The whole Scene:
“Which leaves a choice, I suppose,” I said, trying to be brave and objective. “If we’re dead, they’d go, because without us, they’ve no real reason to be here. But if we’re not dead—will they go anyway? Will we send them away, I mean? Because of the war. It won’t be safe.”
“No,” he said softly. His head was bent, stray auburn hairs lifting from his crown, from the cowlicks he had bequeathed both to Bree and to Jemmy. “I dinna ken,” he said at last, and lifted his head, looking out into the distance of land and sky. “No one does, Sassenach. We must just meet what comes as we can.”
He turned and laid his hand over mine, with a smile that had as much of pain in it as joy.
“We’ve ghosts enough between us, Sassenach. If the evils of the past canna hinder us—neither then shall any fears of the future. We must just put things behind us and get on. Aye?”
I laid a light hand on his chest, not in invitation, but only because I wanted the feel of him. His skin was cool from sweating, but he had helped dig the grave; the heat of his labor glowed in the muscle beneath.
“You were one of my ghosts,” I said. “For a long time. And for a long time, I tried to put you behind me.”
“Did ye, then?” His own hand came to rest lightly on my back, moving unconsciously. I knew that touch—the need of touching only to reassure oneself that the other was actually there, present in flesh.
“I thought I couldn’t live, looking back—couldn’t bear it.” My throat was thick with the memory of it.
“I know,” he said softly, his hand rising to touch my hair. “But ye had the bairn—ye had a husband. It wasna right to turn your back on them.”
“It wasn’t right to turn my back on you.” I blinked, but tears were leaking from the corners of my eyes. He drew my head close, put out his tongue, and delicately licked my face, which surprised me so much that I laughed in the midst of a sob, and nearly choked.
“I do love thee, as meat loves salt,” he quoted, and laughed, too, very softly. “Dinna weep, Sassenach. Ye’re here; so am I. There’s naught that matters, aside from that.”
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