Neither one of them got much sleep, both to overcome with excitement and a lifetime of longing finally coming to fruition. Every little movement or adjustment of a sleeping limb from either of them would cause the other to rise to consciousness. After a while, they both laid there, awake, listening to Murtagh's soft snore and the sounds of nature outside of the cottage. Jamie's hands, mindlessly stroked up and down Claire's rib cage as she drew patterns over his chest with her index finger. Both of them had been stuck in their own minds as thoughts and questions raced through their heads.
Jamie was the first to break the silence, "What it is between us, when I touch ye or hold ye in my arms ...
Claire lifted her head to gaze up at his face, barely illuminated from the dying embers, but enough that she could make out his smile and finished the sentence for him, "It's unusual, not many people find this. I know that it's something rather special, we had a bond across time and now that we are together ...
Jamie grinned and pulled her tighter to his side as her hand rested over his heart, "Tis stronger than anything I have ever kent, like a tether, drawing us toward one another. Our souls werena complete until ye came through the stones to me."
Claire grinned and buried her face in his chest, "Yes exactly."
Jamie's hand resumed the gentle massage over her ribs as he stared up through the hole in the roof at the stars in the night sky and contemplated all that had happened in the past few hours, "Will ye tell me where it is ye come from?"
Claire looked up at his face, and tried to play coy "What do you mean?"
Jamie made a distinct sound in his throat, "I ken the stories of the fairy stones, though I dinna believe ye to be a fairy, I do think that ye came from another time. In my dreams of ye, the people dress differently than they do here or rather now I suppose. I have seen women wearing trousers, dressing as men do now. I have dreamed of ye working to heal the sick and injured, healing men so mangled it makes my wame twist. I have dreamed of things of which I canna even begin to describe for fear that I might sound like a mad man. Will ye tell me about yer time, then?"
Claire remained quiet for a moment, trying to decide how much to tell him, and all the while Jamie waited patiently for her response, he could tell that she needed a moment to find the right words.
Claire thought of what Mrs. Graham had told her, she had said that in order for their marriage to work they needed trust. With that thought foremost in her mind, she decided to throw caution to the wind and tell him everything, allowing him to stop her if he became too overwhelmed.
She pulled her arm under her so her weight rested on her elbow and so she could raise up a bit and rest her head on her hand. She looked down at his eager face and grinned, "Well, it is going to sound fantastical for sure, but since you asked, I will tell you. Stop me if it gets to be too much or if you have a question about something. I will try and answer to the best of my abilities. Will that work for you?"
Jamie turned on his side and pulled his arm under him to rise up and face her head on, "Aye, that sounds like a good plan to me, there isna a need for secrets or lies between us, but I willna ask ye more than ye are ready to tell me, can ye agree to that?"
She smiled and leaned forward to place a kiss on the tip of his nose, "Yes, I can agree to that, though there is nothing that I need to keep hidden away, I will tell you anything you wish to know."
Jamie nodded as a silent acknowledgment and waited for her to continue.
She took a breath and settled in to begin her story, like most Scots, she could tell a story for hours, but she would try and stick to the important facts and leave room for him to ask questions when he was curious about something.
"I'm going to start at the beginning, without it, not everything that I have to tell you will make sense. If I get to long winded, feel free to stop me."
Jamie grinned, "Aye, I'll stop ye if yer mind begins to wander."
She rolled her eyes, "Alright, here it goes. I was born in the year 1918 and when I was a little girl, about 5 years old, my parents went on a trip and left me in the care of my uncle Lamb. I wasn't aware where they had gone at the time, but eventually, I learned the truth about it and that their trip was all about what my future was destined to be."
"My mother's name was Julia and my father's name was Henry and they traveled through the stones to another time, just like you saw me do tonight."
Jamie's eyes grew wide, "I kent them a long time ago when I was a wee bairn. Julia told me the stories of the curly haired sassenach that was meant just for me."
Claire grinned, "Yes, they went back in time to find the man who was meant to be my soulmate. They left a record of when they had traveled to, along with the name of the man I was meant to marry."
Jamie whispered as his hand came up to rest over his own heart, "That man is me."
She placed her hand over his, "Yes, Jamie that man is you, are you going to let me tell my story or would you like to take over?"
He clamped his gaping mouth shut so she would continue.
She giggled at his childlike response, "Anyway, my uncle found the record of their adventures and began telling me the story of a Scottish prince who lived at a place called Broch Tuarach. He told me that the prince looked just like his mum, with her curly red hair and sapphire eyes. He told me how my prince was waiting for me to come and save him. When I was younger I thought it was just a pretty fairytale to help me come to terms with my parent's disappearance. I will tell you about my parents later, I'm already getting distracted. Anyway, I began having dreams not long after they left. I would dream of red curls and kind eyes, but I could never see your face. I would dream of a little red haired boy running through fields of heather, climbing trees and swimming in lochs."
"I grew up in the care of my uncle who was a nomad, we traveled the world in search of historical artifacts, and he taught me how to live rough. He said I was learning lessons that would help me to take care of my future husband, to take care of you. But by the time I was 17 I had decided that the stories he told me about you, were only stories, something to dream about, but nothing that could ever truly happen to me. So when I was 18, I attended university to learn about Scottish history, herbs, and healing, all of the things that uncle Lamb said would be important to me one day. I met a man who was kind to me and made me promises. Eventually, he asked me to marry him and I accepted, out of a fear of being alone for the rest of my life. I liked the feeling of being wanted and desired."
Jamie bristled and his lips pressed into a tight line, but he didn't say a word.
Claire swallowed the lump in her throat. "I married him almost a year ago after I graduated from university. But he had joined the army, the intelligence division, where no one could know of his whereabouts, least of all a wife. I was going to be left all alone, so I refused to have sex with him. I didn't want to end up pregnant and alone. He shipped off to his post a week after we wed and I decided to join the army as well, but I wanted to learn more about healing, I felt as though it was what I was born to do. So I became a combat nurse, that would explain the dreams you had about me healing mangled men. There was a war in my time, one like you couldn't even imagine. So many men lost their lives, they were still losing their lives when I decided to come here. And it was for nothing more than another tyrant trying to take more than what he deserved."
"Sorry, I seem to keep getting distracted. Back to what I was saying before. I haven't seen Frank since that day he shipped out to London and I received only a few letters from him over that time. I hadn't thought of him in so long that it felt strange to call myself someone's wife. Then a few weeks ago I received a letter, it was from a woman. She turned out to be his mistress, he had been having sex with her since he first arrived in London and she was pregnant with his child. That letter is what caused me to come and find you, to realize I had been trying to fill a void in my heart and soul with someone who simply did not fit. I decided that it was time to follow the destiny that my uncle had told me so much about. I figured it would turn out one of two ways, either I would find out that my uncle had made everything up to soothe the wounded heart of an orphan or that everything he had told me was true and I would find the love of my life, but only if I was ready to let my head listen to what my heart already knew."
"After I read through the letter that Frank's mistress sent me, I decided to come straight to you. But I had to first stop in Oxford at my uncles house. Over the years, my uncle had gathered knowledge and items I would need to make my journey to you. He had always said that I would find you when I was 22 and now I realize that I have been following my destiny all along. Frank might have derailed me for a time, but I found my way back to you right when I was supposed to."
Jamie's face was unreadable, which caused Claire to worry that she had revealed too much to soon, "Are you alright, Jamie, talk to me, please tell me what's wrong."
Jamie had been staring at her, but he was not seeing her, his mind was in the future, thinking of her married to another man, lying with another man and it made him angry. He brought his focus back to her and tried to keep his voice calm, but the words came out in a low growl, "Are ye a maiden no more then?"
Claire's eyes got wide, that was not what she had expected him to focus on from everything she had revealed. She looked at him, studied his face, and realized that he was barely holding his anger in check, and still waiting for an answer from her. She cleared her throat to speak up and looked down, focusing on his chest, her voice squeaked when she opened her mouth, "I am still a maiden, I have lain with no man. Even though I told myself that you were just a dream, I knew in my heart that you were real and I couldn't give myself to anyone but you. You will be the first and only man that I lay with James Fraser. My heart and soul have always been yours and my body will be as well. But I will not lie with you until we are wed properly, in a church, in front of a priest with a dress and a ring. I was hoping that we could find my parents and they would be there, but I don't yet know where they are, so that is not a deal breaker for me."
She looked up to see his reaction and was shocked to find his mouth hanging open as he gaped at her. She suppressed the urge to giggle and placed a hand tentatively on his chest. "Are you alright my love, was it to much, too soon?"
Jamie shook his head, dispelling the thoughts of incredulity from his mind and gave her a smoldering grin, "Nah, it wasna too much, I'm alright, I just canna believe how much faith ye had in us finding one another and becoming one. I mean, my God, ye traveled 200 years through time to find me, that canna have been an easy feat to accomplish."
Claire furrowed her brow in confusion, "Didn't you have faith that we would find each other? You said you have loved me for so long, that you have been waiting for me your whole life. Did you not save yourself for me as well?"
Jamie allowed his grin to get brighter, "Aye, I did save myself for ye, it has always been ye Sassenach, no other has turned my head or stolen my heart. I am a virgin just as ye are, mo calman geal. We will wait until we are wed properly to be together. There is a church near Lallybroch where we can wed as soon as the banns are read, if ye find it to yer liking. I canna wait to take ye home to Lallybroch to introduce ye to my father and my sister Jenny."
Jamie laid back down and Claire lowered herself to cuddle against his side, resting her head on his chest, "I don't know what Lallybroch is, but I can't wait to go there and meet your family."
Jamie tapped his finger on her nose, "Lallybroch is what we call my home, ye said yer uncle told ye about Broch Tuarach, tis the same place. The local people call it Lallybroch due to the tower that is on the estate, it leans a bit."
Claire nodded in understanding, "Awe, and Lallybroch means lazy tower, makes perfect sense. But I don't know about getting married so soon, shouldn't we date for a bit before we worry about that?"
Now it was Jamie's turn to be confused, "What do ye mean by date?"
She rolled her eyes, reminding herself to try and use terms that he would be familiar with, "Oh, it means to court, shouldn't we court each other for a while before you propose marriage?"
Jamie lifted his head to peer down at her, willing her to turn her gaze toward him so he could see her eyes, "Sassenach when a man courts a woman, he is intending to marry her at the conclusion of it. If ye wish me to ask for your permission to court ye, since yer parents are no' around for me to ask yer father, ye would be wanting me to ask for yer hand in marriage."
Claire hummed in understanding, "Oh, well then don't you think you should ask instead of just assuming?"
Jamie chuckled quietly, "Aye, I did assume didna I, I assumed we were already courting when ye agreed to let me kiss ye. But if it will ease yer mind, aye, I'll ask ye properly, in the morning, after we get some rest. Now close yer eyes and go to sleep, mo chridhe. We will have a long day of travel ahead of us tomorrow and we need at least a small bit of rest."