Conversation in the dark

The Scene after Brianna told Jamie about Stephen Bonnet and the rape

We paced slow­ly togeth­er, across the door­yard and past the sheds, down to the pen­fold and the field beyond. I held his arm, feel­ing it tense and stiff under my fin­gers.
I had no notion how to begin, what to say. Per­haps I should sim­ply keep qui­et, I thought. Both of us were still upset, though we had done our best to be calm for Bri­an­na.
I could feel the rage boil­ing just under his skin. Very under­stand­able, but anger is as volatile as kerosene—bottled under pres­sure, with no tar­get on which to unleash it. An unwary word of mine might be enough to trig­ger an explo­sion. And if he explod­ed at me, I might either cry or go for his throat—my own mood was far from cer­tain.
We walked for quite a long time, through the trees to the dead corn­field, all round the edge and back, mov­ing all the time soft-foot­ed through a mine­field of silence.
“Jamie,” I said at last, as we reached the edge of the field, “what have you been doing with your hands?”
“What?” He swung toward me, startled.“Your hands.” I caught one of them, held it between my own. “You didn’t do that kind of dam­age stack­ing chim­ney stones.”
“Ah.” He stood still, let­ting me touch the swollen knuck­les of his hand.
“Bri­an­na,” he said. “She—she did­na tell ye any­thing about the man? Did she tell ye his name?”
I hesitated—and was lost. He knew me very well.
“She did tell ye, no?” His voice was thick with dan­ger.
“She made me promise not to tell you,” I blurt­ed. “I told her you’d know I was keep­ing some­thing from you; but Jamie, I did promise—don’t make me tell you, please!”He snort­ed again, in half-amused dis­gust.
“Aye, I ken ye well, Sasse­nach; ye could­na keep a secret from any­one who knows ye in the slight­est. Even wee Ian can read ye like a book.”
He flapped a hand in dis­missal.
“Din­na trou­ble your con­science. Let her tell me her­self, when she will. I can wait.” His bruised hand curled slow­ly against his kilt, and a small shiv­er ran up my back.
“Your hands,” I said again.
He took a deep breath and held them out before him, backs up. He flexed them, slow­ly.
“D’ye recall, Sasse­nach, once when we were first acquent? Dou­gal dev­iled me to where I thought I must pound him, and yet I could­na do it, then. You told me, ‘Hit some­thing, you’ll feel bet­ter.’ ” He gave me a wry, lop­sided smile. “And I hit a tree. It hurt, but you were right, no? I did feel bet­ter, at least for a bit.”“Oh.” I let out my breath, relieved that he didn’t mean to press the mat­ter. Let him wait, then; I doubt­ed that he quite real­ized yet that his daugh­ter could be as stub­born as he was him­self.
“Did she—did she tell ye what hap­pened?” I couldn’t see his face, but the hes­i­ta­tion in his speech was notice­able. “I mean—” He drew in his breath with a deep hiss. “Did the man hurt her?”
“No, not phys­i­cal­ly.”
I hes­i­tat­ed myself, imag­in­ing that I could feel the weight of the ring in my pock­et, though of course I couldn’t. Bri­an­na had not asked me to keep any­thing to myself, oth­er than Bonnet’s name, but I would not tell Jamie any of the details she had told me, unless he asked. And I did not think he would ask; it was the last thing he would want to know.
He didn’t ask; only mut­tered some­thing under his breath in Gael­ic and walked on, head bent.
The silence once bro­ken, I found that I could not bear it any longer. Bet­ter to explode than suf­fo­cate. I took my hand from his arm.
“What are you think­ing?”
“I am wondering—if it is as ter­ri­ble to be—to be vio­lat­ed … if it is—is not … if there is not … dam­age.” He shift­ed his shoul­ders rest­less­ly, half shrug­ging as though his coat were too tight.
I knew very well what was in his mind. Went­worth prison, and the faint scars that webbed his back, a net of dread­ful memory.“Bad enough, I sup­pose,” I said. “Though I expect you’re right, it would be eas­i­er to stand if there were no phys­i­cal reminder of it. But then, there is a phys­i­cal reminder of it,” I felt oblig­ed to add. “And a bloody notice­able one, come to that!” His left hand curled at his side, clench­ing invol­un­tar­i­ly.
“Aye, that’s so,” he mut­tered. He glanced uncer­tain­ly at me, the half-moon’s light gild­ing the planes of his face. “But still—he did­na hurt her, that’s some­thing. If he had … killing would be too good for him,” he fin­ished abrupt­ly.
“There is the very minor detail that you don’t pre­cise­ly ‘recov­er’ from preg­nan­cy,” I said with a marked edge to my voice. “If he’d bro­ken her bones or shed her blood, she’d heal. As it is—she isn’t ever going to for­get it, you know.”
“I know!”
I flinched slight­ly, and he saw it. He made a sketchy ges­ture of apol­o­gy.
“I did­na mean to shout.”
I gave him back a brief nod of acknowl­edg­ment, and we walked on, side by side, but not touch­ing.
“It—” he began, and then broke off, glanc­ing at me. He gri­maced, impa­tient with him­self.
“I do know,” he said, more qui­et­ly. “Ye’ll for­give me, Sasse­nach, but I ken the hell of a lot more about the mat­ter than you do.”“I wasn’t argu­ing with you. But you haven’t borne a child; you can’t know what that’s like. It’s—”
“You are argu­ing wi’ me, Sasse­nach. Don’t.” He squeezed my arm, hard, and let it go. There was a touch of humor in his voice, but he was dead seri­ous over­all.
“I am try­ing to tell ye what I know.” He stood still for a minute, gath­er­ing him­self.
“I have­na put myself in mind of Jack Ran­dall for some good time,” he said at last. “I din­na want to do it now. But there it is.” He shrugged again, and rubbed a hand hard down one cheek.
“There is body, and there is soul, Sasse­nach,” he said, speak­ing slow­ly, order­ing his ideas with his words. “You’re a physi­cian; ye’ll ken the one well. But the oth­er is more impor­tant.”
I opened my mouth to say that I knew that as well as he did, if not better—but then shut it with­out say­ing any­thing. He didn’t notice; he wasn’t see­ing the dark corn­field, or the maple wood with its leaves gone sil­ver with moon­light. His eyes were fixed on a small room with thick stone walls, fur­nished with a table and stools and a lamp. And a bed.
“Ran­dall,” he said, and his voice was med­i­ta­tive. “The most of what he did to me—I could have stood it.” He spread out the fin­gers of his right hand; the dress­ing on the cracked fin­ger shone white.
“I would have been afraid, been hurt; I would have meant to kill him for doing it. But I could have lived, after, and not felt his touch always on my skin, felt filthy in myself—were it not that he was­na sat­is­fied with my body. He want­ed my soul—and he had it.” The white ban­dage van­ished as his fist fold­ed.
“Aye, well—ye ken all that.” He turned away abrupt­ly and began to walk. I had to scur­ry to catch him up.
“What I am say­ing, I sup­pose, is—was this man a stranger to her, who only took her for a moment’s plea­sure? If it was only her body that he want­ed … then I think she will heal.”He took a deep breath and let it out again; I saw the faint white mist sur­round his head for a moment, the steam of his anger made vis­i­ble.
“But if he knew her—was close enough to want her, and not just any woman—then per­haps it might be that he could touch her soul, and do real dam­age—”
“You don’t think he did real dam­age?” My voice rose, despite myself. “Whether he knew her or not—”
“It is dif­fer­ent, I tell ye!”
“No, it’s not. I know what you mean—”
“You don’t!”
“I do! But why—”
“Because it is not your body that mat­ters when I take you,” he said. “And ye ken that well enough, Sasse­nach!”
He turned and kissed me fierce­ly, tak­ing me com­plete­ly by sur­prise. He crushed my lips against my teeth, then took my whole mouth with his, half bit­ing, demand­ing.
I knew what he want­ed of me; the same thing I want­ed so des­per­ate­ly of him—reassurance. But nei­ther of us had it to give, tonight.His fin­gers dug into my shoul­ders, slid upward and grasped my neck. The hairs rose up on my arms as he pressed me to him—and then he stopped.
“I can’t,” he said. He squeezed my neck hard, and then let go. His breath came ragged­ly. “I can’t.”
He stepped back and turned away from me, grop­ing for the fence rail before him as though blind. He grasped the wood hard with both hands, and stood there, eyes closed.
I was shak­ing, my legs gone watery. I wrapped my arms around myself under my cloak and sat down at his feet. And wait­ed, my heart beat­ing painful­ly loud in my ears. The night wind moved through the trees on the ridge, mur­mur­ing through the pines. Some­where, far away in the dark hills, a pan­ther screamed, sound­ing like a woman.
“It’s not that I din­na want ye,” he said at last, and I caught the faint rus­tle of his coat as he turned toward me. He stood for a moment, head bowed, his bound hair gleam­ing in the moon­light, face hid­den by the dark­ness, with the moon behind him. At last he leaned down and took my hand in his bruised one, lift­ing me to my feet.
“I want ye maybe more than I ever have,” he said qui­et­ly. “And Christ! I do need ye, Claire. But I can­na bear even to think of myself as a man just now. I can­not touch you, and think of what he—I can’t.”
I touched his arm.“I do under­stand,” I said, and did. I was glad that he hadn’t asked for the details; I wished I didn’t know them. How would it be, to make love with him, envi­sion­ing all the time an act iden­ti­cal in its motions, but utter­ly dif­fer­ent in its essence?
“I under­stand, Jamie,” I said again.He opened his eyes and looked at me.
“Aye, ye do, don’t you? And that’s what I mean.” He took my arm and drew me close to him.
“You could tear me limb from limb, Claire, with­out touch­ing me,” he whis­pered, “for ye know me.” His fin­gers touched the side of my face. They were cold, and stiff. “And I could do the same to you.”

limabandyou
“You could,” I said, feel­ing a lit­tle faint. “But I real­ly wish you wouldn’t.”
He smiled a lit­tle at that, bent and kissed me, very gen­tly. We stood togeth­er, bare­ly touch­ing save our lips, breath­ing each other’s breath.Yes, we said silent­ly to each oth­er. Yes, I am still here. It was not res­cue, but at least a tiny life­line, stretched across the gulf that lay between us. I did know what he meant, about the dif­fer­ence between dam­age to body or soul; what I couldn’t explain to him was the link between the two that cen­tered in the womb. At last I stepped back, look­ing up at him.
“Bree’s a very strong per­son,” I said qui­et­ly. “Like you.”
“Like me?” He gave a small snort. “God help her, then.”
He sighed, then turned and began to walk slow­ly along the line of the fence. I fol­lowed, hur­ry­ing a lit­tle to catch up.
“This man, this Roger she speaks of. Will he stand by her?” he asked abrupt­ly.
I took a deep breath and let it out slow­ly, not know­ing how to answer. I’d known Roger only a few months. I liked him; was very fond of him, in fact. From every­thing I knew of him, he was a thor­ough­ly decent, hon­or­able young man—but how could I even pre­tend to know what he might think, do, or feel, upon find­ing that Bri­an­na had been raped? Even worse, that she might well car­ry the rapist’s child?The best of men might not be able to deal with such a sit­u­a­tion; in my years as a doc­tor, I had seen even well-estab­lished mar­riages shat­ter under the strain of small­er things. And those that did not shat­ter, but were crip­pled by mis­trust … invol­un­tar­i­ly, I pressed a hand against my leg, feel­ing the tiny hard­ness of the gold cir­cle in my pock­et. From F. to C. with love. Always.
“Would you do it?” I said at last. “If it were me?”
He glanced at me sharply, and opened his mouth as though to speak. Then he closed it and looked at me, search­ing my face, his brows knot­ted with trou­bled thought.
“I meant to say ‘Aye, of course!’ ” he said slow­ly, at last. “But I did promise ye hon­esty once, did I not?”
“You did,” I said, and felt my heart sink beneath its guilty bur­den. How could I force him to hon­esty when I couldn’t give it him back? And yet he had asked.
He struck the fen­ce­post a light blow with his fist.“Ifrinn! Yes, damn it—I would. You would be mine, even if the child was not. And if you—yes. I would,” he repeat­ed firm­ly. “I should take you, and the child with ye, and damn the whole world!”
“And nev­er think about it after­ward?” I asked. “Nev­er let it come into your mind when you came to my bed? Nev­er see the father when you looked at the child? Nev­er throw it back at me or let it make a dif­fer­ence between us?”He opened his mouth to reply, but closed it with­out speak­ing. Then I saw a change come over his fea­tures, a sud­den shock of sick real­iza­tion.
“Oh, Christ,” he said. “Frank. Not me. It’s Frank ye mean.”
I nod­ded, and he gripped my shoul­ders.
“What did he do to ye?” he demand­ed. “What? Tell me, Claire!”
“He stood by me,” I said, sound­ing choked even to my own ears. “I tried to make him go, but he wouldn’t. And when the baby—when Bri­an­na came—he loved her, Jamie. He wasn’t sure, he didn’t think he could—neither did I—but he tru­ly did. I’m sor­ry,” I added.
He took a deep breath and let go of my shoul­ders.
“Din­na be sor­ry for that, Sasse­nach,” he said gruffly. “Nev­er.” He rubbed a hand across his face, and I could hear the faint rasp of his evening stub­ble.
“And what about you, Sasse­nach?” he said. “What ye said—when he came to your bed. Did he think—” He broke off abrupt­ly, leav­ing all the ques­tions hang­ing in the air between us, unstat­ed, but asked nonetheless.“It might have been me—my fault, I mean,” I said at last, into the silence. “I couldn’t for­get, you see. If I could … it might have been dif­fer­ent.” I should have stopped there, but I couldn’t; the words that had been dammed up all evening rushed out in a flood.
“It might have been easier—better—for him if it had been rape. That’s what they told him, you know—the doc­tors; that I had been raped and abused, and was hav­ing delu­sions. That’s what every­one believed, but I kept say­ing to him, no it wasn’t that way, I insist­ed on telling him the truth. And after a time—he believed me, at least halfway. And that was the trou­ble; not that I’d had anoth­er man’s child—but that I’d loved you. And I wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t,” I added, in a soft­er tone. “He was bet­ter than me, Frank was. He could put the past away, at least for Bree’s sake. But for me—” The words caught in my throat and I stopped.
He turned then, and looked at me for a long time, his face quite expres­sion­less, eyes hid­den by the shad­ows of his brows.
“And so ye lived twen­ty years with a man who could­na for­give ye for what was nev­er your fault? I did that to ye, no?” he said. “I am sor­ry, too, Sasse­nach.”
A small breath escaped me, not quite a sob.
“You said you could tear me limb from limb with­out touch­ing me,” I said. “You were right, damn you.”“I am sor­ry,” he whis­pered again, but this time he reached for me, and held me tight against him.“That I loved you? Don’t be sor­ry for that,” I said, my voice half muf­fled in his shirt. “Not ever.”

sorry
He didn’t answer, but bent his head and pressed his cheek against my hair. It was qui­et; I could hear his heart beat­ing, over and under the wind in the trees. My skin was cold; the tears on my cheeks chilled instant­ly.
At last I let my arms drop from around him and stepped back.
“We’d bet­ter go back to the house,” I said, try­ing for a nor­mal tone. “It’s get­ting awful­ly late.”
“Aye, I sup­pose so.” He offered me his arm, and I took it. We passed in an eas­i­er silence down the path to the edge of the gorge above the stream. It was cold enough that tiny ice crys­tals glint­ed among the rocks where the starlight struck them, but the creek was far from frozen. Its gur­gle and rush filled the air, and kept us from being too qui­et.
“Aye, well,” he said, as we turned up the path past the pigsty. “I hope Roger Wake­field is a bet­ter man than the two of us—Frank and I.” He glanced at me. “Mind ye, if he’s not, I shall beat him to a pud­ding.”
Despite myself I laughed.
“That will be a great help to the sit­u­a­tion, I’m sure.”
He snort­ed briefly and walked on. At the bot­tom of the hill, we turned with­out speak­ing, and came back in the direc­tion of the house. Just short of the path that led to the door, I stopped him.
“Jamie,” I said hes­i­tant­ly. “Do you believe I love you?”
He turned his head and looked down at me for a long moment before reply­ing. The moon shone on his face, pick­ing out his fea­tures as though they had been chis­eled in mar­ble.
“Well, if ye don’t, Sasse­nach,” he said at last, “ye’ve picked a ver­ra poor time to tell me so.”
I let out my breath in the ghost of a laugh.“No, it’s not that,” I assured him. “But—” My throat tight­ened, and I swal­lowed hasti­ly, need­ing to get the words out.
“I—I don’t say it often. Per­haps it’s only that I wasn’t raised to say such things; I lived with my uncle, and he was affec­tion­ate, but not—well, I didn’t know how mar­ried peo­ple—”
He put his hand light­ly over my mouth, a faint smile touch­ing his lips. After a moment, he took it away.
I took a deep breath, steady­ing my voice.
“Look, what I mean to say is—if I don’t say it, how do you know I love you?”
He stood still, look­ing at me, then nod­ded in acknowl­edg­ment.
“I know because ye’re here, Sasse­nach,” he said qui­et­ly. “And that’s what ye mean, aye? That he came after her—this Roger. And so per­haps he will love her enough?”
“It’s not a thing you’d do, just for friendship’s sake.”
He nod­ded again, but I hes­i­tat­ed, want­i­ng to tell him more, to impress him with the sig­nif­i­cance of it.
“I haven’t told you a great deal about it, because—there aren’t words for it. But one thing about it I could tell you. Jamie—” I shiv­ered invol­un­tar­i­ly, and not from the cold. “Not every­one who goes through the stones comes out again.”
His look sharp­ened.
“How d’ye ken that, Sasse­nach?”
“I can—I could—hear them. Screaming.”I was shak­ing out­right by this time, from a mix­ture of cold and mem­o­ry, and he caught my hands between his own and drew me close. The autumn wind rat­tled the branch­es of the wil­lows by the stream, a sound like dry, bare bones. He held me until the shiv­er­ing stopped, then let me go.
“It’s cold, Sasse­nach. Come inside.” He turned toward the house, but I laid my hand on his shoul­der to stop him again.
“Jamie?”
“Aye?”
“Should I—would you—do you need me to say it?”
He turned around and looked down at me. With the light behind him, he was haloed in moon­light, but his fea­tures were once more dark.
“I din­na need it, no.” His voice was soft. “But I would­na mind if ye want­ed to say it. Now and again. Not too often, mind; I would­na want to lose the nov­el­ty of it.” I could hear the smile in his voice, and couldn’t help smil­ing in return, whether he could see it or not.
“Once in a while wouldn’t hurt, though?”
“No.”
I stepped close to him and put my hands on his shoul­ders.
“I love you.”
He looked down at me for a long moment.
“I’m glad of it, Claire,” he said qui­et­ly, and touched my face. “Ver­ra glad. Come to bed now; I’ll warm ye.”

novelty

All rights for the Pic­ture of Jamie and Claire go to the right­ful owner Starz/​Sony
Photographer Nick Briggs
Quote and Excerpt by Diana Gabal­don from “DoA“
I own not­hing but the editing
Heike Ginger Ba Written by:

|Human|Woman|Mother|Wife|Friend| Photographer| Blogger| |TV-Junkie|Photoshop-Beginner|Art-Lover|Cologne-based|Outlander-addict |Sherlockian |TWD-devoted

6 Comments

  1. Maggie Rios
    December 27
    Reply

    After I fin­ished read­ing this pas­sage, I real­ize why I enjoy your blog so much. It’s almost as if I was read­ing it for the first time. I look for­ward to the next one.

    • Heike Ginger Ba
      December 31
      Reply

      Hi Mag­gie,

      thank you so very much for you comment..it means a lot to mme…hope to see you soon here again :)… LG Heike

  2. Claudia
    December 27
    Reply

    Pow­er­ful, a read­ing you just can’t get enough of.

    • Heike Ginger Ba
      December 31
      Reply

      Hi Clau­dia,

      thanks for your kind com­ment. Yes its nev­er too much Outlander..smile…LG Heike

  3. Taimi
    December 28
    Reply

    Beau­ti­ful­ly edit­ed and a great plea­sure to read!

    Thank you for doing it!

    • Heike Ginger Ba
      December 31
      Reply

      Thank you so very much Tai­mi…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *