A./N.: The poem is MOT mine (I wish though) but was read during the fueral of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. I'm a Royalist, if you haven't guessed. :P But I really thought it described perfectly how Jamie must have felt in the years of separation. I'm sure Claire felt the same. *sigh* Read & Review.
Poem by an unknown author
Claire came to Jamie every night in his sleep. The great Scottish warrior, the infamous Red Jamie, was now afraid of the dark, of sleep. He thought he must get insane if he would see Claire ever again in his dreams.
Despite the hand manual labour, Jamie fought sleep. His cell mates asked him over and over again, "Are ye alrigh', MacDub?" And he would always answer gruffly, "Aye, I am."
But that was a lie of monumental proportions.
His heart was breaking every time Claire's image flashed through his dreams. He worked harder than the other convicts because he was afraid of quiet, relaxed moments. Claire crept up on him when he expected her the least.
"Go away. Please, go away. How am I expected to forget you and go on living when you haunt my nights? Claire, for the love we both shared, leave me be. I must forget you because my heart breaks every time I see you without being able to touch you, to hold you in my arms ... to wake up with you leaning over me, telling me it was but a dream."
This desperate prayer was mumbled pleadingly into the night ... every night.
Lord John Grey stood at the window, which overlooked the court yard, and observed the arriving convicts below. The guards had told him that James Fraser had started to neglect his fellow convicts and even to neglect himself. He himself had seen it during their regular chess evenings. Today the guards' officer came to him and told him about an incident.
"He stopped working all of a sudden, Mylord. Just stood there and stared straight ahead. He looked haunted, afraid and helpless. But there was also a strange light in his eyes. Suddenly he called out 'Claire!' and started to run. Me and my man told him, repeatedly, to stop, but he wouldn't. So you see, Mylord, we had to shoot him in the leg," the veteran soldier ended lamely.
"Yes, I quite agree," said Grey softly.
The guard swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. MacDub was respected – even among the guards – and shooting an unarmed man was dishonourable to soldiers. Sympathetic, Grey said nothing. After a moment the guard went on, "I felt so helpless. I should have done something different to stop him."
"What could anyone have done?" Grey asked sensibly. "She is gone. And he ..." He stopped, not wanting to touch an unhealed wound. He knew about Claire Fraser. They had talked about that woman and he remembered her from their encounter in the woods.
"He wanted us to kill him," the guard whispered. He always forced himself to see the truth. "Before he started running his eyes cleared. How could he do that?"
"He loved her." Grey's voice was soft. The guard shook his head, but Grey waved him out, not explaining himself. As he heard the door close behind him, he whispered, "Could I love anyone so much that I'd rather die than live on without that someone?"
James Frazer was shackled to the wall of his cell. He had been stripped of all privileges, including the dinners and chess games with Lord Grey.
To tell the truth, he wasn't particularly sorry about his solitary cell and missing the company – and not so well hidden flirtation – from Lord Grey. What he did miss was the warmth of his other inmates as they huddled together during the cold nights. And the chains did chafe his wrists.
Suddenly he heard voices outside his cell and looked up expectantly. He wasn't prepared to see Lord Grey open the door. More astounded was he by the stake of paper, a quill and an ink pot he held in his hands.
"Here are the reports of the soldiers. I will read them to you and you have to sign them," said Grey.
Jamie nodded, mute and remote.
Grey went about his business, noticing once more the emptiness in Fraser's eyes, the hollowness of his cheeks. After the signing, he stood from the only stool and looked down on the pitiful creature on the floor.
"She may be gone, Fraser, but that doesn't change the fact that once she was alive and loved you."
Grey didn't know – couldn't answer to himself – what had ridden him to say that.
Fraser looked up sharply and for a split second there was the old fire in his eyes. For a split second Grey was afraid of the red-headed giant. But the moment passed and sadness filled the eyes again. They became bottomless seas of despair and heartache.
Grey left. He couldn't stay in the same room as Fraser anymore. It was too much to see the man defeated like that.
At night Claire came again to Jamie. She was sitting near a tiny bed, peering inside it. Jamie crept closer and peered over Claire's shoulder. In the bed lay a toddler. A girl with fiery red hair and a long, pointed nose. His hair and his nose.
"I wish your father could be here and see you, my darling," Claire whispered. "He would be so proud of you. Your fist steps today."
Claire smiled, but the smile never reached her eyes. A single tear slid down her cheek and along the curve of her jaw line.
"I miss him terribly," she whispered. "Seeing you is both joy and pain. You have so much of your father in you."
A sob worked its way up her throat and she could barely muffle it with her hands, so she wouldn't wake the ween. Jamie wanted to reach out, wanted to touch her and comfort her ... but he couldn't. He was rooted to the spot.
"And then I look at you and I know I had no other choice as to leave. We both would have died otherwise. I can't regret leaving him when it meant your life."
Claire's words slowly sunk in ... and finally he understood.
The next morning James Fraser raised his shackled hands up and began to scratch something into the wall of his cell.
"Roger, please hurry. I need to see this!" Brianna cried.
"Yes, coming, I'm coming." A gruff voice answered her with the unmistakable Scottish burr.
"He was imprisoned here. I must see his cell. Mama will surely want to know if we saw the place, when she comes back from America."
Roger couldn't argue with that logic. He knew that both Randall women were obsessed with finding Jamie Fraser. "You are a lucky man," he thought grimly, imaging the man from Claire's stories and remembering the loving glint in her eyes as she spoke.
Finally they entered a cell. It was a one-man-cell with shackles still attached to the wall. Brianna's eyes grew dim as she scanned the room. She had imagined her father as a hero but this rat hole had nothing to do with heroism. She paled considerably, but as Roger moved to wrap an arm around her shoulder she stepped away. She walked the small room back and forth and along all four walls. She even crouched low in front of the shackles, raising her own wrists, clearly imagining herself in her father's position. Her eyes scanned every inch of the walls - up and down - and suddenly flickered back up.
"Roger," she gasped.
Moving rapidly he came to crouch beside her and looked where her gaze was fixed to. Something had been scratched into the wall. It read:
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in yesterday,
or you can be happy about tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she's gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
Claire stood alone in the cell in Ardsmuir. Her eyes were tear-filled and her cheeks stained. She was blinded by her emotions, but she didn't need to see. What she saw wasn't in the present. She saw her beloved Jamie, sitting here. He had hurt ... all these years he had hurt as she had.
She promised then and there that she would find a way back to him, that she would tell him he had a daughter, that she would love him till death did them part.