The whole Scene:
It was a mirror, not a miniature. My cheeks were flushed, and my lips trembled as Frank’s finger gently traced the edge of my jaw, the graceful line of my neck. The tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks as I heard his voice, still lecturing, as he laid down the miniature, and I stared upward at the timbered ceiling.
“Undated. Unknown. But once… once, she was real.”
I was having trouble breathing, and thought at first that I was being smothered by the glass over the miniature. But the material pressing on my nose was soft and damp, and I twisted my head away and came awake, feeling the linen pillow wet with tears beneath my cheek. Jamie’s hand was large and warm on my shoulder, gently shaking me.He snorted briefly, not quite a laugh.
“Well, I’ll no say I’m not wicked jealous of the man,” he said ruefully, “because I am. But I can hardly grudge him your dreams. Or your tears.” His finger gently traced the wet track down one cheek, then blotted it with the handkerchief.
His smile in the dimness was lopsided.
“No. Ye loved him. I canna hold it against either of you that ye mourn him. And it gives me some comfort to know…” He hesitated, and I reached up to smooth the rumpled hair off his face.
“To know what?”
“That should the need come, you might mourn for me that way,” he said softly.
I pressed my face fiercely into his chest, so my words were muffled.
“I won’t mourn you, because I won’t have to. I won’t lose you, I won’t!” A thought struck me, and I looked up at him, the faint roughness of his beard stubble a shadow on his face.
“You aren’t afraid I would go back, are you? You don’t think that because I… think of Frank… .”
“No.” His voice was quick and soft, a response fast as the possessive tightening of his arms around me.
“Hush, lassie. Hush! You’re but dreaming—I’m here.”
I turned my face into the warmth of his naked shoulder, feeling the tears slick between cheek and skin. I clung tightly to his solidness, and the “No,” he said again, more softly. “We are bound, you and I, and nothing on this earth shall part me from you.” One large hand rose to stroke my hair. “D’ye mind the blood vow that I swore ye when we wed?”
“Yes, I think so. ‘Blood of my blood, bone of my bone…’ ”
“I give ye my body, that we may be one,” he finished. “Aye, and I have kept that vow, Sassenach, and so have you.” He turned me slightly, and one hand cupped itself gently over the tiny swell of my stomach.
“Blood of my blood,” he whispered, “and bone of my bone. You carry me within ye, Claire, and ye canna leave me now, no matter what happens. You are mine, always, if ye will it or no, if ye want me or nay. Mine, and I wilna let ye go.”
I put a hand over his, pressing it against me.
“No,” I said softly, “nor can you leave me.”
“No,” he said, half-smiling. “For I have kept the last of the vow as well.” He clasped both hands about me, and bowed his head on my shoulder, so I could feel the warm breath of the words upon my ear, whispered to the dark.
“For I give ye my spirit, ’til our life shall be done.”
Claires Dream of this Scene
The whole scene:
In more recent years, with the resumption of something resembling a normal schedule, I had begun to dream again. The usual kinds of dreams, whether nightmare or good dream—long sequences of images, wanderings in the wood of the mind. And I was familiar with this kind of dream, too; it was common to what might politely be called periods of deprivation.Usually, though, such dreams came floating, soft as the touch of satin sheets, and if they woke me, I fell at once back into sleep, glowing dimly with a memory that would not last ’til morning.This was different. Not that I remembered much about it, but I had a vague impression of hands that gripped me, rough and urgent, not wooing but compelling. And a voice, nearly shouting, that echoed in the chambers of my inner ear, along with the sound of my fading heartbeat.I put my hand on my chest over the leaping pulse, feeling the soft fullness of my breast beneath the silk. Brianna’s breath caught in a soft snore, then resumed its even cadence. I remembered listening for that sound when she was small; the slow, stertorous rhythm of reassurance, sounding through the darkened nursery, even as a heartbeat.My own heartbeat was slowing under my hand, under the deep rose silk, the color of a baby’s sleep-flushed cheek. When you hold a child to your breast to nurse, the curve of the little head echoes exactly the curve of the breast it suckles, as though this new person truly mirrors the flesh from which it sprang.Babies are soft. Anyone looking at them can see the tender, fragile skin and know it for the rose-leaf softness that invites a finger’s touch. But when you live with them and love them, you feel the softness going inward, the round-checked flesh wobbly as custard, the boneless splay of the tiny hands. Their joints are melted rubber, and even when you kiss them hard, in the passion of loving their existence, your lips sink down and seem never to find bone. Holding them against you, they melt and mold, as though they might at any moment flow back into your body.But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child. That thing that says “I am,” and forms the core of personality.In the second year, the bone hardens and the child stands upright, skull wide and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within. And “I am” grows, too. Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as heartwood, glowing through the translucent flesh.The bones of the face emerge at six, and the soul within is fixed at seven. The process of encapsulation goes on, to reach its peak in the glossy shell of adolescence, when all softness then is hidden under the nacreous layers of the multiple new personalities that teenagers try on to guard themselves.In the next years, the hardening spreads from the center, as one finds and fixes the facets of the soul, until “I am” is set, delicate and detailed as an insect in amber.I had thought I was well beyond that stage, had lost all trace of softness and was well set on my way to a middle age of stainless steel. But now I thought that Frank’s death had cracked me in some way. And the cracks were widening, so that I could no longer patch them with denial. I had brought my daughter back to Scotland, she with those bones strong as the ribs of Highland mountains, in the hope that her shell was strong enough to hold her together, while the center of her “I am” might still be reachable.
But my own core held no longer in the isolation of “I am,” and I had no protection to shield me from the softness from within. I no longer knew what I was or what she would be; only what I must do.For I had come back, and I dreamed once more, in the cool air of the Highlands. And the voice of my dream still echoed through ears and heart, repeated with the sound of Brianna’s sleeping breath.“You are mine,” it had said. “Mine! And I will not let you go.”
All rights for the Pictures go to the rightful owner Starz/Sony
and EW (for the J&C Photo in the last edit )
Quote and Excerpt by Diana Gabaldon from “Dragonfly in Amber“
I own nothing but the editing