Mark me…. or, you know…. don’t….
I’d thought of posting this bit from DRAGONFLY before the TV show’s finale for season two, and warning you that the show wasn’t doing it this way, lest finding this particular bit omitted might cause some of you (you know who you are…) to become Disgruntled and thus miss the real beauty and intensity of Jamie and Claire’s farewell.
But then I decided that I shouldn’t do that; not only would it be a spoiler, it might well rile some people a priori and not only spoil the ending for them, but also cause any amount of hopping up and down and general agitation that I didn’t think would serve anyone going into what’s really a spectacular ending.
But I did want to show the original to you, both as a solace to the book-fans, and a small gift to the TV-show-only fans.
(BTW… one of the writers was chatting with me before a Writers Bloc interview in LA and said, "We’re not going to do the cutting initials, but you’ll love what we’re doing instead!" I didn’t say anything (out of shock) but the expression on my face must have given a general impression of not being proactively thrilled. I got a grip and asked calmly what that was, only to be told that they were going to have Claire give Jamie the chunk of amber with the dragonfly, prior to going through the stones.
I won’t recount the entirety of my comments to Ron and Maril in the wake of this conversation, but I recall saying, "…there’s a massive emotional distance between, ‘I love you so passionately that I want you to shed my blood and scar me forever so I can remember your touch,’ and ‘Here, darling, take the ugliest wedding present ever to remember me by for the forty-five minutes before you die.’"
They admitted the essential truth of this <cough>, but insisted that they couldn’t do the cutting because it would be messy (they had all kinds of trouble with the blood-knife at the wedding, and were envisioning blood dripping everywhere and smearing and what it would do to the costumes, which had to last through multiple takes) and take too long and interrupt the pacing of the scene.
In all of which contentions, they were indubitably right, but STILL. The only thing I was able to do was extract a promise that they’d speak to the props department about making a new chunk of amber that didn’t look quite so much like a piece off a broken telephone pole transformer.)
So anyway…. here you go!
Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #DRAGONFLYinAMBER, #MarkMe
A wave of anguish broke through me, so acute that I must have made some sound, for he opened his eyes. He smiled when he saw me, and his eyes searched my face. I knew that he was memorizing my features, as I was his.
"Jamie," I said. My voice was hoarse with sleep and swallowed tears. "Jamie. I want you to mark me."
"What?" he said, startled.
The tiny sgian dhu he carried in his stocking was lying within reach, its handle of carved staghorn dark against the piled clothing. I reached for it and handed it to him.
"Cut me," I said urgently. "Deep enough to leave a scar. I want to take away your touch with me, to have something of you that will stay with me always. I don’t care if it hurts; nothing could hurt more than leaving you. At least when I touch it, wherever I am, I can feel your touch on me."
His hand was over mine where it rested on the knife’s hilt. After a moment, he squeezed it and nodded. He hesitated for a moment, the razor-sharp blade in his hand, and I offered him my right hand. It was warm beneath our coverings, but his breath came in wisps, visible in the cold air of the room.
He turned my palm upward, examining it carefully, than raised it to his lips. A soft kiss in the well of the palm, then he seized the base of my thumb in a hard, sucking bite. Letting go, he swiftly cut into the numbed flesh. I felt nothing more than a mild burning sensation, but the blood welled at once. He brought the hand quickly to his mouth again, holding it there until the flow of blood slowed. He bound the wound, now stinging, carefully in a handkerchief, but not before I saw that the cut was in the shape of a small, slightly crooked letter "J".
I looked up to see that he was holding out the tiny knife to me. I took it, and somewhat hesitantly, took the hand he offered me.
He closed his eyes briefly, and set his lips, but a small grunt of pain escaped him as I pressed the tip of the knife into the fleshy pad at the base of his thumb. The Mount of Venus, a palm-reader had told me; indicator of passion and love.
It was only as I completed the small semicircular cut that I realized he had given me his left hand.
"I should have taken the other," I said. "Your sword hilt will press on it."
He smiled faintly.
"I could ask no more than to feel your touch on me in my last fight— wherever it comes."
Unwrapping the blood-spotted handkerchief, I pressed my wounded hand tightly against his, fingers gripped together. The blood was warm and slick, not yet sticky between our hands.
"Blood of my blood…" I whispered.
"…and Bone of my Bone," he answered softly. Neither of us could finish the vow, "so long as we both shall live," but the unspoken words hung aching between us. Finally he smiled crookedly.
"Longer than that," he said firmly, and pulled me to him once more.
"Frank," he said at last, with a sigh. "Well, I leave it to you what ye shall tell him about me. Likely he’ll not want to hear. But if he does, if ye find ye can talk to him of me, as you have to me of him— then tell him… I’m grateful. Tell him I trust him, because I must. And tell him—" His hands tightened suddenly on my arms, and he spoke with a mixture of laughter and absolute sincerity. "Tell him I hate him to his guts and the marrow of his bones!"
We were dressed, and the dawn light had strengthened into day. There was no food, nothing with which to break our fast. Nothing left that must be done… and nothing left to say.
He would have to leave now, to make it to Drumossie Moor in time. This was our final parting, and we could find no way to say goodbye.
At last, he smiled crookedly, bent, and kissed me gently on the lips.
"They say…" he began, and stopped to clear his throat. "They say, in the old days, when a man would go forth to do a great deed—he would find a wise-woman, and ask her to bless him. He would stand looking forth, in the direction he would go, and she would come behind him, to say the words of the prayer over him. When she had finished, he would go straight out, and not look back, for that was ill-luck to his quest."
He touched my face once, and turned away, facing the open door. The morning sun streamed in, lighting his hair in a thousand flames. He straightened his shoulders, broad beneath his plaid, and drew a deep breath.
"Bless me, then, wisewoman," he said softly, "and go."
I laid a hand on his shoulder, groping for words. Jenny had taught me a few of the ancient Celtic prayers of protection; I tried to summon the words in my mind.
"Jesus, Thou Son of Mary," I started, speaking hoarsely, "I call upon Thy name; and on the name of John the Apostle beloved, And on the names of all the saints in the red domain, To shield thee in the battle to come… "
I stopped, interrupted by a sound from the hillside below. The sound of voices, and of footsteps.
Jamie froze for a second, shoulder hard beneath my hand, then whirled, pushing me toward the rear of the cottage, where the wall had fallen away.
"That way!" he said. "They are English! Claire, go!"
I ran toward the opening in the wall, heart in my throat, as he turned back to the doorway, hand on his sword. I stopped, just for a moment, for the last sight of him. He turned his head, caught sight of me, and suddenly he was with me, pushing me hard against the wall in an agony of desperation. He gripped me fiercely to him. I could feel his erection pressing into my stomach and the hilt of his dagger dug into my side.
He spoke hoarsely into my hair. "Once more. I must! But quick!" He pushed me against the wall and I scrabbled up my skirts as he raised his kilts. This was not lovemaking; he took me quickly and powerfully and it was over in seconds. The voices were nearer; only a hundred yards away.
He kissed me once more, hard enough to leave the taste of blood in my mouth. "Name him Brian," he said "for my father." With a push, he sent me toward the opening. As I ran for it, I glanced back to see him standing in the middle of the doorway, sword half-drawn, dirk ready in his right hand.
I originally posted this excerpt and comments on one of my social media accounts on Sunday, July 10, 2016, about episode 213 (titled "Dragonfly in Amber") of the Starz Outlander TV series.
Top image credit: Starz.