Original prompt: Imagine if Claire actually got to meet Jamie's parents, Brian and Ellen when they arrived at Lallybroch // The Watch never came to Lallybroch so Jamie and Claire stayed. Jenny and Ian had to leave for a day or two. Imagine Jamie and Claire taking care of wee Jamie and Maggie.
“Ye dinna mind sleeping in the spare room, then?”
Claire briefly looked up at her father-in-law before returning to her work, carefully grinding comfrey and other herbs into a salve for his aching joints. What with the hubbub surrounding the future laird’s return last night – coupled with hurried (if heartfelt) introductions to Brian and Ellen and Robert and Jenny and Ian – she and Jamie had been shuffled into a clean but clearly unused bedroom on the house’s third floor.
“I’m just glad to have a roof over our heads,” she said softly.
Brian – observant but tactful – did not pry. “So have ye two come to stay, then? We’d heard word of your marriage and weren’t sure when ye’d come back to Lallybroch for good.”
Claire pursed her lips, clearly thinking. After a long moment she bravely raised her gaze to meet his kind eyes. “I want you to know – when I married him, I had no idea he is to be laird of this place. I didn’t even know his true last name. I didn’t – ”
“Ach.” Brian rested a gentle hand on her forearm. “Dinna fash yerself, lass – ”
“With respect, Mr. Fraser – I needed to tell you. He’s an amazing man, your son. He has sacrificed so much for me, so that we could have a life together.” She swallowed. “He – he married me to protect me from Captain Randall.”
“Randall?” Ellen’s fair brows lifted in question. “The one who almost killed both you and your father?”
“Aye, the same.” Jamie’s voice was muffled as he bent to pull weeds from the base of the gnarled rosebush in the dooryard. “I had to protect her, Mam. He – he tried to rape her. He would have done much worse, if I hadna done something.”
Ellen plucked dead leaves from around her prized buds. “And conveniently for my brother Dougal, it takes ye from the line of succession.”
Jamie stood, hurt. “Ye ken I never wanted that! I’m to be laird of this place, no other!”
She sighed, shaking her head.
Jamie stepped closer to her. She watched him lick his lips. “Besides, Mam – I love Claire. I love her more than I ever thought I could love anyone, or anything.”
Ellen tilted her head, thoughtful. “Have ye told her, then?”
“Ye ken Jamie’s Mam and I marrit at a moment’s notice as well?” Brian gently rubbed Claire’s salve onto his stiff knuckles, just as she had instructed.
Claire nodded. “Yes – he told me on our wedding night. Sounds like something we have in common is a desire to stick it to the MacKenzie brothers.”
Brian laughed heartily. Jamie had his smile. “Ah well, lass – for all ye’re a Sassenach widow, older than wee Jamie, and with a foul mouth – I couldna have picked a better match for the lad if I’d tried.”
“Have ye even tried telling her how ye feel?” Ellen asked gently, lightly rubbing her son’s back. He’d refused to show her the flogging scars – but she hoped he’d trust himself enough to share in time.
Jamie shook his head. “I canna find the words, Mam. I feel so much. It’s almost too much.”
She squeezed his shoulder. “Take it from a woman, son. She’ll understand.” Briefly she turned her face back to the rosebush, thoughtful. “Have ye ever given yer bride a posey, Jamie?”
He refused to meet her eyes. “No. I haven’t. I haven’t given her much of anything, Mam – save her ring. But now, I – I want to give her everything. A home, a place, a family of our own. I hope – ” he swallowed sharply.
Ellen’s heart ached. “What, lad?”
He sighed. “I hope it’s enough for her. That I’m enough for her.”
Ellen clucked her tongue and suddenly clasped her son tightly to her chest. “Ye’ll do just fine, Jamie lad,” she whispered into his hair. “She doesna need anything – just you.” After a while, she pulled back and plucked a blooming rose from the bush. “But perhaps it’s never too late for a wee wedding gift, aye?”
Later that night, Jamie and Claire sat with Brian and Ellen in the sitting room, lingering over one last glass of whisky. Jenny, Ian, and Robert had long ago gone up to bed. Brian flexed the hand holding his glass – no longer stiff, thanks to Claire – and smiled at his son and daughter-in-law, seated on the chaise across the room, holding hands. He could just see the edge of a rose peeking from Claire’s hair when she turned her head to watch the fire.
“Ye’re a rare fine healer, Claire. I’ve tried most everything for years, and here your potion works on just the first go-round.”
Jamie drew a smiling Claire closer against him. “Ah, well – she mended me twice on the day she met me. I figured it may be a bonny idea to keep her around.”
“Frasers,” Ellen rolled her eyes. “Once they set their mind on something, they’ll move heaven and earth – even rip the veil of time, if they had to.”
Claire’s gentle start didn’t escape Brian’s notice. Neither did his observation of Jamie drawing Claire even tighter against his shoulder.
But the moment passed, and Claire smiled gently. “Who says he already hasn’t?” she teased.