The reunion after 20 years ( Voyager)
“I want—” He stopped and swallowed, still holding my hand. His fingers found and touched the silver ring once more. “I want verra much to kiss you,” he said softly. “May I do that?”
The tears were barely dammed. Two more welled up and overflowed; I felt them, full and round, roll down my cheeks.
“Yes,” I whispered.
He drew me slowly close to him, holding our linked hands just under his breast.
“I havena done this for a verra long time,” he said. I saw the hope and the fear dark in the blue of his eyes. I took the gift and gave it back to him.
“Neither have I,” I said softly.His hands cupped my face with exquisite gentleness, and he set his mouth on mine.
I didn’t know quite what I had been expecting. A reprise of the pounding fury that had accompanied our final parting? I had remembered that so often, lived it over in memory, helpless to change the outcome. The half-rough, timeless hours of mutual possession in the darkness of our marriage bed? I had longed for that, wakened often sweating and trembling from the memory of it.
But we were strangers now, barely touching, each seeking the way toward joining, slowly, tentatively, seeking and giving unspoken permission with our silent lips. My eyes were closed, and I knew without looking that Jamie’s were, as well. We were, quite simply, afraid to look at each other.Without raising his head, he began to stroke me lightly, feeling my bones through my clothes, familiarizing himself again with the terrain of my body. At last his hand traveled down my arm and caught my right hand. His fingers traced my hand until they found the ring again, and circled it, feeling the interlaced silver of the Highland pattern, polished with long wear, but still distinct.
His lips moved from mine, across my cheeks and eyes. I gently stroked his back, feeling through his shirt the marks I couldn’t see, the remnants of old scars, like my ring, worn but still distinct.“I’ve seen ye so many times,” he said, his voice whispering warm in my ear. “You’ve come to me so often. When I dreamed sometimes. When I lay in fever. When I was so afraid and so lonely I knew I must die. When I needed you, I would always see ye, smiling, with your hair curling up about your face. But ye never spoke. And ye never touched me.”
“I can touch you now.” I reached up and drew my hand gently down his temple, his ear, the cheek and jaw that I could see. My hand went to the nape of his neck, under the clubbed bronze hair, and he raised his head at last, and cupped my face between his hands, love glowing strong in the dark blue eyes.
“Dinna be afraid,” he said softly. “There’s the two of us now.”
He rolled to one side, shifting his weight carefully so as not to squash me, and lifted himself to lie face-to-face with me.
“Nor me, my Sassenach,” he said, and kissed me, very lightly, but lingering, so that I had time just to close my lips in a tiny bite on the fullness of his lower lip.
“It’s no just the bedding, ye ken,” he said, drawing back a little at last. His eyes looked down at me, a soft deep blue like the warm tropic sea.
“No,” I said, touching his cheek. “It isn’t.”
“To have ye with me again—to talk wi’ you—to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts—God, Sassenach,” he said, “the Lord knows I am lust-crazed as a lad, and I canna keep my hands from you—or anything else—” he added, wryly, “but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart.”
“It was lonely without you,” I whispered. “So lonely.”
“And me,” he said. He looked down, long lashes hiding his eyes, and hesitated for a moment.
“I willna say that I have lived a monk,” he said quietly. “When I had to—when I felt that I must or go mad—”
I laid my fingers against his lips, to stop him.
“Neither did I,” I said. “Frank—”
His own hand pressed gently against my mouth.Both dumb, we looked at each other, and I could feel the smile growing behind my hand, and my own under his, to match it. I took my hand away.
“It doesna signify,” he said. He took his hand off my mouth.
“No,” I said. “It doesn’t matter.” I traced the line of his lips with my finger.
“So tell me all your heart,” I said. “If there’s time.”