Archives for the Date September 16th, 2018

jetgirl78: “Well, the last time they met, it wasn’t a really…

jetgirl78:

“Well, the last time they met, it wasn’t a really happy experience… ” (X)

sassenach4life: Apparently, I was wrong.

sassenach4life:
Apparently, I was wrong.

BBC News September 16, 2018 at 11:12AM

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Can we have another chapter of HRH? It’s the business !!

Previously:

Part I: The Crown Equerry | Part II: An Accidental Queen | Part III: Just Claire | Part IV: Foal | Part V: A Deal | Part VI: Vibrations


Her Royal Highness (H.R.H.)

Part VII: Magnolias

Claire was not sure how she got to the stables or why she wandered down to them, but she had. And seeing him, there was no way she could turn back.

“Those are bonny,” he had remarked, nodding towards her fist full of blooms.

Raising her eyebrows, she looked down at her hands. “Caerhays Surprise. Magnolias.  These are late bloomers. Usually they bloom and die before May is over.”

She suddenly could not look at him, could not see him seeing her.  Her fingers and eyes worked over the velvety petals.   ‘I feel transparent when I am with you,’ she thought of saying, but let a small sigh stand in for the sentiment.

“Gardening, albeit in a very disconnected, assisted kind-of-way…” She wanted a garden, full of weeds to tackle and errant vines to hack away, a place of her own where dirt filled the curve of her fingernails and stained the skin of her knees. Not one that she planned, but not one that she neither planted nor tended to on her own. “It is still a passion of mine. It is calming. Like riding is. I mean, other people fertilize the flowers and other plants, but I try to get down there… to check on things.”

The silence between them took on its own atmosphere, exerting a gale force on the architecture they had constructed to maintain their well-calculated distance.  In the daylight she saw things she had never seen at night. The pale scar on his left hand’s third knuckle looked pink, almost like it was still healing. A narrow, single streak of silver broke the fiery crop of his hair. It was apparent that he had not slept the night before. (Neither had she.) He moved more cautiously, too, and his silence was disarming.

“These are beautiful.  They should have been thriving in May, but here we are…”

Her voice trailed off, the ends of her words pawing through static.

“Frank’s here. He is going to travel to Scotland with me. Tomorrow.”  There was a quiver in the architecture as his face shifted, the corners of his mouth quirking up. She wondered what it meant, whether it meant anything at all. “Are we alone?”

“Aye –– all of the men are having a lunch and cigarette break. They’ll be gone for a fair while.”  He looked down at his watch before settling his hands on his hips. “Why are ye here, ma’am?”

“I have no clue,” she said truthfully. He clicked his tongue. “I asked you before, Colonel Fraser. Do I need a reason to come down here?”

“The fountain… ye touched me.”

She fought the urge to roll her eyes, a petulant habit she had shed for iciness since her coronation.  “I touched you companionably. Does that accurately reflect your recollection?”

“It does, though it’s no’ quite complete.”

Blush flourished along her breast bone, creeping up and threatening to out itself under the neck of her blouse. “What details would you fill in to make it complete?”

“Och, weel, I’m no’ sure it’s my place to say.”

“Well, I can direct you to say.”

“That ye can.”  One of his eyebrows arched nearly to his hairline. “Ye asked me if we have a sound. I saw it in yer eyes. This isna… normal.”

In her heart, she ached at the naked truth of it.  Those thoughts of a life, the one she had wanted, made her want to travel to him and draw him close.  The thoughts of a life, the one she had never wanted but had, glued her to the spot.

“Ye’re wadin’ about in things that ye ken ye… no, that we have no business invading. Ye’re to be marrit to that Randall man.”

She refused to think of Frank, likely sleeping off his jetlag in a guest bed. “Invading, am I?”

“Ye pick one part, the insignificant part. This is no’ a word game.” He raked his fingers through his hair. “I canna do this.”

“Should I go?” she asked plainly. Her mind went to war with itself –– wishing his answer to be ‘yes’ (she had a life; she had Frank, an obligation to fulfill) and at the same time praying his answer would be ‘no’ (for him to have the nerve to say something, anything that would draw them together in this daylight)

“No.” He took a step forward and she took half of a step backwards. “Where would you go?”

His question was simple and she had no answer other than ‘upstairs… to him.’ Instead, she lied, “I do not know where I will go.”

The falsehood was bulky and wrong in the mouth that created it. It came too easily and they both knew it for what it was. A way to push the reality of the moment aside.

“You are giving me whiplash,” he muttered, both hands going to his hair.

He could not define what was happening, but it was keeping him up at night. When he slept, she rewrote his nightmares into dreams. (Curls that he imagined would be slippery under his fingers. Lips that would curve into a smile beneath his mouth. Whispers that would make turning back impossible. Someone to look at over the edge of the newspaper, to find that she was looking back at him.)

“I am going to go.”

She turned away.

‘Count to twenty,’ she schooled herself in her sternest internal voice.

There was no way that she would be able to walk away from him and not cry, to meet the daylight and see Frank again if she did not collect herself. Her hands fell, the bouquet of hastily-snipped magnolias falling with a near-soundless plop on the freshly-scrubbed concrete.  Needing to busy herself, she wound her newly freed fingers into the hem of her top and she closed her eyes.

The world dark, she silently recited her conclusion: ‘And then walk away.’

One.

The sigh that came from him was ragged, battle weary.  “I dinna ken if I can wait forever.”

Two.

When she opened her eyes she focused on the streaking glow of sunlight that peeked through the closed stable door.

“The waiting hurts.”

Three.

“Tell me, ma’am. Have ye figured it out yet? The tell. My tell. We had a deal.”

Four.

“I had it figured out when we made the deal,” she admitted, her voice quiet.  He was tuned in to her. She felt him in the very marrow of her bones. There was no way she could not have known then, when she agreed. “I knew it then.”

“And?”

Five.

A final blast knocked over what little remained of the architecture.  

For the first time in ages, she spoke freely, though with her eyes closed and back to him.

“I know what it means. Knowing this about you, watching closely enough to know you. It means there is something here that I want to explore. We would only have the summer.”

Her fingers curled into fists at her side, her fingernails sinking into her palm.

“I do not know if I can start something like that. Like this. I am marrying––”

“––him––” he supplied.

“Yes. I am marrying him in October.”

Six.

“Do ye love him? Yer Randall.”

The pain exploded in her chest, embedding shrapnel in each of her veins. She was not a crier, but her cheeks were wet.

‘Fuck,’ she thought at the question she attempted not even to ask herself.

Seven.

Her breath came out in a stream before she confessed, “It is significantly more complicated than love.”

She said the word almost with pain, as if she peeling back scar tissue on some of the darker places inside of her.

“These things are not easy, Colonel Fraser.”

“That’s no’ an answer to my question.”  He was nearer now. His voice was lower, close and wrapping around her. Vision blurring, she started to look over her shoulder just to gauge his nearness.

Eight.

He was right there.  She was close enough to see the way his pupils reacted when she turned –– dilating until his almost-navy irises were whisper thin.

“It is what I have for an answer to your question.”  

“No one grows up wishing, praying to marry someone they dinna love.”

Inhaling, she anticipated his touch deep in her belly. The longing for his fingers ached and burned. “There are a lot of things in my life that I never wished for when I was growing up.”

Nine.

His hands rose and he touched her, his fingers warm and firm on her shoulders. Her heart hammered (tapping tapping tapping under her breasts hard enough that she could feel its rhythm in her mouth).  Her breath caught (round and with a pulse of its own) in her throat.

On a journey, his hands moved from her shoulders, across her collar bones, and up to her throat.  When his thumb met her pulse point she vaguely wondered if he could hear her heart. His head tilted ever so slightly and his tongue darted out to wet his lips.

She had to say it.  Just to prove that she knew.  “Your tell. It is your hands, your fingers. You… drum things –– your leg, a desk, any surface –– when you are nervous or thinking.”

Ten.

“Astute observation.”

He had not asked permission, but she felt the need to give him a warning. “I want to touch you.”

“Claire––”

Her name on his tongue was sweet, low. It was too fast and she yearned to hear it again (and again and then a thousand, million times more). He cleared his throat, thinking through the permutations of how this moment could end.  The most realistic among the scenarios he imagined ended with a profound heartache. She started, “I am sorry, I––”

Eleven.

She fell silent when he shook his head. She turned her cheek into his palm.

“If ye want to touch me, do it.” Although she had not asked for permission to touch him, he granted it willingly, committing himself (he was sure) to some form of storied heartbreak of which he would never speak. (‘Ruin me forever,’ his mind implored.)  

And she did –– her hands rising up between their bodies.  His cheek was smooth and warm, freshly shaved. She wondered what he would feel like with some stubble to prickle her fingertips –– a little undone after a lazy weekend or on a morning without the thoughtless interruption of an alarm clock’s shuddering call to rise.  

Twelve.

His voice was trapped somewhere in his throat under the weight of ten thousand words.  Gaelic and English, languages that had not yet been invented and would consist of the sounds he could draw from her with his mouth and hands, hips and tongue. She smelled like summer at midnight –– floral (the magnolias she had dropped with their notes of tart lemon, spice, and verbena), musky (a delicate, feminine smell), and maybe immortal (far beyond her years, ethereal).

Thirteen.

Her tongue darted out expectantly before her teeth sank into the swell of her lower lip. As she drowned in him, she ached everywhere –– breasts, bones, ligaments, muscles, skin –– all the way down to her very core. She could taste his breath –– layers of bright apple and sharp peppermint.

Fourteen.

His eyes closed and he made ten thousand promises to himself.  (Do not fall in love with this woman. Do not make this harder. For either of you. Leave all of this here.)

She wondered if he knew that he visited her dreams. Dreams that left her with a trickle of sweat down her spine and tongue struck dumb. Dreams where he made love to her in a small apartment that she had never seen with well-worn furniture, with loaves of stale bread wrapped in wax paper resting on the kitchen counter. Dreams where in the minutes after he made love to her, she clung to him and felt human again. Dreams where he shielded her from things that she could not bear to face on her own –– with his body or through his mere existence. Dreams that left her waking with her fingers between her thighs, a touch that could not draw out from her even the narrowest approximation of what he did to her when her eyes were closed.

Fifteen.

When he opened his eyes, he broke every single one of the ten thousand promises he had made to himself in a single, slurring breath. “I’d verra much like to kiss ye.”

Nothing else in the world existed.

“May I? Kiss ye?”

Sixteen.

His thumbs were on her cheekbones, brushing away the few tears that had fallen there.  With only the slightest of nods, she released her lower lip from her teeth, pulling herself onto her toes until her calves burned. Her own fingers drifted from his face.  Her left hand curled behind his neck and roving fingers sinking into his hair. Her right hand went to his chest, resting flat over his heart.

One of his hands skated down the front of her body to rest against her belly.

“Do it properly,” she mumbled on an exhalation.

Seventeen.

His lips turned up at a challenge accepted. He pressed against her just a little so she started to move backwards.

“Do ye have any pointers, yer majesty?”

Swallowing, she felt the wall meet her spine. “This is a test, not a lecture, Colonel Fraser.”

He let loose a short laugh as he exhaled. “It’s Jamie, Claire. Jamie.”

Eighteen.

“You talk too much.”  She did not know where the flirtation came from, but it bubbled up from her in anticipation. “Far too much, Jamie.”

Nineteen.

“Ye’re one to complain about that,” he chuckled, feeling a pulsing, involuntary clench in her belly as he splayed his fingers over her. “Claire.”

She hummed, swallowing again as her eyes drifted shut.

His breath was on her mouth, the tips of his fingers working into her flesh. In a slow motion, draining kind of way, all sensation but those that lived within him and between them fell away. Everything was funneled through his touch.  

Twenty.

But then: “Claire?”

And Jamie was gone –– off of her, his back against the opposite wall. It took her a moment to open her eyes, to face the loss of their connection.

“Yer fiancé’s wondering where ye’ve gone off to.”

“Claire?” There it was again.  Him.

“Jamie…”

His hands were behind his back and he had one foot on the wall, watching her. He may as well have been a thousand miles away.

“You are shutting down,” she muttered accusatorily, pushing off of the wall and taking a step towards him.

“Ma’am, I––” She wanted to dive across the stable and take him by the shoulders, to finish what they had started and to silence anything other than her name from his lips for good.

“Claire?” Frank was getting closer now, the sound of his voice not hazy as though shouted across a great distance.

“Fuck,” she hissed, balling her hands into fists at her side.

“Ye should go––”

“Stop talking. I need to think. Fuck.”

“Ye asked earlier if ye should go. I’m tellin’ ye. Ye should leave before ye canna turn back.”

“I––”

“Go.”

She stared for a moment, incredulous, and then turned away from him again. This time, she committed herself to walking away.  She wondered if she would be walking away from him forever.

When she was gone, he put the magnolias in a coffee tin of water, arranging the blooms as carefully as possible.  He wondered how long they would live.

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