Governor Tyron had left nearly half an hour ago. I had said my farewell to him, but had kept my post on the porch. Bree had joined me shortly afterwards, with Jem in her arms. We had sat in a comfortable silence as she tried to rock the teething child to sleep.
I had yet to hear from or see my husband, which was starting to alarm me.
Jem squirmed in Bree’s arms and I watched her stand.
“Mama… I don’t know what is taking Da so long, but I think it is time for me to go…” Jem let out a squeak. “He’s getting cranky and I am tired. I think it’s time I pass him to his father.”
“Mmm. You know there was one night when you were a baby… Frank had a work dinner and you were teething. He had wanted us to go but I could not get you settled. I sent him on his way without us.” I smiled at the memory. “And when Frank left, I took a nice bottle of whisky he kept in his bookshelf. Poured a little into your bottle, and you slept like a champ that night. It might be worth a try tonight, for your sanity and Roger’s.”
I watched a smile to match her father’s reach across her face, “I would, but Da said we won’t have whisky for a few more weeks…”
“Your father is in our room. If you walk into his office, there’s a wooden box on the right hand side. He has quite a nice emergency stash in there. Don’t use too much but just a splash; Or you can rub it across his gums, it might help soothe him just enough.”
“Thanks, mama.” She kissed my cheek and disappeared into the black of the night. I waited another few minutes, listening to the sounds of the night, but Jamie still didn’t make his way outside.
My impatience wearing thin by the minute, I decided to take myself to him. I blew the candles out on the porch and walked towards our bedroom. While it was also my bedroom, for some I felt like an outsider walking into the room. The door was cracked open, so I knocked softly, and heard a small Scottish grunt in return.
“You didn’t walk the Gov-” I saw a flash of red on the bed and it rendered me speechless. It was no wonder why Jamie hadn’t come out to join me on the porch.
The red material lying on our bed spoke volumes. I didn’t know how to respond. And if I didn’t know what to say or do, I could not imagine how this was weighing down on Jamie.
It wasn’t just a piece of red material we were staring at.
It was a uniform.
A red military uniform.
A uniform my husband had spent his entire life running from.
A uniform my husband has suffered under.
A uniform that had given my husband a back full of scars.
Jamie was sitting next to it on the bed, his face in his hands.
“I was wondering why you had not come outside to tell me how the conversation went.” I walked towards him so I was standing right in his proximity. “But coming in here, I can see why.”
“Clai-” Jamie croaked on my name and looked up, the tears filling his eyes. Chills went down my body for the look in his eyes was one I had only seen once more in my life.
There was a darkness in his eyes I had only encountered once. At a time when he was enduring something so unimaginable, to keep me safe from a man who had worn this same piece of clothing. A time we seldom spoke of, yet a time I knew still haunted him to this day.
War is a funny thing and it does things to a person. It isn’t something we want, nor is it something that can, at times, be avoided. Man is a species and being a species comes with a drive to always win. The scientist in me knew this- survival of the fittest. I also knew that sometimes, being a soldier isn’t just a choice. I could argue that sometimes men didn’t have the luxury of saying no when it came to a war.
I had once served in a war. I wasn’t a true soldier, but I had taken care of those who were on the front lines. I had served my country and suffered the consequences of war myself. I knew the horrors of battle, the loss a person endure, and how with neither time nor space did it ever really escape a person.
I thought of my first husband - Frank had served. He had done a duty to his country when it needed him most, yet when it was all over, he could simply wash his hands of it and walk away. For Frank, being a soldier had been a choice.
Jamie Fraser, though, Jamie was a soldier. He was the kind of soldier that I could argue never had the choice. Jamie was the soldier with it ingrained into his DNA. He was born into a position of power, being the Laird of Lallybroch. He had rebelled against the English to try and save his people. He had lead his people at Ardsmuir, his name Mac Dubh.
And now with the American revolution beckoning on our doorstep, we found ourselves staring down on the eve of another war. And somehow he had found himself in the crosshairs yet again. And me, well, it was simple. Wherever he were to go, I would follow.
Blood of my blood and bone of my bone.
Coming back down to reality, I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. It was pulsating, strong and ever present. The memory he was recalling present in my head. The duty to each other, the duty to our family, and the duty to our country flooding us.
Not knowing what to say or do, I grabbed Jamie’s knee, tethering myself to this plane.
I heard him take a breath and pull me into his embrace.
“Oh, mo chridhe.” He whispered into the base of my neck.
We were so close together, yet I could feel the oceans and centuries apart engulf us.
“I dinna ken how to say it to ye,” Jamie spoke softly and I could feel his tears down my chest. “There were so many things that have happened to me, so many things I have suffered and been beaten for.”
“Hush,” I said as I wiped my own tears and kissed the top of his head, “I know.”
He didn’t stop but rather pulled me closer into him. “I could carry the weight of the scars God has burdened me with. I have been whipped and bludgeoned, cut with a bayonet. I survived twenty years wi’ out my heart…”
I looked down at him, wiping a tear with my thumb.
“Yet he is askin’ me to wear this, and it broke me Claire. I dinna think I can do it.”
“I know.” It was all I could say. No one, save for Jenny, Ian, or Murtagh knew the extent of just how much Jamie had truly suffered under the British. Particularly, under one with the name Randall. Jamie having to succumb to wearing what they considered to be a badge of valor, one of honor, would be going against everything he had worked so hard to get away from. I had even spared Bree the details of just how intricate the lineage went. Jamie’s hatred for the crown ran deep into the marrow of his innermost being.
“We do what we must,” I finally spoke. “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there I will be buried. Be it Scottish hill or southern forest. You do what you have to; I’ll be there.”
“Ye said that to me once already, ye ken?” He gave an attempt at a laugh.
“I know, and it still holds true.”
There were many things we wanted to say, so many words and feelings to convey, yet it was just this way with him- it always had been- sometimes there was nothing words could ever express. All we could do was be there for one another, and let the unspoken remain.
For he knew what lay in my heart and I knew what lay in his soul. In the end, nothing truly remained unsaid between us.
“I’ll be there, every step of the way.” I said to him and to myself, and held him as he wept. At least this time around, things would be different and we would face it together.