, shutting the door to let them keep resting.

As he plopped himself down on the couch, he figured now was was as good a time as any to call the other lab. Jamie googled the DNA Centre again and pulled up the number, hoping they would answer.

“Edinburgh DNA Centre, this is Louise, how can I help you?” said the voice of a heavily accented French woman.

“Uh, hello. My name is Jamie Fraser and I’m calling to book an appointment.”

“What’s the appointment for, sir?”

“A paternity test,” he said.

“And what time would you like to make the appointment for? We have an available time slot tomorrow at 3:15 p.m., does that work for you?”

“Yes, that’s perfect! Would I need to bring in my — um, the child?”

“You can bring in the child or take your own swab of the inside of the child’s cheek, but I recommend bringing in the child for our nurses to get an accurate swipe. Is that possible?”

“Oh yes, I can do that. Thank you very much, I’ll be there tomorrow. Goodbye.” Jamie hung up the phone and entered in the appointment details into his and Claire’s joint calendar with only a slight feeling of apprehension.

++++++

Claire woke slowly and then all at once, her head popping up. Madeline was tugging on her hair, and Claire smiled down at her. “Did you want Mama to wake up, darling?” Yawning, she scooped her up in her arms and walked downstairs to the living room.

“Jamie?” she called out, noticing his shoes at the front door.

“On the couch, a nighean,” he replied, and then she saw his mop of red curls as she came into the room. Claire came up behind him and placed Madeline down on his chest. “Hello, a leannan, did ye have a good wee nap?”

Madeline reached for Jamie’s nose, trying to pull it off, and he blew a raspberry with his lips to make her laugh. Claire smiled and joined them on the couch, leaning her head against him. “We both had a good nap. Did you get your work done at the office?”

“Um, yes. Just about,” Jamie said and kissed Madeline on the cheek. “I also called the DNA Centre, they have a spot open tomorrow. Would ye be able to bring Mads?”

“What time? I’m meeting Geillis on her lunch break with this wee beast.” Claire scratched her daughter’s back.

“3:15, I’ll send ye the address.” Jamie kissed her temple. “I dinna know what ye had planned for dinner, but I ordered a pizza. Seeing as how ye were asleep and we don’t have any groceries right now, I thought it best.”

“Very wise decision, Fraser,” Claire grinned. “Did you get my green bell peppers? Thin crust?”

“Aye, of course!” Madeline squirmed in his arms, kicking her chubby legs out. He laid her against his chest, cradling her head in his large hand. She looked so safe and small there, so protected. “Should be here soon, a nighean.”

“Bless you.” Claire kissed him and then leaned over to pull a blanket around them. “I was thinking about our wedding just before I fell asleep earlier.”

“Hmm,” Jamie let his eyes close. “And what about it? Still want to marry me?” He cracked one eye open at her, a smirk on his lips.

“Oh yes, very much.” Claire laid her hand on Madeline’s back lightly. “We’ve set the date and the place.”

“Aye, Lallybroch. Tis beautiful in the summer.”

“Well, I guess I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular except how cute Madeline will be in a little flower girl dress,” Claire smiled and looked up at Jamie. “And you, so dashing in your kilt. I don’t think I’ve seen you in it yet.”

“Ye’ll see me in it on Christmas,” he grinned. “I always wear it on occasions like that. Speaking of the wedding, I need to get a new kilt for the big day! And have ye thought of yer dress?”

“A little,” she shrugged. “Nothing too over the top. Just a simple wedding with our friends and family.”

“That’s all we need, aye,” Jamie kissed her, buzzing with excitement for the day he could finally call her his wife.

“I was also thinking about the cake and the food,” Claire admitted, just as her stomach let out a loud growl, making them both laugh. “I might have been hungry when I fell asleep.”

Just as Jamie opened his mouth to say something about Claire’s insatiable appetite, the doorbell rang, signaling the pizza had arrived.

“I’ll get it.” Claire stood up from the couch before he could, his arms still holding Madeline. She came back holding a giant pizza and a two liter of coke. “You really went all out, huh?”

“Tis no a proper Sunday night w’out a pizza and coke, a nighean.” Jamie sat up, shifting Madeline on his chest as he rose to place her in her bassinet so they could eat. “Maybe later, we can add some whisky to that coke."

“Or just have the whisky,” Claire smiled as she opened the pizza box. “I’ll feed Mads and then put her to sleep after we eat, should be safe to have a dram.”

“Aye, no coke then,” Jamie smiled in response.

They finished eating and cleaned up quickly. For once, Madeline didn’t make a fuss when Claire went to breastfeed her, and was quiet as a mouse as Claire laid her down in her crib. With all the legal issues they were about to face, all Claire wanted was a stiff drink and her husband to undress her.

And he did. Slowly. Only slightly tipsy, Jamie had removed her clothes, layer by layer, until she was bare before him. Then, he’d done his best at making her fall to pieces with his hands, tongue, and cock.

They lay together, limbs intertwined, and Claire stroked his head, soft curls between his fingers. “Sassenach…” Jamie mumbled against her chest.

“Hmm?”

“I promise to always love ye,” he said sleepily.

“I promise to always love you too,” she smiled and kissed the tip of his nose.

Chapter Text

December 9th, 2019

Madeline sat comfortably on Geillis’s lap as they sat down to lunch the next day. It was nice to get out of the house and take her mind off of everything that had been going on lately.

“Ye have the chubbiest wee cheeks that I e’er saw.” Geillis lightly pinched Madeline’s cheeks, making her giggle. “Ye might have the cutest baby in the world, Claire.”

“I’ll agree to that,” Claire smiled. “She is rather adorable.”

“With yer genes and that handsome Scot as her father, ye were bound to have an adorable bairn,” Geillis grinned and then bounced Madeline on her knee.

“Do you think—“ Claire started, but shook her head.

“What? Do I think that Jamie isna her father after all?” Geillis could read her so easily — well, anyone could, according to Jamie.

“Yes. I know I said I didn’t want to talk about it, but what do you think? Is it possible?”

“Of course it’s possible, Claire. But when I look at this beautiful wee lass of yers with her auburn hair and fair skin… well, she reminds me of Jamie. And ye of course, but I know this has to be a mistake.”

Just then the waitress brought over their food, setting it down in front of them.

“Thank you,” Claire said and immediately grabbed her fork and twirled a string of pasta around it. “You’re probably right. Always are,” she smirked. “I’m just going crazy waiting! The good thing is that Jamie will take another paternity test today and we should have the results by the end of the week. Then we can figure out what to do next.”

“Ye two have a good plan, and a good lawyer behind ye. Don’t worry, Claire. It’ll all work out, ye’ll see,” Geillis smiled.

They both ate their meals, talking of work and random things other than the biggest issue in Claire’s life. Claire was so grateful that she had Geillis in her life. Without her, she might not have ever met Jamie — if she hadn’t been so persistent in making her come with her to the whisky opening.

“You know…” Claire took a sip of water. “I never really thanked you properly for dragging me out to Lallybroch for the whisky launch.”

“I don’t believe ye did,” Geillis smirked, still holding Madeline in her lap. “But I take yer thanks and say yer welcome, lass!”

Claire laughed, wrapping both her arms around herself. “I just can’t imagine my life without Madeline… without Jamie. You’ve helped me so much, Geillis. You were there for me when I needed somewhere to go and you took me in.”

“That’s what friends do,” Geillis responded with a smile and took her hand over the table, squeezing it lightly. “And now ye owe me a huge favor for basically makin’ yer life amazing…”

“Hmmm? I suppose I do and I know you always cash in on your favors,” Claire laughed.

“Can I break up my huge favor into small ones?”

“I guess,” Claire shrugged. “What did you have in mind?”

Madeline started squirming, reaching for Geillis’ chest, hungry for her own lunch. “Oh, no lass. Nothin’ is comin’ out of these, I’m afraid.”

“Hand the little miss over,” Claire smiled and took Mads from Geillis, then adjusted her on her lap so that she could feed her. Thankfully, she didn’t get any strange looks from anyone in the restaurant… besides, it was just a breast.

“Ye ken that sexy red dress ye have? The one that’s low cut in the front and hugs yer curves in all the right places?”

That exact dress was hanging up in Claire’s closet right now with the price tag still on it. A dress she had purchased on a whim while out shopping with Geillis months ago and hadn’t found a chance to wear.

“Yes, the same dress I haven’t even worn,” she smirked. “What about it?”

“I was just wonderin’ if I could perhaps borrow it… for a date?” Geillis smiled over her glass, her brows raised.

“A date?!” Claire’s mouth dropped. Geillis wasn’t usually the type who went out on dates, she was more the one-night kind of girl. Maybe that’s where Claire got her influence from…

“Yes,” her friend blushed, a deep crimson creeping up her fair cheeks. “And… well, tis with a lass. Her name is Lily and she works in the NICU.”

“Oh, this is different,” Claire nodded. “Is she the one with the short blonde hair? The one that I always see trying to get your attention?”

Her friend blushed more, which was very unlike Geillis. She was usually so confident and carefree, not getting caught up with dating and especially not with a co-worker. “The very one. And caught my attention she did. Ye ken that I lean towards both men and women, but never actually gone on a date with a woman before. I’m really nervous.”

“You? Nervous?” Claire tsked. “She’ll love you, Geillis. You’re an absolute catch and a half. And yes, of course you can borrow my red dress. Just make sure it doesn’t get wrinkled when it ends up on the floor!”

Geillis gasped and lightly hit Claire on the arm. “I told myself I wouldna sleep wi’ her on the first date!”

That, I will have to see to believe,” Claire laughed. Madeline finished up her lunch and Claire pulled her shirt down and started to burp her over her shoulder. “What time is it?”

Pulling out her phone, the Scot checked the time. “Nearly 1:00. When’s yer appointment?”

“3:15,” Claire replied. “But I should probably head back home now and put her down for a nap. The DNA Centre isn’t far from our house.”

“Aye, do that. I should probably get back to work.” Geillis stood up from the table. “Yer so lucky yer still partially on maternity leave. I suppose I’ll have to get myself a baby!”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Claire laughed and stood from the table, preparing to make the journey home with a sleeping baby.

Geillis hugged her goodbye and they parted ways.

“Do you like your Auntie Geillis?” Claire asked Mads as she buckled the car seat in. “She’s a bit wild, but she loves you.”

++++++

Claire had been so tired yesterday afternoon, that as soon as she came back with Madeline and fed her, she’d fallen asleep. And then she woke to find Jamie and ended the night in bed with him. Therefore, she had completely forgotten about searching the name Mary Hawkins.

She needed to meet Jamie at the DNA Centre with Mads in two hours, which gave her just enough time to search Mary’s name while Madeline took a nap. The name was familiar to her and she was positive she’d first heard it from Frank, but she couldn’t quite remember why.

Sitting down at her desk in their study, Claire typed in the name, but the only results that came up were articles about the opening of Hawkins Laboratory four years ago. Thank God for social media. Frank didn’t have any kind of social media accounts, and he had constantly reminded Claire that too much time on her phone would fry her brain.

In a matter of seconds, Claire found who she was looking for.

Mary.Hawkins: 21 “C’est la vie”

Scrolling past pictures of food and sunsets, Claire sat stunned when she found something that chilled her to the bone. It was a picture from three years ago at Christmas. In the picture, Mary sat beside the tree, and sitting beside her was Frank.

When she clicked on the picture to see who else was tagged, another name popped up. A young man that looked an awful lot like Frank. His username was Randall_Alexander, Frank’s youngest brother.

Three years ago, Claire had been scheduled to work the Christmas shift and couldn’t get out of it. She told Frank to go home to his family and that she would be busy, probably not even realizing it was Christmas.

Claire remembered the name Mary Hawkins. Frank had told her that his brother had started dating a girl named Mary and had brought her to meet everyone. Things got busy for both of them and Claire had actually never met Alex Randall. And therefore, she had never met Alex’s girlfriend, Mary. The same Mary Hawkins that works at Hawkins Laboratory.

“That bastard,” Claire muttered, and took a screenshot of the photo to show Jamie later. She knew something wasn’t right and she would bet her life on the fact that Frank had asked a favor from this Mary Hawkins.

To confirm her suspicions, Claire went back to the Hawkins Laboratory website in search for a photo of Mary. There on the “About” section was a group photo of all the staff. Mary was petite and had a mousy face, but Claire had no doubt that it was the same young girl.

What she wanted to do was contact her, to reach out to her and find out the truth, but Claire knew that Mary wouldn’t tell her anything — especially not if Frank had bribed her to lie. It was frustrating, to know that this was all a lie; but without any hard proof, nothing could be done.

Hard proof they could get, however, would come from the new paternity test Jamie was about to take. When those results came back to them in two days, they would know for certain their next steps. All Claire had to do now was be patient… and patience wasn’t her strongest suit right now.

Walking in to check on Madeline, Claire saw she was still asleep and figured she could manage a quick shower before meeting Jamie at the DNA Centre. As she stepped under the hot water, letting it wash away all her troubles, Claire thanked God once again that she was no longer with Frank, but with an honorable and loving man. Her Jamie.

++++++

He was waiting for them in the lobby of the DNA Centre, his fingers tapping a rhythm against his leg. Jamie met her eye and smiled, the lines of worry on his forehead disappearing.

“Sassenach.” He kissed her hello and then picked up Madeline from her pram. “How’s yer day been?”

“Oh, I have some news for you!” Claire said as she took a seat next to him, waiting for their name to be called. Jamie cradled Madeline in his arms, staring down at her beautiful face. “So remember how I told you I thought the name Hawkins sounded really familiar?”

“Aye, just two days ago…”

“Jesus H., has it just been two days?” Claire took a deep breath, running her hand over her face, feeling like she’d aged tremendously in the last week. “Well, when I called the lab yesterday, the woman I spoke to gave me the name Mary Hawkins — saying she was the one to handle our case.”

“And what did ye find out, a nighean?”

Claire placed her hand on Jamie’s arm, squeezing it a little. “I searched for Mary on Instagram and found a picture of her with Frank’s family from three years ago at Christmas.”

“What?” Jamie looked up at her, his eyes wide. “This Mary kens Frank’s family?”

“She’s dating Alexander Randall, Frank’s youngest brother who I’ve never met. At least I think they’re still dating, that’s what her latest post indicated…” Claire rambled. “So, I would bet my life that Frank used his connections at this lab with Mary to somehow change the results.”

Taing Dhia!” Jamie smiled and then kissed Claire. “Ye ken that if we get the results back and they say I’m Mad’s father… and now with this connection to Mary, Claire,” he looked at her, determination in his eyes. “We might have enough evidence to file a claim against them. Against the lab for tampering with the results and against Frank for bribing them.”

“As much as I don’t want this to go into a long drawn-out legal battle, I think you’re right. It’s what we need to do to stop all of this. If they tampered with our results, maybe the lab has done this kind of thing before,” Claire questioned. She wanted to say more, but they were called back to a small room for the test.

“The doctor will be wi’ ye in just a minute,” said the nurse and left the three of them alone, waiting.

“They just need a swab, right?” Jamie looked down at her. “Like the last time?”

“Yeah, that’s all they should need, just some spit.” Claire stroked Madeline’s cheek.

The door opened and the doctor walked in, a short frog-faced-looking man that shook both of their hands. “Hello, are you the Frasers?”

“Aye, I’m Jamie Fraser and this is my fiancé, Claire soon to be a Fraser,” Jamie smiled. “And this is Madeline…”

“She is a beautiful child,” said the doctor with a thick French accent. “My name is Doctor Raymond, I’ll be helping you with your paternity test today.”

“Thank you so much, we appreciate you being able to work us into your schedule on such short notice,” Claire smiled. She felt instantly comfortable with Doctor Raymond, as if she’d known him for a long time.

“It is my pleasure, Madonna,” he smiled at her and then put on his latex gloves. “For accurate results we just need a swab from the bébé’s cheek as well as from the father.”

It took all of two minutes for both cheek swabs to be taken, and Claire held Madeline’s hand the whole time. Thankfully, she had also remembered to bring Madeline’s favorite stuffed bunny toy, keeping it close by her daughter the whole time. Madeline didn’t fuss when Doctor Raymond opened her mouth and stuck the swab in, only looked at him curiously.

Claire watched as Doctor Raymond labeled both samples and put them in a larger bag to be sent in for testing. “And we’ll hear back in two days? Also, I’d like to confirm it is the court-approved test that is being done?”

“Oh, yes my dear, you will have everything you need in a matter of days,” the doctor said and then took her hand. “Everything will work out just as you want it to, Madonna.”

“Thank ye, Doctor,” Jamie nodded his head and then bundled the blanket around Madeline. Doctor Raymond said goodbye and led them out of the room and around the corner where they paid for the appointment. It wasn’t cheap, as it was the second time they’d done this, but it was worth every cent.

“That doctor was a bit odd, no?” Jamie said as they walked out to their cars.

“I don’t think so,” Claire smiled. She liked the odd man, he was kind and very compassionate. “I liked him, and I think Madeline did too.”

“Well, he is French so…” Jamie smirked.

“Ha ha,” Claire laughed and then took back Madeline from Jamie. She immediately started to squirm in Claire’s arms. “What? You don’t want Mama anymore?”

“She loves her Da,” Jamie grinned. “I’ll see ye both at home for dinner.” He first kissed Madeline’s head and then Claire’s lips. “It’ll work out, Sassenach. Just as the weird doctor said it would.”

“I think it will, Jamie,” Claire smiled against his lips. “I really think it will.”

At least she hoped it would.

Chapter Text

December 11th, 2019

Claire had spent nearly all day yesterday trying to distract herself from thinking about the results of the new paternity test. She cleaned the house, and every inch was nearly spotless. When she found her thoughts drifting to the results again, she took Madeline to the park. However, it had been too cold, and that was why she was now lying in bed with a fever and a runny nose.

“I told ye not to go outside, Sassenach. Twas too cold for ye and Mads.” Jamie handed her a cup of water. “At least Madeline isna sick.”

“Thank God for that,” Claire croaked out. “I know I shouldn’t have, but I was just so restless, I needed to do something.”

“You never can sit still, aye,” Jamie chuckled. He’d decided to take the day off of work when he woke up next to a sweating Claire, complaining of a headache. “Are you hungry? Want to try some soup again?”

Trying to sit up, Claire experienced a wave of nausea and shook her head. “Not just yet, maybe later.”

“Alright, I’m going to check on Madeline and make sure she’s okay.” Jamie rose from the bed. “Then I’ll come back. Maybe we can watch a movie or something.”

Nodding, Claire felt guilty for getting sick. It wasn’t often that she did, always careful to wash her hands and wipe down surfaces around the house. All she wanted to do was cuddle with her baby, but she feared spreading her cold to her.

“That sounds good, but I’ll probably fall asleep.”

“Ye need rest, Sassenach. Maybe ye gettin’ sick is a good thing — it’ll make ye finally rest.” Jamie kissed her forehead and left her to check on Madeline.

She was in her crib, fast asleep. Jamie didn’t know how they’d gotten so lucky with her. Madeline cried, of course — she had lungs of steel and could wake the dead. But when she slept, she put her thumb in her mouth and barely made a peep.

Tucking the soft pink blanket around her, Jamie rubbed his thumb over her cheek. He then touched the small tuft of red hair that was forming into curls. Today was the day that they would likely find out the results of the second paternity test. Well, today or tomorrow. It didn’t matter to Jamie — not really. The only thing that mattered now was finding out the truth and possibly shutting down the lab — and getting Frank out of their lives once and for all.

“Sing me a song of a lass that is gone, say could that lass be I,” Jamie sang softly. “Merry of soul, she sailed on a day, Over the sea to Skye…” He hummed the tune that his mother had sang to him as a bairn, watching as Madeline smiled in her sleep… just as he did.

+++++

As soon as Jamie walked back into their bedroom, Claire asked him if the mail had come.

“I don’t know actually,” he said and slowly walked out backwards. “I’ll check. Don’t move,” he continued as he winked — at least, he tried to wink.

Their mail usually came around the same time every day. Lo’ and behold, when he walked over to the door, their mail was scattered about the floor, near where it’d been pushed through the mail slot. Jamie bent down, groaning a bit at the stiffness of his back.

“Spam,” he mumbled as he looked through the envelopes, hoping to see one from the DNA Centre. “More spam, coupons… a bill.” Sadly, there was nothing from the Centre, even though they’d said two days, and that two days was now today.

“Anything?” Claire asked him when he came to sit down beside her.

“Nope, just bills and spam,” he sighed and placed his hand on her forehead. “Yer no too warm now, but still a bit of a fever left, I reckon.”

“You reckon?” Claire arched her brows, a small smile playing on her lips. “Oh, I want to kiss you…”

“But ye canna.” Jamie looked down at her. “Or do ye want to get me sick too? Who would take care of Mads?”

Claire crossed her arms over her chest, her bottom lip sticking out, and Jamie pulled the blanket up around her to keep her warm. “Don’t tempt me…” he smirked. “Ye, with yer frizzy curly hair and red nose."

“You love my frizzy hair!” Claire laughed and then started coughing.

“Take it easy.” Jamie rubbed her arm and then laid down next to her. “I do love your frizzy hair. Every messy strand. Want to watch a movie?”

“Sure,” she nodded. “I’ll probably fall asleep, so pick something you like.”

“Hmmm, well, tis Christmas and I ken how much ye like The Holiday.” Jamie picked up the remote, flicking over to Netflix.

“Oh, I do.” Claire smiled up at him. “Maybe I should get sick more often if it’ll make you watch The Holiday with me.”

“This is a one time offer, Sassenach,” Jamie smiled in return and pressed play, sliding his arm around her, holding her close. He looked over at the nightstand to the baby monitor — Madeline was still fast asleep, sucking her thumb.

Just as Jamie predicted, thirty minutes later, Claire was lightly snoring next to him, her mouth open. She looked so peaceful and Jamie didn’t want to disturb her much-needed sleep, so he kept his arm around her and continued watching the movie.

Near the end of the movie, his phone started buzzing and he slipped it out of his pocket.

“Hello?” he said softly, looking over at Claire to check she was still asleep.

“Hey lad, tis me,” Murtagh said. “I just wanted to call and check on things. See how ye and Claire are doing.”

“Well, at this exact moment, Claire is sick with a bit o’ a cold, Madeline is asleep, and I’m stuck watching The Holiday because Claire fell asleep on me,” Jamie chuckled.

“Didn’t ye say ye love that movie?” Murtagh laughed.

“Shhh, of course not,” Jamie looked down at Claire. “I admit, tis one of the better ones, but no… I never said that.”

“Alright, sure,” Murtagh grumbled into the phone. “How are ye really, though?”

Jamie sighed and finally moved his arm from around Claire, easing himself off the bed as he padded across the room and slipped into the bathroom. “I’m okay. I took the paternity test two days ago and we’re supposed to have the results by today, but nothing came in the mail. I shouldn’t let it affect me so much…”

“But, you want to know for sure and ye already thought this business of who is Madeline’s father was behind ye. It’s alright to be upset, Jamie. Yer human,” Murtagh said, reassuring him that what he was feeling was natural. “I’m sure ye’ll get it in the mail tomorrow, and if no’ then, by the end of the week.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. I just feel like all my and Claire’s relationship has been about one question: who’s the father,” Jamie sighed. “I want to put this all behind me so we can just focus on being a family.”

“Och, I ken ye do, lad. At least ye ken that Claire will love ye no matter what, and that little girl loves ye, even if she’s a bairn and has no concept of what love is,” Murtagh laughed. “Ye have some of the best lasses, Jamie. Yer parents would have loved them, I’m sure of it.”

The mention of his parents choked him up. He thought of them often, but not as often as he felt he should. Jamie missed them both dearly, and he wished more than anything that they could both be here to meet Claire and Madeline.

“Aye, ye think?”

“I know,” Murtagh said. “Well, it was good to chat. If ye ever need anyone to talk to, I’m always here for ye. For all of ye.”

“Of course, thanks for callin’. I’ll keep ye all updated about the results as soon as we get them in,” Jamie replied. “Talk to ye later.”

Hanging up the phone, he slipped it back into his pocket and walked back into their bedroom to find Claire, her eyes slowly opening.

“Were you on the phone?” she said softly.

“Aye, twas just Murtagh, callin’ to check in.” Jamie smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Ye only made it thirty minutes in.”

“I told you,” Claire grinned and then sniffed, reaching for a tissue to blow her nose.

Jamie was about to lay back down beside her when a cry came through the baby monitor.

“That sounds like a wet nappy cry,” Claire said and tried to sit up, but Jamie placed his hand on hers.

“Dinna move, Sassenach. That’s what I’m here for,” he reassured her, and stood up to go to Mads’s room.

“That’s not all you’re here for, Fraser,” she smiled and fell back against the pillows.

As Jamie left to change Madeline’s nappy, Claire rubbed her hands over her eyes. She’d woken when Jamie left the bed to go into the bathroom, so she’d heard most of his conversation on the phone — however, most of it was muffled by the door.

She wanted to put this whole mess behind them too, and she couldn’t help but feel guilty for it in the first place. If she’d only used protection…

If she’d only used protection, then she wouldn’t have Madeline. And she loved her daughter more than anything in the world. She made it worth it. All the headaches and heartache that came with their situation — she was the anchor that kept Claire sane.

++++++

By the end of the day, Claire had managed to eat a bit of soup and saltines that Jamie had put together for her. She was slowly feeling better, thanks to rest and Jamie’s good doctoring skills. Doctors often didn’t make the best patients, but she tried her best not to boss him around, instead letting him take care of her.

Jamie finished feeding Madeline and put her in her crib. He then went around the house, turning off lights and checking the locks. As he walked towards the front door, he noticed an envelope that wasn’t there before on the ground.

Picking it up, Jamie found that it had no return address, and that it didn’t even have their address. It was simply addressed to Claire Beauchamp.

He also noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a bit of white sticking out from under the doormat. Something must have slid under when the mail was delivered earlier, as it’d happened more times than he could count.

Jamie picked up the envelope and found that it was a letter from the DNA Centre. So it had been here all day — it’d merely gotten lost. He wanted to open it, but he knew he needed to wait for Claire; and she was fast asleep, a cold cloth pressed to her head.

He was also curious about the mysterious letter addressed to her, something he would also have to wait until morning for. With a deep breath and a prayer to give him patience, Jamie placed both envelopes down on the front table, silently remembering to open them first thing in the morning.

Locking the door, Jamie then walked back upstairs to Claire in their bed. He simply stood at the entrance, watching her sleep, not caring if he looked weird doing it. She was his mo nighean donn — his brown-haired lass. And his mo ruadh bhàn a ghalad, his red-haired girl, asleep in her crib.

Chapter Text

December 12th, 2019

Claire woke up the next morning feeling loads better than the day before. She had a slight headache, but her fever was gone and she had slept for nearly fourteen hours. All she wanted to do at that moment was hug and cuddle Madeline, but she wanted to make sure her cold was completely gone.

Jamie was sitting in the rocking chair in their room with Madeline, feeding her with a bottle. She drank hungrily, her little hands gripping the bottle best she could. At nearly three months old, Madeline was growing so fast. It felt like only yesterday that she had come into the world. Time was moving faster than Claire wanted it to.

“Good morning, Sassenach,” Jamie said softly. “Ye feelin’ better?”

“Much better,” she smiled in response as she sat up in bed. “Achey, but no fever.”

“Tis good, we can’t have our doctor sick.” Jamie looked down at Mads. “No, we canna.”

“Do you think we’ll get the results today?” Claire asked him as she moved to sit on the edge of the bed, preparing to shower for the day.

Just then, Jamie remembered the two letters he’d found at the front door the night before. One being the results of the paternity test; and the other, an envelope addressed to Claire.

“Och! I nearly forgot! Last night when I was lockin’ up the house, I found the letter from the DNA Centre. It slid under the doormat.”

“What?” Claire nearly gasped and started to stand up, but her head felt woozy. “That’s great! Where is it? Downstairs?”

“Yes, on the front table,” Jamie said and Claire successfully tried again to stand again to go get the letter. “Claire?”

“Hmm?” She turned towards him.

“There was another letter… only addressed to ye, and wi’ no address on it. I’ve no idea who it’s from,” he said, a crease forming between his brows.

“Just a letter to me?” Claire asked, and Jamie nodded. “Well, I suppose we should open up our mail.”

Jamie followed her downstairs, cradling Madeline against his chest and lightly burping her. He was anxious to know what the results were, and curious as to the contents of the mysterious letter addressed to Claire. Someone knew where they lived; hopefully that someone was on their side and not threatening them.

Of course, Jamie’s mind was jumping to the worst possible outcomes, so he brushed the bad thoughts out of his head and focused on the present. Claire picked up the letters from the front table, holding them both up.

“Which one do we open first?”

“The results, of course, Sassenach!” Jamie couldn’t help but smile as he pointed to the one in her right hand.

“Are you sure?” She smirked and squinted her eyes. “You don’t want to have breakfast first and then go for a walk?”

“Would ye open the bloody letter, Claire?” Jamie tilted his head to one side and Claire grinned.

“Alright, just because you begged me,” she laughed, mostly to keep her nerves in check, and ripped the top of the letter off. Inside were a few pieces of paper, similar to the first batch of results they received, with a bunch of numbers and words that didn’t make sense.

At the bottom of the letter it read, “probability of paternity: 99.9%”.

Claire’s hand flew over her mouth and tears filled her eyes. Relief washed over her and she handed the letter over to Jamie as she buried her face into her hands and began to weep. All she had wanted was for Jamie to be Madeline’s biological father, and finally they knew the truth. She decisively knew that her daughter had nothing of that scumbag Frank Randall, and only the good from Jamie.

“I’m her father…” Jamie said quietly as he read the letter over several times, making sure he understood what it was saying.

“Yes!” Claire smiled and then threw her arms around him, pressing her face against his bare chest. “You are her father! Her biological father, her Da… Oh, Jamie.”

Jamie pressed his lips against Mads’ small head and then placed a kiss on to Claire’s. Tears of his own fell down his cheek as he held his girls. Finally, they knew what their next step had to be.

“I would love you,” Jamie said as he looked down at Madeline who was staring up at him, one tiny hand in her mouth. “I would love you no matter who ye belonged to, a leannan, but I’m so glad that yer mine — all mine, wee one.”

“And mine,” Claire smiled and kissed Jamie’s chest. “Both of ours.”

“Ours,” Jamie grinned and hugged her tighter; feeling so much joy, he didn’t know if it was possibly to contain it inside of his body.

“Should we call everyone?” Claire asked, taking the letter from Jamie and snapping photos of it.

“Perhaps we can wait a bit,” Jamie said. “Eat that breakfast ye were talkin’ about and go for that walk? Just be a family for a bit before it gets chaotic again.”

Claire nodded and smiled. “Sounds perfect.”

“When we come back, we can open that other letter and I’ll call Ned wi’ the good news. Looks like we will be going to court after all.”

Court. Lawyers. Testimonies.

It was a bit overwhelming whenever Claire thought about it. Truth be told, she would be fine if they could skip the entire process, but she was also determined to ensure that Hawkins Laboratory didn’t get away with what they did to them and that Frank went to jail.

“Of course.” Claire stood on her toes to kiss him. “But later.”

++++++

They ate a delicious breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon. Jamie had expertly flipped them and both Madeline and Claire watched, amazed at how he caught them back in the pan every time.

After they had eaten, they got dressed in their coats and scarves and went out for a short walk. The temperature was lovely, with the sun out to warm things up, and the fresh air did them all some good.

They took their time walking back home, arm-in-arm as Jamie pushed Madeline in her pram.

“I just can’t believe it really,” Claire said as Jamie had asked her how she was feeling. “I had hoped that it was a mistake or that Frank really had done something to mess with the results, but it’s obvious now, right? He had to have done something.”

“Aye, he must have,” Jamie agreed. “It takes a sick man to want to take another man’s child away from him. I ken ye said he always wanted a bairn, but this is taking things a bit far.”

“Extremely too far,” Claire sighed. “He was sweet… at one point.”

“Hmph.” Jamie made a Scottish noise of disbelief.

“No, really!” Claire looked up at him, squeezing his arm. “I fell for him while I was still in school, and I thought he wasso… dashing. I really thought he was the one.”

Jamie didn’t say anything, instead keeping both hands on the pram, and Claire tugged on his arm to make him stop moving.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said any of that.” She shook her head, regretting ever mentioning that Frank was once a good man.

“Nah, Sassenach.” Jamie placed his fingers under her chin. “Tis alright. Ye did love him, and I believe ye when ye say he used to be decent. But he’s tried to ruin our lives… I just canna see him any other way.”

“Of course.” Claire nodded, biting her bottom lip. “I understand that, and trust me, I absolutely hate his guts for what he’s done to us. For what he did to me…” Claire shuddered, remembering the night she had found out about his affair.

“I didna think ye didn’t,” Jamie smiled and kissed her.

“It just comes as a surprise, if I’m being honest,” Claire said as they started walking back home. “Like you said, it takes a really twisted man to try and do something like this. And not to mention the Lab going through with it… to mess with the test results.”

“We’ve got a good case, mo nighean donn. I dinna ken much about suing people,” he shrugged. “But I reckon that we could win.”

“Of course we will!” Claire smiled and threw her fist up in the air. “The Frasers can do anything!”

Jamie laughed, watching his fiancé shake her fist into the air. They both had been so stressed the past week — ever since the first results had come in — that they had little time to laugh in each other’s company.

“Let’s get home, my wee criminal justice lass.” Jamie laughed again and they made their way home, full of hope.

++++++

“Aye, the results say 99.9% positive that I’m Madeline’s father,” Jamie confirmed over the phone. He’d called Ned, their lawyer, as soon as Claire had sat down to feed Madeline. “So obviously, the other Lab got it wrong. Since twas just me that was tested this time.”

“Can the both of ye come into my office tomorrow? And bring the results wi’ ye, of course,” Ned said.

“Aye, we should be able to do that. And Ned… do you think there’s any way that Randall could try and get joint custody of Madeline now?”

“No. She’s your daughter by blood, he has no claim to her. Tomorrow I’ll go over what will happen next. We’ll need to draft and file a complaint, and serve a copy of it with the summons against both Frank and the lab. That will get things moving. Then we’ll get a court date set, and hopefully soon, although it’s more likely it will take awhile. I ken ye dinna want your family’s first Christmas wrapped up in this business.”

“Aye, that’d be great if it was resolved by then,” Jamie nodded. “Well, thank you Ned. Claire and I will see ye tomorrow then.”

He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. Jamie had confidence in Ned and knew that from here on out, everything was in his capable hands.

“Want me to take her up for a nap?” Jamie reached out his hands for Madeline.

“Sure,” Claire smiled and handed her over. “Come back when she’s down.”

“Aye, Sassenach. I will,” Jamie grinned in response and went upstairs to put Madeline down in her crib. They had a pretty good routine going with her nap schedule. They both still  woke up at all hours of the night whenever Madeline would cry, but that was life with a baby. Jamie couldn’t wait for the day when she would start crawling; crawling would lead to walking, and on to talking. He was excited to see who she turned out to be.

After gently swaying her to sleep, Jamie laid her down in the crib and joined Claire back downstairs on the couch. Sliding his arm around her shoulders, she leaned her head against him.

“Want to turn on a Christmas movie and not really watch it?” Claire asked him, a coy smile on her lips.

“Whatever could ye mean, Sassenach?” Jamie chuckled, but reached for the remote, turning the tv on to whatever channel was playing a Christmas movie. With Madeline taking a nap upstairs, they finally had a little bit of time alone — just the two of them.

Claire turned her head up, bringing her hand to slide into his curls, and brought his lips down to her.

He kissed her slowly, his thumb pressing against her cheek. There was something he always liked about kissing her, the scent of her perhaps… or the wee sounds she made deep in her chest whenever he flicked his tongue lightly against hers. Jamie smiled against her lips and slid both hands to her waist, pulling her to straddle him.

Looking down at him — her eyes glossy, mouth parted, and hair a wild mess — Jamie had never wanted her more. She leaned down, pressing her lips to his once more, all while grinding against him. The barrier of their clothes made them both groan with frustration and Jamie’s fingers found the zipper of her jeans.

The metal sound of the zipper coming down made his cock twitch as he then felt the heat of her against his fingers. He managed to tug the jeans down and over her arse, but before she could move to take them off, he pressed the palm of his hand over her pussy. Claire froze, a slight squeak leaving her mouth as she looked down at him. She saw one thing in his eyes and one thing only: Desire.

Jamie pressed his hand firmly against her, feeling how wet she was through the thin material of her panties. He nudged a finger against the material and then pressed them to her, parting her slick folds. Claire’s body shook momentarily at the intrusion and he brought his other hand to caress her back.

Slowly, he pushed one finger up and began to slide it in and out of her, watching the twitch of her mouth and the heaving of her chest. Claire wanted to reciprocate and her hands found the zipper of his own jeans, pulling it quickly down. He was hard and straining against the thick denim and sighed with relief as her skilled hand set his cock free. She palmed him over his boxers and then, with a smirk, she slid inside and cupped him.

Jamie bit his bottom lip, groaning at the feeling of her touching him and the feeling of his fingers inside of her. Claire began to roll her hips slowly as she stroked him, her thumb pressing firmly on the head, collecting the pre-cum.

“Sassenach,” he managed to get out and moved his other hand to push the hair out of her face to look at her. As they touched each other, they stared into each other’s eyes, wanting nothing more than to bring the other to completion.

Claire felt Jamie’s fingers slow, and she knew he was close so she quickened her rhythm, pumping him and twisting slightly. His hips bucked, as did his fingers inside of her, and Jamie came, spilling his seed onto her hand. He laid his head back, breathing deeply.

She watched him, admiring the way his Adam’s apple moved as he struggled to regain complete consciousness. Wiggling her hips above him, Jamie opened one eye at a time and then smirked.

“I didna forget about ye, mo nighean donn,” Jamie smiled, and began to move his fingers inside of her once again. She arched her back, breathing heavily and panting in his ear. Her legs were nearly trembling as he pushed his fingers inside of her, moving them in a come hither motion. Claire’s hands clasped onto the back of his neck and she pressed against him, clenching her thighs on his hand.

“Oh God!” She began to cry out as she pressed down against him. Claire remembered the way that Jamie had felt in her hand as she made him come and when she looked down in between them to see his fingers moving in and out of her, her body began to jerk as her orgasm bloomed from her stomach, to her toes, and back up to her head.

Exhausted, Claire collapsed on top of him, and he removed his fingers to hook his hands around her back and hold her against him. They both simply sat there, half undressed. Jamie started to kiss her neck and Claire giggled from being ticklish.

“Stop!” She laughed. “You know I’m sensitive there!”

“Exactly,” he smirked and then in an instant he rolled them over, fitting himself between her legs and sliding home. She took every inch of him in, moaning and clinging onto him. Together they explored each other’s bodies, whispering soft nothings into each other’s ears, both feeling like their hearts would surely burst.

++++++

An hour later, they were lying on the couch, redressed and cuddled under a blanket. Claire suddenly sat up, making Jamie jump.

“What is it, Sassenach? Are ye alright?”

“Yes, I just remembered the other letter. The one without an address on it.” She stood from the couch and retrieved it from the front table, coming back to sit beside Jamie.

“Och, I forgot all about that letter. The other one was a bit more pressing,” Jamie said and sat up on the couch, watching as Claire ripped off the top, just as she had with the letter from earlier.

The letter had only a few lines, but it was the last line that gave her goosebumps and made her heart race.

He has connections, and he’s used them to get what he wants. - R

“What does this mean?” Claire read it over several times and then handed it to Jamie. “Who is ‘he’?”

“It has to be Frank, Claire. Talking about his connections to get what he wants. I dinna ken who this R person is, but we need to find out. If they know something, then we could put Frank behind bars for what he’s done."

“Whoever it is…” Claire looked up at Jamie, her stomach twisting in knots. “They know where we live.”

Chapter Text

December 14th, 2019

Yesterday, after Jamie and Claire met with Ned to review their options, they left with Madeline to spend the weekend at Lallybroch. He confirmed that they had a strong case, especially with the results of the new paternity test stating that Jamie was Madeline’s father. The mysterious letter could also be considered important evidence, suggesting that Frank had tampered with the results — or, at least, had asked someone else to do it.

“Ye say this letter was dropped off at yer house?” Ned asked again for clarification, going over the letter in his office.

“Yes, no return address and our address isn’t even on it.”

Ned pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and handed the letter back to Claire. “Then someone kens yer address. If I had to guess, then tis someone from the lab that has access to that kind of information.”

“Someone that maybe wants to come clean?” Jamie said.

“Perhaps that is the case,” Ned nodded. “I’ll file a lawsuit and serve a copy of the summons and complaint on Mr. Randall. The next step will be his part, if he wants to hire an attorney and respond to the allegations in our complaint”

“Thank you, Mr. Gowan,” Claire said, feeling so relieved she could have hugged him.

“Call me Ned, lassie.” He smiled and reached for her hand over his desk, squeezing it as if they were old friends.

“Thank you… Ned,” Claire smiled back. “I don’t know what we would have done without your help.”

“Like I said.” He looked between them both. “I’d do anythin’ for yer family. Anything to see that ye get the peace and happiness ye deserve.”

The only thing they had left to do now was wait.

++++++

Claire was sitting near the fire in a rocking chair that had once belonged to Jamie’s mother, Ellen, but was now Jenny’s. Madeline was staring up at her, her little hands reaching for a stray curl. “No, no darling,” Claire laughed. “Don’t tug on mum’s hair.”

Her mind was finally beginning to calm from the raging storm that had occupied her thoughts during the last week. Sleepless nights of worry and doubt had left her exhausted, so spending a few days at Lallybroch was just what she needed.

There was no doubt that Frank would hire an attorney and try and fight the lawsuit. He thought he was right, and if he had been the one to bribe the lab, then he thought he was safe as well. But one thing Claire knew was that karma always came back around, and Frank Randall had a lot of answering to do for the things he’d done.

As Claire sat there rocking, she thought of the first time she had come to Lallybroch. Not even in her wildest, craziest dreams would she have thought she would be back here eleven months later with a baby in her arms. Jamie Fraser’s baby, to be exact.

The fact that they now knew for certain that Madeline was his… well, it was everything. It was assurance that eased her, and it brought tears to her eyes to know that Madeline had come into the world to bring her and Jamie together. Without her, who knows if they would have worked out…

Of course, Claire thought about what would have happened had she not gotten pregnant. She might have bumped into Jamie sooner, or perhaps even later. But she imagined that they would talk more often and spend time together, much as they had those many months ago.

Maybe Jamie would have asked her out on a proper date to dinner or the movies. No, not the movies, you can’t really talk at the movies. Mini golf? Either way, at the end of the date, Claire imagined that Jamie would have tried to kiss her, and she would have let him.

Months later, after their 37th date, Jamie would have asked her to permanently move in with him; after all… most of her stuff was already at his place. She would say yes and bring her feminine touch to his house. Then one night, while they were eating take-out, Jamie might propose, hiding the ring in a fortune cookie. Or maybe he’d do it while taking a walk with her in their favorite park.

And she would say yes. Then, years down the road, they’d get pregnant and have a baby… and another, and another.

Things hadn’t worked out quite like that — a bit backwards, perhaps — but she wouldn’t change it for the world. It was like that old song kids used to sing on the playground: “Jamie and Claire sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.”

They had their baby in the baby carriage first, then love, then marriage in just a few months.

But love wasn’t a formula, nor was it perfect. There was no right way to do anything in life. Whether you fall in love in a day or over the course of several years. Love is not a science that can be measured or calculated. It’s a feeling, and it’s also a choice.

And Claire would choose this life over and over again, for as long as she lived.

She was so deep in her reflections on all of her past choices with Jamie, staring into the warm glow of the fire, that she didn’t hear Jamie come in. He placed a gentle kiss on the top of her forehead, making her jump.

“Och, sorry, Sassenach,” he chuckled. “Didna mean to scare ye.”

“I just didn’t hear you come in,” Claire smiled warmly at him and reached her hand up to cup his cheek. Kneeling down beside the rocking chair, he kissed Madeline’s head too.

“You always do that,” Claire observed. “Kiss both of our foreheads.”

Jamie shrugged, wiping his thumb over the wet spot on Mads’ head. “I just like doin’ it.”

“Well, I’m not complaining,” Claire said. “It’s rather sweet.”

“Then I won’t stop,” Jamie responded and then kissed Claire on the lips. “Jenny said that dinner will be ready soon, I came to tell ye.”

“What’d she make this time? Not haggis.” Claire made a face.

“Nah, not today,” Jamie chuckled. “She just made spaghetti, said tis easy to make for a lot of people.”

“Mmm, I love spaghetti,” Claire grinned, already thinking about dinner, and her stomach grumbled.

“I ken ye do, and ye also like to get it all over your face.” He leaned in and started peppering her cheeks with kisses and Claire tried to push him away, laughing.

“I do not! It’s a messy food!”

“Even Madeline isna that messy,” Jamie smirked, sliding his finger into Mads’ small hand to grasp.

Claire sighed then, the glow of the fire making her sleepy.

“What’s on yer mind then?”

“What?” Claire looked at him. “Oh, nothing.”

“I can read yer face, Sassenach…” Jamie stroked her cheek with his other hand. “Ye’ve something on yer mind.”

“Just thinking about the lawsuit,” she admitted. “And everything that Ned told us.”

“Well, Ned said the lawsuit would be filed yesterday and that Frank would be served as well. I don’t expect him to do anything til Monday. That’s partly the reason I wanted to come here this weekend. So we wouldna be worrying about what was goin’ to happen.”

“You’re probably right,” Claire said, noticing the slight smirk on Jamie’s face that appeared whenever she said that. “I had really hoped all of this would be done before Christmas, but that’s not looking likely.”

“No,” Jamie sighed. He’d wanted them to have a peaceful first Christmas together, free from the mess and drama. But it might take up to six weeks to get a court date set, if that’s the route they went.

“But,” Jamie said, swiping his thumb across Claire’s cheek. “We know for certain we willna have to deal wi’ this on Christmas Day. Everythin’s closed!”

“True,” Claire laughed. “I just wanted it to be perfect.”

“It will be, a nighean,” Jamie assured her. “I’ll see that it is.”

“Oh you will?” Claire quirked her brow. “Well, if you’re all about making Christmas wishes come true, then you can take your stinky baby and change her nappy!”

“Oooo.” Jamie then grabbed Madeline, holding her out in front of him, and took a whiff. “Yeesh! Christ, what have we been feedin’ her…”

“Just the old boob,” Claire smirked, patting her chest. “And make sure you wash your hands before dinner.”

“You can count on that, Sassenach,” Jamie said with a twisted face as he tried to hold his breath, taking Madeline into their room to change her.

++++++

The next day, Claire woke up to find Jamie watching her.

“Good morning, my own.” He kissed her, pushing her frizzy hair back from her face. “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up.”

“Well…” she yawned, rolling to face him. “I’m up now.”

“Tis a beautiful day. The sun is shining and ye ken what that means?”

“No,” she smiled. “But I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

“It means,” Jamie moved over her, both arms on either side of her body, “that I’m going to take ye ridin’, Sassenach.”

“Oooo, are you?” Claire hooked her hands behind his neck, pulling him down to her for a kiss. “Isn’t it my job to do that with you?”

A deep groan rumbled in his chest and she thought she felt his cock twitch between the layers of clothes and blankets. “A different…” he coughed, “kind of riding.”

“Get dressed, a nighean. Jenny said she’ll watch Madeline while we’re gone.” He kissed her then rolled away, already sliding his boots on.

Half an hour later, Claire was dressed and her stomach was full of a bowl of porridge — a Fraser family staple. When she walked outside, she was actually surprised to find that it was a lovely day.

“You know I’ve never ridden a horse before,” Claire said to Jamie as he led them to the stables.

“I remember, aye.”

“Do you expect me to ride one on my own then?” She had hoped not, and was relieved when he shook his head.

“Nah, Sassenach. We’ll both ride together,” he smiled. “But one of these days, when tis a bit warmer, I’ll teach ye how to ride properly.”

Claire watched as Jamie brought out his horse, Donas, and prepared to saddle him. He was certainly in his comfort zone, and Claire couldn’t help but blush when she remembered they had shared their first kiss in this very stable. Apparently, Jamie remembered it as well and came over to kiss her, his arm secure around her back.

“Took us nearly a year, but I’ve always wanted to kiss ye again here.” His hand pushed back a stray curl and he brushed his thumb across her bottom lip. “There’s something about ye, Claire. I feel as if I’ve always known ye, even back then… I knew we were meant to be.”

Claire smiled and, as cheesy as it sounded, she had felt like she’d always known him as well. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

“Brontë,” he grinned. “How apt.”

They could have stayed like that for hours, wrapped up in each other’s arms, but Donas made a sort of snorting noise behind them — as if he was done watching the love fest. “We’d best get going, then.”

Jamie led Claire over to Donas and helped to hoist her up before climbing on behind her. “Just hold onto the horn there, I’ll get the reigns.” He situated himself behind her and there was no possible room left for imagination.

Claire couldn’t help herself, so she wiggled her bottom against him, blushing as she did. Jamie slid one hand around her stomach, his fingers splayed across. “Two can play at that game, Sassenach. Don’t start somethin’ ye canna finish,” he said softly into her ear.

“You better be taking me to a secluded wood.” She bit her lip as she looked back at him.

“Oh, I’m takin’ ye somewhere secluded.” He clicked his tongue as he pressed both legs against Donas’s belly, and they set off. “You can count on that.”

The wind whipped in their faces and the scenery before them took Claire’s breath away. The Highlands had a magical quality about them, transporting you to a time long ago — where fairies and witches lived amongst the land. The sun was high in the sky, lighting up their path as Donas carried them across the rolling hills.

There was something restorative as well in the air, something fresh that filled her lungs and reminded her to breathe. Jamie’s hand was tight around her waist and the other gripping on the reigns. Claire knew she should be focused on the stunning sight before her, but she couldn’t ignore the obvious bulge pressing against her lower back. She was never more thankful for the limited space on top of a horse.

They must have ridden for another fifteen minutes before Jamie pulled on the reigns and slowed to a steady walk. Donas huffed and shook his head as they slowed down, and Claire gave his neck a soft little pat. Jamie had told her he was a bit of a wild horse, but she liked him.

“Do ye like riding so far?” he asked her, switching his hand on the reigns.

She nodded, and craned her neck to look back at him. “It’s wonderful, Jamie. Thank you for showing me.”

“My pleasure.” He kissed her temple.

“Where did you bring me?” She looked around at the grassy scene before her, but couldn’t see anything in particular that might spark her familiarity.

“It’s a place called Craig Na Dun,” he said, pressing his thighs together to prompt Donas into trotting along a well worn path. “Tis just up that wee hill over there.”

Claire spotted it then, a large hill with something sticking just above the top of it. Jamie led them to the base and soon was helping her down. Her legs felt a bit like jelly, sore from her first ride.

Jamie saw it on her face as she took her first steps. “Dinna fash, Sassenach. Yer legs will get used to it,” he laughed and tied up Donas’s reigns to a nearby tree, handing him an apple from his pocket.

“Well, I still haven’t gotten used to being sore after riding something else,” she winked, taking his hand.

They walked hand-in-hand up the hill, and with every step, Claire could see large stones rising above them.

“What is this place?” she asked, her eyes widening as she took in the view before her. Tall stones covered the top of the hill, and she wondered where they’d come from.

“Tis a sort of fairy hill,” Jamie explained. “Scottish stories tell of a woman who came up to these stones, and when she placed her hand on the largest one in the middle… she disappeared.”

“Where did she go?”

“Through space and time,” Jamie said, his voice soft as if speaking in respect for the area. “Many think that it’s still possible.” Now he was leading them to the largest stone in the middle, and Claire’s stomach did a little flip when he placed his hand on the stone.

“Would you want to travel in time?” she asked, placing her hand next to his on the stone. Nothing happened, much to her surprise.

“Only if ye’d come wi’ me.” Jamie grabbed her hand and pulled them down to sit, their backs pressed against the stone. “I think it’d be so interesting to go back to the 18th century and see what it was really like, ye ken? To see the clans in their prime.”

“I think I could go for seeing you in a kilt,” she snickered. “Which I still have yet to see.”

“I told ye, a nighean.” He slipped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. “Christmas Day.”

“It can’t come soon enough.” She smiled and rested her head against him.

They sat there, listening to the wind blow through the stones. It created a sort of buzzing sound, as if bees were traveling around the hill. Claire wondered what it would be like to travel back in time, to see the things she had only read about in history books.

“Would you be a true Scotsman?” she asked a few minutes later.

“Hmm?”

“If we went back to the 18th century and you wore a kilt…” she blushed.

“Oh.” His cheeks turned pink, as well as his ears. “Well, if ye must know, I dinna wear anythin’ under the kilt now. So aye… I would be a true Scotsman.”

“Jesus H. Christ,” Claire sighed. “Now I really can’t wait for Christmas.”

Jamie laughed, turning his body slightly towards her. “Well if all ye want to see is that, ye don’t have to wait until Christmas.”

He pressed his lips against hers, all while pushing her to lie back down on the ground. Both his hands were on either side of her head and he leaned back to look at her. “Yer so beautiful, Claire… so beautiful, it nearly breaks my heart wi’ how much I love you.”

“I love you, Jamie.” Claire placed both hands on his face, amazed at his own beauty. “So much, it hurts sometimes.”

“I’ll make the hurt go away,” he said softly and leaned down once again, capturing her lips. Settling himself in between her legs, he fit perfectly. It was still rather cold, with a crisp chill on top of the hill, so they only pushed their pants down to give them access to what they both craved.

Jamie took hold of himself and guided his cock into her, watching as her mouth parted and a moan left her lips. When he was fully inside, he started to rock gently, savoring the warmth of her.

“My God, Sassenach… I never want to leave ye when I’m inside of ye.” He pressed his lips to her neck.

“I don’t want you to,” she panted, her hands clinging onto his back, bunching up the material of his jacket. His hips were slow but steady as he rolled them once, twice, and three times.

They made love on top of that hill. Their breaths mingled and their sighs dying in each other’s mouths. The wind blew across them, making them both shiver and laugh. Jamie looked down at her, wiping a wind-blown tear from her eye, and then kissed her as he thrust into her one last time.

Chapter Text

December 16th, 2019

Lallybroch had been relaxing and restorative for both Jamie and Claire, but reality always hit when you least wanted it to. Almost as soon as they walked in the door to their home on  Monday afternoon, Jamie’s phone lit up. It was Ned. 

Claire left them to talk while she took Madeline upstairs to her room. She kicked her legs playfully, touching her hands to her feet as Claire unpacked her small bag of belongings from the weekend. 

Seeing that she was fine in her crib, Claire joined Jamie back downstairs to catch the tail end of the conversation with Ned. Jamie saw her and put the phone on speaker so she could hear.

“I’ve spoken wi’ Frank’s attorney. He still wants to pursue joint custody. I take it that he doesna have the faintest idea that ye received a letter about his possible actions, nor does he know about the other paternity test?”

“Correct,” Jamie replied. “Of course he will want to pursue joint custody. The bastard thinks he’s gone over our heads, tricked us somehow.” 

“Normally, I would suggest handling this matter privately, seeing as how a child is involved, but this now concerns the first laboratory that ye used. You may want to press charges against the facility,” Ned informed him. 

“So yer advising that we take this to court,” Jamie glanced over at Claire. “We use the evidence we have against Frank and the laboratory?”

“Precisely,” Ned confirmed. “It may take awhile to get the court date set. I’ll have to let Mr. Randall’s attorney know and then we will proceed from there. He won’t be too pleased with this course of action.” 

“No, he willna,” Jamie nearly smirked, thinking of how Frank would react. “But, if ye think this is the best way to go about things, then I trust ye, Ned.”

“I’m glad that ye do,” Jamie could almost hear Ned smile through the phone. “I can almost guarantee that the court date will be set after Christmas, unfortunately. So if I may continue to advise ye…” 

“Of course,” Jamie said. 

“Enjoy yer first Christmas together as a family, try no to think about the lawsuit as much as possible. These worries will still be there after the holidays.” 

“Thank ye, Ned. We really appreciate all yer help wi’ this,” Jamie smiled and took a seat next to Claire. After finalizing a few more details, Jamie hung up the phone and laid it on the table. 

“We’ll set a court date,” Jamie said to Claire. “We’ll fight against Frank’s claim on Madeline and we’ll sue the laboratory for what they’ve done.” 

“It’s all a bit… scary,” Claire shivered, goosebumps rising on her skin. 

Jamie slid his arm around her, pulling her close to him. “I ken, mo nighean donn. But we’ve nothin’ to be worrit about. Nothing at all.” 

“You’re so bloody positive,” Claire laughed as she laid her hand across his stomach. 

“I just have a good feelin’ about it all,” Jamie shrugged, looking down at Claire’s hand, the one with his ring on it. “Soon, this will all be over and we can focus on the wedding.” 

“And the honeymoon,” Claire snickered, looking up at Jamie. “We still need to decide on that, by the way.” 

“Hmmm,” Jamie thought, bringing his hand up to rub Claire’s shoulder. “Well, I’ve yet to see ye in a bikini, so maybe somewhere wi’ lots of sun?”

“A Scotsman suggesting a vacation spot with sun?” Claire laughed, moving to lay her head in Jamie’s lap, looking up at him. “Won’t your fair skin burn?”

“Och, nah. I used to work out on our farm as a lad, I don’t burn too bad,” Jamie looked at his arm. “Ye on the other hand,” Jamie slid his hand across Claire’s neck, “ye might turn red.” 

“If you want to see me in a bikini so badly, then I can just go put one on now.” She started to get up, but Jamie held her down. 

“I want the full effect.” He stared down at her and she squirmed at bit at the intensity of his gaze. 

“The sun on yer skin, rubbing sunscreen on yer back… seein’ how the bikini is a bit too small on yer plump arse.” 

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Claire grinned, leaning up to wrap her hands around his neck and kiss him. 

“So we can go somewhere tropical?” 

“Yes,” Claire kissed his lips. “I also would like to see you in some swim trunks… ooh! Maybe a speedo,” she wiggled her eyebrows. 

“No,” he laughed, shaking his head. “I’m no wearing a speedo, it willna cover anything!” 

“Oh, so you expect me to wear next to nothing on a beach, but you’ll be covered up?” Claire tsked. 

“Just don’t want ye gettin’ jealous of everyone starin’ at yer husband is all.” He slid his hand to the back of her head, holding her face close to his. 

“Who says they won’t be staring at me?” Claire flicked her tongue out against his upper lip. 

A Dhia,” was all he could say before he pressed their lips together. Claire moaned against his mouth and he was working his hand up her shirt, softly stroking the underside of her breasts when Madeline started to cry. 

“Shit,” Claire muttered against her lips. “She has the best timing doesn’t she?”

“Aye.” Jamie kissed her one last time before reluctantly releasing her to attend to their daughter. 

As much as Jamie loved Madeline — with his whole being — he was glad that he and Claire would be alone on their honeymoon. Watching Claire walk away from him, his eyes landed on her sweet round bum and he pictured the way it would look in a tight bikini. 

“Christ, man,” he said to himself, fidgeting on the couch. His cock had grown hard in the quick minute things had started to heat up. He hoped that all Madeline was crying for was a nappy change and not a feeding. 

His mind flicked to thoughts of Claire lying topless on the beach, her skin glowing in the sun. Of course, this would need to be a private beach, he couldn’t have his wife topless and people staring at her… she was all his. 

Jamie moved his hand to settle over the growing bulge in his pants. He wasn’t planning on relieving the pressure without Claire, but it helped ease the ache a bit until she hopefully returned. 

Unzipping his trousers, Jamie placed his hand over his cock, the thin material of his boxer briefs straining against his length. He heard footsteps above him, Claire walking around upstairs. Slowly, he moved his hand over his cock, thinking of Claire stretched out upon him, his skin sunkissed and warm. The way her nipples would perk up in her swimsuit and he would take one in his —

A hand touched his shoulder and he jumped, his eyes flying open to see a smirking Claire staring down at him. 

“Having fun by yourself, huh?” 

“I’m sorry,” he blushed and removed his hand from his pants. “I was thinkin’ of ye… I swear it.” 

Claire walked around the couch to stand between his legs. “Don’t stop on my account.” 

“What?” He nearly gasped. 

“I said,” she leaned down, her face just inches from his. “Don’t… stop.” 

Picking up his hand, Claire placed it back over his cock and looked down. “What were you thinking about?” 

“You,” he said quietly and Claire straightened up. “Of what ye would look like in a wee bikini… and out of it.” 

“Any particular body part interest you?” She teased him by lifting up the hem of her shirt, exposing her stomach. His hand palmed his cock, and it twitched at the sight of her before him. 

He stuttered a bit, his mind growing fuzzy. “The way yer breasts would look and how I would take yer nipple into my mouth.” 

Biting her bottom lip, Claire lifted off her shirt. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and let the material drift down to the ground at their feet. Her hands came up to grab both her breasts. “Did you think of this?"

Jamie moved his hand over his cock, sliding it into his boxers to take a firm hold of himself. “Aye,” he moaned as he watched Claire touch her breasts. “Fuck,” he mumbled. 

“And you wanted to taste one?” She took a step forward until her chest lined up with his face. 

All Jamie could do was nod as he looked up at Claire, his mouth agape at this beautiful woman in front of him. What he wanted was Claire’s hand on him, stroking him, bringing him to completion, but she clearly had other ideas. 

“Keep going,” Claire looked down at his hand and she could just see the tip of his cock peeking out from his boxers as he stroked himself. She placed one hand on the back of his head and brought it forward until his lips fastened around one of her nipples. “Be gentle.” 

Jamie moaned against her breast, sucking on the pretty pink bud. He was careful not to suck too hard to draw milk, but something inside of him wanted to drink her down. He could hear Claire’s own moans as he squeezed and kneaded her breast. His hand sped up on his length, he was nearly there. 

“Faster, Jamie,” Claire said and he didn’t know if she meant his tongue or his hand so he did both. Flicking his tongue out against her nipple, Jamie then switched to the other breast while his hand pumped his length. 

“Ugh! God,” he groaned as he started to come and leaned his forehead against Claire’s chest. She held him against her and looked down, watching as Jamie came in his hand. When he pulled back and looked up at her, he appeared almost drunk. 

“Ye will kill me, lass,” he said softly, and then Claire pressed her lips against his. 

“Take me upstairs,” she breathed and Jamie managed to stand up and take her into his arms, walking them upstairs to their bedroom, where he would make sure she knew just how much he loved her. 

++++++

Instead of staying in for dinner, Jamie, Claire, and Madeline met Geillis out for dinner at Zizzi’s. 

“Hello pretty one,” Geillis said to Madeline as they sat down at their table. 

“Hello Geillis,” Jamie smiled back and Geillis hit him playfully on the arm. 

“Ye ken I was talkin’ to yer daughter, not yer ugly face,” she smirked and stroked Madeline’s face with her finger. “She’s gettin’ so big. I swear every time I see her she’s grown a pound.” 

“Well, it certainly feels like she has.” Claire wiggled Madeline’s foot. The waitress came over to take their drink orders and they ordered their food as well. One large pizza to share with all the toppings except pineapple. 

“I don’t ken anyone who actually likes pineapple on their pizza.” Jamie stuck his tongue out in disgust, making faces at Mads. “Gross,” he said to her and she giggled. 

“I like pineapple fine well on its own, but I dinna want it near my pizza,” Geillis agreed. 

“Oh!” Claire finished taking a sip of her water. “Geillis, how was your date? With what’s her name, Daisy?”

“Lily,” Geillis corrected her. “Another kind of flower,” she blushed. “It was… really good.” 

“Good?” Claire’s eyebrows raised. “That’s all I get for letting you borrow my red dress?”

“I need to give that back to ye by the way,” Geillis said.

“Oh, just keep it!” 

Jamie sat up straighter at their words. “The red dress that’s been hangin’ in our closet?”

“Yes, that red dress,” Claire looked at him strangely. 

“I thought,” he cleared his throat, the tips of his ears pink. “I thought ye might wear that someday…” 

“I’m sure Geillis will get more use out of it than me,” Claire smiled at her friend and squeezed Jamie’s hand. 

“Och, tis alright, Claire. Yer wee fox obviously wants to see ye in the dress and he should,” Geillis fanned herself as if it was hot in the room. “I saw the way ye looked in that dressin’ room. I’ll come by this week wi’ it,” she winked. 

“Happy now?” Claire asked Jamie, who was now smiling, rather pleased with himself. 

“Aye, I am,” he smirked. 

Fifteen minutes later, their food arrived and they all grabbed a couple slices, eating like they hadn’t in days. By this time, Madeline had fallen asleep and was tucked under her blankets in her carrier. 

“Are ye doin’ Christmas wi’ yer family, Jamie?” Geillis asked. 

“Och, yeah,” he swallowed a bite. “I’m really excited for it. It’ll be our first Christmas together as a family.” 

“It’ll be perfect,” Claire smiled. “I can’t wait to finally see the lights you mentioned almost a year ago now.” 

“Oh yes!” he said excitedly. “It’ll be so beautiful and hopefully we’ll get some fresh snow around the day as well.” Jamie was beaming, looking like a little boy, eager for Christmas to come as quick as possible. 

“Ye make it sound like the place to be,” Geillis said. 

“Oh, you should come!” Claire offered, then looked at Jamie to make sure it was alright, and he nodded. “If you don’t have any plans, that is.” 

“Tis a kind offer, Claire,” Geillis smiled appreciatively. “But, I’ll actually be spendin’ Christmas with Lily and her family in London.” 

“Oooh, London, how posh,” Claire said. “That’s great, Geillis. It sounds like you really like Lily.” 

Her friend blushed, hiding her mouth behind a napkin as she chewed. “I really do, Claire. It feels… so right.” 

“I ken that feeling,” Jamie slid his arm around Claire’s waist. “I’m happy for ye, Geillis. But the invitation still stands. We’ll be at Lallybroch for several days, so come anytime ye want.” 

“I might just take ye up on that,” she smiled. 

They finished up their meal and got the check. Claire knew that she would need to wake up Madeline when they got home to feed her, and afterwards, she was looking forward to falling into her bed at last. 

As they stood from the table and started walking out, something across the restaurant caught Claire’s attention. Or rather… someone

There was a young girl that had met her eye from across the room that looked an awful lot like Mary Hawkins, the girl from Hawkins Laboratory — and the girl dating Frank’s brother, Alex. Claire stood still for a moment, but as she started to follow behind Jamie, the girl stood up and started walking over to her. 

“It’s C-claire, right?” The young lass said with a subtle stutter. 

Claire’s heart rate sped up, as she was now face-to-face with the person who most likely had tampered with their paternity results. What she should have done was leave the restaurant and get as far away from her as possible, but she couldn’t move. Instead, she wordlessly nodded. 

Jamie noticed that Claire was no longer behind him and he turned back to find her. He saw her standing with a young woman and came over to them with Madeline’s carrier on his arm. “Hi,” he looked at the girl. “Who’s this, Sassenach?”

“Oh, where are m-my manners,” the woman said as she offered her hand out to them. “My name is Mary Rose Hawkins.”

“Christ,” Jamie muttered and looked at Claire, his eyes wide. So Claire had been correct in her assumptions. 

“Is this your daughter?” Mary askedand looked down at Madeline. “She’s v-very beautiful.” 

“Thank you,” Claire said shortly. “Did you need something, Mary?”

The girl looked taken aback and Claire hoped that Mary would just spit out whatever she needed to say. 

“I wanted to say…” she looked at Claire and then down at her hands, nervously fidgeting them. “I just wanted to say how terribly sorry I am.” 

“For what, lass?” Jamie said. 

“Why for what I’ve done,” she said with furrowed brows. “For what he… made me do.” 

“Mary…” Claire said, side-eyeing Jamie. “I think we need to have this conversation in private, and perhaps at another time in a place that is more appropriate.” 

“Oh yes, of course,” Mary nodded and pulled out her phone. “I want to help you, in any way that I can.” 

“Would you be willing to meet with our lawyer?” Claire asked, taking Mary’s phone to put her contact information in. She wasn’t about to risk meeting Mary in private, getting information out of her, and then never hearing from her again. She wanted any evidence recorded and documented. 

“Yes, I’ll do anything,” Mary perked up at that. “When I saw you here, I just knew that it was a sign. T-that I must help you.” 

“Then ye’ll know of the lawsuit?” Jamie asked her, risking how much information he was giving out to her freely. 

Mary nodded, “Yes. I’m sure you know, Claire — that I’m engaged to Frank’s brother, Alex.” She turned her head and nodded over in the direction she had come from, where a young man was sitting. Claire did, in fact, recognize him from the few pictures she had seen of Frank’s family. 

“Yes, I did know that,” Claire confirmed. “We really should be going now.” 

“Of course! I’m so sorry to have i-inter-rupted your evening.” Mary started to walk away. 

“Thank you, Mary,” Claire said finally. “If you’re willing to help us… thank you.” 

“It’s my p-pleasure,” she smiled warmly, and they went their separate ways. 

Claire felt like she was in a daze as they walked out onto the street. 

“Who was that girl?” Geillis asked her. 

“Someone that wants to help,” Claire said. 

Mary’s middle name was Rose. The letter she had received a few days ago informing her about Frank getting his way had been signed with the letter “R”. Things were beginning to click into place.

Chapter Text

December 25th, 2019

Lallybroch was lit up beautifully, just as Jamie said it would be. Christmas lights hung on every window, on the tree, and along the roof, making the house shine. Claire always thought it looked like a house from a fairytale, and now it really was. 

They arrived yesterday afternoon, just in time to settle inside before a fresh snow started to fall. This would be their first Christmas together as a family, and although Madeline was still too small to remember it in the future, Claire wanted it to be perfect. 

It was a tradition in the Fraser household, as it was likely in most homes, to read ’Twas The Night Before Christmas before everyone went to bed on Christmas Eve. They all sat in the living room: Jenny, Ian, and their three children; and Jamie near the fire, with Madeline cradled on his lap. 

“’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring,” Jamie said in his thick Scottish accent. “Not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there…” 

His voice was almost hypnotic. The soothing hum of his deep voice and the warm fire were a balm to Claire’s heart. It had fractured a bit, with everything going on in the past month. All she wanted was for her life to settle down so she could enjoy it. Time was already moving faster than she would like, and there simply wasn’t enough of it. 

Surprisingly, all the Murray children sat quietly, with only a few wiggles from the littlest one as Jamie read. They loved their uncle, and seeing the way Jamie captured their attention almost made Claire want those eleven other children he was talking about — almost. 

A plate of decorated sugar cookies and a tall glass of milk were both set out on the table and the kids eyed it suspiciously as they walked upstairs to bed. Growing up, Claire had never believed in Santa Claus. Her parents had told her the story of him when she was young, but for some reason the idea of a big, jolly, fat man climbing down the chimney never made any sense to her. So it was rather sweet for Claire to see the excitement radiating off the children as they said good night on that Christmas Eve. 

It wasn’t much longer before the rest of the adults fell into their own beds, exhausted from hours of keeping the children entertained. Madeline was sleeping in one of the Murray children’s old cribs in Claire and Jamie’s room. Taking one last look at her, Claire smiled before climbing into bed next to Jamie. 

He slid his arm around her, and pulled her close. Claire laid her head against his chest, taking in the warm, musky smell of him. 

“I’m very excited for tomorrow,” she said. 

“Aye, so am I, mo ghraidh. I can’t wait to give ye yer present.” He squeezed her shoulder. “Well, tis Madeline’s present, but also yers, seein’ how she canna exactly appreciate it just now.” 

“Oh really?” Claire looked up at him. “What sort of present?”

“Och, yer really tryin’ to get me to spill a secret I’ve kept for months only hours before Christmas Day?” he laughed and pressed his thumb against her chin. 

“Worth a shot,” Claire pinched his stomach lightly with her fingers. “I know Madeline won’t really have memories from her first Christmas, but we will, and I want it to be perfect.” 

“It will be, Sassenach.” Jamie kissed the top of her head. “Tis wild to think about how I felt this time last year compared to now.” 

“Hmm,” Claire hummed, feeling sleep weigh on her eyelids. “And how did you feel last year?”

He hadn’t really thought about it until just now, but last year Jamie had been anxious about the opening of the business, considering it was something he never thought he would own one day.

“Ye ken my father passed last year, in February.” 

“Yes, I remember you told me a bit on the first night we met,” Claire said. 

“It’s crazy to even think it’s been almost two years since that happened,” Jamie sighed. “I struggled a lot with his death, and it only got harder when the launch of the company was approaching.” 

“Let’s just say that this time last year, my Christmas was spent nursing a bottle of our finest whisky,” Jamie laughed softly. “I hadn’t written a word since before he died, and the thought of opening the distillery without him,” his throat tightened. “I didn’t want to do it, still can’t believe I’ve done it sometimes.” 

“But just think.” Claire ran her fingers lightly through the wiry copper hairs on his chest. “If you hadn’t launched the company, we might never have met.” 

“Och, nah, Sassenach,” Jamie grinned and tilted Claire’s chin up to look at him. “Meetin’ ye was always goin’ to happen. I dinna ken if ye believe in fate, but I do. I was always meant to meet ye, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp. To love you.” 

Claire’s hand cupped his cheek and she pressed her lips lightly against his. “If you believe in fate, then I do too, James Fraser.” 

Jamie kissed her again, this time sliding under the covers and laying on his side to face her. His hand found its way into her curls and he held her close against his body. “All that to say, Sassenach, this Christmas is a happier one for me.” 

“I’m glad I could play a small part in that,” Claire said softly. 

“Ye played all the parts,” Jamie smiled. “The lead part, the background characters — hell, even the wee tree, Claire. Ye’ve made all the difference in my life. Ye’ve made me confident and brave to do the things I never wanted. And because of ye, ye’ve made me a Da and soon a husband. I can’t thank ye enough for it.” 

“Oh, Jamie,” Claire’s voice hitched in her throat as she felt tears in her eyes. “This time last year, I was stuck in a loveless relationship with a man that was cheating on me. If there’s anyone that needs thanking, it’s you.” 

“This is the first of many Christmases, mo nighean donn, and I plan on spendin’ every one of them wi’ ye.” Jamie kissed her. “That is, if ye’ll have me.” 

“I’ll have you for every holiday from here on out,” Claire smiled against his lips. 

“Ye ken that I want ye,” Jamie slid his hand down to her waist. “But, wi’ Mads sleepin’ soundly two feet away, I wouldna feel right.” 

Claire pressed her hips against him, feeling the evidence of how badly he wanted her, but he was right. Any sounds they made could wake her, and it also felt wrong to have sex next to an innocent baby, even if she would never remember it later on in life. 

“You’re probably right,” Claire sighed, her thumb pressing against Jamie’s bottom lip. “We’ll just have to find a moment tomorrow.” 

“Ye can count on me findin’ many moments to get ye alone tomorrow,” Jamie nearly growled and kissed her, turning Claire in his arms until her back was against his chest. She fit perfectly against him, and he could feel her heartbeat hammering away. Sometimes, he thought he might break her wi’ how tightly he held her; afraid that if he didn’t hang on to her, she would disappear. 

Placing a kiss to the back of her neck, Jamie said goodnight; and when the only response he received was a light snore from Claire, he laughed and shut his eyes on that snowy Christmas Eve. 

++++++

Claire woke to the sound of children’s feet running down the hall. It was Christmas morning. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness before rolling over to face the clock: 7 a.m. Not as early as she had predicted the night before. 

Surprisingly, Jamie was still in bed — and asleep. Usually, he woke before her, either to go to the gym or go into the office early. Claire rolled onto her stomach and watched him. He had one arm above his head, and the other laying flat on his stomach. Reaching over, Claire plugged his nose with two fingers and he woke with a start. 

Mhac na galla!” he yelped as he sat up in bed, and Claire’s hand flew back. Searching for the culprit of his rude awakening, Jamie’s eyes landed on Claire, who had buried her head into the pillow, pretending to be asleep. 

“Sassenach,” he rubbed her back. “Did ye try and kill me in my sleep?”

Claire shook her head, then rolled onto her side laughing. “I was just trying to wake you up, not restart your heart.” 

“Next time,” he leaned over her, “ye can wake me wi’ a kiss, although that still takes my breath away.” Jamie pressed his lips against hers, not caring about morning breath, and slid his hand along her hip. 

“That is the cheesiest thing I have ever heard, James Fraser,” she snorted. “The kids are already up, their excited shouts of glee woke me up, so we’d better join them.” 

“Aye, suppose we should,” Jamie sighed and flopped onto his back. “I have to get my kilt on… tis Christmas.” 

Perking up at the word “kilt”, Claire nearly suffocated Jamie as she climbed on top of him, her hands resting on his chest. “Your… kilt?”

“Aye, I told ye that I would wear it today, so if ye’d please get off my chest, I’ll put it on for ye.” Jamie put his hands on her hips and helped to lift her off. 

“Can I watch you?” Claire moved to sit on her legs, observingJamie as he pulled out his bright red Fraser tartan kilt from the chest of drawers. 

“Nah, maybe another time, because I want to see your reaction for the big reveal,” he smirked. “Go join the others downstairs, it won’t take long.” 

Claire pouted her bottom lip, which prompted Jamie to come over and kiss her. “You can help me take it off later, does that sound like a good compromise?”

“Oh yes,” she nearly purred and then snatched up her favorite sweater in the armchair and slid it on. Claire gathered Madeline into her arms before descending the stairs to join the rest of the Murray clan. 

The children were all sitting around the tree, sorting the presents into neat little piles. Jenny and Ian both stumbled in from the kitchen, carrying a tray of coffee and cinnamon rolls.

“Merry Christmas,” Claire smiled and sniffed at the air, the delicious smells making her stomach rumble. 

“Merry Christmas, Claire.” Jenny kissed her on the cheek before sitting down next to Ian. “Help yerself to the rolls and coffee. Tis a tradition to bake them every Christmas morning.” 

“Your own recipe?” 

“My Da’s, actually,” Jenny pulled her legs up under her. “Mam was usually the cook, but Da always made these.” 

“I can’t wait to try one,” Claire grinned and reached for one, just at the same time she heard footsteps on the stairs. Looking up, she saw him — her Highlander. A string of obscenities ran through her head, but thankfully the only thing that came out of her mouth was, “Oh my God.” 

“Have ye never seen him in a kilt?” Ian asked her, trying to hold back a laugh. 

“No,” Claire shook her head, her eyes locked onto her tall red-haired Scot. He looked so dashing in his kilt and cream-colored sweater. He wasn’t wearing shoes, just tall black socks. His gaze lingered on Claire, and after the final step, he did a small spin for her, holding his arms out to the side. 

“So?” 

“Please wear that every single day.” Claire reached out her hand to him. As he sat down next to them, Madeline attempted to crawl into his lap. “It seems I’m not the only girl who approves of the new look.” 

“Does Mads think Daddy is handsome?” Jamie said to her, picking her up and kissing her cheek. “And what about Mummy?”

Claire leaned over and kissed his cheek, then whispered into his ear so that only he heard, “That kilt is making me very… wet.” 

His cheeks instantly turned pink, and he started coughing as Claire placed her hand on his knee. “Good to hear,” he smirked. 

“Enough wi’ the compliments,” Jenny said. “I’m sure the bairns willna wait another minute to open presents.” 

They let the children go first, one by one, opening their presents to see what Santa had sent them. Claire never had a big family — no siblings or cousins to spend holidays with. It was heartwarming to be in the room with a cozy fire, a big tree, and joyful children. 

Jenny and Ian exchanged their presents next. Claire leaned against Jamie, tucked underneath his arm, and let Madeline play with her hand, sucking lightly on one finger. 

“Okay, Sassenach, yer turn,” Jamie looked over at her. She had three presents next to her, two from Jamie and one from Ian and Jenny. 

“Which one should I open first?” She ran her eyes over the presents. 

“The green one!” Maggie shouted. “That’s from Mam and Da! We helped too!” 

“The green one it is then,” Claire smiled and reached for it beside her. She unwrapped to find a beautiful dark green knit scarf with a matching hat and gloves. “Oh, these are so beautiful.” 

“I knitted them all,” Jenny said proudly, cradling Kitty in her arms. “The kids helped by staying out of my way long enough so I could.” 

“Thank you, Jenny. It’s all perfect! I didn’t even bring a scarf and hat up here!” She folded the scarf on her lap. 

The next gift she opened was from Jamie, and she grinned up at him as she ran her hand over the wrapping. Jamie sat beside Claire, nervously watching her unwrap the present. He’d worked so hard on it the past few months, and hoped that she would like it. Finally the last piece of tape was torn off and the book was revealed. 

“I Promise To…” by Jamie Fraser. 

“Tis not exactly finished, but this is a rough look at what the final product will be,” Jamie said as Claire ran her fingers over the cover. She opened it up and on the first page there was a dedication. 

“To my girls, the loves of my life. My Sassenach and my wee lass, I promise to always love you,” Claire read aloud, and looked up at Jamie with tears in her eyes. “Oh, Jamie, you wrote this for us?”

“Aye, I started writing it shortly after we bumped into each other again.” Jamie shifted Madeline on his lap. “Take a look,” he smiled. 

Claire flipped past the first page and her face lit up. It was surreal for Jamie to finally see a physical copy of the book, even if it wasn’t quite finished. It was simple, something for parents to read to their children, but it expressed what he felt for his family better than his own words could. 

“Who drew these pictures?” Claire asked as she looked through the pages. 

His cheeks reddened as Jamie admitted that he had done them himself. “The words were the easy part, the wee drawings… no’ so much.”

“Well, let me see!” Jenny rose from the couch and came to peer over Claire’s shoulder. “It’s not too bad, brother. Yer certainly no Van Gogh, but it has a certain — rugged quality.” 

Rugged?” Jamie asked. “I dinna think that was exactly what I was going for, but thank ye, Janet.” 

“It’s wonderful, Jamie.” Claire couldn’t take her eyes away from the book. It meant so much to her that Jamie had taken up writing again and had put all this work into something for her and their daughter. “Is this why you wouldn’t show me what you were writing?”

“Aye,” Jamie bounced a gurgling Madeline on his knee. “I would jot down wee sayings every now and then, but I wanted to keep it a surprise.” 

“Well, you surprised me alright,” Claire sniffed and wiped at her eyes. “It’s the best present that I’ve ever received, thank you so much.” 

Jamie leaned in and kissed her to the loud “ew’s” and “yucks” of the young children in the room, which motivated him to kiss her even harder. Claire laughed against his mouth and when she pulled back, she pressed her thumb against his mouth. 

“Well, my gift is book-related too,” Claire grinned. “Jenny, could you pass me that blue wrapped one just there?” she pointed under the tree. 

“Here ya go,” Jenny handed the rectangle-sized wrapped gift to Claire, who handed it to Jamie. 

“I’ll take the little miss.” Claire picked up Madeline and rocked her slowly in her arms. 

“Hmmm, book-related, ye say?” Jamie raised a brow at her and shook the present gently against his ear. He peeled off the wrapping paper and gasped when he saw what was inside. 

“Sassenach, ye didn’t….” 

“Yes,” Claire beamed. “I did!” 

“Well, tell us what it is, mate,” Ian craned his neck to try and see what it was. 

Ah Dhia, Claire,” Jamie looked from the gift up to Claire, his heart overflowing with such love. “She got me a first edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.” 

“It took me so long to find the right one,” Claire said. “After you leant me the second book, I looked up to see how much a signed copy would cost and, well...” her eyes widened. 

“This must have been expensive, Sassenach. Christ, it’s too much,” Jamie ran his hand over the white cover, with one of the first illustrations ever drawn for the book. 

“Jamie read those books more times than I can count,” Jenny said. “I feel like every time I saw him, he had one of those books in his hands. Couldn’t get his attention, even if yer hair was on fire!” 

“I love it, a nighean,” Jamie leaned in and kissed her cheek. “This is the most thoughtful gift, too much.” He squinted his eyes at her. “But it’s incredible, thank you.” 

“You’re welcome, my love,” Claire grinned, pleased that he loved the gift. She had contemplated for weeks on what to get him, still not entirely sure because there was so much she didn’t know about him yet. They learned new things about each other every day. 

“Well, those are all the presents. It’ll be a few hours before lunch is sorted,” Jenny said. “Kids, go and play wi’ yer new toys, but stay inside, ye hear?”

“Do you need any help with lunch, Jenny?” Claire asked, taking back Madeline from Jamie. 

“Perhaps in an hour or so? It’s still way too early to start doing much of anything,” she sighed. 

“I’ll come and find ye when I need ye.” 

Jamie stood up and helped to clean up the wrapping paper left behind from the kids. He gathered up his and Claire’s presents and started walking upstairs, with Claire and Madeline behind him. 

“Do you think we should have gotten Madeline something more for Christmas?” Claire asked him. 

“Och, she’s only three months old, Sassenach. We got her things she willna remember but we'll have use for them,” he chuckled. “Next year, she’ll be a bit more aware of what’s going on.” 

“I suppose you’re right,” Claire said as she took a seat in the rocking chair in the corner of their room. 

“Are ye goin’ to feed her now?” 

“Yes,” she replied, already adjusting her top and cradling Madeline close to her body. “Then I’ll put her down for a nap.” 

“When ye’ve done that,” Jamie laid the books down on the bed, “come and find me in the library.” 

“I think I can do that,” Claire smiled softly and then bowed her head and began nursing her daughter. 

She knew that this Christmas was mostly for them to remember with Madeline, seeing as how she didn’t have the faintest idea of what was going on. Her own earliest memories started sometime when she was around three years old. She was in the car with her parents, and they had the windows down. If she thought hard enough, she could feel the breeze on her skin and the sound of the birds as they drove through town. It was a vague first memory, but it was still her first. 

“What will your first memory be, little miss?” Claire cupped her head. 

It wasn’t much longer before Madeline was well fed and falling fast asleep as Claire laid her down in the crib. Jamie said to meet him in the library, so that’s exactly what she planned on doing. 

He had lit the fire, making the room cozy and inviting. He also brought up two cups of coffee and more cinnamon rolls. 

“It smells like absolute heaven in here,” Claire smiled as she came to sit beside Jamie. 

“These cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite parts about Christmas,” Jamie said, chewing on a bite of his. “My Da taught me how to make them one year. I suppose I could make them anytime I wanted.” 

“But they’re special because they’re only for once a year,” Claire said. “And you can remember your father when you eat them.” 

“Aye, that’s true.” 

They relaxed back into the sofa, warming up with their coffee. Claire could have fallen right back asleep as she laid her head against Jamie’s shoulder, but he abruptly stood up and crossed the room. 

“Alright, Sassenach,” he cleared his throat. “Ye said ye’d help me take this off.” He pointed down at his kilt, and Claire’s belly immediately tightened. In fact, she had nearly forgotten all about that promise. 

“But won’t you have to put it back on for lunch?” She bit her lip as she rose from the sofa. 

“It’s so hot in here, a nighean,” his hands were on the waistband of the kilt. “I’ll die if ye dinna take it off.” 

Begging now?” She couldn’t help but laugh. They were right back where it all started, the library where their daughter was conceived. Flashes of that evening flitted across her mind — her body pressed against the shelves, Jamie’s hands holding her up. 

She stalked forward, her eyes never leaving his, and she finally placed both hands on his belt. Working her right hand on the belt, she slid her left hand to cup his bulge underneath the thick fabric. “Oooo, a true Scotsman?”

“Aye, what did ye expect?” he smirked, and she wanted to push him down to the floor right then and there. Instead, she bent her head and continued to unlatch the belt, finally letting it drop. 

“Do you remember what we did in here? Nearly a year ago?” She kept her left hand on his cock, palming it. Jamie groaned, his eyes fluttering as he tried to keep focused. 

“How could I forget, Sassenach?” Jamie slid his hands down to her hips then back up, this time inside her sweater and helped to lift it off her. “I thought about that night almost every day for months.” 

“You did?” she asked huskily and lifted up his sweater as well, tossing it aside. 

“I dreamed of ye,” he whispered. “Of your body against the books, ye crying out my name. I ached wi’ wantin’ to touch ye, Claire.” 

About to combust on the spot, Claire wanted to savor this moment. She pressed her bare chest against his and tilted her head up to look at him. “Did you ever touch yourself and think of me?” 

Christ,” he muttered, and his hands moved on their own volition down to cup her arse, kneading the firm flesh. “A few times,” he admitted sheepishly. 

“I did too.” She pressed a kiss to his chest, just where the auburn wiry hairs were. “I dreamed of you, of your hands touching me. I wanted you, Jamie…” 

“Do ye want me now?” His eyes were searching her face, wanting to memorize the way she was looking at him. 

“God yes,” she moaned and then closed the distance between them, crashing her mouth to his. Their hands worked in tandem to get rid of the barriers between them. Claire’s tights proved a bit more difficult to get off than they both wanted, and as Jamie started to take the kilt off, Claire stopped him. 

“Keep it on,” she breathed heavily. “Please.” 

“As ye say,” he chuckled. Claire slid her hands up along his thigh and pushed the material up around his abdomen. His cock jutted out and up, that one long delicious vein throbbing. If she wasn’t so wet and ready for him, she would have dropped to her knees, her head underneath his kilt. But Jamie was ready too, that much was obvious, and he grabbed one of her legs and hitched it up. 

“I could do this a thousand times and never tire of bein’ inside ye,” he muttered against her lips. 

“You say such ridiculous things,” she sighed and then moaned as he entered her. Bracing her hands against his chest, she clung to him as he lifted her other leg off the ground and began to bounce her on his cock. Thankfully, Jamie was strong and could hold her up. Their bodies were as close as they could get and Claire kissed him hungrily as he thrust upwards. 

It was almost too much, the feeling of him at this angle. Her world spun and her back was pressed against the cold wood of the bookshelves. She laughed against his mouth — they were repeating history. Jamie dotted her cheeks and neck with kisses before sucking on the skin just above her breast. His hands held her hips steady as he pumped into her, filling her and opening her up. The kilt pressed against her stomach, scratchy but not unwelcome. The power of Jamie’s thrusts made the shelves shake behind them. 

“Lay down,” Claire managed to get out. Jamie reluctantly removed his mouth from her chest long enough to lay back down on the floor near the fire. They were both reaching the point of being completely spent, their bodies coated in a fine layer of sweat. 

Reaching her hands down, Claire anchored herself on Jamie and then started to grind her hips in a figure eight movement. 

“Jesus,” he muttered and shut his eyes tightly. He moved his hand to rest at the place of their joining, his fingers circling on that little bundle of nerves that made Claire squeak. Her breath became shallow and her body started to jerk above him. 

“I’ve got ye, a nighean,” he groaned and watched as she fell apart; and seconds later, Jamie came, his back arching off the floor. Claire fell onto his chest, pressing her clammy cheek against him. 

His hands came to rest on her back, softly stroking as they both came down from their high of love making. “I don’t want to move,” he said quietly. 

“We could stay like this for a thousand years,” Claire replied. 

“And it still wouldn’t be long enough,” Jamie said and pushed her curly hair off of her forehead. She turned her face and rested her chin on his chest. “Merry Christmas, Sassenach.” 

“Merry Christmas, Jamie,” she grinned.

Chapter Text

January 3rd, 2020

The new year usually brought a feeling of excitement and a sense of refreshment. It was a time to start over, and perhaps stop putting off what one had been for months. A time of self-reflection. 

Claire wasn’t experiencing any of those feelings as she, Jamie, and Madeline walked into Ned Gowan’s office. 

They had spent Hogmanay, as the Scots called New Year’s Eve, at Lallybroch. It was a massive celebration, and her favorite part of the evening was watching Jamie attempt to sword dance. It all felt like something out of another century. 

Peace couldn’t last forever, unfortunately. Before Christmas, Claire had arranged a meeting with Mary, and that meeting was today. They needed to know everything that Mary claimed she knew. They were crossing their fingers that she would be willing to cooperate, considering Frank was soon to be her brother-in-law. 

“It’s good to see ye, Jamie,” Ned greeted them into his office. “And ye too, Claire. Oh, is this Madeline?” He waved his hand at her and she smiled, but it could have just as easily been gas. 

“This is her,” Claire grinned. “We weren’t able to arrange for a sitter, so we thought we’d just bring her along!” 

They both took their seats at the table, and within the next minute, Mary Hawkins arrived and sat opposite them, while Ned took up the head of the table. They were in the conference room of Ned’s office, a room with wide windows that let in plenty of light. 

“Thank you for coming, Mary,” Claire smiled at the young girl. Mary’s eyes were, however, transfixed on Madeline sitting in Claire’s lap. 

“S-she has red hair,” Mary said. 

“Aye, got that from me,” Jamie responded proudly, his large hand cupping Mads’ head. 

“I don’t think he knows that,” Mary uttered quietly. 

“You mean Frank?” Claire asked to clarify. 

“Y-yes,” she nodded. 

“Miss Hawkins,” Ned cleared his throat. “Why don’t you start from the beginning, and tell us everything that you know pertaining to this case.” 

“Let her catch her breath, Ned,” Jamie smiled to the young girl. 

Ned nodded his head and Mary thanked Jamie as she unwrapped a thick red scarf from around her neck. 

“I’m not entirely sure where to start,” Mary said, sitting up straight in the chair. “As you know, the laboratory is my family’s business so this is v-very tricky for me to talk about.” 

“Which is why we’re so appreciative of anything you can say, Mary,” Claire assured her. “I know that what you say will be going against your family, but you’ll be helping ours and many others. We have to make sure this never happens again.” 

With that, Mary took a deep breath and began telling them about the past couple of months. It was shocking, to say the least. Hearing all the details that Mary told them, while not surprising, still made Claire’s stomach twist. 

“Why did you agree to do this, Mary? Did he offer ye money?” Ned asked. 

“N-no,” she stammered, and then her face turned down to look at her hands in her lap. She looked quite frightened now, so Claire stretched her arm across the table and offered her hand. 

“This is a safe space, Mary. Everything you say will stay in these four walls if that’s what you want,” Claire nodded. Of course, if Mary decided that she didn’t want any of the evidence she had on Frank to get out, it would hurt their case against him and the lab, but it wasn’t the end of the world. 

“He threatened me,” she spoke softly. “He came to the lab a few days after we collected the DNA. I said that I was willing to help, because I love Alex — his brother,” Mary added for Ned. “But when he told me what he wanted me to do… to forge the documents to say that he was the father,” she paused, her mouth open as if the words were stuck in her throat. 

Claire squeezed her hand, giving her encouragement. 

“I knew he had a temper,” Mary continued and met Claire’s eyes. “I’d met him several times, but only with Alex, and usually at the holidays. But when I refused, he started yelling and pushed me against the wall.” 

The young girl was nearly trembling, and Claire moved Madeline into Jamie’s lap so that she could sit next to Mary. She placed her arm around Mary’s shoulder and pulled her close, all while rubbing her back. Mary had tears in her eyes as she started to speak again. 

“He was s-so strong,” she shook her head. “He pressed himself against me and I could feel…” she trailed off. “He said he would ruin me in more ways than one if I didn’t do as he said, and the worst part was that he made me promise not to mention any of it to Alex.”

“Does Alex know now what Frank did to ye?” Jamie asked, his fist clenched on the table. Frank hadn’t only ruined their life, he had also scared this poor girl into breaking the law and threatened her with physical abuse. 

“Yes,” she nodded. “After I told him, he was the one that encouraged me to contact you. You see, Alex loves his brother, but he knows how he is. He’s a monster!” 

“Yes, dear,” Claire hugged her, arms wrapped tightly around him. “He is. I fell under his spell many years ago. I know how charming he can seem at first.” 

“This is a serious accusation you are making, Mary,” Ned leveled with her. “If what you’re saying is true—“ 

“Of course it’s true,” Claire nearly snapped as she hugged Mary to her. 

“Aye,” Ned said a bit bashfully then. “Are ye willin’ to say all of this in a court setting? With Mr. Randall himself present?” 

Mary reached for a tissue on the table and wiped her eyes with it before slowly nodding. “Just like Claire said… I want to help to make sure this never happens again. I understand that I’m responsible for messing with the results.” 

“But, we now have evidence that Mr. Randall assaulted ye and threatened ye to do as he said. We’ll take care of ye Mary, dinna fash lass,” Ned assured her. He wrote down several things on a piece of paper in front of him and then looked back to the three of them. 

“We do have some good news. The court date has been set for January 15th,” Ned said. “It’s important that we get our stories straight and line up any witnesses. I must ask ye again to confirm — Mary, are ye willing to be a witness for Mr. and Mrs. Fraser?”

“We’re no marrit yet, Ned,” Jamie grinned. 

“Almost,” he waved his hand at him. 

“Yes,” Mary said and Claire felt a weight lift off her shoulders. “If I can be of any help, I will gladly be a witness.” 

“Now, it is rather complicated because it is your family that owns the laboratory and ye will be testifying against them. Are ye willing to testify against yer family’s business and risk the laboratory being shut down?”

“I didn’t want to work there anyways,” she shrugged. “I know that this is mainly my fault.” 

“Miss Hawkins, that won’t be necessary,” Ned smiled kindly at her. “All ye have to do is tell the court exactly what ye told us.”

“I can do that,” she smiled gently and Claire removed her hand from around the girl. 

With nothing left to discuss, they all rose from the table and proceeded out into the hallway. 

“Ye leave everything to me,” Ned said. “I’ll organize everything we have to make our case, and the next time I’ll speak to ye will be on January 15th.” 

“Thank ye again, Ned,” Jamie shook his hand as he held Madeline across his chest with the other. 

Mary said farewell to them and left the building, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Jamie and Claire followed her lead, but they stopped just outside of their car. 

“What’s wrong?” Claire asked as she noticed how quiet Jamie had become. 

“Sassenach,” Jamie was nearly shaking with anger as he cupped my cheek. “Did Frank ever lay a hand on ye?”

“No,” Claire shook her head. “The only time he almost did was when you were there and stopped him. I knew of his temper, however, but I turned a blind eye.” 

“He can’t get away wi’ this. Not only for Madeline’s sake, but for Mary’s, the poor lass,” Jamie leaned his forehead against mine and then pulled me against his chest. “I dinna ken what I would do if someone ever laid a hand on ye, Claire.” 

“Nothing illegal, I hope,” I snorted. 

“I’d do anything to protect ye,” Jamie said into my hair. 

“With Mary’s help and the paternity test, there is no way that we won’t win. You heard Mary in there — she said that Frank most likely doesn’t even know that Madeline has red hair.” 

“Should we bring her to court? So the bastard can see just how ridiculous his accusation is?” Jamie scoffed. 

“No,” Claire shook her head. “As much as that would give me satisfaction to see the look on his face, the thought of him laying his eyes on our daughter makes me ill. I’d rather she be safe at home with Jenny and Ian than anywhere near that sick pig.” 

Sighing, Jamie unlocked and opened the car door to put Madeline in her car seat. “Yer right, Sassenach. That man doesna deserve to get even a glimpse of our angel.” 

As Jamie finished buckling up Mads, Claire climbed into the passenger seat. In less than two weeks, all of this would finally be behind them. It sometimes felt like a nightmare that would never end.

Chapter Text

January 15th, 2020

It felt like any normal morning. The sun was shining in the room, the birds were chirping — it was almost idyllic. Jamie’s arm was laying across Claire’s stomach, pinning her to the bed so she couldn’t move. She turned her head to look at him, breathing softly with his head pressed against the pillow, red curls fanning out against the stark white of the sheets.

It felt like a normal morning, but it wasn’t. Today was January 15th… the day they went to court. Hopefully, within a few hours, Frank Randall would be sentenced to time in prison and Hawkins Laboratory would be shut down.

Claire had woken up a few minutes before her alarm, and she sighed, knowing soon that she would have to start the day. She was certain they would win the trial, but the last face she wanted to see today was Frank’s.

The only face she did want to see was lightly snoring an inch away from her. She slowly ran her fingertips across his forehead, brushing away a few curls. He stirred, his eyelids fluttering.

“Mornin’, Sassenach,” he grumbled and yawned.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” she smiled and kissed the tip of his nose. “I was enjoying watching you sleep.”

“Were ye?” He grinned, his eyes still closed.

Claire took a hold of his cheeks with one hand and squeezed lightly, making his lips stick out. “I was,” she grinned and kissed him. Jamie’s arms came around her, and he rolled them so she was laying across him.

“I ken that today is verra important, a nighean, but I want nothin’ more than to lie here wi’ ye in my arms,” Jamie sighed and held her tight on top of him.

“I want that too,” Claire laughed as he tickled her sides. Her legs kicked out against him and she buried her face into the curve of his neck. “But if you don’t stop…” she wheezed, “tickling me — I will leave this bed immediately!’

“Who says I’ll let ye go?” Jamie laughed and wrapped his arms tighter around her, digging his fingers into her side and slid them down over her arse.

Claire laughed wiggled her hips against him, feeling him harden underneath her. “Shouldn’t we be preparing for the trial?”

Jamie moved one hand up her body, resting it on her cheek, “We are, Sassenach. Don’t ye ken that sex is good exercise and will help wake ye up?”

“Is that what all the doctors say?” She smirked.

“That’s what my doctor says,” Jamie grinned and rolled them onto their side. “She told me it was very beneficial to start yer day wi’ havin’ sex wi’ yer almost wife.”

“I’ll have to meet this doctor sometime, check her credentials,” Claire smiled, all while sliding her leg in between Jamie’s thighs. Last night, they had fallen asleep quickly after undressing each other slowly. They both knew that they should be tired and wanting nothing but sleep since they had an almost four month old baby in the house. But every time they were in bed with one another, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, like horny teenagers.

“I’d like for ye to meet her,” Jamie adjusted Claire’s hip and reached between their bodies to take hold of his cock. “Maybe she could join us sometime.”

“Jamie!” Claire laughed and put her hand on his chest. “The doctor you’re talking about is me right? So you’re suggesting we have a threesome… with me?”

“If only there were two of ye, a nighean,” Jamie smoothed the curls back from her face. “I think I truly would die. There would be so much of ye to love,” he cupped her arse, squeezing the plump flesh.

“Is that what you think about?” Claire said softly and rolled her hips, feeling the tip of him slide against her entrance. “Two of me and one of you?”

“Sometimes,” he groaned, his eyes shutting briefly as Claire’s hips did sinful things.

“I don’t think you could handle two of me,” Claire said confidently and placed one hand on Jamie’s flank, pulling him into her and they both hissed at the contact.

“Yer probably right, Sassenach,” Jamie’s laugh faded into a moan as he began to thrust into her. Their bodies were pressed together, leaving no room — not even for air. They clung to each another, desperate to be one.

“God… Jamie,” Claire sighed, her mouth pressing sloppy wet kisses against his chest. His hands worked in tandem, one squeezing her arse and the other sliding against her slick folds where they connected.

In three more thrusts, Jamie spilled into her and soon he felt her clench down around him. They stayed wrapped around each other for several moments, each coming down off their high — their mountain.

It was in these moments, the “mountain” moments that life was nearly perfect. When Claire was with Jamie, everything stopped and she could breathe. When she held their daughter in her arms, she was blissfully happy.

But with every mountain, there was a nearby valley. A moment when everything felt so low, that there seemed no way out — no escape. Jamie and Claire had their fair share of mountain moments and today… they would be heading into the valley, facing their biggest fear and worry yet.

++++++

“Ye look good, verra professional.” Jamie commented on Claire’s outfit for the second time that morning. She had chosen a dark green skirt and cream silk blouse. Her hair was pinned meticulously up on her head, and she was wearing her best heels.

Jenny had arrived to watch Madeline just ten minutes before they needed to leave, and now they were sitting in the courthouse with Ned, waiting to be called in. He wouldn’t admit it, but Jamie was nervous. His fingers twitched and tapped against his thigh.

“It’ll be fine,” Claire said as she noticed his tapping and reached over to squeeze his fingers. He glanced at her and his lip flicked up momentarily before falling back into a worried line. This was a day they both never thought would come, but it was necessary to protect their family.

“How long do ye think this will last, Ned?” Jamie asked the smaller man.

“Oh, no more than an hour or so. Our evidence is pretty straightforward and I’m no too sure what Mr. Randall will have to hold against ye,” he said.

“I honestly don’t understand why Frank is going to such lengths,” Claire said through gritted teeth. “It’s so frustrating! He has never even laid eyes on Madeline, why does he want joint-custody of her so badly?”

“Because he wants a piece of ye, Sassenach.” Jamie said, his eyes soft on her. “I’m no sayin’ I would do what he’s done, not at all. But I think he canna let ye go, and this is the only way he kens how to keep a part of ye for himself. It’s a foolish thing to do, but — I maybe understand.”

“A piece of me?” Claire repeated. “If he wanted a piece of me, then he shouldn’t have cheated on me with another woman! Then he would have had the whole damn piece!” She threw her hands up in the air, annoyed with men and their backwards way of thinking.

“I didna say Frank was a smart man, Sassenach,” Jamie smirked. “Far from it, actually. He may have his other reasons for wantin’ joint-custody and forging the test, reasons I’m sure he’ll either tell us in there or keep to himself.”

“I highly doubt he will tell us the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Claire scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Lying is what Frank Randall does best,” she said and crossed her arms.

Claire heart Jamie snicker beside her and she looked over at him to see him smiling.

“What are you so happy about?”

“Och, tis nothing,” he grinned.

“No, tell me,” she poked his arm.

“Ye just look so damn cute when yer cross, mo nighean donn,” Jamie slid his arm around her shoulder, pulling her in for a kiss. “I like it when yer eyebrows knit together right there,” he tapped on her forehead.

“You only like it because I’m not cross with you!” She pointed her finger at his chest.

“Aye, true,” he laughed. “And I find ye cute no matter what expression crosses that bonny wee face of yers.”

Jamie kissed her again and she laid her head to rest on his shoulder. They had left Madeline at home, away from all this drama, but now, Claire was wishing she had their daughter to hold and hug.

It was another twenty minutes before they heard their names being called and together, they all made their way into the courtroom. Ned walked up to the table on the left and sat down, immediately opening his briefcase with all their evidence. Claire and Jamie sat next to him, sitting up straight and trying to appear calm. Mary Hawkins was sitting just two rows behind them, awaiting the time to be called as their witness.

As Claire turned to look around the room, she spotted Frank and his lawyer walking in. The sight of him gave her chills. The last time she had seen him was when Jamie beat him within an inch of his life. And besides their phone conversation just days after receiving the fake paternity test in the mail, they hadn’t spoken since.

Frank had a charming face, one that was inviting and warm. She had fallen in love with that face, and had spent many afternoons caressing his cheeks and smoothing out the lines on his cheeks. He met her eye and one side of his mouth turned up, a look of steely determination staring back at her. Whatever Claire had felt for this man — all that sentiment was long gone.

A minute later, the judge came into the room and they all rose from their seats.

“Please be seated,” the judge said and the sound of chairs being pushed back filled the room.

It felt like hours before he spoke. Claire began to nervously tap her foot, her heel clicking against the tile floor.

“Good afternoon everyone,” the judge said. “Today, we are here for the case of Fraser versus Randall to determine the legitimacy of a paternity test. We are also here for the case of Fraser versus Hawkins Laboratory. It is my understanding that both of these cases coincide and have a direct relation. Here today are James Fraser and his fiancé, Frank Randall, and Silas Hawkins from Hawkins Labratory.”

The judge looked at something in front of him, and then looked first at Claire and Jamie, and then over to Frank and his lawyer.

“I will allow both parties to make opening statements. We will have the prosecution up on the stand first, followed by the defendant,” the judge said and motioned his hand for Claire or Jamie to take the stand. Only one of them needed to go up for now to state their case, and they had decided before hand that it would be Jamie.

He squeezed Claire’s hand, and rose from his seat. A wave of calm washed over him — this was the time for the truth to come out. Placing his hand over the Bible, Jamie said the oath.

“I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

The judge nodded his head at Jamie and told him to take the stand.

“Please present your case, Mr. Fraser.”

Jamie began from the beginning — the night he met Claire. He told the courtroom how it wasn’t until months later that he found out that Claire was with child, but from that moment, he became involved in her and the child’s life.

“Even if the child wasna mine, I promised that I would love her no matter what and protect her from harm,” Jamie said. “I had to protect her from this man right here, Frank Randall, when he tried to attack Claire and demand she go with him from her home.”

Claire noticed Frank shift uncomfortably in his seat, but Jamie continued with the unfolding of events.

“When we received the results of the paternity test, I was crushed. The results said that I wasn’t Madeline’s father, and it was something I didn’t think possible. Ye see, our daughter has red hair just like mine, and she has my smile and eyes. Anyone who sees her, remarks on our similarities.”

Jamie smiled as he thought of his daughter, the very essence of him — all the best things.

“It’s because of those similarities that Claire and I decided to find another laboratory and only have me tested. We thought maybe there was some mistake and things were switched up by accident at Hawkins Lab,” he said. “Several days later we received the results stating that I was the father of Madeline Fraser.”

Muttering could be heard around the few people in the room, and the judge banged his gavel, “Silence,” he said loudly and then motioned for Jamie to continue.

“That’s when we knew that Mr. Randall had forged the first paternity test and had the help of Hawkins Laboratory in doing so. We’re here today to put an end to this once and for all. Madeline Fraser is my daughter by blood, and I intend to use my rights as her father to protect her.”

As Jamie finished, Claire dared a glance over at Frank. He was sitting up straight, his arms crossed over his chest with a stern look on his face. She was hoping he was kicking himself for forgetting the small detail of how Madeline would resembler her actual father.

“You may take your seat, Mr. Fraser,” the judge said and Jamie stood and joined Claire. He leaned over and kissed her cheek, and took her hand in his. He was shaking slightly, from nerves or anger, Claire didn’t know.

“We will now have the defendant, Mr. Frank Randall to the stand, please come forward.”

Frank rose, an almost smug look on his face — of course, for show. When he approached the bench, he took the same oath that Jamie did and then his seat.

“Mr. Randall, you are being charged with forgery of documents and sexual harassment of a one Mary Hawkins who we have present today with us. Please state your case when you’re ready,” the judge motioned for Frank to begin.

Claire kept her eyes focused on him, daring him to lie one more time under oath. No matter what he said, he was ruined — the new paternity test they had confirmed he had lied.

He cleared his throat and began his side of things.

“What Mr. Fraser neglected to tell the court today about why we were both tested for the paternity of Madeline, is that Claire Beauchamp had sexual relations with myself and then not even twenty-four hours later with Mr. Fraser,” Frank said.

“So, you can see why I would want a paternity test done, and I was the one that requested it in the first place. As to these claims of forgery, who’s to say that Claire and Jamie didn’t forge the second paternity test?” He scoffed.

“Moving on to the second claim made against me, sexual harassment,” he cleared his throat and rolled his eyes slightly. “I object to any such claims.”

Bold move, bastard.

“Final statements, Mr. Randall,” the judge said.

“As Mr. Fraser said in his testimony, he had to protect Claire from me… by using his fists. I have my hospital bill from the night of the event a few nearly six months ago. Granted, I was a little under the drink, but he left me bloody and beaten to a pulp.”

Jamie tensed beside Claire, and she wrapped her hand around his arm. He met her eye and then looked over at Frank. They knew one day that night would come back to haunt them. It was true, Jamie had beaten Frank very badly, it had scared Claire half to death.

“I think I’ve said all I need to for now,” Frank finished and rose from his chair to join his lawyer.

“Now that we’ve heard from both the prosecution and the defendant, we’ll take a ten minute recess and then we’ll call the witnesses to the stand,” the judge said and banged his gavel.

Frank was first to move and he walked out of the room, followed by his lawyer, sparing no glance at either Jamie or Claire. Laying her head briefly on his shoulder, Claire sighed and closed her eyes. The worst of it was over, now all that was left was for Mary to speak on the stand and for the judge to decide.

“Ye did well, lad,” Ned smiled proudly and gave him a pat on the back.

“You really did, babe,” Claire smiled and kissed him. “We know that Frank is lying about the sexual harassment charges. Mary will tell her side of things and clear that up. And she can provide proof that he made her forge the documents.”

“I really dinna ken why he’s so bent on sticking to his story,” Jamie shook his head. “Does he really think he can win?”

“I suppose so,” Claire shrugged. “I always thought he was a smart man, but maybe now… he’s trapped in a web of his own lies.”

“Trapped indeed, Sassenach,” Jamie grumbled. “I need some water, I’ll be back.”

He left her, and Claire turned in her seat to find that Mary had moved up to sit directly behind them.

“Are you ready, Mary? You still want to do this?” Claire asked.

“Y-yes,” the girl nodded. “After hearing him lie about what he did t-to me, I have to tell the truth.”

“You’re a very brave girl,” Claire smiled. “I can’t possibly thank you enough.”

“You can thank me by letting me babysit for Madeline sometime,” Mary smiled. “She’s the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen!”

“Of course,” Claire grinned. “She seemed to like you the other day.”

A moment later, Jamie rejoined them and the judge took the stand once again. Ned rose from his seat, and said, “The prosecution calls Mary Hawkins to the stand.”

The young girl stood and walked slowly up to the stand to take the oath. She was a stick of a thing, and reminded Claire of a small bird. Now, it was Ned’s turn to question her and he approached the stand.

“Miss Mary,” he smiled kindly towards her. “Can you please tell the court what happened on November 6th, 2019?”

She nodded and began to tell the room everything she had told Jamie and Claire just weeks ago. The horrible details about how Frank pushed her against the wall, threatening to do worse if she didn’t comply. Hearing the story again made Claire’s stomach twist in knots and she would have given anything to be able to punch Frank, but this wasn’t the time nor place.

“And it’s your family that owns the laboratory where the test was done, is that correct Miss Hawkins?” Ned asked and Mary said yes it was.

“And not only does your family own the laboratory, but you are engaged to be married to Mr. Randall’s youngest brother Alexander?”

“Yes,” Mary said.

Claire looked over at Frank who was now fidgeting in his seat. It appears he hadn’t expected for Mary to be so forthcoming with the truth. Blood is thicker than water, that’s for sure, but when your own family threatens you and sets to ruin the lives of others… you do what you must.

“So as ye can see, your honor,” Ned said. “Mary Hawkins was threatened wi’ rape by Frank Randall so that she would forge the documents of the paternity test. Is there anythin’ ye’d like to add Miss Hawkins?”

“This wasn’t the first time the laboratory had forged documents,” she said into the microphone. “I was threatened to do it, but I’ve witnessed on many occasions documents being changed and large sums of money being exchanged.”

“Very interesting,” the judge said and looked at a sheet of paper in front of him.

Once Mary was finished, she and Ned took their seats. When the judge asked if Frank had any witnesses, his lawyer said no. So it seemed that Frank was really willing to do down with the ship, full steam ahead. All the cards were stacked against him.

“Upon hearing both testimonies and a compelling statement from the witness, I’ve come to my decision,” the judge said. Claire was shocked at how quickly he had decided, but they did have all the evidence on their side.

“It is my decree that Hawkins Laboratory be immediately shut down and a financial restitution of five hundred thousand dollars be rewarded to Mr. Jamie Fraser and Ms. Claire Beauchamp.”

Claire gasped and grabbed Jamie’s hand, squeezing tight. They had one their first battle. The lab would be shut down once and for all, and something like this couldn’t happen again. They both held their breaths for the reading of Frank’s verdict.

“In the case of Fraser versus Randall, I decree that Mr. Randall is guilty on both charges against him. The first being sexual harassment and the second being forgery of official documents which is penalized by a $40,000 fine and a three year prison sentence.” The judge banged his gavel and then it was over. Just like that.

Frank was going to prison for three years.

Claire felt something beside her and looked to see Jamie tugging on her shirt to pull her up into a tight bear hug. He squeezed her, burying his face in her neck. As they released, they saw two police officers putting Frank into handcuffs and they escorted him out of the room. He stopped walking and met Claire’s eye and gave her the most chilling smile.

“Christ,” she muttered. “What a psychopath.”

“We won, Sassenach!” Jamie kissed her cheek. “We dinna every have to think of Frank Randall again. We won!”

Claire hugged him again and then thanked Ned for all of his help.

“Och, twas nothin’ lass. Yer case was easy to represent,” he kissed her cheek and began to pack up all his things.

Mary came over to them to celebrate and Claire held her close.

“You did the right thing, Mary. I know it feels like you might have betrayed your family, but you just stopped a lot of bad things from happening.”

The girl smiled, “I’ll have to have a difficult conversation with my uncle and now I guess I’ll need to find another job.”

“Dinna fash, lass,” Jamie said as he slid his arm around Claire’s shoulders. “I’m sure we can find ye a position at Fraser & Co.”

“That would be w-wonderful!” The girl smiled and hugged him. “If you’ll both excuse me, I need to call Alex and tell him what’s happened. He’ll be anxious to find out what’s become of his brother.”

Jamie and Claire walked out of the room, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off of their shoulders. It hardly felt real. They had been living with this burden for weeks now, truly months. In the span of an hour, Frank had been sentenced to prison and they had been awarded five hundred thousand dollars.

They had to finish signing some legal documents, but once that was all clear, they walked outside into the crisp cool Scottish air.

“Do ye feel richer, Sassenach?” Jamie chuckled.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Claire replied. “Besides, I don’t know what to do with all that money.”

“I’m sure we’ll think of somethin’, mo nighean donn,” Jamie kissed her temple. “I suppose we’d better get home. We have a lot of explaining to do to our family.”

“And I want to see Madeline,” Claire smiled.

“Aye, of course.”

Together, they climbed into the car and drove home, free of worries and filled with possibilities.

Chapter Text

January 17th, 2020

Madeline was oblivious to her joyous surroundings. At four months old, she was a wee thing, resting safely in her rocking carrier. Meanwhile, her parents and other family members were celebrating a victory.

“I canna believe it!” Jenny smiled and hugged Claire for the fourth time that evening. They had all gathered at Jamie and Claire’s for a celebratory dinner. The trial was over, the lab shut down, and Frank was in prison. To top it off, Jamie was Madeline’s father after all.

“Well I can,” Claire sat down on the kitchen stool. “It was a bloody messy business. Involving lawyers and a judge, but I’m glad it’s finally over.”

“Twas worth the fight,” Murtagh said as he came into the kitchen holding two bottles of red wine. “That bastard Randall will hopefully get some sense knocked into him.”

“You didn’t even meet the man,” Jamie laughed as he sliced the homemade pizzas. “He was a bastard, but how do ye even ken?”

“I ken he’s a right git, because he tried to mess wi’ the Fraser’s and anyone wi’ half a brain kens better than to do that,” Murtagh grunted and patted Jamie roughly on the back.

“I just can’t believe I lived with him for years, and almost married him,” Claire buried her face into her hands, embarrassed.

“Well, ye didna marry him,” Jamie said. “Instead, ye’ll be marryin’ me and for that I am thankful.”

Claire looked up and reached her hand across the counter, taking Jamie’s. He squeezed it and then leaned over to place a kiss on her palm.

“No kissin’ over my pizza!” Ian shouted as he came into the room carrying Kitty, who would be one in May.

Jamie released Claire’s hand and returned to the pizza, finishing cutting the last of it.

“Dinner is served! There’s pizza with all the meat ever created, one wi’ only the veggies and then a plain cheese for the picky eaters,” he waved his hands over the assortment of pizza.

“It looks delicious, Jamie. Thank you,” Claire grinned.

Ian, Jenny and Murtagh went first, picking up several slices of pizza and going to sit at the dining table. Geillis would be arriving soon with Lily, so Claire made sure to save some veggie pizza for them both.

“Does it feel a bit odd to you to be celebrating someone going to prison?” Claire asked Jamie quietly as they served pizza onto their own plates.

“Nah, Sassenach,” Jamie said. “Frank did a bad thing, and he could’ve done worse. I ken that ye feel guilty.” He raised his brows as Claire started to object that she wasn’t, but he could read her glass face. “Tis no a life sentence anyways,” he shrugged. “There’s nothin’ wrong wi’ havin’ a party to celebrate the fact that that nuisance of a man is out of our lives!”

Jamie kissed her on the lips, and lingered there for a moment, cherishing the time with his almost wife.

“Have I told you how excited I am to marry you?” Claire grinned and pecked his lips again.

“Aye, but I willna ever tire from hearin’ ye say it,” he smiled.

Twenty minutes later, Geillis and Lily walked in, shivering from the cold outside.

“Brrr!” Geillis shook her head and snowflakes fell to the ground where they immediately melted on the hardwood. “I didna check the weather, tis snowing!”

“Oh, really?” Claire glanced out through the open door to see a heavy fall of white crisp snow. “Maybe we can take Madeline out later and build a snowman!”

“Aye, wi’ a carrot for a nose,” Jamie laughed. “Come in and sit lasses,” he waved over the new guests. “We saved ye some veggie pizza if ye like.”

“Thank you, that would be great, ye old fox,” Geillis grinned and pinched Jamie’s cheek as she sat down.

Lily was a beautiful girl, someone that Claire had only talked to a few times at the hospital. She looked around nervously, before Geillis finally introduced her to them all.

“I’d like everyone to meet my girlfriend, Lily Waters,” she smiled proudly.

“Excuse me?” Jenny looked at the girl wide eyed. “Yer last name is Waters and yer first name is Lily? Did yer parents no think to spare ye from that?”

Lily laughed, a musical sound. “I get it all the time. In primary school I was teased constantly for being the white lily floating on water.”

“I think it’s a beautiful name,” Geillis kissed her cheek and it made Claire happy to see her friend in such high spirits.

They all gathered around the table, and before they dug into the cheesy pizza, Jamie raised his glass and the others did the same.

“I just want to say a few things while I have ye all here,” he smiled, clearing his throat as he looked around at all their friends and family. “It means a great deal to myself and to Claire that ye’ve stuck wi’ us through this difficult time. Whenever we needed ye, ye were always there for us, so we say thank ye and that we appreciate ye all verra much.”

Jamie looked at Claire now, tears brimming to the surface at he looked at the love of his life. “Sassenach, my own,” he said softly, and all eyes were on them. “I’ve made two oaths now, one to always be there for ye and another to tell the truth, and I just want ye to ken that I will always tell ye the truth, and I will always be there for ye. I love ye so much, Claire, I truly dinna ken what I would do w’out ye and Mads in my life. Ye’ve made me a better man, a father and soon a husband.”

Claire smiled, and wiped the tears that fell from her eyes.

“I love you too, Jamie,” was all she could say and then raised her glass and they all clinked their glasses and drank.

The pizza wouldn’t stay hot forever, so they finally started eating, groans of satisfaction echoing around the table.

“So, now that the trial is over, have ye two picked a proper date?” Jenny asked Claire.

“Yes,” Claire nodded enthusiastically. “We’ll have the wedding outside in the garden at Lallybroch of course. And we’re going to get married on June sixteenth!”

“Ah, sounds like a perfect day for a weddin’!” Jenny smiled. “I canna wait! We’ve never had a weddin’ at Lallybroch. Ian and I were marrit at the local kirk, so I can just picture how beautiful it will all look.”

“We were hopin’ that Madeline would be able to walk down the aisle, but come June it might be a bit too soon,” Jamie said, a bite of pizza in his mouth. “I suppose I can carry her,” he grinned.

“And we’d love if young Jamie would be the ring bearer and Maggie a flower girl along with Kitty,” Claire said to Ian and Jenny.

“Och, I’m sure the bairns would love that,” Ian nodded. “They’ll do it!”

Over the course of the meal, they continued to talk about wedding plans. Everyone was in high spirits, which was refreshing for a change. After a long month and a half of uncertainty for their future, the future finally looked bright.

Once all the pizza was eaten and the plates were cleared and put into the dishwasher, they all gathered in the living room.

“Yer more than welcome to stay, we have plenty of drinks, but I was wonderin’ if ye’d all like to join us in the backyard to help build Madeline her first snowman?” Jamie asked and there were smiles and nods all around.

Bundled up in their warmest coats, hats and scarves, they all ventured out into the snow. Jamie carried Madeline in his arms, only her face peeking out from the big fluffy coat she had on. The snow fell down quickly, covering their fresh snow tracks. It was magical.

Jamie couldn’t wait for the day that Madeline would be able to help him build a snowman, but for now, he settled for having his family roll up piles of snow into balls and stack them on top of one another.

“I don’t think I’ve actually ever built a snowman,” Claire said as she gathered long sticks for its arms. “My parents and I always stayed inside whenever the snow came.”

“Ye mean, ye’ve never even had a snowball fight?” Murtagh asked, to which Claire shook her head.

“Never.”

Claire bent down to roll up snow to pack onto the snowman’s head, and then out of nowhere a ball of ice cold snow hit her square in the back. She turned to see Murtagh laughing, his hands covered with the evidence.

“Murtagh! You bastard!” Claire laughed, and gathered up a ball of snow in her hands, tossing it in Murtagh’s general direction. It missed and it only made him laugh more. His mouth was open when a snowball hit him in the face.

“Take that ye clot heid,” Jenny shouted, laughing as she rolled another one and hit him in the stomach.

Jamie watched all of this from their back patio, making sure that Madeline was out of the line of fire. Snowballs flew around the yard, hitting people and some missing by an inch.

“Do ye think this is funny?” Jamie asked Madeline who was grinning, her smile toothless.

Geillis scooped up a big ball of snow and aimed it right at Claire’s head and it exploded in her bird’s nest that was her hair. She squeaked and shook her head, trying to get the snow out.

Glancing over at Jamie, Claire gathered up a little ball of snow and walked over to him.

“You’re missing out,” she said, a little breathless.

“I’m holdin’ Mads, I’m no’ missin’ out on anythin’,” he said, and kissed her. Claire wrapped her arm around his neck and slipped her hand into the back of his coat, releasing the little ball of snow.

Jamie gasped, his mouth parting against hers.

“Sassenach!” He shouted, but Claire was already running away, laughing.

“Janet!” Jamie shouted for his sister and she came over. “Will ye hold Mads? I need to make sure Claire gets what she deserves.”

“Aye, brother,” Jenny grinned and held out her hands for her niece.

Scooping up a huge snowball, Jamie aimed for Claire and hit her in the leg. She gasped, turned to him and threw one at his chest. Snow was flying in all directions, shrieks of laughter echoing around outside.

After a few more minutes of dodging and throwing, they all stopped and gathered around their half built snowman.

“Truce,” Murtagh said. “My hands are fit to freeze off!”

“Aye,” Jamie huffed. “But we canna go inside just yet until we finish Madeline’s snowman.”

Once she felt it was safe and free from flying snowballs, Jenny came back over, holding Madeline against her. Within a few minutes, they had finished the snowman. Claire went back inside to grab a carrot for the nose — it was long and very orange.

“I got two Oreos for the eyes as well,” Claire said and held out her hand, letting Jamie take them. He placed them in the eye slots and then Claire slid the nose into place. “There, the perfect snowman!”

“I wouldna say perfect,” Ian smirked. “But it’s close.”

“Do ye like it, Mads?” Jamie asked his daughter, stroking her cheek, and she smiled, waving her hands.

“I think she does!” Jenny smiled.

“Oh, let me take a picture!” Claire said, and walked over to the railing of the patio fence, setting her phone down and pressing the ten second timer. She ran back to get into place next to Jamie and posed for the photo.

The flash went off and the moment was captured. A family, celebrating the well earned peace that they had fought hard for.

“Looks great,” Claire said as she looked at her phone. “Come inside and I’ll make some hot cocoa.” Everyone cheered and went inside, making sure to knock off the snow on their shoes before entering.

++++++

After everyone had left an hour later, Claire and Jamie cleaned up from their gathering. Now they were both upstairs in Madeline’s room, laying her to sleep. As soon as her head hit the pillow, her little blue eyes shut and she was lightly snoring.

“She had a busy day,” Claire said, looking down at her beautiful daughter.

“We’ve all had a few busy days,” Jamie kissed Claire’s temple, and smoothed his hand over her head.

“And there’s nothing more I would rather do than get into a hot shower with my soon to be husband and then lie in bed making love all night long,” Claire wiggled her brows and moved her hands to cup Jamie’s bum.

“Oh, I like the sound of that,” he kissed her. “But I dinna think I can resist ye when I have ye covered in suds,” his hands drifted down to her waist.

“We better get in that shower before we do something unspeakable in front of our daughter,” Claire laughed quietly and then tugged on Jamie’s hand, pulling him to their bedroom.

She turned the shower on hot, waiting for it to heat up. Claire stepped back, looking at Jamie as she lifted her sweater off her head, letting it fall to the ground. Her fingers hooked into her pants, pulling them down and stepping out of them. Jamie watched all of this, leaning against the bathroom door.

“Are you going to shower in your clothes?” Claire asked.

“Nah,” he smirked and reached behind him, pulling his shirt off. As he pulled off his pants and briefs, Claire unhooked her bra and stepped out of her panties.

“Christ,” Jamie sighed and took a step forward. “Ye truly are the most beautiful woman, Claire. And I thank God every day for bringin’ ye to me.”

“I love you, Jamie,” Claire said, wrapping both arms loosely around his waist. “I love our life, I love our daughter, and I plan on loving you until I’m very old.”

“Until we’re both ninety-six?” He asked.

“Until we’re one hundred and twenty at least,” she smiled.

Steam filled the bathroom, and Jamie stepped into the shower, bringing Claire with him. He made sure that she stood under the water, her hair falling down wet over her shoulders.

“Turn around, Sassenach,” Jamie said and she turned until her back was to his chest. Jamie reached for the shampoo and poured it into his hands, then began to massage it into Claire’s scalp.

“Mmm,” she moaned, a low hum rumbling through her chest. “That feels wonderful.”

His strong fingers rubbed over her scalp, making sure to cover it with shampoo and then he rinsed it out, watching as the soap ran down along her body. He pumped conditioner in his hands and lathered the ends of her hair. Before turning her around, Jamie pumped more conditioner into his hands and moved his large hands over her breasts.

“Ooo,” she crooned, and pressed her body flush against his.

“Was I too rough on ye?” Jamie smirked and massaged her breasts, twisting her nipples lightly.

“I like it,” she said softly, her eyes fluttering.

Jamie flicked his fingers over her pink nipples, loving how they felt hard against his palms. Slowly, he slid one hand down her stomach, pressing firmly over her pubic bone. Claire squirmed against him, feeling his cock against her bum.

“Ye’ve the softest skin I’ve ever felt, a nighean,” Jamie said and slipped his fingers inside her.

Claire moaned and leaned her head against his chest, one arm grabbing onto his thigh.

“Let go, Sassenach,” Jamie said. “Let go, I won’t let ye down.”

Chapter Text

June 16th, 2020

A warm breeze blew through the open window of the second story at Lallybroch. It lifted a stray curl off of Claire’s shoulder, making her shiver. Glancing in the mirror, she was shocked at her appearance. Her makeup was light and natural, with a subtle shade of pink lipstick and eyeshadow to compliment her amber eyes. The curls that normally were untamable had decided to cooperate today, and were piled in a loose bun at the back of her head.

Claire was getting married today.

It would be a small affair, only forty people or so. The garden at Lallybroch had been decorated beautifully — twinkling lights hung from trees, a rock path towards the arch greenery she had helped cultivate over the past few months.

Murtgah had registered to become ordained and would be marrying them — he’d been practicing his lines all week. Jamie and Claire had written their own vows, vows that Claire had been writing for weeks.

Dabbing another swipe of blush across her cheek, Claire was satisfied with her makeup. She stood up from the dressing table, and walked over to the wardrobe, pulling out her dress. It was a cream colored satin with a low cut swooping back, a cinched waist with ten small buttons starting at her hips and short sleeves. The fit was elegant and showed off her best assets, highlighting her long legs as it just touched the ground when she wore her heels.

“Are ye ready to get into that?” Jenny asked from across the room. She laid Kitty down on bed and rose to help Claire.

“I suppose at some point I should,” Claire grinned and began to undo the few buttons at the waist. “I can’t believe I found this dress on the sale rack.”

“It’s beautiful,” Jenny commented. “But ye ken, Jamie would like ye in a potato sack!”

Laughing at the truth of Jenny’s statement, Claire dropped her robe, laying it on a chair nearby. The close fit of the dress and material made it nearly impossible to wear undergarments — which she was sure Jamie would have no problem with later.

Jenny held out the dress, and helped her step into it, pulling it up along her body. It fit like a glove, and Claire slid her arms into the sleeves, situating it. She waited for Jenny to close up the buttons in the back before walking over towards the mirror.

“I guess I couldn’t really wear white,” Claire commented and looked over at her nine month old daughter laying on the bed with her cousin. She smiled as she looked at her daughter, adorned with the cutest sand colored flower girl dress.

“Och, who cares if ye wear white or no’?” Jenny said as she straightened the sleeves of Claire’s dress. “Tis no’ like anyone here kens that ye havena had a bairn wi’ the man yer about to marry. White will wash ye out anyway,” Jenny grinned into the mirror.

“You’re right,” Claire commented, smoothing out her dress. Her hands were shaking slightly, the nerves creeping in.

“No’ gettin’ any cold feet are we now?” Jenny commented on her shaky hands.

“No,” Claire shook her head. “In fact, my feet are a bit sweaty.”

“I’ll go and turn down the AC, dinna fash,” Jenny said and left Claire on her own, making sure to shut the door — Jamie was somewhere in the house, getting ready as well.

++++++

“Taing Dhia for kilts,” Jamie said, wiping his brow. “They let in a nice wee breeze on yer bollocks.”

“I’ve never been more grateful to no’ be wearin’ any underwear,” Murtagh remarked, stretching himself out on the bed.

The men — Jamie, Murtagh, and Ian were gathered in one of the guest rooms on the bottom floor while Claire was upstairs in the Laird’s room. Jamie had barely slept last night, mainly because Claire and him had decided to stay in separate rooms the night before the wedding and also because he was so excited.

He could remember every detail about the night they had met at this very house almost a year and a half ago. The fuzzy sweater Claire had worn to match her fuzzy head of hair. The puff of breath as she stood out in the cold, her arms wrapped around herself to keep warm. Jamie had watched her for several minutes before deciding to say something. She had moved a curl behind her ear, and his fingers had twitched, wondering what that felt like.

From the moment he laid eyes on Claire Beauchamp, his heart belonged to her. Who knew it would take a one night stand, a baby and a lawsuit to finally be able to call her his wife?

“And yer new bride will be thankful for the lack of underwear as well,” Ian smirked, bumping him on the shoulder as he passed.

“Och, come on lads, tis no’ like I’m a virgin on my weddin’ day,” Jamie snorted and leaned back in his chair.

“We ken that much,” Murtagh said. “Ye’ve the sweetest bairn that came out of what ye and Claire did before ye were marrit.”

“Speakin’ of bairns, are ye and Claire goin’ to have any more of them? Young Jamie was just askin’ me the other day when he would get a new cousin,” Ian said.

“We havena talked in great lengths of havin’ another bairn, but Claire and I want another for sure. We just have to make it past our weddin’ day before we decide anythin’ else,” Jamie replied.

Jamie rose and walked over to pour himself a dram, glancing at the clock on the bedside table. Only thirty more minutes before the ceremony began — thirty more minutes that felt like eternity.

“If ye’ll excuse me lads,” Jamie downed his drink. “I’m just goin’ to the bathroom so I dinna wet myself up at the front.”

“Hurry back,” Murtagh said in a sing song voice.

Chuckling to himself, Jamie walked out of the room, but instead of going to the bathroom, he made his way up the stairs and towards the Laird’s room. He could hear Jenny talking inside and then footsteps approached the door. He jumped out of the way and hid around the corner, hearing Jenny tell Claire she would be right back.

Once Jenny was out of sight, Jamie knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Claire said and Jamie opened the door.

“Jamie!” Claire gasped. “What are you doing in here? It’s bad luck!”

“My eyes are closed, Sassenach!” Jamie said, covering his eyes with his hand for extra precaution. “I just came to talk to ye for a minute.”

He couldn’t see her, but he reached out his hand for her and gently, her fingers slid into his hand.

“Is Madeline in here?” Jamie asked.

“Yes she’s on the bed with Kitty, and thankfully she hasn’t seen you yet.”

“I’ll be quick, I promise, Sassenach,” Jamie said.

“Turn around,” Claire said. “I don’t want to take any chances.”

“Alright,” he grinned and did as she said, still holding onto her hand.

“Well,” Claire gripped his hand. “What did you have to say to me that couldn’t wait until after we were married? You’re not coming in to tell me you’ve fallen in love with another woman are you?”

“God no, a nighean,” he squeezed her fingers. “My heart is already owned by two bonnie lasses. It’s me that should be concerned about ye catchin’ the attention of another man and runnin’ away wi’ him. Ye look beautiful, Claire.”

“I thought you had your eyes closed!” Claire squeaked.

“I did!” Jamie said. “I didna see ye I swear it, but I just ken that ye look beautiful in yer dress. Any man would be lucky to have ye, and so I suppose what I’m tryin’ to say here is that I’m grateful for ye pickin’ me.”

“Oh, Jamie,” Claire rubbed his hand with her thumb. “I’d pick you a thousand times.”

“I also just wanted to come and talk to ye about our parents,” Jamie said softly. He could hear Claire’s intake of breath, and his own heart was clenched, remembering that they couldn’t be here today.

“I ken that we both want nothin’ more for our Mam’s and Da’s to be here wi’ us today, and for yer Da to walk ye down the aisle. For yer Mam to give ye somethin’ blue or somethin’ borrowed. I wish my parents were here to see Madeline,” he sniffed, a tear falling down his cheek. “I wish more than anything that she had her grandparents here so they could spoil her rotten and love her more than they love us.”

“I want that too, Jamie,” Claire said through what sounded like tears of her own.

“They are here wi’ us, Sassenach. I can feel them, can’t ye?” He asked her.

“I can,” she squeezed his hand. “I want to kiss you very badly right now.”

“Will a hug do?” He asked. “I promise to keep my eyes closed the whole time.”

Claire let go of his hand then, and he could tell she was standing in front of him. All it would take would be to open his eye slightly and he could see her, but for Claire’s sake he kept them closed. Both her arms wrapped around his waist, and her head pressed against his chest. They both sighed, sharing in each other’s pain and heartache. Sometimes the happiest days were also the hardest.

“You should leave before Jenny comes back,” Claire said as she released him. “Besides, it won’t be long now before I walk down the aisle.”

“The last thing I need is Jenny twisting my arm,” Jamie chuckled. Claire placed her hand on his lower back and helped to guide him out of the room.

“I’ll see you soon, my love,” she said.

“I’ll see ye soon, mo chridhe,” Jamie grinned and turned around, waiting for the sound of the door closing.

As he started walking down the hallway, Jenny came from the other direction, her eyes squinted, staring at him.

“Where did ye just come from, James Fraser?” She pointed a finger at him. “I ken it wasna Claire’s room because that’s bad luck before a weddin’.”

“I kept my eyes closed the whole time, Janet,” Jamie laughed and then Jenny took hold of his earlobe between her fingers.

“Ye rascal, ye leave that girl alone! Ye’ll have her all to yerself for the next week. Let her dress in peace,” she scolded him. Then she let go of his ear and fluffed up his hair, standing on her toes to kiss his cheek. “I’m happy that ye couldna wait to see her, Jamie, but ye better not have peeked at the dress or I’ll have yer throat.”

“I didna!” He held up both hands. “Now, if ye’ll excuse me, I best be gettin’ back to my own room.” Jamie kissed his sister on the cheek, avoiding her swatting hands and made his way back to his own room.

“That was the longest piss break,” Murtagh said as soon as he came back into the room. “Did ye fall in?”

“Oh, shut it ye old clot,” Jamie smirked. He glanced at the clock, ten minutes to go. “I suppose I should be puttin’ on my boots now and makin’ my way to the alter.”

“If ye want to get marrit, then aye ye should,” Ian laughed.

Jamie was supposed to carry Madeline down the aisle, but she was still in the room with Claire and Jenny.

“Ian, can ye go find yer wife and tell her I need Madeline and that we’re about to head outside?” Jamie asked.

“Aye, I’ll be back,” Ian dashed out of the room.

Murtagh finally sat up from the bed and walked over to Jamie, straightening his tie. “Yer parents would be proud of ye, Jamie. Not just of the beautiful bride and child ye have, but of the success of the business as well.”

“Thank ye, Murtagh,” Jamie smiled. “It means a lot comin’ from ye.”

“Dinna thank me just yet,” the older man smirked. “There’s still time for me to mess up my part of the weddin’.”

“Ye’ve only a few lines,” Jamie shook his head. “Try no’ to mess it up for Claire’s sake.”

“Och, nah. I’d do anything for the lass,” Murtagh said. “Now, let’s go and get ye properly hitched.”

The two men walked out into the hallway and were met by Ian who was holding Madeline and Kitty in his arms. Maggie and Young Jamie were with Geillis in the living room, trying to keep entertained while they waited. Maggie would walk down with Kitty as flower girls while Jamie carried Mads seeing as how she still wasn’t able to walk yet.

“Give me my pretty lass,” Jamie held out his hands for Madeline, taking the smiling child. “Ye look so beautiful a leannan.”

“Daghsshg,” Madeline blubbered.

“That sounded like Da to me,” Jamie kissed her nose. “Let’s go marry yer mam.”

++++++

Everything had gone smoothly so far. The children had managed to walk down the aisle without falling, and Madeline hadn’t fussed while Jamie carried her. At least that’s what Geillis told Claire as they waited for their cue. Geillis was Claire’s made of honor, and Jenny another bridesmaid.

“I think tis yer turn, Jenny,” Geillis said and Jenny walked out of the house, towards the garden area.

“I can’t believe it’s finally happening,” Claire smiled.

“I canna either. Ye two have been through hell, but ye made it out the other side,” her friend hugged her, trying not to cry.

“Who knows, maybe you and Lily are next!” Claire grinned.

“Who knows,” Geillis winked and then turned for her cue to walk outside.

Claire took several deep breaths, and gripped the bouquet of forget-me-nots tightly. A man cleared his throat beside her and she looked over to see her Uncle Lamb. He told her that he couldn’t make it, due to being in quarantine after getting sick while on an excavation in Egypt. She hadn’t seen him in over two years.

“Lamb!” Claire shouted and threw her arms around his neck. He grabbed her, holding her close.

“My Claire,” he smiled, lifting her off the ground. “I wouldn’t miss this day for the world, and for the chance to meet my great niece.”

“I thought you couldn’t come! I thought you were still sick and recovering?” Claire said, looking him over. He looked a little pale and a light sheen of sweat was on his forehead, but that could have been the heat outside.

“I was released from quarantine two months ago, but still laid up in the hospital. I didna want to get your hopes up my dear and tell you I could come when I wasn’t too sure,” he said. “It was touch and go there, but I’m here now and I’m going to walk you down the aisle.”

“I love you Lamb,” Claire hugged him. “I can’t wait for you to meet Madeline, and Jamie!”

“Well, it will be happening pretty soon, looks like its our turn,” Lamb took her arm, looping it through his. If Claire couldn’t have her father walk her down the aisle, she was perfectly happy with her favorite uncle in the whole world.

The garden was beautiful, and as Claire and Lamb walked outside and towards the garden, she felt tears spring to her eyes already. Every step towards Jamie was a step closer toward her future. As they turned the corner, she saw him — Fraser kilt on and everything.

He took her breath away, and she focused on his beaming face as she approached the alter Claire was gripping Lamb’s arm so tight that he winced and she laughed, letting go a bit. Looking over to her left, she saw Madeline in Geillis’ arms, smiling and waving at her.

“Hi little miss,” Claire smiled at her daughter before turning her attention back to Jamie.

“Sassenach,” Jamie said, his voice strained as if he’d been crying.

“This is my Uncle Lamb,” Claire said proudly as her uncle handed Jamie Claire’s arm.

“Tis a pleasure to meet ye sir, I’m sure we’ll have a chance to catch up later, but now,” he looked at Claire. “I’d like to marry yer niece.”

“She’s all yours,” Lamb grinned and kissed Claire’s cheek before finding his seat up front.

“Ye may be seated,” Murtagh said from the front. “Today, we are gathered to witness the union — finally — of Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser,” he said. “Ye’ve a lot of names lad.”

Everyone laughed and then Murtagh continued with the ceremony. A moment later it came time for their vows and Geillis handed Claire her vows and Ian handed Jamie his vows.

“Jamie,” Clarie read, glancing from her paper to Jamie and smiled. “Our life so far has been complicated. Beyond complicated, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been worth it. Every second with you is not enough and I pray to God that I can have an infinite amount of seconds to spend with you. You make me laugh, smile, cry and happier than I could have ever imagined.” Claire sniffed and wiped her nose. Jamie was gripping her free hand so tightly it was fit to fall off.

“Not only have you made me the happiest woman on earth, but you’ve given me the greatest gift on earth — our daughter, Madeline. She was unexpected,” Claire laughed and someone in the crowd whistled. “But she is everything to me now and I couldn’t picture my life without her, or without you. I love you so much, Jamie Fraser.”

“I love ye, Claire,” Jamie smiled. “Och, my turn.”

Jamie cleared his throat and looked down at his paper and then looked at Claire with such devotion.

“Sassenach, mo chridhe, mo nighean donn, Claire,” he said softly. “I love that ye get cold when it’s twenty-one degrees outside. I love that it takes ye an hour to order a sandwich. I love that ye get a wee crinkle above yer nose when yer lookin’ at me like I’m a loon. I love that when I hug ye, I can still smell yer perfume on my clothes later that night. Yer the last person I want to talk to when I go to sleep and the first person I want to kiss when I wake up,” Jamie said. He’d written his vows weeks ago, but memorized every word.

“Things havena always been easy or perfect, but life isna perfect. It’s messy, and tis goin’ to have roadblocks, but there’s nobody else I would rather face those roadblocks wi’ than ye, Sassenach. Ye truly are blood of my blood and bone of my bone and I’ll love ye until my very last breath,” Jamie smiled and squeezed both of Claire’s hands.

“Beautiful,” Murtagh smiled. “We’ll now have the exchanging of the rings.”

Young Jamie came forward and held out a small wooden box that contained both of their rings.

“Thank ye lad,” Jamie grinned down at his namesake. He then took Claire’s wedding band and held it on her left ring finger and repeated after Murtagh. Jamie then slipped the ring on to Claire’s hand and Claire followed the same steps.

“It is by the power vested in me by the internet,” Murtagh grinned. “I now pronounce ye husband and wife. Ye may kiss yer bride!”

Cheers went up all around them, but all Claire focused on was Jamie. He cupped her cheeks, pulling her close to him and kissed her deeply. Slowly, he bent her over backwards, making the cheering sound louder.

++++++

The garden was transformed into a dance floor, and after Jamie and Claire had said their thanks for everyone coming to celebrate with them, Jamie took his new bride out for their first dance.

“If I havena said it already, ye look beautiful, Sassenach,” Jamie kissed her.

“Thank you,” she grinned. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”

The song You Make Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra came over the speakers.

“May I have this dance milady?” Jamie asked.

“You may,” Claire grinned, taking his hand and resting her other on his shoulder.

You make me feel so young

You make me feel as though spring has sprung

And every time I see you grin

I'm such a happy individual

 

Jamie spun his wife around, twirling her and then wrapped his arms around her, singing along to the song.

 

The moment that you speak

I wanna go play hide and seek

I wanna go and bounce the moon

Just like a toy balloon

You and I are just like a couple of tots

Runnin' across the meadow

Pickin' up lots of forget me nots

 

“Jamie and Claire would now ask that everyone who’s in love or every has been would come and join them on the dance floor,” their DJ said into the mic.

Jenny came over to them in the middle of the dance floor, carrying Madeline and handed her to Jamie.

“Now, I’ve got my best lasses. All is right in the world,” he kissed Madeline’s cheek.

Claire placed her hand on Madeline’s back and together they swayed to the music as a family. Laughing as Madeline clapped her hands together, Claire had never felt so happy in all her life.

“Sassenach,” Jamie grinned. “Ye werena the first lass I kissed, but I swear ye’ll be the last.”

He bent his head to kiss her, but then at the last second turned and placed a sloppy wet kiss on Madeline’s cheek.

“She’s the only other girl I’ll let you kiss,” Claire laughed and then cupped his cheek. “Now kiss me, husband.”

 

 

Chapter Text

June 23rd, 2020

Santorini, Greece

Six days in Greece — soaking up the sun, lounging by their private pool and spending every minute in between entangled in the sheets. Jamie and Claire had two days left of their honeymoon. Another forty-eight hours of bliss — of sipping cocktails that were too expensive, getting sunburned, and eating enough baklava to put them in a sugar coma.

Leaving Madeline had been one of the hardest things about going on their honeymoon. The morning they left — two days after their wedding — Mads had cried whenever Claire handed her to Jenny. Claire hated to leave, but it wouldn’t really be a honeymoon with a nine month old baby.

“Once yer gone, and she realizes the end of the world isna happenin’, she’ll be just fine,” Jenny said, trying to calm Claire’s nerves. “Bairns are just used to one thing, but she won’t be w’out love while yer gone.”

“I’m sorry darling,” Claire rubbed her hand over her daughter’s back. It was just as hard for her to leave as it was for Madeline to watch them go, Claire herself felt like crying. “Mummy and daddy will be back soon.”

“Madeline will have sae much fun wi’ her cousins, she willna even miss ye, is that right?” Jenny asked Madeline who was sucking on two of her fingers, with snot dripping out of her nose and puffy eyes.

“I hope she’ll miss us at least a wee bit,” Jamie said as he came to say goodbye. He had just finished packing their luggage into Ian’s car. He placed a kiss to his daughter’s cheek, softly cupping her head. “‘Cause I ken I’ll miss her,” he said, a bit choked up.

Claire leaned her head against Jamie’s chest, trying to hold back her own tears, fearful that once they started they might not stop. This would be the first time they would be leaving Madeline. Claire hated the idea of being away for so long, but Geillis reminded her that Madeline wouldn’t have any memories of them being away for eight days and besides, they needed this time to themselves.

“Ye two are goin’ to make me cry,” Jenny sniffed. “I’ll take Madeline into the nursery so she doesna she ye two leave.”

“Thank you for watching her,” Claire said, hugging her sister-in-law goodbye. “There’s no one we trust more than you and Ian to keep our daughter happy and safe while we’re away.”

“Aye, thank ye, Janet,” Jamie kissed his sister’s cheek. “I promise to bring ye back some kitschy souvenir.”

“Ah, how kind of ye,” Jenny laughed.

“Goodbye little miss, mummy will miss you so much,” Claire said and gave her daughter one last kiss before walking towards the door. Ian was driving them to the airport and he was already waiting in the car.

“Soraidh slàn le mo leannan,” Jamie said goodbye and then watched as Jenny took Madeline upstairs to the nursery. Once they were both out of sight, Jamie took Claire’s hand and together they walked outside to the car.

“This honeymoon better be worth leaving our daughter for eight days,” Claire said. “I don’t know why we have to be gone so long.”

“Because it was cheaper to stay longer, a nighean,” Jamie replied and opened the door for her. “Besides, ye dinna want to spent eight days alone wi’ me?” He smirked, raising his brow.

Claire laughed and kissed him before sliding into the backseat. Jamie slid in next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.

“What am I? Yer chauffeur?” Ian asked.

“Aye, ye are mate. I’ll pay ye twenty pounds to not look back here too,” Jamie grinned and then grabbed Claire’s cheeks and kissed her lips hard. She started to laugh, making it difficult for him to keep kissing her. Ian made a sound of disgust and put the car in drive.

“Ye aren’t makin’ another bairn in the backseat of my car, ye idiots,” Ian muttered and then Jamie kissed Claire’s nose before releasing her cheeks.

++++++

Once they were on the plane, Claire finally took a deep breath. She knew the first few days away from Madeline would be the hardest, but everyone was right — they needed this time alone together. After everything that had happened, Claire realized that she had never truly spent time with Jamie like this since before Madeline had been born.

There was one evening they had ended up kissing on the couch, but broke apart once Geillis had walked through the door. Besides that, the next time they kissed was whenever Jamie came to the hospital. Having not allowed herself to have romantic feelings for Jamie while she was pregnant, they hadn’t spent any alone time together without a baby in the house.

Jamie must have sensed Claire was deep in thought as he took her left hand, placing a gently kiss to her fingers.

“Penny for yer thoughts, Sassenach?”

Claire squeezed his hand, looking away from the open plane window. The fight attendants were making their last checks, preparing for take off.

“I was just thinking about how good this time away will be for us,” she smiled softly. “How we haven’t had much time alone, just you… and me.” Her fingers rubbed a circular pattern over the back of Jamie’s hand.

“Aye, tis true,” he said. “There’s been plenty of moments just you and I, but always wi’ the threat of a baby cryin’. No that she’s a threat,” Jamie laughed after realizing how that sounded. “But ye ken that sometimes I need to put my wife’s pleasures front and center.”

“Your wife,” Claire smiled and touched her fingers under his chin. “I love to hear you say that.”

“Did ye like the part also when I talked about yer pleasures?” Jamie said quietly. Their seats were business class, with enough privacy that they wouldn’t be disturbed, but Jamie didn’t exactly want anyone knowing all the dirty things he wanted to do to his wife.

“I did,” Claire’s breath came quicker and she moved closer in her chair to Jamie. The flight attendant came on the intercom, announcing how long the flight would be and other details that Claire wasn’t focusing on. “And I’m looking forward to finding out just how you’ll fulfill your promises.”

The plane started to move, backing up to take its place on the runway. They had a connecting flight in London and then finally onwards to Santorini with a four hour flight.

“I’ve a mind to fulfill some of those pleasures right now, my own,” Jamie said and moved their armrest between their seats to the up position. His hand slid across the seat, grabbing Claire’s thigh and squeezing it.

“Jamie!” Claire felt her cheeks flush, and she looked around the plane at the other passengers. There was conveniently no one sitting in front or behind them, and Claire had the sudden thought that Jamie would have bought out those seats so he could have his way with her right then and there.

“We’re in public,” she whispered, burying her head against his chest. “As much as I would like for you to do exactly what it is you’re thinking of doing,” she glanced up at him, losing all train of thought. His eyes were narrowed, a deep shade of blue as he stared at her.

“They turn the lights off once the plane is in the air, mo nighean donn,” Jamie replied. “Or would ye rather take it to the bathroom?”

“Join the mile high club?” Claire snorted, resting her head against the seat. “You wish, Jamie Fraser.”

While Claire was busy thinking of all the ways it was wrong, Jamie’s fingers had never stopped stroking her thigh, caressing the smooth skin that was exposed from her linen shorts.

Looking down at his fingers, Claire felt her belly tighten — that tell tell sign that he was arousing her. She knew it was wrong to want Jamie to do something — anything — to her, but the idea also made her heart speed up and her mouth water.

“When the lights go off,” Clarie said softly, so softly Jamie almost didn’t hear her. He chuckled under his breath and moved his hand to rest on her knee, keeping it there as the plane began to take on more speed.

Soon, they were climbing the miles in the sky, racing upwards to join the birds and clouds. Claire placed her hand over Jamie’s, easing it back along her thigh where she wanted it. The span of his hand covered her leg, and she parted her thighs on the seat.

“Maybe we should have chosen somewhere that wasna so beautiful,” Jamie said, turning his body towards her. Claire had the window seat, and she was thankful for Jamie’s large presence that shielded her from the aisle. “Because I dinna ken if I’ll be able to let ye leave the bed once I get ye in it.”

“Oh hush you,” Claire fisted his t-shirt, laughing. “Greece is beautiful. I visited once with my parents and Lamb, I know you’ll love it.”

“The only thing that will get me out of your bed is food, Sassenach,” Jamie said, continuing his long slow strokes of his fingers on her thigh.

“Well, it’s a good thing Greece has food,” Claire grinned and then sighed as Jamie pushed his thumb against the hem of her shorts.

A few more minutes of him rubbing slow and steady circles against her leg and Claire was practically squirming on the seat. Finally, a sound above dinged and the lights all around the cabin went off. Turning her face up to look at Jamie, she noticed that he had been watching her the whole time.

“Do ye remember that night at yer place, before Mads was born,” Jamie said softly, moving his hand now over her arm. “We were on the couch, eating and then I kissed ye?”

“Yes,” Claire whispered, her eyes struggling to stay open.

“I laid on top of ye, coverin’ yer body wi’ mine,” Jamie smiled, remembering. “God, Claire, I wanted ye so bad. I was so close to takin’ ye right then and there. Would ye have let me?”

“I think I would have,” Claire replied, recalling that night in vivid memory. She had felt how hard Jamie was as he lay on top of her and how he had covered himself with a pillow once Geillis walked in. “Actually, I know I would have.”

“If Geillis hadna walked in when she did, I would have slipped my hand down yer shorts,” Jamie said lowly, his mouth hovering at her ear. His hand was now at the drawstring of her shorts, tugging.

“And made ye come just wi’ my hand before slidin’ my cock into ye,” Jamie continued, this time moving his fingers into her shorts, just as he said he would.

Claire’s heart was pounding in her chest, and she looked up to make sure no one was watching. If anything, it looked like he was just leaning close to talk to her, hopefully nothing more. Grabbing onto his thigh, Claire parted her legs for him, cursing under her breath as his fingers tapped lightly against her panties.

If you don’t touch me, Jamie Fraser,” Claire said and then squeezed his leg. He chuckled before moving aside her panties and touching one long finger against her opening. She was slick, and moved against his finger, aching for him.

“Shhh,” Jamie kissed her cheek and then made sure his body covered hers so that no one could see. His finger slid along her center, coating her entrance before he finally slid his middle finger inside of her. He would never tired of feeling her around him, whether it be his finger or cock.

Claire hissed as he made contact, and clenched her thighs around his hand. Her head fell back against the head rest, her eyes closing shut as she focused on the feeling of Jamie’s thumb now moving against her clit. He was being deliberately slow, trying to test her patience as he moved his finger in and out. She was pushing her hips up, urging him to move faster, but there was only so far she could move before she was trapped in her seat.

“I mean to make ye beg,” Jamie said. “But ye must save yer wee pants and moans for when I have ye alone.” His finger pushed in deeper and Jamie watched as her mouth parted and her head lolled to the side. Rubbing her clit with the pad of his thumb, Jamie enjoyed watching Claire fall apart to his touch, trying her best not to make a sound.

“Look at me, Sassenach,” Jamie said quietly and when her eyes met his, he pushed another finger inside of her. A small moan slipped out and Jamie kissed her, parting her lips with his tongue. Claire began to thrust against his fingers and then a minute later, he felt her walls clench around him and she shuddered before resting back against the seat.

“Christ,” Jamie muttered, looking at her flushed face. “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” He asked and Claire only grinned as he slid his fingers out of her shorts. “Even when I’ve just left ye, I want ye so much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache wi’ wanting to touch ye again.”

“You’ve been holding out on me,” Claire took a deep breath and pulled him closer to kiss. “Keep up that same spirit, and you might just get lucky on this trip.”

“Oh, I’m countin’ on it, a nighean,” Jamie smiled and nuzzled his face into his wife’s neck, never wanting to let her go from him.

++++++

They’d lasted all of five minutes at their hotel before immediately shredding their clothes and climbing into bed with one another. Jamie had kept Claire feeling sexually frustrated the entire journey to Santorini, and she knew that Jamie had to be about to burst as well.

For the next five days, it had been a repeat of the same events. Waking up naked in each other’s arms to make love. Ordering breakfast before taking a dip into the pool. Afternoons spent walking hand in hand down the streets, talking with the locals and eating greek cuisine until their bellies ached. Then at night, they would swim in their private pool just outside their room before peeling off their swimsuits and making love on any flat surface they could find.

They had two days left in Greece, and now they were outside by their pool enjoying the warmth of the sun.

“Ye’ve no idea how lovely ye look, stark naked, wi’ the sun behind you. All gold, like ye were dipped in it,” Jamie commented as he looked past his book to his wife who was lounging on a blue pool float. One plus to their own private pool was that Claire didn’t have to wear a swimsuit which also meant no tan lines.

“You’re the one over there looking like a greek god,” Claire laughed, dipping her foot into the water.

“Och,” Jamie chuckled and laid his book aside. He rose from the lounge and came to stand near the edge of the pool. “I’m no greek god, but ye, my Sassenach are Aphrodite herself.”

Taking one last look at his wife stretched out on the float, Jamie jumped into the pool, splashing her with water. When he came back up for air, he looked to see her pushing her now wet curls off her forehead.

“You bastard,” she groaned.

Jamie swam over to her, resting his arm on the side of her float. “Ah, did I splash ye?” Jamie laughed and then scooped up water into his hand and poured it over her bare stomach.

Claire squealed at the cool temperature and then splashed her own hand into the water, soaking him even more.

“Yes, you splashed me and I was finally drying off,” she rolled her eyes before smirking. Jamie moved his hand over her knee, cupping it lightly.

“What can I say?” He shrugged, his feet resting on the bottom of the pool. “I love to make ye wet, a nighean.”

Claire laughed at that, reaching her hand out for his. She brought it to rest over her stomach, then let him catch on to where she wanted him to go.

“You know,” she said, still wiping off water from her face. “I haven’t thought about Madeline as much today. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.”

“Tis a good thing, Sassenach,” Jamie’s fingers trailed up and down her stomach and under the swell of her breasts. “Ye are a mother, but yer also a woman first who needs to take time for herself, dinna forget that or feel guilty.”

“Have you thought of her much?” Claire asked.

“Aye, every day, but less so as the days pass. I still miss her, and I wish we were wi’ her, but I’ve loved every minute wi’ ye, Claire,” Jamie said, his hand stopping as he leaned over to kiss her. “Ye are my greatest happiness and when I am wi’ ye, I am well pleased with the world.”

Claire felt her chest clench at his words and she ran her fingers over his cheek, loving the feel of his growing beard. He hadn’t bothered to shave since they arrived and she loved the way it felt on her skin — scratchy and rough between her thighs.

“Even after everything that’s happened,” Claire said, “I still would make the same choice.”

“And what choice was that mo ghràidh?”

“Loving you,” she smiled.

Jamie took her hand and kissed her palm, then pulled on her arm and thus into the water. She wrapped her legs around his waist, feeling the strings of his swim shorts against her center. Claire kissed him slowly, gripping the nape of his neck.

“I need ye, Claire,” Jamie sighed, resting his forehead on hers. “I need ye like I need air in my lungs and food in my wame. When my body is no’ joined wi’ yers I ache for it.”

“I’m all yours, Jamie,” Claire said and kissed him hungrily. There was no feeling to describe the way Claire craved him. It was as if something deep within the marrow of her bones called out to him, and nothing less than having him inside of her would satisfy that need.

Releasing her briefly to climb out of the pool, Jamie reached his hand down, pulling her out. They were both dripping as they stumbled into their room, making a wet patch on the floor. Claire slid her hands into the front of Jamie’s shorts and he groaned, biting her bottom lip.

“Greedy wee thing,” Claire grinned and then palmed his cock, running her fingers over him.

Jamie’s hands were gliding along her body and then before she could tug down his shorts and fall to her knees, Jamie grabbed Claire and tossed her like a feather back onto the bed. In short succession, he peeled his swim shorts off, tossing them outside to dry in the heat of the sun. His wife lay sprawled out on the bed before him and he crawled on top of her like he was a lion, hunting his prey.

“Please tell me that we haven’t just had sex on this honeymoon,” Claire sighed as Jamie placed his lips on her neck. “Because we need something to tell people about Greece when we go home.”

Jamie sucked on her skin with every intention of leaving a mark, wanting to claim her for the world to see. Claire’s hand slid into his hair, holding him there as one leg wrapped around his waist.

“Everyone expects ye to have a lot of sex on yer honeymoon, Sassenach,” Jamie nearly growled as he released his lips from her neck. Admiring his work that would blossom over time, Jamie kissed her before sliding down her body.

“We can tell them how many times if ye like,” Jamie grinned, kissing the valley between her breasts. He palmed one, squeezing it gently, then moved his fingers over the hardened nipple.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Claire laughed, arching her back as Jamie closed his lips over her nipple. He began to suck expertly, flicking his tongue out all while squeezing her flesh with his hand.

“What do ye think the number is at anyway?” Jamie said against her chest. “Fifteen? Twenty?”

“Three times a day for six days…” Claire trailed off, looking down as Jamie took her other nipple into his mouth. His tongue circled her areola before placing a kiss on her hard bud.

“My mind doesna have the capacity for math right now, Sassenach,” Jamie groaned, leaving a trail of kisses along her stomach. When he reached her navel, he dipped his tongue inside, making her squirm. “Besides, I want ye to make those wee noises for me again.”

One long finger parted her slick folds as he descended between her legs, swiping his tongue along her center. Claire’s back arched off the bed, her fist in the sheets as Jamie pulled her right leg over to rest on his back. Claire did moan and make the noises Jamie loved so much. He avoided her clit, only leisurely licking her lips, and feeling the way she writhed above him.

When he determined that she was close to spending, Jamie reluctantly took one last lick before sliding up her body. His cock was throbbing almost painfully, desperate to be sheathed inside her. It twitched now as it rested against her entrance, only teasing what was to come.

Claire widened her legs as she reached both hands up to take hold of his face and bring her down to him, kissing him deeply. He felt the vibrations of her moans against his tongue as he began to move his hips back and forth, allowing his cock to glide over her slickness. It would only take on thrust to be inside of her, but he wanted to savor every sweet second. To memorize the feel of her body as she cried out for him.

Jamie put one hand beside her head and his other palmed his cock, stroking it twice before rubbing it purposely on her clit.

“Oh God!” Claire was now coated in a thin layer of sweat just as Jamie was. He wanted to lick it off her, tasting the saltiness of her skin. Jamie bent his head to suck on her neck, flicking his tongue just as he was moving the head of his cock against her entrance.

“Please,” Claire begged and pressed her hips against him. He slipped in momentarily, but then pulled out. Jamie leaned up to look at her and then slowly he pushed forward, watching her face as he rooted himself inside of her.

“God, Sassenach,” Jamie groaned at the heat of her, and the feel as she clenched around his throbbing length. He began to move, his hips rolling against hers. She wrapped one leg over his waist and dug her nails into his skin for purchase. For every thrust, he was rewarded with a needy sound from Claire.

Jamie made sounds of his own as he filled her, sounds he couldn’t even comprehend. His flesh was joined with her and he moved his fingers over her clit, feeling how she began to shake underneath him. Her moan filled the room as she came, her body breaking. There were tears in her eyes and Claire opened them to watch Jamie as he thrust into her, finding his own release.

Claire cupped his cheek and kissed him, swallowing his groan as he laid his body on top of hers. Rolling to the side, he held her thigh, staying joined with her as he breathed in her scent.

It was always like the first time when they made love. Always new and exciting, all-consuming and earth shattering. Claire had never felt a pull to another human being quite like she did when she was with Jamie. And she knew he felt it too.

“What are ye thinkin’?” Jamie asked her, his fingers playing with a small curl to the side of her face.

Claire chuckled to herself. “Just now, I was actually trying to rank 'I love you, I like you, I worship you, I have to have my cock inside you,' in terms of relative sincerity.”

“Did I day that?” he said sounding slightly startled.

“Yes. Weren't you listening?” Claire smiled.

“No,” he admitted. “I meant every word of it though.” His hand cupped one buttock, weighing it appreciatively. “Still do come to that.”

“What, even that last one?” Claire laughed and rubbed her forehead gently against his chest, feeling his jaw rest snugly on top of her head.

“Oh, aye,” he said gathering her firmly against him with a sigh. “I will say the flesh requires a bit of supper and a wee rest before I think of doin' it again, but the spirit is always willing. God, ye have the sweetest fat wee bum. Only seeing it makes me want to give it yea again directly.” He squeezed her arse, pressing her against him and she felt his cock twitch inside her. “It's lucky ye're wed to a man who needs recovery time, Sassenach, or ye'd be on your knees with your arse in the air this minute.” 

“Is that a promise for later?” Claire crooned and kissed his chest.

“Aye,” he chuckled and pulled her closer. “What was it ye said earlier? Three times a day for six days?”

“Something like that,” she said.

“Tis only eighteen and we have two days left,” Jamie glanced down at her. “Think we can make it a grand number of thirty?”

“It’s something I’m willing to achieve if you are?” Claire grinned, all while pressing her weight down against him to roll him onto his back.

“My God,” he sighed, looking up at the beautiful woman above him. “I have the most beautiful wife in the world.”

Chapter Text

2 years later…

August 3rd, 2022

Claire rushed through the door, setting her keys and umbrella down on the front table. It had been raining for a week straight with no end in sight — everything was wet, and Claire was growing tired of her hair being an unmanageable mess. 

“I’m home!” She shouted to the house and then a moment later, two high pitched shrieks came from the other room.

Madeline came running towards her, hands outstretched and Claire caught her, twirling her in the air. The little girl laughed and threw her head back, her red pigtails flying behind her. As Claire set her back down, Julietta came stumbling around the corner.

A month after their honeymoon in Greece, two years ago, Claire had realized one morning that her period was late. Eight months later… enter Julietta.

“Are ye absolutely sure that the two wee pink lines means yer pregnant, Sassenach?” Jamie asked Claire as he picked up the home pregnancy box to read the direction once again.

“Yes, I am,” Claire repeated. “It’s the same brand as the last time, and it’s showing the same pink lines.” She peered over into his hands as he held the stick, her heart hammering. They both hadn’t expected to conceive so soon; they wanted to wait until Madeline was at least two years old. But life had other plans it seemed.

“When ye go into work tomorrow, I’ll come wi’ ye,” Jamie said, placing the stick down on the counter. “Then ye can have another test done just to confirm, aye?”

“Sounds good,” Claire smiled and wrapped her hands around his neck, leaning up to place a kiss on his lips. “So, this is good news right?”

Jamie’s face twisted with confusion as he looked down at her, and then he pushed a few curls behind her ear, his other hand resting on her hip. “Of course it’s good news, mo chridhe. Tis the best news I could ever get! I ken that we planned on somethin’ different, but we’ve never been verra good at planning these sorts of things.”

Claire snorted and buried her head against his chest, momentarily listening to the sound of his erratic beating heart.

“Are you scared at all? To have another child?” She asked, saying all of this to his chest.

“I wouldna say scared, Sassenach,” Jamie stroked her head lightly, calming her. “But I’m nervous, aye. Worrit that I’ll no be good at givin’ my attention to two bairns and to ye, to balance it all. But mostly,” he looked down and placed his hand under her chin, lifting her gaze to his. “I’m happy. That this time, I get to be there from the beginning, to feel every kick and to hold yer hair when ye have morning sickness.”

Tears sprang to Claire’s eyes as she thought back to her first pregnancy and how the first five months she had done it alone — by choice of course, but alone nonetheless. Now, she would have Jamie with her every step of the way.

“I dinna begrudge ye for no’ havin’ me there the first time, but Christ,” he grinned, lifting her slightly in the air. “I’m sae happy! Ye are so beautiful, Claire when yer wi’ child, and to ken that Madeline will soon have a wee brother or sister…” he trailed off, thinking of the future.

“We’ll take it one day at a time,” Claire smiled and ran her thumb over his cheek. “And I’m glad that you get to be here from the beginning too, Jamie. I wanted to tell you so badly when I found out last time.”

Jamie kissed her, and rested his forehead against hers. “It was bound to happen,” he chuckled, a deep hum in his chest. “We must’ve had sex near on thirty times when we were in Greece.”

Claire playfully hit his chest, laughing. “You were the one that wanted a nice round number.”

“What can I say?” He slid his hands down over her arse, squeezing firmly to lift her legs around his waist. “I love my wife verra much.”

On March 17th, 2021, Julietta Elena Fraser came into the world. They had decided to wait until the child was born to find out the sex, and were delightfully surprised to welcome another girl.

The first few months were the hardest — adjusting to life with two small children. Julietta needed so much attention, and Madeline was hitting milestone after milestone. Learning to walk, beginning to say her first real words that weren’t gibberish. At times, Jamie and Claire felt they were stretched in too many directions, but at night when both children were asleep, and they could find solace in each other’s arms, they knew it was all worth it.

“Hello my sweetie,” Claire bent down to hug Julietta as she fell into her arms. At seventeen months, she was eager to always be on her feet which caused only a slight headache for Jamie and Claire. “Mummy missed you and your sister while she was gone today, did you have fun with daddy?”

Julietta nodded, placing her hand on Claire’s cheek and then Madeline was tugging on Claire’s arm. Holding Julietta’s hand, Claire walked with her daughters into the kitchen where Jamie was laying the table with the most delicious smelling pasta carbonara.

“Hello, Sassenach,” Jamie’s face lit up at the sight of his girls. “We’re glad that yer home.”

“Go and play with your sister until dinner, little miss,” Claire instructed Mads who led her younger sister over into the den where all their toys were strewn around the carpet.

Walking around the counter, Claire sighed and laid her head against Jamie’s chest. “Hi,” she said said softly and closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of her solid husband beneath her.

“Are ye alright?” He asked, setting aside his spoon to wrap his arms around her.

“I’m better than I thought I would be,” Claire replied.

“I still think ye should’ve let me come wi’ ye to see him,” Jamie said, resting his chin on the top of her head. “I hate that ye had to face him alone.”

One arm tightened around her, and Claire nodded. “I wish you were there too, but I know I needed to do this on my own. It was important to say what I did and put it all behind me.”

“So how did he look?” Jamie asked, glancing down at Claire.

“He’s seen better days,” Claire shrugged. “Frank’s in prison, has been for over two years now — he looks bloody awful.”

“Now I really wish I came wi’ ye,” Jamie said and Claire smirked, hitting his side lightly with her hand. “But yer okay, really?”

“Yeah,” Claire said. “I think I’ll be alright. We’ll be alright.”

It had been Jamie’s idea for Clare to visit Frank while he was in prison. The conversation came up almost a year ago, and Claire was hesitant at first, but came around to the idea. It was only now, five months before his release that she finally felt that she could face him.

Claire had never been inside a prison before, and she didn’t have any idea what to expect. She was led through security, where she had to check her phone and other personal belongings at the front desk. Then a security guard took her to the visitors room where she waited to see him.

A few minutes later, a buzzer sounded and a door across the room opened. Prisoners dressed in orange jumpsuits filed in one by one. Some looked completely normal while others gave Claire chills. She knew she would be safe though — prisoners weren’t allowed in the visitors room unless they had been cleared.

Finally, she saw him. Frank.

What once was a handsome, fine chiseled face was now haggard and worn. When he saw her, he smiled. Not the same chilling smile he had given her at the courthouse, but one of an old friend.

“Hello, Claire,” he said as he approached her. “It’s nice to see a familiar face.”

“Don’t get many visitors?” Claire asked, watching him as he sat down across the table from her.

He shrugged, and Claire noticed he looked thinner, but life inside four walls day after day with strict food regulations would do that to a person.

“Alex comes to visit me once a month, and my mother and father have come up a few times over the years,” he said.

“That’s good that they came,” Claire said, suddenly feeling like this was a mistake.

“I must ask,” Frank said. “Just why are you here, Claire? I ruined your life, surely you wouldn’t want to ever see me again?”

“You attempted to ruin my life,” Claire corrected. “You didn’t, however.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Frank said and he sounded sincere.

There was no point in wasting time, Claire only was allowed to see him for ten minutes. Last night she’d been wracking her brain trying to think of what to say to him. Her first emotion was anger and betrayal. Followed by hurt and then more anger. She told herself that the first thing she would do when she saw him was slap him straight across the face, but that thought had left her mind the moment she saw the state he was in.

“I hated you,” she said and he looked up at her, meeting her eyes. “For a very long time, I hated you for what you tried to do. For causing my family so much trouble and heartache. It wasn’t right, Frank, it wasn’t,” she shook her head. “And I never understood why you would want another man’s daughter so badly to lie like that. It still doesn’t make sense.”

“You want answers,” Frank said, nodding. He had been a professor, a good one at that, and Claire had loved sitting in on his lectures, watching as he commanded the room. Now he sat before her, small and weak and that man she once knew was long gone, replaced by a man that had lost himself.

“I do,” she said.

“Honestly, Claire, I couldn’t begin to tell you why I did the things I did back then,” he hung his head, looking at his hands on the table. “It was a cowardly thing to do and I realize that now — I didn’t at the time. When you left me,” he said, his voice sounding strained. “I realized how badly I needed you in my life, and I went mad with trying to think of a way to win you back. No woman I had after you compared to you, Claire Beauchamp.”

“Fraser,” she corrected, making sure her left hand with her ring was on display.

“That’s right,” he swallowed as he caught sight of Jamie’s mother’s ring. “What I did was foolish and I understand how wrong I was. I know that you can never forgive me for what I did, Claire.”

Forgiveness. It was such a lovely sounding word, but in reality it was one of the hardest to put into practice. For so long, Claire had felt nothing but bitterness towards the man she once thought she loved. He had ripped her world apart and together with Jamie, they had mended it and made it into something even better. Could she forgive the man that had caused her so much pain?

As Claire looked at him, really looked at Frank, she realized that she only felt peace. Of course she could forgive him and she already had.

“I do forgive you, Frank,” she said and he looked shocked at this. “I forgive you and I want you to make a good life for yourself once you get out of here. I truly hope that you’ve learned from your mistakes and that you don’t inflict that kind of pain onto someone else.”

“I won’t, I promise,” he agreed.

“Don’t promise,” Claire said and reached for something in her purse. “You might break your promise, but learn from this, from all of this and try and become someone good.”

With a shaky breath, Claire slid a picture of her family across the table. Frank looked down and picked it up, his eyes scanning the image. It was one of their most recent family pictures, taken at a carnival held in the nearby town last month. Julietta had fallen asleep in Jamie’s arms after one ride, and Madeline had eaten too much popcorn and gotten sick on the car ride home.

“That’s Madeline, she’s almost three. Clearly she takes after Jamie, where Julietta our youngest has dark hair like me,” Claire said, studying Frank’s facial expression.

“Anyone that sees her would know she’s his,” he said softly. “How foolish I was.”

After staring at the picture for another minute, Frank slid the picture back to Claire and she tucked it safely into her purse.

“I came here for me,” Claire said. “For Jamie, Madeline and Julietta. So that their mother and wife could be free from you. I forgive you, and I know that this will be the last time we speak.”

“Thank you for seeing me,” he said and the guards were already coming around to tell them their time was up. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done. Your family… they’re beautiful and I’m glad that I didn’t mess it up too terribly.”

“Goodbye, Frank,” Claire smiled sadly and then left, not pausing or taking a look back at him. She had said her peace and her heart felt lighter in the process. Gathering her things from the front desk, Claire climbed into her car and made her way home to her family for dinner.

++++++

Later that evening, Claire brought the girls up for bath time. They had tried bathing them separately, but one time when Jamie was giving Julietta her bath, Madeline had gotten jealous and climbed in to join, clothes and all. Since then, it was a joint bath and everyone was happier.

“What did you ladies get up to while you were with daddy today?” Claire asked Madeline as she massaged shampoo into her curly red hair.

“Coloured pictures,” Madeline smiled. “Ate sammiches and a moooovie,” she said the “o” like a cow and Claire laughed.

“A rather fun day,” Claire grinned. “Close your eyes and hold your breath!” Picking up a small cup, Claire scooped up water and poured it over the top of her daughter’s head. The little girl shook her head, splashing water around the bath and onto Claire.

“Watch it, little miss,” Claire laughed and splashed a bit of water back. “Or I’ll have to get daddy to come in and pour a big bucket of water over your head! He would lift it high and splash!”

“No!” Madeline giggled and covered her face with her hands.

Moving on to wash Julietta’s small bit of dark hair, Madeline began to play with a small rubber ducky. It had been a gift Jamie had gotten her on her first birthday and every birthday and Christmas since, he had added another to her collection. She had given each a name — Mr. Quacks, Lucy, Blue, Wiggles and Ducky.

When Claire was pregnant with Julietta, Madeline had been so excited. Once they told her she would have a new baby brother or sister, she would kiss Claire’s stomach goodnight and make sure to say hello to it every morning. And when Julietta was born, she wouldn’t leave her side, always asking to hold her or help feed her. She took her job of being a big sister very seriously.

Once both little girls were scrubbed and squeaky clean, Claire called Jamie over from the other room to come and help dry them off.

“Which one shall I take?” Jamie said, and Madeline raised her small hand, flailing it in her air.

“Me, Da!” She squealed.

Grabbing a big pink towel, he picked her up and wrapped her like a cocoon, and held her close to him. He loved his daughters dearly, and being a father was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to him.

“You next wee fish,” Claire lifted Julietta out of the bath and wrapped her in the towel, drying her off.

“Read a story?” Madeline asked as Jamie wiped her face with the corner of the towel.

“Aye, I’ll read ye a story. Any of yer choosin’,” he smiled.

Jamie and Claire carried both girls into their shared room to get dressed in pajamas. After Julietta turned one, they had moved her into Madeline’s room. Claire could just see it now when they were a little bit older — the late night giggles she would hear, the dress up parties, all the fun they would have.

Claire always wanted a sister growing up, and she was happy that her daughters had that companion in each other now.

Both girls were tucked in their beds and Jamie opened the book that Madeline had chosen. Not surprisingly, it was the one that Jamie had written for her and had finally had published. Since then, he’d been working on another story, but this time not a children’s novel. It was a story of a man and a woman and he told Claire that she might recognize a few similarities here and there.

Meanwhile, Claire spent her days at the hospital. She longed to be home and to be there for her girls, but her other passion was medicine. It was a part of her she knew she couldn’t abandon, a skill that ran through her very bones. And it was rewarding to help people and be there for them. Just as it was rewarding to come home to her children and to a husband she loved.

Life was far from perfect, but it was the life she loved.

Stepping out of the room to get herself ready for bed, Claire smiled as she saw her two girls paying close attention to every word from Jamie. He was the perfect father to two young girls. Always telling them how beautiful, kind, smart and strong they were. Claire knew that Jamie would love a son, and who knows? Maybe one day.

Stripping off her clothes, Claire grabbed one of Jamie’s old shirts and slid it on, loving the way it hung off one shoulder. As she began to wash her face and cleanse herself from the day she had, her mind drifted back to her earlier conversation with Frank.

She never thought she would be able to face him again, let alone speak to him. But it was needed to move on, something she thought she had done years ago. Frank was like a ghost, creeping up at the most unexpected times. Often, she woke from nightmares, and couldn’t fall back asleep until she checked that both her children were tucked safely in bed. Someone had tried to take what was most precious to her, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to protect them.

Splashing warm water over her face, she hadn’t seen when Jamie had come into the bathroom and jumped when she opened her eyes.

“Och, tis just me, Sassenach,” he laughed and ran his hand over the back of her neck.

“Didn’t hear you come in,” she smiled and wiped her face on a cloth. “Did the girls get to sleep alright?”

“Aye, Mads did ask for another story, but I promised two tomorrow,” he said and picked up his toothbrush. Glancing over at his wife, he noticed she was wearing one of his shirts again. He had commented on how sexy she looked in it the first time she had thrown it on and ever since, she preferred to sleep in his clothes.

Catching him looking at her, Claire blushed and turned her body towards him. “What are you looking at? Did I not get everything off my face?” She looked back into the mirror to check.

“I was lookin’ at my beautiful wife,” Jamie said, sticking his foot out to touch her bare leg.

Making a guffawing sound, Claire rolled her eyes. “Your wife has bags under her eyes and hasn’t felt beautiful in quite some time.”

“Sassenach,” Jamie said softly and rinsed and spit before putting his toothbrush down. “Have I no’ told ye how lovely I think ye look every day since we’ve been together?”

Claire could only nod because it was true, he did tell her every day, but sometimes she didn’t feel like those words described her. After two children, her body had changed and it wasn’t what it was before. Always being on her feet at the hospital helped to keep her in shape somewhat, as did running after two kids at home. But her hair was always a mess, she didn’t get much sleep while being on call and she couldn’t even remember the last time she looked in the mirror and thought she was attractive — probably on her wedding day.

“Did ye ken the other day while we were at the store, I saw a young man starin’ at yer arse?” Jamie said as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her body to his. “I had half the mind to go over to him and gouge his eyes out.”

“He was probably thinking how big it looked,” Claire smirked.

“Some men like that,” he moved one hand over said arse, giving it a firm squeeze. “Ye’ve the roundest arse I’ve ever seen, Clarie, my God.”

“I’m almost twenty-nine years old and I found a grey hair the other day,” she said, moving her hand up to her scalp.

“Oh hush, mo nighean donn,” Jamie kissed her forehead. “Dinna start talkin’ like yer on yer death bed. Yer a successful doctor, wi’ two young bairns, one grey hair comes wi’ the territory.”

“But you don’t look a day over twenty,” Claire sighed, reaching up to cup his cheek.

“I’m only twenty-seven Claire,” he snorted. “What’s all this talk of our ages? Did ye find out somethin’ ye need to tell me?”

“No, no,” Claire shook her head. “I suppose I just feel a bit older than I really am. I know that you think I’m beautiful.” At that, Jamie gave another light squeeze to her bum. “And,” she laughed, “that you find me as desirable as I find you. But, sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t see a beautiful woman.”

“Then ye dinna need to look into a mirror, mo chridhe. Ye once told me that I had a beautiful heart,” he cupped her cheek, his thumb lightly tracing her full bottom lip. “That is was kind and how ye admired my strength. Well, Sasseanch, your face is my heart, and therefore tis beautiful.”

“If you say so,” Claire said softly.

“Do ye no’ believe me? Have I ever lied to ye?” Jamie asked, his brows furrowing.

Shaking her head, Claire laid both hands on his chest. “No, that’s not what I mean. I mean — if you say it, then it’s true. You make it true.”

Leaning down, Jamie pressed his lips to hers. When she was in his arms, it was like he was holding the whole universe and he had all the power at his fingertips. Loving Claire had made Jamie a better man in every aspect.

“Can ye no’ feel what the sight of ye does to me?” He asked, pressing his hips against her. “Ye may have born two bairns, Sassenach, but they were my bairns and yer body is a miracle to me.”

Claire sighed, her eyelids fluttering as she felt his arousal pressing against her belly. Through his sweatpants, there was only a thin barrier between his hard flesh, and Claire held on tightly to him. While it was true that most days she didn’t feel pretty enough or worth taking a second look at — when she was here in Jamie’s arms, she felt like the most beautiful and sexy woman to ever exist. He ignited something inside of her, a key that only he held.

“I do feel it,” she admitted and finally looked up at him. Slowly, she moved one hand in between their bodies and cupped his length. His mouth parted and his eyes turned to dark slits. One by one, her fingers moved into the waistband of his sweats and she felt the raspy hairs as her fingers moved down.

“I meant it when I said you make it true, Jamie,” Claire said and took hold of him. “I feel almost invincible when I have you in my arms, and especially,” she twisted her hand and rubbed her thumb over the head of his cock. “When I do that.”

“A Dhia,” Jamie groaned and couldn’t help but jerk up into her hand. “I dinna understand myself sometimes,” he shook his head as he looked down at her hand moving in his sweats — long strokes and quick squeezes. “I want to put ye in my pocket like a wee kitten, and then other times I want to spread yer legs and ride ye like a rottin’ bull and have ye screamin’ my name.”

“That’s marriage for you,” Claire chuckled and pumped his length in her hand again, making sure to give just enough pressure to leave him making those little whimpering sounds she loved so much.

“Jesus, fuck, Claire,” Jamie muttered through gritted teeth. He was trying not to jerk his hips or grip her too tightly, but he was losing all of his other senses. Her hand moved over him, fingers lightly touching his scrotum and his knees buckled. “I canna take much more of yer teasing, Sassenach.”

Claire could only bite her lip, watching as her husband’s head fell backwards. With one hand she pulled his sweatpants down over his arse, and his cock and her hand were exposed to the open air. Chills raked his body, and Jamie tightened his grip on her hip before finally looking down. Running her finger down his cock, she pumped him so the head was exposed and pressed her thumb against the bit of pre-cum. Jamie was close to spending, his hip movements becoming erratic.

“I dinna want to come in yer hand, a nighean,” Jamie nearly growled and picked her up by her waist and set her down on the bathroom counter. The t-shirt she was wearing was riding up on her thighs and Jamie could just see her pussy, peeking out under the material. His mouth watered and he ran one slender hand over her thigh while gripping his cock and pumping it slowly.

“Yer so goddamn sexy, Claire,” he looked at her, back pressed against the mirror, legs parted for him and one hand trailing over her breast. “I wanted ye from the first moment I saw ye, and nothin’s changed.”

“Please,” Claire begged and leaned forward, scooting to the edge of the counter. Jamie pressed one hand against her chest before she could kiss him and put both hands on the hem of her shirt, lifting it off and over her head. Gently, he cupped her breasts, weighing them appreciatively in his hands. Her nipples perked up at his touch, wanting to be stroked and flicked. Briefly bending over to suck on them, he then moved in between her thighs.

“I want ye to watch as I take ye, mo ghràidh,” Jamie said with one hand gripping her thigh. “To know that yer mine and ye belong to me.”

A small whimper left Claire’s mouth as both his hands parted her legs. The marble was cool against her skin, and she leaned back as Jamie positioned his cock at her entrance. She watched, captivated and aroused as he pushed into her inch by inch. And when he was fully inside of her, he slid one hand around her back and pressed his lips to hers.

Since he had the leverage of standing up, Jamie began to slowly move his hips, thrusting forward and then moving in a circular motion to feel her pulse around him. Claire came to life under his hands, and he kissed down her jaw and neck, holding her up. She slipped one hand into his, intertwining their fingers.

“And you belong to me,” she breathed heavily, flexing her hips and gripped with one hand onto the back of his neck.

Their lovemaking was always a risk and promise — for he held her life in his hands when they lay together, and she held his soul.

Jamie pulled her hips flush against him, pushing even deeper and held one leg around his waist. His thrust were steady and strong, his hands sure and every touch was deliberate.

“I love ye, a nighean,” Jamie said softly, cupping her cheek.

“I love you,” she managed to speak — her voice was shaky and she felt overcome with emotion as she looked into the eyes of her whole world.

Running a hand between their bodies, his fingers slid over her lips and pressed firmly at the place of their joining. Claire cried out, her body curving up and into his. A few more thrusts and Jamie watched as her mouth formed the perfect “O” shape and her body fell back against the mirror. Jamie felt the aftershock of her walls clenching around him and came, pressing forward as she gripped her hand in his hair.

He placed one sweaty hand on the mirror, no doubt leaving a streak. His head rested against Claire’s chest, gently rising and falling.

“Get me off this damn counter,” Claire pleaded and Jamie laughed, leaning back to pick her up. Still joined, he wrapped her legs around his waist and carried her into the bedroom where he carefully laid her down.

“Let’s go to sleep, aye?” He asked as he moved his body over hers.

“To sleep? Or to bed?” Claire’s brow quirked up and she laughed, moving one leg over his hip to roll them both over until she was on top. “We’re not old yet, Fraser. We’ve life in us.”

“If ye say so, Sassenach,” Jamie grinned and pulled his wife down to him, sealing their lips in a kiss.

++++++

The next morning, as Claire was preparing breakfast, she did something she once told herself she would never do. Julietta was sitting on the floor, near her feet, playing with the soft fuzzy part on Claire’s slippers. A moment later when Claire looked down at her, she had disappeared and when she looked over near the wall, she saw her daughter reaching her little fingers towards the electrical outlet.

“No no no no!” Claire dropped her spatula and raced towards her daughter, her hand swiftly coming to smack Julietta’s bottom. The little girl’s hand fell away from the socket and she turned to look up at Claire.

Freezing, and realizing what she had just done, Claire just stared down at her daughter. Julietta’s bottom lip started to wobble and Claire sank to her knees, enveloping her in an embrace that had to be too tight.

“Oh God,” Claire mumbled. “I’m so sorry, darling. Mummy didn’t want you to hurt yourself,” she ran her hand down her daughter’s back and over her little bottom. She hadn’t smacked it too hard, but it was her first instinct — anything to get her from touching her small fingers into the outlet.

A coughing noise came from above and Claire looked up to see Jamie with his arms crossed and a smug expression plastered all over his face.

“Don’t you dare…” Claire said.

Julietta wiggled in her mother’s arms and then Claire finally released her.

“Pway,” her daughter said and walked away, as if nothing had happened.

Rising to her knees, Clarie avoided Jamie’s eyes and returned to the eggs on the stovetop. Jamie came to stand beside her, that sly grin still on his face and Claire elbowed him in the ribs.

“Did I see what I think I just did?” He asked.

“No,” she shook her head. “No, she was about to electrocute herself!”

“I recall a certain conversation a few years back about what ye would and would no’ do to our child,” he cleared his throat. “And I recall that ye took the opposite stance from me, givin’ me a swift kick to the curb.”

“Look,” Claire turned to him, finally meeting his eyes. “Perhaps when I said all those things, I didn’t really know what I was talking about.”

“And ye thought when I said spankin’ our child, ye assumed I’d beat them?” He raised his brows. “Just a wee tap I think it was.”

“Would you wipe that look off your face?” Claire huffed and bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from laughing.

“What look? Is it the look of a man who’s wife is admitting he was right?” He slid one hand around her waist. “Cause I dinna think I can.”

“I never said you were right,” Claire said towards the eggs.

“But twas implied,” Jamie kissed her temple. “I best leave ye to the eggs, Sassenach. I need to go and check on our daughter, she may be permanently scarred for the rest of her life.”

“You’re never going to shut up about this are you?” Claire did grin now, grabbing his cheeks with one hand. “If you ever want your wife to invite you to her bed again, you’ll forget this ever happened.”

Jamie clicked his tongue and reached out to lick at her finger. “I can go w’out yer bed, Sassenach, but are ye really tellin’ me ye can go w’out this?” He asked, all while taking her hand that was on her mouth and dragging it down his incredibly lean body.

“You lie,” she chuckled. “Last month you were gone for two days meeting a new client and you told me your balls were blue the whole time.”

“Fine,” Jamie sighed, defeated. “I hereby forget that Claire Elizabeth Fraser spanked our child even though she said she wouldna ever do it and caused me, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser weeks of distress and heartache. Was that sufficient, m’lady?”

“It’ll do, soldier,” Claire laughed and leaned up on her toes to kiss him. “Now, can you actually go and check on Julietta? I do feel horrible.”

“Oh, I ken ye do, a nighean. I was only teasin’ ye,” he kissed her forehead before walking over to their children in the other room.

Claire had done something she told herself she never would. But she had changed, as everyone does over time. She did things she would never have done years ago, eaten foods she used to hate and even had a one night stand with a stranger — but that stranger ended up being the love of her life. So perhaps, change was a good thing. Claire told herself she would never spank her child again, but she also told herself that Jamie was right, as he often was many times — not that she would tell him that to his face.

Jamie had made an oath to Claire — to love and protect her and their children, to always be there for her no matter what. An oath is a promise, one that isn’t kept lightly. Over the last few years, Claire had made a few promises of her own. And she promised to love Jamie Fraser, the love of her life, the father of her beautiful daughters until her last dying breath.