Imagine how scandalized Jamie was to find out that the “shift” Claire was wearing when they first met was actually usual dress for her (when not in her nursing uniform during the war of course).

“Well hello to you, too.”

Jamie - naked, sweaty, panting - laughed. A full, deep rumble beside her.

“I hope ye’re still able to be surprised, then. Thirty-five years of marriage makes most people’s parts go dull.”

Claire propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at him, tracing a fingertip down his side - over the almost-faded place where he’d cut the brand from his own flesh, that terrible night ten lifetimes ago.

“I hope you were able to tell that *my* parts haven’t gone dull at all. Quite the opposite, actually.”

He inhaled sharply between his teeth as the dug her thumbnail into his nipple. “Aye, I noticed. And look for yerself, Sassenach - mine are waking back up now.”

She bent to kiss his hairline, and darted out her tongue to lick the sweet salt of his brow.

“Not that I’m complaining - but what brought this on?”

Claire lay one hand on his sternum to brace herself, straddling him. Behind her his knees rose on the mattress, and she lay back against them, resting her still-sensitive parts on the quivering flesh of his abdomen.

“Yer shift.”

His voice was choked with want.

“My shift? What exactly about my shift? I think I’ve worn it for three days straight.”

She watched him lick his lips and rise up on his elbows, eyes fixed on her bare flesh, luminous in the late-afternoon sun piercing through the glass he’d installed himself just days before.

“Do you remember the first time we were at Lallybroch? What I said to ye about what ran through my heid on the night we met?”

Taken aback, Claire’s brow furrowed. “If memory serves, you wanted me because of my round arse pressing against you on that damned cold horseback ride to Leoch.”

He grinned, teeth flashing in the shadows. “Weel, that’s true - but I was thinking more about what I thought when I saw ye for the first time. Wearing yer filthy white shift, wandering around the Highlands like a faery. I could see every curve of yer body -”

“My shift? What are you talking about? I wasn’t wearing a shift.”

Now he narrowed his eyes in confusion and sat up, reaching his arms to steady her, pulling her closer to his chest as he rested against the headboard he and Roger had carved.

“Of course ye were - I remember it weel. It was white, and only went to yer knees, and ye tore some strips from the bottom to bandage me wi’ and I saw yer knees and I thank God I was wearing my kilt - ”

“I was wearing a dress, you idiot.”

His ruddy brows furrowed, one thumb caressing her collarbone. “That was a *dress*? Where was the rest of it?”

“That *was* it. I’ve told you - in the twentieth century I didn’t wear all those petticoats and layers and such. And my dresses certainly didn’t go down to my ankles.”

“Ye wore that in public? Truly? Ye didna have men chasing ye all about, or eyeing ye wi’ desire in their hearts?”

She rolled her eyes theatrically. “Men were - will be - used to it. Used to seeing a woman wear fewer layers. Seeing a woman’s true shape.”

He nodded, remembering. “Like those damn trousers ye made for yerself - I remember how I could see the bonny curve of your arse from so far away…”

His eyes unfocused, and she felt him stir.

“I can’t believe that my miserable arse still gets you going like it did right after we married,” she teased, shaking her head. “Out of everything we’ve done since then, you still find that the most erotic thing, don’t you?”

She leaned closer to grasp his shoulders. He kissed her smiling lips.

“I love it because I love you. Every part of you. And seeing it - feeling it against me - reminds me of that horseback ride. To you it was damned cold - but to me - weel…”

He paused to kiss her closed eyelids. She nuzzled her nose against his stubble.

“What was it to you, Jamie?”

Why was her voice so breathless?

He swallowed. “To me, *mo nighean donn* - it was the first time I wanted you. That I wanted *everything* about you, and *everything* with you.”

She smiled. “And did you get what you wanted, then?”

He inhaled deeply, savoring her. “I did. More than I ever thought possible. In fact, I still wake sometimes thinking it’s all been a dream…”

And he seized her mouth, and she let him love her again, both remembering who they had been, who they were, and who they would become - together.

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