a battered Eve

the whole Pas­sage from ABSOA — Chap­ter 29- PERFECTLY FINE

It hadn’t trou­bled Fras­er. But then, Fras­er had ceased even to think of the ban­dits, direct­ly they were dead; all his thought had been for Claire, and that was sure­ly under­stand­able.
He’d led her through the morn­ing light in that clear­ing, a blood-soaked Adam, a bat­tered Eve, look­ing upon the knowl­edge of good and evil. And then he had wrapped her in his plaid, picked her up, and walked away to his horse.

The men had fol­lowed, silent, lead­ing the ban­dits’ hors­es behind their own. An hour lat­er, with the sun warm on their backs, Fras­er had turned his horse’s head down­hill, and led them to a stream. He had dis­mount­ed, helped Claire down, then van­ished with her through the trees.
The men had exchanged puz­zled looks, though no one spoke. Then old Arch Bug had swung down from his mule, say­ing mat­ter-of-fact­ly, “Well, she’ll want to wash then, no?”
A sigh of com­pre­hen­sion went over the group, and the ten­sion less­ened at once, dis­solv­ing into the small home­ly busi­ness­es of dis­mount­ing, hob­bling, girth-check­ing, spit­ting, hav­ing a piss. Slow­ly, they sought each oth­er, look­ing for some­thing to say, search­ing for relief in com­mon­place.
He caught Ian’s eye, but they were yet too stiff with each oth­er for this; Ian turned, clapped a hand round Fergus’s shoul­der, and hugged him, then pushed him away with a small rude joke about his stink. The French­man gave him a tiny smile and lift­ed the dark­ened hook in salute.
Ken­ny Lind­say and old Arch Bug were shar­ing out tobac­co, stuff­ing their pipes in appar­ent tran­quil­li­ty. Tom Christie wan­dered over to them, pale as a ghost, but pipe in hand. Not for the first time, Roger real­ized the valu­able social aspects of smok­ing.
Arch had seen him, though, stand­ing aim­less near his horse, and come to talk to him, the old man’s voice calm and steady­ing. He had no real idea what Arch said, let alone what he replied; the sim­ple act of con­ver­sa­tion seemed to let him breathe again and still the tremors that ran over him like break­ing waves.
Sud­den­ly, the old man broke off what he was say­ing, and nod­ded over Roger’s shoul­der.
“Go on, lad. He needs ye.”
Roger had turned to see Jamie stand­ing at the far side of the clear­ing, half-turned away and lean­ing on a tree, his head bowed in thought. Had he made some sign to Arch? Then Jamie glanced round, and met Roger’s eye. Yes, he want­ed him, and Roger found him­self stand­ing beside Fras­er, with no clear mem­o­ry of hav­ing crossed the ground between them.
Jamie reached out and squeezed his hand, hard, and he held on, squeez­ing back.
“A word, a cliamhuinn,” Jamie said, and let go. “I would­na speak so now, but there may be no good time lat­er, and there’s lit­tle time to bide.” He sound­ed calm, too, but not like Arch. There were bro­ken things in his voice; Roger felt the hairy bite of the rope, hear­ing it, and cleared his own throat.
“Say, then.”
Jamie took a deep breath, and shrugged a bit, as though his shirt were too tight.
“The bairn. It’s no right to ask ye, but I must. Would ye feel the same for him, and ye kent for sure he was­na your own?”
“What?” Roger sim­ply blinked, mak­ing no sense what­ev­er of this. “Bai—ye mean Jem?”
Jamie nod­ded, eyes intent on Roger’s.
“Well, I … I din­na ken, quite,” Roger said, baf­fled as to what this was about. Why? And why now, of all times?
He was think­ing, won­der­ing what the hell? Evi­dent­ly this thought showed, for Fras­er ducked his head in acknowl­edg­ment of the need to explain him­self fur­ther.
“I ken … it’s no like­ly, aye? But it’s pos­si­ble. She might be wi’ child by the night’s work, d’ye see?”
He did see, with a blow like a fist under the breast­bone. Before he could get breath to speak, Fras­er went on.
“There’s a day or two, per­haps, when I might—” He glanced away, and a dull flush showed through the streaks of soot with which he had paint­ed his face. “There could be doubt, aye? As there is for you. But …” He swal­lowed, that “but” hang­ing elo­quent.
Jamie glanced away, invol­un­tar­i­ly, and Roger’s eyes fol­lowed the direc­tion of his gaze. Beyond a screen of bush and red-tinged creep­er, there was an eddy pool, and Claire knelt on the far side, naked, study­ing her reflec­tion. The blood thun­dered in Roger’s ears, and he jerked his eyes away, but the image was seared on his mind.

She did not look human, was the first thing he thought. Her body mot­tled black with bruis­es, her face unrec­og­niz­able, she looked like some­thing strange and pri­mal, an exot­ic crea­ture of the for­est pool. Beyond appear­ance, though, it was her atti­tude that struck him. She was remote, some­how, and still, in the way that a tree is still, even as the air stirs its leaves.
He glanced back, unable not to. She bent over the water, study­ing her face. Her hair hung wet and tan­gled down her back, and she skimmed it back with the palm of a hand, hold­ing it out of the way as she sur­veyed her bat­tered fea­tures with dis­pas­sion­ate intent­ness.
She prod­ded gen­tly here and there, open­ing and clos­ing her jaw as her fin­ger­tips explored the con­tours of her face. Test­ing, he sup­posed, for loose teeth and bro­ken bones. She closed her eyes and traced the lines of brow and nose, jaw and lip, hand as sure and del­i­cate as a painter’s. Then she seized the end of her nose with deter­mi­na­tion and pulled hard.
Roger cringed in reflex, as blood and tears poured down her face, but she made no sound. His stom­ach was already knot­ted into a small, painful ball; it rose up into his throat, press­ing against the rope scar.
She sat back on her heels, breath­ing deeply, eyes closed, hands cupped over the cen­ter of her face.
He became sud­den­ly aware that she was naked, and he was still star­ing. He jerked away, blood hot in his face, and glanced sur­rep­ti­tious­ly toward Jamie in hopes that Fras­er had not noticed. He hadn’t—he was no longer there.

All rights for the Pic­ture from Out­lander go to the right­ful own­er Starz/Sony
Quote and Excerpt by Diana Gabal­don from “A BREATH of SNOW and ASHES”
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

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