Sunday, November 3, 2013

Written In My Own Heart's Blood Excerpts (#7) by Diana Gabaldon


As always these are posted on Gabaldon's Facebook page and you can find more by clicking here.

Posted October 30th:

He glanced at Claire, to see if she was appreciating La Fayette’s stylish toilette, but her gaze was fixed—with a small frown—on a group of men in the far distance, beyond the Continental regulars drawn up in orderly formations. She wasn’t wearing her spectacles. He could see easily at a distance, and half-stood in his stirrups to look.

“General Washington and Charles Lee,” he told her, sitting back in the saddle. La Fayette, spotting them as well, swung himself into his own saddle and rode toward the senior officers. “I suppose I’d best go join them. D’ye see Denzell Hunter yet?” He had it in mind to confide Claire to Hunter’s care—he didn’t mean her to be wandering the battlefield—if there was one--on her own, no matter how helpful she might be there, and was wary of leaving her on her own.

Hunter was driving his wagon, though, and that couldn’t keep up with the marching men. Clouds of dust rose in the air, stirred by thousands of eager feet; it tickled in his chest and he coughed.

“No,” she said. “Don’t worry—“ and she smiled at him, brave, though her face was pale despite the heat, and he could feel the flutter of her fear in his own wame. “Are you all right?” She always looked at him in that searching way when he set out to a fight, as though committing his face to memory in case he was killed. He kent why she did it, but it made him feel strange—and he was already unsettled this morning. 

“Aye, fine,” he said, and taking her hand, kissed it. He should have spurred up and gone, but lingered for a moment, loath to let go.

“Did you—“ she began, and then stopped abruptly.

“Put on clean drawers? Aye, though it’s like to be wasted effort, ken, when the guns start firin’.” It was a feeble enough jest, but she laughed, and he felt better.

“Did I what?” he prompted, but she shook her head.

“Never mind. You don’t need anything else to think of now. Just—be careful, will you?” She swallowed, visibly, and his heart turned over.

Posted October 31st:

In the consternation that had followed this episode—the discovery that Jem had been taken by Rob Cameron, one of Brianna’s fellow employees at the hydroelectric, and presumably taken through the stones into the past—there had been no time to recall Mandy’s remark about Jem being back in her head, let alone make further inquiries. But now Brianna’s mind was moving at the speed of light, bounding from one horrifying realization to the next, making connections that might have taken hours to make in cooler blood.

Horrifying Realization #1: Jem hadn’t gone into the past, after all. While by itself, this was undeniably a _good_ thing, it made Horrifying Realization #2 that much worse: Roger and William Buccleigh _had_ undoubtedly gone through the stones, searching for Jemmy. She hoped they were in fact in the past, and not dead—traveling through whatever sort of thing the stones were was a bloody dangerous proposition—but if so, that brought her back to Horrifying Realization #1 again: Jem _wasn’t_ in the past. And if he wasn’t there, Roger wasn’t going to find him. And since Roger would never give up looking…

She pushed Horrifying Realization #3 aside with great force, and Mandy blinked, startled.

“Why you making faces, Mummy?”

“Practicing for Halloween.” She rose, smiling as best she could, and reached for her own duffel coat.

Mandy’s brow creased in thought.

“When’s Halloween?”

Cold rippled over her, and not just from the draft through the crack under the back door. _Did they make it_? They thought the portal was most active on the sun-feasts and fire-feasts—and Samhain was an important fire-feast—but they couldn’t wait the extra day, for fear that Jem would be taken too far from Craigh na Dun after passing through the stones.

“Tomorrow,” she said. Her fingers slipped and fumbled on the fastenings, shaky with adrenaline.

“Goody, goody, goody!” Mandy said, hopping to and fro like a cricket. “Can I wear my mask to look for Jemmy?”


Posted November 2nd:

“What the devil do you think you’re doing? Here, put that on!” he thrust the shift unceremoniously into her arms, and hastily pulled his shirt on. They were not in full view of anyone, but might be at any moment.

Her head emerged from the shift like a flower popping out of a snowbank. A rather angry flower.

“Well, what do you _think- I was doing?” she said. She pulled her hair free of the shift and fluffed it violently. “I was trying to do you a kindness!”

“A—what?”

“You’re going to fight tomorrow, aren’t you?” There was enough light to see the shine of her eyes as she glared at him. “Soldiers always want to fuck before a fight! They need it.”

He rubbed a hand hard over his face, palm rasping on his sprouting whiskers, then took a deep breath.

“I see. Yes. Very kind of you.” He suddenly wanted to laugh. He also—very suddenly--wanted to take advantage of her offer. But not enough to do it with Merbling on one side and Evans on the other, ears flapping.

“I’m not going to fight tomorrow,” he said, and the pang it caused him to say that out loud startled him. 

“You’re not? Why not?” She sounded startled, too, and more than a little disapproving.

“It’s a long story,” he said, struggling for patience. “And it’s not your business. Now, look. I appreciate the thought, but I told you: you’re not a whore, at least not for the time being. And you’re not _my_ whore.” Though his imagination was busy with images of what might have happened had she stolen into his cot and taken hold of him before he was fully awake…He put the thought firmly aside, and taking her by the shoulders, turned her round.

“Go back to your own bed now,” he said, but couldn’t stop himself from patting her very nice arse in farewell. She turned her head and glared at him over her shoulder.

“Coward!” she said. “A man that won’t fuck, won’t fight.”

“What?” For an instant, he didn’t think she’d really said it, but she had.

“You heard me. Good…fucking…night!”

Posted November 3rd:

“You’re not going off to war without me,” I said firmly, straightening up and sniffing. “Don’t even _think_ about it.”

“I wouldna dream of it,” he assured me gravely, went to wipe his nose on his uniform sleeve, thought better of it, and stopped, looking at me helplessly. I laughed—tremulous, but it was a laugh nonetheless—and gave him the handkerchief I’d tucked automatically into my bosom when I fastened my stays. Like Jenny, I _always_ had one.

“Sit down,” I said, swallowing as I picked up the hairbrush. “I’ll plait your hair for you.”

He’d washed it this morning; it was clean and damp, the soft red strands cool in my hands and smelling—oddly--of French soap, scented with bergamot. I rather missed the scent of sweat and cabbage that had surrounded me all night.

“Where did you bathe?” I asked curiously.

“At the house on Chestnut Street,” he answered, a little tersely. “My sister made me. She said I couldna turn up to be a general smelling like a stale dinner, and there was a tub and hot water to spare.”

“Did she?” I murmured. “Um…speaking of Chestnut Street…how is his grace, the Duke of Pardloe?”

“Gone before dawn, Jenny said,” he said, bending his head to aid in the plaiting. His neck was warm under my fingers. “According to Ian, Denny Hunter said he was well enough to go, provided that he took along a flask of your magic potion. So Mrs. Figg gave him back his breeches—wi’ some reluctance, I understand--and he went.”

“Went _where_?” I asked. His hair was more heavily traced with silver than it had been. I didn’t mind that; I minded that I hadn’t been there to see it slowly change, day by day.

“Ian didna ask him. But he said Mrs. Figg told the duke the names of some friends of Lord John’s--Loyalists that might be still in the city. And his son’s staying in a house here, no? Dinna be worrit on his account, Sassenach.” He turned his head to smile sideways at me. “His grace is a man who’s hard to kill.”


“I suppose it takes one to know one,” I said tartly.

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