<p>Life goes on.</p>

Set immediately after 05x12 “Never My Love”

He held her for a very long time. Breathing. Gently, carefully stroking her shoulder as she buried her face in his neck. Together they listened to the rain.

“Are you cold?” he whispered into her hair.

Carefully she inhaled, then exhaled deeply. His fingers dug into her hip.

“I’m hungry. Can you get me something to eat?”

He kissed her forehead. “Of course. What would ye like?”

Slowly he pulled away - so as to not startle her. Gently brought the coverlet up over her shoulders. Quickly tied the plaid around his hips, not bothering with a shirt. Knelt at her side

She closed her eyes, her hair swirling and storming on the pillow. “Missus Bug made extra bannocks this morning - one of those please.”

“Aye. Do ye need anything from yer surgery?”

She sighed. “The salve Marsali made for my wound - it should be on the counter next to the microscope. That too, please.”

He kissed the back of her hand. “Do ye need any more of the penicillin? I’ll inject ye, just tell me where.”

Her eyes opened. A smile ghosted across her lips.

“No, the doses I’ve already taken should do the trick.”

He squeezed her hand. “I’ll be right back.”

She watched him pad away, bare feet whispering against the floorboards, the criss-cross scars of his back catching the candlelight as he turned away to step across the threshold and bolt the door behind him.

She knew he didn’t need to do that, of course. But her cracked heart mended just a bit more, knowing he did it to protect her. To make her feel safe.

With great effort she sat up against the headboard, letting the coverlet pool around her bare waist. Running her hands up and down her bruises and cuts.

Still she didn’t know where that blind courage had come from tonight. As he had every night since bringing her home two weeks ago, Jamie had helped her undress, brushed her hair, settled into bed beside her, atop the coverlet and twelve inches away. 

“Do ye want me to read to you?” his voice was so soft.

She shook her head. “I want to listen to the rain fall on the roof you made for me.”

Her hand had crossed the coverlet, then. Twining his fingers through hers. Instinctively his thumb traced the tendons on the inside of her wrist.

Don’t think, she had told herself. Just feel. Do.

“Will you lie with me, Jamie?” Her voice was so small. Why did she speak so formally?”

He rolled onto one side to face her. Face blank with shock. “I - Claire - are you sure?”

She jutted out her chin. Acting more brave than she felt. “I need to. I need to know whether I still can, with you.”

Gently, tentatively he traced her jawline with his thumb. “Tell me what to do,” he rasped.

Then she sat up, and shrugged out of her shift, and did not try to cover her nakedness for the first time since he had brought her home.

Three raps at the door - Claire jolted back to the present, watching Jamie re-enter the room. Heart soaring that he had knocked to let her know he was coming in.

Within a minute he had slid under the coverlet beside her, gently rubbing salve onto the wound on her breast.

“Thank you for letting me care for you,” he whispered. “I want you to know, Claire, that even though this will leave a scar, every time I see it I willnae think about how you got it, as long as you promise to do the same.”

Claire chewed a bannock, fingers flitting over the round scar on his left side, and the almost-faded bullet scar on his neck. “I don’t, when I see these. I just think about how glad I am that I was there with you, to care for you.”

He set the jar of salve on his bedside table. “To help me heal, aye?”

She nodded, and held out the last bite of bannock. He ate it, kissing her fingers.

“Can we stay in here tomorrow, just the two of us?”

His brow furrowed. “Are ye no’ well, then?”

Her eyes shone, hands finding his. “I want you here, with me, all to myself. With the door locked and the window open. Can you manage that?”

He swallowed, and nodded. “I can. For you, I can manage anything.”

She shifted closer to him, and pulled his plaid over her shoulders. Sealing them in a pocket of warmth. He eased her onto his lap, and she wound her legs around his hips as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

The rain pattered on the roof, and their hearts beat in time with it and each other. Safe from the storm.

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