Brian woke up with the worst hangover he’d ever known, granted it was his first time drinking the night before but he had never felt this level of nausea or headache before.
“Mama?” He looks around the house, his mother has to to be around here somewhere. All he sees is Jenny up with the kids. “Good morning, Aunt Jenny…” he lets out a breath and puts his head in his hands.
“Good morning lad. Take it yer feeling the after effects of yer whiskey consumption last night?” Brian nods. “I’ll make ye a bowl a parritch to help wi the sickness.”
As Brian sits eating his bowl of porridge his parents come down, laughing loudly “Mama, daddy, can you not be so loud?” Jamie raises an eyebrow and looks to his sister.
“Too much Whiskey last night lad?” He chuckles. “Ye’re a man now.” He slaps him on his back.
“Dad, no offense, but I want to go back to being a little boy…” he chuckles and eats more of his porridge. “I can’t stand porridge normally but this is delicious…”
Jenny chuckled and Claire nodded, “Scottish oats are the best for porridge.” She grinned and looked at Jamie, who seemed as equally amused by their son’s first hangover. “You’ve just been reared on American rubbish all your life...and full English fry-ups.” She grins at him and he grins back.
“So yer ma was thinking ye might want tae help wi the horses today.” Brian’s eyes went wide. “I ken yer no feeling too great, but ‘tis outdoor work and ye could use some fresh air, lad.” Brian thinks about it a little, then nods. “Then ‘tis settled, ye’ll help me out wi the horses.” Jamie went back to eating his bannocks.
Brian stared at the bannocks. “I didn’t know the Scots made pancakes…” Jenny looked at him, “I mean, that’s like something my friends’ moms used to make for us when we had sleepovers. They were called pancakes.”
“Bannocks, they’re called lad.” Jenny smiles. “Would ye like some?” Brian nods.
“Do you have honey, or jelly?” His cheeks flushed a little. “I mean jam.” He smiled a little at his Aunt.
“We have honey, but a little.” Ian pipes up as he descends the stairs uneasily, Brian jumps up to help his uncle down the stairs.
“How did you sleep Uncle Ian?” Ian smiles at him, he didn’t need to ask, he knows that. But he wanted to be as normal with him as was humanly possible.
“Well enough, thank ye lad.” Ian smiled at Jenny as she brought a fresh pile of bannocks and a pot of honey.
“Thank you, Aunt Jenny.” Brian took some bannocks and added a dollop of honey. It tasted wonderful. He hummed happily, “A little taste of home…” he ate happily and then got dressed to help his father in the stables.
In the stables Brian was mucking out the stalls, his earlier task of exercising the horses having helped his nausea immensely, when he heard someone call out “Jamie” in an English accent. Since he was sure his father would be nearby he didn’t answer but the voice simply repeated itself.
“Jamie, why don’t you answer me?” Brian was forcibly turned to look upon the visage of Lord John Grey.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Jamie’s son. Brian Fraser.” He smiled in what he hoped was a friendly gesture. “I thought my dad was about but apparently not…”
“Of course. You look like your father when I first met him. I was 16, attempted to kill him but in those days there was a war raging…” Brian chuckled. “He spared me, my brother spared him and finally we became friends…”
John’s stomach had been in knots ever since he saw Brian, that smile made him melt and tell him the story of how he met Jamie. “But where are my manners? You’ve told me your name but I have neglected to tell you mine. Lord William John Grey, most people call me John or Lord John. you may also.” There was that beautiful smile again, good God man get a grip.
“Well then Lord John, let me take you up to the house. Likely my father is up there.” Brian wasn’t sure but he felt like Lord John was like him…
Sure enough Jamie was up at Lallybroch. “Have ye finished so soon lad? I was fetching us food…” he smiled when he saw his friend come up behind Brian. “John.” he moved and embraced him. From what Brian could see he was right, Lord John held his father a little closer than other straight men would have. “Brian, John was my parole officer while I was at Helwater.”
“Oh, then welcome to Lallybroch.” Jamie smiled to see the reaction on Brian’s face.
“Jenny will look after ye while Brian and I finish tending to the horses. We will join ye for dinner.” John smiles and watches the father and son pair go back to the stables with a basket of fresh bread and sighed, both of them he wanted and could have neither of them.
Jamie sat with his son in the paddock and ate their fresh bread and cheese in silence. Then Jamie spoke up; “I was going to Jenny’s room last night when I passed yer room door, I couldna help overhearing ye talk in yer sleep.” Brian tensed up a little. “Who is Roger? Ye said ye loved him.”
Brian started breathing heavily, “Please don’t ask me that…” his eyes were wet with tears. “Please, dad.”
Jamie’s eyes were suddenly full of concern. “Lad, dinna fash yersel. I’m no’ asking cause I’m angry, I’m askin’ cause I’m curious.” he smiled at his son. “It’s different in yer time, eh? That kind of thing is no’ so wrong, is it?”
“You can’t be executed, but it’s still illegal. Roger and I need to be careful but...we’re as in love as you and mom…” he smiled at his father, it’s an uneasy one but it’s a smile. “We have to sneak around, if anyone were to report us we could be jailed, lose our jobs, and be beaten in the streets. And those are the best case scenarios. Someone could easily take a length of rope and hang us both…” Jamie gulped. “Still, not as bad as here I suppose.” he smiles sadly. “I dreamed of him last night. We were at home, fire roaring...a baby on the floor...I know it’s impossible but, I want to happen.”
Jamie smiled at him, “Well God kens how much yer mother and I prayed for you after yer sister passed…” Brian let out a breathy laugh. “Lad, it could happen. Ye never know.” He took another bite out of his bread and cheese, “let’s finish the jobs and then we can get up to the house for some Steak Pie and potatoes.” he smiled at his son and they got the rest of the jobs done quickly and walked back to Lallybroch.
“Ah, ah!” Claire admonished them both, “Go wash up before supper…” She looked at her son, “You know the problems with dirt getting in your food.”
Brian smiled and went into the kitchen and washed his hands. Supper passed with minimal talk and then the small family sent Brian up to show Lord John to the guest bedroom.
As they stopped outside the room and Brian smiled at Lord John, good God, how does one small gesture make that man’s insides go to jelly? “I know, Lord John...and it’s okay…” he looked down the corridor and back up, to make sure no one was watching and listening, “Roger...that’s my boyfriend’s name. He’s in Inverness…” Brian couldn’t tell him ‘and 200 years in the future’.
“Hector...my first love…” Brian smiles and nods. But John is disappointed as his brain tells him that since he has a boyfriend there’s no hope for them. Both Fraser men have his heart and, for different reasons, he can never have either of theirs.
Brian dreams again, but instead of just having Roger in his dreams, both of them are in his dreams. This friendship with Lord John is going to be interesting.