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The Proposal

Chapter Text

POV Claire


The worst day of the year inside that hospital had come. During the last few weeks, I had evaluated all the resumes and papers of the students who were applying for the residence and only the last step of the selection was missing: the formal presentation of the projects of each intern. Every year three new residents were accepted in each specialty, but I, as general chief of surgery and also chief of neurology, needed to participate in the selection process of all my colleagues. A whole day full of 20 nervous youngsters, unfinished projects, and lots of coffee to last the long day.

I wore a cream satin shirt, a dark green pencil skirt, and the most comfortable high-heeled shoe I had in my closet. I could be dead at the end of the day, but never without style. I drove my car for the three kilometers that separated my house from the university campus in automatic mode, the day had barely begun and what I wanted most was to get back to my bed and to Adso, my cat. Only he really understood me.

On the way to my office, I could hear the buzz coming from the auditorium across the hall. All the interns were together at the lobby door and talking loudly due to their nervousness. Suddenly my gaze, which had previously covered those familiar faces, stopped at the blessed redhead. By the way, very difficult not to notice the presence of that man of more than 1.90 height and hair tied close to the neck, forming a beautiful tangle of fire-colored curls in the region.

I stopped walking instantly as soon as I put my eyes on him. He was always very helpful and pleasant to everyone around him. His smile, as nervous as he was, was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen in my life, yet I had never received a smile like that directly to me. Our relationship was strictly professional and his interest in neurology was insistently present from the first day that he had been accepted into that teaching hospital. His interest was so present that the Scotsman was often irritating, always with insightful questions and assertive answers. His intelligence was above average and, I don't know why, it bothered me deeply. His beauty bothered me deeply. His presence bothered me more than anything else!

I confess that I always asked more of him than the other students and, since he wanted a place in neurology so much, I tried in different ways to make his life more difficult. It was stronger than me. But I never stopped watching him during the time he was already there. In the corridors of the hospital, in the cafeteria, or in the operating room. He would be a great surgeon; I had no doubts. His hands were very firm in their movements, perfect for the specialty he was looking for. The muscles of his arms worked in synchrony as he finished the sutures of my surgeries or when he helped me in some surgery. Our eyes met from time to time during those moments, but the professionalism and my superiority came on top of everything. And I thanked the universe for being in a mask, only this way James Fraser wouldn't see how flushed I was.

He continued to talk animatedly with a colleague, gesticulating his arms and body so masculine that I didn't notice when his gaze was fixed on mine. I was so lost in my thoughts and the movement of his body that I hadn't felt those blue eyes stuck in mine. I was nervous and didn't know what to do, feeling the blush rise up my cheeks. But I stood firm and did not take my eyes off of him, staring at him firmly. At that moment, luckily for me, Joe called all the interns to enter the auditorium. We looked at each other for a longer time than expected, maybe one not wanting to lose to the other, until he gave in and gave a half-smile, turning his back on me and quickly entering the room. I woke up from that numbness and blinked my eyes a few times to focus my thoughts on what mattered. I started to walk back to my office, had to leave my belongings, and take all my notes for the long day to come. The auditorium was full of other colleagues, in addition to the interns and colleagues who would evaluate them. As soon as I entered the room the conversation stopped almost instantly. Everyone turned their heads to me and the silence was so intense that I could hear the dry sound my heels made when my feet leaned against the wooden floor. I sat down at the place that was assigned to me, among the other chief surgeons, and smiled lovingly at Joe.

"Dr. Abernathy, can we start with Cardiology?"

"Perfectly, Dr. Beauchamp."

Three o'clock in the afternoon. The last round of presentations had begun and it was the students' turn to apply for neurology. Five students for three spots. We had finished the evaluation of the general surgery students and I deliberately left those running for neurology for the end. I loved what I did so much that I wanted to have time and peace of mind to evaluate everyone without interference from other colleagues. I also knew that, at that time of the afternoon, the auditorium would be much emptier than at the beginning of the morning and would have as few parallel conversations as possible during the evaluations.

What I didn't expect was to see a presentation as flawless as Dr. Fraser's. His project was perfect, I already knew that, but the mastery he had over all the content showed how ready and fit he was for the position of resident.

However, his beautiful project would be put into practice on my own terms.

 


POV Jamie

I knew I wanted to be a doctor from an early age, and no, it wasn't because I liked to play with it. Although my family lives in the famous highlands of Scotland and has a large rural property, I was never interested in continuing the business that was part of the Frasers for years. I can't deny my origins, I've always enjoyed living in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and where I could ride to relax.

But the human body has always intrigued me, and not only the women's bodies, as you can think. I've always wanted to know more about how our body works, a machine that looks so strong, but at the same time is so fragile and can be turned off in a matter of seconds. I ended up discovering this in the worst possible way, just as I found out which area of medicine I wanted to pursue. My older brother, William, or Willie, as he liked to be called, yes, he liked it, unfortunately, he's no longer with us and it was because of him that I moved miles away from my family.

Willie was always a great driver, but he liked to run along the narrow roads of Broch Mordha, the small town where he worked in the family business. One day the car he trusted so much played a trick on him and so Willie ended up in the hospital, almost without serious bodily injury, just with a head injury. It seemed harmless if this part of our human body was not so delicate and dangerous. Unfortunately, my brother never woke up from his bed in the hospital and it was then that I decided, I would be a neurosurgeon, I wanted to understand how our brain worked and how to save people, who just like my brother, could leave in such a foolish and silent way.

I knew that Scotland had good universities, but I wanted more than that, I wanted universities that had an excellent research program for neurology. I ended up living in the U.S. and it wasn't just at the age of 18, I came before, I wanted to study in schools that prepared students for Harvard, Yale, and other universities that were part of the Ivy League, that is, the most prestigious in the country. I knew that my family was suffering from the loss of my brother, and I was also and I confess that I was somewhat selfish in moving away and focusing on things other than Willie's absence, but my parents always supported me in everything I wanted to do, just as they did with all their children.

Now I was walking to another day of my residency, after graduating from Harvard, yes, I am a nerd and with pride, I got a place in Boston hospital and it was not just any place, it was a place conquered in a sweaty way in Dr. Beauchamp's team. The first time I came across my boss, so to speak, was on my first day at the teaching hospital. I knew the fame that she had, to be tough with the students, to always ask questions that no one could answer and penalize everyone for it, but no one had told me about her beauty. I knew that she was not much older than I was, despite carrying a title of respect, she had been a student prodigy of the university and had graduated with honors and, of course, before her time.

Every time she entered a room, everyone was instantly silent and their attention turned to her. Her hair was always impeccably arranged, without an out-of-place strand, smooth, in a shade of brown that reflected a few shades of red depending on the light. Her clothes were equally aligned, a bit serious perhaps, but I think it was to impose respect due to her age. But what really got me out of my head was her eyes, a lie, they were of a tone that reminded me of good old Scotch whiskey, but what really got me the most out of my mind was her body, being more specific, her ass perfectly round and sharp. I knew I was being a completely stupid man by wasting so much time admiring this part of my boss's body, but it was stronger than me, and inevitable, she was always walking in front of me.

But back to today, as I said before, it was my first official day as a neurology resident on Dr. Beauchamp's team, or Sassenach, as I liked to call her in my head, yes, she was English, as she made sure to make that clear in her daily speech. Which annoyed the others a lot, except me, well, she annoyed me on a lot of things, except that. She had scheduled a meeting to discuss my project, I was anxious, I could finally put into practice what I had always dreamed of. I always said that this project was like my son, or in this case, my brother, Willie, was the inspiration for me to create it. I wanted to be able to recover patients with brain damage that was considered irreparable, so I wanted to be a miracle in the life of every family that suffered from it.

I knocked on the door of Claire's office, ops, of Dr. Beauchamp, who I hope will never know that I call her by her first name, and I waited for permission to enter. It didn't take long for that to happen, and I was soon sitting facing her, who remained with her head down, reading something at her desk. I waited, I knew she didn't like to be interrupted, and no matter how much I wanted to know about my project, this was one of the situations that I couldn't challenge her with my cleverness and loose tongue.

"Fraser." she finally spoke after long minutes, and yes, she liked to call her residents by their last name, never by their first name. "I'll be straight to the point, your project was the best I've received, not only this year but from all the residents I've supervised. It is revolutionary and practically flawless." ok, that was good, very good, I opened a smile lightly, but I saw that she remained with the same serious expression as before, normal. "So I chose it to put it into practice, it will be funded by the university and it will take my name, but don't worry, you will still be part of the team and together, we will execute it."

And finally, she opened a small smile, a smile that I knew very well and didn't like, a fake smile that only showed us, the students, how insignificant we were near her. What do you mean, you'll use my project, but it won't bear my name? Okay, now she wasn't by any means the person I found attractive, in fact now I just wanted to wipe that satisfied smile off her face and it wouldn't be in a beautiful way!

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

My proposal may seem like the most inappropriate story in the world. Why would a renowned chief surgeon at one of the best hospitals in North America do that to a student? Why take his name off the wonderful project that probably took him so many nights off? Well, let me explain myself, please.

I fought hard to get to my current position. Ever since my parents passed away, when I was five years old, the lack of them has torn my heart out every day. I went into a deep depression, but with the help of my uncle Lamb (who became my guardian when I was an orphan), I managed to gather all the strength I had left to rise again. And my studies were the perfect escape for my days to become colorful again. Methodical, but still colorful. I think that's why I've always been the first in the class in all the institutions I've been in. So much so that Oxford accepted me into medical school when I was not yet 16. Those were difficult years, and I had to assert myself daily to be accepted and respected during my years of academic training. And it was no different at the residence. I was so fed up with everything that, as soon as I finished the course and my residency in neurology, I submitted my resume to several institutions in the United States, staying in London was no longer a possibility for me.
Boston welcomed me with open arms six years ago. I couldn't believe it when I was accepted into this teaching hospital, one of the most renowned in the world, but the director was categorical when he said that they wanted to have only the best professionals on their team. And that made me very flattered. I joined as deputy head of neurology and, from day one, I was very active in several projects, in addition to performing increasingly complex neurological surgeries with very positive results. My rise was meteoric like everything else in my professional life until then, and as soon as Dr. Peterson received his well-deserved retirement, I replaced him as a chief surgeon in my field.

I may have been well accepted by my bosses and colleagues, but the same did not happen to the students I was guiding. Because I was the same age as them, sometimes even younger, I was not respected at all and I had to reuse a weapon that until then had been forgotten: to become the arrogant woman I had been during my years at Oxford. Not smiling was very difficult for me in the beginning, I liked to stimulate the interns and residents when they answered correctly or when their surgeries had been well performed. But after such a long time, I began to get used to it and build an increasingly Machiavellian character. New groups appeared and my fame as an excellent professional had spread like an avalanche, as had my fame of being a son of a bitch. I wasn't proud of it, but, again, you get used to everything in life.

I'm explaining all this and you may be thinking that I want to fool everyone, but I just wanted to show my past scenario to contextualize the current one. I'm screwed. My work visa expired over a month ago. Due to the intense work inside the hospital, I was unable to carry out new research projects, an essential item to renew my job and, thus, explain without problems the reason for remaining in America. My bosses tried to help me in several ways with immigration, with calls and letters of recommendation reaffirming that I worked there, but not having my contract renewed was the big problem and, because it was a private hospital, my bosses could not simply renew, if the owner had created those rules, they would be followed anyway.

When I attended Jamie's presentation, that is, Fraser's, his idea was so perfect that I was sure it would be the project that would enable me to renew my contract and, consequently, my visa. As soon as he finished, I told him that I needed to talk privately as soon as the presentations were over. As I waited for him to come into my office to talk to me, nervousness began to take over, but I put my 'no feelings' mask back on as soon as I heard a knock on my door.

"Fraser," I spoke in a dry way. "I'll be straight to the point, your project was the best I've received, not only this year but from all the residents I've supervised. It is revolutionary and practically flawless." I saw a small smile of satisfaction appear on his face. "So I chose it to put it into practice. It will be funded by the university and will bear my name, but don't worry, you will still be part of the team and together with me we will execute it."

I stood firm as I spoke to him about my plans and saw his happiness fade away after every word I uttered, being replaced by a wave of deep anger, his eyes denounced. It was very difficult not to explain my real motives to him, but I didn't have time for that and, for better or for worse, he would see his project born.

"I can't accept that, Dr. Beauchamp. Do ye have any idea how important this project is to me?" his voice started to exalt. "How many nights did I spend working on it and thinking about how wonderful it would be when I could put it into practice?" He spits all those words out as he walked around in front of me.

"Either that or your project will never be executed. And I'll work hard to make that happen, don't doubt me." I got up to stand at his height, casting my most challenging gaze. My professional life was at stake and I would do anything to get it back on track.

He stopped walking instantly, facing the wall, and his hands firmly straightened his hair in a clear attempt to calm down.

Unsuccessfully.

He started punching the wall and banging on Gaelic. "Mhac on the galley (Son of a bitch)! Gòrach píos de cac! (Stupid piece of shit)" I could see his neck get a more intense red tone than his hair. What he said wasn't very pretty, I was sure.

After multiple breaths, I saw that he was able to recover from that imbalance, taking a deep breath and turning his body back to me.

"I can't say it's okay, but I accept yer conditions, Dr. Beauchamp. What matters to me is that this project is executed." He could barely look me in the eye. "Ye can make any changes ye think necessary, I dinna care anymore. If ye need me again, I believe my number is on my resume." He took his belongings and turned his back on me, without looking back.

"I will probably call you tomorrow," I spoke before he closed the door.

I spent the whole night leaning over the project, trying to absorb everything in time for the meeting I had scheduled for the next day with my bosses and the hospital owner. It really didn't have any flaws and I just had to modify the "author" field and make a PowerPoint presentation that would convince everyone.

I could barely sleep so much my nervousness. I had finished studying all the topics and the information was on the tip of my tongue, but my professional life was at risk and everything depended on the next day. I tried to look as professional as possible, wearing a burgundy shirt and black pants, as well as my inseparable high heel. I tied my hair to a high ponytail that showed my neck. I put on the gold chain that was my mother's and had the feeling of being accompanied by her, that jewel always calmed me. I looked at myself for the last time in the mirror and left confidently for the big day.

But the last thing I could imagine was that, once I arrived at the hospital, I would find an unexpected visit inside the hospital director's office. Mr. Ford, a former acquaintance of mine. Immigration agent. And my greatest enemy.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

When I left Dr. Beauchamp's office, my hands were still shaking. How could she be that way? And how stupid I was to try to defend her from the students who were saying that she was, excuse the word, a tremendous son of a bitch, yeah, at that exact moment I was totally agreeing with everyone's opinion! She was a talented, experienced, and intelligent doctor, why take my project and use it that way? I'm sure she was very capable of having the same idea as me and if she asked in a more polite way, I wouldn't mind sharing the credits.

But she didn't even have the trouble to try to be humble or polite, she simply said she would execute MY project, but with her name! Ah, but I would be her assistant! Wow, how honored I should be to be able to follow her while she used MY project to get more compliments! I could have said a nice "fuck you", pulled the project out of her hand, and followed my life. But what life would that be? Probably she would take me away from her team of residents and I would never have the opportunity to execute my project or my career, so to speak, and I couldn't do that, I couldn't throw years of sacrifices, both from my parents and mine. And there was Willie, he was always in my mind, I was doing it for him and I remembered that every time I looked at the words and reports of that damn project!

I didn't mind explaining myself to my colleagues, they saw me leave the hospital abruptly, probably not at all strange, most of them were like that after a conversation with her. Worst of all, I could only think how that look she had given me was sexy, what's my problem? She'd just ruined some of the most important things in my life and could still find her attractive? I really need to meet more people around here, get out of this hospital world a little bit!

I got home and didn't have time to calm down completely before my cell phone started ringing again and again. I looked to see who it was, Jenny, of course, my sister wanted to know what my presentation had been like, if I'd joined the resident team. I didn't have the patience to tell her everything that had happened, but I also knew that if I didn't answer the call, she wouldn't give up, Jenny wasn't a person who would take no for an answer. And I was sure my parents were looking forward to some good news, but they didn't like to call me all the time, they preferred to leave it with my sister, she didn't mind being inconvenient at all.

"What's up, brother? Did the Sassenach finally notice that ye're the best in her class and accept ye into her team?" Dr. Beauchamp wasn't very popular with my family, and unlike the affectionate nickname I had given her, the way my sister spoke was by far a kind one.

"I told ye not to call her that, and aye, I was accepted!" I took a deep breath and hoped she wouldn't ask me more, but I already knew that waiting for that was like waiting for a miracle!

"What about Willie's project?" they called my project that, they didn't understand practically anything about it, but they knew that it was because of my brother that I had created it. "Did she also choose it?"

"So...I was called to go to her office after the presentations and, without too much fuss, she said that my project was the best and.... - but I was interrupted.

"Of course, yers was the best! But then? Are we finally going to see yer name on something important?"

"If ye didna interrupt me, ye'd already ken the answer... aye, she chose my project to run."

"Há! I knew it! See, I said that even though she was a shrew, there was no way she couldna see how smart ye are! When are we going to see yer name in the hospital's announcement? I want to show everyone here that doubted that ye would make it!"

"Jenny, that's not exactly how it works, she will execute my project, the hospital will finance it, but..." how hard it was to admit defeat to my family. "It's going to be her name that will appear in the paper..."

"What do ye mean? That Sassenach doesna ken what she's doing! Stealing yer work? Ahh, She hasn't heard the last of this! And Jamie, since when have ye become this fool that canna answer anything to this woman? Are ye by any chance in love with her or something like that?"

"Jenny! Stop talking nonsense! I can't say anything to her, she's my boss! If I were to take yer advice, I'd be going back to Scotland empty-handed!"

"At least you'd be back in time to go to my wedding, which apparently ye haven't asked yer dear Sassenach yet!"

"It wasna the right time, Jenny..."

"And when will it be? When I'm already on my honeymoon? Or when I'm already with a son? Ye haven't been here in over two years, Jamie!"

"Let's not start this discussion again, I said I'll fix it, trust me!"

"Aye... trust ye..."

Without many other words, I hung up the phone and was exhausted. I had gone from heaven to hell in a matter of hours! I decided that there was nothing left but to watch a little TV and try to sleep, the next day I would think about what to do. But before I could think, I was surprised the next afternoon by a phone call from Claire, I mean, Dr. Beauchamp, who wanted to see me in her office again. What would it be now? It wasn't enough to take the authorship of my project, what more did she want from me?

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

I was standing there in front of my phone, breathing heavily, my hands flattened on the table as my closed eyes tried to help organize my ideas. I had just called Fraser and asked him to come to my office, and I was ready to make the most desperate proposal of all my life.

All my planning had gone to waste as soon as I saw the immigration agent in the room where it would be the presentation of the project that, theoretically, would save my professional life. The man had a briefcase full of my documents, six of them proving every time I had ignored (his words, not mine) the official subpoenas of the immigration sector of the United States of America. He had been categorical in stating that, even though I was English, I could not simply assume that I had a lifetime visa in the United States and that, if I thought so, I was being too presumptuous.

I tried to explain myself in different ways, making it clear to him that I knew that my visa was valid and that I was not trying to be presumptuous or pass myself off as "smartass," as he had said earlier. I showed him my entire agenda for the last three months to prove to him that I hadn't had the time to breathe properly, and that the project I was going to present that day would be the reason for renewing my contract. But, again, he reiterated that this was not enough. He stressed that the best way for me to have put my profession first was to have scheduled a simple visit to immigration to organize my situation. And if, in order to renew my contract with the hospital, it was necessary for me to have a research project in hand, which I had looked for before, not a month after the deadline. And he was not wrong, I knew it very well and I regretted every word spoken by that man.

I know that I postponed much longer than I should have, after all, that deadline meant the maintenance of my professional life in that country. Mr. Ford kept looking at me, without showing any feeling, waiting for me to answer all the questions he had asked, but my head was so bewildered that I couldn't form a single complete sentence. As he was about to leave, forcing me to sign a document in which I committed myself to leaving the country within 48 hours, an idea came to my mind. What if I was engaged to an American citizen? How long would I have until I regularized all the procedures?

He was surprised by my question, taking the time to reason, and I thanked him silently for that little hope. As he kept quiet I started talking non-stop, reiterating that I couldn't stay away from my fiancé, that he was very important to me, and that he didn't know about all those immigration problems I was having. Mr. Ford shook his head negatively and laughed in disbelief, looking straight into my eyes with a challenging look. He told me that if the relationship was real (emphasizing these last words), the civil marriage could be scheduled until six months later, that was the maximum immigration allowed. But it wasn't that simple for them to accept that kind of situation. A meeting would be scheduled two days later in the early morning and my fiancé and I would be interviewed together and individually to assess our relationship. The big problem was that I didn't have a fiancé.

As soon as my biggest enemy in America left that room, I also said goodbye to my bosses and went straight to my office, I had to get a fiancé as soon as possible. I sat in my chair and, for a few moments, allowed my mind to empty completely, I needed calm to reason. As soon as I woke up from my little trance, a stack of documentation from my new residents was within reach of my eyes. I took the first one and browsed through it, seeing that it was Mrs. Churchill's. It was Mr. Fraser's next, and I knew he was Scottish, his accent was unmistakable, and it gave me goose bumps every time he said something that made his accent thicker. But even so, I decided to take a closer look at his résumé, starting with his medical school education. As I already knew, he had been the best in his class throughout the course. He had participated in all the extra courses that the university had provided, and his interest in neurology had actually appeared since the early years of college.

But something caught my attention. He had not only taken medical school in America, but he had also moved to that country much earlier, even in high school. A light went on in my mind. I rushed to find out more about his U.S. immigration situation and saw, to my surprise, that he was a U.S. citizen. It wasn't just a green card or a student visa. He was a real citizen. During that moment of despair, the only thing that made sense to me was this: I would propose the thing he wanted most in the world, and in return, he would give me what I needed most at that moment. He would put his project into practice without my interference and, in return, would make me his bride. I hoped this would be fair enough for him. And I asked God that he should be single after his admission to that teaching hospital.

As soon as I rethought a little more about how to approach that whole story with Fraser, or better yet, with Jamie (after all, he would be my fiancé, I expected), I got his phone number and, still very nervous, I called the redhead, my emotions clearly showing through the call. But I did not care about that at that moment. He replied that he would be in my office in 30 minutes.

The slowest 30 minutes of all my life. I tried to relax, but my mind kept going over my entire proposal and trying to make it as believable as possible. And finally, I heard a gentle knock on my door.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I went all the way to the hospital thinking about what else she wanted from me! I was sure that my project was complete, or as she herself had said, practically perfect. So she wouldn't have any reason to call me to a meeting to discuss something of it unless she just called me again to humiliate me one more time, to throw it in my face that would be her name and not mine published in the edicts. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door of Dr. Beauchamp's office, I had no reason to prolong my suffering, when I heard her voice authorizing my entry, I didn't think anymore and I went in.

She was sitting at her table as always, but there was something strange, she was not with that confident and almost snobby look, as usual, seemed nervous and I could not avoid a slight smile in the corner of my mouth, it was an unprecedented fact the famous Dr. Claire Beauchamp be nervous and for a minute satisfied me in thinking that I could be the cause of it. I was opening my mouth to ask what the hell I was doing there when she interrupted me:

"Fraser, you're probably wondering why I called you here again since we had cleared up everything about your project yesterday..." oh, she read minds now too? "and what I have to talk to you about today has nothing to do with your work, I mean, it has, in parts, actually I need a favor..." she was nervous and stuttering, what? This should be kept for posterity, she usually provoked it in her students, not the other way around, and what favor would she need from me? "Okay, I'm not being able to express myself clearly, I think I'd better start over..."

She really wasn't being able to and probably my confused face had made her even more nervous. I can't deny that I wasn't making any effort to hide my satisfaction at seeing her like that, but deep down I knew I had to be more prudent and polite too, after all, I didn't know the favor she wanted and could turn everything against me quickly:

"I'm sorry if I'm making ye more nervous, but I really have no idea what I'm doing here!" I said.

"You have every right to feel that way, Fraser." she took a deep breath and continued. "I'm going to try to be clearer, but to do that, I'm going to have to tell you some facts about my life. You probably know that I'm not American, I was born in England, but I lived outside of my home country. I've been here in Boston for several years, but I haven't become a U.S. citizen yet, I live here because of my work." Okay, where did she want to go with this? "And every year I need to present a project with the hospital to keep and renew both my contract with the hospital and my visa...." Oh, so I guess I know why I'm here.

"So ye called me here to explain why ye're using my project with yer name on it? Is it to make ye feel better about appropriating something that isn't yers? Or to see if I'm moved by yer story and dinna feel so bad about not taking credit for something I've spent my whole life working on?" I knew that I was being rude and that I was going beyond all the proper limits of a conversation with my boss, but after the conversation with Jenny I had lost the little patience I had left on this subject.

"No, Fraser, I understand that you were disappointed and angry, even though it didn't justify talking to your superior that way. I know I didn't do the right thing using your project to save something that is mine, after all I caused it all to myself, I missed the hospital deadline to present something and in desperation I ended up seeing in your project the solution to my problems. But that's why I called you, to give you back the authorship of your project, for it to be executed in your name and for me to be just your advisor."

Okay, I didn't expect that, I didn't expect her to assume that she had done something selfishly and that she did it only to save her stay in the hospital and probably in America, but why had she changed her mind? Why was she offering me all that now and not before?

"So the hospital will carry out my project, with my name on it and ye just guiding me? What has changed from yesterday to today? Are ye sure I won't have to do anything? After all, what is the favor ye wanted from me? I'm sure it wasn't just me listening to yer story and having a cup of coffee!"

"The hospital will do whatever I ask of your project as long as I'm still here and not miles away being deported to the UK, and that's where your little favor would come in... I need you to marry me and convince immigration that we're a real and happy couple."

"What?" I said quietly, did I hear right? Had she really said all that?

"That's right, Fraser, I need a fiancé to convince immigration in two days that everything is real and a husband in the coming months, what I offer in return is your project carried out by the hospital on your terms, without any interference from me, as you always wanted."

"Are ye... MAD woman???" I shouted, getting up from the chair not caring if I was being rude or not.

Did she really think that because of a work project, I would risk everything I had achieved in this country?? And just for her to stay in her perfect job and continue her impeccable career? No, she could only be crazy...and desperate!

"Fraser... Jamie. I just need you to pretend that we have something, it shouldn't be hard for you, I bet it won't be hard to convince others that we're together and..."

"Calm down CLAIRE. Let's be honest around here, we don't have to keep so much formality anymore, don't we? I can't deny that I've admired, umm, more than yer career, but I dinna think that will be enough to convince immigration that we're together and in love to get married!"

"So you're considering accepting my proposal?" her eyes sparkled in response.

"I didn't say that! I just said it's not that simple! The whole hospital knows that you're not the most loving person with your students and even less with me! I'm flattered that you thought of me for this rather absurd favor and I promise to pretend that nothing happened here, but my project isn't worth that much..." but before I could turn around to leave the room, she rushed to stand in front of me, trying to stop me.

"I can't believe you will miss the opportunity to run this project that means so much to you and it's not possible that you don't want anything else! I know you want a career around here as successful as mine, I can make things easier..."

"Ye're pretty desperate, aren't ye? Okay, there's something I need and I ken that in other circumstances ye would never authorize! Next week there's my sister's wedding and I'm going to be the best man, so I have to go to Scotland."

"Done!"

"For ten days!"

"Ten days? But that's..."

"And ye go with me!"

"What? No, why should I? And I can't go away for so long..."

"So good luck and have a good trip to England!"

"No, Jamie! Okay okay, ten days you're free, but I'll stay."

"Oh, and how do ye think they'll believe we're getting married soon if you don't even attend such an important event for your fiancé's family?

"They'll understand that I'm a doctor and head of the department, I can't go away and..."

"As I said before, it was great to discuss this with ye, Claire! But I have to go..."

I just heard her snort and stop me from leaving the room again:             

"I can ask Dr. Abernathy to take my place while I'm gone..."

"Great! The flight is in two days, I think it's good to hurry up with your request!" and smiled with satisfaction at seeing Claire's desperate eyes staring at me.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Things had lost a bit of control during our conversation, but after I confirmed that I was going to Scotland for her sister's wedding, Jamie calmed down a bit. I swear I couldn't understand the real reason why he wanted me to go with him to his hometown so badly, but I was so desperate that I would accept anything as long as he did his part in the deal. As a last request, before he left my office, I asked us to meet at my house at 7:00 p.m. to get to know each other better and make that interview a success. The night would be long.

I got home before 6 p.m. and only managed to organize the living room a little before Jamie arrived. My books were all over the place, and after putting the last one on the shelf, I wondered why I was feeling nervous. But I soon realized that just the simple fact of having to make a lie believable was, in itself, something to be nervous about. Adso kept purring near my legs as I finished organizing the food I had bought at the supermarket earlier. I put everything on the coffee table, and as soon as I heard the bell ring, my heart beat faster, perhaps because I got scared by the bell. I went there to greet my fake fiancé and could feel that my cheeks had been blushed just by getting closer to him.

As soon as I opened the door, he gave me a half-smile and offered me the bottle of wine that was in his hands, apologizing beforehand that I had to know what his favorite wine was. I gladly accepted that "gift" and opened the door further so that he could enter my house. It was weird to receive a stranger, I never invited anyone to come into my intimacy. I don't have many friends in town, Joe and his wife were the only friends I made in Boston and I like it when we spend some time together talking about things other than medicine. And I love taking care of their baby when we meet, the kids are so pure that I'm not afraid to be myself when I'm around them.

Jamie followed my footsteps into the living room and I could feel his gaze on my hips as we walked, and I struggled not to look back and have my confirmation of this so intense feeling. I actually always felt it when he looked at me like that during our rounds in the hospital and that, good or bad, flattered me. But now things had changed and our relationship was taking a completely different path from what I had always imagined, making me a little uncomfortable with it all. We sat on the same couch, one slightly facing the other, while I opened the bottle of wine.     

"Jamie..." I was wondering how to get started. "I thought about starting with the most trivial things of everyday life, I think that's what they'll cling to the most." I noticed that all his attention was turned to me. "For example, which side of the bed do we sleep on when we're together?" I saw him freeze his eyes on mine for a second, relaxing right after understanding what I meant by it.

"Well, what's the layout of yer room like, Claire?" he ate one of the appetizers that were on the table. "I always think it's important for the man to get closer to the bedroom door..." hum, Jamie is a protective man. "On which side do ye sleep?"

"I don't have a side of choice, I sleep in the middle of the bed... I find it more comfortable." I spoke while serving the wine to both of us. "But we'll have to decide that, and from what you said, the right side of the bed is closest to the door. Decided. I sleep on the left side."

I offered him a glass of wine and we toasted it silently. To my surprise, at that moment Adso began to purr near my feet, asking for affection. As I didn't give him much attention, that ball of daring gray hair climbed onto the couch and, looking at me with disdain, lay comfortably on the redhead's lap, receiving a delicious stroke from those giant hands. My cat was a traitor.

"Are you allergic to something, Jamie? For example, cats?" I pointed to what was on his lap.

"I'm not allergic to anything, Claire." I loved listening to what my name sounded like when he pronounced it. "My health is strong. What about yw?"

"I'm allergic to dipyrone, that's all."

"Oh, what bad luck... Dipyrone is really wonderful. But going back to bed... how do ye like to sleep?" he asked. "I mean, do ye wear a nightgown, a pajama itself... or nothing?" I drowned with the wine after he said the last part and he smiled maliciously.

"Ehhh...well, I usually wear a nightgown," I answered, recovering a little balance and looking again in his eyes. - And you?

"A t-shirt and pants or shorts, depending on the temperature. Sometimes without a T-shirt."

"Perfect." I got very hot after imagining him shirtless, but I mentally blamed the wine. "And when did we start dating? A year ago? A year and a half?"

"A year and a half is perfect. We didn't say anything at the hospital because of the rules and also because I would lose a lot for not being able to participate in yer team since my dream has always been to be a neurosurgeon. And three months ago, ye asked me to get married." He smiled, triumphantly.

"Me, Jamie? Why me?" I said, a bit angry.

"Well then, because ye are bossy and determined, and also because it matches yer modus operandi." He laughed softly and I saw that I could not go against it. I was in his hands. "Oh, we haven't lived together yet, but I've come to spend the weekends with ye here. Speaking of which, I need to make a round in your house to find out more about you and get used to everything."

"Well, we can't waste any more time." I took a deep breath, getting up from the couch. "Come on, I'll show you everything."

And so, we keep exchanging information about our day to day until 2 am. As much as it was a "professional" subject, the conversation was flowing so well that we didn't realize how fast time had passed. I was a little worried that he would return alone to his apartment at that time, so I offered my guest room to Jamie to sleep and felt some butterflies insistently fly into my stomach in front of his silence. But after a few seconds he denied it, saying he needed to go home, thanking me for the lovely evening and getting up from the couch right away. I walked him to the door and could see uncertainty in his gaze, but I didn't want to imagine things that couldn't exist. We shook our hands and I felt an energy run like lightning, realizing at that moment that I had never touched him like that. I locked the door and leaned for a few seconds against it, my eyes closed as I went through everything that had happened. I went to my room and got ready for bed trying to forget what I had felt minutes earlier. The next day would be intense, and we still had another meeting like that to get more details right.

In fact, the next day was overwhelming. It started early in the morning with all my residents, including Jamie; followed by two surgeries that lasted a total of 11 hours; ending with several reports to check and sign before leaving for another "date" with the redhead. And I, as always very messed up when I have a lot of appointments, hadn't realized it was more than 8 o'clock at night and knew that at this point in the game, Jamie was waiting for me to leave my office so we could go to another meeting. I was almost finished when I heard my door open wide and the doorknob banging into the wall. Like I was in a movie, a furious Scotsman stood in the doorway, fulminating me with his gaze while he was breathing heavily.

"Sassenach, we have to go NOW!" of what he had called me?

I quickly closed all the folders in front of me and stood up still scared. I nodded, and as I was going to the bathroom to change my green uniform for my casual outfit, he wouldn't let me delay any longer, complaining that he had been waiting too long for an appointment that was mine alone. Not to mention anything else, he grabbed my purses with all my belongings and pulled me by the arm, dragging me down the hallways of the hospital and causing a lot of weird looks to us.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I knew Claire hadn't been happy with my show of "affection" for the whole hospital, but I was tired, stressed, and totally worried about this interview for immigration the next day. I consider myself a good liar, okay, let's make this better, consider myself a good actor? I can hide my feelings well when I want to and I carry people well when I want them to believe in something. It wasn't me I was worried about, it was Claire. She thought that with all that tough pose she could easily fool Mr. Ford, the immigration guy she hated, but what she didn't know was that her face always showed everything.

Everyone in the hospital was afraid of her, I'll confess that at first, I was too, but as time went by I could see that what she was doing with the students was not just unfounded terrorism, she was doing it to gain respect and so that no one would see the real Claire, not that I had seen much of her these days that we were spending together, but I could see that she's not as tough as she seems and that her eyes showed everything she was feeling.

"Jamie! Let me go! It's hurting my arm and besides, the whole hospital must be wondering why a student of mine is carrying my things and taking me out in such a delicate and loving way!" her eyes were in an almost green tone, yes, she was nervous.

"That's great because when they find out we're engaged, they'll understand who's boss in this relationship..." she just looked at me so fulminant. "Ye, of course."

I couldn't contain the laughter and knew it was only irritating, but at least I was relaxing after spending more than two hours waiting:

"My car is on the other side of the parking lot." she realized the obvious.

"I ken. But we're not going to use yer car tonight, ye're going to my house, after all, ye need to know where I live, how I live, how I sleep?"

"And why can't I go and see where you live with my own car?"

"Because I want to know how ye drive. Sassenach, details, details that they will surely ask us!"

"Sasse...what? If you're going to make up a nickname for me, at least explain to me what it means, Gaelic is not a language I know very well."

"Ye really are a terrible English citizen! And as for Gaelic being an unknown language to ye, we can work something out..." I couldn't contain my malicious smile and saw that I had let her shy, the apples on her face turned instantly red.

"What does be a lousy English citizen have to do with this nickname of yours?"

"Just that question already gives ye away. Sassenach means English, that's all..."

"Then I'll check this information, I don't want to go to Scotland and find out that my fiancé calls me something I don't know and it's not pleasant."

"Are ye calling me a liar? Ye ken that trust is the basis of any relationship, don't ye, Sassenach?" I tried to be serious, but I ended up laughing and making her laugh too, which was something rare, but her laughter was delicious to hear.

I found out on the way home that Claire would never be the assigned driver, I don't know if she hadn't adapted to the opposite side of driving, but she wasn't the person who I trusted the most behind the wheel of my car! Of course, she didn't like my observations, but we soon forgot the discussion that she had great motor coordination because she was a surgeon when the conversation again took a direction, let's say, full of double meaning.

My apartment was small and it didn't take long for me to show it all to Claire, who made a point of making observations about how disorganized it was and that the kitchen smelled strange. Yeah, organization wasn't my strong suit, but I lived alone and didn't usually get many visitors. Of course, I made a point of blaming her for the long hours at the hospital working and this meant that there was no time left to clean the house, let alone cook! We ended up ordering pizza, getting to know the peculiar taste of each one for the flavor and I introduced her to the best that Scotland had to offer, whisky!

"Broch Tuarach? I've never heard of this brand, but I must confess that it's one of the best whiskies I've ever had."

"It was a gift from my future brother-in-law when he invited me to be his best man, nothing much!" I answered without paying much attention to this matter.

"Ian? Right?" she asked as if she was answering a quiz at school.

"Aye. See, I told ye my family was simple..."

"Of course, as easy as all yer names! Why do the Scots need so many names? One would be enough!"

"Keep saying these things and you'll be very well received at the wedding!" I laughed at her astonished look.

We continue to study all the details about each one for hours. When the last bottle I had at home ran out, I knew it was time to end this long night. I noticed that Claire's eyes were already small and there was no reason for us to continue studying, what we had done had to be enough!

"As I only have one room, I'll let ye have my bed. Let it be clear, just for tonight! I'll sleep on the couch!"

"No need to bother, I'll ask for an Uber and go home! After all, I still have on the clothes I went to work with and tomorrow I have to be presentable for the interview!"

"They will believe more if ye get there tired and not presentable at all, they will think that our night was spent in a much more interesting way than what we are doing now!"

"By any chance for a couple to be happy, do they have to have wild sex every night?"

"I didna say anything about wild sex, but since ye mentioned it... aye, if they are going to believe that ye are with me, surely to be happy would have to happen every night!" I said smiling confidently. Claire just lowered her head and pretended to look for something in her purse.

"I found it!" she screamed with her cell phone in her hand. "Now I can get Uber!"

"Did ye see what time it is? There will be no driver available now and, even if ye find one, it will charge an absurd amount! I told ye that ye dinna have to worry, no matter how tempting all this wild sex talk, I'll stay here on the couch, far away from the room that ye'll sleep in!" I said taking the cell phone out of her hand.

"Jamie!" I didn't know if I'd gotten her attention from her cell phone or from what I'd said, but I saw that I'd left her speechless anyway.

I ignored her call and went to get my pillow to sleep on the couch. As I was coming back into the room, all I heard was her grumbling:

"Oh, great!"

"What was it?" I asked.

"In a hurry to leave, you got the wrong bag, this one only has the dirty clothes I wore yesterday in the hospital! The one with my change of clothes stayed in my office! I don't want to sleep wearing the clothes I spent all day, especially in a hospital!"

"Women and their thousand bags! Why not put everything in one? It would make life much easier for you and for us, poor men who just want to help! - I received only a roll of the eyes. - You can relax, I'll lend you a T-shirt, I'm sure it will be like a nightgown, which I already know is what you wear to sleep!

If regret kills, I would certainly be deader than I was at the moment I saw Claire wearing my shirt, yeah, it was not a good idea on my part. Those long, slender legs parading in front of me weren't doing my brain any good, let alone my body:

"Well, then let's go to sleep! Tomorrow is the big day and we have to be prepared!" I said practically pushing her into the room. "If ye have any questions about where to find things in the room, just ask... not really, just look around and remember that ye are my fiancée, so ye have to ken where I keep things in my room, right?"

And without waiting for her to answer, I closed the bedroom door and ran to the couch, I needed to take the image of her with my shirt off my head, by the way, a shirt that luckily wasn't my favorite because now it was totally ruined for me, I could never wear it again! The next day I didn't need the alarm clock to wake up, the discomfort of the couch already made me wake up early. Claire didn't seem to sleep so well either, of course, she must have been tense with the interview, her whole life was at stake, but mine was too! If they found out about the farce, I could lose my citizenship and be deported in moments.

For the first time in these two days, we remained silent on our way to immigration. We stopped before at Claire's house for her to change clothes and to my disappointment, she dressed in her work clothes. Aye, in the same serious way that aged her a few years. I decided not to make observations about it because she did not seem to be in the mood for my jokes. While we waited to be called for the interview, I tried to go over all the details about her life in my head, but Claire's restless legs didn't let me concentrate:

"If you keep this up, I'm gonna have to hold yer legs in a way you won't like!"

"How can you make double meaning jokes even at times like these?" she seemed genuinely terrified.

"And how can ye take everything I say in another direction? I was just trying to get you to settle down a little, I cannae concentrate with those legs moving in front of me!"

"I'm concentrating like this! If it's bothering you, go sit on the other side of the room, you've got plenty of chairs!"

"Sassenach, love, I'm sure you don't want to get away from me now..." I talked to her trying to get her to look in my direction, but she kept ignoring me.

"Love? Jamie, you don't have to be so realistic with your act..."

"Mrs. Beauchamp? Mr. Fraser? We're ready to welcome you." and that's how I met this Mr. Ford.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

After several shots of whisky and a lot of talking, Jamie convinced me, in fact, forced me - or I'd rather believe it -, to stay at his house, not admitting that I would go home alone so late. Perhaps another sample of his protective instinct? I was angry with him for not getting all my bags, we left the hospital so quickly that I didn't notice that I was missing one, and exactly the one with my clean clothes. He lent me his T-shirt so that I could sleep and insisted that I stay in his room. On his covers. With his smell. I was sure I wouldn't have a quiet night.

I kept thinking about how I didn't know anything about him as I changed my clothes. And as soon as I left the bathroom wearing only that shirt, I saw his eyes staring at me with desire. My cheeks burned with shame and I decided not to look at him too much, because then he would see that I was moved by him.

In a clear urge to get rid of me as quickly as possible, he pushed me into his room and told me to " look around " if I needed anything. I took a deep breath as soon as the door closed behind me, smelling the redhead in the air. His small refuge was more organized than the rest of the apartment, the bedding was organized, and the few items that decorated the room gave a very masculine air to the room. One thing, however, disentangled a little from all that was there: a rosary. I would never have imagined that Jamie could be a Catholic, much less to the point of having a rosary on his bedside table.

And, as I had supposed, I didn't have a good night at all. Feeling the scent of that Scot makes me more and more restless. He was impregnated everywhere, in his covers and in his clothes, and in the few moments I could sleep, Jamie would sensually invade my dream and make me wake up, breathlessly. In one of these nocturnal scares, I woke up with the sensation of having heard some groans coming from the living room - or were they from the neighboring apartment?

I waited a while longer to go to the kitchen and have some water, and as soon as I left the room, I found Jamie sleeping placidly on the side of the sofa, a small smile splashed on his face. The brightness coming out of the bathroom light, which Jamie had left on so I wouldn't get lost, lit up the room to the couch. At that moment I noticed that he was not wearing a T-shirt, had Jamie felt warm during the night? But it wasn't even that hot, let alone in the living room...

I decided to forget all those thoughts that invaded my mind and go back to bed soon. And for my erotic dreams about its owner.

The next day we got up early and went to my house so that I could get ready properly. As I finished getting dressed, I recognized a delicious smell of fresh coffee and oatmeal and, as soon as I arrived in the kitchen, I saw that Jamie had made a delicious breakfast for both of us. He's really very protective of the people around him, even though it's me and that situation is a bit strange.

We went to immigration in his car, a deathly silence all along the way, and both clearly nervous about what was to come. I knew that not only my life was at risk with this situation, but also his. Lying to an American organ doesn't do anyone any good.

I was very nervous, my legs shaking insistently as I tried to be calm. Jamie tried at times to calm me down, asking me to stop moving them so much, but when I felt trapped, my armor came back hard and I couldn't help but be arrogant. However, listening to a word from his mouth left me stirred:

"Sassenach, love, I'm sure ye dinna want to stay away from me now?" I did not turn my gaze to him, completely frightened and impressed by what he had said.

"Love?" I spoke louder than I would have liked. "Jamie, you don't have to be so realistic about your theater..."

"Mrs. Beauchamp? Mr. Fraser? We are ready to receive you." I was frightened by Mr. Ford's sudden appearance, but I also felt sad because I had understood the reason for that sudden affection and I can't deny a little bit of disappointment.

I entered before Jamie and he put his hand on my shoulder, squeezing it as if to say to me that everything would be fine. We sat in front of Mr. Ford, one next to the other, and a strangeness took over all three of us as if the man was waiting for us to do something to start the interview. At that moment Jamie's hand squeezed mine hard and the first reaction was getting me scared, but I almost instantly understood what he wanted to show with that affection and smiled at my "fiancé," looking seriously at the man who was judging us.  

"Well, beautiful couple" he spoke with a certain irony "let's start with the most basic. We'll have the first meeting with you two together and then individually. Nice to meet you, Mr. Fraser." Jamie nodded. "How long have you guys been dating?"

"A year and a half ago, more or less..." Jamie answered.

"On February 23rd of last year, more precisely." I had already done my calculations and decided on a date.

"Perfect. And what's your relationship in the workplace like?"

"No one in the hospital knows, that would be very harmful to Jamie" I turned my face to the redhead and smiled, maybe more convincing than I thought it might be "he always wanted to be a neurosurgeon and our relationship would hinder the construction of his steps as a professional."

And the double interview proceeds, Mr. Ford asking deeper and deeper things and us answering as calmly as possible, sometimes an error of something, but nothing very significant. The worst came when we separated. Jamie stayed in a room separate from mine while the interrogation began with me. The man was outrageous, asking very personal questions about my fiancé's life that even if it was a real relationship, I wouldn’t think it was right to answer them. And of course, some of those things I didn't know the answer to, which made me a little apprehensive about the end result and he captured my insecurity at those moments, I was sure of it. I tried to get around some questions, but I received an intense look of disapproval and I thought it was right to answer everything, even the color of his underwear that day. It was fortunate that I had seen a piece of it appear under his pants.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

When we entered the room with Mr. Ford, I already knew why Claire was so worried about that interview, he really wasn't kidding and made a point of being ironic about our relationship. The questions weren't as different as I had imagined, he wanted to know about the beginning of our relationship and other details. Even though Claire was doing better than I expected, some things got us into small contradictions, but I tried to smile at her and keep up with the answer, so that would convince our questioner.

But of course, only a few minutes later, he separated us. While I was waiting for Claire to finish her interrogation, I observed the movement of that immigration and I remembered when I entered with my application for citizenship, it was not at all fast or easy, especially with the disapproval of my parents, who insisted that I could remain in the country only on the student visa. But I didn't like the feeling of being a stranger, a foreigner who was always treated suspiciously and differently. Of course, my accent always gave away my origin, and I didn't intend to get rid of it, to be ashamed of it, on the contrary, I was very proud to be Scottish and achieve what I achieved in America. And that's when it hit me, what was I doing there? Risking all the hard work I'd had and because of someone I barely knew? Just so she could stay in the country?

My thoughts didn't last long, soon I was called by Mr. Ford and crossed paths with Claire leaving the room, she just gave me a weak smile and it worried me even more, had everything gone wrong? I didn't have time to talk to her, so I was bombarded with personal questions about her, from her favorite color to what clothes she liked to wear to sleep. I'm glad I'd been curious about that, but I couldn't help but say that I preferred her much more sleeping in my shirt, even though she insisted on always sleeping in her nightgown. Mr. Ford just gave me a slightly ironic smile that didn't show me anything, whether it was going well or not, just nothing!

"Mr. Fraser, I see here that it hasn't been so long since you finally completed your citizenship process, it would be a shame to lose all this because of a fake marriage to help your boss. I hope you are aware that if we discover that this is not true, not only will you lose your citizenship, but you will also be deported and banned from our country, probably indefinitely."

"I won't have to worry about it, I love Claire and we're happy together!" I said trying to be as confident as possible, but inside I was freaking out and praying that Claire was convincing.

Mr. Ford just smiled once again, as if he doubted every word I said, and released me from that interrogation, but not before telling me that he would be keeping an eye on our trip to Scotland and that he couldn't wait to see us again. Really that guy was intimidating, did they take a course for it? Because he was half my height and I could only bow in fear every time he approached me.

When we left immigration, both Claire and I were just taking a deep breath and trying to calm down. Still standing in front of my car, she started talking:

"I'll get an Uber to pick up my car that stayed in the parking lot of the hospital, I'll take the opportunity to finalize the arrangements with Joe regarding my replacement, we met at the airport later on?" she finished talking already with her cell phone in hand, probably asking for this Uber.

"So that's it? Are we going to continue with this whole farce?" I said in a tone a little higher than I intended.

She looked at me in amazement. "Jamie! Keep it down! We're still too close to Mr. Ford and he can hear you!"

"And you think he believed in our little show? Do you really believe it? That look in his eyes still makes me anxious every time I remember and ye want to continue yer day as if everything was right?"

"But isn't that what we agreed on? What's your problem, Fraser? I thought we had made a deal!" She also said without patience.

"So now we go back to Fraser? I thought it was the love of yer life! After all, ye even remembered the day we started dating and even the color of my underwear!" she looked up. "Yeah, he asked me that, in addition to a thousand other things and made a point of emphasizing that if he finds out that what we are doing is just a setup for ye to stay in the country, I could lose my citizenship and not only that, no, no, I can be banned from the country forever! Now ask me again what my problem is! Go on, ask!" I knew I was screaming and scaring her, but I was also scared.

"Jamie, they'll never find out, we'll be in Scotland for ten days and by the time we get back, we'll be all right...

"Of course, because he'll just forget that we exist and believe in this beautiful love of ours! Speaking of that, about our proposal, I told him that ye asked for it and I made a point of saying that it was the most traditional way possible! Ye on yer knees, declaring how essential I am in yer life, more important than your career and that ye couldn't imagine living without me anymore! I think it would be great if I reviewed this request, ye ken, to make sure I'm doing the right thing, risking myself this way..."

"What? You don't think I'm going to kneel down and propose to you here in the middle of the parking lot!"

"Ye know, it was great to meet you, Claire, these days we spent together were really nice, I bet everyone would love to ken how sexy ye looked wearing my shirt and sleeping in my bed..." I couldn't contain my smile when I saw her face blush before looking at me sharply.

She snorted a few times and bowed her head, probably cursing me, kneeling in front of me:

"James Alexander plus a thousand names Fraser, will you accept to marry me?"

"That was the most boring and unemotional request I've ever seen! I ken ye can do better than that, Sassenach!"

"Go fuc..."

"Not now, Sassenach, we're in the middle of the parking lot!" I laughed as I lifted her off the ground, I really had provoked her to the limit, but at least the mood had improved. I don't know for her, but for me yes, I was feeling calmer to see that she really needed me and that I was the softest person in the world. My sister was right, Claire had turned me into a fool...

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Jamie thought I was sexy the night I slept in his house with his shirt on his bed. That mention momentarily disconcerted me, even if he was talking about "threatening" me. And he knew I'd do anything to keep our story well-founded, including kneeling at his feet and proposing to him in a public place, as he had forced me to do in the immigration parking lot. We both won with our deal, but I would lose a lot more than he did and he knew how to use that weapon well. I'm in his hands and I don't even know what to expect in the next 10 days.

I said goodbye to him, picked up Uber, and went to the hospital to settle the last details with Joe. The day I made the proposal for Jamie, I already notified my superiors that I had a last-minute trip to make and that I would stay away for 10 days. They didn't like the idea very much, but I assured Joe would be in charge of everything during my absence, even though I haven't spoken to him yet. As soon as I talked to Joe, he didn't object to anything, even though he thought that trip was a bit strange, but I promised I would explain it better when I got back.

"Joe, I'm going to Scotland tonight, I've already put all my students on notice and they'll talk to you if they need anything. Don't let that soft-heart of yours get fooled by them, they're all very smart! Oh, and remember that Adso likes a little affection from time to time..." he smiles with affection as I gave him the key to my office.

"Good trip L.J., you don't have to worry about the hospital or Adso!" he supported his back on the back of the chair and threw a furtive smile at me, folding his arms in front of his body. "And I still want to understand your connection with Scotland... or would it be with a Scot?"

"You're hopeless, Joe... on the way back, I'll explain it to you, dear... on the way back!" I smiled and left his office without believing that he was already finding all that movement a little strange, nothing went unnoticed by his attentive eyes.

I got home and packed my bags for the trip, so glad I already had an idea of what I needed to take on that long journey. As soon as I was finished, Jamie called and said that in an hour he would be at the airport. He asked me if I'd like to take a ride on his Uber and he could come by and pick me up in 20 minutes. I was still finishing my lunch, without thinking too much about it after that intense day, and I still had to think about whether it would be good or not to go with him in the same car. I was so sick of everything that I just accepted his offer, finishing organizing things at home and waiting for the redhead to arrive.

Our trip to the airport was made in silence, only broken by Jamie's unfounded comment about the number and weight of my bags. I looked down on him, and he suddenly understood that I wasn't on my best days. As we boarded the plane, I could see that our seats were in the center of the plane, and Jamie decided to stay in the seat in the hallway, claiming to be too tall and needing legroom. I stayed in the middle seat, on one side a lady without any notion of space crocheting and on the other a Scotsman over 1.90 m tall. Perfect for me to be able to move around during that long flight. I'm sure Jamie chose these places by hand; I could see in his eyes that he wanted to make me suffer a little more.

As the plane began to prepare for takeoff, I settled in as I could on my seat, trying to take a deep breath to try to control my nervousness. Yes, I'm afraid to fly. No fear, phobia. The last time I used a plane in my life was when I stepped on American soil, and it was so long ago that I had completely forgotten to take medicine to help with my anxiety. And I had no one I could trust, like Uncle Lamb, to calm me down during the turbulence. I was screwed. Again.

"Are ye all right, Claire?" he noticed that I was restless.

"Yeah, Jamie, soon, it'll pass, don't worry..." I kept my eyes closed, my hands were sweaty and my breathing was heavy, trying to control my nervousness.

"Are ye afraid to fly, Sassenach? Really? " he laughed softly. "I didn't expect that from ye..."

I didn't have to answer, as soon as the plane took off, I shouted a little and pressed my hands tightly on the chair supports. When the plane stabilized, I was able to release my hands and quietly open my eyes, glimpsing the face of a Scot having a lot of fun with the whole thing. I was furious, but again I couldn't say much to take that look off his face. With him, I'd have to walk on thin ice, especially during these long 10 days.

The onboard service arrived and I couldn't eat much as nervous as I was. Soon after all the lights dimmed and it didn't take much longer for Jamie to start sleeping, that sweet smile splashed on his face again. I made sure he kept sleeping and kept looking at him, not believing everything that had happened during those last 48 hours. I was almost asleep when, suddenly, strong turbulence began to hit our plane. I really wasn't expecting it and my first response was to grab onto the redhead's arm who, by the way, had his hand unconsciously resting on my thigh. A very muscular arm, in fact, but it was not the time to think about it. He woke up a little scared, without understanding what was going on, and hugged me tightly as he stroked my hair and laughed softly at my situation. After a while, with his mouth glued to my temple, he began to speak sweet words in Gaelic, and I never imagined that there was a better remedy for my airplane fear than that Scotsman's attention.

Jamie rented a car to get us to his family's land, and I couldn't believe it when I saw him arrive with a giant silver Range Rover, and obviously with plenty of internal space. He probably saw my amazed face and said, mockingly, that he had to take a bigger car to fit all my bags. I looked at him with disdain, pretending not to understand the reason for such a comment, but wanting to laugh along with him. When I finished packing, I realized it was a lot, but how could I make a trip like that without my favorite clothes? And besides, I didn't know what to expect from that crazy week, so I thought I'd take all that with me.

Oh, Scotland. I never imagined seeing such natural beauty in a single hour's drive. Even though it was late summer, the cold was already appearing and some leaves began to show different shades of yellow and brown, contrasting with the blue sky of an atypical day of sunshine in the highlands. Jamie was part of this beautiful scenery. He was focused and at the same time relaxed, and I could see a certain air of happiness, most probably because he was finally at home and could go to his sister's wedding. He was right about me, I would never let him get off from his responsibilities in the hospital, but at that moment I saw how wrong I was to deprive him of those moments. Maybe because I don't have a big family, I don't know how important this relationship is to people.

The road became narrower and more isolated in the world until Jamie slowly passed through a stone arch and parked the car in front of a century-old house. Stupendous. It couldn't have been possible for that to be the Frasers' house. We were almost close to lunchtime and as soon as I got out of the car, I could smell an exceptional smell that came from inside the beautiful building. I took a deep breath and went to help Jamie with the bags. It was time for the staging.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I can say that this trip to Scotland was one of the most fun of my life, ok, I may be exaggerating, but Claire made sure to entertain me well until I got to sleep. When would you imagine that a woman who looked so tough would be afraid to fly? And it wasn't fear, it was practically a phobia! At first, I thought it wasn't that serious, and I even played with it, receiving not very nice looks in return. I ended up sleeping, as always after the lights went out and woke up scared with her grabbing my arm, almost cutting off my circulation and my only reaction was to hug to try to calm her down.

I couldn't help but notice that she was really panicking about the slight turbulence the plane was going through and I did what I used to do to calm the farm horses when they were scared during storms, I started to run my hand through her hair and whispered Gaelic words that I knew she didn't understand, they didn't really mean much, but the melodic sound of my mother tongue made her heart calm a little.

When we arrived at the airport, I rented a car to go to Lallybroch, my family was so busy with Jenny's wedding that they didn't even offer for a moment to pick us up. I don't blame them; I was absent from everything and everyone for more than a year and the news that I was bringing a girlfriend that they didn't even know existed until two days ago didn't excite them more. Yeah, girlfriend, I hadn't said anything about engagement, marriage, and much less that it was Claire who was going with me. I knew I was playing with fire on both sides, but it was easier to solve this whole situation personally than by phone. I just prayed that the happy marriage atmosphere would contagious my sister so much that she would hide everything she thought of my dear fiancée.

On the way to Lallybroch, I couldn't help feeling little butterflies in my stomach, I was happy to finally be home, I knew that Scotland had been no longer my home for years, but every time I came back, the feeling of being home accompanied me, I felt comfortable and happy here. When we passed the old stone arch that marked the entrance to the property, I took a deep breath, unfortunately, this was not just a family visit, it was much more than that, it was a theatre in which I should be the best actor of all and for the first time in my life, lying to all my family about something so serious. I was still wondering why I was doing all that, but when I saw Claire's panicky look as I got out of the car, I breathed one more time and took her hand, at least I wasn't doing all that alone.

"Broch Tuarach? Where have I seen this before?" Claire spoke and took me out of my daydreams.

"Probably on the signs we passed along the way..." I answered by gently pulling her hand, I wanted to get into the house right away.

"Aren't you going to get the bags?" she wondered when she saw that I hadn't taken anything from the car.

"Oh no, I'll sort it out soon, or somebody will come and get it..."

"Jamie, did your family rent this place just for the wedding? It's spectacular! And probably a hundred years!"

"In a way my sister rented it, and yes, the house is centenary, it's been in my family since the 18th century." I saw that Claire looked at me in amazement. "What is it, Sassenach?"

"And when would you tell me all this?"

"Hey, I'm telling ye now! I didn't think it was something so important!"

"Oh, you didn't think it was important! Jamie! We're getting married and I have no idea what your family does, let alone that they live in a castle!"

"Dinna overreact, Lallybroch is far from being a castle! And since we're staying here for ten days, ye'll have plenty of time to find out everything my family does!"

She didn't seem very happy with the answer, but before I could say anything more, I saw my mother coming to meet us.

"I was already thinking that something had happened on the flight! Ye would never arrive!" my mother spoke when she hugged me.

"It would have been easier if someone had come to pick us up!" I answered.

"And who would calm yer sister down? It's just a simple lunch to welcome Ian's family that's coming and she's driving me crazy! Yer father even went to work to not say anything he would regret later!"

"Is she already at that level then?" I asked, and she just nodded.

"Oh, how rude I am! We have a rare visitor here! I'm sorry, but it's just that Jamie has never brought a girlfriend before..." Of course, my mother would embarrass me with unnecessary information! "Ellen Fraser, nice to meet ye, lass!"

"Claire Beauchamp!" and with just those few words, my mother stood still with her hand outstretched in Claire's direction.

My family knew very well who Claire Beauchamp was, but they'd never seen her before, just listened to my countless stories about my shrewd boss, okay, that was the best word they'd use to describe her.

"Claire? The famous Dr. Beauchamp? Who kept my son away from home for over a year?"

"Mother! Dr...Claire is my girlfriend and ye ken why I didna come home before!"

I knew Claire was aware that my family didn't like her, at least if she didn't have that idea, the few words my mother exchanged with her made her well aware that she was not the most popular person among the Frasers.

"Well, if my son chose to bring ye here, I'm sure ye're a very important person to him. As I said, Jamie has never brought a girlfriend to Lallybroch before. Claire, I hope ye feel at home and I already apologize for my eldest daughter's behavior."

"Thank you, Mrs. Fraser, I am flattered to be the first girlfriend that Jamie brings to know this beautiful property of yours! Especially on such an important date for the family as this, and I understand that Jenny must be nervous."

"Call me Ellen! And thanks for the compliments, Lallybroch really enchants anyone!"

"Can we go on with this lunch? I'm hungry and there was nothing decent to eat on the plane!" I spoke by cutting off their tactful conversation.

"Jamie!" Claire spoke as if she was calling my attention. I saw my mother smiling, yeah, Claire was winning her over.

"Sassenach, if ye knew Mrs. Crook's food, ye'd be looking forward to lunch too! Especially after all that American crap we eat every day!"

"Jamie is right, ye cannae imagine what ye're missing! Come on, then, who knows, maybe yer presence will take Jenny's attention away from poor Ian!"

I felt Claire's hand squeeze mine, I knew my mom was throwing a hint so she would know that Jenny wasn't a fan of my "girlfriend," I just really hoped it would be as good as it was with my mom. We entered the house and soon I heard my sister's voice coming from the dining room. She really looked nervous, or it was just Jenny's way of being. We entered the room and saw that my dad was already sitting at the end of the table as he always did at any family lunch, he was talking to Ian's dad, the two of them knew each other forever, they were neighbors and best friends. That's how Ian started going to our house, first as my best friend and then as my sister's boyfriend.

Soon everyone noticed our presence in the room and uncomfortable silence took over the place. Who broke it was Ian who went to greet me cheerfully, it was a long time since we saw each other and wondered how much the poor guy was suffering at the hand of my dear sister in this phase of the wedding preparation:

"So, this is the famous girlfriend who decided to attend my wedding at the last minute?" he asked looking at Claire who smiled.

"I told Jamie that I could have stayed in Boston, but he insisted that this would be the best date for me to meet the whole family!" she answered with more certainty in her voice. I looked at her from the corner of my eye and could see a satisfied smile, yeah, she was taking revenge on everything I had said before.

"He was right, ye'll meet the whole clan! And I must tell ye one thing, ye're the bravest person I've ever met, because even me, that knew most of the family when I started dating Jenny, I didna have the audacity to attend a Frasers' event right away!

"I'm used to challenges! At the hospital, I face this every day with my residents!"

"Residents? So, ye arent Jamie's classmates? Wait a minute, ye're..." Jenny interrupted Claire's conversation with Ian and I could see her fulminating look in my direction.

"Aye, she's Claire Beauchamp, aye, my boss, but here she's my girlfriend Jenny, so ye can keep any comments ye have about that to yerself!" I spoke without giving Claire a chance to answer, although it would be exciting to see an argument between the two, I still wanted to keep the little pride I had intact.

"Jamie Fraser, how do ye hide this little detail? When he said he was going to bring a girlfriend, I thought he was just making it up to annoy me since I had to change all the provisions of the tables so she could sit with you... but not to say he was dating his boss who made his life hell in these last few years is too much, even for ye who think ye're the joker in the family!"

"Jenny! What's the part about keeping any comments ye have about this to yerself that ye don't understand? Ye don't know anything about my relationship with Claire! And I hope it stays that way, I don't owe it to anyone here any information about my love life!" I was angry, my sister always caused this in me, I loved her, but she knew how to press all the buttons that took away my patience.

"You two may be adults now, but ye're still under my roof! So I demand a minimum of respect, even more so in the presence of visitors!" my father spoke in his low voice, shutting us both up instantly.

The rest of the lunch went on without further discussion, at least not about my relationship with Claire. I felt that she had been a little overwhelmed by everything that had happened and kept a light conversation with Ian's mother who was sitting on the opposite side of the table from us. When we were already at dessert, my mother asked Claire a question that caught my attention:

"And how did ye start dating? I can't imagine Jamie breaking boundaries with his own boss." My mother had the gift of saying the most serious things in such a delicate way that the person couldn't even notice that she was being attacked.

"Jamie was always a gentleman, but what happened between us was inevitable. As you know he is very intelligent and dedicated, so he always managed to answer all my questions correctly, no matter how difficult they were, and so we started to talk more after school hours and the residence. As I said, it was something natural and inevitable between us, it just had to happen..."

And wasn't she good at it? Even I almost believed the story, really a part of it was true, she always liked my interest in the subjects she addressed in class, but I never saw anything but an exchange of knowledge, especially with the coldness that she treated all students and residents. I shook my head for a moment, of course, there was nothing between us:

"Since Claire already told ye how we started dating, I think it's only fair to tell you something else that happened so I could bring her here to meet the family!" I saw that my mother was still delighted with Claire's words and this would be the perfect time to say what I was thinking.

"All that was left for ye to say is that ye got her pregnant!" Jenny spoke from the kitchen.

"No Jenny! We'd be two terrible doctors if we let that happen! What I wanted to talk about was that Claire and I are not just boyfriend and girlfriend, we're engaged!"

When the words left my mouth, I saw Claire's eyes widening. Yeah, she wasn't expecting that, but she thought I wouldn't say anything? My family needed to believe this story, so let's go for it! The uncomfortable silence returned again, but it lasted only a few seconds until everyone started talking at the same time, a mix of congratulations and questions at the same time. I saw that Claire had relaxed when she received a hug from my parents, which surprised me too, but I knew they trusted my choices. Ian hugged me tightly and laughed, saying that he didn't believe I was making the same mistake as him.

"We need to record this moment!" my mother spoke by taking the cell phone out of her pocket. "How about a kiss from this beautiful couple to remember this day?"        

"No mom, we don't need a picture of that..." kiss? I won't deny that for a minute that this idea seemed very good, but no, it was already going too far.

Everyone started protesting and I knew very well that the stubbornness of the Fraser family wouldn't let me get away with it. I turned to Claire who kept quiet and smiled lightly. I approached her face as if everything was in slow motion. Our lips touched quickly and I could swear that I felt something like a shock that made me step away abruptly:

"What a dull kiss, brother! I'm sure ye can do a lot better than that!"

"Jenny!" Ian screamed but was laughing at the situation.

I was still looking at Claire who wouldn't let go of my eyes. Okay, my sister wanted a better kiss? She'd see what I could do! Without even knowing what had taken over me, I pulled Claire gently through her hair and so our mouths came together, but this time there was no shock, just a desire to deepen that kiss and that's what I did, being answered with the same intensity. I felt her hand on my face and from that moment on I couldn't hear anything else around me. I could only feel it and it was something I had never felt before, something that I didn't want to stop even though I knew it was wrong. And we only stopped when we heard a deep cough calling our attention. In fact, Claire was the one who walked away, I was still reluctant to leave those soft lips away from me. I was still breathless when I saw a slight smile on her face, the same smile that was probably on mine.

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

As soon as we were alone in the room, Jamie kept saying that what he had felt with our earlier kiss had been very special... he said he needed to be closer to me, he needed to feel the pressure and the softness of my lips against his again. I was still so frightened by that feeling that sprang up in me and all that sincerity coming from the redhead that I couldn't answer it with words, just a smile and shameful hot cheeks. He came closer and closer, smiling seductively at me until his mouth found mine and all that electricity I had felt earlier was back as magic. He grabbed my hair firmly, pulling my head back slightly and stroking my scalp hard when his tongue found mine in the middle of the way. He made me feel so full, emotionally speaking, as I'd never felt before. All his intensity and sensuality overflowing to me and making me groan on his lips, and receiving a very frantic and very hot grunt in return.

We walked slowly to bed as in a dance, without letting go of our burning kiss. One of his hands pulled my shirt out of the skirt so that he could find one of my breasts while the other was next to my ass, firming my body against his and making me feel his evident excitement pressing my belly. When I felt his big thumb caressing my nipple, over the fabric of the bra, my vision became even more cloudy and all the rest of my sanity faded away, at that moment all I wished for was for him to possess me, body and soul. I still couldn't believe what we were doing and all that avalanche of feelings knocking us out without barriers, but as soon as he pushed me to lie down in bed, I woke up scared. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, I was dreaming about him again. I woke up sweaty, breathing heavily, with my body pierced through the mattress and the covers completely messed up due to my hectic night. I sat with some difficulty on the bed, trying to regain my senses, and found Jamie sleeping, lying on the floor next to the fireplace, and with that same smile on his face. Definitely, that redhead was killing my sanity.

The day before, when we arrived in Lallybroch, I was greeted with a certain strangeness by all the Frasers, and not surprisingly, I was so severe with Jamie in the hospital over the past few years that his complaints about the terrible Dr. Beauchamp had crossed the Atlantic and reached Scotland. Ellen was very cordial to me after the initial scare, but her very insightful questions led me to believe that she was more attentive to our steps than I thought. Jenny doesn't have filter on her tongue and at this point in the situation, I was preferring to have real people around me rather than veiled lies, so I thanked her for having her anger for me so clearly stated.

The family meeting lasted all afternoon and, even though I was tired of the trip, I was able to enjoy a little of that Fraser's dynamic. I listened much more than spoke, talking to several people and observing how they all related to each other. I have never participated in events so full of people from the same family, perhaps only when I was very young and my parents were still alive. The biggest parties I attended were from some important medical institution where people were always ready to judge others for a bad project or a bad outfit. I had never participated in events where affection and love prevailed in every word spoken.

Near sunset, Jamie realized that I was sitting in one corner of the room, almost asleep resting on my hands, and said that we were going up to the room. His mother accompanied us, reaffirming that we would stay in her son's room and that everything was ready to receive us. And I realized at that moment that I would have to share the room with the redhead. I hadn't really thought about it, but it would be the strangest thing in the world for fiancés to sleep in separate rooms. We arrived at my fiancé's suite and our bags were already there, with the confusion of the first moments in Lallybroch I had not seen anyone take them to the upper floor. Ellen showed me some details of the room and said goodbye, leaving us alone.

"Jamie, can you pick up some covers for me?"

"Of course Sassenach, but are ye cold?"

"I'm not Jamie, but I'm going to make a bed on the floor to sleep on," he looked at me in amazement. "There's no point in staying in the same bed and I'll never make you sleep uncomfortably in your own home for a situation that was created solely and exclusively by me."

"Oh, what a pity we're not going to sleep together, I was already thinking of continuing what we started earlier in the living room." he smiled, mockingly.

"Fraser, the covers please." even blushing with his comment, I threw him a frown of disapproval to show that I was not joking and that I wanted to sleep soon.

"Okay, now enough jokes, Claire. There's no way I'm going to let a lady sleep uncomfortably while she's staying on my land. I'm already used to sleeping on the floor and it will be a pleasure for me to grant ye my bed once again."

"Jamie... I'm not kidding, I just don't think it's fair that you..."

"It's already decided, Claire." He interrupted. "Ye can arrange yer clothes in the closet while I take a shower and prepare things to sleep, then I leave the bathroom just for ye." He took his clothes and went into the bathroom.

I gave up and started to open my bags and store all the dozens of clothes I had taken for that blessed trip. The room was very large and spacious, all covered in reddish wood, and with a beautiful fireplace that Jamie had lit just before entering the bathroom. The crackling of the wood on fire brought to that place a very romantic air, but the situation was not at all romantic.

He returned to his room after a few minutes drying his hair intensely with the towel that was in his hands while a part of his defined abdomen could be glimpsed from underneath the shirt which, due to the movements of his arms, was a little wrinkled. I quickly took my eyes off his body to try to get him out of my mind, grabbing my sleeping clothes and going faster than an arrow into the bathroom. I leaned my back on the door and took a deep breath in, feeling traces of his scent that had been impregnated in the air. Sharing the same space as him for 10 days would be a trial for me, I had no more doubts.

By the time I finally got out of the bathroom, Jamie was already sleeping on the floor, by the fireplace, and I sat for a few seconds admiring his chest rising and falling in a perfect respiratory rhythm. His muscles outlined below the shirt, even when relaxed, left me a little lost in my own thoughts of how solid they really could be to the touch. I woke up from my daydream when Jamie moved quietly and I went as fast as I could to bed, turning off the last light in the room that was on and then sleeping afterward.

The day began to dawn and I was sitting there on the bed, admiring Jamie sleeping with that same smile on his lips while I quickly thought about my first day in Scotland. What I hadn't noticed was that, at some point in my daydream, he had already woken up and his smile had turned into a broad laugh.

"Admiring me sleeping, Sassenach?" his left arm was below his head, tensioning his muscles.

"Oh, not really..." I tried to be as convincing as possible. "I woke up with a loud noise and thought it was you... and after that, I wondered what my first day with your family had been like..."

"Um... And did ye like what ye saw?" He sat down, not taking his eyes away from mine.

"Of course, I've never had such a big family to live with so closely. They're very nice..."

"They're a mess, but I feel at home when everyone tries to talk at the same time." He replied nostalgically and I looked away from him, feeling bad for doing all that with all the Frasers. "Hey Sassenach, I have an invitation to make to ye that I think ye'll like..."

"Um, do you?" I looked at him again, sketching a slight smile. "What would be, Jamie?"

"Aye, let's put on some very comfortable clothes, have a quick cup of coffee, and head towards the stables. It's a beautiful day and I want to show ye the beauties of the Highlands!" he was genuinely happy. "I'm going to ride on Donas and ye're going on Blanca!"

"Donas and Blanca.... are they horses?" I looked at him terrified, barely did he know that my second biggest phobia, after flying by plane, was the horses.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

"What else could they be, Sassenach?" I looked at her with a giggle. Was she afraid of horses too?

"You can laugh all you want, Fraser, I know you are holding on." She said getting up out of bed and going to the bathroom.

Of course, I couldn't resist and laughed, Claire just slammed the bathroom door in response. I took the opportunity to change my clothes and see if there was anything interesting on my phone:

"Claire! Did you die in there? I need to pee and I'm not in the mood to go down and use the toilet!" I screamed while reading something useless on my social networks, how long did a woman need to get ready to go horseback riding?

"Do you know that this house must have about five more bathrooms on the same floor that you can use?" she finally answered me by opening the door.

"But what would be the fun of not being able to get this lovely look from you especially for me?" she just rolled her eyes in response. "You can go downstairs, I'll meet you in the kitchen, I'm sure Mrs. Crook has everything ready for our walk!"

"Aren't we having breakfast?"

"Have you seen what time it is? Here in Lallybroch, everyone follows the schedule of those who live on a farm, I'm sure lunch is almost ready!"

She was amazed to check her cell phone and see that it really was almost lunchtime, well, lunchtime for normal people, not for doctors who do the craziest hours like her. Without wasting any more time talking, I entered the bathroom and finished getting ready quickly. As I had asked, Claire waited for me in the kitchen and to my surprise, she seemed to be comfortable giving Mrs. Crook advice on how she could take care of the many burns she suffered while cooking.

The house was quiet, probably everyone was running after something for the wedding. I knew my father was working and Ian, of course, was together. I vaguely remembered my mother telling me the night before that she was going to Inverness with my sister to see something of the ceremony, I didn't get too attached to the details because I wasn't interested and they didn't want me to get involved in this planning either. 

"Here's everything ye asked for and I put some extra things I ken ye like!" Mrs. Crook told me while delivering a big bag of food. She was always exaggerated and loved to see us put on weight with her delights.

Claire still seemed apprehensive about the idea of riding a horse but tried to disguise it with that serious look that she always wore when she had something important to present at the hospital. She thought she was fooling me, but I could already read all her expressions, as I said before, her face showed everything she felt. We walked to the stable in silence and it was only broken when Claire ran into Donas, my horse:

"Tell me that's not the horse I'm going to ride!" She spoke with her eyes wide open.

Donas was really an imposing and often frightening horse. My father had won it from a client who couldn't pay off debt and handed it over without much fuss, he probably wanted to get rid of that beast as quickly as his debt. He gave work to our trainer and in the end, I was the only person who managed to tame him. Since then he's been waiting for my visits to be taken for a ride. Unfortunately, it was a long time since I had ridden and missed him, it was like therapy for me:

"Although I love to see yer despair, I'm not that bad! This is Donas, my little untamed. That's Blanca!" I spoke showing her the mare next to Donas. "It's my mother's and she's used to be calm and sweet with people." I blinked at her.

"I understand irony, Jamie! But after all, are we riding or not? You promised to introduce me to all the Frasers' property."

"Anyone who sees yer haste has no idea that the sweat on yer forehead is pure panic, Sassenach!" She laughed as she tried to disguise what I had just said. "Ye can relax that I'm going to be by yer side all the time and think that ye won't pass from the floor... At least if you fall, you'll be with a doctor!"

I just got a slap on the shoulder as an answer. The horses were already ready to ride, although I always liked to prepare them, I had thought it best to ask them to leave everything ready while giving a quick lesson to Claire. She was very attentive to all my orientations, but when I went to help her mount in Blanca, I could feel her tense muscles and her cold skin. She was really scared and wasn't little.

"Is everything okay, Sassenach? Being able to relax?" I asked after a few minutes of riding.

"Everything is great!" she answered quickly and hard.

"As ye wish! We are going to walk only a little, to the edge of the property and I can guarantee that it will be worth it, our lunch will have a wonderful view!" I spoke and saw that she smiled lightly.

We went slowly along the trail that I was tired of taking and I showed her all the interesting points of Lallybroch:

"Jamie! Why didn't you ever tell me that your family has so many businesses? We have already passed through the weaving factory that you said is wee, but that produces for the whole region and now you are showing me the field where the barley used in the production of the whisky from the distillery is cultivated, which, of course, is also your family's! Yes, I knew I had seen the name Broch Tuarach somewhere before! In the bottle of whisky you gave me in your house! Why didn't you tell me it was yours?"

"Because it's not, it's my father's distillery and now Ian's too, who became a partner. I grew up in Lallybroch and, whenever I could, I helped my parents in the family business, which grew faster than we imagined... But it was never my passion and my father knew it, so he let me go to the U.S. and follow the career I always dreamed of, even if it brought some sacrifices...

"Jamie, I've never imagined..." but I didn't let her go on, I knew where she was going.

"Sassenach, dinna fash, the sacrifices were worth it and Lallybroch will always be here so I can come and relax! Now let's get down to business! Our lunch!"

With all the talk, she hadn't even noticed how much we had ridden and we were already on top of a small hill, it was the limit of our land and from there we could see the whole property, including the house. I helped Claire get off her horse and felt her relief when she stepped on solid ground. I arranged everything Mrs. Crook had prepared for us and we sat there, eating and talking about everything and nothing at the same time. We hadn't talked so much like that before, until then everything had the purpose for that interview, but now we were relaxed and having fun, well, at least I was, I don't know if Claire felt the same coolness in knowing that she would have to ride again.    

I saw that some clouds were approaching and knew very well the weather in Scotland, one moment a beautiful sun and blue sky, the next a torrential rain. I rushed to pack everything and set our horses for the return:

"What's the rush? Is it okay to ride a horse after eating so much?"

"Sassenach, riding a horse is not like swimming!" I laughed. "And besides, a storm is on its way! We have to hurry if ye dinna want to get your beautiful hair wet!"

"Storm? But the sky is blue!" She said, looking at the sky in front of her.

-"Look there..." I spoke by turning her shoulders in the right direction. "Do ye see those clouds? They'll be here soon before we get home!"

"I didn't know I was engaged to a psychic! But that's okay, let's go! I don't want to risk riding a horse in the middle of a storm."

But of course, things with Claire wouldn't be that easy and the storm came in sooner than expected, leaving us soaking in a matter of seconds. And to make matters worse a thunder scared Blanca, who jumped up slightly, scaring Claire even more so that, without even seeing what happened, was hanging on me shaking and desperate. I stopped our horses the way I could, and put Claire sitting in front of me, one hand guiding Donas and the other pulling Blanca:

"The next time ye get scared on a horse, please try not to kill yerself by jumping off it, let alone pulling me along. If I wasn't strong, we'd both be on the ground now and possibly crushed by dear Blanca." I tried to speak in a calm way, but my ironic tone didn't go unnoticed.

"Of course! I could have died falling off my horse and you worried that I could have knocked you down? I can't believe it! I should never have agreed to this ride. Me? Riding alone on an animal I'm terrified of? I can only be crazy!"

"Ye must be crazy about me, I'm starting to think these fears of yours are just an excuse to grab me and get close to me!" I said mockery and saw that at the same time her shoulder got tense in front of me.

"Fraser! Stop this horse, I want to get off!"

"And what do ye intend to do? Walk the rest of the way?"

"Better than being in your company!" and she started to move, trying to get down on her own.

"Are ye crazy, woman? Stop moving or ye'll end up falling! Besides, ye have no idea where you're going!"

"I'm great at orienting myself, I've learned that from my Uncle Lamb!"

"If ye settle down for a few minutes, we'll be near the stables. I promise I'll set you free soon!" she was really pissing me off.

I only heard a murmur as an answer and rushed Donas, I wanted that ride to end soon, I didn't expect any of that and I had no idea why she was so angry, I had just told the truth, she was reckless and almost caused a bigger accident. As soon as I saw our destiny, I let her get down from Donas more than quickly. She didn't look back and hurriedly walked into the house, by then the storm had cleared and only our wet clothes were proof of what had happened.

Without any hurry, I returned with the horses to the stable and insisted on removing their saddles, brushing them, and giving them a bit of affection for everything they had been through. I wasn't in a hurry to get home, I didn't want to have to pretend that we were a happy couple, at least not at that time. When everything was ready, I entered through the back and heard my mother's voice in the living room, she was talking to someone and by tone, I knew it was with Claire. Without making me noticed, I climbed the stairs quickly and went to my room, I needed to take a shower, I smelled like horse and my clothes were still wet.

While I was taking off my clothes, I decided to turn on the TV to see if it was still playing the rugby game. For a moment I was entertained in the game, it was a classic, Scotland against England and I made sure to turn up the volume as if I could irritate Claire from a distance. I finished taking off my clothes and turned around to go into the bathroom when I ran into Claire leaving the bathroom, totally naked, just with a towel over her head and singing some song that was playing in the bathroom:

"JAMIE!" she screamed with her eyes wide open as she tried, unsuccessfully, to cover her body with her hands.

I couldn't look away. Even though I knew it was wrong, I couldn't miss all her curves, that I already knew they were beautiful through the clothes, but I never imagined how perfect they were. I could see that she had a small tattoo on her right side, just above her rib. I was still noticing every detail when I heard her voice again:

"JAMIE! Stop staring at me and go put some clothes on!!!!!"

"I say the same to you!!! And I don't have any clothes to put on!"

"Ahhhhh!" she screamed frustrated and trying to get out of the door, but to do that she had to go through me, it was a small hall that existed for the bathroom and we were trapped.

"I'll handle it!" and in one quick movement, I pulled the towel out of her hair and threw it over her body. "Okay then, now ye can pass..."

She was still scared, but she did what I said and walked past me slowly and I couldn't resist turning around and seeing a part of her body that I'd always admired. I really wasn't wrong, she had the roundest ass I'd ever seen!

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

After a rather strange moment between the two of us, Jamie tried to please me, taking me to visit his family's land on the back of a horse, and, at that moment, I knew that the day would be a long one. I tried not to show my phobia when I saw Donas and failed miserably, but Blanca was a good experience for me, very docile and with a gentle gallop, exactly what I needed to control my fears. And I can even say that the tour was worth it, the view from that high point of the entire Frasers property was spectacular, and that momentary tranquility made me rethink for a few minutes the real reason I hadn't taken a decent vacation since I arrived in the United States.

The conversation with Jamie was another highlight of that picnic, besides Mrs. Crook's delicious food. We talked like never before, he was always telling me things that made me laugh, and I had fun like I hadn't allowed myself for a long time.

Our return home was postponed due to a storm that was approaching, and it didn't take long for an intense rain to begin to fall, getting us wet in a matter of seconds. Blanca kept thundering with certain tranquility when the thunder scared her and me both. She lifted slightly, just enough for my fear to return with all the force, and as an instinct, I grabbed Jamie's arm with all the force I could possibly have. As soon as he was able to stop the horses, the redhead picked me up with all the ease in the world and placed me sitting in front of him, closer to his body than I expected. Even though he was wet from the rain, his warmth was as intense as the color of his hair.

We continued to ride home as he drew my attention to my recklessness in making that sudden move, but what he didn't understand was that my fear had been stronger than me. The mixture of his sermon and the discomfort I was feeling between my legs, due to his hand that insisted on tightly squeezing my belly while guiding Donnas, caused me to react rudely, trying to get rid of his hug as quickly as possible. Obviously, he didn't allow me to do this and as soon as we got to the stables, I got off the horse as fast as I could and headed for the inside of the house without waiting for him.

As I walked by the lobby, I saw that Ellen was talking to a blonde girl. I wished them both a good afternoon and went as soon as possible to the bedroom, it was getting cold and I needed a decent bath to warm me up. I put a song on my cell phone while I waited for the bathtub to fill up and, as soon as everything was ready, I dipped into that warm water and started thinking about everything that was going on. Jamie wasn't just a Scotsman who had tried his luck in America. His family really had a lot of possessions and I noticed in his gaze a certain sadness when he said something about following his dreams as a doctor. Something told me that it wasn't just what made him choose medicine, but at the same time, it didn't feel right to keep asking about things that didn't concern me.

The music was still in the air, helping to cheer me up as I finished drying my body. I put the towel on my head and went to the bedroom to get my clothes, with everything that had happened I hadn't remembered to take them with me. But what I didn't expect, not even in a million years, was to find Jamie completely naked as soon as I opened the door. And for a second I'd forgotten that I was also naked, feeling very embarrassed that we were in that situation.

"JAMIE!" I screamed as I tried, unsuccessfully, to cover my body with my hands.

He looked like a statue, his gaze was frozen on my body, and all that visible excitement he began to show made me feel the same discomfort between my legs as when we were riding together.

"JAMIE! Stop staring at me and go put some clothes on!" I tried to put all my strength together and talked to him again.

"I say the same to ye!!!" he seemed to come back from the trance. "And I dinna have any clothes to put on!"

"Ahhhhh!" I screamed frustrated and tried to get out of the bathroom, but the little corridor that connected it to the room was narrow and we were trapped.

"I'll handle it!" he said abruptly, and in one quick motion pulled the towel that was on my head and threw it over my body. "Okay, now ye can pass..."

As soon as he closed the door behind me, I realized that the cell phone had been left inside the bathroom.

"Jamie... My cell phone is in there" I spoke as sweetly as possible, with my face glued to the door in an attempt to get him to listen to me.

"Not now, Sassenach." he shouted, furious. "Later."

I gave up and went back to the room, after all, I had to finish getting ready before he came out of the bathroom. I put on a wine-colored dress that went up to almost knee height and separated a black high heel shoe, as it was almost nightfall, I figured we wouldn't make another incursion into the Frasers' land. I couldn't dry my hair since the hairdryer had been on the bathroom countertop and so I decided to arrange it in a way that the curls would be as tamed as possible.

After I was ready, I was in doubt whether to stay there waiting for him or not, since he would still have to get ready and I was not willing to go through another moment of embarrassment with Jamie. But in order to make our relationship look as true as possible, I thought it would be good to wait for him so that we could go out together. I sat down next to the bedside, barefoot, and stretched out on top of the mattress, and the image of Jamie completely naked was the first thing that came to my mind. No matter how hard I had tried not to look for long, the few flashes I had of his body were enough to set his image on my head. Jamie was obviously a very tall and handsome man, but the definition of his muscles, perfectly outlining his arms, his chest, and his abs, was one of the things that most caught my attention. Besides, I was impressed, obviously, by his clear reaction to my body. That instinctive response he had to see me naked made me feel something that had long been at the bottom of my life.

But, as expected, I was removed from my daydream by his great perpetrator. White towel wrapped around his waist, those same slightly tensioned defined muscles and the still wet red hair formed the personified image of perfection. I confess that I must have stared at him for longer than I should have and that had been enough for him to make a joke with the situation.

"Lost, Sassenach?" he finished drying his hair with a smaller towel.

"Ahm, no..." I looked into his eyes and could feel my cheeks burning, but I decided to divert the subject. "Actually, I'd like to know if I'll wait for you downstairs or we'll come down together."

"Do ye ken what we're having for dinner? I heard ye talking to my mother earlier."

"I barely saw yer mother tonight, Jamie. When I arrived, she was talking to a blonde girl and, as I was very wet and cold, I wished her good afternoon quickly and didn't stop to talk to her..." his face had changed when I talked about Ellen's mysterious visit and I saw some panic in his eyes.

"Oh, I thought it was ye..." he tried to deceive. "That's why I thought ye weren't in the room when I got here. Ye, wait for me right here" he said, picking up his clothes "we are going down together in five minutes." he spoke more seriously than I expected, maybe worried. "I don't want any conflicting information about our relationship." He was about to go into the bathroom and turned his face to me, giving me a slight smile. "And by the way, I loved the hair."

As soon as he entered the bathroom, I went to the mirror to check my curls and understood why he had said he liked them. My hair was voluminous, but with a perfect movement, and it had been a long time since anyone saw me with my hair in such a natural way. I retouched my lipstick and turned around as soon as I found him sitting on the bed, putting on his shoes.

"We are really in a couple scene right here in this room, Sassenach!" he laughed, shaking his head. He looked lighter than when he was entering the bathroom. "Shall we?"

I really thanked myself for putting on a dress that defined my curves and highlighted my bosom. We were walking down the stairs, one next to the other, when I felt his warm hand over my lower back, next to my ass. At that moment I saw that the same girl from earlier was still there, and her sparkling look was enough for me to gladly accept Jamie's 'loving actions'. She looked at me from head to foot and, when she looked into my own eyes, a fake smile got impressed in her face. And, of course, I reacted in the same way.

"Hello Jamie, it's been a while!" she said standing up from the couch and smiling blatantly at him. "Did ye finally get out of that hospital after so many years? I guess the only way to come to visit yer family is to bring yer boss, huh?" she laughed with sarcasm and I quickly understood the concern that Jamie had shown when we were in the bedroom.

"Where is my mother?" he didn't pay attention to what she was saying, but I could see his tense muscles in the face of that affront.

"Och, she went to the kitchen to finish dinner preparations with Mrs. Crook." she turned her body to me. "Well, since Jamie had become so rude living with the Americans, I'll introduce myself. Hello Claire, nice to meet ye, my name is Laoghaire." Again that fake smile.

"Enchanted." Another fake smile in response.

"I never imagined that Jamie would bring someone to her sister's wedding, let alone that she was a Sassenach. I'm impressed, babe."

Jamie opened his mouth to answer, but at that moment we heard 'my mother-in-law' come to meet us and I could see the automatic change in the face of the blonde, turning into a docile person in the blink of an eye.

"Well, I think Jamie has already introduced ye two! Shall we go to the dining room? Yer father, yer sister, and Ian are already finishing getting their stuff out of the car."

"I brought yer favorite dessert, Jamie!" she said, turning to both of us as she headed into the dining room. "Mrs. Crook will serve after dinner. I hope you like it, Claire." Hearing my name come out of her mouth gave me the creeps.

I let them go ahead and pulled the redhead so he could stay there longer.

"Jamie, who is this woman and why is she acting with me like this?" I tried not to show too much interest, but I knew that he was seeing my anger. - And what's your favorite dessert?

"She was my girlfriend as a teenager, Claire," he rolled his eyes in displeasure "and never gave up on the idea of restoring our relationship. And my favorite dessert is Banoffee Pie." He held my hand, kissing her back and then pulling it out. "Now let's go?"

Dinner went smoothly, and what I could notice was that this ex-girlfriend was very cunning and knew when to hold her tongue or not. And my first impression was that, in front of the Frasers, she was a good girl, which made me quickly understand that I had to be careful when she was there, or our plan would fall apart.

Jenny and Ian said goodbye, complaining about the exhausting day they had had and the next day's errands. Mr. Fraser offered everyone else a shot of his best whisky on the pretext that it would be the perfect digestive for Mrs. Crook's delicious - but heavy - dinner. We all sat down on the sofas in the living room while we drank the drink that was the same color as my eyes. Jamie was already more relaxed and his hand over my thigh was sliding up and down from time to time, slightly lifting the dress hem. He was pretending well in front of everyone and I was enjoying his touch, more than I expected. The conversation between the four of us was light until the blonde decided to talk again.

"Jamie, isn't it weird that ye're in the same room with yer old girlfriend and yer current girlfriend?" she looked at him with desire and smiled at the older Frasers.

"We're actually engaged, honey." I couldn't stand it and smiled with a certain sarcasm, putting my hand on his.

"Och, I'm sorry, I didna see any engagement ring, so I didn't think it was that serious."

"It's very serious, yes, Laoghaire, and we don't need rings to prove something to people about us." Jamie smiled quietly, hugging me gently. "I'm going to marry Claire and that's enough for me, for her, and for my family."

Jamie smiled with genuine affection for me and, for an instant, I believed his words and smiled in return, still shy. The closeness of our faces was enough for my desire to kiss him not to be restrained, even though I was mentally reaffirming that I was doing it only to show everyone that our relationship was real. I gently touched his lips, caressing his face with my free hand, and smiled when I heard a little groan of satisfaction coming from his mouth.

I was really lost with that Scot.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

After I went into the bathroom, I was able to breathe with relief. Seeing Claire naked was something that wasn't in my plans, really, but that doesn't mean it was a bad experience, far from it, and my body's reaction was living proof that this woman was doing something more than testing my patience. Yeah, a cold bath was what I needed to get back to the room and see her again. Before I could relieve what I was feeling, I heard her talking against the door that her cell phone had stayed in there, I could only answer briefly and thickly that now was not the time for her to get the device back.

After a few minutes, which seemed like an eternity to me, I left the bathroom with only a towel, after all, there were no clothes there. I couldn't help but see Claire staring at me while I was drying my hair:

"Lost, Sassenach?"

"Ahm, no..." she looked at me trying to get serious, but her face was blushing "Actually I'd like to know if I'd wait for you downstairs or we'd come down together."

"Do ye ken what we're having for dinner? I heard ye talking to my mother earlier."

"I barely saw your mother tonight, Jamie. When I arrived she was talking to a blonde girl and since I was very wet and cold, I wished her a quick good afternoon and didn't stop to talk to them..." Blonde girl? No, it wasn't possible.

"Oh, I thought it was you?" I lost it. "That's why I thought you were not in the room when I arrived here. Ye, wait for me right here" I said while picking up my clothes "we are going down together in five minutes. I don't want any conflicting information about our relationship." I was going back to the bathroom when I decided to comment on an interesting detail, her hair was natural and much more beautiful than the way she always wore to work. "And by the way, I loved the hair."

I couldn't help but notice that we really looked like a couple getting ready for dinner with their family, but if I knew what I was going to face, I'd rather stay in that room. Of course, the blonde Claire had mentioned was my ex-girlfriend, Laoghaire. Actually, I couldn't even consider her an ex, we barely got together when we were teenagers, but she got it into her head that I was the love of her life and since I went to the U.S. to study, she has sneaked into my family home with the hope of one day being part of it.

I knew she had a sharp tongue and wouldn't make it easy for Claire, but what I didn't expect was a worthy opponent. Several times I had to hold my tongue and laugh with the faces my "bride" was making to her. And I could not contain the satisfaction when Claire said to Laoghaire that we were engaged and kissed me. It wasn't just a theater, she was marking her territory, and my reaction to that was a little groaning when her mouth touched mine.

After this show of affection, Laoghaire tried to keep the composure, but I knew she had totally lost, just wouldn't show it in front of my parents. She just said that it was late and she didn't want to take the time of the Frasers anymore, the funny thing is that she didn't wait for an answer and left so fast that we only heard the door slam. I took the cue, pulled Claire by the hand, asked permission for my parents and as soon as they gave us a good night, we went to the bedroom:

"And who would have thought that Dr. Claire Beauchamp is jealous? Sassenach, this way I'm really starting to think that all those times ye approached me, they were just excuses to take advantage of my body..." I laughed as soon as I closed the bedroom door behind me.

"Don't piss me off, Fraser, it's enough to spend the whole dinner dealing with those totally unnecessary comments from your ex-girlfriend."

"I have to agree with you on this and I apologize for her, not that I have any fault in this, my mother who cannot manage to say she's over to Laoghaire, just because we grew up together ... but do not change the subject, have ye always been possessive like this or is it just with me?" I couldn't stay serious while talking, I knew I was provoking, her eyes were clearer and clearer, obvious signs that she was angry, that I had learned quickly.

"Oh, now her obsession with you is explained! You must have been the girl's first love, and now I'm beginning to question your taste for women and your difficulty in being firm and ending relationships for sure. Clearly, she still thinks she has some chance of getting back together with you!"

I looked at her lifting one of my eyebrows. She was really jealous of Laoghaire, and I don't blame her, that girl knew how to irritate anyone, one of the reasons why our relationship didn't work out:

"Know that I was very young and innocent when we dated, and ye saw that girl, there's something about her that scares me, I'm sure that..."

-"Oh, Jamie! Don't give me that innocent thing, I know you very well and innocence is the last word that comes to my mind!"

"Oh, ye know me? I didn't know we were that close, Sassenach! But of course, we are, how foolish I am, ye can't keep yer hands off me, which brings me back to my first question that ye made a point of ignoring: are ye jealous? I'm provoking this on ye? Really?" I tried to be serious, but the smile insisted on appearing on my face.

"Fraser, go to sleep!" she said angrily and threw a pillow at me. "The night was long, we ate too much, drank too much and I heard too much nonsense!"

"I'm fine and would talk for hours!"

"But I do not! Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get ready for bed!" and just like that, she walked into the bathroom slamming the door behind her.

And so I had no choice but to make my 'bed' on the floor and lie down. The next day I woke up with the sunlight hitting my face and a beautiful body next to mine, I took a deep breath and felt the scent of vanilla that came from her hair. I adjusted myself again and closed my eyes:

"JAMIE!" I woke up sometime later with Claire screaming in my ear. "What are you doing in my bed?????"

"Good morning to you too, Sassenach. And, as far as I know, this is my bed!"

"Jamie!" she spoke again still trying to understand what was going on.

"I woke up in the middle of the night with back pain, the floor was cold and hard, when I saw what I was doing, I was already lying on my bed, soft and warm...." I said it and tried to give my best smile, I wasn't lying, at least not totally.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

We hurriedly went up to our room after the sour blonde decided to leave and let everyone in that house finally sleep. I even imagined what Jamie's questions would be when we were alone, I just didn't imagine that my answer to that would show even more jealousy than on the lower floor. I don't know if it was the mixture of wine and whisky, but I couldn't control my tongue and it looked like a woman protecting what was hers. But none of it was mine, causing me inexplicably more frustration and emotional instability. I was so tired of that conversation and of seeing that I was losing my last drop of dignity that I stopped arguing with the scot, picking up my clothes to get ready for bed.

I went back to the bedroom and Jamie had already finished making his bed and was waiting to change his clothes too. He looked at me with a mix of fun and affection and I really didn't understand the signs he was sending me, undoing his smile almost instantly. And as soon as he entered the bathroom I lay down and decided to forget the discomforts of that day, I was cold and needed the covers to warm me and comfort me.

The next morning I was feeling hot, very hot, but at the same time, I felt comfortable, as I hadn't been in a long time. Still sleepy, I opened my eyes and saw that the light entered softly through the window, lighting part of my body. I tried to stretch and momentarily felt trapped, which woke me up for good. At that moment I noticed that a heavy arm was around my waist, holding me tighter in its embrace due to my movement, and a warm body was sticking to my back. Jamie. Unbelievable.

"JAMIE!" I took off his arm that enveloped me and sat abruptly on the bed, turning my body over for him to see me. "What are you doing in my bed?"

"Good morning to you too, Sassenach. And, as far as I know, this is my bed!" He closed his eyes and pretended to go back to sleep, which made me madder.

"Jamie!" I repeated, shaking his body.

"I woke up in the middle of the night with back pain, the floor was cold and hard, when I saw what I was doing, I was already lying on my bed, soft and warm..." He said with the most naughty face of all.

"And why didn't you wake me up? I'd changed places with you." I got up quickly, trying to adjust my nightgown better, and headed for the closet.  "It was really stubborn of you not to let me sleep on the floor! Now you can't complain that you had back pain." I didn't look at him and headed for the bathroom.

"I would never wake a beautiful lass in her restorative night of sleep, Sassenach." That's what I heard before I locked myself behind the door.

Suddenly a chill took over my body. I was trying to breathe, still leaning on that door, and some memories of the last night came back to the surface. I continued to feel cold in the early hours of the morning even after lying down for a long time, I believe because of the sudden drop in temperature just after the rain. Even as I slept, I felt my body hurt and I was completely shrunk in the attempt to get warm. At some point in the night, I felt the bed moving and Jamie approaching me, hugging me with the clear intention of warming me up. I felt his breathing on my neck and his smell invading my space and I finally relaxed.

He was taking care of me again.

And I was in love with him more than ever.

Still shocked by my latest revelations, I decided to stop thinking, get ready as soon as possible, and go down for coffee soon, anything would be better than facing Jamie alone once again. I told him I'd wait in the dining room and couldn't look at his face anymore, even if the will I had to unveil his intentions was huge.

As soon as I arrived on the lower floor, Jenny and Ian were having breakfast. I received a discouraging good morning from Jenny and decided to try and start a conversation with her, maybe then I could break some of the walls she had created between us.

"Everything is fine, Jenny? I'm feeling you a little down today..." I said sitting in front of her.

"I'm a little sad, Claire... my best friend, Charlotte, lives in South Africa and won't be able to come to my wedding. She would be my bridesmaid and her daughter would take the rings to the altar, but Jess had a domestic accident and is in the hospital." She was visibly shaken.

"Oh, I'm sorry about all this, Jenny... you must be heartbroken."

"That child is everything to Lotte and her family... she is very distressed and sad about what happened. And I can't physically comfort her at this difficult time... I feel my hands and feet tied..."

"I know what it's like to feel this, but I'm sure your friend is feeling your love for her... just try to relax, Jenny, everything is gonna be fine with Jess..." she smiled and at that moment her cell phone rang.

"Oh my God, Charlotte is calling me, I'll be right back!" She left in a hurry.

"And now we have one more problem with the wedding..." Ian said with a wrinkle of worry between his eyebrows. "We have a vacant bridesmaid position and we don't know what to do..."

"What a challenging moment, Ian... but why don't you leave the space vacant so that you two can remember her, even if she's far away?" I said in an attempt to comfort him.

"Aye, it's a possibility, but Jenny is so perfectionist that she will hate herself for the result of an empty space in the photos and filming." He exhaled heavily "We have some alternatives, but I dinna ken what she's going to choose..."

We kept eating in silence for a few minutes until Jenny returned to the table.

"Any news of the little one?" Ian questioned her.

"Och aye, she's better, the worst is over!" She sat down in front of me, taking a deep breath, and then spoke to me. "Claire, I want to make ye a proposal and I hope ye'll accept it." She smiled at me with hope. "Lotte's seat is unfortunately vacant and it would be an honor for me if ye could accept my invitation to be our bridesmaid." she lovingly squeezed the hand of her fiancé, Ian, smiling in response. "I ken it's not very nice to be invited like this, but in my defense, I didn't ken about your existence until last Saturday!" she smiled with affection.

"Oh, Jenny, I am so thrilled..." tears insisted on clouding my vision and I took a deep breath to contain them. "But I'm sorry, I can't accept..."

"Why not, Sassenach?" Jamie appeared behind my chair, putting his hands on my shoulders and squeezing them with affection.

"I just can't, Jamie." I tried to avoid being shaken by his touch.

"Claire, ye're my only brother's fiancée and, for that reason, ye're my sister too!" her cheeks were blushing. "I dinna see any strong reason why ye shouldn't accept it, even if it's a last-minute request. Ye are part of the family now and we want to share this moment with ye."

"But I dinna have a bridesmaid's dress, I've brought something too simple." No matter how excited I was about it, I wasn't in a comfortable position to accept such an invitation.

"I'm sure it's simple, considering yer outfit from yesterday, Claire." Jenny smiled with complicity. "But dinna fash, let's go to the store and adjust my friend's outfit. My bridesmaids will use the same model and Lotte has a body shape just like yers!"

"Ian and I will go with ye to the city, we need to stop by the company for a meeting with my father." Jamie smiled at me with affection, making me blush. "I just need to have a quick coffee!"

"Okay, so... the Frasers are really stubborn." I smiled embarrassedly when I heard the laughter of the three of them over my sentence.

I breathed with relief when I received real support in Jamie's eyes, so I decided to accept. Also, at that moment I realized that my desire to be part of that family was so great that I couldn't say no. I was very happy to be part of that family.

We all got organized and went to the city together in Ian's car, Jenny next to him, and Jamie and I in the back seat. I felt strange sharing such a restricted space with my newest platonic passion, but I decided to enjoy the beautiful journey to the store and not think about the warmth that insisted coming from his body.

We got there around 10 o'clock, but before that, we agreed that they would pick us up at noon. We went in and tried on the dress, and it really would need a very little adjustment, making Jenny very happy and relieved. Of course, during the whole process, the store attendant didn't stop serving champagne to both of us, after all, Jenny's dress was from there too and the Frasers were all customers of that same store. We drank some glasses, laughing and talking about everything and nothing at the same time until I asked to see her dress. I was already completely in the mood of being a bridesmaid and decided to be Jenny's best supporter, no matter how real my relationship with Jamie was. Since I had decided to take on more of that role, let it be as intense and true as possible.

The dress was beautiful. And she was gorgeous in it, leaving me completely emotional and speechless. She, seeing my emotion through the mirror, turned to me and hugged me silently.

"Are you already planning the wedding, Claire?" I was startled by her words. "I can help with whatever it takes, I'm an expert at it now!"

"Actually, we don't have a date on our minds, but we're thinking of getting married soon..." no matter how much it was a fake relationship, what I was saying was still true. "But we don't think of anything like your party, I want something simple and only for family and close friends." I was praying that she would forget this topic after we went back to America.

"GREAT! Let's talk to my brother and decide what to do! Slaintè!" we toast with another glass of champagne.

As soon as we were ready, close to the agreed time, Jenny checked her cell phone and heard a message from Ian saying that they would be a little late. They were deciding some important things and wanted to use the visit of Jamie, his opinion was very important for that business. Meanwhile we continued inside the store, sitting and drinking champagne.

"I think the relationship Jamie has with the whole family is so beautiful...." I spoke truthfully. "As much as we've been together for a while, seeing this relationship live and in color is impressive."

"He is very loving and helpful, very attached to his family, and protects us at all costs. Just like he does with you!" She looked at me with affection and I couldn't stop my surprise look. "He really likes you, Claire, I can see it in his eyes."

"And I like him too, Jenny." I assumed, alcohol helping to make the most intimate thoughts come out with all the ease in the world. "Like I never imagined I'd like anyone."

After more than an hour and many glasses of champagne, Jamie and Ian picked us up, apologizing for their delay, but due to the amount of alcohol in our bodies, we weren't angry with them. Jamie noticed that we were cheerful and slightly staggering, laughing at the situation and helping me get to the car.

As soon as he sat next to me, his hand went instinctively to my thigh and, at that moment, I relaxed even more and laid my head on his shoulder, receiving a loving kiss on top of my head.

We all started talking and laughing as soon as the car left, me and Jenny laughing because we were drunk and they were laughing at us. The mixture of the champagne with the warmth and affection I was receiving from the scot and the addition of the sexual tension that was concentrated in the middle of my legs made me advance a little more in our relationship, placing my hand intimately on his leg, biting my lower lip while smiling at him, making it clear that I was completely surrendered to him and to that moment.

I was still well aware of my actions, but I wanted to use alcohol as an excuse to do what I wanted.

And what I most desired at that moment was to be his.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

When we stopped the car to pick them up, I knew something was wrong... or was it right? Claire was laughing with Jenny, she seemed more relaxed than every day we were here and I think I had to thank my sister for that. I didn't think she'd make that unusual invitation to Claire, being a bridesmaid was very important to Jenny, and inviting my fiancée who she barely knew was a big step for the most stubborn and tough of the Frasers. But what was I saying? Claire wasn't really my fiancée and didn't need to be accepted by my family!

I couldn't think of anything else because soon Claire's body was glued to mine and I couldn't help laughing, they really had had too much to drink. I knew they would be served champagne, but I didn't know it could do so much damage so quickly! I helped Claire get into the car while Ian helped my sister. And that's when things started to get weirder. By pure instinct I put my hand on her leg, I knew she might get a little dizzy with the movement of the car, and I wanted to make sure she remained seated. What I didn't expect was for her to lean her head on my shoulder and my body to betray me to the point where I kissed the top of her head affectionately. What was going on? Why was it so good to feel her body close to mine?

After spending one of my best nights sleeping hugging her, I knew Claire was doing something to me beyond a simple convenience relationship, a friendship. I was getting completely at the mercy of that long-legged woman with curly hair and a personality that pissed me off. And worst of all, I was enjoying it! Soon a firm touch on my leg made me come back to reality and I had to take a deep breath as I saw her smiling at me while biting her lower lip, what was she up to?

The way back to Lallybroch was never so long and at the same time so pleasant. Claire's advances didn't stop with her hand on my leg, soon she was everywhere, I even thought she was an octopus because her hands were in all parts of my body and I just tried, without much success, to contain her and my own excitement. I could see Ian looking at me through the mirror and the bastard had a smile on his face. Jenny was talking so much that she had no idea what her younger "sister" was doing with my sanity. And of course, I couldn't be strong enough and stole a kiss or two from her, just like my hand might have stopped at the neckline she was wearing. But in my defense, she was the one who had started it and from the smile on her face, had really enjoyed the attention she'd received.

"Since they'd already started drinking before us, what do you think about showing Claire some of the beverages we produce?" Ian said as we entered the house.

"I don't think I can drink much whisky now!" Claire answered leaning on my arm.

"Although I find it absurd that someone who will become a member of the Fraser family will not be able to handle a little whisky, relax Claire, we also produce wine! Jenny loves it and I'm sure it will go well with the liters of champagne you've already drunk!" Ian spoke while picking up some bottles from the cellar that my father kept in the living room.

"Do you produce wine too? Jamie! Why didn't you tell me?" She said, hitting me on the arm harder than I expected.

"Ouch! Sassenach! If ye still want this arm to do something, be more careful!"

"Jamie! I don't want to know these details of yer life!" Jenny said it with a grin as she sat on the couch.

"But what details? I'm a surgeon, that's what I was talking about! And then they say that I'm the one who talks nonsense in the family! Ian, control yer woman!" I laughed while I got an ugly look from my sister.

We sat on the couch and, of course, Claire did what she did in the car, sat almost on top of me, but since this time we were on the couch, she took off her shoes and lay comfortably on my shoulder, stretching her long legs. I did what seemed to be the right thing to do and put my arm around her body and felt her sighs relieved. When we got back to talking, I saw that Jenny had a silly smile on her face as she looked at us and I couldn't contain the little smile in response.

But this sweet moment lasted only a short time and after a few empty bottles, Claire was already sitting on the floor between my legs as she laughed at another story Ian was telling about our childhood, of course, all the stories were derogatory of my person and that was very entertaining to my fiancée who in a few moments even cried from laughter. When we heard our parents close the door to their room for the third time, we knew we were bothering them and decided it was time to close the night. Yes, we had been drinking all day.

I couldn't deny that I was a little tipsy, but I was used to whisky from home and I knew how to dose what I drank. Claire and my sister, who didn't drink much, were completely drunk. Ian wasted no time in waiting for Jenny to climb the stairs and picked her up to go straight to her room, I just laughed at the protests and threats my sister was making to her future husband, she hated it when he thought she couldn't do anything.

"Don't even think about doing that!" Claire said seriously as she saw the two of them disappearing into the hallway to the rooms.

"I didn't even think Sassenach, I know ye can go up with yer own legs, and besides, ye're a lot heavier than Jenny!" and I laughed as she tried to hit me, but without success, slipping my arm, making me laugh even harder.

"You're a jerk, Fraser!" she said laughing a little while concentrating on not missing the step of the staircase.

"A jerk ye liked to squeeze all day, huh?" I said laughing, but the smile stopped when I saw her challenging and malicious gaze in response.

I pulled her by the arm on the last steps of the staircase and she just made a sound as a reaction. Without wasting too much time, I put her inside the room and locked the door, but when I turned around, she was clinging to me, practically leaving me trapped and, without talking anymore, she smiled biting her lip:

- Sassenach, ye are.... - but I couldn't finish my sentence, she kissed me, bringing her body even closer to mine, making me lean against the door.

 

* https://youtu.be/C_3d6GntKbk  (please, listen to this song while reading this part! 😘) *

 

She was killing me. That's not what I had in mind for tonight... bullshit, that's what I wanted since we'd kissed for the first time, but that I knew it couldn't happen again, that she didn't want it to happen again. But she was drunk, I didn't want her to regret it the next morning:

"Sassenach..." I said trying to get away from her lips, but she didn't seem to want to pay attention to what I had to say and started kissing my neck. "Sassenach!" and pushed her away from my body.

She looked at me amazed and with her proper attention, I continued:

"Ye drank a lot today and I think it's best if we get a little further away..."

"Jamie, I know you want what I want....." she said as she passed her hand close to my groin. What was she doing? Who was this woman? What did they do to Claire? "Sassenach..." I said with my breath cut off. "I think it's best..." but she kept provoking me and, in one quick movement, I grabbed her by the shoulders and inverted our position, pressing her against the door, my knee between her legs opening passage for my body to come closer to hers. "Are ye sure you want that?" and I looked at her directly, she just agreed with her head, still biting her lips. "So say it!" I demanded as I held her arms above her head, leaving her still against my body. "Tell me what ye want!"

"Jaaamie." She whispered as I ran one of my hands through her neckline, opening one of the buttons on her blouse.

"Sassenach, say what you want! I need to hear you say it!" and I kissed and nibbled on her neck.

"I...want...." and her eyes closed as I opened one more button on her blouse, my finger passing slowly over her breast now exposed.

"Open your eyes! Look at me!" I said it while my fingers continued to open her blouse and the other hand held her arms steady. Then I saw those whisky-colored eyes staring at me in a way I had never seen before.

"I want you, Jamie!" she said it slowly as she tried to keep her eyes open.

And that's what I needed to hear to give up opening her blouse gently, I pulled it hard, making the buttons flying across the floor. I let go of Claire's arms and she wrapped her legs around my body, leaning on me as I kissed her and took her toward the bed.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Even drunk, I knew very well what I was doing and what was happening between us. Since the beginning of the afternoon, when the two of us arrived at the wedding dress store, Jamie hasn't dodged any of my advances, on the contrary, his hands have wandered over my body numerous times and in places not so conventional, so to speak. Besides, some kisses full of complicity were given by Jamie, making me melt even more for him. And even when we arrived in Lallybroch and continued to drink until late at night, I continued to show that I wanted him for myself and wanted to be his, giving up on Jamie would not be a possibility. Not that night.

When we got to the bedroom I couldn't think of anything else, all I wanted was his warm, soft lips and his firm, muscular body enveloping mine. I pressed him against the door, kissing him with all the desire I had for him that had accumulated over all those years.

"Sassenach..." Jamie called me, but I did not pay attention to what he said, his neck was much more interesting. "Sassenach!" he abruptly pulled me away from his body, leaving me a little frightened. "Ye drank a lot today and I think it's better to get a little further away..."

"Jamie, I know that you want what I want..." I smiled maliciously as I stroked his leg close to the groin.

"Sassenach..." he was panting. "I think it's best..." I continued to caress him in places that drove him crazy and Jamie, in one quick motion, inverted our positions and his advances left me one more time with my legs trembling and heart pounding. "Are ye sure ye want that?" I nodded with my head still biting my lips, the desire not allowing me to reason properly. "So say it!" he held my arms over my head, holding them with one of his hands. "Tell me what you want!"

"Jaaamie." I moaned softly, melting myself when I felt his hand opening my blouse.

"Sassenach, tell me what ye want! I need to hear ye say it!" His advances were getting more intense, and the target now was my neck.

"I...want...." the lust I was feeling was so intense that I couldn't finish the sentence, closing my eyes when I felt the firm touch of his hand between my breasts.

"Open yer eyes! Look at me!"

"I want you, Jamie!" I said it trying to keep my eyes open and saw the change in his gaze and the desire to darken those blue eyes.

He gave up being nice to my blouse, opening it forcefully and making some buttons fly to the ground. I grabbed his neck with my two arms and wrapped his hip with my legs, and could feel his prominent excitement rubbing my intimacy. And our mouths, meanwhile, were lost in each other, licking and nibbling at each other's lips and tongues in an intense struggle in which we would both win.

Jamie laid me down affectionately in bed, helping me to take off the clothes that were still in my body and watching me, after being completely naked, for a few seconds that seemed like hours. But I didn't feel uncomfortable with his gaze, the desire he clearly showed for me was enough so that any shame I might have wouldn't have space in my mind. Before taking off his own clothes he made a point of driving me crazy a little bit more, leaning over my body and grabbing my breasts, biting and licking them skillfully as I squirmed under him and groaned his name in a crazy way.

Watching him taking piece by piece slowly, stopping to look at my reaction as soon as another part of his body was exposed, was taking away the rest of my mental sanity that had remained. As soon as the last piece of clothing had accumulated on the floor, he crawled across the bed, licking my legs slowly and making me grunt in response to his caresses. When his mouth came close to my intimacy I made an enormous effort to pull his body close to mine.

"Are you feeling it, Jamie?" I asked as I put one of his hands on the center of my pleasure, receiving a loud groan in my ears. "Do you see what you're doing to me?" I groaned when I felt his fingers rhythmically caressing my clitoris.

He positioned himself between my legs, his dick rubbing against my intimacy as his eyes remained fixed on mine, making me sigh in anticipation. He lowered his body, keeping his face close to my ear, licking the lobe of my ear.

"I want ye so bad, Claire! So much so that I can scarcely breathe..." his breathing was cut off in my ear. "Will you have me? - he looked into my eyes with desire, passing his tongue on my lips seductively.

"Do it now, Jamie, and don't be gentle."

He put one of his hands on top of my head and filled me in a single thrust, groaning loudly in my ear, along with me. His movements continued intense and rhythmic, increasing the more relaxed I became. He supported his hands one on each side of my head and began to move more strongly and at that moment I instinctively put my hands on his ass in an attempt to feel him more and more inside me. I wanted more and more of him and knew that he also wanted more of me.

It didn't take long for me to reach a climax, squeezing myself around his dick as my arms wrapped tightly around his body in the failed attempt to calm me down. After a few moments, I felt him finish inside me as he tried to kiss me, his body recovering from the spasms. He hugged me lovingly, still with his body over mine, and I felt that something magical had happened at that moment. And it wasn't because we were drunk. Nothing had been as intense and yet as affectionate as that moment, at least for me.

We fell asleep tired, I was lying on his chest as I felt that same rhythmic breath of the first night I saw him sleep. Suddenly I became anxious and worried about what our relationship would be like when the day rose, but at that moment I just decided to enjoy what we were living. It felt as if I was home at last.

*****

I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you

Don't need no butterflies when you give me the whole damn zoo

By the way, by the way, you do things to my body

I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you

https://youtu.be/xwjwCFZpdns

 

My dream was suddenly invaded by butterflies all over my body, my belly, my legs, my intimacy. I was lying on my side when a frantic groan, in response to my own groaning, came from between my legs, woke me up for good. His tongue was everywhere, licking my clitoris as his hands wandered seductively through my body, especially my breasts, making me gasp and groan at his advances.

"Jamie, what are you...?"

"Shhhhhh, Sassenach. I'm doing what you didn't allow last night. Let me have my breakfast." he smiled with complicity, going back in between my legs.

Well, starting the day that way partly explained the doubts I had the night before. The one thing he didn't seem to be was feeling weird about our relationship.

He continued his intense session of caresses, bringing me closer and closer to the climax when we suddenly heard loud knocks on the door. "Jamie, you'll see what..."

"No, Sassenach." He said, moving away from me only as much as necessary. He was focused on giving me pleasure and clearly would not allow anything to get in his way.

More knocking on the door, and Ian's voice appeared.

"Jamie, man, I'm sorry to wake ye, but I need help urgently." He sounded nervous.

"I'm coming, Ian..." he tried to come back, but he was interrupted again.

"We have 30 minutes to unload everything..."

"Holy shit, Ian, I'm coming." Jamie interrupted him, very angry.

"All right, it's just that the fine is expensive and they arrived one day early..."

"I'll be down in two minutes... now go away IAN."

Two minutes. With a voracious appetite, he gave me pleasure again as I had never felt before in my life. His tongue intensified its movements as his hand caressed one of my breasts firmly, and it didn't take long for me to collapse with his caresses, my groaning being muffled by his hand. He continued to lick me gently until my spasms ceased, then rising with a smile of satisfaction on his face as he got dressed. He went to the bathroom and, before hurrying out of the room, he came to me, giving me a loving kiss full of promises.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

When I closed the bedroom door, I leaned against it for a few seconds to recover, no matter how much I wanted to kill Ian for interrupting my great morning, I couldn't avoid the silly smile on my face, the night had been wonderful and, when I woke up with my legs entwined in that beautiful brunette, I couldn't do anything. I was still a little afraid that she would regret what she had done, but I think with the way I woke her up, I didn't give her any room for doubt or regret, at least not on my part.

While I was still smiling like an idiot, I heard my sister screaming at Ian, and that made me leave my daydreams and go help my future brother-in-law. When I arrived in the kitchen, I saw my mother trying to calm down my sister who was screaming at someone on her cell phone before I could ask her what had happened, since I hadn't paid attention to much of what Ian had said, he pulled me by the arm suddenly, dragging me to the back of the house:

"But what happened for ye to almost knock down the door of my room and interrupt the great morning I was having?" I asked, a little bothered by the interruption of my breakfast.

"Can't you see?" Ian answered me pointing to a lot of things scattered all over the backyard of the house. "The suppliers of the wedding confused the date of delivery and left everything here, said they could not take back, that we should arrange where to store."

"And Jenny let them leave alive?" I laughed when I saw Ian's desperate face.

"Ha, ha, ha, very funny! She tried, but yer father was here when they delivered and protected them from the attacks of your sister, but of course, it wasn't ok for them, you know Brian...but anyway, they refused to take it back because they had more deliveries to make and claimed that if they were to take it back, they would charge a new delivery fee."

"How ridiculous! But why did you call me like a madman? They've already left and the things are here, nothing for me to do about it!" I crossed my arms and thought how much I wanted to go back to my room.

"There is the problem, we cannot keep all of this here in the backyard, if something is damaged we will pay an absurd amount, in addition to the fine that your father will pay to buyers who came to get the products that we cultivate here, but who could not enter with the truck because of this slight obstruction...." so he showed me the tents that would be set up for the wedding party and were standing at the entrance to the main road.

"Ahhh..."

"Now do ye understand my despair? Besides yer sister being hysterical, yer father was not very happy with this either and sent us to solve immediately while he calmed the customers with a few shots of whisky."

And my day went by that I didn't even see, in fact, I didn't see what had happened to me either. I was dead at the end of the day, Ian and I only stopped for a quick lunch, and just because my mother had sent Mrs. Crook to feed us. We ended up calling for reinforcements from the people who worked in the textile factory and we ended up storing everything from the wedding in the large warehouses that my father had in a place a little far from the house. This distance earned me several trips and a lot of physical effort, which was unusual in my hospital life. In the end, even exhausted, Ian and I had as much fun as when we were younger.

When I finally came home, passed by the living room and saw my mother sitting talking to Claire and Jenny, the three of them seemed to be getting along very well, at least that was what the laughter looked like. While Ian came back as a hero to my sister, I only received one observation:

"I thought Ian wouldn't be able to get ye out of the room today, brother! Was it too much for ye to spend the day drinking yesterday?" Jenny said, knowing very well where to provoke.

"Ye ken that drinking was never a problem for me Jenny, but Claire...she can make things difficult...." I said with a happy smile on my face while I saw Claire blush.

"Jamie!" she said half low, half high, and almost pulling my arm off while pinching me.

"Ouch! After a whole day of hard work, this is what I get? Sassenach! After this I'm going to take a shower and sleep, I can see that I'm not welcome here."

"Always dramatic this son of mine!" my mother said laughing while I stick out my tongue, making everyone laugh.

I was really tired and after the bath, I didn't think twice about lying on the bed, there was no reason for me to sleep on the floor now. I tried bravely to wait for Claire, but my tiredness was stronger than my desire to see my Sassenach. I ended up waking up when I felt movement in the bed, actually, it was the movement of the sheet underneath me being pulled by force:

"Sassenach, I always thought ye'd be more delicate with those hands..." I said, still tangled by sleep.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Jamie, I didn't mean to wake you, but I'm a little cold and..." at this point, I saw that she was lying on the corner of the wide king size bed, actually she was about to fall out of it.

"Come here and I'll warm you up!" and without waiting for the answer, I pulled her close to me and only felt her breath get caught in the tension.

"Jamie, I think it's best..." I saw that she was trying to let go of my arms.

"What do ye think is best? Ye're cold, I'm hot, okay, there's no better combination!"

"Fraser!" she said it more firmly and I knew when she called me that was because something was wrong. "What are we doing?"

"Isn't that obvious? Christ, Sassenaach, if ye don't know what we've done and are doing, I'll start to get worried..." I tried to laugh to see if she'd relax and it worked.

"You know what I'm talking about!" she said, laughing a little bit and hitting me lightly on the arm.

"I know and I think ye've noticed that what we're doing is very good and I intend to continue..."

"But we don't even know each other properly! Most of the information I have about you is from your resume!"

"Hmm, and by the way, they interested you a lot, right?" I said pinching her in the butt lightly.

"Jamie Fraser! Can't you say something serious for a minute?"

-"Of course I can, but I have much more interesting things in mind!" I said trying to lift the nightgown she was wearing.

-"I'm serious, Jamie! If we're going to take this" she pointed to both of us "forward, we need to talk more, get to know each other, I think we've inverted the whole order of things!

"All right! Since you really woke me up and by the looks of it you won't be near me, let's talk!" I said while fixing the pillow so I could sit down. She did the same and so we sat side by side but at a safe distance. "Ask me everything you want to know!"

"Okay...but I haven't thought about it yet..."

"All right, I'll start then!" I said interrupting. "When did you get that tattoo?" I asked, pointing to it. "Sassenach, I'll be honest, I never imagined that you, 'Dr. Don't mess with me Beauchamp', had a tattoo on this part of your body!!!"

"Just because I'm serious in my work, I can't be more relaxed in my personal life?"

"Aye, ye're right about that, and after last night, I'm sure you're pretty sassy." I tried to be serious, but of course, I failed. The good thing is that Claire relaxed and laughed too, in a way that provoked something in me that I had to hold on to not end that conversation at that moment.

"But coming back to the tattoo story, I'll have to confess that it's really not something I would do if it were today, but when I did it I was just a teenager trying to prove that I could be a rebel and owner of the reason for a bunch of people who thought I wasn't good enough to be admitted to a University at only 16... and it really wasn't the best choice, this tattoo just proved that I had no emotional control at time!"

"Umm, I like it, it makes you even sexier, if that's possible..." I said it without thinking and saw that I left her completely shy. "Okay, now that my question has been answered, it's your turn!"

This made her get serious again, I knew she was thinking what, among so many questions, she would ask me at that time. And so the night went on, I answered more about myself in half an hour than in my whole life. Claire wanted to know about everything, how I had met Ian, how my father had started the business, why I had chosen to study in the U.S. and not in Scotland or anywhere else in Europe...until she came up with the question I tried to avoid the most:

"And why did you choose Neurology? I saw from your résumé that it was always an area of your interest since your first years at Harvard, which is something unusual among students, most of whom choose after learning more about all the areas..."

"Sassenach, don't ye think we've talked too much for one night? And I didn't want to talk about work during our vacation..." I answered trying to pull her close to me. I didn't want to talk about Willie, not at that moment, I was too happy to touch on a subject that still made me sad.

While she was trying to talk to me, I was dropping kisses all over her body, until words became moans and the rest of the night was just actions.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Soon after Jamie went to help Ian, I took a long shower while thinking about everything that was going on in my life. Within a week everything had changed places, and I was really enjoying that new organization! Living with the Frasers was becoming more and more delicious, and I felt that my ties with Jenny had deepened a lot the day before. The affectionate way that Jamie's parents treated me caused me indescribable happiness as if I was a little bit their daughter too.

Jamie proved to be much more than I imagined during the two years we had known each other, so to speak. The sex with him had been perfect. In addition to being an excellent lover, I felt that the affection he showed for me, at every moment shared, was as true as his love for his parents and his sister. The relationship with Jamie had really taken on a new level, and, even frightened, I saw honesty in his eyes and in his actions, which made me worried and at the same time comfortable with all those changes.

I dressed up and as soon as I met Jenny and Ellen in the dining room I joined them for breakfast and, as soon as we were done, I was summoned to help them finish their wedding souvenirs. The work would be meticulous and extensive, as there were more than 300 guests confirmed for the party. Jenny had planned a beautiful souvenir, it was a wooden box, of very good taste by the way, with a bottle of whisky from the Frasers inside, a little smaller than the original, and a glass with the logo engraved on the glass, the same that they had made for other items of the wedding. For those who didn't like whisky, they had produced a smaller version of the Frasers' wine and a glass accompanying the party decoration.

During this whole process, the conversation between the three of us only deepened, making our connection even stronger. For a second a great regret went through my mind, thinking about everything I did to get to that moment, not thinking I deserved it all, and not thinking it was fair to deceive them that way. Certainly, they were able to see my sadness, which made Ellen speak out:

"Claire, dear... Is that all right with ye? Why this sad face? Did Jamie do something wrong?"

"No, Ellen, Jamie didn't do anything wrong!" I thought about our last few hours together, blushing instantly. "Actually, you should be very reassured, your son is a very good and very fair person! He's a great example of a human being, and you're certainly responsible for that!"

"No matter how young Jamie left the house" Jenny came up to me, sitting next to me on the couch "I can assure ye, Claire, he's never been happier than he is with ye now."

"He's a grateful surprise to me, I don't remember feeling so happy in my life..." I smiled at them both, trying to contain the silly smile that had appeared on my face.

The day went by, we were involved with the wedding decorations, and the boys wandering everywhere as they took orders from Jenny from time to time. I didn't see Jamie all day, and I couldn't imagine I'd miss him so much. Of his funny and sometimes not very opportune comments; of his laughter that reached his eyes, making me smile together, for whatever reason; of his deep gaze when he wanted to tell me more than his mouth could speak.

I've had a few lovers in my life. Some relationships lasted for a few years, others just a few months. All the relationships I had were built over time and, at that moment, in front of the women in Jamie's life, listening to the stories of his life through their eyes, I realized that what I had with these men was nothing but physical, intellectual and lonely attraction. Nothing could ever be compared to how I felt about Jamie. Even if I did not yet know what it was.

By the end of the afternoon, Jamie arrived with Ian and, even though he was visibly tired, he seemed to have come out of a fairy tale. He was so beautiful, even a little dirty and sweaty from an intense day's work. And even making me go through a tight spot in front of his family, he was still a wonderful person, like I never imagined he would be and like I never imagined I could deserve it.

I stayed with the rest of the family for a while as Jamie said goodbye to everyone, headed for the bedroom. Ellen had said that the dinner was great and, at the same time, I didn't know how to react when I had to enter the bedroom after everything that had happened with the redhead. So if Jamie was asleep, it would be easier to deal with.

And, as I had predicted, Jamie was lying on his bed, sleeping on his side, that same smile on his lips. He looked happy. I changed my clothes in the bathroom and, leaning my hands on the edge of the sink, looked at myself through the mirror and could see all the apprehension on my face. I barely knew Jamie, I didn't know what he thought of me, apart from sexual matters, and I didn't know what to expect from that relationship.

I decided to go back to the bedroom and lie on the bed, it wouldn't be a problem to keep my distance from the redhead on that giant mattress. I just didn't count on both the sheet and the cover being wrapped around his body, making it difficult for me to cover myself properly. I tried to pull the sheet gently, but I woke him up.

"Oh, sorry, Jamie, I didn't mean to wake you, but I'm a little cold and...." and seeing that I was on the edge of the mattress, almost falling off the bed, his first action was to pull me close to his body, making me instantly feel his warmth.

"Come here and I'll warm ye up!"

"Jamie, I think it's best..." I was trying to keep my sanity and not put the cart before the horse.

"What do ye think is best? Ye're cold, I'm hot, that's it, there's no better combination!"

"Fraser!" I got his attention. "What are we doing?"

"Isn't that obvious? Christ, Sassenach, if ye don't know what we've done and we're doing, I'll start to get worried..." I couldn't stop laughing.

"You know what I'm talking about!" I pretended resentment.

"I ken and I think ye've noticed that what we're doing is very good and I intend to continue..."

"But we don't even know each other properly! Most of the information I have about you is from your resume!"

"Hmm, and by the way, they interested you a lot, right?" he said, pinching my butt.

"Jamie Fraser! Can't you say something serious for a minute?" I tried to get away.

"Of course I can, but I have much more interesting things in mind!" his hand couldn't get away from my body.

"I'm serious, Jamie! If we're going to take this further, we need to talk more, get to know each other, I think we've inverted the whole order of things!"

He gave in and we sat side by side on the bed, keeping a certain distance between us. And then we talked. A lot. Like I haven't done with anyone in a long time. His questions were very intimate, but I was willing to answer them all, my goal was to make everything clear, I didn't want any more secrets between us. He was sincere with all his answers too, however, when I asked him about his professional choice, clearly saw his arms tense and his breathing weigh a little, he was not feeling comfortable talking about it and I still didn't quite understand the reason for it all. His mouth insistently and his firm hands could not leave my body in a clear attempt to end our "therapy moment" and, at that moment, I decided to give in to his charms, I was sure he would tell me about it when he felt comfortable.

That night we loved each other slowly, without the rush of previous times. He had several facets and I was enjoying getting to know them all. At that moment I decided to control the situation and saw a fun and delightful look on his face. I rode over him, enjoying all the looks he gave me as I gave him pleasure, and as I saw the pleasure in my own body. We quickened the movements together, making the climax intense and full of discoveries, as it had been that night.

The next morning I woke up with an empty bed. But I felt that his warmth remained under the covers. I called his name but got no answer. I went to check what time it was, and it was still very early, which made me wonder about the movement of the redhead. I tried to go back to sleep in vain and after about 20 minutes I heard the door open slowly. I turned to see who it was and met a redhead with a beautiful tray of breakfast in his hands.

"What did I do to deserve to have breakfast in bed?" I asked him in a mocking tone.

"Many things, Claire." He laughed and kissed me on the lips for a long time. "But I actually woke up early because I was very hungry, and I thought it was a good idea to prepare something to eat with more privacy."

"I thought it was weird that you didn't eat anything before you went to sleep..."

"That's not true, ye ken..." The dirtiest laugh came out in the air.

"JAMIE FRASER, please!" I hit his arm, slightly embarrassed.

"Actually, I want to invite ye for a walk at the family land..." he ate some fruit while his face got serious briefly "a different walk from what we did before..."

"Different ride?"

"I need to tell ye something about my past, but for that, I need to show ye some things first."

            

 

POV Jamie

 

Even with the wonderful night I had with Claire once again, the conversation we had before and the memory of Willie didn't let me sleep for long. Nightmares about the accident and his stay in the hospital made me restless and I woke up before sunrise. I saw that Claire was sleeping heavily in my arms and I could not contain the smile, even if it was she who awakened unpleasant memories, I could not blame her and not even get angry. She was just trying to get to know me and she was right, if we wanted it to work out between us, we needed more than sex to develop a relationship.

I closed my eyes for a second and just felt Claire's curves under my hands, I still couldn't understand how she could bring me so much calm and comfort and in such a simple way. Just a touch of her already drove me crazy, but more than that, it took me to a place I didn't think I had the right to be. A place where I could be happy and fulfilled, all that I thought I had lost along with Willie. Medicine brought me fulfillment, brought me a way to help other people as I could not help my brother, but what about happiness? I was happy, but only professionally, in my personal life, I always felt a piece of myself missing, at least until Claire arrived and messed up everything. Now I felt like a fool who couldn't stop smiling, even if I was doing some totally uninteresting task.

When I opened my eyes again, I had made up my mind and without making too much noise I got up. I had to get ready, I wasn't sure if I was ready to do what I had planned, but I knew Claire would be there for me anyway. I went down the stairs quickly and went to the kitchen, I was pleased to notice that it was empty, only Mrs. Crook was there finalizing the preparation of breakfast. I was lucky for her to like me very much and using all my charm, I convinced her to help me prepare a tray of breakfast to take to the room, today was a day I wanted to start quietly with Claire, without my family getting involved every second in our private conversation and bubble.

I climbed the stairs very carefully so as not to drop anything. When I opened the bedroom door I saw that she was already awake:

"What did I do to deserve to have breakfast in bed?" she asked in a tone that I knew she was mocking me.

"Many things, Claire." I laughed and kissed her on the lips for a long time. "But I actually woke up early because I was really hungry, and I thought it was a good idea to prepare something to eat with more privacy."

"I thought it was weird that you didn't eat anything before you went to sleep..."

"That's not true, ye ken..." And I couldn't contain my laughter.

"JAMIE FRASER, please!" she hit me on the arm and I could see that she was a little flushed, I loved to provoke that in her.

"Actually, I want to invite you to take a walk on the family land..." I said it while I was eating some fruit, for a moment my smile was shut. - a different walk from what we did before...

"Different ride?"

"I need to tell you something about my past, but for that, I need to show you some things first."

We finished breakfast in silence, I knew I had made her curious, but she had understood that I didn't want to talk about it anymore, at least not for now. She went to get dressed, but before she went into the bathroom to change her clothes, I pulled her by the arm:

"Sassenach, ye dinna have to be shy in front of me, I think I've memorized every detail of yer body in these two days...not that it was enough, far from it...." and I kissed her, taking my hands to her ass, squeezing it lightly, causing a little jump on Claire. I ended up laughing in the middle of our kiss.

"Jamie!" she said seriously but ended up laughing. "I'm not being shy, I just need a little privacy, we have to keep a certain mystery between us, don't we? Otherwise, it loses its fun..."

"Dinna Fash, Sassenach, ye'll never lose the fun for me!" I smiled and kissed her again. I saw that she was a little blushed by what I had said "But I'll give ye some privacy, after all, I'm a gentleman! Meet me at the back door of the kitchen, okay?" and blinking at her, I left the room listening to a little laughter as an answer to my charm.

I didn't wait long and soon she arrived for our walk. Not to mention where we were going, even though she was questioning me, I took her hand, intertwining our fingers, and started walking towards a place that I hadn't gone since I'd moved to the U.S.A. A few minutes later, I saw the little headstone behind the Lallybroch chapel. I noticed that Claire was holding my hand tight as if she wanted to say she was there, even if she was speechless. I took a deep breath and took her closer to where my brother had been buried.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrfyzkUc5fA&feature=youtu.be

As always, his grave had flowers. This was my mother's morning ritual, every day after having breakfast, she brought flowers and talked to Willie. It was the way she found to continue living, but without leaving her eldest son out of our lives, out of our routine. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to be as strong as her, but now was not the time to go back. I tried to sit comfortably next to the headstone, I couldn't say everything I had to say if I stood up, I knew my legs would betray me. Claire let go of me, but I quickly took her hand again:

"It gets easier if I'm touching ye..." I said it lower than I thought, but she heard and agreed with a weak smile, I knew she was giving me time, without pressing me with questions. "William was my parents' first son and first pride, he was always interested in everything my father did and it didna take long for the two of them to become inseparable. It also didna take long for me to admire him as a hero, he wasn't just my older brother, he was Willie, he was everything I wanted to be when I grew up and that's why I followed him everywhere, even being a brat. Jenny tried to convince me that I was too small and boring to do things with Willie, but I behaved the same way and he didna seem to care." I smiled as I remembered how I bothered my brother every day when he came home from school, while the memory brought me a smile, also a breathlessness and a squeeze in my heart.

I felt Claire's hand squeeze mine and I took a deep breath to continue the story:

"When Willie turned 18, he started working with my father in the family business, everyone ken he would do it, even without my father asking. That's what he wanted and liked, besides cars. He loved old cars and ended up convincing my father to buy one, and then another, so he made a small collection, one that he himself had restored and fixed. Willie always drove well, so my parents didna mind him liking to speed around Lallybroch for a while. I always wanted to go with him, but there were few times they let me, even though I was already taller than Willie and at the age of 12, that at the time I thought it was too much, they said that it was too dangerous. And they weren't wrong..." I took another deep breath. I knew that some tears were forming, but I wouldn't cry, I had promised myself years ago that I wouldn't cry anymore.

"Jamie..." I heard Claire call me softly. "You don't have to..." but I interrupted her before she continued.

"No Claire, I need... ye need to ken... as I was saying, Willie was always driving with his cars everywhere, but that day, that day, he wasn't driving fast, at least that was what the police said. He was going back to Lallybroch after attending some meetings with my father, actually he was coming back earlier because he had promised to take me to drive, he wanted to teach me to drive because he thought I was big enough for that, and of course, I couldn't wait for this to happen. But he never got home... the car, the damn car he liked so much to drive, had a suspension problem and one of the wheels came loose, causing him to collide with the stone wall of Broch Mordha's road."

"Oh, Jamie..."

"But ye know what's more ironic about all this? He got out of the car unharmed, with just a few scratches. They took him to the hospital for observation, and halfway along the way he fell asleep, only he never woke up again... on the impact of the crash, he hit his head, had brain damage, internal bleeding, and nobody noticed it at the time! I had to see my parents decide if they would keep my brother connected to the machines or not...." the story wasn't over, but I couldn't finish speaking when I felt a tear run down my face. No, that was wrong, it was not for me to cry, it was not for me to feel that tightness in my chest.

When I was slowly losing control over my body, I felt Claire's arms squeeze me in a strong hug that almost made me lose my breath, but I felt protected as I had never felt before when I remembered Willie, and putting her on my lap to make her more comfortable, I fell apart, put all my self-control aside and cried like the 12-year-old boy who had lost his older brother. And Claire was there, comforting me without saying a word, but achieving what no one had achieved before, relieving me of the weight, of the guilt, which had taken care of me for more than 10 years.

"The project... the project you developed was because of Willie..." she said a few minutes later. And it wasn't a question, it was a statement.

"Aye... medicine chose me long before Willie's death, but neurology became a part of me the day I saw my brother leave..."

 

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

I noticed his semblance darken after he told me about the mysterious walk, giving me a certain cold in my spine as I thought about the motives of that serious face. But knowing that he didn't want to talk about it anymore, I decided to respect his desire. We finished having breakfast and I went to get my clothes from the closet to change, heading to the bathroom as I always have since I arrived at Lallybroch. But I was interrupted by an insatiable Scotsman.

"Sassenach," he stopped in front of me, smiling mischievously. "Ye dinna have to be shy in front of me, I think I've memorized every detail of yer body in these two days..." he hugged me with desire "not that it was enough, far from it..." he kissed me with intensity, passing his hands behind my back and landing them on my ass, squeezing it lightly and scaring me briefly.

"Jamie!" I said it seriously, but I ended up laughing with him. "I'm not being shy, I just need a little privacy, we have to keep a certain mystery between us, don't we? Otherwise, it loses its fun..."

"Dinna fash, Sassenach, ye'll never lose the fun for me!" he kissed me with affection and I was speechless with what he said, feeling my cheeks burn in response. "But I'll give you privacy, after all, I'm a gentleman! Meet me at the back door of the kitchen, okay?" he blinked at me, and then I could see that he couldn't do it very well, making me laugh. He had to have some flaw.

Our walk to the mysterious place was made in silence, and I could see its tension rising as we approached a small cemetery behind the property chapel. My spine froze again when I saw the name WILLIAM engraved on the tombstone in front of which Jamie was sitting, and I was frightened to see how young he had passed away at the age of 18. And the epitaph was heartbreaking:

'Son and beloved brother, you will always be alive in our hearts'.

I saw all the vulnerability on the redhead's face when I let go of his hand, a vulnerability that made me for a moment see him as a helpless child. I sat beside him silently, without letting go of his hand. And listening to everything he told me and not falling apart in tears was one of the most difficult things in my life. But when I saw that he could no longer hold on to his feelings, I could not help but hug him with all the strength I had in my body. He put me in his lap and cried in my chest as if that crying had been dammed up for all those years. A cry that was so painful and so guilty that I had no choice but to hug him even more in an attempt to make him feel safe.

Everything he did after his brother's death had been to fight for Willie; to fight for people who had been through the same thing as him; to fight for their families who suffer daily from situations like these. And I had stolen his beautiful project and used the worst weapons for it.

"The project... the project you developed was because of Willie..." I said, still appalled by having done such an atrocity.

"Aye... medicine chose me long before Willie died, but neurology became a part of me the day I saw my brother leave...." his crying calmed down as he looked at me.

"I'm a monster, Jamie..." I couldn't keep staring at him, I didn't feel worthy of the trust he had placed in me.

"Dinna say that Claire, it's not true." He lifted my face to stare at him, and I instinctively smiled trying not to cry, drying his tears and getting a chaste smile in return. "Ye couldna imagine what my inspiration was, my big motive. It was just one more project and one more student." he tried to smile again.

"To me, you were never just another student, Jamie..." I caressed his face with tenderness, my gaze getting lost in his. Jamie wrapped me in his embrace almost instinctively, caressing my hair with his hand.

"I have never talked about Willie with anyone but my own family. I put him on a pedestal, untouchable and protected from everything and everyone, including myself..." He took a deep breath, as if he were taking courage. "I like ye Claire, and as ye said yesterday, to make it work, we have to be true to each other."

"I'm flattered that you share such an important part of your life with me, Jamie," I spoke in a more formal tone, again without looking into his eyes, the shame consuming me from within. I tried to get out of his lap, but I didn't get much success, relaxing my body again against him. "But I can't stop blaming myself for being a wretch with you."

"Hey, I dinna want ye to be like this, Claire." He hugged me, affectionately kissing my neck and hiding his face in that place. "I dinna care what path was set by fate for ye to come into my life..." he looked at me tenderly. "Thanks to my brother and the project ye are here with me."

I kept assimilating all that new information for a while, but I was awakened from my daydream by a more cheerful and smiling Jamie, almost in his normal state. It was a cloudy day, but he wanted to ride with me to other places, he said he would like to show me the old Fraser family mill. We arrived at the stable, and as he saddled up Donas, my thoughts continued with those latest events.

"Jamie, what have I done to you?" I continued to speak, without giving him a chance to answer. I was completely dazed while I walked from one place to the other. "Why was I so mean? To force you to marry me in such a hopeless situation, just to renew my visa? Not to be deported?" I spoke, almost screaming. "And your citizenship, I'm so irresponsible that I only think about what's best for me?"

"Shiiiiiu, Claire, be quiet," Jamie said quietly holding me tightly, because at that moment we had heard a crackle of leaves in the back of the stable, which scared us a lot. Had anyone listened to what I was saying?

"What are we going to do, Jamie?" I looked at him with despair.

Almost instantly, Brian appeared at the front door frame of the barn, on the opposite side where we heard the noise. He had a questioning look at his son and me as if he wanted to understand what we were talking about. But instead of really asking, he wished me good morning and gave me a half-smile, saying something about the weather and the need to talk to Jamie about the company later. After that he walked up to his horse to brush him, for him it was like therapy.

We arrived at the mill in a few minutes, and when I got there I saw clearly that we could have gone on foot. But I knew that Jamie wanted to ride with Donas to make me feel close to him, and I can't deny that I'd loved to feel his breath in my hair and his steady hand in my belly. After a while, while I bent over collecting some beautiful flowers to decorate our room, Jamie pulled me close to him all at once, taking me very close to his body and kissing me with a silent promise to drive me crazy. He stroked my back firmly with both hands and stopped them over my ass, squeezing it and releasing a slight groan of satisfaction between the kiss.

"I haven't been able to do anything since we got here, Sassenach. In fact, since we came riding with Donas." He stroked my buttocks again. "Feeling yer round, firm ass against my body was a difficult temptation to deny... but seeing ye bending over, yer ass perfectly framed by yer tight pants, left me helpless." he smiled at me, naughty.

"Umm... and what you want from me, James Fraser?" I came closer to him, responding sensually to his caresses and staring at him with desire.

On one impulse he held me in his lap, my legs placed one on each side of his hip, and at that moment I could sense his evident excitement close to my intimacy. He moaned in my mouth and, leaning me against a big rock, began to kiss my neck with a longing I had never witnessed in him. I began to react to his touches, my hands trying to find his chest under his thin winter sweater as I rubbed myself over his dick to try to feel him better.

But at that very moment, an intense flash of lightning pulled us out of our moment... indeed the weather in Scotland was changing very fast.

Jamie kissed me quietly, trying to breathe while saying that we needed to get home soon, that rain added to the mild cold would be the perfect combination for us to catch the flu. I complained softly, frustrated, and he pulled my hand with an understanding smile on his face. We picked up our stuff, rode the Donas and galloped to the stables fairly quickly. Thankfully, it was enough time to get to a shelter, because as soon as we entered with Donas inside the stable, a torrential rain started to fall.

"Claire, I have to work some things out with my dad before lunch, would you mind waiting inside the house?" He told me as soon as he finished tidying up his horse and putting some vegetables in his trough.

"Of course not, Jamie. I'll take advantage that the rain has calmed down a bit and try to find your sister to see if she needs anything."

I smiled at him and left right away, but was stopped by my fiancé. He, holding my wrist with affection, pulled my body close to his and gave me a passionate kiss. I relaxed and wrapped my arms around his neck, returning the affection and intensifying our contact. We walked away after a while and he offered me an umbrella so I wouldn't get wet on the way.

Returning to the Frasers' residence, an idea came to my mind. A perfect idea to return everything that Jamie had done for me and for me since he had come into his family's life. I sent a message to Jamie saying that I would wait for him in the room, talked to Mrs. Crook in the kitchen and took everything I needed to make that Wednesday an even more perfect day. I was willing to turn it into a watershed for our union. After everything was ready, I sat down at the small table in the room and sighed slightly anxiously, that would be a very big step for me and for our relationship. And opening my heart to him, what I expected most was not to feel vulnerable in his hands.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I stayed a few more minutes in the stables, I needed to put my head back in place after that hectic morning. I knew it would be hard to tell everything about Willie, and not just his death, but how I felt about all this and the impact it had on my life. What I didn't imagine was that I would collapse completely in front of Claire and she would comfort me so well. I just didn't expect her to blame herself so much for the project and all our adventure.

I can't deny that at first, I was angry with her too, blamed her and accepted this proposal to marry her initially just to come to my sister's wedding, but I couldn't be so naive in thinking that it was only for this reason, that I would risk so much just to have my project done and travel to Scotland, I always wanted her, I always wanted her and seeing her so vulnerable in front of me made me accept everything she was asking for, of course, I wasn't so nice, but now I was aware that I had done all this to be where I am now, totally in love. I couldn't help but smile at my observation, but the concern that my father had heard our conversation in the stable was making me nervous.

I decided to go and see what my dad wanted so badly to talk to me about and really hoped it would just be something from the company he wanted help with. As much as I never showed any interest in working with the family business, my father made a point of including me in all negotiations with the claim that it would all be mine one day. Yes, as much as I insisted that Jenny and Ian were perfect heirs, Brian Fraser was stubborn and would never take my name from the company. I went to his office, and to my relief, it was just to show me some numbers and ask for suggestions for new disclosures.

The problem was that I had received a message from Claire that she was waiting for me in the bedroom. It was just that, no more details, but my imagination was running wild after our interrupted moment in the mill and I couldn't concentrate on all the words that were being said by my father, who drew my attention more than once as I checked my cell phone to see if Claire had sent anything else:

"Go after her, balach, before I lose my patience and push you out of here!" my dad was serious as usual, but with a slight smile in the corner of his mouth.

I opened my mouth to answer, but he just waved his hands and dismissed me from anything else I would say. I just thanked him with a smile and left at a speed that even I couldn't believe was possible. When I entered the room I was surprised by the totally dark environment and lightened with only a few candles. Claire had decorated everything thoroughly, the flowers she had picked in the morning were in a small vase over the fireplace and at the small table in the corner of the room where she was sitting waiting for me. When I saw her, I totally forgot the rest, she was just wearing a black silk robe that left her legs fully exposed and I could see a little of her tummy through the open slot. Her hair was pinned, but some rebellious curls insisted on falling on her face, and that's when I stared at her eyes, they were lighter because of the candlelight, but it wasn't just that, they were full of desire and were driving me totally crazy.

"Jamie? Did you like the surprise?" She called me and took me out of the trance I was in.

"Sassenach...do ye still have to ask?" I said it with difficulty, it was still difficult to get the words out, my throat was dry and I could not make my brain think. What was she doing to me?

"Jamie, I'm still feeling like the worst person in the world for everything I've made you risk, I...." but I interrupted her.

"Claire, I haven't been able to say this before, but stop apologizing, do yE think I didna ken what I was risking when I accepted your proposal?" I approached the chair she was sitting in and knelt down to stand at the height of her face. "I risked myself because I wanted to and I can now say that I didn't regret it at all, Sassenach, seeing you here, like this, and knowing that this is only for me, that I can have ye in all the ways I've always imagined, but I never had the courage to do anything about it...." and I put my hand on her face, making her smile. "I still dinna ken how ye managed to leave me speechless, but I'm very happy to be like this and here." and I kissed her.

I stood up slowly pulling her along with me, but never losing contact with her lips. My hands automatically went to the part I liked most about her body, I slowly squeezed her ass and she bit my lips in response. This just made me pull her closer to me, making her feel how excited I was to have her like that. She groaned my name among our kisses and it caused me to desperately search for the knot that tied her robe, but my excitement was so great that I couldn't concentrate on the simple task and Claire suddenly walked away from me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgJFqVvb2Ws&feature=youtu.be

I raised my eyebrows in question of the abrupt separation, but she only gave me a dirty smile as she untied her robe, throwing it on the floor in a matter of seconds, showing off her tiny black lace panties. I tried to make my legs move towards her, but the sight of my Sassenach with only that piece of clothing in front of me, totally given over to the moment and to me, made me paralyzed, just admiring her:

"Jamie...say something..." she said, folding her arms over her breasts, a little embarrassed by the way I was staring at her.

"Christ Claire...ye're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!" I babbled the words as she smiled.

"I think somebody's not seeing right..." she still talked with her arms crossed.

"I have a perfect sight!" and without saying anything else, I went to meet her.

Our mouths collided with violence and soon her hands were desperately trying to lift my shirt, while I tried to take off my pants. We ended up hitting each other and laughed:

"I think one thing at a time is better..." and I quickly took off my shirt, soon after getting rid of my jeans.

I loved how in a matter of minutes, Claire went from shy to a woman who was totally sure and confident about what she was doing. She pushed me hard into bed and I didn't have time to react, but I also didn't want to, I loved it when she was in control of the situation. Little by little the smile that was on my face came out, giving way to the total pleasure of feeling her kisses all over my body, as well as light bites that drove me crazy. Without even noticing when it had happened, we were both totally naked and Claire was touching me in a sensual way that didn't allow me to keep my eyes open:

"Sassenach... Claire... if ye don't stop now, I won't last long." and with a lot of effort I pulled her up on me, kissing her ferociously as she ran her nails through my chest.

As much as I'd like her to have control, I wanted to give her every possible pleasure and without letting her react, I inverted our positions, staying on top of her. I was tracing a path of kisses all over her body, starting by the neck, with light bites where I knew she was more sensitive until I got to her breasts, where I took my time until I heard her repeat my name among groans. I continued my way to where I wanted to go the most, her most intimate area, my downfall, my honey pot. And this time I took the time I needed, without haste or interruption.

As much as I loved hearing Claire's groans, I needed to be inside her and fast. As she regained her senses after her climax, I slowly climbed up her body, still giving out kisses, but this time more affectionate while with my knee I separated her legs so that I could settle between them. I still got totally amazed at how she was entrusted to me, how I could give her pleasure and even better, how completely satisfied and happy I was to do that.

"Jaamiee..." I heard her whisper in my ear while I was kissing her on the breasts. She was more than ready, just like me.

I tried to be gentle, I tried to be calm, but being inside Claire was so perfect that I couldn't have self-control, after all, that was the feeling of being happy, of being at home. Finally.

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Jamie stayed quiet longer than I expected as soon as he entered the room. I sat still, frozen in the face of his reaction and didn't know what to do next. His eyes ran slowly across my body until they reached my eyes, and along the way my confidence grew rapidly, as did my desire for him. He admitted that he had not accepted my marriage proposal just for his project, he had done it for me too, for the interest he had always had in me, but that he had never had the courage to show. I was shocked and at the same time happy with his honesty, I didn't really expect that, I didn't expect to have that feeling reciprocated for him.

Jamie kissed me with affection and pulled me to stand up, without ceasing to look at my lips, those blue eyes driving me crazy every day more and more. He deepened the kiss, making sure to show his evident excitement against my belly, making me moan his name among our caresses. The redhead was so excited that he couldn't release the knot from the robe and I ended up helping him, moving away to quickly remove the silk piece from my body and staying only with the panties. He froze once more and I had another outbreak of insecurity, trying to cover the naked parts of my body as I felt my cheeks burn with shame for being there so vulnerable.

"Jamie... say something..."

"Christ Claire..." He sighed, taking a break. "Ye're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!" he said, looking me in the eye.

"I think somebody's not seeing right..." I had gotten so shy with his compliment that I just couldn't accept it.

"I have a perfect sight!" he approached me again, the desire leaving his eyes in a lighter shade of blue, different from the usual.

After seeing him in his underwear, my confidence came back and I decided to dominate the moment a little, I liked to control the situation at times and I knew he would be happy to respond to "my orders". I touched him in several places that pulled intense groans of the redhead, making me want more of that slight submission, wanting to give more pleasure to him. But I was interrupted by a sneaky Scotsman:

"Sassenach...Claire... if ye don't stop now, I won't last long." he said, breathing heavily as he pulled me on top of him, kissing me urgently and making me moan in his mouth as I passed my fingernails on his chest.

Now it was his turn to make me lose control, beginning to kiss me from various places he already knew that left me bewildered until he reached my breasts, making me arch my back to have more of him, more of that contact, until I couldn't contain myself anymore, repeating his name countless times among my groans. Under my protests he walked away from my breasts, but his next destination was as or better than the first. I was so ready for him that it didn't take long for me to reach the climax. With his head between my legs and his tongue driving me crazy with every move, my body began to convulse deliberately against his mouth, calming down as his kisses marked the opposite path as he positioned his legs between mine, still with his mouth in my breasts, his answers to my groans leaving me completely at his mercy.

"Jaamiee..." I whispered his name without being able to open my eyes completely, the desire clouding my vision and taking care of my body.

When he finally filled me, it was as if an electric current had flowed through our bodies, moving us ferociously while my eyes did not leave his, the strength of all those contacts making me languidly crumble in his embrace.

And, as it had already become a habit for me, as soon as our bodies had calmed down I lay comfortably on his chest, smelling his smell mixed with mine as I tried to take courage to show some of my fragilities. Just as he had done earlier in front of his brother's headstone.

"Jamie," I said after some time in silence "As I told you before, I wanted to somehow repay you for everything you had done for me earlier" he laughed mischievously. "But not just with sex, you fool!" I snorted and slapped lightly on his chest, taking a deep breath to concentrate again. "I wanted to tell you about my childhood and my life so far to try to explain why I'm so hard on everyone in the hospital..."

"Ye dinna have to do this just because I wanted to share my family history with ye, Claire." he smiled with complicity. "I didna say all that hoping ye'd do the same, I did it because I wanted ye to get to know me better..."

"And I want you to get to know me better too, Jamie." I said it slowly as I looked at his face one more time, smiling as I could and hiding in his chest one more time in order to take courage to show the wounds in my heart. "My parents died when I was 5 years old in a car accident." I sighed deeply and he squeezed me into his embrace, kissing my head while breathing heavily against my hair. "The little I remember of them is that they were the best parents in the world, and I was the happiest child in the world to have them in my life." I started sobbing, trying to contain my tears that kept on falling. "But what I didn't know was that on the day of that accident my life would change dramatically and forever. After they left, I was warmly welcomed into the life of my Uncle Lamb, the only relative left in my little family. He was wonderful to me, but my life would never be the same, and I wouldn't discover it until later." a sadness took hold of me, making my body shrink like when I was just a child, while my hand tried in vain to contain my sobs. At that moment Jamie sat on the bed and quickly put me in his lap in a protective way, caressing my hair while I finally bled out in tears. "I was depressed for almost two years and the studies were the escape I found to make my life colorful again... even if it was a little, even if it was enough to reach the end of the day." Now I was hugging him tightly, my face buried in the curve of his neck as I cried non-stop.

"Shhhhhhh, mo nighean donn, I'm here with ye now, a leannan." He kept saying a few more words in Gaelic in my ear like he did on the plane.

"I was always the first in my class, and I got into medical school when I was 16." I kept talking as soon as my crying calmed down a bit. "You can already imagine how hard it was for me from the beginning, you know how mean our colleagues can be..." he shook his head affirmatively, certainly being a foreign student shouldn't have been easy for him either. "At first, I tried to get along, getting a tattoo and drinking at parties until I fainted... but then I saw that nothing would be enough for them and I ended up isolating myself again, taking refuge in my studies and being arrogant with everyone, all in an attempt to protect myself..."

"And ye did the same when ye arrived at the hospital..." He said surprised, as if he was understanding everything. "Didn't the residents take ye seriously because of yer age as well?"

"Yes... I came to America with the desire to start over, to be a new person..." my look was lost in my painful memories. "But I still wasn't accepted, the students didn't do what I asked for, many of them said bad things about me behind my back, saying that I was too young to be competent and so many more horrible things... and I ended up putting my protection back on... a protection that I thought I had abandoned when I left England, but that I had to use to establish my place in the hospital..."

"Aye, everything now makes sense..." I disengaged myself from his body and sat in front of him, holding his hands with affection.

"Jamie, what I wanted with this conversation was for you to get to know me a little more, to make it clear that I understand what it's like to lose someone so important in our lives... I know how difficult it is to go through everything without showing that it's broken inside." I saw tears appearing in his eyes in reply to my words. "And I want to say how happy I feel and at home from the first day I arrived in Lallybroch." I smiled with emotion and received a tender touch on my face in response, causing me to close my eyes briefly. "Your family is wonderful and I don't know if I deserve to be treated so well after everything I've done." I lowered my face again.

"What makes ye think that ye dinna deserve all this?" he held my chin, causing me to look into his eyes. "Ye are wonderful and worthy of all the love in the world." I locked my breath for a second, because I didn't expect to hear that last part. "And my family is acting like that with ye because they ken that ye are a special person and worthy of that affection... they are not so receptive to everyone." I smiled with emotion, slightly embarrassed. "But ye must be hungry after this intense morning, Sassenach..." he'd diverted our conversation, I'd really said enough, at least for now.

"JAMIE!" I smile surprised. "First I was thinking of taking a bath..." I got up from bed, reaching out my hand to him. "Do you want to come with me?" he smiled with connivance.

"I'd love to take a bath with ye, my Sorcha," he held my hand with a smile on his lips, standing up next.

We entered the bathtub and I leaned against his body, feeling for a while the movement of his breath against my body and his warmth enveloping me with affection and protection. We remained silent for a few seconds, but some questions came to my mind.

"Jamie... Ummm, can you explain to me what these terms mean that you called me as we talked in the room?" I looked back a little to see his face lightly.

"Well, I called ye many different names on that bed, Sassenach, and not just when we were talking..." He laughed, squeezing me into his embrace.

"Jamie, don't play dumb!" I threw some water at him. "Besides, I don't know how to repeat them and you want to laugh at me!"

"That's a slander, Dr. Beauchamp, ye ken?" he made a face like a puppy dog "but well, I called you Mo nighean donn, a leannan and Sorcha, besides Sassenach, obviously..."

"Sassenach, I know, smart-ass!" I pretended to be bothered, but I ended up laughing at him.

"Mo nighean donn means my brown-haired lass" he stressed the 'my', making me shiver with the delicious sound that came out of his mouth.

"But what's so funny about having brown hair, it's actually a very dull color..." I tried to shake off the butterflies that had settled permanently in my stomach.

"Ye may not see it, but yer hair looks it's like the water in a burn, the way it ruffes down the rocks. Dark in the wavy spots with a lighter tone, almost red, when the sun touches it." he said it right next to my ear, making me goosebumps.

"And the others? A leannan and ... Sorcha..." I tried to shake off my emotion.

"A leannan means my darling... and Sorcha means light, in Gaelic... like yer name, Claire."

So he had called me "my light"? God, what was happening to us?

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I didn't expect to hear everything Claire told me, I knew that her harsh and hard way in the hospital was a protection, a way of being respected, after all I knew how difficult it was for women to hold such a position and still impose respect. But I could never have imagined that there was much more behind just wanting to be accepted by everyone. I felt totally unable to comfort her with words, so I just held her and comforted her with gestures, just as she had done to me earlier.

After everything I had heard, I respected her and admired her even more, if that was possible. I wanted to be able to express all my gratitude for being at her side and still share those feelings that I could not name. I didn't think twice when I accepted the invitation to share a bath, even more so knowing that my bathtub could hold both of us together without any problems. I had never felt so good about having her in my arms, now the two of us lighter and more comfortable with each other, we started with some lessons in Gaelic and ended up with embarrassing childhood stories, which resulted in lots of laughter and lots of water splashing around in the bathroom.

"Were you hungry, Jamie?" Claire asked me laughing as she watched me devour almost all the fruit she had left on the table.

"And who could have been the cause, huh, Sassenach? First, ye abused me in every way with the "little" surprise, not satisfied, still took me to the bathroom with the excuse of being just a bath! Do ye ken what time it was when I ate something? And I'm talking about food..." I laughed when I saw her raising her eyebrow when she heard my question.

"Anyone listening to this speech thinks James Fraser is a pure and innocent man! As if I could force him to do all this..." she said as she ate a grape. I couldn't help but smile when I saw her so relaxed, wearing only my robe that she found in the bathroom, but that she didn't bother to close it properly, leaving me with a privileged view of her body.

"Sassenach, ye canna imagine the power ye have over me..."

"Oh, really?" she said it with a certain astonishment, which made me laugh, seriously she couldn't see what she was doing to me?

"I think it's best to get dressed, I want to take ye for a walk, and if we continue like this" I pointed to my towel that only covered my waist. "we're not going to have any success getting out of this room today!"

"It wouldn't be so bad..." she said with a mischievous smile on her face as she walked toward me.

"Sassenach, no matter how tempting this offer may be, and you can't imagine how hard it is for me to say it, I really want you to see something!"

We ended up dressing quickly, in fact I forced Claire to go to the bathroom to get dressed so as not to fall into the temptation of not letting her get dressed, which resulted in some provocations and a small delay in my schedule. But half an hour later we were going to my destination. I decided to go by car, no matter how romantic riding was, I didn't want to risk my luck with Scotland's unstable weather once again.

"Of all the places I imagined would be the destination of our tour, this was one that never crossed my mind," Claire said when she saw where I had taken her.

We were in the family's textile factory. Frasers have always been good with knitting and loom, at first just producing for the family and the clan, but over the years, my father has expanded production and now we produced for the whole Scotland, as well as for export. Among several winter clothing items, the most famous product that kept the clan tradition alive was the traditional Fraser's tartan.

I knew that Claire was interested in history and I saw that she listened attentively to all my explanation and did not spare any questions:

"So everyone in the Fraser family does master the use of needles?"

"Sassenach, ye ken that I master the use of needles very well..."

"I'm not talking about surgery! Do you really know how to knit?" she asked a little incredulous and a little mocking.

"Aye, it's a tradition here in the Highlands. We've learned it since we were kids, it keeps our hands busy so we don't mess around, and let's say I was a kid who had to knit a lot!" she just laughed as I hugged her from behind, putting a kiss on her head. "Yeah, laugh now, because we're going to put your manual skills to the test" after all, a surgeon as successful as you are must be great with needles!

"I'm sure it won't be a challenge for me!" she said for sure.

We went to a private room in the factory, where some products were still produced manually, keeping the tradition alive of the Highlands. Claire was focused on my instructions and I was sure that she would easily succeed:

"Sassenach! Are ye sure ye are a great surgeon? I'm starting to think it's more fame than reality!" I laughed as I watched her tenth attempt to complete a well-made line of a scarf project.

"Fraser, a scarf doesn't look at all like a brain and that I masterfully master, in case you don't know it yet!" she said seriously and with an intense look in my direction.

"It's a good thing that nobody's life depends on this scarf being well done, or in yer case, just done!" I couldn't get serious, but I saw that she was getting more and more frustrated with the needles.

"You know, a needle like that can do a lot of damage to a delicate organ, and I've got plenty of ability for that!" she said with a challenging look at my private area.

"Okay, Sassenach. Ye dinna have to take such extreme actions, I'll help you and we'll go over everything I've taught." I said standing up and going after her.

I bent over her shoulders and put my hands on hers. I did the moves I had taught her and together we were able to complete a line without losing any points:

"See, we're a great team!" I said it smiling and kissing her hand.

"I didn't do anything but follow your movements, I don't get many credits in this partnership."

"Ye already have enough credits, Sassenach!" I said while giving a light kiss on her neck.

"Jamie... this way you distract me!" she said half serious and half laughing.

"All right, I stopped! Since I've seen that this scarf is worth your attention more than I am, I'll get something and be right back!"

"Drama..." I heard her grumbling as I left the room. The smile on my face came up automatically.

It didn't take long to find what I was looking for and I quickly went back to where she was. I couldn't help but observe her for a few seconds before talking about anything, she was focused on her scarf, repeating aloud the movements she would have to make, while biting her lower lip in an attempt not to lose her line of reasoning. How could she look sexy knitting? I couldn't help my body's reaction to seeing her like that, but more than that, I couldn't help but feel that my heart was bursting with happiness in knowing that she was mine, at least for now.

"Ahh, I did it! And alone! Take this Fraser!!!!!" she shouted and stood up from the chair she was in.

I couldn't hold my laughter and she turned to me, quickly turning red as she saw me standing at the door:

"And I thought I was competitive! Little did I know I'd find an opponent at the same level!" I still said laughing.

"What matters is that I managed and you can stop making fun of me and my manual coordination!"

"I never doubted yer skills Sassenach, let alone yer manual skills..." and I hugged her, putting on her shoulders what I had gone to get, a Fraser family tartan.

"What's that?" she asked by passing her hand over the fabric that wrapped her.

"Our most popular product, the Fraser clan colored tartan, now you have one to warm you up, it comes with an original Fraser as a gift!" I laughed and kissed her.

"All the women who have been with the original Fraser, won a tartan to go with it?" she asked with a slight smile, but I saw in her eyes that the question was more serious than it looked.

"No, just the most special... Claire, ye are already part of this clan, and this Fraser here is very happy about it!" I meant it.

I saw her eyes glow, maybe with tears or just with emotion, but I didn't expect words in return, I just kissed her to show how happy I really was and I was very well reciprocated.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

The knitting was such a surprise for me, I didn't expect it to be so difficult. Since I'd never met people who did this work, seeing Jamie handling the needles gave me a false sense of being easy. And it really wasn't. But with his patience and my persistence, or rather, my stubbornness, I managed to finish a scarf practically alone. Of course, I didn't expect Jamie to be back as soon as I declared victory and I was so focused on the hard work that I hadn't heard him approaching. Yes, I'm very competitive, but after the initial embarrassment, I received a very significant gift from Jamie, a Fraser family tartan. He told me, mockingly, that it came as a gift with an original Fraser. I didn't want to raise any expectations, but it made me deduce that he was as much mine as the tartan, causing butterflies in my stomach, as well. After kissing me affectionately, I asked him if all the women who had been with the "original Fraser" had received one of those tartans too, I was clearly jealous. And he, serious as I have rarely seen him, answered me with the most meaningful phrase that I had heard from his mouth:

"No, only the most special..." the affection overflowing in his eyes. "Claire, ye are already part of this clan, and this Fraser here is very happy about it!" my eyes filled with tears of happiness as he approached his lips to mine for a kiss full of feelings.

We spent the rest of the day together with his parents, Jenny and Ian, sharing those unique moments that I knew were important to Jamie, I could see on his face the happiness imprinted as he interacted with them. That room was full of laughter, simple touches, and unconditional love looks, full of everything a real family should share. And now those moments were becoming important to me too, I would miss the Fraser family so much in my day-to-day life when I returned to Boston.

Soon after dinner, we went up to the bedroom and lay facing each other, foreheads together, while we just felt each other's breath. I caressed his face lightly, my eyes staring at his all the time, while his hand wandered lightly over my waist. We were in complete silence, nothing needed to be said. It was as if we were finishing taking off our armor, and even dressed from head to toe, I felt completely naked, stripped of all fears, anxieties, and insecurities.

The day started intensely, I couldn't stay more than an hour in the same room as Jamie. As we were already on Thursday, in addition to the last preparations for Saturday's party, we would still have the bachelor party of both Jenny and Ian. The house was being organized by all of us, including Mrs. Crook who helped us with the last details, and, at the same time, the boys were organizing the distillery to gather all the men there. We were already predicting at least one migraine the next day, it wouldn't be possible to get through unharmed by the amount of drink they had reserved for the two events.

At the end of the afternoon I, Jenny, and Ellen were ready to welcome my sister-in-law's friends, a great pride taking care of me while holding her hand with affection, I could see how excited she was. The other bridesmaids were the first to arrive, there were four of us in total, and Jenny could hardly contain the happiness in her body when she saw the four of us together for the first time. She introduced us effusively and we all went to the window to take the first "official photos" of the event. As soon as we were momentarily dismissed by the photographer, an already known gaze almost went through my body, so intense was the anger that was in it. Laoghaire. Jenny had commented to me about her indirect ways of being a bridesmaid, and how difficult it was to dodge all her misplaced advances, just because they knew each other since childhood was not reason enough. And probably, seeing me with the other bridesmaids did not make for an easy feeling to manage.

We started to talk animatedly while drinking champagne and eating Mrs. Crook's delicious delicacies. Surely I would come home with a few extra kilos, I couldn't stop eating for a second since I arrived in Lallybroch! Jenny stayed involved with all the guests while I sat on the couch next to my mother-in-law. Her hand always held mine happily and was loving to see her "cheerful" version of that day, the drink was clearly doing her good. That last week had been very stressful for everyone, but she, being Jenny's right-hand man, had been involved in all the processes of the wedding. That bachelorette party was being a moment for her not to think about anything and just to enjoy the company and the drinking.

From time to time, during the party, my gaze crossed with Laoghaire's and she always kept the grief stamped on her face, clearly cursing my name in her mind. And at times I could have sworn to see a look of triumph in her, but I didn't think I had my mental faculties fully filled after so much alcohol, so I decided to stop thinking about it and stop looking at her.

After a few hours I was dancing with Jenny, we hugged each other in an attempt to balance and not fall as we tried to amusingly follow the rhythm of the song. Laughter was overflowing the living room and, due to the loud noise, we didn't see when our party was suddenly invaded by the boys. They were as drunk as we were, laughing and talking loudly as they ate something that was still on the tables. I stopped dancing and leaned against the wall to face Jamie, it looked like he hadn't found me in the middle of all those women. His gaze was lost trying to find something and I confess that I had fun with it for an instant. But the doubt came out of his face as soon as he found my eyes, quickly replacing it with a look of complete desire, a look that I already knew very well. I smiled widely at him and in a few steps he reached me, getting his face glued to mine while he smiled seductively.

"How many bottles did you drink today?" I asked mockingly.

"May I ask the same for ye?" he had his face on my neck, kissing me with voluptuousness.

"No, you can't." We laughed. "But you can ask me other things..." I held his hair skillfully with one of my hands to make him look into my eyes.

"Um... like what?" he said very close to my mouth, making me gasp intensely.

"If I missed you, for example..." I smiled, completely given over to your caresses.

"And did ye, Sassenach?" he pressed his body against mine. "Did ye miss yer Scot?" his hand passed through the side of my body, stopping over my ass.

"All day long, Fraser." I leaned my lips close to his ear. "There wasn't an instant that I didn't want to be with you, alone in our room."

"Me too, Claire." He discreetly passed his tongue over my lips. "We can get into our bubble whenever ye want, a leannan..."

"I don't want to leave your sister here alone..." I sighed deeply, the desire automatically closing my eyes.

"But Ian is already here, and after our invasion, I don't believe that the party will last much longer..." he kissed lightly on the corner of my mouth.

"Okay, Jamie, you convinced me... I just need to go to the bathroom before I go upstairs, I won't be able to make it to the room!" I smiled at him trying to walk but realized that I was completely drunk and leaning on the wall with one of my hands. "I'll be right back, honey..."

"Not yet, Sassenach..."

He pulled me back and pressed me against the wall, making me feel how excited he was to have me near him. I was enjoying seeing his drunk version, he was more relaxed than usual, as if that were possible. He gave me a half-smile as he bowed his head to kiss me deeply, he didn't care if we were surrounded by several people, his main goal was to give me pleasure and show me with his actions what he would give me when we got to the room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TrSMaOZm3Y&feature=youtu.be

I walked away from his body with some difficulty, not wanting to go away from him for a second, but the need to pee was bigger than anything and I needed to go slowly to the bathroom, or I would trip over my own legs. I heard his laughter as I tried to walk in a straight line, and getting to the bathroom was a difficult task for me. When I was coming out of the toilet, I felt a person pushing the door and entering without asking permission. At first, I thought it was someone in a hurry to use the bathroom, but after I saw who it was I knew there would be nothing good coming from there. She stared at me very angrily, throwing me against one of the corners of the bathroom while snorting and talking non-stop.

"Look, Sassenach, I have no idea what spell ye did to charm Jamie like that, but I ken what's going on between ye two isn't real..." The blonde laughed with sarcasm. - I ken how manipulable Jamie can be, but time will prove that ye're not what he imagines ye to be... ye're just a..... a whor..."

After hearing all those atrocities, I could not let her finish her sick sermon. My hand stopped intensely on her face and I could hear her groaning in pain while my hand took on a reddish tone, burning because of the little aggression.

"NEVER speak to me or Jamie, do you understand?" I stared at her with the same anger she was staring at me, pointing my index finger at her. "You have absolutely no right to speak ANYTHING about us... ANYTHING!" I arched one of my eyebrows and walked away from her to the door. Before I left, I turned my body back to her again, I needed to strike the final blow. "And no one in this family can stand you, Laoghaire, so please don't intrude into our lives." I smiled, sarcastic.

I left there as if I wasn't drunk anymore, the adrenaline taking over my body and leaving me momentarily sober. Among the guests I managed to find Jamie's shiny red hair and, at determined steps, I reached him without unbalancing myself.

"Are ye all right, Claire?" I probably had a tense face after those few minutes of stress.

"Yes, dear, I'm fine..." I sat on his lap, wrapping his neck in one of my arms while I tried to smile.

As soon as I saw the blonde looking at us angrily, I decided it was time to return the kiss he had given me minutes earlier. I smiled fake at her before I turned my body to him, holding tight against him as I began to kiss Jamie without asking permission. He deepened our contact, holding tightly to my waist as he gasped against my mouth. We only stopped kissing because Jamie's parents wanted to toast the bride and groom.

"James Fraser, I want you to know that you're mine. Only mine." I said seriously as I stared into his eyes.

"I'm yers alone, Claire Beauchamp." He smiled, but I felt the seriousness in his voice. "And I will always be at yer service."

 

 

POV Jamie

 

And finally, Ian's bachelor party day had arrived. I confess that as much as drinking with my old friends was fun, I preferred to spend the day in the room with Claire, even more so after the night before. I didn't know what had changed between us, but something had happened to my Sassenach, she was very committed to us, I don't know if I could call it a relationship, we hadn't discussed what we were yet, the only certainty I had was that something was going on and she was totally devoted to what she was feeling.

My father had set aside space at the distillery for the party, no, it wasn't a party as Ian insisted on saying, it was a reunion of old friends one last time before he was completely committed to the love of his life. I know, not even Jenny had believed in this speech and just laughed at her future husband, showing how much wine and champagne she was going to drink at the "girls' party," as she made a point of saying, amidst the laughter and threats of surprises that the bridesmaids had prepared.

When we arrived at the distillery, the only thing Ian could say was that he thought Claire would be more serious and would never call a stripper to her sister-in-law. And that became more repetitive after a few shots of whisky:

"Christ, Ian, I told you that Jenny was only provoking ye, and Claire told me that they will only talk and drink, just like we're doing here, the most they'll do is talk bad things about ye..."

"And ye too!" Ian cut me off.

"I don't think Claire has anything to say about me!" I said confidently, even more so because I knew we didn't have so much time together that she already had something to complain about.

"Of course not, it might be that she compares ye to the guy dressed as a doctor who will dance in front of her while he takes off his clothes..." he said laughing when he saw my face change.

"Ian! Don't say these things! My mother is there!"

"And since when is yer mother an obstacle for them to call a stripper?" my dad said as he walked into our conversation. "If I know Ellen well, she suggested the idea! If ye knew what happened at her bachelorette party..."

"Dad!!!!!" I yelled, interrupting what he intended to say. "Christ, the images that appeared in my head now will never disappear! Is there anything in the whisky ye're drinking?" I said while taking the glass from my father's hand.

"A balach, stop it! There's nothing in my glass that doesna have in yers! And today we were not supposed to relax and not think about women?"

"And yet ye made me think of totally absurd things with my mother!" I said, still not happy about how my father had a loose tongue.

"Jamie, dinna fash, I've heard worse things from your dad when we need to taste drinks on the road!" Ian said it by tapping on my shoulder like it was the most normal thing to see Brian Fraser talking about sex.

I decided not to put any more fire on that conversation and drink my whisky in silence, which lasted about five minutes until Ian started again with the speculations of what was happening at the bachelorette party of his future wife and our friends gave Ian more reasons for him to almost freak out. After a few more shots, I decided to put an end to my brother-in-law's speech:

"Let's invade their party!" I shouted as I raised my glass for another toast, which was accepted with screams from the other members of our small meeting.

After trying to put almost ten drunken men in my father's truck, we went at a speed well below normal to the main house, where they were. When I entered the room I was lost among so many people, trying to find Claire desperately, well, at least now we were sure there were only women at that party and they seemed to be as excited as we were. A second after looking through everybody, I found her and stared at her, provoking in her a naughty smile that made me reach her in two steps:

"How many bottles did you drink today?" she asked mockingly.

"Can I ask ye the same thing?" I asked without losing my attention to her neck, which I kissed with desire.

"No, you can't." We laughed together. "But you can ask me other things..." and she held me by my hair, so I could look at her directly.

"Um... like what?" I said very close to her mouth, making her gasp.

"If I missed you, for example..." she smiled, but I knew that she was totally into me at that moment.

"And did ye, Sassenach?" I pressed my body into hers. "Did ye miss yer Scot?" and I ran my hand through the side of her body, soon finding my favorite part, her ass.

"All day long, Fraser." She answered by touching her lips to my ear and driving me crazy. "There wasn't an instant that I didn't want to be with you, alone in our room."

"So did I, Claire," I said by licking my tongue through her lips. "We can get into our bubble whenever ye want, a leannan..."

"I don't want to leave your sister here alone..." she sighed, closing her eyes, I knew she was holding up.

"But Ian is already here, and after our invasion, I don't think the party will last much longer..." I kissed the corner of her mouth lightly.

"Okay, Jamie, you convinced me... I just need to go to the bathroom before I go upstairs, I won't be able to make it to the room!" She smiled trying to get away from me, but she had already had too much to drink and leaned against the wall. "I'll be right back, honey..."

"Not yet, Sassenach..."

And before she could get away from me, I pressed her against the wall again, showing her how ready I was for her. I didn't care at all that we were in the middle of my family, my desire for her was stronger than my few inhibitions at the time and I kissed her deeply, I was trying to show her how much I wanted her and I got the answer immediately. But with a little effort, she separated from me and finally went to the bathroom, claiming she really needed it.      

I gave myself some time to calm down and went to the nearest chair to sit down, I couldn't manage to keep my balance so well and after what she had caused in my body, it was better to hide my excitement so that it didn't become a joke, not that anyone seemed to pay too much attention to what we were doing minutes before. Now that Ian was calmer next to Jenny, it was all toast and shots of any drink available in front of us.

A few minutes later I saw Claire coming towards me, but she had a different look on her face than before, she looked nervous and angry:

"Are ye all right, Claire?" I asked when she got in front of me.

"Yes, honey, it's okay..." she answered as she sat on my lap and wrapped my neck in her arms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edwsf-8F3sI&feature=youtu.be

I decided to relax, if something had happened, she didn't want to tell me, at least not at that moment, and having her in my lap made me forget anything. Even more so when she decided to return the kiss from before, making me lose any sanity I had. My hands were already clenching on her waist, our heavy breathing when we were interrupted by another toast to the bride and groom, now coming from my parents who made sure we participated:

"James Fraser, I want you to know that you are mine. Only mine," she said staring at me as the toast happened in the background.

"I'm yers alone, Claire Beauchamp." I smiled thinking her speech was funny, but deep down I knew I was being real and there was nothing funny about my words. "And I will always be at your service."

My eyes were heavy, but the light entering through the curtain in the bedroom was not letting me sleep anymore, as was the absurd pain in my head. I opened my eyes with difficulty and couldn't avoid the obscene words coming out of my mouth when I felt my back burning when I turned to see if Claire was still asleep. She was spread out in the other corner of the bed, the sheet covering only one part of her body, her legs were totally exposed and I couldn't resist, my eyes ran all the way through and fell on one of her thighs. She had bite marks that I knew very well from whom they were, but that I didn't remember doing. By the way, I couldn't even remember how we had ended up in bed, not that the lack of our clothes and the monstrous hangover weren't great tips, but why my back was burning so much? And why I had bite marks on my chest and...on the inside of my thighs!!

While trying to find some more proof of our night somewhat violent by my body, I saw that Claire began to move and I could not help but laugh at her:

"Fuck..." Yeah, I wasn't the only one with a hangover.

"Good morning Sassenach, or it would be, my wee vixen..."

"Only if it's a good morning to you..." she mumbled with her head still buried in her pillow. "And what did you call me?" she asked as she tried to get up a little. "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! What did we do last night?"

"If ye think it's just ye who's sore and bitten all over yer body, I must inform you that it's not just me who's to blame! Sassenach, I didna ken ye could be so violent! Bullshit, I imagined it, but I didna ken it would be so pleasant, I just wanted to be able to remember it all because no doubt it must have been wonderful! - I laughed but soon gave up when I felt painful stabs in my head.

"Jamie! What do you mean you don't remember anything? We were drinking with your family, toasting, then you called me to dance and we almost fell, and...

"Did I dance??????" I asked incredulously, I didn't know how to dance, I had no rhythm and I never did that, never!

"You're worse than me! Then they say Scots hold the whisky well! But of course you remember, I'm sure we came to the bedroom after that...

"Are you sure? Really?" I asked and she just lowered her head on the pillow again. "But I think I'm beginning to remember, ye saying I was yers, yers alone, and after that, we got totally lost...Sassenach, ye have no idea how sexy it was to hear ye so possessive like that..."

               Flashback On

"Sassenach... I'm yer master and ye're mine! " I said as I pulled her through her hair so that she stared at me directly.

The provocations during the whole party had pushed me to the limit and I could not be gentle, far from it, I was totally committed to my desire for that woman and I needed to possess her, I needed to make her understand that there was no one else for me but her, no one else to arouse me the way she did, no one else who provoked the most primitive feelings in me but her.

"Yes, master..." she said in my ear before biting my shoulder hard, causing a slight spasm in me, but nothing that would make me distance myself from her body "I am yours, totally yours!"

I couldn't remember how I had managed to get her into the bedroom without taking off her clothes on the way, but now that we were between four walls, nothing held me back and her dress was on the floor at the same speed as I was throwing her into bed, without giving her a chance to do anything other than be there totally for me. I thought I couldn't be gentle, that I wanted to leave marks on her body so that she would know that I was her master, that she was mine, but she seemed to have the same idea in mind and made sure to show it by taking off my clothes with violence and biting my lips between our desperate kisses, leaving a taste of blood in my mouth, a taste that said she was not kidding, I was hers and of anybody else.

We were attacking each other with violence, I bit her with desire in the inside of her beautiful legs, while she pulled my hair with strength, taking me where she wanted more, where she liked to have me at her disposal and I didn't show any resistance, I knew it would take her to orgasm quickly and I knew it would be the first of many that night.

As I had predicted, my name came out in a loud cry from her mouth after my tongue and fingers drove her mad. But now I needed to be inside her, I needed to possess her by any means and I could not wait for her to recover for that.

I was kissing her whole body, with light bites here and there, until with more aggressiveness that I intended, I separated her legs with my knee and penetrated her at once, provoking the most delicious noises and groans:

"Sassenach, I won't be able to be gentle or go slowly..."

"Then don't be!" she answered me, passing her nails over the whole length of my back, causing me a pain that only made me go deeper into her and knew I was reaching places I had never reached, neither in her nor anyone else.

Flashback Off

"There's no point in hiding, Sassenach. Now I've remembered very well what you're capable of, but it's like they say if ye bed a vixen you expect to get a bit... and I can't wait to get some more!"

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

My head was almost exploding when I woke up that Friday morning. Everything was bothering me: the brightness coming through the window, the crackling of the sheet against my skin, and some specific points of my body. Actually, not that specific... my whole body was hurting. I felt burning in my neck, in my breasts, in my legs, and between them more than anything else. But I couldn't remember anything, the night before had turned into a haze that was difficult to unravel. When I truly woke up and saw that Jamie was already awake, as destroyed by the hangover as I was, the flashes about the night before began to return to my mind.

He was more confused than I was and at first, I began to remember very engaging moments that we had shared. Soon after my conversation with Laoghaire, all the Frasers made a toast to the bride and groom, and then Jamie had asked me to dance. I soon saw that he was no good at it and laughed at his clumsy steps, but a few seconds later, I started dancing for him seductively and he couldn't get his hands and mouth off me... Until he stumbled on his own feet and fell sitting down, pulling me with him and causing me to fall on his body. Obviously, everyone turned to see what had happened to us, and, between laughter and a few kisses, we were able to stand up with some difficulty. Of course, I couldn't help but notice that, after that scene of complicity, the sour blonde looked at us with disdain and walked out the door without saying goodbye to anyone, and that made me immensely flattered.

At the end of the party, as soon as we decided to go up to the bedroom, I stopped abruptly in the middle of the stairs and said in Jamie's ear, pulling him close to me:

"Today I won't forget that you assured me that you would always be at my disposal, Fraser," I said as I grabbed his neck, sensually licking the lobe of his ear.

"And what do ye want to do with me, Sassenach?" he said against my neck, kissing it hard and knowing that he would leave a bruise.

 "Do you really want to know?" I laughed, pulling a stumbling Jamie up the stairs.

And the rest was told by Jamie. And as soon as he recounted our violent night, I began to remember a few moments, like when he bit the inside of my thighs, strongly sucked my nipples, bit my neck. And the surreal thing was that I asked him, almost begging him, to do that to me.

At the same time that I didn't know where to go with such embarrassment, a part of me was happy to start remembering what had happened, how it had happened, and how pleasant it had been for both of us. He hadn't been kind, on the contrary, but I had really liked that new side of Jamie. And he had also enjoyed being controlled by me, his pleasure-filled face looking at me as I rode on his lap came incessantly into my mind during that "it's worth seeing again" session. And it all got even more vivid, so I remembered clearly when he held me under his body and I, in an almost unconscious motion, started scratching his back, sticking my nails into his soft skin as I felt his thrusts more and more intense and listened to him calling my name.

As he finished narrating all that had happened, the embarrassment of having done that took such a large proportion in me that I ended up hiding under the sheets, without being able to look into his eyes:

"There's no point in hiding, Sassenach. Now I've remembered very well what you're capable of, but it's like they say if ye bed a vixen you expect to get a bit... and I can't wait to get some more!" he laughed, making me laugh with a little despair at the situation.

"Jamie, for God's sake!" I said as soon as I saw, still under the sheets, how my body was marked, the horror causing me to get up in one movement. "What am I going to do with all these marks? Did you know that I'm going to wear a dress that leaves my neck and arms bare?" I turned my head incessantly to see my whole body in search of more marks.

"But Sassenach, ye're the one who asked for all this, don't ye remember?" he leaned on one of his elbows, lying on his side, and smiled triumphantly at me, like he'd won a trophy.

"James Fraser..." I meant it, but I couldn't control my laughter, shaking my head negatively. "I have to go to the bathroom mirror to see all the damage."

"Hey, come back here!" he was demanding a good morning kiss, which I obviously couldn't deny. "Make sure it doesn't take too long wee vixen, I need to see mine too!" I heard him talking before closing the door.

I took a deep breath as soon as I counted all the damage, at least the damage that would be apparent when I put on the dress. And I thanked God for having high-quality makeup to cover, at least in part, those bruises. Leaning on the cold marble in the sink, I sighed with frustration, not understanding what had happened to me. Still looking at my neck through the mirror, I realized that I had never lost control like that. But at the same time, it never felt so right to lose control. With Jamie, it always seemed right.

As we woke up late, we finished getting ready and went down for lunch. And I thanked God for being cold enough to wear a scarf, at least I could hide some of the marks on my neck because the embarrassment of the night before was all over my face and I couldn't hide it. I was sure there was no possibility that we hadn't been listened to all over the house during our wild sex if we took into consideration the number of bruises scattered all over our bodies.

We had lunch in silence, the whole family trying, without any positive results, to heal the hangover that all that drinking had caused. And I thanked the absence of complicit looks in the face of that moment of discomfort. Soon after dessert, Jamie looked outside cheerfully, smiling at me before speaking:

"Sassenach, get up!" he said as he came back from the window. "Let's enjoy the beautiful day outside, tomorrow is the wedding day and there's still a very important place for me to show ye."

"Another one?" I smiled with affection, accepting his outstretched hand and getting me up from the big dinner table.

We walked silently through the forest that surrounded Lallybroch and never before been in silence was so pleasant for me. Smelling the autumn in the air as I walked with my hand joined to Jamie's seemed to be the most comforting and right feeling for me. And being by his side was the only wish I had.

The trail became narrower and steeper until we reached a cave. What I didn't expect, as soon as I entered there, was that I would get to know Jamie's safe haven. The place where he could always be himself, the only place he managed to cry for his brother's death as a teenager, the place where he had finally decided to follow his dreams and move to the United States at a very young age. And he was sharing his hiding place with me. More than anything, he had said that I had become someone very important in his life and that he wanted to share that special place.

And, at that moment, after two years of being around almost daily, as I looked astonished at his face, I finally realized that I loved him. Of course, I loved him, how could I have been fooled for so long? Even when I thought I hated him, love was already inside me, inside my heart. Unconsciously I wanted to be his fiancée, and my selfish proposal had a deep foundation of truth, after all. I smiled with emotion at him and gave him a passionate kiss on his lips, thanking him for the trust and affection he showed in doing that and repeating how important he had become to me too. I was insecure in verbalizing what I felt, but, certainly, we would have the right moment for that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItVgVpJQZjo&feature=youtu.be

We returned after a while to the house and, as soon as we passed the entrance arch of the property, we heard Ian call Jamie, completely nervous with an important detail of the wedding. I told him I'd take another walk and be in Ellen's garden if he needed me, receiving a quick kiss in response. As soon as I got there, I was delighted with all the roses, flowers, and spices my mother-in-law cultivated with so much care and was lost in my thoughts until I heard my phone ring. It was Joe. At first, I was worried about Adso, but I heard the last thing I thought would come out of his mouth.

"LJ, I don't have good news for you, honey." He took a deep breath against the phone. "You need to take the first flight back on Sunday. You got a whistleblower at Immigration, honey, they already know that your relationship with Jamie has been arranged."

"But who did something like that?" How could that be possible? "Joe, answer me! Who did it?" I finished my sentence screaming.

"I don't know, Claire... But Mr. Ford was very clear when he was here at the hospital: either you show up here by the end of Sunday afternoon, or you two will be deported from the US."

"But Jamie wasn't to blame, Joe..." It looked like a hole had opened in the ground and I kept falling. I was breathless, and I was so nervous I felt my stomach curl.

"Honey, if you want to do the right thing for this guy, get on a plane and get here on time. If you like him, even if only a little bit, solve it once and for all and don't cause any more problems than those that already exist..."

"Joe...I love him..." I contained a cry when I first verbalized my recent realization. "I love Jamie..."

"Oh, LJ... I'm so sorry about all this..." he sighed deeply. "But come back here, then things will settle down... And talk to him, don't lock yourself in your cocoon, dear. Will you let me know when you know your arrival time? I want to be there for you."

"Yes, I will. Thank you, my friend."

That couldn't be real. Anyone who had made that denunciation clearly wanted to separate me from Jamie, it had no other explanation. And the plan had worked. I walked around in that garden, completely out of my mind, crying unreservedly while thinking of a way out of that situation. But nothing seemed right to me, not for a person like Jamie. I loved him with all my heart, and now the only way I could see to protect him was to be out of his life completely. Only this way I would be able to protect him from something I had put myself into.

It was already late afternoon and I ran into the house, the tears incessantly falling down my cheeks as I felt the cold wind cut the skin off my face like knives. My heart was broken, I could almost hear the noise of its pieces shattering on the floor. I thanked myself for not seeing any of the Frasers on the way to the bedroom, I don't know if I could bear to see looks of concern to me at that moment. I had to hide in my cocoon and the only place that offered me protection at that moment was the bedroom that I shared with Jamie.

There were so many memories engraved on those walls, on those doors, on those sheets... so many laughs, so many groans, so many statements. We had built a beautiful castle during those days, but what I didn't expect was that the castle was made of sand, and it was crumbling between my fingers. A hiccup came off my chest and a weeping cry came out of my throat as I weakly tried to contain it with my hand over my mouth. I was sitting on the bed and instinctively shrunk, hugging my legs in an attempt to calm down. Then I heard the bathroom door open. Jamie was there the whole time and fear began to take over my body. He looked at me and his smile disintegrated as soon as he saw that I was crying, causing him to run to the edge of the bed and hold my hands:

"What happened, Sassenach?" he gently stroked my face, causing me to instinctively close my eyes. "Why are ye like this, for God's sake?"

"It was nothing... Just hold me, Jamie... Please..." the tears began to spring in my eyes. "I just need to feel you close to me..."

And that's what he did. He climbed onto the bed and hugged me as tightly as he could, and I clung to him with all the love I felt, crying compulsively in his arms. I was willing to honor with my role as bridesmaid and wouldn't leave before the ceremony, but at that moment I decided not to involve Jamie in one more of my mess, I couldn't bear to see him lose everything that he had fought so hard to have.

"Make love to me, Jamie..." I said it quietly in his ear, almost like a plea.

That would be our goodbye, and I couldn't help but feel him again close to my body. I had to have more memories of him, smell his scent again, hear his groans once more. Those memories would be everything that would remain in our relationship. All that would be left of that great love.

Unlike the night before, this time we had sex calmly. We lay facing each other and he kissed my eyes with affection, wiping with his hand the tears that still fell from my eyes. He smiled and kissed my mouth as one of his arms ran down the path to find the center of my pleasure. I groaned against his mouth, dropping my last tears. Just for that moment, I had decided to forget that we would never be together like that again, I had decided to surrender myself completely without thinking of anything else. I started to move my hips more as his movements were getting intense, and I asked softly in his ear:

"Jamie, I need to feel you inside me..."

And he didn't wait any longer. I lay on my back on the mattress and he smiled with sensuality at me as he slowly filled me, making me feel every inch of him until he was completely inside me. I looked at him with desire, but more than that, I looked with love and devotion, feelings that were so unique and that I was sure I could only feel for that Scotsman. He had already become the master of my heart.

Our groans were low and guttural and the climax came intense, and hearing him call my name that way made me believe that he was saying that he loved me in some way. I had to stick to that idea, only then I would be able to move on with my life after I no longer had him with me.

We calmed down our breathing and it didn't take long for Jamie to fall into a deep sleep. I was sitting on the bed, my back leaning on the headboard, while he stood slightly curled up next to my body, hugging me and with his head resting on my lap. I lovingly stroked his red and so soft hair, and again the grief took over my body, for I could never have him this much again.

"I love you so much, Jamie..." I said it quietly, my hands still running lightly through his hair while the tears fell calmly on my face. "And I'll do anything for your good."

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I couldn't get the smile off my face when I saw Claire totally worried about the marks I had left on her body, and also in her shyness when she remembered everything we had done the night before. I could tell her that I was also surprised by the way I acted, but deep down I was not even a little shy about it, it had been wonderful, even not remembering all the details, I could slowly remember the satisfaction in the face of my Sassenach while invading her quickly and hard and give her that pleasure was no shame to me.

"James Fraser..." she said serious to me, but I could see the laughter coming up little by little. "I have to go to the bathroom mirror to see all the damage."

"Hey, come back here!" I pulled her in for a good morning kiss that I hadn't gotten yet. "Make sure it doesn't take too long wee vixen, I need to see mine too!" I said as she closed the bathroom door.

With a lot of effort, I got up from bed to get dressed, my head still hurt, but I needed to eat something to cure that hangover. In fact, only a very strong coffee would do this job. I could not help but analyze the marks on my body one more time, if she was thinking that I had marked her too much, she had not seen the damage she had done to me, that because I could not see my back, just feel what I was sure were deep scratches made by her nails.

When we came down, it was no longer time for breakfast, but for lunch. I noticed that everyone was in the same situation, the hangover was evident on the face of the whole family, including my parents. But I noticed that Claire was totally embarrassed by what we did the night before, probably everyone listened, I knew she couldn't be very quiet during sex, even more after drinking, but I loved her noises and was not ashamed to show everyone that I pleased my woman in bed. My woman...what had Claire done to me? In the end, nobody mentioned anything, I didn't know if it was out of respect or because they were so drunk or more than we were and they didn't listen to anything.

"Sassenach, get up!" I said as I looked out the window. - Let's enjoy the beautiful day outside, tomorrow is the wedding day and there's still a very important place for me to show ye."

"Another one?' she smiled as she grabbed my hand to get up from the table.

I had a place in mind, yes, as she had questioned, another important place for me. In fact, the most important of all, the place that only I knew, at least that I was aware of. It was my fortress, my place to think, to suffer, the place where I had peace, where I felt in peace. It was a cave that was totally hidden among the woods that surrounded the property, I found it by chance when I was a child, in fact, Willie had found it and ran to show me, said that it could be the place we could use to get rid of Jenny, aye, my sister knew how to bother our lives when we were younger, although she still bothers me, but differently.

We arrived in the cave after walking in silence, but a comfortable silence, hand in hand and totally at ease with each other:

"Claire, I ken I've shown ye several important places for me since we got to Lallybroch, but this one doesna compare to any of them, I ken ye might be wondering what's so special about a cave..." I said as I saw her observing the place, it was small, low and I almost couldn't stand inside it. "Willie was the one who discovered this place. We liked to do trails around Lallybroch, actually, he did, I just followed him because I wanted to be with him... anyway, here was our hiding place and we never told anyone, not even Ian because we knew that he would tell Jenny. After everything that happened, here is where I come to reflect, to let out all that... this is where I cried for my brother, where I decided that I would move to the USA to follow my dream and where I discovered that a person I thought I hated was actually very important to me... Claire, ye are now the only person who knows this place and I have brought ye here to ken how important this is for me, how much I like ye and that is why I'm sharing my special place with you..."

She didn't need to thank me with words, just her emotional smile and her kiss already gave me the answer I needed. We stayed there for a while, enjoying the moment, with caresses that were worth more than anything to me. When we were getting home, Ian came desperate to meet me, saying he had something urgent about the wedding to solve with me, I didn't want to separate myself from Claire, but she said she would go to my mother's garden and I could find her there if necessary.

Ian's problem wasn't what I expected, he was desperate because he couldn't write the vows for Jenny and we were already on the day before the ceremony. He had a few words in a draft, but he couldn't move on:

"And why do ye think I can help? Ian, it's my sister ye're talking about, I can't think of anything romantic, it's weird." I said making a bit of a frown by thinking of totally wrong things.

"Jamie! Stop thinking nonsense! Ye ken I'm terrible with words, ye have a way of being romantic and I can see the way Claire looks at ye..." I couldn't help but smile when I heard that. "Besides, you were here at the beginning of our relationship, ye know our whole story!"

I saw Ian's pleading look and I couldn't help but feel bad for him, writing the wedding vows was really important, just as it could be difficult to put into words everything you feel for the other person. I sat down with him in my father's office and gave him some ideas, surprising me how easily I was able to talk about love and union. But I was happy and if I wanted to be true to myself, I was completely in love with Claire, no, it wasn't passion or desire, I think it was really love, a love I'd probably felt for longer than I wanted to believe, but that before I just thought it was a repressed desire to be with my boss.

I let Ian finish his text, while I went to my bedroom, I needed an urgent shower to get that hangover from the day before totally out of my body. I took advantage that Claire was distracted with something in the garden and I took my shower quietly, smiling at times when I came across some more marks that my Sassench had made. When I left the bathroom, I saw that she was sitting on the bed, and I automatically opened a smile, but that was soon replaced by pure panic when I saw that she was crying and was not a little:

"What happened, Sassenach?" I gently ran my hand over her face, making her close her eyes "Why are ye like this, for God's sake..."

"It is nothing... Just hold me, Jamie... Please... I just need to feel you close to me..."

She didn't have to say it again, I quickly climbed onto the bed and hugged her as tightly as I could, she clung to me and continued to cry a lot in my arms. My heart was tight, I didn't know what had happened to her to be like that, I had done something wrong? I gave myself up too much and she got scared? But she said it was nothing, not that I could believe it, women always say it's nothing when in fact it's something monstrous that they want you to guess. No, Claire wasn't like that, she was always straightforward, she was always clear when she didn't like something, she wouldn't hide anything from me, like something that was making me cry compulsively in my arms:

"Make love to me, Jamie..." she said softly in my ear, almost like a plea.

There was no way I could deny that request. As much as I thought we should talk, I couldn't ignore that voice full of despair, my body was totally hers, and I was ready to serve her at any moment. This time it was slow, caring, and careful, very different from the night before. I kissed her affectionately, wiping away her tears that insisted on falling even as I touched her with delicacy and desire. My fingers soon made her come closer to me, and between intense movements of her hip, she whispered in my ear:

"Jamie, I need to feel you inside me..."

I didn't wait any longer, I was on top of her in seconds, smiling inevitably as I came across her wonderful face. Her eyes were still red from so much crying, but there was something there that I had never seen before, it wasn't just desire, it was much more than that, it was a glow that I knew was being reflected in mine, it was passion, total surrender, love...It didn't take long for our movements to become intense and reach the climax together, her name coming out of my mouth in an almost desperate way. I was exhausted, but happy. I relaxed with my body glued to hers, her hands going through my hair, my eyes were closed and heavy, I was almost asleep when I heard her saying:

"I love you so much, Jamie... And I'll do anything for your good."

I wanted to get up and say that I loved her too, very much, in a way that I never thought I would love anyone, my heart was exploding, but I didn't do anything, she thought I was sleeping, I wouldn't ruin her statement. But what mattered was that she loved me, that I was hers, that her tears were not because I had done something wrong, I think I had done everything right, she loved me, the same way I loved her too. I slept with a smile on my face and a light heart, tomorrow was the day, tomorrow was the day she would know I felt the same way.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

And, as I had predicted, my night had been a disaster. I hadn't been able to sleep properly, nightmares tormented me and made me wake up scared countless times. Jamie calmed me down at every moment, hugging me, saying his magic words in Gaelic, and finally making me sleep again. But it was only my sleep deepening so that the panic took hold of me once again, the panic of leaving my entire career behind, the panic of losing my friends and colleagues, the panic of losing Jamie.

My eyes were swollen, I could feel them heavy just by opening my eyelids. I looked away and saw that Jamie was no longer in bed. And due to the time, I knew he'd already been in the preparation for the area where the party was to take place. The day before, the staff set up the structure, but some details were still missing and Jamie was the first to be called by Ian.

I was happy to be alone in the room, so I could organize my bags and my mind without question or doubt. However, first of all, I needed to write a letter to Jamie. During the night, in my waking moments, what I wanted most was to speak openly to Jamie about what had happened the previous afternoon, but insecurity and doubt came in a rush and made me quickly give up that idea. But, honoring our relationship, as short as it had been, I needed to tell him what had happened, but without him being able to stop me from following the path I had chosen. I took a sheet from the hospital notebook, which was in my purse, sat down at the dresser, and began to write. I put my heart into that letter, exposing it as I had never done for anyone before. And I hoped he would understand my reasons for doing all that. Tears began to run down my cheeks, and as soon as I signed my name to the bottom of the paper, one of the tears fell on the ink of the pen, smearing the writing a little. I kept it in a safe place and away from my fiancé's keen eyes, that is, Jamie. I'd still have to get used to that change, and I hoped keeping my distance from him would be enough for that.

After crying some more, I decided to turn on the autopilot and enjoy that last day in the Frasers' coexistence in the best possible way. I had decided to be the best bridesmaid of them all, the bridesmaid Jenny needed so much, and to honor one last time all the love and affection I had received from that family. I bought the tickets for 2 a.m. on Sunday morning so I could attend the ceremony, part of the party, and I wouldn't leave anyone in the lurch either. The dress was already hanging next to the closet door on a hanger. It was beautiful, of an intense red, almost wine-colored, with a pronounced neckline at the front and a very sensual crevice up to half of the right thigh. Jenny's style. I smiled nostalgically as I remembered that after trying on that same dress, my life had completely changed. It was that same night, five days earlier, that I first gave myself up to the man of my life. And those five days were so intense that it felt like five months, five years. And as much as that relationship couldn't possibly continue, I was glad it happened in my life.

I changed clothes and started organizing my suitcase, leaving out only my makeup and what I would wear on the flight. After everything was done, I left all the organized things in the bedroom and went downstairs to meet Mr. Crook, Mrs. Crook's husband, and the manager of the Frasers' house downstairs:

"Good morning, how are ye?" he answered me with a broad smile. "I need a favor for tonight at the party... I'm going back to Boston early, and I don't know if I can get the bags down by myself... Can you get them down here somewhere? It'll be easier to get them to the taxi..." I smiled trying to be convincing, but I knew I was failing miserably.

"Of course, Miss Claire. Um, can I pick them up at night after the ceremony? I think it'll be over before 9:00, so as soon as it's over there I'll go back to the house to arrange everything for ye."

"Perfect, thank you, Mr. Crook, I'll leave them by the door." I stroked his arm and took a deep breath. The escape plan had begun.

I found all the Frasers in the chapel, where the religious ceremony would take place, and the nervousness and anxiety were so high in them that I could almost touch. I smiled nostalgically and everyone lovingly returned the smile, calling me to solve one matter or another that was of utmost importance, to laugh at some joke, or just to receive a hug. Jamie welcomed me with a delicate "good morning" kiss and my world almost fell as I felt his unshaven beard and his warm, soft lips against mine. My tears were being held back at every moment, especially when I thought that fairy tale was coming to an end. And several times I policed myself to go back to the present and try not to live from the future, I would have plenty of time for that after the charm was over.

Luckily the party organization team arrived right after lunch, so all of us, including the bride and groom, could rest a little before the big moment. Jenny was euphoric and very bossy, but I knew her well enough to see clearly the happiness and pride she was feeling in finally being able to see her much dreamed party come true. She lovingly squeezed my hand and her eyes glowed with contentment as she thanked me countless times for being there for her, she claimed that she was only able to maintain her sanity because her younger sister was there for her. Listening to it broke my heart, but it calmed me down as I remembered that I would do all that for their sake too because I loved them as my own family... The family I never had the chance to have.

"Will you take a bath with me, Sassenach?" Jamie asked me as soon as I entered the bedroom, scaring me a little since I wasn't expecting him to be there yet.

"Of course, darling..." I tried to smile, but I felt my smile hadn't reached my eyes.

We slowly undressed, one facing the other, and I enjoyed for the last time the naughty looks and seductive smiles of the man who owned my heart while trying to record in my memory every part of his body in the hope of surviving only with them. We entered the bathtub together and I sighed as soon as I finally supported my back to his chest:

"Is everything okay with you, a leannan? You look strange..." Jamie squeezed me in his embrace, and his mouth against my neck gave me a chill.

"Oh, yeah, it's okay..." I tried to fool him.

"What about those bags already packed? Why so early?" his question made me hold my breath.

"Well... we're going on Monday, and I don't want to leave it until the last minute... tomorrow will be a wasted day..." I sighed when I realized that the last sentence was very correct.

"Dr. Beauchamp is the most organized woman I know... except in her house!! Christ, Claire, I don't know how ye survive in that chaos!" he stopped talking as soon as he got a slap on the arm and laughed out loud.

"Hey, don't talk about the organization, Mr. Messy! I got a good look at your "discipline" when I slept in your room!" I laughed, finally having fun with his jokes.

"Och, Sassenach... Ye dinna ken how ye drove me crazy that night..." he kissed my neck. "Just the thought of ye wrapping yerself in my covers, in my shirt, caused me so many impure ideas... And the next day, sleeping with yer scent all over was a very difficult task, I confess..."

"Um... so you've wanted me since that day, James Fraser?"

"Not really..." I stiffened my body and he hugged me even harder, leaning his chin on my shoulder. "I've wanted ye since the first time I saw ye, Dr. Beauchamp... since the first time ye walked in front of me, rolling yer ass so perfect and so round, wonderfully molded by black pants..." he stroked the side of my body, stopping his hands on my hips. "Too bad we dinna have time for both of us anymore, but I want ye to know that ye're not escaping me tonight... Maybe during the party..." I sighed as I tried to control my tears again.

"Maybe during the party..." I repeated, trying not to show by the tone of my voice what I was really feeling.

We finally finished our bath and started getting ready. I let my hair down, with the rebellious curls framing my face the way Jamie liked to see me. As I put on my makeup, still wearing only my robe, he watched me through the mirror. A commotion took hold of me when I saw his eyes shine with emotion as they crossed mine, and all the guilt and anguish invaded my chest again, leaving me with my stomach wrapped up in the face of the fateful events of later on. At least at that moment, I managed to put the blame on the ceremony and Jamie stopped questioning me about my dark semblance.

"Jamie, can you help me with the zipper?" I asked when I was finally putting on the dress.

"Only if ye promise me that I'll be able to help ye take off your dress later, Sassenach!" he briefly kissed my lips and I smiled at him, I couldn't lie anymore.

"You look beautiful, you know that?" I said it as soon as I finished adjusting his tie.

"We are a spectacular couple, Sassenach!" he pulled me close to him and, smiling tenderly, gave me an Eskimo kiss. I'd miss all the James Fraser versions.

For the last time, we went down the long stairs of the Frasers residence together, and I sighed as I tried once again to contain my feelings. The Best Men were all gathered in the living room, and seeing Jenny and Ian's parents talking so animatedly with each other made me extremely happy, I could see that they were very proud of their bairns. Ian was quiet in one corner by the fireplace and Jamie, giving me a soft kiss on my lips, left me next to one of the bridesmaids and went to his friend to try to cheer him up. That friendship was very beautiful to witness.

The religious ceremony would take place in the chapel of the property and, due to its more restricted space, there would be few guests for that moment. As soon as it came close to the scheduled time, we all left the house together, heading to the small temple. The best men would be the first to enter the chapel, following Ian, and to see Jamie in line, his gaze lost as his breath grew heavier from the clear nervousness he felt, made me sure I was doing the right thing for him. There I could see pride, love, and commitment to his family. He was happy to be present at his sister's wedding, and I was happy to be able to keep everything in its proper place.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

Claire was acting weird. And I couldn't get her to say what was wrong, even in the most intimate moments, I could see in her eyes that she was hiding something. I'd said more than once that she was a terrible liar, she'd give it easy when she was lying. I wonder if what she was hiding was what I had heard the night before. Her declaration of love for me? It could be, and that gave me more relief, I could not wait to open myself to her, to say that I felt the same and that she did not need to be afraid, we were together in this, it was the two of us now.

The wedding was taking up all our time, yet we managed to bathe together and get ready for the ceremony. And she was wonderful. And if she said she was nervous because of everything that was coming, which was normal, I was also nervous and I didn't use to be like that, but who would have thought that my sister and my best friend getting married would cause all this to me? My wonderful Sassenach getting ready in front of the mirror was also partly to blame for my nervousness:

"Jamie, can you help me with the zipper?" she asked while she was getting dressed.

"Only if you promise me that I'll be able to help you take off your dress later, Sassenach!" I kissed her quickly and she smiled at me.

"You look beautiful, you know that?" she said as she finished adjusting my tie.

"We're a spectacular couple, Sassenach!" I pulled her close to me and gave her an Eskimo kiss, loved how silly I looked around her.

We went downstairs together and soon met everyone. I kissed Claire for the last time before taking my place beside the groom, I would go in with him before and Claire would go in with my sister and the rest of the bridesmaids. The ceremony would take place in Lallybroch's chapel, just for family and close friends, and the party that would take place afterward would include a significantly high number of guests. I couldn't hide the excitement of seeing my sister entering the small chapel next to my father, she was radiant and Ian couldn't help it, some tears escaped his eyes as he stared at her.

When I thought I couldn't get any more emotional, the bridesmaids started walking down the aisle and that's when my world stopped, all I could see was her, Claire, Sorcha, my Sassenach. She was dazzling, with a totally captivating smile, a lock of her hair insisted on staying in front of her eyes, but she didn't seem to bother, our looks crossed and the smiles were spontaneous and wider. Yeah, I was totally in love and it was impossible to go back.

The ceremony was quick, with moments that provoked both laughter and tears in all the guests. Ian had managed to write his vows and I couldn't imagine he was so worried the day before, my sister would love anything he said at that moment, but his words were accurate and touched everyone as well as hers. After several tears had been shed, I was ready to have fun next to my woman, I couldn't wait to hold her in my arms once again.

Unfortunately, this didn't happen as fast as I imagined, we were dragged from one side to the other with the bride and groom to take all the pictures we could imagine. By the time I finally got close to Claire, everyone was already having fun on the small dance floor they had created in the middle of the big tent. Without wasting any more time, I pulled Claire by the arm, keeping her close to my body:

"I didn't think I could get near ye tonight! Jenny will still hear a lot about this almost photographic book we had to make!" I said it while I was taking her dancing.

"Leave your sister alone, today is her day, the day she can make us do everything..."

"Doesna she do that every day already?" I said, interrupting her with a quick kiss.

"Jamie!" she said it seriously, but she smiled as she felt my hands on her waist. "Are you sure you want to dance? We didn't drink more than a glass of champagne!"

"I dinna have to be drunk to want to dance with ye, Sassenach, and have I mentioned how wonderful ye look in this dress?" and I kissed her lightly on the neck, giving her a chill.

"Thousands of times, but it's always good to listen one more time..." she smiled and put her arms around my neck. "You're not too bad yourself in this kilt..."

"I can show ye what a real Scot wears underneath this..." I said it laughing when I saw her reaction.

"Let's save that for later," she answered and I could see her eyes glowing with the words said, but it wasn't a glow of joy, something was there I couldn't understand.

"Claire," I said and felt her body stiffen as she heard me calling out her name. "Ye ken how happy I am to be with you here, don't ye?" and I kissed her, without letting her answer.

Our kiss had started calm, a little chaste, but little by little it became intense, desperate, and totally inappropriate for the place we were, but I didn't care, I wanted to make her understand how I felt when I was in her presence. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by my newest brother-in-law, who was shouting to his best man for a round of shots in honor of the bride and groom:

"Go on, I'll rest my feet a bit." She said with a weak smile on her face, but before I could say anything else, she kissed me and walked away.

I didn't want to leave her alone, something told me I needed to be by her side. But she was already walking toward the tables, talking to one of the bridesmaids she met on the way. Yeah, it was okay, I was probably worried for nothing, she must have just been thrilled about the whole ceremony. The toast to the bride and groom became several rounds of shots and pointless speeches from the groom's friends. I was having fun, but I couldn't wait to get back to my Sassenach, and probably by that time we could have escaped to the bedroom without anyone noticing our absence.

I took advantage of the fact that Ian was distracted by Jenny and went in search of my fiancée! But she wasn't at the table where I'd left her, probably tired of waiting for me. I walked all over the tent and there was no sign of Claire, nor in the bar, nor where dinner was being served, let alone at the tables. I soon found one of the bridesmaids she was talking to earlier and asked where Claire was:

"She said she was tired and went into the house, probably to her bedroom." She answered with very little interest.

I thanked her and ran into the house. If she was really in the bedroom, even better, we could forget about the party and make our own! I went upstairs quickly, the bedroom door wasn't closed, which I found strange, but she could have been in the bathroom and forgot to close the door:

"Sassenach! I hope ye..." but my voice failed when I entered the room and saw it empty, but it wasn't empty because she wasn't there, it was empty of everything, the suitcases that were in the corner of the room were no longer there and the bed was made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_RMJOvGZHU&feature=youtu.be

My heart was racing, no, it wasn't happening, she couldn't...but then I saw her dress on the bed, and it wasn't alone, a little envelope with my name on it:

"No, no, no, Claire..." I didn't know why I was talking to myself, but I couldn't make the squeeze on my chest go away, my heart felt like it was going to come out of my mouth. With my hands trembling, I took the envelope addressed to me and began to read.

 

"Jamie... Fraser, you stubborn Scot. How hard it is to write this letter and even harder to think of you reading it, probably thinking I'm the most cowardly person in the world to walk away without saying a word.

Yes, I was a coward, but because I could never say goodbye to you... Goodbye to everything we've lived through these intense days, days that changed my life completely. Days that made me realize the beauty in one person's love for another and that I can really be happy without worrying about what others think of me.

But why did I leave? Why did I throw away everything that made me a completely fulfilled person? Because I love you. Yes, Jamie Fraser, I love you with all my heart, I love you like I've never loved anyone before, and as much as I was scared at first by the extent of my feelings, now I'm not scared anymore. My fear is of making you suffer, of taking everything you've worked so hard to achieve. And that's what would happen if I didn't leave for Boston today. I was reported to immigration, I don't know by whom, all I know is that they found out about our fake engagement, and if I didn't come back on the first flight home, we'd be deported. I lost my ground when I heard those words and I couldn't think of the possibility of doing that with you, not after everything we've experienced, after everything I've learned about you. You're a man of your word, Jamie, and I knew you would never leave me alone in this situation.

So I decided that I owed you that favor, for everything that you did for me, for everything that you gave me. I did it out of love and I hope someday you'll forgive me for not being able to say those words in person. I just want you to be happy, even if it is far from me.

I love you, Jamie a thousand names Fraser. Always."

 

The last words were blurred, she had cried and I had ignored all the signs, I knew that something was wrong, but I let it go, I let her slip out of my hands and now she was gone. No, no, I did not want to be happy, I did not want to be happy without her, how could she not see that? Still totally without direction, I got up from the floor where I had thrown myself to read the letter and ran out of the bedroom, I had to do something, standing there would not help at all, but what could I do? Before I could make any decision, I bumped into someone at the top of the stairs. I lifted my head and saw it was my father, his gaze was worried and his arm was coming towards me when I walked abruptly away:

"Ye!!!!! It was ye who reported her!" I shouted, putting my finger close to his face. "Ye heard us that day, ye was the one who made Claire leave, ye!!!"

He didn't say anything for a minute, letting me yell at him as well as sticking my finger in his face, accusing him of everything and a little more:

"Are ye done?" he said in a calm way. "No son, it wasn't me who denounced Claire, but I really listened to ye that day... I won't deny that I was surprised to ken what ye had done for her, I'd never imagined seeing my son try to break the law because of a woman... but then I could see that she wasn't any woman, ye love her, I could see it in yer eyes the same brightness that I had in mine when I met yer mother. And I knew Claire felt the same way about ye."

"What's the point now? She's gone! She loves me, but she gave me no choice, she's gone and I dinna ken what to do, I've never felt so lost, so empty... I... it feels like I'm a child again and I've lost someone I loved more than anything... I..." and I collapsed on my father's shoulder, completely lost, like a child, like when I lost Willie. But this time I was not ashamed to show my emotions, my weaknesses and so I cried like I had never done before in front of my father.

"A leannan, I ken ye think is all lost, but if she really is the love of yer life, nothing is impossible!" he said as he took me away from his shoulder.

"But she's already on her way to Boston! I have nothing to do... I..."

"And since when is this an obstacle to the Frasers? Come on, Jamie, there's a car waiting for us in the back, and my private jet's already ready at the airport! If ye dinna get there before she does in Boston, I'm completely lost with my team!" He smiled and pulled me down the stairs.

I was still stuttering about how we were going to do it, but he just explained to me that although I was a terrible observer, he had noticed Claire's plan to escape in the middle of the party without anyone noticing, and he had also asked Mr. Crook to let him know when she left. I asked him why he hadn't tried to stop her, but he knew she was as stubborn as we were, and wouldn't let him solve the problem with immigration:

"And how am I going to solve it?" I asked on the way to the small airport in Inverness.

"With that!" he told me by handing me a little blue velvet box that I knew very well. A brief smile took over my face.

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

The religious ceremony had been beautiful! As I entered the chapel, I could not help smiling when I saw Jamie looking for me... He was so perfect wearing that kilt, so proud to carry a great symbol of his country. And Jenny was gorgeous at every moment, but her entrance had been one of the highlights of that celebration. She was so thrilled with the ceremony that I couldn't hold my emotion, shedding a tear or two during the time I stood at the altar. And when she was able to speak those words that I had helped her to write, I finally had the feeling of duty fulfilled, as if I had finished my course within that family with praise.

We all went to take some pictures with the bride and groom after the ceremony was over. The life of the bridesmaids weren't very pleasant at the time, but I couldn't complain when I saw Jenny and Ian's happiness, and they deserved everything to be perfect after so many months of planning that celebration. When we finally went to the tent where the party was happening, I finally got to be "alone" with Jamie, and he impressed me once again, now with his decision to ask me to dance. And sober.

"Jamie! Are you sure you want to dance?" I smiled, dazzled by his decision. "We drank no more than a glass of champagne!"

"I dinna have to be drunk to want to dance with ye, Sassenach, and have I told ye how wonderful you look in this dress?" He gently kissed my neck, and a shiver made me close my eyes briefly.

"Thousands of times, but it's always good to listen one more time..." I wrapped my arms around his neck. "You're not too bad yourself in this kilt..."

"I can show you what a real Scot wears underneath this..." he couldn't get enough of a double sense joke, and I loved him even more for it.

"Let's save that for later," I answered quietly, anguish taking over my body.

"Claire." I was lost in my thoughts and I got scared when I heard him calling me by name. "Ye ken how happy I am to be with ye here, don't ye?"

He was so happy for that moment, to be able to share it with me, that he could not contain the urge to kiss me. He started quietly, and that would be the case if it depended on him, at least while he was sober and conscious of the people around him. But I could not contain myself by once again feeling the touch of his soft lips against mine. I slowly intensified that contact and our kiss became more and more desperate and intimate, and at that point, I didn't care what people said about us, and Jamie much less. I clung to that man as if he were my lifeline, while I lost myself for the last time in the torpor of those caresses. Our moment was interrupted by Ian, he wanted to do a round of shots in honor of the bride and groom. Jamie slowly walked away from my face and smiled lovingly.

"Go on, I'll rest my feet a bit," I said after I saw it was almost time to go.

And I noticed, for a fraction of a second, that he didn't want to leave me alone, as if he suspected something was wrong. I smiled at him as if trying to reassure him, and I ended up sitting next to another bridesmaid, taking a deep breath from time to time as I waited for the moment to say a quiet good-bye to everyone. At that moment, as I lost myself once again looking at Jamie, I felt a tender embrace around my neck.

"Enjoying the party, Claire?" Jenny said it in my ear, sitting next to me right after.

"It's perfect, Jenny!" I held her hands with affection. "Everything is so beautiful..."

"I wanted to thank ye once again for doing everything ye did for me and Ian..." her eyes were wet with emotion. "It may seem a little, but ye managed to organize my ideas in a way that no one else could, and ye managed to reassure me like no one else could. Thank ye, sister!"

That statement was tearing my heart out. I couldn't breathe properly and my eyes were low, unable to face Jenny's sweet eyes.

"Dear Jenny..." I said it caressing her face, after endless seconds. "I'm so glad I could make a difference in your ceremony. I know I'm not Charlotte, but I'm glad I did the role you needed..." I took a deep breath after looking at the clock. "Thank you so much for everything, sister..."

"Ye're not Charlotte, but ye hold a very important place in my heart!"

We got up together, hugged each other for a long time, and as she was on her way to talk to the other bridesmaids, I subtly walked to the exit of the tent. Mary asked me where I was going and I told her I was tired and needed to go to the house. I looked at Jamie one last time, and even though he was far away from me, I could almost hear his broad laugh after taking another shot of whisky. He was so happy. And it was the image that I needed to get off him to get out of his life for good.

As I moved away from the tent and headed for the house, I found fewer and fewer people in the gardens. And the closer I got to the house, the less I could hold back my tears. I got to the bedroom in tears, sobbing freely as I noticed that the house was empty and its lights were out. I removed my dress slowly, placing it delicately on the bed while I insisted on organizing the skirt lovingly. Anguish took hold of my chest again, and after dressing and arranging my things in the handbag, I took the envelope with the letter I had written to Jamie and put it on the bed along with the party clothes. I took one last look at every corner of that bedroom, sighing with regret. God, how I would miss that room... how I would miss this life...

After calling the taxi stand in the village to ask for a car, I quietly went downstairs, and as soon as I reached the last step, the big clock in the living room started beating the twelve chimes. I laughed with a certain bitterness when I realized that, as in Cinderella's story, all the charm had crumbled after the twelve bells of midnight. What a cretinous coincidence.

As soon as the taxi arrived, I went to the driver asking him to help me with the other bags. I left them next to the trunk and got into the car, a sigh of anguish coming out of my mouth after I finally closed the door. When the car started to move around making a small comeback in front of the house, I had one last glimpse of the life I had given up. The loud sound that, even from a distance, echoed in the air, made me smile. I knew everyone was happy, having fun, and that was what mattered to me now. And that was it, there was no turning back.

And in the blink of an eye, my life went from the colorful spring to the monochromatic autumn, and all the need to color the pages of my daily life had come back with force. During that week with the Frasers, all I didn't have to do was worry about coloring my scenery, because the laughter, the moaning, the caring gestures did it automatically. Being able to really be heard by the people around me, being loved by them, had been the best medicine for me.

But everything I had had in that little village in the countryside of Scotland was fading away as the car moved on. My tears fell slowly, I did not try any harder. I was so tired of crying, so emotionally exhausted that I had no more strength for anything. The long drive to the airport was made in silence, and I thanked the driver for it. My mind could not turn off, for I would have to face another difficult truth once I arrived in the United States. My career was destroyed in a flash of magic. Everything I've fought for my whole life came down to disgraceful deportation.

As soon as I arrived at the airport and entered the departure lounge, I called U.S. Immigration to notify my arrival time. Not that they didn't already know, but I thought it was brave of me not to hide anymore. At least this act should be brave. I didn't want my last contacts with any American authority to be misinterpreted. And I also wanted to make it clear that Jamie could not be involved in anything else. Of course, I know I forced him to fake a relationship that didn't exist. And so I would take the blame for any and every problem I might have caused anyone during that process. I was the only person responsible for all that.

Soon after I told Joe about my arrival time, I got on the plane and Jamie's image came back to my mind almost instantly. As he reassured me during our flight to Scotland... How affectionately he was to me, even though he was so playful, came with intensity. I learned to understand his humor and his manners during those days. He was an extremely easy person to handle. And he deserved to be very happy.

I got wrapped up in the tartan he had given me as if my life depended on it. His smell was there, his touches were there. It involved me fondly as it tried to warm me, just as Jamie did with me on the cold nights of Scotland. As I leaned against the armrest, I felt a slight pain near the rib, which reminded me with regret of how that and so many other bruises had come to be on my skin two nights ago. I remembered clearly that night and all the others I had shared with Jamie, how he had completed me, how he had driven me mad. Crying again I shrank into my chair as much as I could trying to warm myself, but I knew that the cold I felt was not physical. And I couldn't sleep properly either, but not because of the turbulence, for the first time it didn't cause me any bad feelings. I didn't feel anything. With sadness, I realized that I was empty inside. Without my Scotsman I was empty.

As soon as the plane landed, I waited for the most anxious people to leave first, I was in no hurry to get out of that place anyway. As I had no Deportation Order issued in my name, I had no agent picking me up inside, but I knew Mr. Ford was waiting for me as soon as I entered the baggage area. As I stood in line down the stairs, I could see that the day was coming up in Boston. A new day. And it promised to be a very beautiful day, in spite of the cold wind at the end of the dawn.

I wrapped myself harder in the tartan, trying in vain to warm myself, as I followed my flight companions to the interior of the airport. My head was low and tired, I was no longer able to think. I needed to get to Mr. Ford as soon as possible and solve everything quickly, I couldn't spend any more seconds than I needed in that city, it would be too much for me.

The sun slightly blurred my vision and I had the feeling of seeing red hair on the other side of that glass door. But it wasn't what I saw that caught my attention, it was what I heard.

"Sassenach?"

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I was sitting on the car seat, on my way to the airport, and totally confused by how much information I was getting from my father. He had told me that day in the stable, the noise we heard was not him, as we thought before, but he had listened to what Claire had said and for a moment thought about intervening, but he changed his mind when he saw a blond hair crossing the other exit of the stable. He didn't need much to know it was Laoghaire.

"Ye ken that girl, she always dreamed that she would marry ye and yer arrival with Claire was not very welcome. Even though your mother tried to convince her that you would never return to Scotland, not for the family and even less for a teenage fling!"

"Of course, it was her! How could I have been so naive? She would never let me be happy in peace! Now because of a whim of a crazy, spoiled girl, Claire will be deported! How did she think I'd run into her arms with this?" I was so angry, but more than that, I was disappointed in myself, how had I not seen the signs?

"Son, I dinna think she thought about the consequences, she just wanted to see Claire away from here, and let's say she succeeded, even for a short time!" my father said and smiled, looking at the little box in my lap.

"Dad, I dinna ken if this plan of yours is going to work! What if I don't get there in time? What if she doesn't accept? What if..."

"James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser! Since when did ye stop being stubborn? Ye never gave up the things ye wanted, ye always did the possible and impossible to study in the U.S., get into Harvard, and be the best student in yer class. Neither I nor yer mother could make ye give up, why would ye give up running after the love of yer life? Isn't that what Claire is to ye?" he asked me with the serious look, the look that's always scared me since I was a kid, the look that only belonged to Brian Fraser.

"Aye, I love Claire more than anything..." I said it still a little shy about exposing my feelings that I'd recently discovered.

"Then trust in this! I'm sure she'll go anywhere with ye, just show everything that's in there!" and pointed to my heart.

I couldn't help the smile, just like my father. It had been a long time since I moved to the U.S. that I had had such an honest conversation with him, our relationship had stumbled a few times, and with the few visits, I had not been able to get totally close to him. I was happy, even with my heart and mind totally elsewhere:

"My mission here is done! Now it's up to ye! Just dinna forget to thank me in the wedding vows! I think I deserve to be a part of it!" and blinked, just like I used to, with both eyes looking like an owl. I laughed as I remembered how much fun Claire had with my lack of aptitude for it.

I got out of the car, put the little box in my coat pocket, and ran to the plane that was just waiting for me to leave. I never liked to show off the few luxuries our family had, but that day I was grateful that my father had a private jet that always took him on visits to customers. I would arrive in Boston with a small advantage if my father was right. According to him Claire had boarded a flight to London and from there would go to Boston, that stop would give me the advantage I needed.

I never thought I'd live the longest hours of my life inside that tiny plane. I had nothing to distract me, I could only remember the last moments I had spent with her and how blind I was to not notice how she was. In fact, I knew there was something wrong, she had cried, she had sad eyes and I thought it was only because of the ceremony, how could I let her escape? I should have insisted more, I should have kept her by my side the whole time...but I knew my Sassenach, nothing would make her tell what was really happening, nothing would make her change her mind, not even me, after all, she thought she was doing the right thing, the great sacrifice! Why did she think there had to be one? Why did she think she wanted to be a fucking hero?

I got up from the seat, I was going crazy with all these thoughts and I couldn't keep still. We were halfway there, but to me, it felt like an endless journey. I felt the little velvet box almost fall out of my pocket and I picked it up. I opened it carefully and there it was, the famous sapphire ring of the Fraser family. But it wasn't just any ring, it was the ring my great-grandmother had been asked to marry, just like my grandmother and my mother. My father always told me that all the women who wore that ring were extremely happy and fulfilled at their weddings and that it should be passed down from generation to generation.

My mother didn't use it anymore, she always thought the stone was too big and was afraid of damaging it while making her numerous paintings. My father understood, knew that it had already played its part in that union, and would keep it for me. Yes, for me, Jenny proudly carried a ring that Ian had chosen and that was her style. I closed the box carefully and put it back in my pocket, I still didn't know if I would have the same luck as the whole family had, but I hoped so.

I sat down again and tried to get some sleep, it was almost dawn, my body was tired, but my mind would not let me relax and go to sleep. I knew it was no use me thinking about what could happen when I arrived in Boston, so I decided to remember all the happy moments I spent next to Claire that last week in Lallybroch, as she gradually took a huge place in my heart, in fact not only in mine, my family had been won over by her too. With a tight heart, teary eyes, and an immense emptiness by my side, I finally managed to sleep.

I was woken up by the pilot warning that we were ready to land at Boston airport. I quickly put myself together in the seat and grabbed my cell phone desperately, I needed to check if her flight had arrived, I couldn't miss her again. Of course, the internet wasn't working, it would be very easy to work with me at that moment. I took a deep breath and decided to wait for the plane to land, which only took a few more minutes.

Because it was a private plane, we were in a separate area of the airport, a little far from where the commercial planes landed. I got out fast and did not wait for instructions, I left running where I thought it was the right way. I had to laugh as I crossed people and got a little suspicious looks, after all, I was a guy over 1.90 meters high, redheaded, wearing a kilt, and running around the airport like a madman! I couldn't be more indiscreet, but I didn't care about anything at that moment, I just wanted to find Claire, my Sassenach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5N5D0YCIoc&feature=youtu.be

I soon came across the panels announcing that the flight from London had already landed, without wasting any more time, I memorized the landing gate and ran once more. The passengers were already going in search of their bags, but there was no sign of Claire among them. I looked desperately to the sides, had I lost her? No, I did not, because I had the displeasure of seeing Mr. Ford standing in the corner of the room, with his arms crossed and just watching the movement. That was not the time for me to talk to him, I had a very important mission that was about to happen when my eyes focused on a curly hair and the colors of my tartan. She had her head down, probably caught in her thoughts:

"Sassenach?" I said to her with a trembling voice.

She raised her head slowly, looking in my direction. With two strides, I was less than an inch from her body, which was totally wrapped in my tartan, but still trembling:

"Did ye think I wouldna answer yer letter?" I said with my voice still low, staring at her, but with a light smile on my face. "But ye ken I'm a little more intense, a simple message wouldn't be enough..."

"Jamie... but how?" she stuttered, she seemed to be seeing a ghost in front of her.

"Did ye ken that a private jet makes the journey from Inverness to Boston in less than nine hours? It's called technology Sassenach!"

"But... no Jamie, ye shouldn't be here, Mr. Ford..." but I interrupted her, by putting my hand on her lips. She stopped talking and I slowly took my hand out of her mouth, kneeling slowly in front of her.

"Now it's my turn to do this..." I smiled at her amazement. "Sassenach, ye never gave me the opportunity to answer yer statements, and that is why I am here, to say that I love ye, I love ye unconditionally, so much so that I crossed an ocean to be here, on my knees, totally exposed in my kilt so that everyone knows that I have found the woman of my life and I can no longer live without her...Claire, will you marry me? For real?" and I showed her the ring.

I could listen to the rest of the boarding hall go into total silence to hear her answer. I was nervous, my heart was beating so fast I thought it would come out of my chest at any moment. When I focused my gaze on hers, I saw that she was crying and a smile was beginning to form on her face:

"Of course, I accept you, Jamie a thousand names Fraser!" and so she knelt down in front of me, kissing me with all the affection in the world.

I could hear the applause and screams from the people around us, but little by little they faded away and I could only hear my fiancée's sighs.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

"Sassenach?"

As soon as I entered the luggage area, I thought I was going crazy when I thought I heard Jamie's voice. My head moved like in slow motion towards him, so slowly that I didn't see how he got to where I was so fast. I clung to tartan because my body was shaking, but I realized it wasn't from cold, it was from emotion. I couldn't believe he had done that crazy thing. I was still speechless, perplexed by everything that was happening.

"Did ye think I wouldn't answer yer letter?" He said it smiling at me like only he knew how to do. "But ye ken I'm a little more extreme, a simple message wouldn't be enough..."

"Jamie... but how?" I stuttered, I was still in shock as I looked at his face.

"Did ye ken that a private jet makes the journey from Inverness to Boston in less than nine hours? It's called technology Sassenach!"

"But... no Jamie, you shouldn't be here, Mr. Ford..." he interrupted me by putting his fingers on my lips. As soon as I stopped talking, he removed his hand and slowly knelt down in front of me.

"Now it's my turn to do this..." I was perplexed. "Sassenach, ye have never given me the opportunity to answer yer statements, and that is why I am here, to say that I love ye, I love ye unconditionally, so much so that I crossed an ocean to be here, on my knees, totally exposed in my kilt so that everyone knows that I have found the woman of my life and I can no longer live without her...Claire, will ye marry me? For real?" he showed me a beautiful sapphire ring that was inside that velvet box.

I couldn't hear anything, my hand was over my mouth to contain my amazement while breathing with difficulty to control my emotion. But at that moment I realized that I didn't need to control anything and started crying freely, he had told me that he loved me and was proposing in front of all those people.

"Of course, I accept you, Jamie a thousand names Fraser!" I said without being able to restrain my smile, kneeling together with him and finally kissing him, still not believing that I wouldn't have to give up his love.

As soon as he finally put the ring on my left hand, we stood up together and I hugged him tightly, clinging to his neck with relief.

"I love you so much, Jamie..." I smiled as I uttered those words, they seemed to have been locked in my throat for an eternity. "So...

"...so much so that sometimes it's even hard to breathe." he completed my sentence, smiling while giving me an Eskimo kiss.

"Well, I guess we have to face a slightly angry man who's staring at us." I tried not to look too far in Mr. Ford's direction, but I couldn't help but have a restrained laugh at the frustration stamped on his frowny face.

"Come on, Sassenach!" he kissed my forehead. "I've got it all planned out, okay? Let me answer that little man's little inquiry." I smiled with relief, I didn't know if I could handle his questions without real sleep like I haven't done for two nights.

We walked hand in hand to the other side of the room, where Mr. Ford was, and Jamie squeezed it tightly, giving me the strength to finally face who I feared most. As soon as we got there, we found a man setting fire to the winds.

"Can you explain to me what's going on?" His neck was red and it seemed that he could not breathe very well.

"Well, Mr. Ford, you must have seen that I proposed to Claire," Jamie said in a slightly mocking tone. "The whole airport actually saw that beautiful scene, not that I want to brag about it, but I know it was really beautiful..." he smiled at me. "I hope someone recorded it, it's going to be very successful on the internet!"

"Enough fooling around, Mr. Fraser," his face was extremely unfriendly.

"I'm sorry if it sounded that way, but I'm not kidding. And since ye're here, I'd like to set up an interview like we did before the trip. Can we do it tomorrow morning? The first hour?" he said decisively. "We need to speed up the process and fix all of Claire's papers. We're getting married in three weeks." I tried not to look surprised at Jamie, but I don't think I did very well. "I've contacted the City Hall and that's the time they need to get all the paperwork done, we don't have to wait any longer." since when was he planning this?

"Okay, you're free for today." he finally put on his sunglasses. "Tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. I want you at the Immigration door. And don't expect the questions to be as easy as they were two weeks ago. 24 hours won't be enough for you to learn everything."

"We know more than enough, Mr. Ford, we don't need to learn anything else." I finally got to speak, and I noticed my voice came out strong, different than I imagined. "Tomorrow at 8 we'll be there for sure."

He left at a strong pace, the image of frustration personified. I smiled lovingly at Jamie, and while we were finally getting my bags, I couldn't help but question him about what intrigued me:

"Jamie, since when are you planning this wedding?" I tried not to look more surprised than I really was.

"Och Sassenach, since ye proposed to me two weeks ago." he took one of the bags and put it in the cart. "As much as we were going to have a fake wedding, I had to ken what the legal deadlines were for finalizing the process, and no doubt someone would question it."

"And why do you want to get married so early? We'd still have a few months to organize everything..."

At that moment he finished arranging the bags and returned his body to mine.

"Because I dinna want ye to be in any more danger than ye already have..." he put the tip of his finger on my nose. "And I dinna want ye to think about running away from me again, I can't stand another anguish like that, Claire." he was visibly emotional and exhausted, and I could see all the suffering I caused him in less than 24 hours.

"I'm not running away from you anymore, you fool!" I held him close and he held his big hands in my lower back, clinging to his body and making me smile with complicity.

"I think it's very good, ye've seen what I'm capable of, right?" He kissed me bringing me the peace I had lost in those two days.

As I left for the common area, I was startled to see Joe with his arms crossed by a column, with a broad smile on his face. He came walking up to us and hugged me tight when he saw my broad smile on my lips.

"LJ, how heavy you are!!!" he laughed when I tapped his arm lightly. "Hey, Jamie! Do you practice running every day? Are you gonna be in a marathon?" seeing our questioning faces, he kept talking. "So, it's just that I was here waiting for Claire to finally walk out that door when I saw you running like crazy through that glass hallway, and a man as tall as you, ginger and in a kilt, isn't very easy to miss" the three of us laughed at that image. "And I was happy to see Mr. Ford's grumpy face coming out empty-handed..." he smiled triumphantly. "So that means you two are good?"

"Everything is fine now, Joe!" I smiled, thrilled.

"So welcome to the family, Jamie!" he shook my redhead's hand, hugging him while his hands made a lot of noise as they hit his back. "Come on then, I'll take you home. Ah, LJ, Adso wasn't the best cat this week..."

"Let's see the damage he did..." I pretended to be bored, but I was thrilled to be able to really get back to my house.

Along the way, Joe updated me on the latest news from the hospital, and I was happy to be kept up to date on the trivialities of that place so dear to me. As soon as we got home, he helped us with the bags and before he finally left I said one more thing:

"Joe, you know the hospital's policy on the relationship between staff and students...until we clarify everything, I ask you to keep my relationship with Jamie a secret, I don't want to harm him anymore... his project is very important to him, to me and it will certainly be a great milestone for medicine."

"Of course, LJ. I just don't know if you guys can fool everyone at the hospital, not the way you look and touch each other!" he laughed while shaking his head in a negative way. "But it's okay now, right?" I confirmed it with my head. "A good rest for you, baby! You need it..."

"Thanks for everything, Joe... I don't know what I'd be like if you weren't there in my life..."

"See you on Wednesday?" he smiled, kissing my cheek and then closing the door.

When I returned to the living room, I found Adso lying comfortably on Jamie's lap, not paying attention to me, visibly angry that I had left him alone at home for so long.

"And this rascal hasn't even said hello to me since we arrived..." I pretended to be angry, but I liked to see how well the cat got along with Jamie.

"I think I bewitched him, Sassenach, just like I bewitched ye!" he smiled as his big hand stroked the cat's fur.

I smiled lovingly, nesting beside him as he shared his caresses with me and Adso. The cat didn't seem to like the shared attention, and after walking on my lap and sniffing my hand, he ended up coming down from the couch, leaving us alone in the room. I settled on his lap better, now laying my head on his legs as he gently straightened my hair. After a few seconds, he began to tell me what had happened in Scotland for the Immigration to contact me. Laoghaire, how could I still have doubts? Of course, she had listened to our conversation, and all that discussion we had in the bathroom had already been premeditated, and my slap only helped her to make the decision to report me immediately.

"Those were the most anguishing hours of my life, Claire..." listening to his anguish, I stood up in one movement, sitting on his lap and with our foreheads glued together as I held him tight. "I was completely lost, not knowing where to go..." tears ran down our cheeks unrestrainable. "I'm glad yer father-in-law was aware of everything and took me in time to do what needed to be done to make ye come back to me..."

"Forgive me, Jamie..." I took a deep breath. "Forgive me for being so stubborn and not wanting to share my problems with you... I never had anyone to share anything with, I always dealt with my difficulties alone... I locked myself in my private cocoon and inside I decided what was best for each difficult situation. I know I was selfish not to include you in such an important decision, but I couldn't think of anything else, just the thought of ending your life in the United States left me with my stomach wrapped up."

"And ye didna think my life would end if ye weren't with me?" I looked down in shame for doing that. "Claire, look at me." he held my face with his hands. "I'll go anywhere in the world as long as ye're with me. Can ye understand that?" he smiled with love, kissing me afterward.

Our kiss started slowly, and it was like we were rediscovering ourselves with that contact. Still on his lap, I began to gently remove his white shirt, button by button, and, after seeing some of my marks that I had left on his skin, I couldn't resist asking:

"Will you show me what a Scot has under his kilt?"

And in one quick motion, Jamie laid me down on the couch, helping me get my clothes off as quickly as possible. And as I'd supposed, he had one of his underwear under the kilt, but I can't deny that I had impure thoughts as I imagined what it might have. Or rather, not have.

He began to kiss with devotion and desire all my body, stopping at his favorite places, the same places that made me quickly groan for his name. I arched my back feeling his mouth on my nipples, a movement that silently invited him to invade me, giving me all the pleasure a woman deserves. He positioned himself next to me, one of his legs leaning on the floor while the other was bent over the sofa, and in slow-motion, he finally fulfilled me. My legs instinctively wrapped his hip, I wanted him to deepen his movements, but he was willing to test my steadiness. With a smile, he tortured me for a few more seconds, until he gave up and fully invaded me at once, making me exhale all the air from my lungs and not breathe for a while. His thrusts were intensifying and, as they became more passionate, deeper became our kisses. In a united cry, we reached the orgasm, moving together until our spasms finally calmed down. I smiled with pleasure, finally giving him room to lie on his side of the sofa, together with me.

"I love you so much, James Fraser. And I really appreciate you doing all this for me."

"Remember. I will always be at yer service, Sassenach." he kissed me tenderly, nesting against my body.

And how I loved to have him so deeply committed to me.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acvIVA9-FMQ&feature=youtu.be

I opened my eyes slowly and took time to locate myself, but as soon as I felt a few strands of hair tickle in my chest, I knew very well where I was, I was at home with Claire sleeping in my arms, totally at ease and with her legs entwined in mine. I couldn't contain the smile of finally being at peace. We had finally put everything out, our feelings, our love for each other, now I had no more secrets, no more apprehension or fear.

Because of the flights and all the running, we were exhausted and slept early, well, the fatigue was also because of other efforts, but those were so pleasurable that my body did not complain at any time. While remembering all the wonderful moments of the previous night, I felt Claire moving in my arms and by reflex, I held her against me:

"I won't run away anymore, I promise..." she said in a husky voice.

"I know, but I can't help but keep ye close to me!" I said it as I squeezed her tighter.

"If you squeeze me any tighter, I don't know if I can be of any use to you," she said it laughing as she tried to stretch herself still stuck in my arms.

"I knew it would look perfect on you!" I said, taking her hand where the ring I'd put the day before was and kissing her.

"I think it's too much for me, it must have cost a fortune."

"It's not too much, ye deserve something to match yer beauty..." and I kissed her lightly.

"You know I've already accepted your request, right? You don't need those compliments..."

"Claire, I never complimented ye just to get something from ye. I complimented you because that's what I feel when I see ye, it's natural, true... ye'd better get used to it, ye'll hear a lot, every day..."

She smiled shyly, I knew she always had difficulties to accept someone saying good things to her, she never wanted to be fragile, but I also knew that little by little this wall she had built around her was collapsing and because of me:              

"Oh, and I didna spend a penny on this ring, it's an inheritance of the Fraser family, from my great grandmother to my mother, and of course, now for ye, Sassenach! My father says that it brought happiness and love to all the brides who wore it; I never gave much credibility to these stories, but now that I see you wearing it, I'm sure I'm the happiest man in the world!"

"Jamieee," she whispered with emotion as she put her face against my chest. "I also feel like the happiest woman in the world." Her voice came out muffled, but I squeezed her in gratitude, pouring several kisses into her hair.

"I didna want to get up, but we have a wonderful interview with the lovely Mr. Ford and we can't give him the taste of being late! Although it would be great to arrive a few minutes later, with messy hair and flushed faces, this would avoid several unnecessary questions" I said it laughing as I tried to get up.

"Jamie Fraser!!! Don't even think about it," she screamed and I laughed even more.

And she didn't really let me think about it. With her determined, bossy way, she made me get dressed in less than ten minutes, wearing clothes she'd picked up at my house the day before that I didn't like but that made me look serious, that's what she said as she tied my hair like a ten-year-old. This time we weren't nervous about the questions, well, I wasn't. In the almost ten days we spent in Lallybroch we shared more secrets than a couple would share in ten years and there probably wasn't anything Mr. Ford could ask that I didn't already know the answer to.

When we were called, he had an ironic smile, the same as last time. Little did he know he wouldn't keep it on his face for long. The process was the same, we sat down together to answer questions about our relationship, and then he would separate us:

"How many brothers does Dr. Beauchamp have?" was one of the first questions he asked me when we were alone in the room.

"She is an only child, lost her parents very early, and was raised by her father's brother, her Uncle Lambert, or as she fondly likes to call him, Lamb. He is an archeologist, they traveled the world, but then they settled in England so Claire could study and go to college, where she got into it very early, at only 16 years old... When she finished her medical studies, she came to the USA to work here in Boston, where she took a very important position and very early too. I must say that I am extremely proud of my fiancée and I would appreciate it if ye could call her Claire, I don't know why so much formality if ye already know so many details of our lives."

I finished speaking with a satisfied smile on my face, Mr. Ford was silent, his head down as he flicked through the various pages of the document in front of him:

"Looking for more questions? If you want I can give you more intimate information, if you think what I said earlier could be easily found on Google, but it is not, believe me when I saw Claire for the first time in the hospital I went looking for more information about the wonderful doctor who had the most perfect ass I had ever seen, but nothing, I found nothing but articles written by her in the field of neurology... but going back to her body, something that probably nobody knows is that she has a small tattoo near her breast, she did when she got into college..."

"I think that's enough for today, Fraser." he talked me out of it. I just smiled one more time.

"Are we clear, then?"

"For today, yes, but know that I'll be accompanying you for another six months, I need the marriage certificate as well as monthly reports on where you're living and other details of the couple's life."

"No problem! Anything else?" I asked already getting up from the chair.

"No, you're excused." And he put his head down again, pretending to be reading something important so as not to have to look at my smile on my face.

When I left the room, Claire ran to me, anxious to tell me how her interview had been and how I'd done. I told her everything while we went to the car and she laughed a lot, at least until the moment I told her about her body, that earned me some slaps and a little speech about how I didn't take things seriously, but in the end, she ended up laughing with me when she imagined what Mr. Ford thought about us:

"I'm probably crazy to get involved with you, clearly we don't match." she was serious.

"Have ye ever heard of the opposites attracted?"

"That's just an excuse for people who have nothing in common to get sexually involved..."

"Ouch Sassenach, is that what ye think of us?" I said it with my hand on my chest, as if I was suffering from her statement.

"Of course not, I said Mr. Ford thinks we're completely different, but only you know what I really am..."

"A totally sexy woman who enjoys violent sex?"

 "Jamie!" and I got slapped in the arm again.

"Definitely violent..." and I laughed while I got an angry look. "But now we need to discuss more serious matters! We're getting married, but we live in separate houses. I think it's time ye moved into my apartment."

"And why would I go to your apartment when I live in a house? Besides, Adso's used to living there. He'll find a new place strange."

"No, he won't, he loves me!"

"Oh sure, but still, Jamie... do you have any idea how long it took me to find the perfect house? I don't want to go to a small apartment and my stuff would never fit there..."

"And who says my apartment is small?"

"I went there, don't you remember? I even slept in your bed, another negative point, you only have one room!"

"Are ye already thinking about children Sassenach? Why would we need more?"

"To receive guests! I don't know if you noticed, your family lives on another continent, I think it would be good to have a place to receive them."

"Of course, because they'd all fit in one room!"

"Jamie! I'm not saying they'd all come at once..."

"Did ye really meet my family? But still, there's room in my apartment..." I said it while I was parking in front of the building I lived in.

"I think someone needs glasses! Or a notion of space!"

I didn't say anything else, I just pulled her by the arm to get us into the building. I went through the keys in my pocket and then I found what I wanted:

"Isn't your apartment upstairs?" she asked when she saw herself on the wrong floor.

"Yeah, well, at least part of it..." and without explaining much, I opened the door in front of us. "Is that size okay for ye? I thought I'd use the upstairs for an office for us, where each one could have their own space to work, study..."

"But...how? Since when did ye have another apartment?" She was still speechless, something I always enjoyed seeing.

"Since my father thought I should have a spacious place to live. As he said, the family is big and he wanted space to stay when he came to visit me, Brian Fraser is a demanding man and doesn't like staying in hotels, he finds something very impersonal. But they never came and I thought it was too much to have all this space to myself..."

"I'm becoming a bigger fan of my father-in-law every day!" she said with a smile on her face.

"So, Sassenach? What do ye think?"

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

The wedding ring was a family inheritance. My God, that ring was part of Fraser's history and now it was in my hand. It might even be simple (which was not the case), but the symbolism of that piece alone would be worth all the money in the world. And I never had anything with so much history to call mine.

And Jamie didn't really seem to be real. He couldn't get enough of complimenting me whenever possible, even though sometimes his compliments contained a certain playful tone, something so typical of him. And I confess I still had to get used to all these demonstrations of love, I never had that in my life and it was still strange to hear such beautiful words. The wall I had built to protect myself from the world was finally collapsing, and the big responsible for that was James Fraser and his whole family.

We had to get out of bed right away to go to our immigration interview that Tuesday morning, but Jamie had different ideas about that.        

"I didna want to get up but we have a wonderful interview with the lovely Mr. Ford and we canna give him the taste of being late! Although it would be great to arrive a few minutes later, with messy hair and flushed faces, it would avoid a lot of unnecessary questions..." Jamie laughed while trying to get up.

"Jamie Fraser!!! Don't even think about it!" I shouted at him and laughed, then stood up and pulled him by the arm to finally get ready.

He may have easily gotten used to my affectionate and complacent manner over the last week, but I was still very determined and bossy, I didn't want to let anything get in the way of our life at Immigration and I did my best to make Jamie as presentable as possible by wearing the suit he'd picked up at his house the previous afternoon while I tidied his hair in a way he didn't like, but which I believed was best for that interview.

When we got there, we went through the same processes as two weeks ago. We were interviewed together and everything went well in that part, theoretically. After we finished, I stayed in the room while Jamie left to wait his turn. Mr. Ford started with one of the toughest questions for me.

"What do you think you're doing with this boy involving him in all this mess?"

"Well..." I took a deep breath. "I must admit that the last time we came here, we had no personal relationship. And I may have used less than moral means to do so, that I'm not proud of it. But what we have today, Jamie and I, is a lot more than I've had in my whole life. The relationship that's grown between us and his family is something I haven't witnessed since I was orphaned." he was mute for a few moments, clearly thinking about what to ask.

"So tell me about his family..." he kept his face serious. "How many people, their names, and their relationships with James."

"His parent's names are Brian and Ellen, and they're the balance of the entire Fraser family." I took a deep breath. "Ellen is more extroverted and Brian a little quieter, unlike Jamie." I smiled as I remembered their faces and their features. "Her firstborn, William, died in a car accident at the age of 18, and that premature loss hurt them so much even after so long." I knew very well what it was like to lose someone, and to bring that up was always uncomfortable for me. "Janet is the only daughter, and even if she seems to be a bit angry, deep down she is a lovely woman, I have never met a person with such a big heart as hers. Ian is her husband, Jamie and I went to Scotland as their wedding would have taken place at that time, what actually happened. Their party was perfect, it was a very overwhelming moment for me and everyone in the family.

"And to marry someone you felt in love with just a week ago is the right thing to do?" he took off his glasses, staring at me coldly. "Involving everyone in this? Doesn't that just seem like a crush between you two?"

"It might even seem like we haven't known each other very long, Mr. Ford," I replied harshly, it was one of the more uncomfortable questions I've ever heard. "But we've been around every day for over two years. And there's always been a mutual interest, we've just never had anything before for reasons that are not relevant now." I was very annoyed with his intrusive questions. "And what we've shared in those two weeks is all we need to know that it's not a teenage crush." I finished talking, staring at him firmly.

I was serious, but I was calm. For the first time, I didn't have to lie at all and that must have somehow come through in my speech, as it seemed like enough for him to finish my interview as quickly as it started, with a cold look and dismissing me without looking at my face, asking the officer at the door to call Jamie right away for questioning. He seemed to be furious, and I don't know why I was happy with that image. Like the first time, I didn't run into my Scotsman down the hall, but at that moment I felt calm and confident that everything would be all right, unlike two weeks ago.

As soon as I saw Jamie showing up in the hallway I went quickly to him, now feeling anxious to know what had happened in his interview. I spoke briefly about what had happened in mine as it had been no big deal. Actually, it was, I had managed to put that arrogant little man in his place, so much so that he got quiet faster than I imagined. I saw Jamie's face of satisfaction as he spoke, and as soon as he began to tell how his interrogation had been, I had no doubt what I was going to hear, he could never help being slightly funny and sarcastic at certain moments, even if very important, since that was his nature.

So far so good.

What shocked me was knowing that he had talked about my body during his interview. I was furious with him and gave him his deserved slaps, besides talking for the hundredth time about how he never took things seriously. We got in the car still talking about his interview, and he kept being sarcastic and mocking me, calling me violent because he said Mr. Ford might think I was a totally sexy woman who liked violent sex. I couldn't believe that Scotsman!

Wisely the subject quickly changed for our wedding, and it gave me a pleasant chill to think that day was getting closer and closer, no matter how much we had to wait for Immigration's approval to finally schedule the day. And we needed to decide where to live, but for me, it was more than clear that we would live in my house since his apartment was infinitely smaller. Besides, there was Adso, he was already used to our house and it would not be very easy for a cat to adjust to a new place. But Jamie was convinced that just because the cat had an affection for him was reason enough for him to adapt easily. Yes, his ego was as big as himself.

I really loved my house, even though it was a rental. Yeah, as hard as it was to find it, it wasn't legally mine. I admit that I've always been tempted to buy something in America, and I confess that money wouldn't be a problem for me at all, but since I've never been one to put down roots since I was a little girl, I didn't want to risk such a bold move since I wasn't an American citizen. However, that had been before Jamie. Now I couldn't see my life apart from his, and what I wanted most was to put down roots wherever he was.

And even though that man was full of surprises, what I definitely didn't expect from him was that his apartment wasn't that cubicle. Not just that cubicle. Unlike the top floor, which had only one bedroom, on that floor we had two horizontally conjugated one-bedroom apartments, beyond the top floor, making our future home a much bigger and more comfortable triplex than the house I was renting. The original idea of the Frasers was to be able to welcome the whole family, but as the visits had never been frequent, Jamie thought it best to deactivate the two downstairs apartments and be more comfortable in his small apartment.

"I'm becoming a bigger fan of my father-in-law every day!" I finally spoke, still amazed at everything.

"So, Sassenach? What do ye think of the idea?"

"Can you show me what you have in mind?" I said, still with a little doubt, but I confess I was excited about that possibility.

And we started taking a tour of the apartment. It was empty, which gave me a real sense of space and what could be done with it. The whole layout of the rooms and their numbers could be easily changed, and we could have at least one suite in our home, plus two or three bedrooms. He continued to show the rooms downstairs for a while longer and then we went up by an iron staircase that connected to his real apartment. When I saw that we had gone out through a narrow door in the hallway dividing the kitchen from the living room, I realized that that door did exist, but I didn't even remember actually seeing it.

"And what are you thinking about doing here, Jamie?" We were going into his bedroom.

"We can make an office where we'll put our books, and where we'll have a bit of silence to work in while our bairns are playing in their bedrooms with the nanny." I got startled by that sentence, I couldn't verbalize anything. "Sassenach, bairn means son, child." he smiled at me lightly.

"I... I know, Jamie..." I said it stuttering. "I listened to your sister talking to the bridesmaids about their children... I just thought you didn't want to have kids..." I was still tense about the way our conversation was going.

"Och, Claire! I want everything with ye," he hugged me lovingly, wrapping his arms tightly around my back. "If ye want to have our bairns, we'll have ..." he kissed my lips quickly and I couldn't help but smile briefly. "And if ye don't, we won't. It's that simple! I'll do anything ye want, a leannan."

I held him tight, hiding my face in his neck and sighing heavily. And for a moment I felt that this was the right moment to tell him something that had distressed me for years and had taken away my sleep for several nights. But seeing his face so relaxed and passionate, I thought it best to change the subject completely, I would find another moment for it.

"I need to confess something to you, Jamie." I began to walk hesitantly, moving toward the window. "My house isn't really mine. I've rented it for over three years. I've never been one to put down roots, and since I wasn't an American citizen, I didn't think it wise to make a move like that."

"And ye want to keep this rent unnecessarily? After this step we're taking?" he questioned me without imposing anything, walking toward me. - I dinna mind, Sassenach, but ye could spend that money on something better." he arched one of his eyebrows.

"I want to do what's best for us." I smiled, still embarrassed to plan to remodel a house with someone I've been relating to for less than two weeks. "But on one condition: I won't accept any other way than by participating equally at all costs in this restoration," I said with weight. "Halfway through. I make a lot of good money to be able to support all our costs equally."

"Deal!" he smiled, kissing my forehead. "And we can stay at yer place until the apartment is ready, what do ye think?"

"That's perfect!" I held myself to his neck, kissing him tenderly. "And once we've decided that, where are we going now?"

"Well, I wouldn't mind going to yer house and wrapping up in yer legs until tomorrow morning..." he deepened our kiss. "Or we can stay right here, I want to fulfill some fantasies with ye in my bed..."

"Jamie!" I shook my head. "I'd like that, too, but we'll have plenty of time for that!" I laughed when his sad puppy-dog face emerge. "I wanted to show you a place I really love to be… Remember I told you I love plants?"

"Aye, I could see it through the garden of yer house... and also the fact that ye have plants even inside the bathroom!" He laughed when I hit him for the thousandth time on his arm.

"JAMES FRASER, will you stop making fun of me?" I laughed again, and he stole another kiss from me. "Let's go to Providence, there's a wonderful restaurant for lunch, and then I'll take you to my special place."

Providence was a town near Boston. I loved to travel on my days off to a place that would bring me peace and quiet, unlike the hustle and bustle of the hospital and the city I lived in. As soon as we arrived at Mr. Laurent's delightful bistro, I was greeted with the same affection as always, exchanging a few words in French with him and leaving my Scot impressed.

"But then what ye said was true?" he said as soon as we sat down at the table. "I thought ye'd tried to scam me with the educated girl image!"

"Jamie, Jamie..." I squeezed my eyes, pretending to dislike it. "Why would I lie about that? But I'm not as fluent as it sounds, Mr. Laurent is very friendly and makes himself understood like nobody else!"

"And what are ye waiting for to seduce me with a few words in French, Sassenach?" he stroked the palm of my hand intimately, pulling it out to kiss it.

I laughed at him, like almost every moment of our everyday lives. We were genuinely happy and glowing with love and companionship. We finished our lunch quietly and walked to my favorite place: Roger Williams Park. A beautiful place, full of many plants, flowers, and animals of different kinds. And filled with a lot of silence and discretion. Besides loving that city, there was another reason why we didn't go anywhere in Boston: we couldn't be seen together by the people in our professional life, and they were everywhere.

And as soon as we sat down on my favorite bench, I decided it was time to talk about it with Jamie.

"Jamie, I don't know if you remember when you were accepted into the program, but the policy within the hospital for the relationship between doctors and residents is very restricted. They allow nothing, absolutely nothing. We've already had a colleague or two fired along with the students involved." I couldn't look into his eyes, but I could feel his discomfort. "And we can't ponder to damaging your career, our careers, in any possible way... Not now, after all that we've been through." I held his hands firmly. "We're fine, better than we ever imagined we'd be; but at work, we'll have to keep our relationship very professional."

"Aye, I had already thought of that possibility, even though I didn't remember what I signed that day!" His look changed quickly as he touched my ring, turning the blue of his eyes, which were usually so bright, into a dull, lifeless look. "So ye won't be able to wear the ring I gave ye, Sassenach..."

"No, Jamie, unfortunately..." I tried to smile, but my smile didn't come to my eyes any more than it did his. "Meanwhile, I promise to put it on every night as soon as I get home..." I caressed his face. "It's just another year, darling. You, me, and your brother deserve one more sacrifice."

 

 

POV Jamie

 

The day in Providence passed quickly, and even though the conversation about keeping our relationship hidden upset me a little, I decided to be optimistic. I was standing next to the woman I loved, she was happy about it and we were going to get married soon. Hiding for a year would be very difficult, even more so for me who couldn't take my eyes off my Sassenach, but if before anything happened between us, I was already drooling in the halls of the hospital, what would be different now?

When we got back to Boston, I stopped by my apartment and Claire helped me to get everything I would need for the next few days, then I would calmly go back to make my "move" to her house. I wouldn't take everything, after all, we were going back to the apartment soon, but I needed my books and some other personal items, items that Claire found totally unnecessary, only her to find my small collection of whiskey bottles unnecessary!

The night was practically sleepless for me, even though I had Claire in my arms and that always relaxed me, I couldn't get to sleep thinking about everything that had changed in my life in those few days, a week to be exact, and how much would still change. Did that worry me? No, not at all, but I was anxious, anxious to have to hide a feeling that was so apparent all over my body, in my features. The luck is that we would have a few hours alone in the hospital, hours that were reserved for the project, another reason for my lack of sleep, it was always so important for me to put it into practice and now it would be even more special next to Claire.

The morning came and I was practically pushed out of bed by my lovely bride, it seems that it was not only me who was looking forward to the new day at work. We had coffee in silence, probably both thinking about what it would be like to face everyone again, even though they didn't know what had happened, it seemed that the reason for our absence would be imprinted on our faces:

"I think I'd better get going, I've always arrived earlier than everyone and I still have to stop by the board to hand in my temporary visa papers, without it I can't start your project," Claire spoke up and put her coffee cup over the sink.

"I'm ready now, I'll catch a ride!" I said with a smile on my face, but it soon disappeared when I saw her disapproving look.

"No, Jamie! We can't arrive together! I'll go in my car and you with yours, I've got my parking space reserved, you have to stop at the hospital parking lot..."

"Oh, aye, how come I didn't think of that? Ye're too special to blend in with the poor bastards who have the privilege of parking outside the hospital!" I said it with a mockery tone that only pissed her off more.

"You know that's not it, I don't need to explain again about the contract we signed?"

"No Sassenach, I was only really annoying ye... besides, I dinna want to take any chances with ye at the wheel, I like my body too much and I prefer to keep it intact for ye to exploit later..." and that comment earned me another look of disapproval, a slap and finally, a kiss goodbye with the taste of the coffee.

"See you at lunch? If you behave yourself, I'll let you sit at the cool doctors' table, in that case, me and Joe," she said winking when she opened the door.

"I can imagine how popular ye two are, sitting at yer table is a bit of a fight..." the answer was the slamming of the door in my face.

I laughed and finished getting ready to go to the hospital. While I was getting my things, Adso curled up in my legs, feeling that it would be alone once again:

"I ken, it's hard to stay away from me... ye look like yer mother!" I laughed when I noticed that I was really talking to the cat, but I only received one more cuddle in response.

When I finally joined the other residents to receive the day's schedule, I began to hear some comments:

"Have you seen Dr. Beauchamp? I always found her interesting, but now, I don't know what happened in that week she spent away from the hospital. I just know I couldn't even pay attention to what she was telling me when I ran into her in the hallway..."

"I always thought she was hot, did you notice that round ass?" Mark, a resident who had studied with me, said.

"Who didn't notice? It was the only thing that kept me from wanting to kill her! But I think she's probably with someone, she came in all different..."

"And who might that be? I'm just saying, the guy's brave. It can't be easy."

"But to do certain things, she can keep her mouth shut!"

"That's only if the guy is bad at what he does... because if he's like me, no woman keeps her mouth shut!" I stepped into the conversation. That would probably make them shut up about Claire's body.

"God, Fraser, where did you come from? And I'm sorry, man... but let's just say that with your looks, you shouldn't make too much effort to get any woman into bed, I've seen the line of nurses always at your disposal!" This Mark guy mocked me.

"Is it because I treat them with respect and not like they're hot and have perfect asses?" I knew I was being a little radical, but I really thought that. "But aye, women canna resist my charm and red hair!" I left laughing as they both looked at me without knowing what to say.

We received the orientation of the day and for my luck, I would stay in the emergency, far away from where Claire was. Not that I didn't want her around, but I'd go crazy hearing more idiotic comments from the other residents and end up saying something I'd regret later. While taking a simple case, a boy who had slipped and hit his head on the floor, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, and vibrate tirelessly. As I had just finished analyzing the CT scan I had requested and seeing that everything was okay, I asked the boy's parents for permission and went to see what they wanted with me.

It was a restricted number calling me, and it had already tried more than three times. I answered quickly and couldn't hide my smile when I knew it was from Immigration, our papers were ready and we could schedule the civil wedding, in case it had to be as soon as possible. I kept my voice serious, but my features gave everything away. I got ugly looks from the two nurses who were taking care of my patients, they probably thought I went to see a girlfriend for my silly smile. Yeah, they weren't totally wrong.

I needed to tell Claire and soon, I wouldn't be able to wait until the end of the day since our lunch had gone down the drain when Claire needed to attend a meeting with the board about the project. I looked at Mary, a new but very efficient nurse who seemed to be more understanding than the others:

"Mary, ye're doing a fantastic job with the patient, and since I just got an emergency call, I'm sure little Thomas will be in good hands with ye, won't he?" I meant it, but my tone of voice was loaded with accent. Aye, I was playing really low and not proud of it, but I needed to see Claire.

"Of course, Dr. Fraser, I'm sure you won't be disappointed." She answered me trying to be firm, but I knew deep down that she was dying of fear of doing something that might harm me.

I put my hand lightly on her shoulder and smiled. I turned around before she said anything else. As I walked quickly through the halls, I crossed paths with Mark and made a point of saying that Nurse Mary had asked for his assistance on a patient. He just smiled, winked at me, and fired off to the emergency room. I was a terrible person and I would pay for it later, I was sure of it.

Luckily, the elevators were empty and I got to Claire's office fast. I faced the door that had already brought me different feelings and smiled when I saw "Dr. Beauchamp" in bold letters, imagining that very soon Fraser would be stamped there. I put my hand on the door handle to go straight in, but I thought again and thought it best to knock, if she was in a meeting with someone, they wouldn't understand why a resident would go in without asking permission first. After two knocks, I heard her voice asking to come in:

"Sassenach! I have great news!" I said excitedly as I walked to her desk.

"And what's that? That you finally realized that I'm more responsible and I don't leave in the middle of the workday to meet you?" she said with a smile as she saw my disappointment. "I'm glad to hear about your irresponsibility..." and she gave me a quick, light kiss. "I missed you... and I'm looking like a teenager!"

"I love to see that freer side of ye..." and I returned the kiss. "But now for the news I came here to tell ye!" I said it when I walked away from her. "We can schedule our wedding now! I got the call from Immigration and they want it as soon as possible, but I don't think you'll have any objection to becoming Dr. Fraser soon, will ye?"

"Dr. Fraser? Um, it doesn't sound so bad, but I still have my doubts..." she said by leaning her face against mine.

"Doubts? And what can I do to end them?" I answered as I pulled her by the hair, to get even closer to me, seeing that the desk was the only obstacle between our bodies.

"Bolt the door!" she whispered in my ear.

I didn't wait for her to repeat it and did what she asked, but not without first turning her around the desk and getting stuck to me. She kissed me fiercely as if we hadn't seen each other for days, but I reciprocated with the same intensity. Our bodies were glued together and I pushed her until she leaned against her desk, without losing contact with her mouth at any time. With the hand that was free, far from her waist, I pushed everything that was on her desk to the floor, making a noise spread across the room:

"JAMIE!" she screamed when she saw what I had done.

"I always wanted to do that!" I smiled and put her sitting at the desk.

"Do you know how long it's gonna take me to get this in order?"

"No, but what I want to know now is how long it's going to take for you to shout my name out again..." and I kissed her, without giving her time to answer.

I positioned myself between her legs, opening them slowly, and so my hands stretched up her skirt, we didn't have much time and I thanked Claire for the clothes she wore to work. Without wasting any more time, I started kissing her neck as I took off her panties and felt her hands opening the zipper of my pants, smiling and pulling her closer, fitting me into her body and invading her at once. I felt her bite my shoulder to silence her moans, I accelerated my movements. Soon we were glued on our foreheads and panting for breath:

"Dr. Fraser will be perfect in that door..." she said with a satisfied smile on her face.

 "I'm happy to end your doubts Sassenach, always!"

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Since our return to Boston, we hadn't discussed what our return to the hospital would be like on Wednesday, the resting time was so short among so many appointments in those two days that I thought it best to enjoy every little moment between us, and I think Jamie thought the same. And we quietly decided that we would worry about things when they finally arrived.

On Wednesday morning I woke up just before Jamie. I was very tired because, since the night before, the idea of having to take off my wedding ring had squeezed my heart and obviously didn't let me sleep peacefully. As soon as I sat down on the bed, with my feet resting on the floor, I sighed deeply and took it off with some difficulty, putting the jewel inside its velvet box that was on the bedside table and staring at it for a few moments. I knew I was doing it for both of us, but I couldn't help but feel great regret that I couldn't carry the symbol of our relationship wherever I went. I didn't realize the minutes had passed so quickly and I woke up Jamie with a bit of vigor after he didn't hear me calling his name. Finally, we went to the kitchen to have our coffee and remained in complete silence, the day we had avoided talking about had finally arrived and the concern was imprinted on our faces.

I went before Jamie to the hospital, but in a way, I had to convince him that we could not go together. Of course, he understood, but not without first making a joke about the "benefits" that the hired doctors had before the residents, making me furious early on. Except I couldn't keep my anger up for long, his jokes were getting more and more expected by me, so I simply said goodbye with a smile and a quick kiss on his lips. I knew I'd miss Jamie very much until I could be alone with him again.

I got to the hospital and the first thing I did was stop by the director Goldenberg's office. He was a very nice middle-aged man who had helped me a lot since my arrival at the medical team in that place, but especially during the time when immigration was on my feet. The day before I had already received a temporary document that allowed me to stay in the United States for the next 2 months and that would be long enough for us to finally get married and enter with all the green card’s documents. Doctor Goldenberg was very happy to know that everything was finally in its proper place and he would not lose his "prodigy girl", as he affectionately called me.

After the morning round with the residents, I silently said goodbye to Jamie with a restrained smile, returning to my office as soon as possible since I had several reports from the residents and patient records to update me after so many days away. By mid-morning, I was looking forward to sharing some time of my day with Jamie, but our "meeting" went down the drain when I received an email requesting an emergency meeting with the board of directors to set the final details of all the projects the doctors would be involved with, including Jamie's project. I sent a simple message to my fiancé, telling him that we would have to cancel lunch, and explained why. I knew he would be slightly sad, as I was, but there in that hospital work would always come first.

But to have so soon the news that we could finally schedule our wedding was as or better than seeing Jamie in the middle of the afternoon. I was sitting in my chair reading a report of a patient who had had complications during my absence and I needed to know if something had gone wrong or not, and what I could do to reverse that case. And when I heard knocks on the door, my heart already knew who it was.

"Sassenach! I have great news!" he told me with great excitement.

"And what's that?" He smiled as he dropped the file into the drawer. "That you finally realize I'm more responsible and I don't leave in the middle of the workday to meet you?" He seemed disappointed and I stood up, leaning my body to be closer to him. "I'm glad to hear about your irresponsibility..." I kissed his lips softly, smiling once again. "I missed you... and I'm looking like a teenager!"

"I love to see that freer side of ye..." he kissed me. "But now for the news that I came here to tell!" he seemed happy and very anxious. "We can schedule our wedding now! I got the call from Immigration and they want it as soon as possible, but I don't think you'll have any objection to becoming Dr. Fraser soon, will ye?"

"Dr. Fraser? Um, it doesn't sound so bad, but I still have my doubts..." I faked a little discomfort while I was talking quietly next to his ear.

"Doubts? And what can I do to stop them?" he answered me as he pulled my curly hair to get closer to him, the desk being the only obstacle between the two of us.

"Bolt the door!" I whispered in his ear with a mischievous smile on my lips.

A playful glow appeared in his eyes and he went quickly to do what I had asked, coming back to reach my hand in a few steps and quickly pulling me close to him. It awakened something very visceral in me and I kissed him willingly as if we had been separated for many days, and I was reciprocated in the same intensity. Jamie took me to the desk and in a single movement, he knocked over all the things that were on it, making a horrible noise when they fell to the floor. And after a few more complaints from me and other naughty words from him, he sat me down at the desk in one move, climbing up my skirt quickly as he took off my panties. Meanwhile, I struggled to unbuckle his belt and remove all the obstacles that separated me from him so that at last he could perform one of my greatest fetishes: having sex in my office. With him.

He penetrated me in one stroke and I saw his gaze of surprise as he felt he had no impediment to moving freely within me. As he held his hands on my ass, I would bite his shoulder hard to try to contain the moans that kept coming out of my mouth. How hard it was to control myself with him, Jamie made me feel unexplainable things when we were together, and it felt like my body wasn't responding to my brain's commands when he was around. And, as if we were pushy teenagers, we quickly reached a climax, drowning out our moans contained in each other's mouths. Still united, foreheads glued and gasping for breath, I smiled with delight as I began to speak:

"Dr. Fraser will be perfect in that door..." I'd love to get into his little games, see how he responded to them.

"I'm happy to end your doubts, Sassenach, always!"

We scheduled our wedding for a late Friday afternoon, three weeks after our arrival in Boston. Jenny was very happy for both of us, that we were finally doing that, even though she insisted that we had to have a big party like hers and that it was preferably in Lallybroch. But besides talking about the wedding, she told me something I hadn't thought about since we got back to Boston, Laoghaire! Her words were succinct, "My dad fixed it!" and that it was not for us to worry, that when we went there, she would explain it better. I decided that that blonde didn't deserve my attention or concern anymore, and I just thought about how happy Jamie's parents were, and Ellen thanked me every time I talked to her for taking care of her boy. Little did she know it was her boy who was taking care of me.

Those three weeks flew by between many surgeries in the hospital, the beginning of tests for Jamie's project experiments, and the beginning of work on our future apartment. We were getting more and more used to our routine, and being finally at home and able to stay with my man, in our house and doing such domestic things, gave me the strength to follow another full day without being able to show my affection for him. And being able to put the ring back on my finger every end of the day was quite a help too.

Since we needed witnesses for our civil union, we invited Joe and Gail to dinner as soon as we heard the wedding date, inviting them to be our best man and bridesmaid. They were very loyal, trustworthy, and excellent friends; there were no better people to count on at such a special time. Obviously, Joe was thrilled, as always, and suggested our first toast to our relationship. Joe knew how hard it was for me to be so happy and relaxed with someone other than himself and his little family, and his complicit look told me so many good things that only a long, true friendship can offer.

I confess that my anxiety has grown over the weeks. As much as we were not going to have a party, the thought that I was marrying Jamie, a man I had known for two years, but who had been related to me for a little over a month, gave me palpitations. But it was just being close to him and looking into his sweet blue eyes to make sure I was on the right track and with the right person.

During those weeks I also had to break a little more of Jamie's heart. As soon as we knew that we could finally schedule our wedding, the emotion took over us and we didn't realize something very important: we couldn't use the same last name. How could I hide my civil status, for the hospital directors, with a "Fraser" at the end of my name? I knew that the necessary documentation for the hospital wouldn't need anything more than an immigration document proving entry on my green card application, but if I had my name changed, I would have to show all the other changed documents and that would bring us many problems. Jamie was sad after all I said, but his always optimistic smile as he said "this will only last another year, Sassenach!" gave me more relief. And instead of comforting him in my embrace, he did it, and the tears instantly clouded my eyes as I realized, once again, that I had a perfect man by my side.

We went to work that Friday morning, we couldn't explain our absence for a whole day, even more so that an emergency surgery had been scheduled for me in the early hours of that day. Jamie was always my assistant doctor, and I was grateful that he was chosen by me to be my resident, so I didn't have to answer to the other colleagues. We worked very well together and most of the time I didn't even have to say what I needed. As soon as the surgery was finally over, in the middle of the afternoon, we only had time to go after our things. Jamie said he would go first so it wouldn't attract too much attention that the two of us had gone out together, but that he would wait for me right at home. After 30 minutes, I was ready to leave when I heard a very well-known knock on the door:

"You can come in, Joe!"

"Hey LJ!" he came in with caution. "Ah, Jamie's gone..."

"Yeah, he's probably home by now."

"Well, I'd like to inform you that we would be immensely honored to welcome you to our home tonight for a small reception. It'll just be the four of us and little Benny!"

"Aw, my friend, thank you!" I was very excited. "And I want to squeeze Benny a lot! Has he started walking yet?"

"You have no idea! It's being very hard to hold that boy... But you'll see tonight, LJ!"

"That's perfect. See you in a bit?"

"I'm almost leaving too, see you!"

Arriving home, I found my Prince Charming wearing a delicate dark grey suit and a slightly pink tie, definitely his choice had been perfect! We weren't going to get married like in a religious ceremony, obviously, but we needed to be well-dressed for our civil wedding, that ritual was no less important for both of us. I hurried up to take a shower and get dressed, putting on a three-quarter sleeveless dress with a beautiful drop to my knees. Finally, I put on my engagement ring and felt happy to feel its weight back on my hand. I quickly finished my light makeup and, after once again modeling my slightly damp curls, I hurried downstairs, as we were obviously a little late.

"Sassenach, where's your doctor's punctuality? And at your own wedding?" he stopped talking when he saw me. "But this delay was worth every second! You look wonderful mo nighean donn." I smiled fondly in response.

We called an Uber since we'd be drinking later, neither of us would be driving on our wedding night. As we arrived at the City Hall, Joe and Gail were already waiting for us at the front door and, pretending to be angry, caught my attention, as usual, saying that I couldn't be late for my own wedding ceremony, and I couldn't be late for my fiancé either.

The last couple was leaving the room where the civil ceremonies took place as soon as we announced our name to the local secretary. I was nervous, and it wasn't because I ran down the hall with a little despair. We might have been living a fairy tale backward, but it was still a beautiful story. And with a spectacular future. And I couldn't help but look forward to it.

As we already knew, the ceremony lasted no more than fifteen minutes. Gail was very emotional while taking many pictures of us with her camera, she was very good at her work, I had seen several pictures of her in different newspapers and magazines in the city. And when the judge asked if we had wedding rings to exchange, I automatically started to take mine out of my hand, the photos would look very nice to see, I was sure. But clearly, my fiancé was full of surprises, and while he delicately placed one of his hands on mine to keep me from taking off the ring, with the other he took off a little dark green velvet box, making me stunned to see what was inside it.

"I made a simpler ring for ye, Sassenach... Only then ye will be able to wear it without problems."

 

 

POV Jamie

 

Our wedding was finally set and I couldn't hide the anxiety. It was even funny to think that a few months ago I was complaining about my boss to my sister, my boss who was unbearable, who kept pressuring me with meaningless questions, who wouldn't let me have any time off...and now I was completely in love with her, a completely different person from the one I saw every day in the hospital.

We had three weeks of waiting to finally make our union official. I thought it would take too long, but it went by so fast that I didn't notice. Between the work in our apartment, the surgeries at the hospital, and my project work, we had almost no time together, but the little we had, we made the most of it and was enjoying the home life with Claire. I started to notice that every day she came home, she made a point of putting on the ring that I had given her, she really liked to show how happy she was to be mine. And that's how I got an idea, that thanks to the time we had until the wedding, I was able to execute it.

With the help of Google, I was able to find a jeweler in Boston who was Scottish and produced the most beautiful jewels with Celtic standards. I wanted Claire to be able to wear a ring every day, but that people would believe that it was just a ring. After a lot of research and conversation with the jeweler, we reached the perfect design! The ring would be silver, carved with the Highlander pattern, that is, thistles and Celtic symbols connected. Anyone who saw it from afar would be nothing more than a beautiful jewel, but not a wedding ring, at least not one that the people of Boston would recognize.

And at last, Friday finally arrived. Unfortunately, we would have to work all day, I had managed to change my schedule and would leave earlier than Claire, also to avoid any suspicion. Joe and Gail would be our witnesses, or as we considered it, bestman and bridesmaid of our little ceremony. I was home ready when Claire arrived, and she had not yet seen what I had chosen to wear. It was something simple, a gray suit and a light tie, I decided that the kilt would be worn when we could have a wedding with the whole family in Lallybroch. I thought she might be a bit disappointed, after all my kilt had been a success before, but her reaction to my suit was equally satisfactory.

I couldn't stand still, I walked around waiting for Claire, who seemed to have been swallowed up by the bathroom because she never got out. I checked several times to see if the ring was in my pocket, and everything was right. I looked at the watch one more time and noticed that we would be late! When I thought of shouting for Claire to come soon, I heard the noise of her heels on the stairs:

"Sassenach, where's your doctor's punctuality? And at your own wedding?" but I stopped talking when I finally looked at her. "But this delay was worth every second! You look wonderful mo nighean donn."

And she really was! Her dress was simple, as was her makeup, but everything enhanced every curve and feature of her, only making me more certain that I had the most beautiful woman in the world in my arms. She had left her hair natural, loose and curly, just the way I liked it. Without wasting any more time, we rushed to the city hall where the wedding would take place. By the time we got there, Joe and Gail were tired of waiting for us and I had fun watching Joe blame Claire for the delay, pretending to be mad about it.

In a few minutes, we were called and it all happened very fast. Joe and Gail signed the papers as witnesses, and several pictures were taken by our bridesmaid who had the gift for it. The judge asked if we had wedding rings to exchange and I saw that Claire started to take hers off her finger, but I stopped her before she did, taking out of my pocket the little velvet box with the new ring:

"I made a simpler ring for ye, Sassenach... Only then will ye be able to wear it without problems." and so I put it in her left hand, sealing our fate together forever.

The ceremony was nothing romantic, but I didn't care, not after everything we'd been through to be there. It might seem little to other people, but only Claire and I knew how much we had suffered until we finally met and surrendered to this love so intense, so strong and so right. As I kissed the ring that I had just put on her finger, I saw that her eyes were glowing with tears about to fall. I approached her cheek and with my thumb dried her eyes, then gently kissed her. That day was supposed to be happy and I would do anything to just leave a smile on her face.

"I love you, Sassenach," I whispered in her ear.

"I love you too, Jamie." And she kissed me again, but we were interrupted by Joe who rushed us out of the small room that would soon be occupied by a new couple.

We went to our friend's house in their car. I noticed that along the way, Claire kept her eyes on the new wedding ring, brushing her finger against the patterns engraved on it:

"Did ye enjoy the surprise, Sassenach?" I asked quietly in her ear.

"Do you still have to ask? You have no idea what this means to me, Jamie! Being able to use something that symbolizes our union every day will make me the happiest woman in the world! I'm just feeling bad that I haven't done anything for you..."

"How did ye not done anything, Claire? Ye agreed to spend every day until the end of yer life with this stubborn Scot! That's everything to me!"

She looked at me shyly and kissed me discreetly to avoid causing discomfort to our drivers. We soon arrived at Joe's house and were surprised to see the dinner they had prepared, the table arranged with flowers, decorated plates and several drinks at our disposal, they really wanted to make us feel at a wedding party:

"And we'll be able to make the most of it, we hired a babysitter so we won't be interrupted!" Gail said and winked at Claire.

And it really was a great night. The food and the drink and the company were wonderful. I had to laugh at Joe trying to convince me that he was as Scottish as I was when he drank pure whisky, no ice, or any other freshness that Gale insisted on putting in his shot. Of course, he couldn't hold his posture for long and then went back to his beer. As I had said before, the companies were wonderful, but I couldn't hide the anxiety of having Claire all to myself in our house.

It didn't take long to happen, after all, Joe and Gail were parents and extremely busy people. At 10 o'clock at night, they were already totally given over to tiredness and sleep caused by so much alcohol we had drunk. We said goodbye and thanked them for everything they had done, it was really great, but now I just thought about everything I would do with my wife, my Sassenach.

We got home and I held on to not make any jokes about Claire stumbling on the steps of the entrance, I really wanted to surprise her with everything I had prepared. I had asked Joe to help me with everything and he, along with Gail, managed to get some reliable people to prepare everything. The house was all dark, but the way to our bedroom was all lit up with candles, which left Claire speechless:

"But how?" she turned to me, confused. "My God, what about Adso?"

"Sassenach! I prepare all this for ye and ye're worried about yer cat?"

"But it's just that the candles, he can..."

"He's safe in a hotel for animals, I'm sure he's not even missing us! But now, could ye keep walking?" I said a little angry, a little laughing.

She continued until she reached the door of the bedroom, where I made a point of turning on our soundtrack, causing John Legend's voice to invade the whole space. The bedroom was also lit with candles, but to top it off, there were some Forget Me Nots arrangements and several pictures of us that Jenny had sent me, pictures that we didn't even know had been taken while we were in Lallybroch, pictures that showed how much we were in love with each other and we didn't even know.

https://youtu.be/450p7goxZqg

"Jamie..." I heard Claire's trembling voice in front of me. "That's... wonderful, nobody's ever, ever done anything like this to me, I've never felt so..."

"Special? Loved? Because that's what ye are to me Claire, the most special person in my life, the most important...the one that I won't tire of doing all of this all the time. Even if ye find me the most pathetic person, I'm romantic, there's no way to fix it, and ye awaken in me my most mellow side" and I hugged her tightly, putting her head over my chest, while I ran my hand through her hair. "I love ye" mo nighean donn, forever."

"I don't know if I can be as romantic as you, but Jamie, you've taught me so many things in such a short time and one of them is how to feel loved, how to feel wanted... I thank you for that, it was something I thought I would never have, a love that caused the most diverse reactions, that left me completely irrational, something I never allowed myself... anyway, I love you James a thousand names Fraser," she said with her eyes shining, but now without tears, but with a broad smile.

"So, Dr. Fraser, can I just keep showing you how much you are wanted?" I asked without giving her time to answer.

I kissed her willingly, but not violently, today we would have all the time in the world and I was not in a hurry, I wanted to please her in every way, the night was hers and I was happy to serve her. The kisses became more and more intense, and soon our hands were everywhere. I saw that she was trying to take off my tie, but I held her and started to open the zipper of her dress, as I had promised, today was her day to receive all the pleasure I could offer. And of course, she was just wearing a small thong, which barely covered her wonderful ass. My kisses went down her neck and I heard her gasp with every bite I gave, but I also noticed how desperate she was to move her hands, to take off my clothes, and for a moment I let her do whatever she wanted.

She left me in my underwear in a matter of seconds, but I didn't let her go on, holding her arms, I kissed her and softly pushed her to the edge of the bed, where I laid her gently but still holding her arms above her head. I kissed her whole body until I got to where her last piece of clothing was. With my teeth, I removed her panties and saw that she was totally surrendered to me, slowly spreading her legs so that I could take my proper place, which I did with pleasure. She was already totally ready for me, just as I was for her, and as much as I wanted to prolong those preliminaries, I couldn't, my body was desperate to be in her, to be inside her. And I did it without warning, without politeness, and I heard moans of my name in response.

"Claire Fraser, ye're mine now, aren't ye?" I asked between thrusts, just hearing moans in response. "Are ye mine forever?"

"Yes, James Fraser, forever."

And so we reached the climax together, hearing that she was mine forever, and making me the luckiest man in the world.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

A synonym for happiness for me? Jamie Fraser. I never imagined that in 3 months I would be happier than I have been in all my life. It did me so good that it felt like my heart was going to explode with emotion just thinking about him. Jamie had done one of the hardest jobs of all: breaking down all my barriers. I felt so relaxed and happy that I received a comment or two from coworkers asking me who my Prince Charming was, and if he had any friends to introduce to them. I simply smiled and shook my head a little bit shy, but without failing to show all the happiness I was feeling.

Our routine had managed to keep up very well during that time, being lovers and friends at home and superior and subordinate at work. Our apartment had finally been ready in our second month of marriage, but the move went on for long 7 days due to Jamie's rush routine at the hospital. Between long emergency duty shifts; assisting in my surgeries and performing solo surgeries; and many hours inside the lab, on a Friday afternoon we finally managed to finish moving all my items and, with the help of Joe and Gail, we put everything in place for the weekend. Our home had gotten a lot better than I initially imagined. There I had space for my plants, for my readings, and for my naps while I was waiting for the Scotsman to arrive. Jamie was visibly tired and I knew well that this period of the doctor's career was not easy at all. But he kept giving me the purest smiles and the most intense kisses when he finally got home. And I wanted to make it clear that I would be there for him whenever he needed it, I wanted to be the same supporter that he was for me. At least try.

 Of course, nothing came close to crossing the Atlantic to ask me to marry him, but having a ring as a symbol of our love 24 hours a day in my hand had been one of the biggest surprises Jamie had ever made for me. It was so beautiful and so full of meaning that I spent long moments watching it, both in my living room and at home, getting lost in its drawings and contours. However, even with the presence of such a beautiful symbol of our love, I continued to put my engagement ring in my hand as soon as I got home because for me the two were complementary to each other, both had distinct and at the same time essential meanings to me.

Jamie's project was going very well, but something made us rush to more concrete results in a short period of time: we had registered the project to participate in the American Congress of Neurology, which that year would be in Seattle. Research on laboratory animals had started a little over two months ago and we had not achieved satisfactory results until two weeks before our trip. On a remarkable Tuesday afternoon, Jamie had sent me a text message saying that he needed my help in the lab and that it was urgent. At first, I had imagined that our samples had died for some reason and that Jamie's final year in that hospital would extend a few more months, also delaying all our plans. I got up from my chair a little bit down, sighed deeply, and finally took the courage to see what had happened in the Lab. And when I got there I found the truest smile of all on his face.

"What happened, Fraser?" I said without expressing much emotion when I saw that there was another resident there, but I knew that my gaze showed concern.

"Dr. Beauchamp," he carried a Scottish accent to make fun of our relationship and I had to hold my laugh. "Ye remember Joe was still breathing on his own, but he was in a coma?" Yeah, Joe was the rat and he had my friend's name. And yes, Jamie named them all after people he knew, including Jenny and Ian "Well, come and see how Joe is now."

The rat was eating. EATING. Even if it was only one of his 10 samples, it brought us high hopes of doing something really revolutionary. I couldn't control myself and a little scream of satisfaction came out of my mouth, and Jamie hugged me tightly and tenderly to try to silence my nervousness while bravely trying to control his. We worked the rest of the day on the report that would be attached to the article, as well as performing some image exams for necessary comparisons. Then Jamie started thinking about a new poster, what we had written previously would not be at all impacting compared to our last discovery.

Our trip to Seattle had finally arrived. We booked two rooms at the hotel where the congress was going to take place, one next to the other. Obviously, we wouldn't use both of them, but we had to continue with our farce since the rooms had been paid for by the hospital. Our flight was full of turbulence, and I have never thanked Jamie so much for having me on his side in such a tense moment.

"Jamie, don't forget that we are representing the hospital and that we cannot show affection in any way," I said decisively. "The world of neurology is very restricted, everyone will get to know you from this weekend on and everyone here will have eyes and ears for both of us. Since your poster was published on the congress website, I keep receiving e-mails from colleagues congratulating us and encouraging us to go ahead with the project."

"Ye ken how happy I am with that, Sass... I mean, Claire. Can I call you Claire outside the work environment or do we have to go through the formalities?"

"Just call me Claire! After all, we're colleagues, and colleagues don't have those formalities."

We checked into the hotel early Thursday afternoon and went up to the sixth floor of that luxurious hotel, rooms 617 and 618. Seeing that there was no one in the corridors, Jamie entered quickly in front of me, slightly hasty and with a twinkle in his eye. I think it was more painful than not seeing him all day, it was seeing him every moment of the day and not being able to touch him, even briefly, and every exchanged look brought the promise of kissing with all the will of the world as soon as possible. And that's what we did. As soon as he dropped our bags in the corner of the room, he came to me and, pressing me against the door, kissed me with desire and much longing. His hands slid through my body and it was as if electrical discharges flowed freely through my body. I dragged him to the bed and in a few movements, I finally managed to leave him completely naked. I started to take off my clothes a little quickly, yet listening to him gasp for my name when I finally started to ride on his member. He left my body briefly and then buried himself even more in me, making me moan with each stronger thrust. The orgasm came languishing, intense and guttural, both to me and to him, making me convulse on his lap until I finally collapsed my body on his, releasing one last sigh of satisfaction.

We lay tired in bed hugging each other, and I loved being able to feel his warmth radiating through my back and legs, so much so that it was impossible not to sleep until the beginning of the night. Our routine last week had been intense and very busy due to the congress, added to the jetlag and the almost six hours of flight, so the fatigue was inherent in our bodies.

"Jamie, I'll see you in a few minutes, OK?" I told him as soon as I finished putting on my red dress for the first official congress dinner.

"But ye're going in this dress? So tight on your body like that? What about that neckline, Sassenach? It's so deep you can see everything..." he was clearly uncomfortable.

"Oh yes, can you see everything?" I hugged him with passion "But you know that everything here is yours, right?"

"Aye, I ken... but I canna help but be jealous of ye with the other men downstairs... ye really dinna want me to come down with ye?"

"No, Jamie. You go take your shower while I start making my contacts downstairs. I'm in red, it'll be easy to find me!"

After a few minutes, I finally managed to push Jamie into his well-deserved shower, leaving the bedroom right after. The hallway was long, and as I walked to the elevator I realized that I was almost bouncing with such happiness at being married to that man. He made my life meaningful as no one had ever done before, and nothing could spoil that feeling. Saying "good evening" to several known colleagues, I walked to the hotel bar, the place I had planned to meet Jamie, and asked for a bianco martini while sitting on one of the last two free stools around the counter. I put my purse on the counter and, while I was picking up my cell phone to see if it had a message from Jamie, a warm hand landed on my shoulder. And a sexy, well-known British voice finally spoke in my ear:

"Beauchamp, you haven't changed a bit, dear..." I got scared, turning my body almost instantly to confirm who it was.

"Jackson Hughes! I can't believe it!" I hugged him tenderly. "How are you? What are you doing across the ocean?"

"I'm running one of the courses tomorrow, haven't you seen it? I'm nothing else to you, is that it?" he faked suffering.

"Oh, dear, I really didn't pay attention..." I laughed, caressing the side of his arm. "At this congress, I won't be speaking at all, but I have a brilliant project from one of my residents to follow, besides the evaluation of some others..."

"I, unlike you, have looked at all the colleague names..." he poured some of his whisky without taking his green eyes from mine. "And I saw how promising this project could be, the boy had an excellent idea..."

"Yes, he did, but Fraser is no longer a boy..." I sat down on the stool again, trying to shake off my discomfort. "And don't forget I'm a few years younger than you..."

"How can I forget?" he sat next to me, leaning his body slightly against mine. "It's your fault I almost spent the night in jail for offering you alcohol at the first year of college..."

"But, if I remember correctly, I made it up to you after that..." I smiled, slightly embarrassed.

"Well, that I can't complain about... really!" we toasted our drinks in the air.

I turned my body back into the bar and started laughing a little embarrassed when I thought about everything we'd done in college. After sipping the last of my drink, I turned my face to Jackson's and what I least expected to see were the most beautiful red hair and the most inflamed blue eyes in the whole world right in front of me.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

We were in Seattle for the American Congress of Neurology, something very important for my career, but at the moment I could only see Claire's curves all marked on that little red dress and the huge neckline! That woman wanted to drive me crazy, it was the only explanation! I've never been a jealous man, but I also never had a woman with whom I cared as much as Claire and just by thinking of all the men looking at her and, worse, measuring her from top to bottom, I already felt the blood boiling. I didn't want to see a bunch of old doctor drooling over my wife's cleavage!

I decided not to prolong that shower and got dressed in record time, going downstairs to where the opening dinner of Congress would be. From afar I could see her sitting in the bar and I opened a smile, she really looked wonderful, but as I walked towards her, I noticed that she wasn't alone. A man apparently a little shorter than me, tanned and a bit too smiling for my liking, was talking to her, and worst of all, she was laughing and blushing! The smile on my face disappeared in seconds and I walked faster to the bar:

"Claire! Sorry for the delay, I ended up getting distracted on the way with some curious doctors about my work..." and I positioned myself next to her, almost pushing the smiling guy. "But I see ye found some company! I'm glad ye didna leave her alone... how rude of me." I said as I turned to the man who had now lost part of the smile on his face. "Dr. James Fraser!" and I reached out to greet him.

"Dr. Jackson Hughes, chief surgeon at Oxford University Hospital. And guest lecturer." and our handshake was stronger than I intended.

But how a very well-known doctor in the whole area of neurology was there, all smiling and hitting on my wife? And they knew each other? And how did Claire fall in love with me? A simple resident? I noticed that I was still shaking his hand as soon as Claire put her hand lightly on my shoulder:

"Fraser, I think you must know Jackson's work? Of course, you do, how silly I am, you quoted him in your project...so I was even sillier to forget to mention that we studied together at Oxford and he helped me a lot to overcome some difficulties I had at the beginning of the college..." I noticed that her voice was breaking and her smile was forced, a clear sign that she was apprehensive.

My eyes blinked non-stop, trying to assimilate everything she had said, they studied together? And did he help her? By the satisfied smile on his face, the help was much more than just in the studies and that made my blood boil again, but I had to control myself, Claire would kill me if I did something and I would also become the joke of this Congress by hurting the beautiful face of Dr. Dearest of all Jackson...

"Claire, ye never tire of surprising me, besides having graduated so early, ye still studied with someone who put our area of study in evidence all over the world! I'm sure he must have been a great tutor in yer studies..."

"She never really needed my help in this area, but in the social area... little Claire Bear was a bit closed to interact with others, but I managed to burst her bubble, right?" he said, still smiling, and lightly touched Claire's arm.

"Come on, Jackson, don't embarrass me in front of my resident! I haven't heard that nickname in years!" she smiled forcibly again, looking at me right away.

I didn't know who I was angrier at right now, whether it was the funny doctor or my dear wife who forgot to tell certain "details" of her college life! And worst of all, I couldn't fool myself, he was a guy who drew attention, he was tanned, had green eyes and that damn smile probably attracted thousands of women in his lap, including mine!

"It's good to know that now I have something I can use against ye when you give a bad evaluation of my work... Not that this has happened before, after all, I'm yer best resident, but we never know what tomorrow may bring... but even though the conversation is good, dinner has started to be served, better get to our seats." and I quietly put my hand on Claire's back, pushing her out of there."

We walked to the tables in silence, but when I saw that Dr. Smile was far away from us, I approached Claire's ear and whispered:

"Claire Bear, did you forget to tell me anything else?"

"Jamie, not now!" she walked away from me and sat in the place that was marked with her name.

I took a deep breath and sat down next to her. When I was finally able to relax and talk to the other doctors at our table, I saw a movement next to Claire's chair:

"Look at that good news! Dr. Jones asked to switch tables with me to be next to a former co-worker, it couldn't be better, so I sit next to a former co-worker too!" he said and winked at Claire.

Yeah, the night would be long. And it was, with every dish that was served, with every laugh I heard from Claire, it was torture for me and I counted the minutes until it was acceptable for me to say good night and go to my room, of course, I would drag Claire with me. I was tired of just being the resident she supervised, I felt like a teenager on a school excursion! After serving dessert, I felt Claire's foot hit my leg lightly. I looked at her discreetly and she nodded her head, so she also wanted to close the night, probably because she couldn't get away from the Dr. Congeniality who was leaning closer and closer to her.

I said goodbye to the other people at the table and as much as I admired Jackson's work, at that moment he was just an annoying man who was hitting on my wife, so I didn't make a point of saying anything to him. Claire took advantage of me getting up and followed my movements:

"Jackson, it was great to meet you again, but tomorrow we have our panel to present and I promised Fraser I would help him with the last details."

"It's ok Claire, I know how perfectionist you are with your work and wouldn't leave any resident down. I hope you can see my lecture, although I know it's nothing new for you, I'm sure Dr. Fraser will learn a lot." and the wink came once again.

"My time will be scarce tomorrow, but if I miss yer lecture, I'm sure Claire will teach me everything she knows about it, after all, she already knows it all!" I said it and turned around, starting to walk to the elevator.

I did not turn around to see if Claire was following me, but when I got to the elevator, I felt her hand pull my arm:

"Can't you walk slowly, please? I'm in heels and this dress makes it even harder..."

"Dinna fash! If you didn't reach me, yer colleague would keep ye company."

"Jamie..." she kept her voice down when she saw other people coming.

We got into the elevator quietly, but the people next to us got out on the first floor and we went up the rest of the floors by ourselves:

"So, Claire Bear, did you enjoy yer dinner? Did you use yer contacts to talk about our project?" I said it in an ironic tone and from the look on her face, she had noticed.

"Jamie... what did you want me to do?"

"Well, let's see, I imagine several possibilities...ye could have told me that Dr. Jackson Smile Hughes was yer college, sweetheart. Ye could also have told him ye were in a relationship, or better yet, you could have told the idiot to step back and let you breathe, but no, you just gave him that fake smile and made it clear several times that I was yer resident!" I was practically screaming, but before Claire could answer, the elevator door opened.

We walked quietly to the room. The hallway was empty and I didn't worry about anyone seeing me going into the room with her; in fact, at that time I wasn't worried about anything else, all I could think about was that damned man with my Sassenach in his arms and it was driving me totally crazy:

"Jamie Fraser!" she spoke up, stopping in front of me. - Will you stop being an idiot? - I looked at her in amazement. - That's right, you're being an idiot! You know very well that I can't introduce you as my husband, unfortunately here you're just my resident, but it doesn't change anything that you are to me! God, how can you not see you're the most important person in my life? And that Jackson means nothing?"

"Then why didn't ye tell me about him?" I knew I was being irrational, but I couldn't control the words coming out of my mouth.

 "You didn't stop to think I didn't tell you about him because he means nothing to me? Yes, we had something in college, but he wasn't my "boyfriend" and I only surrendered to his charms because I wanted to be like the other girls in my class, it wasn't the best idea I had, I just can't delete it..."

"And he doesn't seem to delete it either... Claire Bear!" I said and crossed my arms like I was defending myself from the caresses she was trying to give me.

"You stubborn Scot! If he hasn't forgotten, that's his problem, but what matters to me now is you, Jamie, you're my husband, you know I'm yours, forever." she came up to me and uncrossed my arms.

"Can you repeat that?" I said it with a slight smile on my face.

"I'm yours, forever!"

"Me too, Sassenach, and you will never wear this red dress again!" I said as I pulled the dress from her body, tearing it in the process.

"James Fraser!"

"Ye can buy another one later, but now ye won't need anything else..." and I kissed her intensely, leaving no opening for any answer.

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Jamie was so jealous that I could almost see flames coming out of his eyes, as red as his hair. Ever since he'd arrived at the hotel bar and seen me interacting with Jackson, all I wanted was for that rather uncomfortable contact to end soon, the discomfort I was feeling from not being able to take Jamie on as my husband was visible and it was hurting both of us. And Jackson had always been a man without limits and always spoke his mind ever since I met him, and of course, age didn't help to improve that in his life. I knew he was flirting with me, knew his weapons very well, and had already fallen into some of his traps in the early days of college. But after graduation we became good friends, so to speak, and I learned to deal with his way of being without showing that I was available. And Jackson always respected me for that, in his own way, but it was clear that wasn't the interpretation that Jamie had made that night.

We had dinner as quickly as possible and as soon as we finally finished, I gave an excuse involving Jamie to get us out of the event early, but what I really needed to do was to talk to that stubborn Scotsman soon and finally get that distressing look off his face. As much as he could hide reasonably well, I knew him well enough to see that none of it was being easy for him.

Jamie stood up right after me, not without first saying some hints to Jackson, and walked out in front of me, not waiting for me and clearly pretending that I didn't exist. At that moment, after I finally reached him, I pulled his arm so that he would listen to me, getting into the elevator afterward and remaining silent until the other guests finally left. As soon as we were alone, he used an ironic tone completely out of tune, deducing that I had enjoyed dinner and all the advances of my former colleague. My blood was boiling and I was about to answer his hints when the door opened and he stepped out of the elevator, causing me to take a deep breath. We headed into the room and Jamie was so out of it that he didn't bother to look at whether the hallway was free for us to enter the room together. As soon as I closed the door, I decided that this was his moment to listen to me:

"Jamie Fraser!" I spoke up, stopping in front of him. "Will you stop being an idiot?" he wasn't expecting it. "That's right, you're being an idiot! You know damn well I can't introduce you as my husband. Unfortunately, you're just my resident here, but it doesn't change anything that you are to me, God. How can you not see you're the most important person in my life?" By then I was screaming. "And that Jackson means nothing?"

"Then why didn't ye tell me about him?" he spoke harshly, but his gaze showed a bit of doubt and insecurity, as well as jealousy, a lot of jealousy.

"You didn't stop to think I didn't tell you about him because he means nothing to me?" I put my hand lightly on his arm, trying to comfort him. "Yes, we had something in college, but he wasn't my "boyfriend" and I only surrendered to his charms because I wanted to be just like the other girls in my class... It wasn't the best idea I had, I just can't delete it..."

"And he doesna seem to delete it either. Claire Bear!" Jamie frowned at my old nickname and he looked like a spoiled little boy when he crossed his arms trying to defend himself from my cuddling and walked away from me.

"You stubborn Scot! If he hasn't forgotten, that's his problem, but what matters to me now is you, Jamie! You're my husband, you know I'm yours, forever." I came closer to him, uncrossing his arms with a smile on my lips.

"Can ye repeat that?" He'd already calmed down and smiled lightly at me.

"I'm yours, forever!" I held him by the neck.

"Me too, Sassenach, and ye will never wear that red dress again!" he said at the same time that he ferociously pulled the dress from my body, without bothering to keep it intact.

"Jamie Fraser!" I scolded him, but without stopping smiling.

"Ye can buy another one later, but now ye won't need anything else..." he kissed me hard, and nothing more needed to be said.

And the panties had the same ending as the dress, Jamie ripped it right after he pushed me not too gently against the mattress. Even at half-light, I could see the lust in his eyes, and, pulling him by his tie to join me on the bed, I quickly removed all the pieces from his body, spreading the buttons of his shirt over the bed and the floor during the process. We were fighting a small battle with our hands and mouths, and panting breaths made our urgency increase. His hand held my arms above my head as his tongue began to kiss me everywhere, strategically stopping at my breasts and taking away my mental sanity in a few seconds.

"Jamie..."

"What do ye want, Sassenach?" I groaned, trying to pull him with my legs to end my suffering. "Ye want me, Claire? Is that it? - He licked my earlobe. - So tell me again... Who do ye belong to?"

"I am yours, James Fraser" he invaded me at once, making me moan without being able to open my eyes for a few moments. "I'm only yours..."

He smiled with a mixture of devotion and lush, letting go of my hands and burying himself more in me. I grabbed his hair tightly to make him look straight into my face, I wanted to show Jamie with my actions how committed I was to that feeling and that in my life no one mattered as much as he did. And by that time of the night, I couldn't think anymore and didn't even think that they could have neighbors who could hear us, all that mattered to me was that I could moan freely for him and to him, and in that room, nothing needed to be hidden.

Jamie's cell phone alarm rang at half past five in the morning and I wanted to throw that object against the wall for a moment, even though we had agreed that we would wake up early for one last rehearsal since the night before we went to sleep exhausted and couldn't think of anything else. Jamie had had everything on the tip of his tongue for a long time and was very well-practiced, but I understood his anguish in front of a moment like that, as I had already been through something very similar and knew how difficult it had been not to have a support to turn to. After we took a shower, I started to ask him questions randomly, and then a huge pride took over me; I always knew how intelligent he was, but seeing how he mastered that subject and how proud he was to be able to help other lives only gave me more certainty of the choices I had made by finally giving in to his charms and becoming his wife. He was perfect in every way, even if he was very jealous.

Around seven o'clock we had breakfast in the bedroom, and after getting ready and Jamie making sure I was wearing an outfit a little longer than the one the night before, we went down to the room where the posters were already on display. It was only a little bit before the scheduled time and all the posters would be evaluated by a group of professionals, among them me. Each project would be graded by three professionals who would be randomly selected just before the start of the exhibition and, five minutes before eight o'clock, the list of evaluators arrived for everybody and, seeing the look on Jamie's face, I already had a slight suspicion of who would be one of his three. And it didn't take long for Jackson to show up, he seemed very interested in what Jamie had to say. As I would evaluate other works, I looked at Jamie for a while as if to reassure him before I started my own round. My attention turned to the resident in front of me and I decided to let Jamie deal with Jackson, they were both already grown-ups and I couldn't believe my husband would lose his temper in front of everyone. But what I didn't expect was that, at the end of my detailed questioning for that first researcher, my eyes would see those two men shaking hands cordially while their faces were light and not tense, like the night before. Looking at me, Jamie had a proud smile on his lips and then I knew he had done very well in that little survey.

Right after lunch and without any further duty within Congress, I decided that we should get back to Boston as soon as possible. It would even be interesting for Jamie to attend Jackson's lecture, he was really excellent in his field, and with a brilliant didactic, quite a teacher. But without having to question him, I knew it would be time wasted and that he wouldn't be able to pay attention to anything, he would just dwell on the fact that I had something with Jackson. And I didn't want him to think about taking the quote from Hughes' book out of his work, we wouldn't find a research as perfect as his.

I said goodbye to the other colleagues who were at the same table as us, and with a restrained smile, I went to Jackson's direction to say goodbye and apologize beforehand, since we couldn't stay:

"Hughes, I'm sorry, but we can't stay for your lecture..." I tried to keep a healthy distance from him, which was impressively respected. "Unfortunately, our ticket is already bought, but I really wanted Jamie to attend.

"No problem, Claire Bear... And I'm sure you'll be able to teach your Jamie that topic very well when you finally get home!" he winked like he knew what was going on between us.

"Well..." I tried to clear the hoarseness in my throat. "On the way back I could say something to him..." I smiled shyly, but we were both aware of everything that was between the lines in that conversation.

Yeah, maybe we weren't being as discreet as we imagined.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

My alarm clock went off at 5:30 in the morning, taking me out of sleep and out of the more than comfortable position next to Claire. After my mild crisis of jealousy, yes, I had been light, even though Claire thought that I had exceeded my reactions a little... but also, what did she want? That guy was a perfect match for her, a successful doctor, older and even though she didn't want to admit it, handsome. Only after what we had done in that hotel room last night, I knew Claire was mine and I didn't have to doubt it.

After we woke up, we went over some questions that could be asked about my project and I felt good to be able to answer them without difficulty and seeing Claire's proud smile made me feel even better, I knew she loved me, but having her professional recognition was very good for my little ego. We had breakfast in the room, and after a small inspection and approval of the clothes Claire would wear, we went downstairs.

It was still early, but I positioned myself in front of my poster and began to mentally pass on some information while waiting to receive a list of who would evaluate me. Of course, I was lucky that Dr. Smile was one of the evaluators, I knew of the great possibility of this happening, after all, he was one of the best in our area, but after the previous night, I had my doubts if I would be evaluated fairly. I got a comforting look from Claire before she left for the evaluation round. And suddenly there he was, examining everything on my poster and waiting for me to start talking.

I took a deep breath and began to explain about the project, but before I could finish the first part of my speech, he interrupted me with a simple question:

"How did you do it?"

I looked at him seriously before I started to answer. Ok, it was a fair question, but as soon as the first words came out of my mouth, he interrupted me again, shaking his head negatively:

"I admire you, both as a future neurosurgeon and for being the person who got that attention..." and he turned his gaze to where Claire was.

I remained motionless for a while, not knowing what to answer to that statement. I knew I had a bad reaction last night, but did he notice? I looked at Jackson again and he was smiling as if he was enjoying my despair. I decided I didn't have to deny or say anything in response, I just smiled and he stretched out his hand to greet me:

"Your project is really good Fraser, I'm sure it will be something revolutionary in our area!"

I thanked him while I held his hand to answer the greeting. Nothing had gone as planned, but still, the result was more than positive and I was feeling lighter for finally getting rid of this Claire's old friend. We could have gotten along, but that didn't mean I loved his company.

After the presentations were over, we went to have lunch and decided to go back to Boston. Actually, the suggestion was made by Claire and I accepted immediately, I did not want to attend Jackson's lecture, even though I was a great admirer of his work, at that moment I could only see him with his hands on my wife and that would be awful for my mind to assimilate with something from neurology, a trauma that I would not like to gain so easily.

The flight back was quiet, we slept a little since the distance was short, but we were satisfied with the results of the congress, and I more than ever for being back in our world, without funny doctors keeping an eye on my wife's cleavage. When we got home, we were greeted by Adso, who wasted no time jumping on my lap when I threw myself on the couch, exhausted:

"I still can't accept how this cat is a traitor, I come home after two days and I'm completely ignored, except to put food in his bowl, for that he passes between my legs as if it was practically an order!"

"Ah Sassenach, you don't have to be jealous, I can take care of you later!" I said as I ran my hand through Adso and he purred in response.

Claire just snorted and said some things I didn't understand as she disappeared down the hall from our apartment. A few minutes later I saw that Adso jumped out of my lap quickly and I already knew what was coming:

"Adso!!!!" she screamed from our bedroom. "My favorite perfume!"

"What happened, Sassenach?" I asked, trying to pretend I didn't get it.

"JAMES ALEXANDER MALCOLM MACKENZIE FRASER!"

She yelling at me was no longer a good sign, and saying my whole name was even worse. What had I done this time? I looked at the cat, but he was gone, traitor. When I got to our bedroom, I saw that she was standing in front of the bathroom sink, where she kept her favorite makeup:

"What did I tell you about letting that naughty cat drink water from this sink? Where I leave my perfumes, which he made a point of knocking over and you forgot the drawers open?" she said trying to sound calm, but I knew she was incredibly nervous because of her vein bouncing off her neck.

"Maybe I forgot, but I warned him not to come here while we were away."

"Oh sure, because a cat would understand your orders," she said without patience.

"Sassenach, they're smarter than ye think!"

"Jamie! He destroyed my most expensive palette of shadows, probably thinking it was a toy because of the mirror, and you think he would ignore the urge to drink water when a certain person left the tap dripping?"

Ops, it may be that in the rush to get to the airport I forgot some things behind, but I wouldn't admit defeat that easy:

"We can go out and buy ye a new palette later, I owe ye a dress and panties too!" I smiled in a way that I knew I'd leave her completely at my fingertips as I hugged her, placing my hands strategically over her ass.

"Jamie..."

"All right, we can leave the panties off this list..." she just laughed and we walked up to bed.

The days went by and by the time we noticed, two months had passed since the congress and the project's test results only improved. Our data were reaching all the goals we had set and I couldn't be more satisfied. All the tests on the rats were surpassing expectations, and Claire was helping me to adapt some things that were not foreseen in my initial project. Unfortunately that day she couldn't make it to the lab and we agreed to have lunch together, which didn't happen either, since I was alone at the hospital cafeteria table:

"Dr. Fraser?" I heard someone calling me while I was distracted checking messages on my cell phone.

"Mary? Did something happen to my patient?" I asked since I'd left her looking after my patient on duty while I was at lunch.

"No, he's stable, the same way as when you left him an hour ago," she said quietly, and I noticed she was flushed.

"And what would it be about? Mary, you know you can sit here too, right? I don't own the table." I tried to joke around to make her more comfortable.

She sat still a little shy and looked at me directly for the first time:

"It's about your project... I read all about it and it's perfect! I know you're putting it into practice in the lab and I'm curious, is everything going well? Because I'm sure it will be revolutionary!"

I saw her eyes shining when talking about my project and I could not hide the pride of something I did reach the other members of the hospital, better yet, someone taking an interest in this way, even though she was not in the area of neurology, made me even happier. We started talking about the tests I was performing and I didn't notice that it was already time to return to the lab until I received a warning on my cell phone:

"Mary, I need to get back to the lab, it's time to write down some data, do ye want to see it up close?"

"Can I?" she asked with a smile.

"Sure! After all, I'm the boss there!" Okay, that wasn't entirely true, but I was excited to show someone my results.

When we got to the lab, I went to check on all the rats, they had already been through the whole recovery process, and they were at the observation stage to see if they had any relapses. I noticed that Mary stood at the door, not knowing if she could come in or watch closely what I was doing. I called her, confirming that it would be okay, and made sure to introduce all of my "friends". We were laughing at something Ian had done when I heard the lab door slamming:

"Dr. Fraser!" I didn't have to turn around to know Claire was mad. "What's Hawkins is doing in my lab?"

I turned to look at her and what I found was Dr. Beauchamp and not my Sassenach, she had that authoritarian look that I hated so much while I was just another resident, and hearing her say "my" lab didn't make me smile:

"I let her observe my experiments a little after she showed interest in my research, I thought it would be interesting for her to see something off the paper, to see what I've accomplished so far." I meant it and all in the first person; if she could be authoritative, so could I.

"This is a serious workplace and not a tourist spot for other people to come and observe and have fun! And that was clearly what you were doing! Totally unacceptable behavior from her and especially from your, Fraser, remember that you are just a resident!"

Now my face had closed completely. Mary wasted no time in apologizing and leaving the lab quickly, after all, everyone was afraid of Dr. Beauchamp:

"So that's how it's gonna be? I'm not in charge of this lab? Oh of course not, I'm just a resident, just another one of yer puppies that ye like to boss around!" I said it angrily, practically screaming.

"Jamie! Don't start that again, after all, you know you were wrong and that Mary was more interested in what was inside your lab coat than your project!"

Oh, so that was it. She was jealous!

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

For Jamie, those two months after the Congress were filled with adjustments to the original project after suggestions from some of the evaluators of his work; many solo surgeries perfectly performed by those firm and precise hands; and several night shifts, including weekends. The pride I had of him only grow with each passing day, he showed to be an increasingly capable professional and for me, it became more and more difficult to keep up appearances inside the hospital. My appointments also only expanded at that time, I had to deal with all the residents, my own surgeries, and the hospital documents, and the little free time I had was to take care of Adso, my plants, and my Scot.

I had to reschedule another lunch with Jamie that morning, Dr. Goldenberg had asked me for an update on Jamie's project progress and the only free time I had was at noon. We talked a lot and he seemed very happy and hopeful with the results, so much so that he asked for a printed copy of the article, even if it was still incomplete, he loved to read about the new researches, and staying updated was what kept him so active and still working, even after he was old enough to retire.

I left his office excited and went straight to the lab, I knew Jamie would already be there watching the results and talking to his four-paw friends, and I needed to tell him how happy Dr. Goldenberg was with the partial results, as well as ask him to print the latest version of the article he was still working on. When I was already in the hallway, I could see his red-haired figure perfectly lined up in a low ponytail appear a little further ahead of me and I tried without much success to contain my smile. He had his back to me and I couldn't see that right in front of him there was another woman with him. He talked so excitedly with her, showing that he was so taken with the subject, that scene reminded me of those animal shows where a splendid peacock shows up for the female before copulation. Ridiculous. My blood boiled almost instantly, but I managed to walk slowly to the laboratory without drawing too much attention from the people circulating in the corridors, and as soon as I got to the room I could hear the laughter he was exchanging with Mary Hawkins. And she was melting for him, of course. I could no longer contain my sanity, and I entered the laboratory abruptly, closing the door hard to draw attention to myself.

"Dr. Fraser! What is Hawkins doing in my lab?" I was possessed and wanted to claim something as MINE since I couldn't do that with my own husband.

Jamie kept staring at me for a few moments, but I didn't soften my authoritarian look, he couldn't do that to me, there and like that.

"I let her observe my experiments a little after she showed interest in my research, I thought it would be interesting for her to see something off the paper, to see what I'd accomplished so far." His gaze was as stern as I'd ever seen before.

"This is a serious workplace and not a tourist spot for other people to come and observe and have fun!" I crossed my arms in front of my chest while trying to keep serenity on my face. "And that was clearly what you were doing! Totally unacceptable behavior from her and especially from you, Fraser, remember that you are just a resident!"

Jamie's gaze became cold and distant, almost outstripping my body as he stared at me. Mary left ashamed without saying more than two words, and I thanked at that moment for having my bad reputation inside that hospital, I didn't want her to spend any more time with my husband than she had already:

"So that's how it's gonna be? I'm not in charge of this lab? Oh, of course not, I'm just a resident, just another one of yer puppies that ye like to boss around!" he said it almost screaming.

"Jamie!" I wasn't stepping out of my character, not at that moment. "Don't start that again, after all, you know you were wrong and that Mary was more interested in what was inside your lab coat than your project!" I firmly stuck my index finger to his chest, spitting out my last words without hiding my discontent.

"Claire, I can't believe you're jealous of Hawkins..." his stare was a mixture of fun and doubt.

"I'm not jealous of her." that was the biggest lie of all, but I couldn't agree with him at that moment. "And I just came here to say that the meeting I had about YOUR PROJECT was very good and Dr. Goldenberg is very excited about the results and wants to read the paper today." I started walking around the room, I couldn't keep staring at him. "And for your knowledge, I can say that this is MY LAB, it was with resources raised by me that the hospital renewed EVERYTHING in here," I said with determination and a little pride. "Besides, you see that scanning electron microscope? Which you use so much and which is essential for your evaluations? The hospital won because of me, and thanks to MY PROJECT, - his surprised face was visible and I walked toward the door, turning in the middle of the way to face him one last time. "And did you see me bragging about it at some point for you, or to get some student's attention?" His face blushed and he lowered his eyes to the ground. "Oh, well. So don't give me that superiority face, I'm in charge here."

"Claire, wait... we need to talk." He walked right up to me, holding my arm so I could stop walking.

"No!" I said firmly, our faces so close that I could feel the warmth of his breath. "Don't come after me, Fraser, I can't deal with you now."

I walked steadily down the hall and wishing my office was closer than it really was. I'd have to wait to go through the whole hospital so I could finally deal with my restrained crying and the nausea that had settled in my stomach after that tough moment with Jamie. I walked down a secondary hallway, a shortcut well known to me during my trips to the lab, but what I couldn't count on was a warm hand pulling me firmly by the arm and a slightly anxious Scot pushing me as fast as possible into the small cleaning supplies storage room of Mrs. Fitz, one of the oldest janitors in the hospital.

"What do you want with me, Jamie?" I said furiously as he locked the door from the inside.

"I told ye we needed to talk, and that's what we'll do now Sassenach." he said it firmly as he got closer to me.

"And you didn't understand that I didn't want to do that now?" I tried to get rid of him, but the little space didn't allow it. "I don't have to do what you tell me to, James Fraser. Open this door now!"

"Are ye happy to taste yer own poison, Dr. Beauchamp?" he seemed to enjoy what was happening, and I couldn't get away from his body so close to mine, his arms leaning against my waist, one on either side of my body.

"What are you talking about?" I was listening to my latest trap come apart faster than I imagined.

"Ye see now how hard it was for me during that Congress?" he spoke against my ear. "Seeing ye free and I couldna claim for my wife?"

"And what does that have to do with today?" I made myself misunderstand, even though I knew exactly what he was talking about.

"And ye still have to ask, Sassenach?" he approached my body more firmly, making it clear how his body reacted to mine.

I could no longer contain myself, kissing him eagerly, without any control of my actions. Our tongues were everywhere as he pressed me against the small closet fixed to the wall, returning the caresses in the same way and leaving my skin around my mouth instantly reddened by the contact his slightly grown beard made against me. His hands went quickly in search of my knickers, skillfully lifting my skirt, and I thanked him at that moment for not wearing a coat, it would be even more difficult to make that trick inside that poorly lit cubicle full of boxes and cleaning materials. He pulled me into his lap in a single movement and, without unclenching our mouths, he penetrated me at once, and being able to hold myself on those metal shelves was essential so that he could move inside me with all that fury.

When we reached the climax, we groaned inside each other's mouths and, before I could get out of Jamie's lap, we heard the knob moving and a very well-known voice outside grumbling for not being able to get inside:

"But these students have no other place to do these things..." Mrs. Fitz was very angry, even though she was very sweet in her day-to-day life. "Every week that's it, now." We couldn't stop laughing together while we waited for her to walk away.

"Am I a student now?" I said it while I put on my panties and put on my clothes.

"Well, I still have to teach ye some things, Sassenach..." he's finished buckling his belt. "Like, for example, having sex without making those little squeaky noises!"

"I don't make squeaky noises, Jamie!" I pretended to be outraged by the whole thing, but I couldn't help laughing at it.

"Umm, are ye sure about that?" he put a lock of my hair behind my ear to try to tame them somehow. "I guess I'll just have to record so I can prove ye completely wrong!" he laughed, raising my chin and gently kissing me. "And just for yer information, Mrs. Hardhead Fraser, it doesna matter if people have eyes on me, I dinna have eyes for anyone but ye, mo nighean donn! Do ye understand me?"

"Understood... I'm sorry I acted that way, Jamie, I couldn't help myself when I saw all that..."

"I apologize to ye for not controlling my temper when I answered ye... And as for Mary, I was excited about her euphoria, I didn't realize she might be hitting on me..."

"Maybe she had a mix of the two, your project is very good... But now it doesn't matter!" I kissed him tenderly. "Now I have to go straight to my afternoon chores, I still have to stop by the cafeteria to pick up something to eat..."

"Two o'clock in the afternoon and ye didna have lunch again, Sassenach?" he'd been worried about me for over a month, the daily rush didn't allow me to eat properly.

"I know, Jamie... But I promise to make a nice dinner to wait for you at home at night, okay?" I put my arms around his neck again. - Will you be home by 8:00?

"I'll be out of here by 8:00 if nothing shows up in between! Ye ken how it is in the emergency at the end of the day..."

"Yes, I know very well... I wait for your message, then!" I kissed him on the lips for a long time. "I'll see if anyone's coming by, I'll let you know on your cell!"

I left with caution and, seeing that there was no one passing by, I left quickly through the corridor, smiling like a fool as I walked to the cafeteria and sending a message to Jamie saying that everything was quiet on the way to the lab. After grabbing a sandwich and an extra-strong cup of coffee, my favorite, I sat down at my table with the idea of looking at the charts while I ate. But after the first bite and the first sip, a strong urge to vomit hit me, and even if for a moment my subconscious said it could be a sign of pregnancy, the memory of the proof I had had almost twenty years earlier came as a bucket of cold water to my little hope. I had had the confirmation that it couldn't be real, I could never give a child to my Jamie and I hoped that he would be able to handle it, because I couldn't live without him anymore.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

After our little adventure at Mrs. Fitz's storage, I came back to finish my shift with a smile on my face. Fighting with Claire was never a good thing, but I couldn't hide my happiness when I knew she was a little jealous of me and knew she could understand what I had felt when I saw her with Dr. Smile was even better. I just hoped that I wouldn't have any more of these crises in the work environment, we were taking a lot of risks with these getaways in the middle of the day. But who was I kidding? I was loving seeing Claire more adventurous.

When I came back to do my rounds, I bumped into a Mary Hawkins who was totally embarrassed and kept apologizing to me. I tried to reassure her by keeping it down, after all, no one needed to know what had happened in the lab, but she wouldn't listen and talk over me:

"Hawkins!" I said it loud and clear, making everyone around us stop talking, including her. "I've said it's all right, and let me deal with Dr. Beauchamp! Now you can go back with yer patient who's been calling you for the last 15 minutes!"

She just looked at me in amazement and agreed with her head, going back to her patient who had really been calling for a while. The other residents were still staring at me, waiting for an explanation for me to call the nurse's attention:

"What was it? I was just doing my job! In fact, ye should do yer job too! We still have a lot of patients to attend to!" I turned around to walk out, but I couldn't help but overhear one of them saying that I was hanging out with Dr. Beauchamp a lot. They couldn't have imagined how much and laughing about it, I walked down the hall.

By a miracle, I was able to finish all my chores before 8 p.m., and without any patients in the emergency room requiring my care, I sent a message to Claire that I would arrive on time for dinner. I could not contain my anxiety to think about what she was preparing for us, Claire did not use to cook much, this was one of the things that I always make fun of her, that even being an extremely skilled surgeon, in the kitchen, it could not be said the same.

But when I got home, I found everything calm, the light in the kitchen was off and I couldn't smell any food. I left my things in the hallway closet and went after my wife:

"Sassenach? Didn't ye get my message? Or did you decide that eating out was the best option to avoid starving your husband? Or intoxication? Sassenach?" I repeated when I got no answer.

I went to our room and found her asleep. I was surprised, even though we were always tired, we never slept early, much less Claire who always brought work home and kept busy until I got back from the hospital. I got close to her and saw that she was still wearing her work clothes, apparently, she was really tired, she hated it when I lay in bed with the clothes I had used to work:

"Sassenach..." I said softly in her ear while kissing her cheek affectionately.

I heard only grumbling in response. Her eyes were still closed, but I knew she was listening:

"Claire, if ye keep sleeping, you'll wake me at four in the morning with some crazy desire for sex or food..."

"Um...don't think so much of yourself, I'm not hungry...for any of the options..."

"Hey, ye offend me like that!" I laughed as I kissed her on the cheek to see if she opened her eyes. "Come on, let's take a shower and go out to dinner, I'm starving."

"No... it's good in here!" she said and turned the other way.

"Then I'll lie down for a while too," I said laying next to her, but I got a push as a response.

"Jamieee, you stink, you're not going to lie down next to me!"

"Gosh Sassenach, one offense after another! But just so you know, you're not smelling any better, either!"

"Jamie!" she screamed when I tried to kiss her. "I told you to take a shower! I don't want you on my side smelling like a hospital!"

I took a deep breath and tried to understand why I was stinking, but she wasn't, she was probably just tired and grumpy about it:

"All right, since you asked so nicely and politely, I'll take a shower, but you owe me dinner!" and I only got murmurs in response.

That night we ended up asking for something to eat, even though Claire insisted that she had eaten something before leaving the hospital and was not hungry. I didn't insist anymore because she had finally agreed to let me lie in bed with her and even cuddled up to me to sleep as she always did. She really must have been just tired and I ignored her harsh humor against me. But the next few days things continued to get strange, Claire was becoming more and more distant, answering me in a monosyllabic way while we talked about our day, and anything I did against her taste, turned into a silly argument, with her yelling at me the same way she did at the hospital, something that made me extremely uncomfortable.

I thought it could be an uglier PMS crisis, I still didn't know how Claire really acted in those times and I knew that with the pressure of our project, plus keeping our marriage hidden was being very difficult for her, so I tried to understand and with each answer I received, I took a deep breath and ignored. But I'm not the most patient man on the planet, after all, I'm a Fraser and we're not known for our infinite patience. One day I left the hospital early and decided to surprise my beautiful wife.

I knew that during the week our apartment was not organized the way Claire liked, there were always books everywhere, papers and notes thrown around the table, as well as the kitchen with some dishes to wash. I took advantage of the fact that she had warned me that she would arrive later due to a routine appointment with her doctor, and I started organizing and cleaning the house. When I threw myself on the couch, totally exhausted, I heard the front door opening and was waiting for compliments, but what came out of Claire's mouth was far from what I had imagined:

"Fraser! Where did you put the books I had left here on the table?" she practically spat the words out in that tone I knew and hated.

"I dinna ken, Dr. Beauchamp, probably in their place on the shelf!" I answered with the same rudeness.

"Don't joke about me now, those books are important to our project, it took me a whole night to find them on my bookcase!"

"I'm not joking, I just decided to surprise ye, tidying up the house and leaving everything clean and organized the way you like, but it seems that lately, everything I do is not good enough! - I was still talking in a dry way, but with a hint of sadness.

"Jamie, don't be exaggerated, I just don't want you going through my stuff without my permission, that's a lot to ask?"

"Claire, it's not just yer stuff! I can't get more than yes or no when I ask about yer day, if I insist, I get harsh answers, as if I were one of yer students testing yer patience. If I try to please ye, to get close to ye, it feels like I'm killing ye! What's the problem? Are you tired of me?"

"Of course not Jamie, you're overreacting, I'm just going through a lot of stress and I don't want someone asking me all the time if I'm okay, if I've eaten or why I don't want to go out to dinner!" At this point, we were practically yelling at each other.

"Ahhh sorry if I'm worried about my wife's health! But I don't know if ye ken that, when we marry someone, it's to share with someone else what we're feeling. It's to let the other person help when we have a lot of things on our backs! It's just that ye dinna seem to ken what it's like to share yer life with another person or how to be loved by someone!" I knew I had gone too far with those last words and I could feel her irritation growing.

"Jamie Fraser, do you want so much to know what's keeping me up all night? What's making me angry every second? Well, then know this, I'm pregnant. And that was not supposed to happen!" she screamed with tears in her eyes.

I just stood there without saying anything for a few seconds, trying to assimilate everything she had told me, she was pregnant? Was I going to be a father? I started to open a smile, when I remembered her last words, that this wasn't supposed to happen...so she didn't want to have children? Is that why she was so angry? Is that why she kept me away?

"So that's it, ye thought ye could hide that I would be a father? Deprive me of being a father? Is it so bad to be pregnant?" I said the words quickly, totally disappointed in the person in front of me.

"No, it's not that, it's just that I... we... it's not the time, I don't..." she was stuttering while the tears were running down her cheeks.

"And when were ye planning on telling me? And why aren't ye happy? Claire, tell me, why is it so bad for ye?"

"You didn't understand anything, Jamie! And I can't talk about it now, not with you like this, yelling at me. I need to breathe!" she said taking her bag again.

"Claire! Where are ye going? We're not done talking! Come back here!" but what I got back was a slamming of the door in my face.

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Flashback On

I was in my second year of college and we still couldn't see patients, we had a lot to learn before that, and that assisted reproduction class was one of those lessons. We were taking the subject along with the Biomedicine group and my partner was not one of the best. The boy was disturbed, disconcentrated, and very careless, so much so that I caught his attention more than once while he was doing the ultrasound on me, the practical part of that discipline that could be tested on the students since the ultrasound was not harmful to anyone's health. He had definitely not become my friend during those practices, I was already wearing my protective armor so fixed to my body that I didn't open my guard to anyone else inside that university. His face was in doubt while he was taking the exam on me and as soon as he finished he got up and joined the line of the other students, for the whole class we only had one laptop and my colleague took a few minutes to evaluate my images. As soon as his turn came, he called Professor Dunfey to close the diagnosis and their faces became more and more serious, whispers started to be exchanged with intensity between the two until both pairs of eyes fixed intensely on me and, with great regret, the teacher came to give me the most devastating and unexpected news of all. Besides not having my parents by my side anymore, he was telling me that I couldn't have my own family. The tests showed that I was completely infertile, and even though the teacher asked me to retake the test in a laboratory he trusted, in addition to complementary tests to complete the diagnosis, I didn't have the courage to have a more devastating confirmation than I had received that day.

 

Flashback off

But now I was there, inside my bathroom and sitting in the toilet, two weeks after my first nausea and a long process of denial, waiting impatiently to see if the two red lines would appear in that little white device or not. And a mixture of surprise and anguish took hold of my body when I had confirmation that I was really pregnant, that possibility had already been discarded from my life and I didn't know what to really feel. I'd never stopped using condoms with any sexual partners other than Jamie and even then because I didn't think I'd have the slightest chance of getting pregnant, I thought it was insane to think about using any contraceptive method, no matter how much I'd lied to Jamie by confirming that I used hormones every month.

After the confirmation with the blood test and the evaluation of all the Beta HCG indexes, by my estimations, I deduced that the baby had been conceived during our reconciliation sex at the Neurology Congress, and for a moment I got lost in those days and in the intensity with which our bodies desired each other after Jamie's unbridled jealousy. But reality came like a bucket of cold water and I realized that I was pregnant at the worst possible moment for both of us, and I didn't know how to break the news to Jamie. Being his wife and having to hide our relationship had been very difficult for both of us from day one, but finally, it had been introduced fluidly into our daily lives and a child at that moment would only mess everything up, and we would lose our job and our reputation for my carelessness. However, I would never, at any time, think of getting rid of the baby, even if the price for it was my job, and that was a difficult choice to make on my own. Jamie still had an entire semester inside the hospital and I could never destroy his dreams of finally becoming a neurosurgeon, so I spent a few weeks debating internally to try to find a way out that was best for both of us, but I ended up finding no answer at all and getting further and further away from him.

However, the last straw was when I got home one night and Jamie had organized the whole apartment, which was a miracle for a weekday, but also putting away all the books that I had separated for the complements of the project, besides a book on assisted reproduction and fertility that I was reading to try to understand more what was happening to me. I tried for weeks to find a way out of it all, after all, I had been the one to blame for not having investigated further what was wrong with me soon after I found out about my possible infertility, but all the demands I began to receive, in answers to my own, finally made me talk about everything that was happening at once.

"Jamie Fraser, do you want to know so much about what's keeping me up all night? What's making me angry every second? Well, then know this, I'm pregnant!!! And that wasn't supposed to happen!" I was screaming, the echo of my own voice echoing in my ears because of Jamie's silence.

His face changed while he clearly assimilated what I had said. He seemed for a moment to want to smile, but soon his frown came back with everything and he began to deduce what was going on in my mind.

"So that's it, ye thought ye could hide that I would be a father? Deprive me of being a father? Is it so bad to be pregnant?" he spoke faster than usual, the disappointment taking over his face.

"No, it's not that, it's just that I... we... it's not the time, I don't..." I stuttered, still terrified by his disappointment, while the tears kept running down my face.

"And when were ye planning on telling me? And why aren't ye happy? Claire, tell me, why is it so bad for ye?"

"You didn't understand anything, Jamie! And I can't talk about it now, not with you like this, yelling at me, I need to breathe!" I said in frustration, controlling my crying, grabbing my purse again, and going towards the door.

"Claire! Where are you going? We're not done talking! Come back here!" I couldn't stay anymore, and I left home quickly without looking back.

I held my tears to the parking lot, but getting there all the frustration and sadness hit me hard and I started crying unreservedly and breathing with sadness when I saw that Jamie hadn't come after me to the car, I still had a little hope that it might happen, but apparently, I was wrong. He had got it all wrong, but he left no room for me to explain myself and his judgments did not help me at all to decide to leave my own home. I had nowhere else to go, I had already given up the other house and my mind was so heavy and my eyes so tired of crying that I could think of no one better to go to than Joe.

"LJ, why the crying face?" my friend said as he opened the door of his house to me, hugging me afterward.

"Can I come in, Joe?" Still sniffing, I tried to smile, but I knew it didn't work out too well.

"Sure, come on, I'll make you some tea." He took my hand, taking me to the kitchen.

Gail wasn't home, had taken Benny to dinner at Grandma's and I silently thanked her for it, not sure I could put out everything I was feeling with her around. And inside that kitchen so well-known to me, I started to tell Joe everything that had been going on for the past few weeks with me, starting with the fertility evaluation during college.

"What a hard thing to deal with, Claire... What does Jamie think of that?" he said it trying not to show an even greater discomfort.

"Well, that's the problem. I hadn't said anything to him until tonight." Joe looked at me with surprise. "I was trying to find a way out of all this, but I ended up finding nothing and just making things worse with Jamie..."

"You and your habit of hiding behind that armor of an independent and fearless woman... Why didn't you share anything with your husband? He's the most important person in your life besides this baby on the way..." he smiled as he pointed at my still flat belly. "He has a right to know what's going on in your life, even more so because it interferes directly with his everyday life."

"I always ruin everything!" I breathed in frustration. "And what I needed right now was a whiskey, and I can't even do that because of the pregnancy..."

"What you needed most right now was to go talk to Jamie. Stop running away, Claire..." he shook my hand gently over the table. "He'll always be there for you and helping you find the best way out. That's what a partner does and I know he does his job very well."

"I know, Joe... But I don't know how to get home after all that... I need to rearrange my ideas and try to be clearer with Jamie." I smiled weakly at him. "But that won't be till tomorrow... Can I stay here tonight? I promise I'll sort everything out tomorrow..."

"You can stay as long as you want here, LJ..." he caressed the side of my arm. "Do you want me to tell him you're here?"

"Yes, please..." I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "I don't want him to be more worried about me... At least I hope he's worried about me..."

"And do you have any doubts about that?" Joe said it seriously and I looked at him with shame, taking some of the tea he had served me to try to hide behind the cup, inspiring the soft scent of chamomile. "That Scot loves you more than anything, you bet!"

If my night had badly slept, I'd be better off. I couldn't close my eye as soon as I went up to the guest room, and that dawn was one of the longest of all. Jamie had slept with me every night since I had traveled to Scotland, and all it took were those few months together to not know what to do without him at my side. After much thought and staring at the ceiling, I got tired of pretending I was asleep and decided to get up just before sunrise to do the one thing I knew how to do well: work. By that time in the morning, I was very hungry and, since I was still sick, I didn't want to eat anything at Joe's house, in the hospital cafeteria I had a single snack that I could eat entirely and without vomiting right away, and I wanted it more than anything.

I quickly got to the hospital at daybreak, grabbing my favorite snack, and some tea, went to my office to eat, not without taking a shower before Jamie's shift started. Yes, I still didn't know how to deal with what had happened to us, no matter how much I knew I wouldn't be able to run from this conversation. I couldn't and I didn't want to, not anymore. I was willing to talk openly with Jamie to decide what we would do with all that, even if I didn't know how to start talking about what was happening.

I took advantage of the fact that my shifts on Wednesdays started later and I hid in my office. No one knew I had arrived, and as much as I initially wanted to catch up on my work, I got lost several times staring at nothing, my head away from there, thinking incessantly about my redhead and what his night had been like.

Closer to noon my stomach woke me from the daydream and I got up ready to pick some chopped fruit and the same old snack, plus some chamomile tea that seemed to be my bairn's favorite. I caressed my tummy for the first time and smiled as I remembered how Jamie said that word and how his eyes sparkled as he spoke of his nephew who was already on his way.

I stood up determined, we would have the baby anyway and finally defining how it would be done brought me great relief. As soon as I had something to eat in the cafeteria, I would talk to Jamie about all this and talk to Dr. Goldenberg to ask for my resignation, his secretary had scheduled a meeting with him for three o'clock in the afternoon. I was no longer afraid for what was to come, after all, I had enough resources to keep us through the months of pregnancy and until I was back on the job market. And of course, having Jamie's family behind everything gave me a little more peace of mind. As much as I didn't like depending on anyone, now with a child, things had changed and for her, I would do everything in my power, even if I had to go against some things that were primordial to me.

I was focused on every bite and every sip of tea, tasting everything as if it were a divine gift, still absorbed in my thoughts, but trying not to rush into what was going to happen after lunchtime. At the end of my last sip, I slowly turned my body in the chair toward the front door to get up; but before I could do that, a song began to play on the speakers in the cafeteria while a certain Scot with balloons in one hand and a rose in the other gave me one of the most passionate smiles of all. And after that, none of the thoughts that filled my mind existed anymore.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

The slamming of the door still sounded in my ears and I couldn't believe what had happened in the last few minutes. I just wanted to please my wife, I just wanted us to get back to "normal", but now I had done the complete opposite and she was nowhere near me, worse, she was completely devastated by the words I spat in her face, without consideration or care. But I was hurt too, she had hidden the pregnancy from me, again she had walked away from me to try and deal with everything on her own.

I threw myself back on the couch, but now I was not tired physically but emotionally. I didn't know if she would come back that night, if she had gone for a walk around the block to cool her head or if she had gone somewhere far away from me. I should have gone after her, insisted that she stay and talk, but it would have been worse, I knew that, we were both hurt, talking more than we should, and nothing good would come out of a conversation at a time like that.

I picked up my cell phone that was thrown on the table and stared at it for a few minutes, I didn't know if I should call, if I should text just asking if she was okay, after all, she was pregnant...Christ, my Sassenach was expecting a child, I would become a father! I felt some tears blur my eyes, but they were soon gone when I remembered Claire's words, she didn't seem a bit excited about all this, and why? Before I could think about it anymore, I felt the phone vibrating in my hand, I thought it might be Claire, but the picture that appeared on the screen was of another woman:

"What do you want, Jenny?" I picked up rudely.

"Och brother, I can feel yer love from here!"

"It's not a good time for us to talk. I'll call ye tomorrow..." I didn't want to talk to anybody but my wife. I don't even know if I want to talk to her right now.

"Jamie Fraser! What did ye do?" I heard my sister scream when I intended to let her go.

"Jenny..."

"Don't give me that Jenny, no! I ken ye very well to know ye did something wrong! Are ye at home? What about Claire?"

"If I wanted to talk to ye about it, I would have called ye, but that wasn't the case..." I said pissed off.

"Stop being such a hardheaded and talk about what happened. Ye ken I'm not gonna leave ye alone until I know all, and I also ken ye need to talk to someone!"

I just grunted on the phone in response.

"Ye ken I'm on rest because of the pregnancy, I have all the time in the world..." my sister spoke again.

"Then ye should go to sleep and not torment yer little brother!"

"Ye're the one who's upset here, I'm super calm and relaxed, just waiting to put some sense into your head!"

I complained again, but I knew she was right, I needed to talk to someone, and my sister wouldn't give up anytime soon. I took a deep breath and told her everything that happened, from the distance Claire had taken to our argument that resulted in her leaving home:

"Ye're so stupid, brother! How could ye say those things to Claire?" she yelled at me.

"Didn't ye hear what I said before?" I answered angrily.

"Of course I did and clearly ye're an idiot, Claire is really making a sacrifice to stay calm with ye!"

"Keeping calm? She almost ripped my head off!"

"Ye have no idea what pregnancy does to a woman's head, don't ye? Jamie, stop and think for a minute, ye two got married, didn't ye? Six months ago? And ye did all this hiding from everybody, she's worried about her future, about yer future! Hiding a relationship may not be easy, but hiding a pregnancy is totally impossible! It really wasn't a good time and I think I ken yer wife better than ye, don't ye ken how Claire likes to have control of everything? And how she feels totally powerless now?"

I didn't use to like hearing my sister's words, because she was always right and reality hit me hard, leaving me with a tight heart and almost no air. I had been an idiot not to see why she was so desperate, why it was not a good time to become parents...

"Jamie, I ken she didn't do it right to hide everything from ye, after all, ye should decide everything together, but try to understand everything she's been through... I'm sure she had a reason to do what she did, what ye two need now is to talk! Go after her and discuss the next steps together!"

"Thanks, Jenny, I ken I dinna say that much, but ye're the only person who can get any sense into my head... I mean, ye and Claire."

"I ken brother, that's why we got along so well!" she laughed.

But I couldn't answer it, another call came in on my cell and I panicked when I saw it was Joe. I hung up with Jenny quickly and went to find out what he had to say. It was about Claire, she was at his house, well and she was going to spend the night there. My heart squeezed again, I couldn't imagine how much it had hurt my wife that she didn't want to sleep at home, but Joe assured me that everything was fine, that we just needed a good night's sleep to put our ideas and feelings in place.

Joe couldn't have been more wrong, how would I get a good night's sleep away from her? Ever since we went to Lallybroch, I didn't know what it was like to sleep alone anymore and I couldn't close my eyes without having my Sassenach's body by my side. I rolled around in bed several times until I gave up trying to sleep, it was useless and I decided I had something important to do, if Claire thought she had to be in charge and take all the responsibilities just for herself, she was totally wrong.

I arrived at the hospital way before my schedule and walked determined to Dr. Goldenberg's office. I knew that he only attended with an appointment, but I also knew that he had just arrived, probably his appointments would be later and his secretary always smiled at me when I was there; it was not the right thing to do, but I would use that to my advantage. And it worked, with a smile on her face, she informed me that the Doctor would see me in minutes.

I kept rehearsing in my head everything I would say to him. I would be honest, I had no other option, I would have to say that Claire and I were married and that she was pregnant. It was totally against the hospital's rules and we had signed a contract, but there was only one more semester left of my residency, then I could promise not to be part of Claire's team anymore, something that would be very difficult inside that hospital, but that was what I could do. Soon I was called into the office and I didn't give Dr. Goldenberg much time to say anything, I said my text completely rehearsed and without pauses:

"Are you done, Dr. Fraser?" he asked me smiling.

"Aye, Dr. Goldenberg, I'm sorry my words came out that way, but I guess nervousness took over..."

"And not for nothing, you've just confessed that you've committed several infractions of our hospital regulations and not only you, included Dr. Beauchamp, or is it Fraser now?" he asked seriously, but he opened a smile right after, leaving me confused as to what to answer. "Don't worry, young man, everything I've heard now is nothing new to me, you thought you were fooling everyone, but the looks of a couple in love are hard to hide! I was just watching and waiting to see if this relationship between you wouldn't interfere with the quality of your work, so I even talked to your wife, asking for a project report..."

"So ye already knew? What about the Hospital Regulations?"

"As you yourself pointed out, Fraser, there is only one semester left of your residency, and seeing that during the previous semester no problems occurred in your working relationship with Dr. Beauchamp, I think we will have no problem in making an exception in this rule for the couple. But know that if you are caught doing something improper on the spot, you will not get a second chance!" he meant it.

"Of course, Doctor, ye're very right! But... could ye authorize a little demonstration of love?" and I smiled at him, telling him about my plan to apologize to Claire.

I looked through the glass in the cafeteria and there she was, sitting, eating her snack totally distracted. I gave the signal to my accomplice and he turned on the music that started to sound through the speakers of the room, it was my cue and I entered the cafeteria with the heart balloons in one hand, a rose in the other, and the hope that everything would work out.

https://youtu.be/7ANNiX9vCXQ

While the melody took over the atmosphere, I walked with a smile on my face in her direction, drawing the attention of everyone who was there eating, as well as others who were just passing by, but I didn't mind, the only person I saw in front of me was her, who was still scared and staring at me.

When I got to the table she was sitting at, I knelt in front of her, letting go of the balloons I was holding and giving her the rose. I didn't give her the chance to say anything at that moment, I passed my hand over her belly and deposited a loving kiss, taking a sigh from Claire. I took advantage that she was looking directly at me and I pulled her hand close to my body, putting on her finger the ring that I had given her at the airport, at the first proposal:

"Sassenach, I ken I may seem repetitive, but will ye marry me? And now it will be for real, for everyone to know!"

"Jamie..." she spoke with tears running down her cheeks. "Do you still have to ask?"

I opened a smile, bigger than the one I had before, and I stood up, pulling her along with me. Without wasting any more time, I kissed her, bringing her body close to mine. I couldn't help but hear the screams and whistles through the cafeteria, but I ignored them, just keeping my gaze on my wife, guiding her in a slow and clumsy dance to the sound of our music. Little by little people were leaving the place and leaving us alone, but we didn't notice, we were still in our private bubble that even if it had been burst minutes before, we were still strong, after all, there would be three of us now.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

The song chosen by Jamie had already finished a few minutes ago, but we were still hugging in the middle of the cafeteria, with our bodies moving slowly from one side to the other still dancing to a song that only continued to play inside our imaginary bubble. Jamie was a hopeless romantic, and even finding his last act something completely crazy, I knew he wouldn't have done something so loud without first talking to one of his superiors, or at least I hoped he hadn't been so insane as to put our careers at risk that way. Walking away from me, he gave me a broad smile and began to speak with a lower tone of voice:

"Let's go to yer office, Sassenach, we need to talk." I smiled nodding and caressed his face with tenderness.

We left the cafeteria walking next to each other through the hospital corridors and without showing much affection beyond our little earlier show, but I could see in his happy gaze that my Scot wanted to hold me in his arms on both sides of my waist and spin me in the air. And as soon as I closed my office door, that's exactly what he did to me. We spun a few times while I held myself tight to his neck and laughed as low as possible until Jamie slowly put me back on the ground.

"Are ye all right, Sassenach?" he kept looking at my face to try and find something wrong. "I'm sorry, as much as I ken ye're pregnant, I couldn't think of anything, I just wanted to put you on my lap and hold you as tight as possible!

"Don't worry, Daddy!" he smiled at me with tears in his eyes. "Mommy's fine, but she needs to say some things to you..."

"Sassenach, ye dinna have to say..."

"No Jamie, I do." I interrupted him, pulling my chair from behind the table to stand next to the other chair in the room, and making Jamie sit in front of me, I held his hands tightly as I continued talking. "I know I didn't react in the best way, I ended up keeping everything to myself once again and trying to deal with it all on my own."

"And ye ken ye dinna have to do that anymore, right?" he caressed my face. "I'm here to be yer advisor when ye need it too, a couple to make it work has to be much more than just a couple. And having you in my life has made me learn that when we share our doubts, we can solve them easily!" I nodded weakly, without the courage to look him in the eye.

"I lied to you, Jamie." I stared at his face and could see that he froze his breath and his gaze for a few moments, not knowing what I was talking about. "Well, I have a little story to tell you..." I took a deep breath, trying to take courage.  "When I was in the assisted reproduction class in college, during practice class, my partner did the ultrasound on me, I don't know if at Harvard was the same way..." he nodded his head without taking his attention away from me. "Well, when I was acting as a patient in this discipline, my ultrasound showed a diagnosis of infertility. I was so shocked by that news, after all, we were just taking a routine practice class and I would never expect something like that. And even though the teacher insisted that I run other tests for a complete diagnosis, I was so devastated to hear about it that I didn't have the courage to go after it... And that diagnosis remained until a little over a month ago when I had my first symptom of nausea..." I smiled with shame at him, lowering my gaze again to our entwined hands "I kept denying the possibility of having a child in my belly for a few weeks for obvious reasons, and when I took the pharmacy test and had confirmation of the blood test, I couldn't believe it all, how it was possible to be pregnant after being sure that I was infertile. And after I was happy to have fulfilled a very old dream of mine, I remembered about the hospital rules and how we couldn't adjust everything without one of us losing our job..." even with shame I managed to lift my face and look at the sweetest and most understanding pair of eyes in the world. "I'm sorry again for not sharing my anguish with you, I don't know how I managed to take it so far, again I made a huge mess..."

"I'm glad ye finally told me everything that was going on in this little head..." he stroked my hair. "Last night when ye left home, after much thought I figured ye were acting strange just because of the hospital, not knowing how to face everything... But having an infertility diagnosis for so many years must not have been an easy thing to deal with... Ye weren't expecting a pregnancy..."

"I wasn't expecting it, but I should have told you that right when we started to have symptoms..." I squeezed his hands tight. "I forced you to a relationship with me in a rather crazy process, and on top of that, I made you marry a woman who couldn't give you children, and even though she knew that she didn't tell you anything..."

"Well, everything that has happened these last two days tells me otherwise, Sassenach..." he got up and pulled me close to him, wrapping me in his arms and kissing me tenderly. "And I wouldn't mind if ye couldna give me children, I didna marry ye because of that..." I wrapped my arms around his neck and caressed his cheekbone. "I married ye because I love ye, I love ye more than anything and I would do what I could for yer sake. Now for our sake!" he placed his hand on the lowest part of my belly and smiled. "And that bairn is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive in my whole life, Claire."

"And how did you have the courage to make that declaration of love in front of everyone?" I asked, without holding my broad smile.

"I went to see the director earlier." He coughed, trying to clear his throat. "I told him everything that had been happening to us for the past six months, including yer pregnancy..."

"Oh yes, and what did he say?" I was already nervous about everything that had happened inside that room.

"So, Sassenach..." he took a rather dramatic break. "He said he already ken everything!!!!" he laughed hard as he shook his head negatively. "And that we can't fool anyone, but he was observing us to see if our work would be affected by our relationship... And that's why he asked for an update last month, he wanted to ken if we were working properly."

"Well, since Congress I suspected we weren't very good at hiding things like that..." I frowned, kissing his lips afterward.

"Jackson talked to you too?"

"What do you mean "too"?"

"Uh... no big deal, Sassenach, we'll talk about it later!" he said quickly, clearly dismissing something I didn't know, and with his reaction, I was almost sure that when Jackson went to evaluate Jamie's work, something else had happened. "Now I need to get back to my rounds, the guys must be wanting my head for a prize!"

"Yes, and I'm your boss and I don't want you to deflate our team!" I detached myself from his body, returning the chair to its place. "But I won't forget that I still need to redeem myself in other ways with you, James Fraser. I think I deserve to be spanked for making such a mess once again." I said it with a shameless smile on my lips.

"I can think of some ways ye can pay me for my sleepless night..." he gave me back a smile.

"Can I pay with mine?" I smiled with joy, taking my briefcase and leaving the office next to my husband.

I went alone to Dr. Goldenberg's office, and even though Jamie had told me everything had gone well earlier, I was impressed by the director's receptivity. He was visibly happy for me and said more than once how this relationship had softened my heart a little, he could see it in my brighter eyes and my broader smile. I handed over all the documents to make the proper copies and, as soon as all the paperwork was finished, I returned to my office while calling the printer on the other side of campus and requesting an urgent order for the late afternoon.

Around 6 pm I sent a message to Jamie asking him to come to my office as soon as possible. I had something very important to show him and, after he asked if everything was okay with me, I said yes and asked him not to rush too much, me and the baby were fine. But it didn't take more than 10 minutes for him to show up breathless through the door:

"What is it, Sassenach?" he quickly entered the office, closing the door that was open waiting for him. "I had a setback in the emergency and came as quickly as possible..."

"You didn't notice anything different at my door, Jamie?" he made a weird face, turning his head to the side of it. "No, Jamie, outside..." he laughed and went there, coming back with a wondering face.

"Ye took yer plaque off, why?" he asked me, wrinkling his face between his eyebrows.

"Well..." I smiled lovingly. "Because I made a new one..." I opened the package that was on the table, showing the little metal plaque. "Did you like it?"

"Christ, Sassenach! How can I possibly not like it?" he pulled me by the hand to be close to him. "And Dr. Fraser fits ye verra well..."

"I think so too!" I went with him to the outside and together we prepared the plaque to stick over the door. "I've already contacted immigration and I'll make the last name change later this week..." we closed the door after contemplating for a few moments what was written on the plaque. "Now we are a complete family with our baby, and the Frasers' name is spreading a little further into this world!"

"And this boy or girl will be one of the greatest blessings of our lives, Sassenach..." he said as he knelt in front of me and put his mouth close to my belly. "Hello, my love!" my eyes were filled with tears. "I want ye to ken that ye are already much desired by all of us, even though it was not planned! God always ken what He does, and having your mother in my life is living proof of that!" he raised his gaze to me, kissing my belly with sweetness.

"Oh, Jamie..." I held him in my arms as if asking him to stand. "You make me feel like the happiest, most desired woman in the world! Thank you so much for always being there for me, even when I'm not very well..."

"Relationships are like that, nothing's perfect, Claire... he kindly rubbed his nose in mine. "But we can turn difficulties into learning and grow a little more when something bad happens..." his silly face appeared almost instantly, and I knew he was coming with another one of his jokes. "But I want to remind ye that I havena forgotten the promise ye made to me to make up for everything ye've done to me in the last few days..." his puppy-dog look showed that he'd rehearsed that many times, probably since he was a little boy. "I endured so much pain, Sassenach, ye canna do that to anyone, even for an animal in the street..."

"Oh my Gosh, he's so dramatic!!!" I hit him lightly in the arm. "But don't worry, I'm gonna pay you for everything I put you through, Dr. Fraser!"

"Shall we go home, then?" he couldn't contain his anxiety.

"Let's go, but let's go together! I'm leaving my car here in the parking lot, I want us to leave the building at the same time, I've been dreaming of doing that for six months! Now we don't have to hide from anyone anymore!"

"From nobody, mo chridhe!"

 

 

POV Jamie

 

I was so relieved to see Claire smiling next to me as we headed to my car in the hospital parking lot. The day had begun still tense, with a lot of insecurity, but everything had worked out, in fact, it had surprised me in different ways. First, with Dr. Goldenberg's reaction to everything I told him, I could never suspect that he had already figured it all out, but I should have realized that we were terrible at fooling others, Jackson discovered everything in two hours he stayed by our side, I should have imagined that people who saw us daily, would notice the change between us, especially the changes in Claire, even if she tried to keep her tough pose, she couldn't hide the glow in her eyes and I was very proud to know that I was the cause of it.

Another thing that surprised me on the day, was what had taken my Sassenach away from me, I thought it was just because of the hospital, our work, as my sister had made very clear, but it was much deeper than that and it tightened my heart to think that she had suffered all these years thinking that she could not be a mother. But now this had changed and she had the fruit of our love in her belly and I couldn't be happier, I was in ecstasy. Besides that, I can say that seeing the reactions of the people in the hospital when we left her office holding hands until the main door amused me more than I could imagine. The residents had a mixture of amazement and disbelief, they probably thought I was crazy to be with Claire, they barely knew how much. But I couldn't help laughing as I saw my Sassenach's satisfied smile as she crossed paths with the nurses and received jealous glances, especially from Mary Hawkins.

We went home still on cloud nine, having fun commenting on the looks we had received. When we entered the apartment, I saw that Claire took a deep breath as if she was filling her homesickness, our smell, something so familiar, but that I knew she had missed it, in the same way that I missed her presence in our bed:

"Are ye checking everything to make sure I didna mess up the house in just one night?" I asked as I saw her standing in the middle of the living room.

"No, actually I'm trying to imagine how we're going to have a child crawling through this apartment with so many obstacles in the way..."

"I think ye're worrying too early, aren't ye? We still have what? About six months ahead of us?"

"How do you know I'm already three months pregnant?" she asked resentfully.

"Counting the time ye started to distance yerself from me... and also because I grew up in Lallybroch, next to many horses, we learned everything about breeding!"

"Jamie! You're comparing me to a mare?" she spoke out loud and I couldn't contain the laughter. "But now seriously..." I saw she was serious and she stopped in front of me. "I'm still feeling awful about pushing you away and I know I wasn't the best of wives, saying things that were often heavy and rude..."

"I already said that everything is fine Sassenach, and dinna think I forgot that I will be verra well rewarded for all those things ye said to me, for all the suffering I went through... after all, it wasn't easy..." I exaggerated my speech by putting my hand on my chest.

"And what do you have in mind? I'll do whatever you want..." she said seductively, passing her tongue through her lower lip.

"Claaire..." was the only thing I could say when I felt her hand go down my chest and go in a direction I knew very well what she could do. "Ye have to remember that ye are pregnant..."

"Jamie, I'm pregnant, but I'm not dead... just like you!" and I felt her hand on my groin.

https://youtu.be/1ZPSjosi5qo

After those words, I couldn't keep still anymore. I pulled her close to me and quickly she put her legs around my waist. I kissed her fiercely as I walked over to the kitchen counter, where I sat her down. Our kisses were hurried, deep, and powerful as if we wanted to discard everything we had suffered in those days and the night before. I could taste the blood of the bite she had given me, I didn't miss the chance to step back, pulling her hair, and making her look me in the eye.

"I think someone didn't understand that today is my day to have some wishes come true..." I said it in her ear and I felt her chill.

She just smiled and put her hands on the counter, as if to say she was at my disposal. Without thinking about anything else, I quickly took off her blouse and bra as I left a trail of kisses around her neck, then her breasts until I reached her belly, where I calmed down a little from the euphoria and kissed delicately, which provoked sighs in my wife.

I looked at her and we got stuck in each other, her whisky-colored eyes were almost green with desire and I turned my attention back to her body, pulling her skirt together with her panties, a technique that Claire always laughed at, as she claimed I was very efficient. Without needing to do anything else, she spread her legs so that I could settle between them and no matter how much I said that night she would have to please me for everything she had done to me, I couldn't think of not giving her pleasure. So I took one of her legs and kissed her until I reached the inside of her thigh. I knew what my wife loved and could feel her anticipation in what I would do next just by her breathing.

When my tongue touched her most intimate place, I couldn't contain the little smile when I heard the noises coming from her that I loved so much. This only boosted my movements, which became faster, and with the help of my fingers, I took her into orgasm quickly, feeling her legs tremble on my shoulders. Without giving her time to recover, I got up and took her off the counter. I knew I wouldn't make it to the bedroom so I put her lying on the living room rug, but what I didn't expect was for her to invert our positions and get over me:

"I think you've pleased me enough, now it's my turn," she said low, close to my ear.

I couldn't deny that I liked to see her in charge, on top of me, and totally at ease with it. Her hands went all over my chest as she took off my clothes without any care, probably taking revenge for the dress, making the buttons of my shirt fly across the room floor. She kissed me and bit me, until she got where she wanted, took off my pants and my underwear, moving her hand more roughly at my cock:

"Sassenach..." I said between breaths. "If you continue with this... I will not..." but she silenced me with a kiss and continued her movements.

I was breathless and totally into her, but I needed to be inside her, and immediately. I pulled her abruptly, preventing her from continuing what she was doing, and I received a naughty smile in response. She ignored my pleas and positioned herself until I invaded her completely, at once, releasing moans from both of us. Her movements were fast and intense, but it was still not enough, I stood up to go deeper and so we reached the climax together.

We were still lying there, trying to catch our breath when she lay on my chest, staring at me in amazement as if she had remembered something:

"We didn't say it to your family!" she screamed in my ear.

"What? That we fought? Aye, Jenny already knows..." I said it and got a slap in return.

"That's not it. In fact, why does she know?" I just smiled shyly in response. "But we didn't tell them I am pregnant! That your parents are going to be twice grandparents after all your sister's already halfway through pregnancy!"

"They already know everything Sassenach, including that we can finally get married the way they wanted, in Lallybroch, with everything we're entitled to, party, decoration, buffet... Jenny is organizing everything and in a week we'll go there."

After I told her everything, she stared at me for a few seconds without saying anything, as if she had been absorbing all the information:

"And when were you gonna tell me all this? But how are we gonna get there? And your work? The project? Your hours of residency?"

"Weren't you supposed to be tired after all the sex and because of the pregnancy? Please, calm down, woman!" another slap. "I've already spoken to Dr. Goldenberg, not only did we get our leave because of the wedding, but he gave us a few extra days so that we could go to Scotland calmly, as long as we leave all the reports up to date and in Joe's hands."

Claire took a deep and relieved breath. She smiled at me, lying on my chest again. I held her tight and saw that in a matter of seconds she fell asleep:

"Tha gaol agam ort (I love you), mo chridhe." and kissing her forehead, I finally got some rest.

 

Chapter Text

POV Claire

 

Was Jamie crazy? Definitely. Did I love the way he was? Without a doubt! My life had always been too methodical, with thousands of rules to follow and deadlines to be met every second. I never took advantage of the process of accomplishing anything, no matter how pleasant it was, I simply focused on finishing it as best and as quickly as possible. But that was before I started the relationship with my Scotsman. He brought me such lightness and happiness into my daily life that after a few weeks together I didn't know how I had managed to live in this world in any other way than that, by his side and enjoying every little moment in his company.

The week before our wedding went by quickly between patient chart updates; Jamie's hasty research adjustments to deliver to Dr. Goldenberg, and some highly complex neurological surgeries, both for me and Jamie. He had so much skill and firmness in all his diagnoses and interventions that if I needed a neurological surgery, I wouldn't think twice about choosing him as my surgeon. And that wasn't wife pride, he definitely knew how to separate the professional from the personal. I fully trusted his choices and, with his daily and always assertive decisions made within the hospital, I confirmed how right I was from the beginning when I saw that he had a spectacular gift for the profession he had chosen. And obviously, I was very proud of him, but this was not restricted to his professional side. This pride was mainly because he was the most caring son, the most concerned brother, the most loving husband, and the most concerned father I had ever known. He was the whole package, and I had gotten very lucky!

I was loving feeling that little anxiety on the way to Lallybroch. Finally, I would be with Jamie's family again, I considered them like my own family since the first minute I was there for Jenny's wedding, and the longing for them tightened my heart since my hasty departure on that heartbreaking night. I don't lie when I say that I love them as my own parents and sister, and I always kept in touch with them almost every day after my return to Boston, regardless of whether Jamie was with me or not.

I was concerned about Brian and Ian's struggles to keep the company on track, worries that make them angry many times; about Ellen and her desperate necessity to provide for all of her family's emergencies, even if it created extreme anxiety in her; and about Jenny and her pregnancy, which, no matter how well it was going, made me feel worried because of the higher-than-normal stress exceeds that that bossy little woman was now having in her pregnancy. It was a health concern from someone who loved her family fondly.

And all it took for me was to get to the Frasers' estate so that my tears started to run down my cheeks. Ellen barely heard our car arrive and ran up to me not caring about the cold, still with her apron tied around her waist, and barely let me out of the car to give me an emotional hug, her hands caressing my face while we cried amid smiles.

"My dear Claire, how I missed ye!" she hugged me once more. "Even more so that ye left without saying goodbye to me on Jenny's wedding day..." I started trying to apologize for the thousandth time when she interrupted me. "Ye dinna to apologize, a leannan, it's just that I missed ye so much!"

"And you didn't miss me, mom?" Jamie showed up from the back of the car and hugged his mother with affection. "I left without saying goodbye, too!" they laughed and we all went into the house because it was so cold, the snow-covered the lawn slightly. The two of them were holding hands walking in front of me, smiling at each other in code, a code that only parents and children understood. A very beautiful relationship that I hoped to repeat with the child in my belly.

"Aye, son, ye also left without saying goodbye and I missed ye, too, ye grumpy one!" She laughed and kissed his face, taking off her apron and turning her body back to mine once again. "But how nice that you are here with us again and in the best possible scenario!" she caressed my still flat belly and then held my hands tight with an emotional smile on her lips. "I need to tell ye live what I already told you on the phone: I want you to know that you are very welcome to our family, you are like a daughter to Brian and me, don't doubt it..." she could repeat a thousand times the same sentence that I would always be moved. "We love ye very much, Claire, and I thank God every day for putting ye in my son's life!"

"Ellen, you have no idea how important this is to me..." I smiled embarrassedly, with some tears running down my cheeks. After such an open declaration of love, I was sure that Jamie had taken after his mother. "And I'm the one who must thank God for something... He finally gave me the family I hadn't been able to have since a very young age..." she made an almost inaudible sound of emotion as she pulled me back into her embrace, making me feel the sweet perfume of her hair. "I am so happy to have all the Frasers in my life and to be carrying one in my belly, and now I can carry the family name too!"

"Dr. Claire Fraser..." she paused, pretending to think a little. "Aye, I think that combination sounds pretty good too! And know that this child already has so much love that it fills this whole house!!" she widened her eyes like she remembered something. "Ye two, let's go upstairs and I want to show ye something I bought this week!"

Coming to our usual bedroom, what I least expected was that. Ellen had bought a crib for our baby for when we would go to Lallybroch to spend our family vacation and had put some of Jamie's old toys on the little mattress, plus the yellow bedspread that accompanied the early years of the youngest in that family. Ellen hadn't gotten tired of making me emotional since I'd arrived, Jamie certainly looked a lot like his mother. She said that the crib would change according to the child's age, which would be important because we wouldn't be there for much more than a month on each visit. Also, she stressed that her grandson or granddaughter would have his own room when he got older, or maybe he could share the room with his cousin who was already on his way if they wished. Ellen was glowing with the idea of her first two grandchildren and categorically declared that she would be with me for as long as necessary at the end of the pregnancy and when the baby was already born. I tried to argue, but it was in vain:

"Claire, all mothers do this, and I will not fail to do it for ye as well, my child!" I tried to hold on to my emotion when I heard those words, but the noise of the restrained crying that came out of my mouth was enough for the two redheads to come close to me, embracing me with a love that I never imagined I deserved to receive.

"Hey, I want to be a part of that hug too!" Jenny's voice echoed amused through our room, and I was startled to see how big her belly already was, I even thought my tears were getting in the way of a good look. And yes, following her pregnancy through the cell phone was not the same thing.

"Jenny, do ye have to come in making all this noise?" Jamie pretended to be bothered by his sister, but I could see the happiness in his eyes.

"Oh, brother, stop complaining!" she said to Jamie, hugging me tightly as she showed her tongue to him in a tone of rebellion typical of them, then hugging him and receiving affection in both of our bellies.

Jenny was fine, she and her boy were healthy and in 3 months he would finally come into the world. I was sad that I would not be there for her at that important moment, but it would not be a good idea to travel thousands of miles with an advanced stage pregnancy. But she confirmed that everything was fine and she wanted to see her nephew strong and very healthy the following year. Yes, she was sure it was a boy... Jamie and I had no preference for sex, not that we could really choose the sex of our firstborn as if we chose a yogurt at the supermarket, but Jenny was completely sure that he was a little man with red hair and a strong temper, a beautiful mixture of the two of us.

"Claire, I've already talked to the staff at the dress shop and asked them to put apart some pieces! Let's decide this quickly, the day after tomorrow is already the big day" she clapped both her hands like she was asking for agility.

"Saturday is already the big day!!" I quickly kissed my husband goodbye. "Calm down Jenny, I just need to go to the bathroom quickly! Jamie, I'll be right back..." I said as I walked away from him. "In the meantime get some rest, our trip was long..."

"I'll wait for ye to arrive so we can rest together, Sassenach." His tone of voice was serene, but when I turned my face to him I could see his intentions just by looking at him. "I'll take a shower and a whisky in the meantime, my father and Ian won't be here until later." He tried to wink, but again he looked like a beautiful little redheaded owl.

While we were going to the store, one of the subjects that couldn't be postponed came up as soon as we got in the car: Laoghaire. The woman who wanted to ruin my life and Jamie's, at last, got what she deserved, and I confess that a smile of satisfaction grew as I was updated on events. Jenny's voice alternated between anger and fun as she narrated everything in detail, the meticulousness so characteristic of the Frasers leaving me a little anxious to know everything at once.

On the Monday after Jenny's wedding, Laoghaire simply appeared at Lallybroch at dinnertime as if nothing had happened, meeting only Brian and Ellen as the newlyweds were on their honeymoon trip. She kept a sarcastic smile on her face and asked why they were with those not very friendly faces if anything bad had happened to them to stay that way. And that's when the show started! Brian stood up very quickly, scaring Ellen and the visitor, not even a little bit wanted, losing some of his usual control as he stared at the blonde with one finger in her face, causing her to walk on her back until she leaned against the big wooden door in the dining room.

Jenny smiled in complicity at me as she prepared to emulate her father:

" 'Listen to me, you little brat! NOBODY has the right to meddle in the life of ANY Frasers! And yes, that includes Claire, don't think otherwise! We know very well what you did and you will never be welcome in this house again. Now get out and don't come into our lives ever again.' Claire, daddy looked at her like a mad dog and took the woman by the arm towards the doorway, with a little more rudeness than we're used to seeing in him, leaning on the door and smiling at your mother-in-law with such pride that he finally got his revenge!" Jenny laughed so hard that she had to hold her belly with her hand that it wasn't at the wheel so that her body wouldn't move so much. "Mum ran after the phone to talk to me and tell me everything that had happened because she knew how possessed I had become after knowing everything she had done to you." Her face quickly closed. "I wanted to go to her house on Sunday to put that little woman in her place!"

"Relax, Jenny, now she won't bother anyone else..." I caressed her arm, putting my other hand over her belly.

"It's all right, sister!" She smiled at me, calming me down with her hand over mine. "And Claire, there's more!" I widened my eyes and smiled still not believing that Laoghaire had got everything she deserved.

Brian had made his contacts at the American Embassy in Edinburgh the day after Laoghaire's visit. He was determined to limit her life as much as possible, and when he told them that she had given false information to immigration, he got confirmation that they would do everything to punish her in the best possible way. And that's what happened, her punishment appeared a month later in the form of music to the ears of everyone in the family: she was indefinitely forbidden to set foot in America.

The lightness came after a great laugh that echoed inside the car, releasing all the tension that I always felt when thinking about that woman. Just before we got to the store the subject finally changed, Jenny wanted to update me on the wedding preparations. The decoration of the party would be simple, in fact, we would have a religious ceremony and a reception, both simple and only for the closest relatives and some friends of the Frasers. A total of 50 people counting on us and, even though she was pregnant and with her chores, Jenny had organized everything in the smallest details, the photos she was showing me filled my heart with happiness and pride. In reality, Jenny confessed to me that she and Ellen had already planned several points of our wedding, even not knowing when we would have the party, and I could not do anything else but laugh and thank for all that love and care that the Frasers always had with me, they had the approval to suffocate me with their love whenever they wanted!

The dress was finally chosen after almost an hour of trying on several different pieces, and it was beautiful like I had never imagined!

"Simple and classic, just like ye, Claire!" was what Jenny told me with tears in her eyes, watching me through the mirror exactly as I had done with her a little over six months before. "And dinna fash, I have the perfect cloak to face the cold that's predicted for Saturday! I'm glad we'll have a sunny day!"

The piece was champagne-colored, unembroidered, with a canoe collar and the skirt slightly flared, plus invisible and completely useful pockets, I'd need tissues for that whole day! And I loved how well it fit my body, even though it was a bigger size than my usual one. My body had already changed a little during those first three months of pregnancy, nothing out of the ordinary, but it was strange and impressive at the same time how a woman's body could change so much without even noticing.

"Jenny, I don't have words to describe what I'm feeling..." I told her while we were having a delicious pie at Jenny's favorite coffee shop. Pregnancy stuff. "With you guys, I live a fairy tale every day, and I'm sure I don't deserve all that..."

"Aye, ye do, sister." she squeezed my hand tight. "From the first day I met ye, I ken ye were the right person for Jamie and our family. As much as yer beginning has been a bit troubled and unusual from the typical relationships, ye are, above all, a person with a good heart and deserve all the love in the world! And now with this marriage, ye won't be able to run away from my brother, neither from us!"

"I'm never running away again, and I think you've bewitched me!" We laugh together. "I love you so much, Jenny!" I stretched my hand to caress her face, both with tears in the eyes.

"No more than I do!"

Our return to the Frasers' property was light, we talked about the final adjustments for Saturday and how happy my in-laws were with so many children to come. We arrived late afternoon in Lallybroch, but we still had time until dinner, so I finally decided to take a decent shower and put my legs up. When I got to the bedroom, I turned on the lights and saw that Jamie wasn't there, but he had taken our clothes out of the suitcase and put them in the closet, and I was happy once again with the extra care he had been taking with me since he found out about our pregnancy. I took a long, relaxing shower and as soon as I finished drying myself, I put on a white silk robe and went into the bedroom to choose what to wear. The walls of that house were so thick that I didn't hear that Jamie had already got in and was setting the fire in the fireplace to warm us up a bit more from the cold.

"Hi, Sassenach! How was it with the dress?" he said smiling, getting up as I approached him.

"Everything was chosen, it was perfect and I brought it with me. Mr. Crook put it in the guest room! And I intend not to disappoint you..." I hugged him around the waist, unable to wipe the smile off my lips.

"Ye never disappoint me, mo chridhe..." he looked down at my breasts partially covered by the robe. "And for me, ye can use just this..." he ran his fingers through the cleavage of the garment.

"At least it would be easier for you to take it off later, wouldn't it?" I funnily arched one of my eyebrows and he smiled at me with seduction.

"And it can be easier now?" He spoke softly, close to my ear, and then kissed the side of my neck.

"You know you don't have to ask for that, Fraser..."

He started kissing me and it was as if a wave of heat was taking over my whole body, and I knew it wasn't just because of the fire burning in the fireplace. We'd made up for "lost time" during our weeks apart, but for me, it still didn't seem enough, and I was almost sure that the hormones weren't allowing me to reason coldly when Jamie was around. His hand ran slowly over the edge of the fabric and it was as if an electric current was coming out of his fingers, making me shiver. He was slowly loosening the knot of the belt between kisses, but he had the patience I wasn't willing to have. I quickly helped him through the process and his big, soft hands ran through my skin to finally make that piece fall quickly to the ground. He watched me for long seconds, his eyes gently stopping over my belly, caressing it gently.

"Jamie, I want you to put the covers down here on the floor..." I said it, biting the lobe of his ear.

"But why is that, Sassenach?" He clung even more to my body and feeling the prominence between his legs didn't allow me to remain without moving against his body.

"For you to fulfill one of the most intense urges I had when we first shared this room..."

"Um... Did ye want to have sex with me in my makeshift bed, Mrs. Fraser?"

"Even in your makeshift bed, Mr. Fraser... From day one." I said with my lips almost touching his.

With the skill of a surgeon, Jamie arranged everything and we loved each other on those covers, by the fireplace, as I had wished and imagined so many times in my erotic dreams with the redhead. I rode over him with more and more intensity, my hands leaning on his chest and his legs, and I didn't know how his hands and mouth could be in every corner of my body at the same time. And soon came my first orgasm, intense and unexpected as our first night. Still joined, Jamie put me lying on my back on the ground, stopping moving for long seconds until I couldn't take it anymore, rocking under him and silently asking him to continue what he was doing. And my second biggest erotic dream had been successfully fulfilled: Jamie came in and out of me with more and more strength, leaning one of his hands on top of my head while the other raised one of my legs, going deeper and deeper and not needing a lot of thrusts to get us to the climax together, his mouth so stuck to my neck that I could feel the moisture of his breath on my skin as he breathed out panting. We changed our position so that I could rest comfortably on his chest, the best place in the world.

"I still can't believe I came back to this bedroom after that awful night..." I said with my face sunk in his chest, unable to face his eyes.

"It was a very disturbing day for me too, Sassenach..." he caressed my hair close to my forehead. "Not finding ye here, seeing yer dress on the bed and reading that letter ye left for me broke my heart. To realize that I had lost ye and haedna noticed all the signs ye were given since the day before didna help me much either... I kept trying to find the guilty ones that let that happen that way, but I could only blame myself..."

"I'm sorry that I didn't open up to you, and that you felt guilty about something that I decided for both of us... And the two times that we had trouble was because of me..."

"Don't be sorry, mo nighean donn..." he pulled my chin so I could look at him. "I see how hard ye try not to repeat this habit, and ye become more and more open to relationships, especially ours." he kissed the top of my head. "We're partners above everything else, and I'll always be here when ye need to share something that troubles ye."

"Me too, my love... I will be here forever, ye are the light of my life!"

 "And ye are mine... My Claire, my Sorcha..."

Friday flew by and I didn't feel Saturday morning coming. With incessant knocks on the door, Jamie got up sleepy without understanding what was going on, opening the door for a short woman ready to dress the bride. As the wedding was to take place at 11 am, Jenny showed up at our door before 6 am bossy as always! She took me by the arm and led me to the guest room that I would use to get ready, and was firm to forbid Jamie's entrance when he was ready and anxious to see me.

"Claire, I can't stand being away from ye that long..."

"Jamie, please..." I said quietly opening the door to look through the little crack. "I'll be down in a minute and you'll have me for the rest of our days! Go to the chapel and take everyone!"

"Can't I see even a little bit?"

"Brother, go away NOW!" Jenny pushed me away from the door so she could talk to him. "What a spoiled boy, I dinna ken how ye put up with him, Claire... Ye're a saint!"

"That I'm gonna have to disagree with, what this woman does with me..."

"JAMIE!" I screamed. "Please go down now and stop embarrassing me. Thank you."

"I give up! But don't forget that I love ye, Sassenach! And that I am the father of yer son!"

"Fraser, go down now!" I said without being able to stop laughing. "Give me five more minutes, will you?"

I was ready, but my anxiety was about to consume me. Jenny was an exceptional bridesmaid, and thanks to her I was able to calm down so that we could finally go down. She helped me put the cloak over my dress, the day was sunny but quite cold, and holding hands we left the room and went slowly down to the bottom floor. There Brian was waiting for me to accompany me to the chapel, he insisted on coming in with me and playing the father figure for me. But his surprised face when he saw me went beyond what I expected, he was visibly moved as if he were my father and had raised me my whole life.

"Come on my daughter, yer groom is no longer able to stand the wait!" he reached out to me, making me smile excited as I held him.

And if my father-in-law's amazed face surprised me when we finally got to the chapel and Brian helped me take off my cloak, Jamie's face caused butterflies in my stomach. He was open-mouthed, without blinking and I could see his eyes glowing with emotion, even away from him. I sighed deeply to hold back my own tears, smiling lovingly at my husband who was on the other side of the aisle, receiving with a smile on my lips the arm offered to me by Brian and preparing to finally realize a dream of us and our family.

Of OUR family.

 

 

POV Jamie

 

If Claire was anxious and excited to return to Lallybroch, I could say that I was more, the last time I had visited my family after two long years away had been the ten best and worst days of my life. It had been in those days that I had discovered what it was really like to love someone, to open myself completely to another person, putting out feelings that I had struggled so hard to hide, and feeling the pain of losing, even for a few hours, the person who was everything to me. Anyway, getting back to finally get married in Lallybroch was something extremely happy and exciting, even more so that Claire was carrying our heir, the second grandson of my parents, and yes, I was sure it would be a boy.

When we arrived, I could not contain the emotion when I saw my Sassenach as part of my family as I was, my mother was totally devoted to her new daughter, treating her the way the Frasers liked it the most, with lots of hugs and affectionate words. I was also surprised to see that my mother had saved some toys from when I was a baby for our future son. But I couldn't enjoy more time with my fiancée, Jenny soon dragged her into town to choose the dress she would wear on the big day and although I was very curious to know what Claire would choose, I knew that that moment was theirs.

I took advantage of the fact that I was alone and went for a ride on the property, I liked to ride through Lallybroch, breathe the fresh Highland air, even with the cold it was making me feel more at home than anything. But now the ride was no longer complete without Claire with me, it seemed that something was missing in me and I smiled as I remembered the first time I took her riding, she tried to hide the fear she felt until she almost caused an accident when she pulled me hard because of a scare. And I was really right when I said she was just looking for a reason to grab me, although she would never admit it.

When I returned to the stable, I saw that my father was there, doing what he loved and calmed him down, taking care of his horses. I took Donas to his proper place, taking out the saddle and putting everything in place:

"I ken I'd find ye here." My father said when he saw me coming.

"Actually, I should have said that..."

"Son, since you're old enough to ride a horse, every time ye're nervous or anxious about something, ye go out riding for Lallybroch. And today couldn't be any different..."

"I'm not nervous..." I've been trying to avoid a deeper conversation with my father.

"I didna say ye were nervous, but I'm sure the anxiety has taken over, after all, Saturday at this hour ye'll be a married man."

"Dad, ye ken I'm already married to Claire and I've been for several months."

"Getting married in the city hall without yer family around is not being married, at least not to a Fraser!" he said more seriously, but he still had a light smile on his face.

"Dad..,"

"Jamie," he said by interrupting me. "When ye were little, ye always liked to sit on my lap, always curious to ken what I was doing and when yer mother would take ye away, ye would cry for a long time until she learned that she could win ye over easily with food..." he laughed when he said that. "When ye learned to walk, ye found out that Willie was much more fun than me and ye followed him everywhere, often getting into trouble because you were still too small to do many things he did, but the stubbornness was much more than the challenge and you didn't listen to anyone until ye got what you wanted... but after Willie was gone, ye closed yerself off, spent more time alone than with anyone, and then ye wanted to move to another continent, doing everything without help, leaving us totally out of reach, totally out of your decisions and worse, out of yer company..."

"Dad, ye know that..." but again I couldn't finish what I wanted to say.

"Son, what I want to say is that since ye were born ye never liked to be alone. Ye always wanted to be by my side, or by yer brothers, by Ian, but when ye became an adult, a little early, unfortunately, ye built that fortress around ye, one that did not allow ye to feel more than necessary, one that made ye independent. But that, in the end, was only to hide the lack that a real company did for ye." He said it with a few tears in his eyes, something I had only seen when Willie was at the hospital. "When ye brought Claire to yer sister's wedding, I began to see my son of ten years ago again, the Jamie who brightened up any room he went through, being for his jokes or for his clumsy way. The Jamie who did everything to please the people he loves, in short, the loving son I always ken I had. The son who was not afraid to express what he felt in front of everyone."

My eyes were as wet as my father's, I had never talked to him like that, I had never listened to what he felt for me, by the choices I had made. My father had always agreed with everything I wanted to do since Willie left, never questioned my motives and my absence, and I knew he didn't agree on many things and it had distanced us, but since Claire had come into my life, our relationship had changed, it was stronger, almost as it was before the accident:

"I... I dinna ken how to apologize..." I said in a weak voice, trying to control my emotions.

"I'm not asking ye to apologize, I just wanted ye to know that I'm happy that ye found a great love, a person who would make ye better, who would make ye lose the fear of being yourself, just like me when I met yer mother." He said it by opening his arms and I hugged him without thinking anymore.

My father was as tall as I was, but in hugging him I felt like a boy who only needed a little affection from his father to comfort him. We stayed like this for a few minutes, without any more words being said, but they were not necessary until my father said in my ear:

"I think there's one person who would be verra happy to ken that ye're getting married and that ye're going to be a father..."

I just smiled in response, and together we walked to a place that we knew very well, but that we never went together. I sat down next to my father, the same way I had done with Claire the last time I visited him. I took a deep breath and felt my father's hand on my shoulder, encouraging me to start talking:

"Hey, Willie. It's been a while since we talked, huh?" I saw my dad smiling at me, waving his hand to continue. "And ye have no idea how much has changed... I'm a doctor, I mean, almost, it's still a few months away, but I'll be what ye've always insisted me to be, but ye dinna ken that I only chose to be a neurosurgeon because of ye! It wasn't an easy time for me, but I ken it was always there for me and I followed my plan... the best of all was that there, in this hospital I'm studying and working, I met the woman of my life..." and the words that seemed to choke in the beginning, were flowing naturally, as if my brother was beside me, listening about my adventures with Claire, about my feelings, everything, I put everything out, everything that I would tell him if he was still with me.

"But he's with you, always..." my father said as if he was reading my mind.

I smiled shyly, still wiping a tear that ran down my face, one that I hadn't noticed had fallen. And as if it looked like an answer from my brother, I felt the wind blowing between my arms, and thin snow began to fall.

"Ye have always enjoyed being extreme, haven't ye, Willie?" I said looking up at the sky and watching the snow fall.

"My father and I laughed for a while and then stood up, saying goodbye to Willie. As we walked home, the snow gradually faded, until there was nothing left when we entered the kitchen through the back door. My father smiled once again at me before going where my mother demanded his presence screaming. I laughed and released him to go to her, I knew how angry my mother could be when my father ignored her calls. I took a deep breath and went up the stairs slowly, although I was still a little sad with everything that had been spoken to my father, I was lighter, and seeing that Claire was back, a smile took over my face, a smile that was only for her, that only she could take away from me:

"Hi, Sassenach! How was it with the dress?" I said when I saw her coming out of the bathroom and going up to her.

"Everything was perfect and I brought it with me, Mr. Crook put it in the guest room! And I intend not to disappoint you..." she hugged me by the waist.

"Ye never disappoint me, mo chridhe..." I lowered my gaze to her breasts partially covered by her robe. "And for me, ye can use just this..." and I ran my fingers through the cleavage of the garment.

"At least it would be easier for you to take it off later, wouldn't it?" she funnily arched one of her eyebrows and I smiled at her with seduction.

"And it can be easier now?" I spoke softly, close to her ear, and then I kissed the side of her neck.

"You know you don't have to ask for that, Fraser..."

And then I discovered all the desires Claire had for me from the beginning, from the first night we slept together in that bedroom. I knew she was already attracted to me! But who was I kidding? I was equally attracted to her, I just didn't have the courage to do everything I was thinking. That night we also talked about everything we felt when she left, about how I had felt when I had found the dress and the letter on the bed in that same room, how powerless I had felt when she had run away. But there was no point in remembering what had already happened, we were together now and that was what mattered.

The next day went by quickly, among all the arrangements for the wedding, we didn't even see Friday go by, and then Saturday came along with my lovely sister knocking on the bedroom door at six in the morning! I had already broken one of her rules the night before, it was illogical to sleep in a separate room from Claire, we had already been married once and she was pregnant, and for me, we had already had our share of bad luck, we would have no more problems, but Jenny then insisted that the next day we would get ready in separate places.

As I didn't need so many hours to put on my kilt and the other accessories I used at a wedding ceremony, Ian and I decided to take a few shots of whisky to, as he claimed, contain my nervousness and anxiety. But it was just an excuse to drink at nine in the morning. While we were drinking, my best man started with the speech of what to do or not to do at the wedding, what to talk about in the vows.

"Ian, ye ken I dinna need advice, and Claire is not like Jenny!"

"No? Are ye sure about that? Claire may not be a Fraser by birth, but she fits the family perfectly, both in her stubbornness and her ability to boss all men around..."

"She's not bossing me around!" I said it fast, making Ian laugh.

"No, not at all! Just like Jenny didn't make me keep you away from Claire until the wedding!"

I just mumbled in response. Ian laughed and continued his speech:

"Ye dinna have to stay like this, they're bossing us around, but we pretend we're in charge, loving to take some orders, and dinna fash, with time ye learn to deal with it and when ye see it, she's doing what ye want, thinking it was all her idea!" I ended up laughing at what he had said because I knew it was true. "But now that I'm serious, I think it's clear that everyone here loves Claire, aye? And ye couldna have picked a better woman for yerself! I've never been able to see ye next to someone who wouldn't challenge ye to be a better person, who wouldna push ye out of yer comfort zone. And Claire does all that and more! How long have we been friends? I've seen ye go through everything and since Willie's accident, I haven't seen ye so... so alive! Anyway, I just want my brother to be happy because he deserves it more than anyone!"

"Have ye and my father been talking? Did ye agree to leave me like this?" I said trying to suppress a tear that wanted to fall. What was happening to me?

"We didn't arrange it, but dinna fash, I won't tell anyone, after all, ye didna tell them I cried before entering the chapel on my wedding day!" we laughed and hugged.

I finished getting ready and couldn't bear to wait for Claire anymore, but I was strongly stopped by my dear sister trying to enter the room she was getting ready for. Without having anything else to do, I went to take my place in the chapel. I was nervous, I'd just walked in, just like Ian walked in with my mother right after. I looked at the door all the time, but only Jenny would show up, she would be Claire's only bridesmaid of choice, and she would walk in front of the bride.

The next few minutes went by like a flash, I couldn't see anything else when I saw my father bringing my Sassenach to me. She was gorgeous when they took off the cloak she was wearing, it was as if the chapel was enlightened by her presence. The dress was simple, with no sparkles or embellishments, but it highlighted every curve and wonderful feature of Claire's body. Her hair was partially tied, leaving some loose and rebellious curls on her face. The makeup was simple, but something caught my attention, her red lipstick, it stood out completely on her white skin and made me want to kiss her more.

The ceremony passed quickly, or it was me who couldn't assimilate much but my bride in front of me. And the moment of the vows had finally come, I took a deep breath and began to speak, ignoring the paper that Ian had put in my pocket in case I forgot something:

"Claire, my Sassenach, what else can I say but that ye make me the happiest man on this planet? When I first brought ye to Lallybroch, I thought I was doing ye a favor, but actually, it was the other way around. Ye helped me to be a better man for my family and a man to be called yours. I never thought it would be possible to love someone that way, unconditionally, to love so much to ask ye to marry me twice and to be the most ridiculously passionate man possible... that's it, Claire, I love ye so much, but no more than that wee bairn." I said it by putting my hand on her belly, causing a certain astonishment in the rest of the family there present who still did not know the news.

I kissed her hand and she smiled with tears in her eyes, tears that fought bravely to stay in place:

"Jamie, how am I supposed to be as romantic as you? My Scot, my red-haired Highlander, who is the size of a warrior and has a heart as big as that, but is often a playful boy who makes me angry, and, even against my will, makes me laugh when I don't want to. Did you say I made you a better man? You always were, but I lived so shut to anything that I could not see... And little by little you removed every piece of my armor, every stone from the wall that I had built around me, and made me the happiest and most loved woman in this world. I always thought I had everything in my life, but I was a fool, I didn't have you and I only noticed that when I saw myself without your smile, without your kisses... but now we are together and it is forever. I love you, Jamie."

If Claire was struggling with her tears, I wasn't as strong as she was, I had already cried so much in those days that I left my embarrassment aside and let the tears flow freely, but those were of joy, a joy to finally be marrying to the love of my life, without secrets, without limitations, without restrictions. I put the ring on her finger again and we kissed to finally seal the union in front of our whole family.

The party was already happening, when I decided that we had already made many beautiful statements and that they shed tears from everyone there, now it was time to cheer up and have some fun. I asked the DJ of the party for a song and I walked to where Claire was sitting, talking to some guests. The first beats of the song started and after turning a shot of whisky, I extended my arm to my wife who laughed at what it was playing.

https://youtu.be/09R8_2nJtjg    (please, listen to this while reading the next paragraph!)

She stood up grabbing my arm and before she could get close to me, I spun her in an attempt to do a more daring dance step. She laughed and decided to get into my game, we started dancing without caring about other people, with our movements often out of rhythm or not synchronized. We were singing the music and having fun. Soon the other guests joined us and I pulled Claire close to me, bending down and kissing her belly.

When the song was over, Claire took me to our table and smiled non-stop while looking for something in her pocket, yes, her dress had pockets and was totally her:

"I always felt bad that I couldn't wear your ring while we hid our wedding from everyone and I got emotional when you thought of a solution, giving me another one that could easily be used as a ring and that even during our work, I could carry on a chain around my neck. But you have nothing to symbolize our union, and no matter how much you say you don't need to, I want all those nurses to know that you already have an owner..." we laughed and she gave me a box.

When I opened it, I saw it was a silver bracelet, but it wasn't something simple, it had a word engraved on it: "Sassenach".

"Is this all jealousy?" I said it jokingly, but still moved by the gift.

"No, this is all love... Jamie a thousand names Fraser, I am your Sassenach, today and always!"

 

Chapter Text

5 years later

 

POV Claire

 

"Mama! Da! Wake up!"

Willie came into our room like lightning, climbing with some difficulty on the bed and jumping on the mattress between us, and I thanked God for listening to his little steps before he came in, Jamie wouldn't have listened and wouldn't have stopped our morning excitement. Our son woke up earlier than usual, but he had a very strong reason: it was his 5th birthday. He had been very excited since the week before, and could barely contain his excitement at celebrating another year of life.

"And whose birthday is today?" Jamie played dumb when he sat in bed and looked at me with a certain air of doubt.

"Oh, yeah." I decided to play along. "They say he's a redheaded boy who lives in the neighborhood... But I don't know if I know him..."

"I do!" Willie smiled proudly. "Today is my birthday, Mama." he hugged me, throwing himself into my arms and laughing as he got a lot of tickles from his drooling daddies.

Five years ago my life had completely changed. In fact, this change began with the arrival of my Scot the year before he was born, but becoming a mother was one of the most impressive and intense experiences of my life, completely different from anything I had ever experienced before. The whole mixture of feelings of that day, from the moment the water broke until finally having my blue-eyed redhead in my arms 19 long hours later, brought me much more than I had experienced until then. Incomparable feelings that ranged from the most tearing pain of all to the most unimaginable love possible, and all in just one day.

Of course, having my partner by my side throughout the pregnancy and at the time of birth was essential for everything to go as smoothly as possible. Jamie cared for us with extreme care and affection, attributes so characteristic of him but which were even more exacerbated than usual during pregnancy. And when William was born and they finally brought him into my arms, it was as if the world was summed up only in my two loves. Jamie was ecstatic, smiling in tears, and kissing my forehead, sweating from great effort, stroking my hair, and thanking me countless times for the gift I had given him. His big hand caressed our son's little head tremendously, and I could see the fear in his eyes when I suggested that he take him in his lap. Jamie took a deep breath and finally wrapped him in his strong arms, and when I saw the two of them together for the first time it was when I was sure that everything that had happened in my life had been to be at that moment, with the two of them by my side and a future ahead of me. But our bucolic moment didn't last long, in a few minutes Willie started crying, and that crying was hungry because I've never seen a child take the breast as easily as that little boy. And with that last realization, I did not doubt that he would be a mini Jamie.

Well, even during the pregnancy, we decided to take the necessary precautions not to have any more children, our routine was so busy and hectic that we didn't think it was fair to share our little free time with one more child, besides all the difficulty I would have in having another baby. As much as I managed to bring Willie's pregnancy to term, I cannot say that those were the easiest months of my life. Extremely swollen body, difficulty breathing, and physical limitations that hindered my day-to-day life at the hospital were just some of the points that made my routine difficult at that time right after the wedding in Lallybroch until the birth of our baby almost six months later.

Oh, yes, our son's name is Willie. William Henry Beauchamp Fraser. William in honor of Jamie's older brother, a tribute that made my in-laws extremely emotional during our facetime conversation. The two of them kept laughing and crying at the same time, and I was sincerely afraid that I was so far away from Brian and couldn't help him if he had an anxiety attack, quickly asking Jenny, through a text message, to meet them with two glasses of water. Henry was Jamie's suggestion. We were on the couch watching a movie, our hands entwined over my belly, and Jamie suddenly gave the idea without making an introduction, simply saying, "What do you think of our boy being named William Henry? At first, my heart seemed to stop beating and my breath was slightly pierced, so much so that Jamie went to get a glass of water to calm me down. But after I calmed down, already amid tears of happiness, I thanked him for remembering my father's name to be our son's second name. The fruit of our love would be a mixture of two people who were extremely important to both of us and would be personified in a small, sweet package of love.

I went back to work as soon as Willie was 4 months old, as much as I loved being a mother and being devoted to my little Highlander 24/7, I missed my day-to-day life in the hospital and all my tasks, and that made me ask Dr. Goldenberg to let me go back to work doing only one shift for a month or two so that I could slowly detach myself from my little one and he from me. Oh, and I will be very grateful to Mrs. Doubtfire for the rest of my days, she was with me since just before Willie was born and was the one who took care of him for a year, until Jamie and I decided that it was the right time to put him in the daycare of the hospital staff.

Hospital. Yet on my maternity leave, I went back to the hospital with our son in my arms, still three months old, for a very special visit. Jamie finally made the presentation at the end of the residency about his already very famous research in neurology. He had been perfect in all aspects during the evaluation and argued with the tranquility and ferocity of always when it came to his much-dreamed project. And of course, even though I was far from the work, I helped him with all the finalizations of his article as a mentor that I was, and I lost count of the times we read and reread the same text so that everything would be perfect. Obviously, I couldn't let go of my job as a mentor, that was one of my great passions within medicine and I was very proud of the effort Jamie had made to fulfill his purpose of changing people's lives a little. At the end of the presentation, Dr. Goldenberg praised him once again and asked us to chat in one of the corners of the auditorium. And that's how Jamie received the news that took us by surprise: a nomination for a major award in medicine. He thanked Dr. Goldenberg with a fervent handshake and, hugging him with emotion after the director went to talk to other people, I still couldn't believe how far his effort had taken him. He was worthy of it all, but he couldn't get enough of thanking me for being in his life and saying that without my support he wouldn't have gotten that far. And I had already given up trying to prove otherwise.

And, impressive or not, Jamie had won in his category. I was unable to attend the awards because, apart from the fact that the solemnity was in Vienna, Austria, and that I had recently started full-time work, Willie had very severe bronchiolitis during the week before the trip, so we ruled out any possibility that we would go along with Jamie. But being able to follow the ceremony through the event website, fortunately, made me feel closer to my medical genius. And having Jackson Hughes handing over the crystal statue to my Scot was one of the most Tragicomic scenes of my whole life. As Hughes listed the nominees, I noticed that his voice crashed just before he said his "archrival's" name, and the camera focused on Jamie's face proved that things hadn't been cleared up yet, that movement leaving me wondering whether or not they had fought at the backstage of the event, and I still preferred to think that their destinies hadn't crossed over on that trip, to my own sanity. But when Jackson opened the envelope and read the name before speaking aloud, I could see a mixture of fun and conformity, and their handshake seemed to me as if they were once again sealing the peace between their kingdoms of little big egos.

"I am so grateful to everyone who is directly or indirectly involved with this event, I have no words to describe what I am feeling at this moment! It has been years of hard work, many mistakes, and successes, but I want to thank especially one person who is at home watching us, if our son is allowing it, of course. Claire, this award is also yers, mo chridhe, I would not be here without yer support and yer guidance. And I'm dying to show ye this, Sassenach, I will get home faster than ye can imagine! Thank ye all."

The week after Jamie's return from Austria, Willie started rehearsing a bit early his first steps at home, leaning on where he reached to try to get up. And seeing how our home proved to be increasingly insecure for raising a child, we both talked a lot until we came to an agreement: we needed a larger and safer home than our apartment. With every step Willie took, my body froze when I saw the weak spots in every room. And as we finally moved into our beautiful home four months later, Jamie was finishing up another big, important renovation: the William Fraser Institute. With the prize money he received in Austria, Jamie offered our hospital-school a new neurological wing, for both of us that money was not necessary, but he knew that a place that diagnosed neurological diseases early would have the capacity to save an increasing number of lives, and that was priceless to him.

And five years later, our lives had completely changed. Jamie had been the director responsible for the new neurological area since its inauguration four years earlier, and I had received a very important assignment shortly after Willie turned three: I became director of the hospital-school. Dr. Goldenberg had applied for his retirement a few months earlier and I had been the first person he had called after his announcement, and his request was simple: he wanted me to replace him and would not accept anyone else in his place. He said I had always been ahead of my time and it was about time that the hospital got some fresh air, a firm hand, and the compassion inherent in women. And I couldn't imagine being so happy doing my job, I had almost two years with multiple tasks in and out of the hospital, but instead of getting tired of it, it gave me more spirit to continue.

"Mama, we have to get things ready for the party!" Willie said it out loud, taking me out of my daydream.

"Yes, my dear..." the three of us finally got out of bed. "But before we do that, we need a shower! Your grandparents, your uncles, and wee Jamie are coming!" I said smacking his ass so he'd hurry up. "I'll be there in a minute to make sure everything's clean! And don't forget to rub it behind your ear, you little pig!" He went out laughing and running to his room.

"Can ye believe he's turning five already?" Jamie said as he approached me.

"Time has flown so fast since you came into my life..." I wrapped my arms around his neck, bringing him closer to me and gently brushing my nose against his. "I've never been so happy and I can't remember how I could live before I had you two in my world..."

"Ye are the most precious thing in the world to me, Sassenach..." he started kissing me, and for a moment I forgot that we had time to finish everything.

"Jamie..." I took a deep breath. "Go to the shower while I go see how Willie's dealing with everything by himself..." I started walking towards the door with some difficulty, still with a silly smile on my lips.

"Aye... I ken we have a commitment to our whole family soon..." he came close to me again, hugging me and breathing close to my ear. "But I want ye to know that ye dinna escape me tonight..." his smile was as seductive as the first time I saw him, and I couldn't do anything but reciprocate in the same way.

"And who says I want to escape?"

 

 

POV Jamie

 

If someone told me five years ago that today I would be married, a father, and the director responsible for a neurological area that bears my brother's name, I would never believe it. My highest goal has always been to become a successful neurosurgeon and to make my family proud of all the sacrifices they had made for me to become what I wanted since I was a child. But never, even in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would fall in love with a woman who seemed unreal to me and still becomes the father of a boy who lived up to the name he carried, while his smile made us drooling parents, his tricks drove us crazy. He really was a Fraser, and not only that, he had his mother's temper, even though she never admitted it. Anyway, he was perfect!

I still suffered from going to Austria alone to receive my prize, something else that I never imagined I'd get, at least not so early in my career, right after I finished my residency. The trip was quick and marked by moments that I will never forget, like Dr. Smile approaching me during lunch on the day of the award, he was all smiling, as always, but I felt his gaze fall on my bracelet several times, as in the photo that was the wallpaper of my cell phone, the photo that I had taken of Claire with Willie on her lap days before my trip, he was whiny because of the fever and only his mother's lap calmed him down. The two of them ended up asleep sitting on the bed and I couldn't help but register that moment:

"I see the gene is strong in the family! Another redhead to conquer the world?" he spoke to me as he looked at the picture again.

"The Scots are like that, dominant!" I answered him smiling cynically.

"When we first met, I thought it was just another Claire's acts of rebellion, to date a student... just like she did when I took her to get a tattoo after our night together..."

"Very well-chosen place, by the way, I see it every day when I sleep and wake up next to my wife. The good thing is that now Claire's acts of rebellion are done only inside our room and she never gets tired! Is that a thank you that are you expecting? Well then, thanks for making Claire release everything that has always existed in her, but she never knew before... although I can say that she didn't even remember who took her to get that tattoo..." and without waiting for an answer from him, I smiled and got up, my loves were calling me via Facetime and I couldn't wait to talk to them alone.

After this conversation, I had the pleasure to see him again smiling cynically when he gave me the award that night. Claire was watching everything through the online broadcast and I knew there would be a questioning of Dr. Smile's choking words when he called my name, but when she asked me later about it, I just rolled my eyes and said he was probably jealous to know that a wonderful woman was waiting for me at home, one he lost.

This award earned me much more than the prestige of seeing Jackson speechless, I earned a large amount of money, an amount that I knew was far beyond what we needed in our family. We had enough to be happy and we didn't think twice about offering the hospital to build a new wing, one that would specialize in everything I had studied and innovated in my project. The William Fraser Institute opened at the same time we moved from our apartment to a spacious house where we could host the entire family for the day that would cut the inaugural ribbon of the new wing.

I knew how important it was for my parents, as well as my sister, to be there at that time. To be able to put my brother's name on something I had earned with hard work and dedication was rewarding, but more than that, exciting. Willie's fatal accident was the worst moment we lived in our family, but it was because of him that I decided the direction my life would take, it was because of him that I thought about the project and now it would save many lives, something that unfortunately we could not do with his. During the event that had Dr. Goldenberg at my side, I saw that my parents couldn't hide their proud smiles, as well as the tears that insisted on falling when they saw my brother's name in big letters at the door of the new wing.

This had been my family's last visit to Boston. As much as we loved them in our home, we wanted to enjoy the few days off we had each year to visit Lallybroch. Willie was crazy about his cousin, who was called Jamie, yes, my sister and Ian decided it would be a great tribute to their son's godfather, and although I felt very honored, the confusion that occurred when I was with my family was evident, so we started calling him Wee Jamie so he wouldn't have any more problems.

Our visits were marked by several horseback rides where I took the two boys with me on Donas, who was getting older and calmer, perfect for two tricky kids who didn't stop still and liked to ride a little faster than when Grandpa took them. Claire had already given up warning me of the several dangers of going alone with them along the trail that led to the small stream that was springing at the end of our property. But how could I resist the laughter of the two of them when they put their bare feet in the water and felt the fish tickle as they passed by? Of course, it didn't always work out, sometimes one of them would come back with a bruise, which gave me a sermon from all the women in the family, but it was soon forgotten when one of the boys ventured to tell how they had enjoyed themselves.

Sometimes I was worried that Ian would be jealous of me spending so much time with his son, but he always laughed and said that he would count the days for his godfather uncle, as wee Jamie called me, to come so he could have a little peace with my sister. Claire used to take advantage of the time in Lallybroch to relax next to my mother, the two of them really looked like mother and daughter, spending hours in the garden that my mother kept in the back of the house. Sometimes, Jenny would call women's evenings and the three of them would go to Inverness in some pub while the men would look after the children. Little did they know that we drank whisky and watched rugby while the boys learned totally inappropriate words during the game.

Now the trips to Lallybroch were fewer, I was the director of an entire wing and Claire as director of the hospital, we had almost no free time and when there was some day left for leisure, we took the time with Willie. But he had no problem visiting his grandparents, by the time he turned three he was more independent than any child I knew and with few words he demanded that his school holidays should be spent in Scotland. At first, we were apprehensive, he had never spent more than a weekend away from us, but my parents made sure that if he missed home they would bring him back. Yeah, that didn't happen. Actually, it was the other way around, we spent several days calling him and he didn't really give us much attention while playing with his cousin. One day I even caught Claire crying after a frustrating call to our son, I tried to make fun of her but in the end, we both spent the rest of the night with tears in our eyes as we remembered several moments of Willie with us. Yes, I'd become a completely drooling father to my son.

And now we were on the day he'd turn five. We were woken up early with a redheaded hurricane jumping into our bed completely looking forward to the party that would happen hours later. We had taken the weekend off, without being on call, without any contact with anyone in the hospital. Except for Joe who would be one of the guests, of course. Claire was already giving me orders for everything I was supposed to do, pick up and fix:

"Son, I think we'd better get out before General Fraser gives any more orders!" I said it quietly in Willie's ear, and he laughed.

"I heard what you said, Jamie!" she spoke as she stopped at the door of the living room with her arms at her waist. "But you two are lucky today, I don't have time to scold either of you! Now go get the cake!"

"Da, I think it's best to obey Mama, when she gets her neck like that it's because she's mad..." he was serious and pulled me by the arm.

I couldn't help laughing when I saw Claire putting her hand on her neck, I always said that I knew when she was angry when I saw her vein on her neck jump, and our son had learned quickly to recognize that trait of hers too. Without saying anything else, I walked past her and gave her a quick kiss. The morning just flew by and it was time to tidy up the little bugger to welcome the Fraser family who were arriving from Scotland. I was sitting watching TV when I heard Claire screaming from upstairs:

"William Henry Beauchamp Fraser!!! Get back here now! You're still wet and didn't get the clothes I left on the bed!"

I decided it was better to stay out of this fight, I knew very well that when Claire used the full name, she was not kidding and much less willing to listen to someone. And for my luck, at the same time, the house bell rang and I ran to answer, at least I would have some alibi in case something happened. I opened the door and soon our house was invaded by the whole family, and Willie listening to the voice of his grandparents, ran down the stairs like a madman, getting my and Claire's scoldings completely ignored.

Soon the two cousins were playing in Willie's room, giving us a little peace of mind. But what peace did I think it was? Jenny and Claire set everyone in motion to help decorate the room for the little party that would start later. But I was grateful for Ian's experience at those hours, who suggested we pick up lunch while my poor dad stayed behind to help hang some decorations. When we got back, everything was ready and we sat down to eat and chat a bit:

"I can't believe we already have two grandchildren that size!" My mother said it smiling as she watched the boys eating at the table by themselves.

"So... actually..." Jenny said it taking a deep breath, looking at me in a conspiratorial way, I already knew what she would say. "Soon there will be three grandchildren!" and with a smile on her face, she managed to silence the table.

"Jenny! I can't believe it! How could I not see that before? I'm a terrible doctor!" Claire spoke in amazement and got up to go to my sister.

"Dinna fash sister, I'm good at hiding things!" she laughed and hugged her.

My parents were still speechless, but when they came to their senses, they hugged my sister so hard that for a moment I couldn't even see her between their arms.

"Jamie, aren't you going to congratulate your sister?" Claire asked me a little outraged by my indifference.

"I did that a month ago when she told me the news..."

"Did you already know? A month ago? And you didn't tell me?" Now her look was fulminating.

"Claire, don't be mad at him. I needed to get off my chest and Jamie had called me when I got back from the doctor. I was the one who asked for a secret. He was just being a good brother."

At the same time, Claire's look softened, and squeezed my hand that was on her leg as an apology. I smiled at her and then the rest of the lunch was about bets on what the baby's sex would be. When we finished eating, we didn't have much time to rest, soon Willie's school friends would arrive and everything needed to be ready. Actually, for me, everything was already more than ready, but for Claire, something always needed to be done.

The party was a success, the theme Willie had chosen was farm, in fact, he had asked to be from Lallybroch, but what came closest to that was a castle in the middle of a farm with many animals. Even so, he had fun, I'd never seen so many kids running around that house. And, at some point, I thought I'd go crazy going back and forth to see if everything was okay. I was leaving the bathroom of our suite, in a rare moment of peace, when I bumped into Claire coming in, we ended up glued to each other and for the first time in that busy afternoon, I could see her properly.

Even after years of living together every day, her natural beauty still took my breath away. Her hair was all over her face, that because of the rush, was a little red. Her eyes glowed with the most beautiful shade of a rare whisky that was produced in the family distillery. My Sassenach. I couldn't let her go on her way, I held her in my arms, gently pushing her against the wall and when I received a questioning look, I just smiled and kissed her. Our kiss soon took a scale that was not planned at the moment, but I could not stop, I was missing moments like that in our day. Soon my hand was on her ass, pulling her closer to me as she sighed between our increasingly intense kisses:

"Daaa..." we heard our son's voice echoing through the hallway.

I tried to ignore it for a minute and continue what I was doing, but the scream came once again and much closer.

"I think it's best to see what your son wants..." Claire said it breathlessly. "Before he finds us here and this," she said pointing at our bodies. "Become another story for the Frasers Christmas!"

I ended up laughing and agreeing with her, but I made her promise that we would continue that later. The end of our son's party didn't take long, the kids were tired of playing so much and soon their parents went to get them. Jenny also went to bed early, the beginning of the pregnancy made her very tired and she took advantage of wee Jamie being asleep to go to the guest room we had at home. Ian ended up helping us to put everything away and clean up, as our parents had gone to sleep too. Willie was reluctant to go to the bedroom, didn't want his birthday to end, and was determined to stay by our side, even though his eyes almost closed all the time.

Claire ended up carrying him up the stairs, even over protests and I stayed to finish everything. A few minutes later, I said goodbye to Ian and went looking for my wife and son. When I stopped at Willie's bedroom door, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the scene I came across. Claire was lying on our little one's bed, with him lying on her lap. The curls of the two of them blended, brown with red, forming a tangle that I loved so much.

Looking at the two of them there, I couldn't contain my heartbeat. I had a perfect family, and as much as it started in a non-traditional way, I couldn't regret any choice I had made, and I thanked Claire every day for having the courage to do what she did. I couldn't resist tucking myself in next to them, putting them in my arms, and smiling pleased to know that it all started with just a proposal.

Chapter Text

POV CLAIRE

 

23rd December, 09:36 p.m.

 

That year would be our first Christmas in the new house and I was not happy, as expected, I was stressed. I thought I could get away once again from the responsibility of throwing a party for the whole Fraser family, but we didn't expect Willie to have severe pneumonia at the beginning of the month, thus preventing the three of us from going to Lallybroch as we had in the two previous years. And since last week, nothing Jamie and I would talk to those hardheaded Scots would be enough to get them to give up the idea that Ellen had to come to Boston to spend that holiday period with our little family.

We were tired, very tired. And still too worried about our little one, even after that hard moment. Willie had turned 3 in September and, due to his young age, still had some weaknesses inherent in that time of life. I thought this year would be different, but I was completely wrong. I swear I never imagined that I would suffer so much when I saw my son as helpless as the first days of the month. Even after leaving the hospital he kept coughing a little, but thank God he had no fever for over a week and played around the house as if nothing had happened, like the happy child he was.

Those moments were difficult but softened by Jamie's presence. I nearly collapsed at some point inside that hospital room and I don't know what I would be without him by my side, my Scot is my fortress at any moment of imbalance and I ask the universe every day how I could find such an understanding man, such a companion. He has so much patience with me... I think that's called LOVE after all...

At that moment, before Christmas Eve, Jamie and I were running out of time to decorate the house to welcome five people. Yeah, everything was late. We had to work hard to make up for our absent shifts at the hospital when Willie needed us, and they weren't just a few days away. While Jamie was standing on a small staircase, putting on the decorations of our big pine tree with great skill, I finished some ornaments to hang on the walls, the best way I could, after having already fixed our old garland outside the front door. Yes, I know we have a boy who believes in Christmas at home and we should have decorated it earlier, but Willie's pneumonia was too severe for us to think about it... And we didn't have the time to do it later.

"Sassenach, can ye reach that star on the table for me?" Jamie spoke as he finished putting sparkly little balls in the treetop.

"Jamie, I don't think we'll be able to finish everything in time..." I took a deep breath, my hands on the table. "I've never thrown a party like this before. You know I've never had many people in my house, let alone for Christmas!"

"But they're not just any people, a leannan!" he looked over my shoulder with a broad smile on his lips. "Ye know them verra well and I think ye're making a tempest in a teapot!" I handed Jamie the star and he put it firmly on top of the tree, coming down the stairs right away.

"Have you seen how your parents' house looks at Christmas time? Oh, of course, you have, you grew up in it!" I crossed my arms as I frowned, and Jamie walked up to me, wrapping his arms around my trunk firmly as he rehearsed such a typical laugh from him. "It even tightens my heart with anguish when I know we won't be able to offer anything compared to what we received there!"

"Stop being so melodramatic, woman!" He kissed my neck and the smell of his body mixed with his perfume caused butterflies in my stomach. The same as always. "My mother is retired and had many years to make a mistake in the Christmas decoration, I ken verra well! Besides," he started talking softly in my ear. "she has Mrs. Crook... she's the one who knows how to decorate our house well..." I looked at Jamie with a certain astonishment and he smiled at me with complicity, trying to blink one of his eyes and looking like the most beautiful owl. "I ken a lot of her other secrets if you want me to tell you..."

"I don't need to know any more, Jamie!" I repressed it with my eyes, keeping my face closed. "And I hope you don't keep telling my little secrets to your family!"

"Ye should stop reversing the situation, Dr. Fraser!" I tried to stay serious, but with him it was always impossible. "And I ken verra well yer potential... Remember how beautiful our old apartment looked on Willie's first Christmas?" his face was clearly holding another monumental laugh.

"Oh, yes." My face of displeasure finally made him laugh. "With a tree bought at the last minute that resembled a rooted pine tree and some poorly decorations that looked more like they came from another planet!" I rolled my eyes before I sank my head on his shoulder. "It's no use, Jamie, I wasn't born for this..."

"The decorations were a bit strange, I canna deny it..." lifting my face so I could look at him, Jamie made a face and I couldn't help laughing at him, getting a tighter hug in return. "But dinna ye remember how happy Willie was to see so many different colors? He was so small in yer arms..." that memory made my heart fill with love.

"His eyes were so bright!" And I knew mine were glowing too when I remembered my baby in his first months of life. "And his little laugh of contentment? Those cute little hands wanted to take everything he saw ahead!"

"See? that's what matters, Sassenach..." he kissed me intensely, and the warmth emanating from his lips and body was like a balm to all my insecurities. "No matter how our house is decorated, or whether we give good or bad gifts..." his fingers ran smoothly over my hair, finally placing a rebellious lock behind my ear. "It's not those things that stay in our memory at the end of everything..." I was sure his look of adoration was as intense as mine. "What matters is the love we share with our family, the little moments we share..."

"And my Christmases made sense again from the first year we started dating..." I smiled lovingly kissing his lips softly before pulling him onto the couch so that I could lie with my head on his lap.

"And that year was chaos!" He laughed and let go of his body heavily over the soft foam and I quickly nested beside him, my head over his legs and my face turned to his. "Without a proper Christmas supper, actually just a hot chocolate, and that same garland on the front door of the apartment... Wow, we were so tired that we slept on the couch before midnight, remember?"

"Your project was taking away all our energy..." just remembering that made me feel all that again. "Everything after the Seattle Congress was so intense that we couldn't even travel to Scotland as we had imagined! But still, even if it wasn't a real Christmas, I was with you..." I caressed his face as he smiled, feeling the slight rubbing of his beard on my fingers. "Besides, all the tension of not being able to assume our relationship in the hospital, it was killing me..." he kissed my forehead long and I felt his intense exhalation against my skin as he sank his fingers into my hair. "But to be able to lie on your lap and feel your fingers caressing me, just like you're doing now while watching 'A Christmas Carol', was very comforting. You were always so attentive to everything, dear..." at that moment, my eyes were showing all the gratitude for being loved again. "I was so happy inside our little bubble, as happy as when I shared those moments with my parents and Uncle Lamb... It was the first real Christmas I've had in years and I only have you to thank for it.

Ever since my uncle died in a tragic accident on a dig in Egypt, when I was about to graduate from Oxford, I have never celebrated any Christmas night, at least not like I used to. Lamb had been my guardian, my protector, my best friend for all my years of life after losing my parents. In fact, he had been my best friend even before I lost them. Lamb had been a part of my Christmases since always, and his gifts were the most fun and unusual of all, coming from all over the world and always with different meanings. As soon as he became my guardian, Lamb abandoned his greatest passion to take care of me. He left the digs aside to give me all the support and love I needed to grow up, returning to work around the world as soon as I moved to Oxford at the age of 16 for my first year of medicine. I missed him so much, but at least he died doing what he loved the most...

"Everything that comes from ye interests me, Sassenach. I wanted to do much more that year, but everything was so turbulent..." his face showed sadness and guilt suddenly, making me sit quickly on the couch to face him.

"Hey! Look at me!" I held my fingers to his chin gently so he'd fix his eyes on mine. "Having my childhood movie back after so many years, after losing my parents as a child and my dear Uncle Lamb years later, was the best thing I could have asked God for, Jamie!" I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. "You've done so much, you do so much for me, every day!"

"Having ye at my Christmases was like bringing the light back to that very important moment..." he turned his body back to mine, holding my hands tightly while he didn't take his eyes from mine. "As hard as it was for my family after Willie's death, they all worked hard to get back on track and celebrate the birth of Jesus... But for me it was never complete, my brother's presence was always missing and nothing seemed to be enough to fill that void anymore..." the sadness of his face quickly disappeared, being replaced by the usual sappy look. "Until ye appeared in my life like a hurricane, messing everything up and turning my life upside down!" I hit his arm lightly and he pretended to feel the greatest pain in the world! "But I always want ye to be right next to me to mess up everything you want!" His hands reached out to the sides of my face, squeezing it gently. "I can't live any other way than that, Claire. I can't live without ye anymore, without ye two."

"I don't even know what it's like to live without my two boys anymore..." I leaned my face so that he would caress my cheek for a moment before I came back to reality. "But let's take advantage of the fact that Willie is still sleeping to finish our beautiful Christmas decorations!" I lifted him with a certain difficulty, then pulled him to accompany me "Tomorrow the whole family will be here to see our masterpiece!"

"Aye, we three are a beautiful masterpiece, Sassenach!" he gently kissed the tip of my nose. "The most beautiful of all..."

"I love you, you fool!" I kissed his mouth briefly before I hit his ass. "Now, let's get to work!"

 

 

POV Jamie

 

We were already on the mission to decorate the house for Christmas more than an hour ago and it seemed that things were multiplying by the minute. I had bought the decorations that same day, in a short lunch break between one surgery and another, I managed to go to a department store near the hospital and picked up everything from the shortlist Claire had made in a hurry after we got the call from my mom that the Fraser family was going to land in Boston on the 24th to be next to Willie for the holidays.

Yes, they wouldn't just stay for Christmas, they would celebrate the new year with us too, in fact, it would be a smaller version of Hogmanay that was made in Lallybroch every year since I could remember. That had only made Claire even more nervous, she knew how seriously my family took that date, with a huge celebration for the whole family and friends. But what I tried to make Claire understand was that we didn't need to do anything big like Lallybroch, what mattered most to me was to be by my family's side, with my wife, and most importantly, by my son's side.

Willie had given us a scare weeks before. What seemed to be another flu of the countless that he had caught since he started school turned into pneumonia that left him in the hospital and knocked us off the ground. Although we were doctors and saw people in much worse conditions than Willie, being on the opposite side of our usual scenario was very difficult. What comforted us was to know everyone in the hospital and to know that he was in good hands, but that did not take away that tightness of my chest and a low voice, but insistent in my head, that brought all my fears of when I saw my older brother in one of the countless rooms of that white corridor of the hospital.

I knew it was totally irrational, my son was not in the same situation as my brother, but no matter how hard I tried, that feeling of powerlessness before my son's health took over my mind every time I saw little Willie lying in the hospital bed. He was so small that he disappeared among the many things in that room, the device that helped him breathe while his lung was still very irritated and without his full capacity, made him seem totally helpless. But I couldn't break down, not when I saw that Claire was as apprehensive as I was. She did not leave our son's side and I remained firm the whole time the two of them were awake, but when they fell asleep, my eyes overflowed with tears that I could no longer hold and in the silence of the night, I tried to calm my fears and to remember why our son had the same name as my brother.

But now little Willie was home well, still with a bit of pneumonia, but nothing to take his joy from seeing the house full of people who loved him and the decorations he loved so much. I had already finished decorating the tree and was satisfied with what I had managed to do in such a short time, Claire was not so sure:

"Jamie! Why is only the front of the tree decorated?" she asked outragedly as she examined my work closely.

"Because it's almost leaning against the corner of the room and no one will see what's behind it? Sassenach, we don't have enough time or decoration for a tree this size! And before you accuse me of anything, it was the last one left in the shop that still looked alive and fit to be part of the Frasers' Christmas!" I smiled gladly at the giant pine tree I had bought the same day, after Claire insisted that she didn't want an artificial tree this year, since in Lallybroch that never happened, of course, she wanted to bring the Christmas scent that flooded the house every year.

"It's okay, it's no use insisting on that, I'm too tired to argue with you!" she said by putting her hands on her back.

"Would that be a Christmas miracle?" I laughed and she just looked at me nastily. "I ken what we need to finish this decoration!"

I went to the little cabinet I kept in the room, there were the rarest and most important bottles of whisky for me, the ones I only used on special occasions and today it was one of them. I poured a dose for each and walked slowly to my wife. She was distracted by the Christmas lights that insisted on not working when we needed it most. I hugged her by the waist, putting the glass in front of her and inhaling the light vanilla aroma that emanated from her hair:

"Umm, special reservation for today? To what do I owe this honor?" she asked as she took a sip of whisky.

"The first Christmas with our whole family in Boston, that's a reason to celebrate, isn't it?" when I noticed she was relaxed, I pulled her closer to me.

"Definitely," she answered by taking a deep breath and being silent again.

We stayed there for a few minutes, enjoying our drink, hugging and admiring everything we had done in the house so far. It was far from perfect, much less than anything my mother did in Lallybroch, but I was still happy, it was something ours and that would bring us new traditions, happy memories that would end once and for all with sad memories of other Christmases, others that had made us suffer, but that was something distant now.

Before we could return to our tasks, we heard a scream from upstairs. It was Willie, and clearly, something had happened. Claire made mention of moving, but I quickly kissed her head and said I would see what had happened. In three long steps I climbed the stairs and entered our son's room, who was sitting on the bed with tears in his eyes and coughing a little:

"Willie, a leannan, what happened? Are ye in pain?" I said as I knelt beside him on the bed.

"Da... Santa, he thinks we're in Lallyboch, I'm gonna be without a present..." and the tears were running down his cheeks.

I took a deep breath to hide the laughter as I knew what was taking my little one's sleep away. I settled in his bed and quickly he went into my lap, holding me tight, as he always did when he had some nightmare at night. As I did with his mother, I began to run my hand through his hair and whisper words in Gaelic in his ear until his sobs stopped and his breathing returned to normal:

"A leannan, remember when Mama and I helped ye write the letter to Santa?" he just agreed with his head. "So ye told him where ye lived?" once again he answered only by nodding his head, now negatively. "He doesna need to ken where ye are on Christmas morning. His reindeers, those who help with the sleigh, ken where every child is and the gifts always arrive..."

"Do they know?" he widened his blue eyes. "Magic, Da?"

"Aye, it's the magic of Christmas. But ye ken something Santa doesna like? A child who doesna sleep and disrupts every delivery he has to make!"

At the same time he rushed under his covers and said a quick good night. I couldn't contain the laughter this time, Willie was really my son, something Claire couldn't get enough of saying. I kissed him on the forehead and walked out of the room in silence, facing his mother:

"Ah, Dhia!" I said it by putting my hand on my mouth to avoid screaming. "Sassenach, do you want to give me a heart attack? Listening behind the door is awful!"

"Oh yeah? And Santa won't like that either?" she smiled ironically.

"Uhum..." I answered pulling her by the waist. "If ye're not a good girl, ye're gonna be without a present..." she only answered with a little moan after she felt my teeth on her neck.

Aye, I can tell ye the decor of the house took a while to complete. This did not result in long hours of sleep, even more with a fully rested 3-year-old boy eager for the arrival of his grandparents, uncles, and cousin. With two large cups of coffee, we witnessed Willie emit screams that I did not know were possible to come from a child that size when he saw the large tree decorated in the room. His eyes sparkled with each discovery he made of a new ornament and we knew that all the work had been worthwhile.

Lunchtime was set with the arrival of my parents and my sister. And that's how chaos set in at the Frasers' house. Willie and wee Jamie rushed to their room to play, quickly forgetting the other members of the family who they claimed to miss so much. My mother and Jenny took over the kitchen to help Claire with the preparation of all the food for the next day. My father, Ian, and I were wiser and we stayed in the living room, drinking and watching a rugby match on TV, once or twice we went to Willie's room to see if everything was okay, after all when those two were silent, it didn't turn out well.

The day passed quickly and I noticed that I had seen Claire only at a glance a few times during lunch and the afternoon. When I left the shower, I found my wife lying on the bed, totally exhausted:

"Unused to the rhythm of the Frasers?" I laughed as I saw her open one of her eyes.

"Why in Lallybroch I don't get tired like that?"

"Because Lallybroch is bigger than our house and we can run away from my mother and Jenny's orders?" I smile as I sit next to her. "Come on, I'll give you a bath to relax."

"Another Christmas miracle?" she laughed still with her eyes closed.

"Sassenach, ye are offending my ability as a good husband..." I said it while I held her in my lap.

"I'm not offending you, but remember that Santa Claus is watching these good deeds of yours..."

I didn't stop the laughter while I was taking her to the bathroom. The rest of the night we spent talking and reminiscing about previous Christmases, and for the first time I saw my parents sharing stories of when my brother was still alive without that usual sadness, they seemed happy to tell Claire important moments from our childhood. When the boys went to sleep, we took all the presents to put under the tree, and I noticed that it had become small for the exaggeration of things that my parents had brought, they knew how to spoil their grandchildren.

The next day, I opened my eyes as I heard footsteps down the hall. I was a light sleeper because of the hospital's shifts, and I knew the children were awake, probably eager to open their presents. I looked on my cell phone and it was still six in the morning, my body complained about the few hours of sleep, just as Claire grumbled beside me:

"Why does our son have to look so much like you? Couldn't he enjoy sleeping like his mother?"

"And what would be the fun in that, Sassenach?" I laughed, which was interrupted by shouts of "Mama and Da".

We got up and went to the room in our themed pyjamas, another Fraser family tradition we liked to keep, on the morning of the 25th everyone opened their presents wearing the most Christmas pyjamas we could find to buy. When we arrived at the room, everyone was already there and my father started his Christmas ritual, he liked to deliver all the presents, one at a time, waiting to see how each one would react when opening a package.

I sat in my armchair and pulled Claire onto my lap, the seats in our room were limited, but I liked having her close to me anyway. Our son was attached to his grandfather, his face lit up with every gift delivered and his reactions were the best:

"Da! Look! Mama! That's what I wanted!" He talked about it non-stop when he opened one gift after another.

The smile didn't come out of my face and I saw it was reflected in my Sassenach's face. She saw that I was staring at her and approached me, giving me a quick but affectionate kiss. Our faces were sticking together, forehead to forehead and I closed my eyes taking a deep breath:

"I love ye Sassenach, I love ye even more because ye gave me this boy who is everything to me..."

"I also love you Jamie, this is the best gift Santa could have brought me!"