notevenjokingfic: jack-andthestalk: Our Son, Arc II, After Goodbye, Chapter 10Thank you to…

notevenjokingfic:

jack-andthestalk:

Our Son, Arc II, After Goodbye, Chapter 10

Thank you to @balfeheughlywed the goodbye bit is thanks to her. @ladyviolethummingbird Thank you!

My mouth curled up in a self-conscious smile, suddenly shy to say my goodbyes with Jamie’s family looking on. I wondered if they noticed our bruised lips and bitten necks. I tugged a curl around my finger and glanced over at Ellen and Brian pointing out flowers to Willie, allowing us a tiny window to say our goodbyes. Jenny stood under Ian’s arm sniffing into a hanky.

Jamie had embraced them all told them he ‘wasna dying’, but I could see his throat bob up and down furiously, as he strained to show a brave face. He had come to the end of the line where I was standing arms hung awkwardly at my sides, not knowing what to do with them. Jamie had pulled me by the waist and bent to kiss me; I kept my hand curled into balls at his chest not wanting to let go.

When his mouth met mine, we forgot where we were and deepened the kiss, trying to say with our mouths what we were incapable of with our voices. When Jamie’s tongue gently slid over mine, I heard gravel munching underfoot as Ian and Jenny shuffled away awkwardly. For a moment I didn’t care, wanting to live in him and have no one take him from me. Eventually, I sighed and said, “your parents will think I’m a disgrace.”

Jamie gave me the most boyish smile “Claire they see the way I look at you when you’re not looking; they wouldn’t expect anything less of a goodbye from me, aye?.”

A sudden lump invaded my throat, and I pulled him to me again, breaking away when I heard Willie’s voice getting nearer. Jamie through him up on his shoulder “remember what I told ye my lad?” as he mounted several kisses over our sons head and cheeks. “I amember da, mind Donas and mama” I rolled my eyes “did he tell you in that order?” I snickered rubbing my hand through his hair. “I canna remember mama” Willie answered solemnly.

I looked back at Jamie and saw him hastily rub his sleeve over his eyes, a lone tear had escaped his efforts and rolled down his cheek. Willie rubbed a little hand through Jamie’s hair, “dinna cry Da, nobody will take mama or Donas, while yer gone, I pwomise.”

Now tears were falling unbidden from my own eyes, and I wiped them away quickly, placing Willie on the ground for a minute. “You got to go,” I said firmly, “traffic will be heavy” we both knew I meant we would end as trembling wrecks if we didn’t make a move soon. “aye,” Jamie said hoarsely eyes stuck to the ground.

I gave him a few minutes to breathe, his head rising eventually to meet my eye,

“Claire Beauchamp” – his tone clear and confident –“I love ye” he bent nearer my ear – “I will love ye forever” – when he leaned back to look down in my eyes he mouthed “trust me mo chridhe”

Brian’s hand on his shoulder and Willie shouting “I love ye Da” was the only fragments I remembered before a trail of dust blew along the road as his jeep drove away… 

___________

In the few weeks since Jamie had been gone, the lack of his presence was felt everywhere, I felt guilty adding to the sombre mood by showing how much I missed him; instead I tried to throw myself into helping out around the farm and making sure Willie enjoyed his last few weeks in Scotland. Jamie phoned every night, wanting to hear every small detail of our day. He was reluctant to say much about what was happening in Hellwater, and I didn’t press him.

Mostly I was glad of Ellen Brian and Jenny’s presence, the moment Jamie kissed both Willie and me goodbye and left Lallybroch they stepped up. Never allowing us too much time in the cottage and insisting we ate with them every evening. I was pitifully glad of it. Every inch of the cottage was a reminder of Jamie and escaping it helped. 

Our tranquil routine at Lallybroch was rudely broken by the return of Dougal Mc Kenzie. He turned up unannounced and uninvited. Ellen’s reluctance to even admit him went over his head as he claimed to have come from visiting Hellwater and Jamie and wanted to let us know how he was doing. His attempt at sincerity didn’t win over his sister but his promise of been gone by morning not to return again if she wished, did the trick.

Dougal had, for the most part, ignored me on his last visit to Lallybroch. Throwing me one assessing glance and commenting on my boniness to Jamie. Other than that I was a non-event for him.

But since the Dunsany’s had approached Jamie to work at Hellwater, it had become apparent to Dougal that I was more unwanted baggage that rooted Jamie to Lallybroch and had been the main reason he had dug his heels in about working at Hellwater. Dougal hadn’t counted on Willie and me living in Scotland, in Dougal’s, Jamie might have been more agreeable to Hellwater, and they would not have had to threaten him with the demise of Lallybroch.  But Jamie had been furious, and the Dunsany’s and Dougal had unleashed their outrageous tactics.  His relationship with his sister and brother in law was irreparably broken.

_____________

Dougal Mc Kenzie sat staring at me intently from across the dinner table, cutting through a story Jenny had been telling, he tilted his head in my direction and asked how I had been since Jamie’s departure.

While he waited for a response he busied himself examining a morsel of food on his fork when my response was a nonverbal glare, he tried again.

 “Jamie seemed well fashed about leaving ye,” – I continued to stare back at him – “although” he added in a contemplative sigh “when I visited him last week, he seems to be settling nicely in at Hellwater.”

 Don’t take the bait.

 “We have been busy here”,  I replied evenly, keeping my gaze directed into the bottom of my wine glass, rolling the red liquid around in my hand.

Dougal’s hand slapped against the table jubilantly. “I kent as much, I told Jamie so” he downed the remnants of his wine in one swallow and leaned across the table, his voice brightening considerably.

“Ya ken Claire, while James may have reservations about the Dunsany’s, this is a good opportunity for him, he is overseeing the construction of one of the biggest equestrian centres in England, probably in Europe.” he smiled, flashing teeth and landing his elbows firmly back on the table.  “His name will carry with it.” He gave me a conspiratorial wink. 

“With all due respect Dougal,” I said smiling sweetly, “Jamie doesn’t want his name associated with the Dunsany’s on account of how they recruit people, I doubt having his name attached to their equestrian centre will appeal to him much.”

His eyes widened, and he leaned back in his chair slightly, “yer feisty wee thing or ye no?”

“If you mean, I don’t tolerate bullshit, then yes that is correct.”

Ian choked into his wine glass stifling a laugh and Jenny patted my hand proudly. “That ye don’t Claire” she agreed.

Dougal’s widened eyes eventually fell back to his dinner plate, but he was not to be deterred. I had struck a sore point, and he would not relent in whatever message he seemed determined to deliver.

His glance fell on Ellen and Brian as if trying to reason with them over my propensity to bite.

 “Aye, I am sure it wasna suitable to have Jamie move away so soon after ye moved here” his sweet smile made my stomach heave.

 “Claire and Jamie had no wish to live separately, Dougal, so let’s not pretend it was a choice, aye?” Brian replied gruffly, while Ellen just glared disbelievingly at her brother. The tension building over the dinner table was tangible, and I longed to rise from my seat and throw the entire uneaten contents of my dinner plate onto Dougal’s lap and leave the room.

Dougal smiled sympathetically at Brian, “I said to Jamie that they’re two independent people, dinna need to be living in each other pockets, do they now?” his gaze returned to meet my eye, and I pressed my hand into the side of my chair to stop the fury building up in my stomach. Suddenly grateful that Willie was upstairs asleep in Brian and Ellen’s bed.

I was no longer content to listen to this tripe and didn’t want Jamie’s parents feeling the need to defend me.

“You seem to have a knack at colouring the truth Dougal” I popped a piece of meat into my mouth and allowed my lips to curl up mischievously as I chewed.

“I ken the best of marriages start out with some separation Claire, why myself and my wife, Clara-“before he could continue, I sat forward placing fork down on my plate and resting my chin on my entwined hands calmly. “With all due respect Dougal-“ my tone light, mocking, “I’d rather not use your marriage as a blueprint”, the way his mouth dropped open and the stunned expression on his face, made me grow bold and I flashed him a dazzling smile.

“From what I understand your wife lives in Spain most of the year?” a long pause as I took my time to refill my wine glass, Dougal observed me, mistakenly confident that I wouldn’t go there.

“She has a very attentive live-in personal assistant doesn’t she?” – I strained my eyes in concentration and tapped my forefinger against my bottom lip contemplatively – “Manwell? Is that his name?”

Jenny snorted, and I threw my smug smile in her direction.

Dougal was purple, a long finger pointed threateningly at me, “How dare ye –“

I was unperturbed, “There must be a reason you are not needed in your wife’s house?” I asked lightly while popping a grape into my mouth from the cheeseboard in front of me. “after all I am sure”, even someone like you, must have a purpose?

Dougal started to rise threateningly to his feet, “Do you visit much, I mean to give Manwell vacation time?”

“Now ye listen hear ye little bitch-“

“Ye will no speak to Claire like that at my table” Ellen’s voice interjected firmly.

 I flopped back in my chair happily, taking a long pull from my wine glass. 

“Yer lucky I allowed ye over the threshold brother, dinna pretend you had no part to play in separating her and Jamie, so ye needn’t come here now telling her it’s for the best.”

Ellen stood and reached for the bottle of wine before pouring herself a large glass and sitting back down. She gave out an incredulous sigh, “in fact I dinna ken why yer here at all” she laughed incredulously and shook her head, “ye got Jamie to do yer bidding, what else do ye want?”

“I only came to tell ye the lad is doing braw, he is really getting stuck in.” Dougal huffed defensively.

I couldn’t help the drop in my heart, imagining Jamie giving any of his real attention to this project, but I mentally berated myself for already forgetting my promise.

Brian narrowed his eyes, taking in his brother in law, “he is a gifted lad, there isna much he canna work at.”

Dougal’s face lit up “Oh aye Lord Dunsany is delighted with him, he has the architects and engineers jumping in hoops at his whim, Miss Geneva thinks he will shave a million off the original estimate for the project, with some shrewd changes.”

Now my heart was beating outside of my chest; naively as it sounded, I didn’t realise Geneva Dunsany had any role in the designing or building of the equestrian centre.

The question was bubbling out of my mouth before I could stop it. “What role does Geneva have with the project?” I aimed for nonchalance, but I wasn’t sure I delivered as Dougal crooked one bushy grey eyebrow at me, his turn for revenge evident with the self-satisfied smirk spread across his face.

“She is the financial controller” he replied evenly.  Straining to keep the gleeful tone from his voice he continued “Jamie has to keep her sweet to draw down the necessary funds for the project and to align his budget.”

Brian leaned across the table about to say something, but I was determined not to show defeat. “Gosh I am surprised, I didn’t think she had a head for figures never mind the ability to control a multi-million-pound budget”.

Dougal’s expression was impassive, but his eyes were practically dancing in mirth when he composed himself enough to answer me.

“Jamie seems to think he can save her money and that speaks Geneva’s language, quite the bonnie team the two of them last I saw” the corners of his mouth quirked upward, a hint of victory in his smile.

I knew that I could keep up this game and had many responses that would wipe the smile of Dougal’s face, but I had this niggling feeling that Dougal had information that would hurt me deeply if I continued and I didn’t think I could withstand it.  I dropped my gaze to my plate, not to avoid Dougal so much but to the sympathetic stares from the rest of the Frasers.

________________

Much later that evening Jenny and Ian had managed to unwind me with too much wine, curled up in armchairs around a fire in the study. We chatted and teased and avoided all talk of what Dougal had said at dinner. I knew they were trying not to give it credence and I was trying not to let my insecurity show. I mostly was succeeding, and the wine was certainly a good anaesthetic, but now and again Dougal’s depiction of Jamie working closely with Geneva gave me angry hot flushes which I was, for the most part, disguising well.

As midnight came and went and our chat quietened, Jenny who had been watching me intently narrowed her eyes . 

 “Claire” she slurred slightly, “I presume ye are not heeding anything that man says?”

I gave a noncommittal smile, “I’m fine Jenny honestly, I – “

She looked to Ian for support “Tell her Ian”.

“Jenny – laughter lacing my tone to hide my embarrassment – “ will you stop, I am a big girl, and Jamie is – “

“Dinna start pretending that yer fine with what he said either? She waved her hand around sloppily. “I’m not daft Claire.”

Ian crooked one eye at me, “Claire, ya ken Jamie hates each and every one of them, there is a fox in him, if he is playing nice it is cunningly so.”

I took another long pull on my wine glass and eyed them both sceptically and sighed.

“I feel bad for even mistrusting him, it’s just Dougal gets under my skin with his smugness –“  my tone growing angrier the very mention of him, “he came here to wind me up.”

“Aye,” Jenny said knowingly and “ye are falling for it.”

“Hmm, I think you’re right, and I am being silly, let’s forget it ok?” I made to stand, but my legs wobbled briefly before I fell back down with a thud.

“We will have one more dram Claire, and then Ian and I will walk ye back to the cottage, Mam has Willie so ye can have a nice lie in tomorrow.”

My head bobbed agreeably, and I allowed the alcohols foggy haze to cloud my decision making, “Christ I miss Jamie to talk sense to ye now.” Ian chuckled.

Jenny was rooting in my purse beside her place at the fire.

 “I’m gonna call Jamie and tell him what Dougal is at, he told me to keep him informed” she pulled my phone from my bag with a tug and flopped back on the armchair, eyes squinting, dangerously near to closing to examine the screen on my phone.

Both mine and Ian’s mouths fell open “Jenny its almost 2 o clock in the morning, you are not ringing Jamie!” I said firmly. My head was light from wine and the idea of Jenny telling Jamie I was jealous of Geneva Dunsany.

“Aye Jen, C’mon” Ian tried to reach to take the phone from her, but she snapped her hand back. Holding the phone above her head. “he is my brother, Ian and he told me to watch over Claire.” Ian sighed “Jen he told us all to watch over Claire, if she isna sick or deid, I don’t think ye should ring him in the middle of the night though.”

Jenny let out an impatient puff of breath “tsk” she scolded. “Jamie willna think she is deid!”

I managed to stand on wobbly feet and grab the phone from Jenny’s hand while she was distracted. “Agh, I said triumphantly, “got it”. My smile quickly faded when I noticed Jenny had already hit the call button to dial Jamie, I was desperately trying to hit cancel when I heard a high feminine giggle coming from the receiver. Jenny and Ian’s faces watched on in dismay as I put the earpiece to my ear and stupidly said “Jamie?”

Silence on the other end and a familiar British accent answered clearly “sorry James can’t come to the phone just now” – another stifled giggle “he is busy”, and the phone went dead.

JUDAS PRIEST!!!!!

I fucking HATE THIS!!!!!

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