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…

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