Archives for the Date March 9th, 2020

Letting Go: Missing Scene, 5×04


A/N: Got an idea that just wouldn’t let go. And you guys know how I do love a bit of pillow talk. 😌 

I wasn’t convinced about the bairn until that night on the floor. 

Claire and I had settled ourselves on a blanket by the door, both to listen for stirrings from the rooms beyond and to prevent anyone from poking their head in wi’out our knowledge (ostensibly to check on us, in truth to spy; the Brown brothers didna trust us any more than they could throw us, I kent that well enough). Still, the flowing whisky had done its job — the house was still, the grunting snores of its occupants proof enough that there would be no further trouble tonight. 

The plan was to get Isaiah and the Brown lass out at first light, away on a horse headed into the mountains. Beyond that, their business was their own, their sins between themselves and God. 

I didna like it. But I wasn’t a hypocrite either. 

Two years spent in a marriage of convenience wi’ a lass he didna love, didna bed, didna live with any more… one eyebrow raise from Claire, and I kent I would do well not to protest overmuch (though it wasna the same thing at all; I was married to Claire, it wasn’t an affair; I had no idea she would return to me; I sought the appropriate legal channels to end the marriage to Laoghaire…). I smothered my reservations between pursed lips and settled on the floor beside my wife, whose own mouth twitched with smug satisfaction that would have earned her a sound pinch on the arse on a less emotional night.    

My Sassenach was leaving at first light as well — off to fight battles of her own, and much more virtuous ones than mine. This wasn’t at all how I planned to spend our last night together; I’d thought to make good use of the privacy of our own room, the first proper bed we’d had beneath us in weeks. But of course, Claire had settled her patient in the bed, wi’ Isaiah sleeping on the floor beside the lass, reaching up to hold her hand when he thought I wasna looking.

I grunted softly and chose to let it go, and my wife leaned in to kiss me with a knowing smile, having seen exactly what I’d seen. Her own fingers entwined with mine as we nestled together to sleep — facing one another, her body pressed snugly into the curves of mine, our legs tangled together beneath the blanket — more provocative than we’d usually dare in shared company, but then, if I was going to turn a blind eye to Isaiah’s wee transgression, well…

I held my wife tight to me and breathed her in, grounding myself in the smooth skin of her hand against the callus of mine, her faint, contented humming noise as she began to fall asleep, the steady rise and fall of her breasts as her breathing slowed. The whisky still hummed warm in my veins, and it should have been easy enough to join her in drifting off for a time. Still, I found my thoughts racing as I stared at the wood grain of the wall over her head, the fingers of my free hand moving absently through her hair.     

I couldn’t stop thinking about that bairn. 

Or rather, about Claire wi’ the bairn. 

No matter her reassurances in the woods, I knew my wife as I knew my own soul. She wanted that child, primally, deeply. I’d seen Claire with bairns more times than I could count: wi’ our own wee Jemmy, and Germain and Joan, wi’ Jenny’s bairns, and various weans on the Ridge. She loved them all — lit up when she saw them, delighted in holding them, rocking them, cooing over them. But when they fussed, she always happily handed them back to their mothers and carried on about her own business. Perhaps that was the difference; she wasna responsible for their care, only for doting on them as a Grannie or Auntie, whereas this wean — this Bonnie, as I’d taken to calling her — had no mother, no one to care for her but Claire. It was different, somehow, the way she cradled her, as if her whole body… changed somehow, softened in a way I’d never seen before, deeply attuned to every wee noise and movement of that bairn strapped to her chest. 

I was mesmerized by it. 

And Claire was mesmerized by her.

It was what she must have looked like with Brianna, I realized with no small amount of longing. I’d spent so many hours alone in that cave, trying to picture it: what my wife would look like, holding our bairn, nursing him or her, swaying and shushing in the quiet of the night. I remembered how she’d worried, before Faith, that she wouldn’t know how to be a good mother. Even then, I’d kent in my bones that she would be a natural at it.  

But God in Heaven, to see it wi’ my own eyes, to watch her… it was a privilege I’d never dared to hope for, after those twenty years. 

We’d struggled enough wi’ the first two; Claire told me her pregnancy and birth with Brianna had been difficult, just as it had been wi’ Faith. The medicine in her time had saved them both, thank all the saints in Heaven. Though she still had her regular courses now, to try again at this age, considering how it had been before… the prospect well and truly terrified me. I couldn’t lose her.

But for a bairn to drop out of the sky and into our arms, needing us… perhaps it was divine providence. Perhaps this was our chance to finally do this together. And though Claire had made her excuses to me — good ones — I wasn’t at all convinced that we were making the right choice, giving the wean up. 

I was still awake, mulling it over, when I heard the bairn begin to cry. Bonnie sounded like any other newborn to my ears, but as she was the only one in town, I knew at once who it was. I wasn’t sure whether I made any subtle movement at the sound, or whether Claire’s own body was just attuned to that cry now, but she woke with a sharp breath, stiffening in my arms. Half-asleep and still quite drunk herself, I knew it was instinct alone that brought her hand to her breast, as though to squeeze her milk down. The dull pain behind my sternum throbbed a bit more insistently at the sight. It must have shown on my face, for when Claire finally roused to full alertness, her eyes found mine in the dim light and softened apologetically. 

Swallowing, I covered her hand with mine before she could move it, resting over the soft mound of her breast. My gaze bore into hers, begging honesty. 

“Are you sure?” I whispered, letting her see my own uncertainty, my own regrets. And in Claire’s eyes, I saw the mirror of my own heart: the hesitation, the longing. The knowledge that we would never get another chance after this. She opened and closed her mouth, wavering, listening to the bairn’s cry cut through the night. 

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