Dear Mrs. McTavish…
Claire’s fingers hovered over the keys, shaking with agitation and nerves. The easy part was done with, at least, as well as most of the hard part, she’d like to think. How long had she been waiting for this moment? Since yesterday when she got the confirmation email but was too busy (not nervous, absolutely not nervous) to adequately draft this message? Six months when she first called the adoption agency? A year when the idea first popped into her head.
27 years, three months, and 14 days. She shook her head. Best not dwell too long on that. Blinking back tears, she started the next line-
I am a Doctor in a town called Broch Mordha-
She repeatedly tapped the backspace key while shaking her head. That made her sound like she was conducting some sort of experiment or clinical trial. She couldn’t think of a better way for her message to be immediately deleted.
I lost my daughter-
Backspace, backspace, backspace. Too strong, much too strong. There had to be some sort of middle ground between sounding like a bureaucratic robot and Emily Bronte.
She took a deep breath and started one more time.
27 years ago, you adopted a young girl in Scotland-...
Jamie saw the car to the garage and whistled his way up to the main house. He followed the path worn into the land by generations of Frasers, a slight grin on his face. Though five o’clock had come and gone and the Printshop was now empty, there was still much to do before he saw to his bed.
“I’ve promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep,” he whispered to himself as he crossed the threshold of his house.
He entered to witness a typical picture of life at Lallybroch. The smell of dinner pervaded the air as he walked down the hallway, passing by the pictures of his family and those who came before. Mrs. Bug was bustling in the kitchen to finish the family’s supper before she headed home, and the fire was steady in the main sitting room where his son sat on the couch with his nose buried in a book. Jamie rustled his brown hair and tried not to sigh when the boy jerked his head away from his father’s touch.
“Willie, mo bhalach, did ye do all that I’d asked ye this mornin’?” He leaned over the couch so that his face wasn’t far from the boy’s.
Willie didn’t look at him. “Aye, I did.”
Jamie quirked an eyebrow. “Oh ye did, did ye?”
“So, I’ll walk upstairs and find suitable rooms for our guests come Saturday?”
“Aye, ye will.”
“Clean sheets and everything?”
Willie’s face colored and Jamie knew he had him. “You’d let Brianna, Roger, Fergus, and Marsalia sleep in old sheets?” He tsked.
“It’s no’ as if they werna changed after the last time. Those sheets are still clean.”
“Those beds have been restin’ in their own dust for three month or more now. Would you want ta sleep in musty sheets when you come home for a reunion? It’s the first time the whole family’s been together for god-knows how long. Go up and change ‘em quick, before supper.”
Willie groaned and roused himself up to the upstairs. “Bold of ye to assume I’d even come home for a reunion.” The words under his breath stung but Jamie didn’t say anything. Bree, Willie’s elder sister, was much the same at his age and she turned out just fine. He was a patient man, but lord did this boy test him.
Supper was a family affair. He was able to give his wife a quick kiss and a smile before they sat down, and though she smiled, he could tell something was on her mind. Best ask about that later. They chewed silently for the most part.
“All seems to be ready for Saturday,” Jamie said finally, chewing his meat. “Auld Alec has been kind enough ta lend us his tent for the weekend.” A grunt from Willie and a nod from Claire was his only response. “I didna check the weather yet, but I think I willna be goin’ too far out on a limb to assume it’ll be rainin’ once again.” The same response. Jamie squared his jaw and continued to eat.
“That was nice of Alec,” Claire commented. Jamie smiled at her and nodded.
They sat in silence for the rest of the meal. When excused, Willie jumped up and ran to his room to carry on with whatever tomfoolery he was like to get up with.
Jamie picked up his and his wife’s plate, eyeing her. “Claire, what’s troubin’ ye, lass?” He walked to the sink and put in the plates to be washed. As he turned on the hot water and began to scrub, she took up her usual spot beside him with a dish-towel. Jamie eyed her as she picked up a wet dish, but her eyes remained downcast and she worried her lip with her teeth.
“Claire, mo chridhe, I canna read your mind.” He reached out and gripped her hand through the towel.
She looked up at him and he was struck by the torment in her eyes. He tried to steady his breathing and prepare himself for anything.
“I have to tell you something, but don’t know how to.”
“Well, start at the beginning, if ye please.” He turned back to the sink and placed another dish for her to dry.
She cleared her throat. “I know we don’t like to talk about-- our troubles from after we first got married, but- it’s been weighing on my mind recently.”
Jamie’s eyes downturned and he squared his shoulders and jaw.
“Are you alright?” Claire asked.
“Aye, I am. I must confess that I’ve had similar thoughts a time or two.” He couldn’t think of a day he didn’t think of what may have been had he not been such a foolish youth--thinking himself invincible with conviction and passion.
They finished the dishes and Claire wrung her hands, struggling with the next part of her confession. “Six months ago, I contacted St. Anthony Children’s Services.”
Jamie’s heart stuttered in his chest and he gripped the counter. “That’ll be- that’ll be the place- the people that-”
“Yes. It is.” She leaned against the counter next to him and crossed her arms over her chest. “I didn’t expect to hear anything. After all we- we already proved we couldn’t take care of her properly so-” He looked up to see tears glistening in her eyes and he reached out to her. He was stopped by her hand. “No, I need to get this out.”
“Ye heard from them?”
Claire nodded. “She- she moved to the US with her family, it took awhile for them to find information but I was able to get an email address for the mother and-”
Tears flooded his vision and his breathing was heavy. “Ye mean- ye can contact her?”
“That’s it, Jamie. I did. I emailed her and I’m sorry, I should’ve talked to you I should’ve written it with you-”
He finally reached out and embraced her, shushing her. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and he felt her body shake with sobs. “Oh, mo chridhe, it’s alright. Dinna weep. I trust ye to present us well enough.” He pulled back from her and wiped her face with his thumbs. “Did ye hear anything back yet?”
She shook her head and sniffled. “No, I just sent the email, just now before supper. I don’t even know if I will receive an answer. They haven’t been in contact in years.”
He rubbed her arms. “Well, whatever happens, we’ll weather it together, aye?”
She nodded and accepted his kiss.
Please let me know if you like the premise and follow the story if you'd like to see where it goes.
Chapter 2: The First Meeting
Thanks so much for the support you guys, it really means a lot. This is where the plot of this fic really starts to kick off, but I promise all your questions will be answered in time.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She could tell Jamie was anxious to ask her about it. To most, his face and demeanor was a stone wall, but over the years she had come to read his body like a favorite book. It had been two nights since she’d sent the email. His work at the Printshop was demanding enough, and there was all this reunion business that had his mind pulled in all directions. Bree and Roger were coming that afternoon, Fergus and Marsali on Thursday, and Jenny and Ian’s entire family on Saturday. Not to mention he was worried about Willie’s behavior recently, she knew. And now this.
You seem to have a knack for timing, Beauchamp.
He stood in the kitchen, pouring himself coffee and Claire watched him as she chewed her porridge. The question was burning at the tip of his tongue, she could tell. Didn’t he know that she would tell him the moment she received a reply?
“Have ye- have ye heard anything yet?” His back was turned to her.
It was just nerves, she knew, so she tried not to be annoyed by it.
“I haven’t,” she said. “You know you’re the first person to hear as soon as I do.”
She saw him nod and take a sip of coffee. “I canna stop thinking about her growing up, mo cridhe.”
Claire paused a moment, her own cup halfway to her lips. She did not want to think about that, though the subject had been on her mind as well. What must she have thought of them, growing up as she did? Not knowing who her parents were, and that was perhaps for the best- after all-
“I mean, she’s a right, proper woman now.” Jamie interrupted her thoughts, turning to face her. That hadn’t been what she had been thinking of at all. “So long, I’ve thought of her as a babe in arms, but she- she canna be that anymore. What is she like? What does she do? What if she has a family of her own now? I might be a-”
“Jamie,” Claire warned as the sound of Willie moving down the stairs caught her ears. He nodded. They had decided not to tell any of the children until there was something to tell.
“The verra second, Sassenach. When there’s news, I want to know but a moment after you do.”
She smiled at his excitement. “Oh? What if you’re in a meeting or-”
“I’ll mind, dinna ye worry.” He smiled and raised his cup to her. She smiled and nodded.
“The very second, I promise.”
Kitty Murray had spent about five minutes in Broch Mordha and it was already too much. She didn’t know what she was thinking, coming up on Wednesday when the reunion wasn’t even until Saturday. She had been tricked by the allure of her mother’s home cooking, her father’s bad jokes, and a break from her job in Glasgow. She had spent less than an hour in her parent’s house, listening to her sister-in-law go on and on about “little Henry, don’tcha think he’s jus’ the cutest thing, Kitty? Look, he’s already talkin’. It’s gotta be those Fraser genes of his, och a canny believe-”
She was out the door like a bat out of hell on the pretense of a walk. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Joan or her nephew, just that a body could only take so much gushing from a proud mother. She wandered for a while and found herself at the coffee shop on the corner, one of her favorite haunts growing up. The building was much the same inside and out, but Kitty curled her lip at the sight anyway.
They were everywhere. Kitty knew tourism in the village had picked up since the walking trails though the Highlands had been established, but this was the first time she’d been faced with it. Generally, in Glasgow, she wasn’t too concerned with them. But she had dreamed of being home and awash in the lilt of her home country. And here she was, run out of her own house with nothing to hear but their alien voices.
She eyed them as she sat down, ordering a coffee from the barista. One of them--a young woman about Kitty’s own age--was sat down one seat from her, but was keeping quiet for now. Their eyes met and Kitty looked back down.
[“How long has it been like this?”] Kitty asked the barista in Gaelic.
[“Since summer started.”] The barista answered. [“I cannot wait for tourist season to be over.”]
[“They will go back to their homes soon enough, my sister. Do not give up.”] She raised her cup in a toast to the barista and took a sip.
She glanced over to see the Sassenach nearby glancing at her. Kitty cleared her throat.
“Can I help ye?”
“I like your tattoo.” She pointed at Kitty’s arm. Kitty glanced down and rolled up her sleeve to expose the markings more.
“Is that Lily of the Valley?”
Kitty looked back up, a little shocked. “Aye, it is. Ye know your plants?”
The woman nodded, rolling up her left sleeve to show a red flower on her forearm. “Foxglove,” she explained.
Kitty nodded. “That is gorgeous, that. Where’d ye get it?”
The woman smiled and rolled her sleeve back down.
“From a little shop in Cape Town a few years back.”
Kitty’s eyebrows shot up. “South Africa?”
She nodded. “Where’d you get yours?”
Kitty glanced down. “Glasgow.”
She nodded, interested. “Never been.”
Kitty looked back up with a smile. “Yeah? You’re not missing much.”
“I’m sure that’s not true.”
“Well, there is a lot, but not compared to Cape Town, I’m sure.”
“You ever been to Cape Town?”
Kitty shook her head. The woman smiled. The barista came back over and asked them if they wanted anything else. The woman nodded.
[“Another coffee, please, for me and my friend.”]
Both Kitty and the barista’s eyebrows jumped up their foreheads as the woman spoke perfect Gaelic. The barista stuttered and immediately turned to work. The woman looked back at Kitty and grinned at her stunned expression.
“Not bad for a Sassenach, aye?”
Kitty nodded, face aflame.
“I don’t think I caught your name. I’m Faith. Faith McTavish.”
Though Jamie and Claire's characters are going to be necessary for this fic, they are not the central characters. The story is going to be more about how the Fraser family broke up and how they get back together. It will become more clear with the coming chapters. I hope that this atypical plot doesn't put anyone off. If it does, I'm sorry, I do have a oneshot and a multichapter fic (the latter of which I promise to update before the end of time) that are Jamie/Claire centric. If you are intrigued, I hope you stick around, there's a lot more coming.
Chapter 3: A Wee Car Accident
Thanks so everyone again for all the support. I was nervous about publishing this for a very long time, but, people have been nothing but positive. Thank you so much for that.
This chapter is a bit longer, and makes good on the second promise of the summary. There is one eureka moment, see if you can spot it.
The cobblestone lane wound through the town lazily, matching the couple’s attitude. Bree swung their clasped hands between the two of them and Roger smiled at the whimsical gesture. She giggled laid her cheek against his shoulder.
They had dropped off their luggage at the main house. And, with no one else there besides Mrs. Bug, they had ventured into town.
“Where exactly are we goin’?” Roger asked, still smiling.
She shrugged. “Wherever. I’m not that picky.”
Roger stepped up onto the curb, but Bree trailed in the street.
“Ye’re gonna get hit by a car.”
She skipped along the cobblestone street with a smile. “You’ve spent too much time in the city, my lad. No one drives cars in Broch Mordha, everyone knows that.” Like many of the smaller towns in Europe, Broch Mordha had been built long before the invention of cars or even carriages. Most of the streets in the village were narrow and had sharp turns, unlike the wide, and straight roads in America or farther south.
Roger nodded. “A cyclist then. Some lad more taken up with his own self than to watch for lasses in the street,” he teased, a smile on his face.
She laughed as Roger’s phone rang and he sighed. “I’ll be just a moment.” He stepped aside to check it. She tried not to let the worry in his eyes bother her too much. The university where he worked as a researcher was getting tougher as his team got closer to the end of their grant. It took every ounce of persuasion she carried within her to convince him to take this trip north with her, and she intended to make the best of it.
Roger was on the sidewalk with his back turned to her, Bree was standing in the street patiently, and two girls were walking down the street and chatting. Everything happened very fast all of a sudden. A car engine and a flurry of motion out of the corner of her eye. Bree heard a woman shout “Look out!” and she fell to the ground. There was a distinct sound of metal being hit and another body hitting the ground beside her.
Bree’s heart beat very fast as she scrambled over to see who had been hit. A young woman was feeling her head and torso as Bree crouched beside her.
“My god, are you alright?!” She asked.
“I’m fine, just bumped a bit. But everything’s in the right place.” The young woman’s hair had been pulled up into a messy bun before the rush of activity, now her curls sprung free.
Bree would later hear claims that she had acted calmly and cooly, but in the moment all she could think was to get this woman to see her Mum, immediately. “We have to take you to the clinic down the street!”
“It’s fine, I’m fine.”
Bree was incredulous and her blood ran hot at the stranger’s placid demeanor. “You were hit by a car! We’re going to the clinic.” She hoisted the woman to her feet. Roger had come to her side and cursed that he had walked away. Bree assured him that she was fine, but cut off her statement as she noticed the tableau occurring just a few feet away.
“..And just what exactly were ye thinking, ye absolute weapon!” Kitty slapped the young man’s chest once again and he cursed.
“I said I was sorry, leave me alone, Kitty!”
“Ian James Fitzgibbons Murray! Ye just hit my friend with yer car! Ye just wait until Ma hears about this!”
Ian paled at this. “Kitty, dinna tell Ma about this. Please, I’m beginning ye!”
“It’s alright, Kitty. I’m fine. He should watch where he’s going though.” Beee could not believe how calm she was about this whole thing. What had she been thinking, anyway?
Kitty whirled on them. “It’s the principle of the thing, Faith! What’re ye even doing, driving yer car in the village?” She hit his chest again and Ian pushed her away.
“Uncle Jamie sent me on some business outta town and I wanted ta stop by the Printshop before I went home. It woulda been counterproductive to take the car home and then walk to the Printshop, ye see Kitty.”
“Kitty!” Bree said, quite loudly, gaining her attention. She gripped the young woman’s arm and herded her to the car. “Ian, if you drive us to the clinic, I promise that we won’t tell your Ma that you hit someone with your car.”
“What- och, I canna be-”
“Now!” Kitty jumped into the passenger’s seat.
The young woman was wedged in between Roger and Bree in the backseat of Ian’s car. The two Murray siblings continued to argue on the way to the clinic, causing the woman to smile. She groaned a little under her breath and felt her torso lightly.
“A little sore?” Bree asked, eyeing her and she nodded.
“I’ll be fine.”
“You seem very confident in that.”
She shrugged. “I’ve seen and felt worse.”
“Been in a lot of fights?”
Bree saw the thoughts churning in her mind, deciding what to say. “I guess you could say that,” she finally said after a moment. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. I’m Faith.”
“You can call me Bree, and that’s Roger over there.” She shook Faith’s hand and the other two repeated the gesture. “My mother is a doctor, we can have you in to see her.”
Faith nodded and smiled at Bree. “Alright, if it makes you feel better. But the most she can do is prescribe me some pain-killer and I hear you Brits are pretty stingy with those.”
Bree shook her head with a smirk. “Maybe most, but if my ma thinks you need them, she’ll give them to you.”
Roger made a face at the both of them. “Ye seem so calm, Faith. How’d’ye know its not something more serious.”
Faith glanced at him and then down. She chewed on her lip. “Well, he can’t have been going more than 10 miles an hour if that and my major organs can’t have taken a lot of impact when how I fell. There will be some bruising, and maybe some sluggishness after the adrenaline wears out, but overall-- I’ll be fine.”
Bree furrowed her brow. Faith had spoken so clinically and professionally, as though she was separated from her own body by the diagnosis.
“What are you a doctor?” Bree asked, incredulous.
Kitty finally seemed to clue into their conversation and spun around in her seat, cursing Ian as he took a turn too fast.
“Not only is she a doctor, Bree, but she’s been all over the world. She’s been with Doctors Without Borders and been to Africa and India and Australia.”
Faith grimaced, but nodded. “Australia was for a study abroad I did, though, I didn’t do any doctoring there.”
“Were you really in Doctors Without Borders though?” Bree asked.
Faith reached back and pulled her wallet out of her back pocket, fishing through the contents for a paper before proudly handing it to Bree. She inspected the paper with an eyebrow raised, her French had been very limited since going to University and Bree wasn’t sure what she was looking at.
“That’s a permit to practice medicine,” Faith explained. “That way I don’t have to worry about being licensed so long as I’m with MSF.”
“‘MSF’?” Roger repeated.
“Yeah, we know it as ‘Doctors Without Borders’ but the organization is French, the acronym is for ‘Medecins sans frontieres.’”
“She speaks French too, completely fluently!” Kitty boasted, as if she had taught Faith the language from birth. Faith colored again, but smiled.
“What brings you to the Scottish Highlands?” Roger asked.
Faith didn’t look at him while she answered. Instead she busied herself with putting her permit away, her face going a shade darker. “Eh, my family’s from around here. My mom used to talk about it all the time while I was growing up. I’m going home after this, for good.”
They were at the clinic now and Bree let Faith out on her side of the car. Kitty slammed the door with a huff at her younger brother and the three from the back seat followed behind into the building. The clinic was small, but cozy. And everyone in Broch Mordha had been going here since before Bree’s time, since maybe even before her father’s. They walked through the lobby where Mary, the nurse, was manning the desk that day. She seemed a little surprised to see the quintet of people barging up to her.
“Oh hello Roger, Kitty, Ian. Bree, are you here to see your mum? She’s seeing a patient right now, but I can-”
Bree nodded emphatically. “Actually yes, I need to see her. This is my friend, Faith. Young Ian hit her with his car and she needs to see a doctor as soon as possible.”
Mary’s eyes opened wide and she began to pull paperwork together as Faith spoke up. “I can see the first available doctor, there’s no need to call her away.”
“Mary, don’t do any such thing!” Bree insisted. “She will be seen first.”
“Bree, your attitude is gallant but I’m afraid it’s up to the patient.” Mary looked to the other woman at the counter. “I can move you to the front of the line, but I don’t know when either of the doctors will be ready.”
Faith nodded. “That’s fine, I can wait, and if there’s anyone more serious, you don’t have to move me in front of them.” She gave her information and took the clipboard of paperwork to fill out.
“It’s alright,” Faith asuaded, yet again as Bree looked as though she was going to protest. “Can you help me fill out this paperwork?” This seemed to distract Bree as she followed Faith to the seating area, pointing out spots on the clipboard.
Roger’s eyebrows were nearly meeting his hair at the exchange, having only too well known how hard it could be to calm Bree’s temper sometimes. “How in the hell..” He commented as he went to sit beside his girlfriend. He stopped when he nearly ran into Faith, who was standing stock still, as if frozen. He followed her line of vision to the portraits of the staff of the Broch Mordha clinic.
“Ye alright, lass?” Roger asked and Faith seemed startled..
“Sorry, must’ve dozed off there for a second.” She smiled at him and sat down
“Are you having trouble concentrating? I can tell Mary-” Bree asked, moving to stand.
Faith stopped her. “It’s fine. I can wait. Now, lemme get my passport out-” She reached down to fish around in her bag and Bree relaxed into her chair. Ian was still there, remarkably, and Kitty still seemed cross, but stayed silent for the time being. They made quite the group.
After about a ten minute wait, Bree looked up from the paperwork to see Joe Abernathy walking over to them, making a face at Bree. He seemed amused by the situation, but, then, he’d always had a good-hearted attitude, especially towards the Fraser-Murrays. He scoffed good naturedly at Bree’s insistence that she had nothing to do with the current situation. “Who was driving the car?”
Kitty pointed at her brother beside her. “Ian.”
The boy in question looked up from his phone screen and shook his head in disbelief. “Och, I thought we had a deal.”
“I promised ye I wouldna tell ma, I dinna make any other promises. Besides, he’s a doctor, I canna exactly lie to him.”
Ian groaned. “Well, at least it isna Auntie Claire seeing her.”
Faith glanced at him and then Kitty at those words.
“Would you prefer to see Dr. Fraser, Ms. McTavish, seeing that you’ve been adopted by the clan?” Joe was clearly enjoying the drama from the twinkle in his eye.
Faith glanced once again at Bree and stood. “That won’t be necessary. I’d just like to get out of here.”
She followed him back.
There was something about this patient that struck Joe as odd, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He decided it must be the familiarity in accent. Though not the same as the true Bostonian he had grown up with, her New England accent endeared him.
“MSF, huh?” he asked, feeling along her abdomen.
“You could make a career out of that if you wanted.”
She smiled at him, but shook her head. “Since I finished med school, I’ve been a bit of a nomad, I think it’s time to plant roots somewhere.”
“Well, if you’re looking to plant them around here, the soil is pretty rich and I don’t think you’ll regret it.” He tilted his head to one side. “Maybe not as exciting as some places, but-”
She shook her head and sat up. “I’ve enough excitement for one lifetime, let me tell you.”
“Yeah I can tell, so much excitement that you had to throw yourself in front of a moving car.” She laughed, face turning slightly red. “Well, take care of yourself, Dr. McTavish.”
She jumped up from the bench and picked up her bag once again.
“Pity you couldn’t’ve seen Dr. Fraser, she was also in MSF.”
Her head jerked up and he swore her skin turned a shade paler. “She was?”
He nodded, eyeing her. She cleared her throat. “Well, I’ll try and time my next heroic act better and maybe I can talk to her about it.”
Joe nodded and let her go, giving her paperwork to turn back into Mary. The day was winding down, and he walked by the office before taking the next patient. Seeing Claire inside, he poked his head in.
“Hey, Lady Jane.” He knocked on the door twice.
She seemed startled and she wiped her eyes quickly, seemingly trying to be discreet.
“You alright?” he asked.
She nodded quickly. “Yeah, sorry, what’s up?”
“Your daughter came in.”
Claire seemed extremely shocked by this but then shook her head. “Was there anything wrong? Why didn’t Mary-”
“She’s fine, she was seeing one of her friends here.”
Claire nodded. “Well that was nice of her.”
“Get this though, the patient I saw was in MSF.”
Claire raised her eyebrows and made an approving noise. “Small world.”
Joe nodded. “Well, just thought you’d like to know. I might take off soon. You in for the night?”
She shook her head. “No, no, I actually need to go home right now, Joe.” She stood and immediately started packing her things.
“You’re acting very strangely, is something wrong?”
“What? No, not at all, I’ve just received some news is all. I can’t go into detail right now, but I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.” She pulled the coat off her peg and threw it over her shoulders.
“Is it good news at least?”
She looked back at him, positively beaming. “Really good.”
Chapter 4: A Ghost from the Past
So glad everyone enjoyed the close calls in the last chapter, you’ll definitely like this chapter, I think. Thanks for all the support. One step closer to reunion.
The sound of the doorbell made Jenny jump and nearly throw her breakfast off the stove. She checked the time. Quarter after seven. She cursed under her breath at all the inconveniences she’d suffered in the past twelve hours. First, Kitty and Young Ian coming home in the dead of night, clearly having been drinking, and now people calling before the birds were even singing. The doorbell sounded again and she cursed in answer.
“Ian, can ye get that?”
There was no answer. The doorbell rang again.
“Ian Murray!” she shouted, cursing as she moved the skillet off the burner and headed to the door.
“I’m coming, for god’s sake. Jus’ who do ye think ye are-” She wrenched the door open and stopped. Standing before her was a young woman, said her eyes. But she was so familiar that it wasn’t possible, her heart and mind told her. It simply couldn’t be.
“Hi, Mrs. Murray, I’m Faith, Kitty’s friend, she may have told you about me. I was just off on a run and figured I’d invite her to join, if that’s alright.”
Jenny only stared at her, dumbstruck.
The young woman peeked behind her and pursed her lips in awkwardness. “Um, hello? Sorry, did I come at a bad time?”
Jenny shook her head and moved to let the girl come inside. The young woman passed by and stood in the hallway with her. “How- Kitty?”
“Mrs. Murray, are you alright?”
They both looked up as Young Ian walked down from the upstairs. “Faith!” he greeted. “Surprised yer still standing after the pub last night. Are ye here for some breakfast then?”
She shook her head and talked to Ian for a minute, but Jenny had moved wordlessly into the kitchen, not paying any attention. She went back to her cooking, mindlessly working. She was vaguely aware of voices and the door shutting.
“Jenny, did ye call me a moment ago?” Ian came in and looked at his wife. “Ah Dhia, are ye alright? Ye look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
She looked at him then, eyes wide. “I think I have.”
Kitty groaned once again as they passed through the village. Every cell in her body was protesting as she trailed behind her friend.
“I thought ye said this was a hangover cure,” she called out.
“It is if you do it right!” Faith chuckled at her as she pulled her along.
“Morning people, fucking Sassenachs, ruining everything.”
“Am I really a Sassenach?” She turned back to walk backwards and talk to Kitty.
Kitty nodded. “Of course ye are. What else would ye be?”
Faith shrugged. “My parents are Scottish, I was born in Scotland, I speak the language. I know I don’t have the accent but-”
“Ye dinna grow up here, though. That is important.”
Faith chuckled and turned around to the coffee shop. “C’mon, maybe some coffee for you before we continue?”
“That’s the best goddamn idea I’ve heard all mornin’, lass.” Kitty followed behind Faith into the shop and up to the counter. “The first part of that statement, I mean.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “It’s not so bad. We haven’t even walked a mile.”
“Yer gonna need to speak in distances I understand, ye fucking Sassenach.”
Faith laugh was breathy, but she turned away quickly and made her order. Kitty sat with her coffee at the end of the counter near where they had sat the day before when they first started talking. It had been a whirlwind 24-hours and she was--though she wouldn’t admit it to Faith while on their run--having a damned good time. At least better than she had been when she’d come home the day before.
“Two coffees?” Kitty commented as she noticed the two cups in Faith’s hand. “Ye must be bone tired.”
“Nah, this one’s for Ian, I promised I’d run him coffee to work.”
“Whatever did ye do that fer?”
“I dunno, to be nice?”
Kitty groaned and laid her head on her arms after taking a sip of coffee.
“Can you tell me where Ian works?”
Kitty nodded from where her head sat. “Aye, he works with my uncle at the Printshop. Down the street to the left, ye canna miss it.” She yawned. “Away wi’ ye then if yer gonna take him some coffee. It’s going to take a moment for me to wake up.”
Faith laughed but was soon off, leaving Kitty in misery on the counter. Not a minute later but she felt a tap on her shoulder and she groaned. “What is it now?”
“Katherine, what is it that yer doin’ here so early? I dinna think I’ve ever seen you awake at this hour in your life.”
She cracked one eye open to see her Uncle standing beside her, peering down with mirth in his deep blue eyes.
“G’morning, Uncle Jamie, good to see ye. Leave me alone, if ye please.”
He chuckled and patted her head affectionately. “I hope ye’ll be comin’ ta the reunion on Saturday. I saw ye with a lass just a minute ago, yer welcome to bring a friend if it suits ye.”
She hummed in agreement and goodbye as Jamie chuckled once again.
“I’ll leave you to it, off to Inverness I go then. Say hello to yer Ma for me.”
Faith made her way to the counter of the Printshop, two coffees in hand and politely asked for Ian. He soon met her out from behind the counter and thanked her profusely.
“Certainly took yer sweet time,” he teased.
“Well, I had to get Kitty to the coffee shop first.”
“A herculean task, I’m sure.”
She laughed and nodded.
“G’morning Ian, and who might this be?” They turned to see Young Ian’s spitting image standing behind the counter with another, older man.
“Da, this is Faith, Kitty’s friend. We only just met yesterday,” Young Ian introduced. “Faith, this is my Da, Ian Murray the Elder, and the other one is Murtagh Fitzgibbons.”
“Nice to meet you,” Faith nodded to both men and took a step back. “I met your wife this morning, Mr. Murray. You have a lovely home.”
He nodded with a kind, knowing smile. “Thank ye, lass. Say, why don’t you join us for dinner this evening? I’m sure Kitty would be glad for the company.”
“That’s a great idea!” Young Ian exclaimed.
Faith nodded, beaming. “Alright, I’d love to. Thanks so much!”
“Och, ye’ll love my Ma’s cooking, Faith, she makes this great tarts--”
The exchange between the young people soon drowned out as Murtagh and Ian exchanged knowing glances. They quickly excused themselves into Murtagh’s office around the corner.
“Do ye think-” started Ian.
“How can this be-” Murtagh said at the same time.
“It’s too much of a coincidence.”
“Did Jamie not jus’ stand in this very office no’ even a half-hour ago and show us a picture of his long-lost bairn? Beaming like a star? And then that very lass walks in the door of the shop? Am I goin’ crazy, Ian?”
Ian shook his head. “Like I said, it’s too much of a coincidence. Christ, she was at the house this mornin’, that’s why Jenny was scared beyond her wits.”
“She looks- dinna tell me I’m the only one who noticed.”
“Just like Claire!” they spoke together in unison.
“The eyes, the hair, that’s her bairn, there’s no denying it,” said Murtagh, sitting back in his chair before standing back up again. “I’d better phone Jamie.”
"No!” Ian grabbed his hand as it reached for the telephone. “This situation must be handled delicately, or else we could ruin any chance they have of being a family.” He let go of Murtagh’s hand. “We were both there when it happened, you saw how much it hurt Jamie and Claire when the bairn was taken away from them. And they have waited so long to see her again. Jamie said they didna hear from the lass herself but her wee mother.”
“So, is there no’ a chance the lass is here on puir coincidence? We dinna ken if she’s even aware she’s adopted for Christ-sake.”
“Jesus.” Murtagh swore and sat back in his chair. “What are we going to do?”
“She’s comin’ over for dinner tonight at ours. Jenny and I will talk to her then, see what she kens and what she doesna.”
Murtagh scoffed. “God help the wee lass once Jenny gets ahold of her.”
Ian chuckled. “It’ll be a fair sight better than if we just threw her to her parents without kenning the truth first.”
“Aye, that’s true. Yer plan’s a solid one, Ian. I wish ye luck, and give us a ring when it’s over and the dust has settled.” Murtagh looked away and shook his head, his eyes a million miles away. “Wee Faith, returned to us. I never thought I’d see the day.”
Ian nodded. “Aye, God has given us the chance to mend any broken bonds we had been content to overlook. Let us hope we dinna screw it up again.”
Chapter 5: A Murray Family Dinner
I cannot even begin to say how thankful I am for all the support. I truly didn’t think anyone would read this fic, and I’m so grateful to y'all. Here, the games of near-misses comes to an end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Now, dinna embarrass me, please,” Kitty begged her father as they heard the doorbell ring.
“When have I done that, a nighean?” Ian asked sincerely.
Kitty shivered, remembering Kirk McDougal in school and how she couldn’t look him in the eye for weeks after he had picked her up for a date and met her father. She didn’t answer and instead opened the door for her friend to come in.
“Miss me?” Faith asked with a quick hug. Kitty wasn’t usually one for hugs, but she also didn’t usually meet someone she got on with so well in such a short time.
“No’ a chance.” They shared a laugh. “C’mon then, I’ll introduce ye to my siblings.”
“Oh, how many do you have?”
“Besides Ian? Five plus the two in-laws.”
Faith’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline and she shook her head. “Jeez. Seven of you?”
“Aye, don’t ye have any siblings?”
Faith shook her head, chewing on her lip. “My parents couldn’t have kids. I’m adopted and I don’t have any siblings.”
Kitty breezed past the potential minefield of a topic with ease. “Oh, well, you’re in for quite the shock, lass.” She led Faith from the foyer into the sitting room where most of the family was.
“Everyone!” Kitty announced and they all looked up. “This is my friend, Faith. Faith, this is everyone.”
The small room barely had an open seat with all of the Murrays inside and Faith’s eyes were wide. A chorus of greetings assaulted her ears. “Hello,” she answered back, suddenly a little shy.
Kitty took the initiative. “Over there is my older brother Jamie and Joan and o’course their wean, Henry. The auld coot next to them is Paul-”
“Och, shut yer gob.”
“-My older sister Maggie’s husband. I think Maggie’s in the kitchen helpin’ Ma, most like.”
“She is, who’s this then?” A short girl, nearly the spitting image of Mrs. Murray stood up to them and sized up Faith.
“This is my baby sister, Janet. Be nice, Janet, wee Faith here is my friend.”
“I’m always nice, how dare ye, Kitty-”
“Anyway, the twins are over yonder, Caity and Mike. And of course ye already ken Ian.”
Faith knocked shoulders with the boy as Kitty spoke and he greeted her warmly.
“So where do you fall in the lineup?” Faith asked.
“He’s the youngest.” They turned to see Ian the Elder sitting in a chair by the TV. “Glad ye could make it, Faith. We’ve been expecting ye.”
Faith smiled and nodded. “I wish I’d known there were going to be so many people, I’d hate to saddle you with one more mouth to feed.”
He waved away the notion. “Nonsense, yer welcome anytime in our house, at our table, to our food.”
His wife walked out of the kitchen just now with a young woman following behind her—Maggie, Faith presumed. Mrs. Murray took one look at Faith and turned up her nose. “Nicetoseeyou,” she said quickly as she turned away from the visitor. “Alright you lot,” she said to the army of Murrays now standing at attention to their mother. “I am in need of some good mushrooms for tonight’s meal. Go on now inta the forest and get some.”
There was a chorus of protestation by most of the older siblings before Jenny turned her eye on them. “I willna ask again. Ye know what ta do. And I hope those of ye who have wandered away from yer dear parents havena forgotten where ta look.”
“C’mon, Faith, I ken the perfect spot,” Kitty said taking Faith’s arm.
“She can stay here with me and yer father, Kitty. The forest isna place for those who dinna ken it.” Jenny crossed her arms over her chest and Kitty sighed.
“Dinna listen to anything my Da says, promise?” Kitty whispers.
“I promise, hurry back.” Faith took a seat by Ian as the siblings filed out the back door.
“Some tea while we wait?” Jenny asked. “How d’ye take it, Faith?” She stopped a moment. “Ye do take tea, I assume?”
Faith nodded. “I’ll just take a little milk if that’s alright.”
Jenny set back into the kitchen to get the tea and Faith folded her hands in her lap.
“Now, Faith, what brings ye to these parts of the Highlands?” Ian asked, stretching out his good leg.
Faith colored at those words and looked down. “Eh, my family’s from around here.”
“Ye don’t say. Who are they?”
She fidgeted in her seat. “The McTavishes, Emma and Graham.”
“I canna say as I recall them living around here, and I’ve lived here all my life. What was yer Ma’s maiden name?”
“MacKenzie, I believe.”
“Ah, yes, plenty of them around these parts.” Ian nodded thoughtfully and thanked his wife as she set the tea before them. “Say, Jenny, ye ken anything about a Graham McTavish or an Emma MacKenzie?”
“Och, ye mean besides me own mother being a MacKenzie, I dinna ken anyone named Emma, though.”
“Fancy that, Faith.” Ian stared right into her eyes, right into her very soul. “Who’da thought we might be related .”
She felt her skin flush and her heart beat wildly.
“Something the matter, lass?”
She shook her head. “I don’t- I- how did you know?”
Jenny groaned a very Scottish groan. “Och, how could we not have. For Christ-sake, yer the spitting image of yer Ma.” She stirred her tea angrily. “And just where was yer heid at, lass? Comin’ here without tellin’ a soul who ye were and creepin’ about with my daughter?”
Faith’s face had turned very red and she shook her head. “I wasn’t creeping, Mrs. Murray. I- I- please you have to understand.”
“By all means.” She threw the spoon on the table with a clang. “Explain yourself!”
Faith took a deep breath and gripped the arm-rests of the chair.
“I’ve always been a wanderer, never really belonging anywhere. I was a Brit growing up in Maine until I went to North Carolina for university and I traveled. Then I was in medical school in Boston, closer to my Mom than I had been in years but I still didn’t feel like I had a home. So I tried to give back to the world in MSF and I kept traveling, looking for my place.” She chewed on her lip. “I always knew I was adopted, my parents never hid it from me. But I never thought I’d meet my real parents and I honestly thought I didn’t care. And then, earlier this week while I was visiting some friends in London before going home for good, I get this call from my Mom. She got an email from someone claiming to be my real mother.” Faith closed her eyes tight and shook her head, collecting herself.
“She asked if it was ok that she respond and send some pictures of me: my childhood and school pictures, some pictures from my travels and things like that. I was in shock, I just said yes. For my whole life, I hadn’t thought of my real parents as anything more than a dream, nothing tangible. And here I am, on the same island as them, with the name of the village they live in. Before I’d even really considered what I was doing, I’d hopped on a train and was heading up. It wasn’t until I got to the village that I realized how completely insane this whole idea was and that I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. But then I met Kitty and Ian and...Bree and Roger. And I didn’t know who they were when I met them, you have to believe me. And when I did find out, I didn’t know how to tell them and I didn’t want to because finally-... Finally I’d felt like I’d found my place, like I’d found my family.” She was crying now, tears streaming from her amber eyes. “This whole thing was just a big misunderstanding and I shouldn’t have come here, I’m so sor-”
Before she could finish her apology, Jenny grabbed Faith by the shoulders and enveloped her in a hug, tears running down her own face. She stroked the girl’s hair as she cried and whispered to her. “Shh, it’s alright, it’s alright. Ye’re clearly yer da’s daughter as well as yer mam’s, coming up here without a second thought. I’d expect nothing less of a Fraser looking for her family. Shh, shh, it’s alright now.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Murray,” Faith gasped in between her tears.
“Now, enough of that. Ye’re forgiven, a nighean.” She pulled back from the hug to wipe the tears from Faith’s face. “And ye’re to call me Aunt Jenny, ye hear me?”
Faith nodded emphatically. “Yes, Aunt Jenny.”
“And ye’re to stay the night at ours.”
“But-” She began to protest but closed her mouth with the look given her. “Yes Aunt Jenny.”
“Welcome home, Faith.” She looked to see Ian, also with tears in his eyes. She gave him a hug too and he patted her back. “There’s nothing to worry about now. We’ll arrange everything with yer parents about a proper greeting.”
Faith pulled back, face white. “I- are you sure?”
He nodded. “Jamie and Claire’ll be off work tomorrow to prepare for the reunion on Saturday. We’ll see about talking to them tomorrow.”
“Aye, the first ever Fraser-Murray Family Reunion this Saturday, put up by yer parents up at Lallybroch.” He chuckled. “Ye picked a fair time to show up, eh?”
“They won’t be- will they-”
“Dinna be afraid, Faith. They won’t be cross wi’ ye. If anything, they’ll be mad with joy.”
The door to the outside opened and a storm of feet brought the Murray clan back in.
“Well Ma, if this isn’t enough mushrooms from now until the end of the world, I dinna ken what to tell ye.” They turned to see Kitty holding up a bag of mushrooms cleaned off with the garden hose. She stopped when she saw Faith, eyes red from crying. She whirled on her father. “Da, what the he-, och what are ye doin’ upsetting my friend? I told ye not to say anything funny to her and-”
Faith let out a laugh and placed a hand on Kitty’s shoulder. “Kitty, Kitty, please, can we talk? I’ve got something I want- no, something I need to tell you.”
“Bree? Roger? Will you come and sit down with us?” Claire’s voice was strong and Jamie’s hand felt heavy and safe in her’s as the two young people stopped on their way to the door.
Bree overlooked the scene: her parents seated side-by-side and her younger brother scowling and arms crossed sitting on the opposite couch. She hoped this wasn’t a “lecture William” session. Fergus’s smile was reassuring however, with Marsali sitting next to him on the couch adjacent to Claire and Jamie.
“Is it important, Mama? Roger and I were about to meet Kitty and Ian at the pub,” Bree asked, glancing at Roger from the corner of her eye.
“Actually it is rather important. Please sit down.” Claire gestured to the couch. Bree and Roger sat next to William, waiting on edge and expectantly.
Clarie took a breath. “Did you want to-?” She asked Jamie but he shook his head. “Alright, as you all know, I’m sure. Your father and I-...after we got married, we made some less than savory acquaintances and some bad choices to go along with those.”
“The Independence Movement is a noble choice to consider, just to be clear,” Jamie clarified. “But yer Mam and I, weel, we went about it the wrong way.”
“We were young, and didn’t fully understand what we were getting ourselves into. And we paid the price for it.” She cleared her throat. “As you know, we’d had another child, a girl. But your father was in prison and I-” She swallowed the tears down again. “I wasn’t dealing with it well, and was in a hospital for psychiatric care.”
Jamie gripped her shoulder again and nodded to her that he would take the lead. “Yer sister was placed with another family. We were told it would be temporary, but-” He smiled sadly. “It turned out not to be the case. Bree would have been too young to remember. Fergus, you might.”
Fergus looked pensive as he chewed on his thoughts. “Yes, I recall you trying to get her back when I first came here with you.” He shook his head. “I had forgotten, in all honesty. I never think of it.” Marsali rubbed his shoulder and he patted her leg.
Claire had composed herself and shook her head. “You are probably wondering why we’re airing out all of this dirty laundry right now.”
The group nodded curiously.
“The family that adopted your sister moved to America when she was a child. I’ve only just this week been able to contact the mother and I’ve received some news and some pictures about her. And if you would like to know about them, about her, we would like to share them with you.”
Claire opened the laptop on her lap, waiting a moment.
“Does this mean she’ll be visiting?” William asked, arms still crossed, but no longer scowling.
“It doesna mean anything yet, mo bhalach,” Jamie said with a smile. “We havena even heard from yer sister, Faith, yet. She’s traveling at the current moment.”
“Yes, from what we’ve heard, it would seem she’s quite the globetrotter.” Claire sounded very proud but then frowned. “We want to make sure that you know that no matter what happens with Faith, that she is not replacing any of you. There is plenty of love to go around.”
Bree nodded and glanced at Roger. William stood and went over to sit beside his mother. Fergus and Marsali gathered beside them to peer at the computer screen. Claire maneuvered it to be more visible and pointed to the screen.
“Look, there’s her as a teen, and as a baby. This is her in South Africa, and I think this one is the most recent-”
“She’s got a lot of tattoos,” William commented.
“You’re still not getting one.” Jamie’s voice was firm, but when he looked back to the pictures, his smile was one of a proud father.
“I like that sweater,” Marsali commented, pointing at the screen. “D’ye think ye could ask where she got it?”
Claire nodded. “Absolutely, we’ll have to.”
“A right braw lass, it looks. I’d love to meet her.” Marsali nodded as she spoke.
Roger squeezed Bree’s hand and she looked back up at him.
“You alright?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Bree said. “It’s just- This isn’t what I had been expecting to hear today.”
“Take your time. It’s alright.”
“What about you? How are you taking it?”
Roger shrugged. “I must admit that I hadna been expecting it either. But it is exciting news, is it no’? Regardless of where she comes from, she is yer blood, and she’s alive and safe.”
Bree looked over at her family glued to the computer.
“You go. Tell me if she looks nice.”
Roger chuckled and pecked her cheek before moving behind the couch where Claire sat to see the pictures. He smiled and looked back up to Bree.
“She’s verra cute.” Bree’s jaw dropped. “Well, when she was a wean, anyway.”
“That’s not funny.”
Roger shook his head with a smile. “She quite favors you, doesn’t she, Claire?”
Claire nodded. “And a doctor too. This one is from her time with Doctors Without Borders.”
Roger’s eyes went wide and his face turned white. “Bree, Bree-” he called out.
“What- what is it?” She jumped up.
“You have to come see this!”
The sun was setting behind the trees at the edge of the field behind the Murray house, giving the whole area an almost unearthly look. After a hearty dinner and much connecting as a family, a game of football was suggested. The old ball was dug out of a closet and inflated. Two garden chairs, a broken off broomstick stuck into the ground, and an old car tire stood for goal posts. Brown, gold, and red hair flew in the wind as the cousins ran through the last ethereal haze of sunshine. Faith couldn’t even remember what team she was on or what the score was or which goal she was even kicking into. But none of that mattered. Her dark brown hair bounced in thick curls behind her as she ran to the goal away from her shouting cousins--so caught up in that word ( Cousins, plural, and not to mention who they were and how much she already loved them) that no one even noticed the commotion happening indoors.
“C’mon inside, the lot of ye, dessert is ready,” Ian the Elder called out from the low wall separating the field from the Murray’s backyard. Faith let the laugh in her breath play out as she fell next to Kitty behind Ian and Mike. She peeked at the girl beside her, still fearful of any animosity she was harboring. Faith’s look was greeted with a wide smile and an arm slung over her shoulders.
“Ma should be making her famous tarts,” Kitty told her. “Ye’ll love it.”
“I’ll have to get the recipe.” She wrapped her own arm around Kitty’s middle, hand placed on the opposite shoulder.
“Aye. And-” Kitty bit her lip. “Ye’ll have to come visit me, in Glasgow. My boyfriend, Geordie, he couldna come ‘cause of work. But he’d love to meet ye. I can show ye all my favorite shops and we can go see a show.”
Faith nodded. “I’d love that, Kitty.” She wasn’t sure when or how, but she would see to it that she went.
The clan piled their way into the house, suddenly stopping. Kitty frowned as everyone looked back at Faith.
“What is it now? I need to eat some tarts!” She stood on her toes to see over the heads of her siblings and her eyes went wide. She grabbed Faith’s arms. “Faith- it’s-”
Faith pushed forward, despite Kitty’s hand, making her way to the front of the pack. She let out the breath she was holding, and regarded the group in front of her. Three women, four men. She had never seen them altogether in person before, but she knew them.
“Hello,” she said, folding her hands over her stomach. “My name is Faith. I’m your daughter.”
The jig is up.
Chapter 6: Near Miss
Thank you so much for being patient for this chapter. In a way, it is both the end of this story and the beginning. I hope it holds up.
I hadn't realized until after I had published on Monday, but the lovely Librarian Julia from @thelallybrochlibrary on Tumblr reviewed this fic for their Monday recommendations. If you discovered this story from them, welcome. I hope you enjoy. If you haven't seen the review and you would like to, its linked in the 5th chapter of RdF on Tumblr or through this link: https://thelallybrochlibrary.tumblr.com/post/186139057181/librarians-choice-weekly-fics-happy-monday-all
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hello. My name is Faith. I’m your daughter.”
The words hung over the group for a moment before Bree stepped forward.
“How long did you know?” she asked, much more accusatory than she meant it.
“Since the clinic.” Faith’s answer was simple, factual, and her face betrayed no emotion.
“And when exactly were you planning on telling us?” Bree’s hands were in fists at her sides, and her face was red.
Faith smiled a small smile. “That would imply that any of this was planned.” She shook her head. “Tomorrow. Aunt Jenny and Uncle Ian said they would arrange an introduction.”
“Already on the ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ are you?”
“They insisted.” Faith folded her arms over her chest and took a step forward. “Bree-...I’m sorry I didn’t tell you myself. I wanted to. I was going to. You have to believe me.” She took another step forward and put out her hand to shake. “It just didn’t seem like a good thing to blurt out in the clinic’s lobby, or while we were getting really drunk.” Her smile was genuine and Bree looked at her hand skeptically.
“If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t know about you either. Or about Kitty or Ian or anything. All of this has happened so fast.”
Bree took her hand to shake finally. But when Faith went to pull away, Bree pulled back and into a small hug. Faith patted her back and moved to Roger, who was now beside Bree. He opened up his arm for a side-hug.
“Gave us a proper fright, ye did,” he said. “Claire and Jamie didna believe us at first that we had seen ye in the village. I was beginning to think myself daft, but it was too much of a coincidence.”
“Sorry about that.”
He waved his hand. “Dinna fash.”
Bree motioned to her other siblings. “This is Fergus and Marsali. Fergus is our brother, he’s originally from France..”
Faith gave Marsali a hug. (“I’ve a question to ask ye about a certain sweater ye own, but it can wait.”) and shook Fergus’s hand.
“Bonsoir, comment ça va?”
Fergus smiled at the sound of his mother tongue “Bonsoir, ça va très bien. Je suis très contente que tu es ici.”
“And this is William, our other brother.” Faith nodded and stuck out her hand to shake. He looked at her skeptically before shaking her hand.
“I dinna ken what to say to ye,” he admitted.
She let out a laugh. “You don’t have to say anything. It’s good to meet you.”
She looked past them all to the other two adults in the room. They had respectfully kept their distance while the young people made their introductions, but now the entire mood in the room was different. Faith took a few tentative steps towards them. She searched their faces. Jamie’s was a stone wall as always--with maybe a hint of tears in the corner of his eye--but Claire’s eyes were swimming with turmoil. The only thing seemingly keeping her together was her husband’s hand on her shoulder.
“I was in your clinic yesterday,” Faith finally said to Claire.
“Yes, I heard. Whatever for?” Her voice was strained but clear.
Faith’s amber eyes flicked behind her for a moment. She could almost hear Ian sweating from across the room. “Just a little accident was all. Barely a bruise, I’ve thick skin though.” She patted her stomach.
Claire reached out a shaking hand to touch her face, lip quivering. Faith leaned into the touch as her hand came up to envelope Claire’s.
“That’s exactly something your father would say.” Her movements were very sudden as she pulled Faith into a bone-crushing hug, her sobs muffled by Faith’s shoulder.
“It’s alright, Mom, don’t worry about it.”
“Wha- what did you say?” Claire pulled back slightly.
“It’s alright, you don’t have to cry.”
“No, you- you called me ‘Mom.’” Her lip quivered.
“Of course, is that alright?”
Her only answer was to pull Faith back for another hug with even louder sobs. Faith hoped that was a yes and let a few tears fall from her own eyes.
It felt an eternity before the two women pulled away. Claire wiped her eyes as she straightened Faith’s shirt and fussed with her hair, seemingly unable to stop touching her. Faith smiled and turned her attention to the large man standing there.
“Hello,” she said quietly.
He smiled then. “Hello, mo nighean.”
“You’re a lot bigger than I had imagined.”
He let out a laugh as a tear slipped from his eye and he reached out to cup her cheek with one hand.
“I could say the same for ye. For years I’d never thought of you more than as my babe, ye ken?”
“How big was I when you last saw me?”
Jamie’s smile was so very sad. “I never saw ye. I was in prison when ye were born and ye were taken from us before I was released. I never held ye, nor saw yer bonny face.” His other hand came to her other cheek and he wiped the tears that spilled away with his thumbs.
“You can hold me now,” Faith said as she launched herself into his arms. Jamie gripped her tightly and lifted her up off the ground so her feet dangled.
He whispered to her through his tears as she wept into his shoulder. Claire came up behind Faith and held her, pulling back only slightly so Jamie could set her down and they could both hug her. Everyone who had been standing, watching, and wiping their own tears came forward to embrace each other and their long-lost cousin.
Tarts were had by all and stories were swapped, and the night ended by finishing the game of football. The sun was just about set, but the newly arrived Frasers joined the teams. The parents held back along with Marsali and Joan, the former being pregnant and the latter to stay with her child. Jamie held Claire close to him as they watched their children chase each other and laugh.
“She’s real, Jamie,” Claire whispered to him, as if she spoke too loud, Faith would disappear with the setting sun.
“Aye, Sassenach. Just as beautiful and brilliant as her mother.”
Claire nodded, smiling but not taking her eyes off the young woman. Faith ran with the ball with Kitty piggy-backing on her, scoring a goal with a laugh at Fergus, who had tried to take the ball from her at the last minute. “And just as braw as her father.”
Jamie grimaced. “God help the puir lass.”
Claire laughed. Jenny and Ian came over to join them. She gave Claire a hug and rubbed her back.
“I’m so happy for ye, my dear. I canna even imagine what this has been like for ye. And here ye are, a family united.”
Claire nodded as she looked back. “I suppose. Though, nothing has been decided yet. She still lives in America and has to leave eventually-”
“Not right now, Sassenach,” Jamie soothed as he held her close once again. “Just let this moment be.”
At the end of the night, Faith decided to go to Lallybroch with her family for the night since there were more rooms available. The drive home was quiet. Faith was squeezed between Willie and Roger in the backseat but claimed she didn’t mind it. At the house, Willie showed her to a room down the hall from his.
“I changed the sheets myself,” he told her, lingering at the door as she settled herself into the room.
She nodded and thanked him.
“I’ll leave ye to it then.” He turned to go.
“Willie,” she called out to stop him. He turned back. “Did you- I mean, did you know about me?”
He looked down and back up. “I knew I had an older sister whom I had never met. I knew about Ma and Da’s past. But, until this afternoon, I had never once really thought about ye.”
She nodded, sitting back on the bed.
“Did ye know about me?”
She shook her head. “Like you said, I never once really thought about where I’d come from. And here I am.”
“Here ye are.” Willie nodded. “Are ye gonna stay?”
She chewed her lip. “I don’t know.”
“So ye’ll just show up out of the blue and leave again?”
“That’s hardly fair!” Faith furrowed her brow. “I found out about all of this three days ago, Willie. I can’t make big decisions like that so soon.”
“But ye’ll burden Ma and Da with yer presence in that time.”
“They’re the one’s that reached out to me!”
“Ye didna have to come!” They both stood, red-faced. Willie’s breathing was heavy as he turned around and stalked out. Faith crossed her arms over her chest and sat back on the bed.
She changed and slid into the bed, checking the time. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon in Portland.
The ringing in her ears was heavy and her hand shook on the phone in her ear.
“Tha gaol agam ort air mam mam.”
“Ah, a nighean, have ye been taking pictures like I asked?”
“Yes mom, of course. Mom, I- you know about the email you got?”
“From yer mam? Aye.”
“Well, I kind of, sort of, may have gone up to see them.”
“Aye mam, I did.”
“A nighean, what were ye thinking? What would yer father say?”
“I know, I know, and I should’ve talked with you about it, but I- I had to go, you wouldn’t understand.”
She heard a sigh over the phone and bit her lip. “Did ye meet with them then? How did it go?”
“Ok. I met my cousins, they’re really nice. I’ll send you pictures. My parents seem really nice, they were happy to see me. I just-” Faith paused.
“What is it?”
“I shouldn’t have come, mam. This was a mistake.”
“Ye said things went well, did ye no’?”
“Yes, but-” Faith sighed in frustration. “They’re asking me if I’m staying and all these questions about what I’ll do from here. And I didn’t even know what I was going to do before all of this. And now-...now I just don’t know.”
Her mom sighed again over the phone. “We shoulda stayed in Scotland, I told yer father it would be better to keep ye near yer roots but he insisted and-”
“It isn’t that, Mam. I feel more or less at peace with that. I just-...”
“What is it, Faith?”
“I feel at home here, and I wanna stay forever. You’ve never seen such a bonny place in your life, Mam. And my family loves me, my Aunt threatened to kill me and then she made these amazing tarts and I’ve gotten to really know my cousin, Kitty. But I know I shouldn’t stay.”
“Ye dinna have to tell me how gorgeous the Highlands are, young lady. Ye ken I ken very well-”
“-That’s alright. And second, who says ye canna stay there?”
“I can’t just be picking up and settling down in the first place that strikes my fancy?”
“Ye dinna have to make the decision today. Sleep on it, come back home if ye’re so set on not falling in love with the place, and ye can always go back can ye no’?”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Ye dinna want to make any decision quickly, not even the one to leave. Goodnight, tha gaol agam ort, a nighean.”
Faith smiled and traced the tattoo on her bicep. “Tha gaol agam ort mam.”
There is one more chapter left, but I would like to continue this story, perhaps through another arc or ficlets (or both). Let me know if you would like that and what stories you might want told after this.
And also, if you like my writing, please consider buying me a coffee through ko-fi. I'm a student with very little financial aid and am also studying abroad this Fall so every dollar counts. I really enjoy writing fics and any support would be welcome! You can donate through https://ko-fi.com/kisstheprincessofpurewhite Thanks again for everything!
Chapter 7: Better Late than Never
Typically I reply to all the comments of the previous chapter before I post, but a majority of them pertain to information in this chapter. So I decided to let it speak for itself. Thank you to everyone who commented, I read and appreciate every single one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Claire woke earlier in the morning than usual. She went about her routine as she would any other day, to be sure. Today was going to be a long day of preparation for the Reunion the next day. There was the tent to put up and food to cook, decoration and set up. She was definitely going to need some coffee.
She made her way down the stairs and towards the kitchen. She noticed voices and the smell of eggs and coffee wafting through the air from the open door. She smiled and stepped over the threshold to witness a scene that made tears well up in her eyes.
“And he was sore because you did so well?” Her husband was at the stove, cooking, his whole body was turned towards the person seated on the counter near him.
Faith’s eyes sparkled and the sunlight beamed through the window beside her. Her dark brown, curly hair was piled on-top of her head and she wore earrings with a white peasant blouse and jean shorts. She seemed to positively radiate light, banishing the shadows from her perch next to the sink.
She nodded to Jamie’s question. “I became president of the chess club when I was a senior, and we ended up going to States. Which, who’s to say wouldn’t’ve happened if he hadn’t taught me, but I wouldn’t have gone, and that’s the important part, I think.”
Jamie nodded, sliding the omelet onto a plate and handing it out to her. “No doubt.”
A small sound came from Claire’s throat, making them both look up to see her standing in the doorway, staring at them. She covered her mouth and shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Don’t get up, just stay there.”
Her husband smiled at her and nodded. “I’ll make ye an egg, Sassenach, and ye can sit with wee Faith and let her regale ye with stories of her youth.” Jamie seemed to have grown a foot taller, as if the weight of the last few weeks had rolled off him in the night.
The two women sat at the table as Jamie whistled a tune to the sound which Claire was sure was supposed to be “Garden Grow” but sounded more like a very confused bird. She smiled.
“So, tell me, what were you doing in London?” She asked Faith, bringing the young woman out of her thoughts.
She smiled at Claire. “I have some friends living there, Denny Hunter and I went to medical school together.”
Claire smiled. “Where did you go for medical school?”
“I went to Appalachia State in North Carolina for my pre-med, but then Harvard for med school.”
Claire smiled. “What did you specialize in?”
“General Surgery, I graduated a little over a year ago.”
They chatted very broadly for a few minutes. Faith told her parents about growing up in Maine and about her travels. Eventually, after their breakfast was complete, they ran into a lull in the conversation. Claire eyed her daughter as she chewed her lip. Jamie had always teased Claire for her glass face, and she finally knew the true meaning of that statement. It was clear that Faith had only one question on her mind: how did such a loving and supporting family have a child taken away from them? And when Claire asked, her suspicion turned out to be true.
“I know you probably think I’ll be upset by whatever you tell me,” Faith said. “But I’d like to know all the same.”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment and Faith held her breath.
“Do you want to go first or should I?” Claire asked.
“I’ll go first.” Jamie cleared his throat. “Yer mam and I met at University, at St. Andrews. At the time we were both very involved with the Scottish Independence Movement-” With this, Jamie paused a moment, gathering his words.
“A cause we both support to this day,” Claire stepped in.
“O’ course, o’ course. Well, yer mam and I, we got married just a year later. We were verra young, Faith, verra young. In our movement, ye have to understand, we met some of the best men and women to have ever walked this earth. But there were some-- let’s say, not quite as bright as the rest.” The tone of his voice made Faith’s heart skip a beat. “When yer mam was pregnant with ye, I attended a protest in Edinburgh that went verra badly. The police came, and a woman was trampled to death in the ensuing riot.” Bree held back her gasp as she pressed further against the wall. “I was arrested, and tried under conspiracy to commit terrorism.”
“But you’re not a terrorist!” Faith insisted.
“Aye, a leannan.” There was a smile in his voice and Faith bit her lip. “The charge was reduced, but I still went to prison. And yer mam-...”
“I-” Claire’s voice cut through Jamie’s somber words but then she cut herself off. “You have to understand, Faith, that I was very young and very pregnant, and, quite suddenly, very alone. They investigated all of us, and I was very scared.” She took another breath. “I started to have problems with my pregnancy on top of all this stress, and I had to be placed in the hospital.” She took a deep breath as if preparing herself for the next bit. “During your birth, there were many complications, and the doctors were very concerned that you wouldn’t survive. They kept you under observation as we both recovered, but I wasn’t allowed to see you. It was this that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My husband was in jail, as were most of my close friends, the police were at my home, I hadn’t slept in my own bed in weeks, I almost died in childbirth on top of the pregnancy hormones and, to top it all off, I couldn’t even see my newborn daughter. I had a complete mental breakdown and your aunt and uncle checked me into a mental hospital.”
Jamie hand embraced Claire’s and she smiled sadly at him as she sniffed.
“And they took me away?” Faith asked.
Jamie nodded. “Ye were placed with the McTavishes while yer mam was recovering. I was released after a year and we fought for the next several years to get ye back, but- ‘twas not to be. The crime of association cost us everything but each other.” Jamie sighed and held his wife closer. Faith reached out and took his hand. He smiled at her. “But, ‘twas not long after that, Fergus came to us, needing a home, and we had Brianna and William. And we were able to restore my father’s old home, Lallybroch. Life went on, though a small piece of us was missing until now.” He squeezed her hand and she smiled back at him.
“Yes, we have so much,” Claire said. “But what we lost-...it wasn’t worth it, in the end. Faith, you are our blood, but not our daughter. What we could’ve had is gone.”
Faith reached out her other hand to take Claire’s. “I cannot say what could have been, and there isn’t a lot of use for it.” She took Claire’s hand in both of hers and gripped it tightly. “I am here now, I am alive, I am so glad to know you, and I am thankful for everything you have done for me. I will be here for you all, no matter what. I know I haven’t been here long. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that this is where I belong.”
Brianna stepped away from the kitchen doorway and went back up to her room. Roger was still on the phone in the hallway with the head professor. She touched his shoulder on the way back to her bed. Her parents had never kept the story from the children of what happened to them in their youth, but she had never heard it in such detail before. How much pain had they carried all these years and never spoke of?
It was 8:30 am and Bree was already exhausted. She hadn’t been able to sleep well after the events of the day before, and then Roger was woken up by a call from the lead professor on his team. It was looking like he would have to go home early. There was so much on her mind and she just wanted a damn cup of coffee for heaven’s sake. What she’d gotten was a lot more information than she was sure her parents wanted her to hear.
A part of her wanted to be mad at Faith, blame her for disrupting the status quo, but she couldn’t find it in her to do so. What would she have done in her shoes? Probably something much dafter, Bree thought ruefully to herself.
“Did ye get some breakfast?” Roger asked, poking his head into the door. Bree shook her head. “Well, best head down, don’t you think? Lots to do today so I hear.”
‘“Good morning to you all,” Jamie began and there was a chorus of greetings in response. “It is a great honor to have ye all here today at what will hopefully be the First Annual Fraser-Murray Reunion at Lallybroch.” He paused for applause and cheering. “As many of ye know, it has been a dream of our family’s to restore our ancestral home of Broch Turach, more affectionately known as Lallybroch, to its former glory. I stand here today, proud to announce that this goal, which has been a dream of my father, and his mother before him, has been completed.” Another round of cheering and whooping accompanied this and Jamie himself grinned at the smiling faces before him. “Yes, it is a very great honor to stand here today, to say those words, and to welcome my family home.” He paused a moment.
“Though most of the hard labor has been completed, there is still much work to be done in regards to upkeep and running of this once mighty estate. This task is not something one person can bear, but I have every faith that we can bear it, together.” His eyes sought out his wife and each one of his children as he spoke. “Today, however, we celebrate our success, our bond, and the chance to be a whole family, for the first time in history.” His voice broke at the end but he swallowed and soon recovered, wiping his nose quickly on his sleeve. “I would like to propose a toast-” A cacophony of sounds occurred as everyone stood and raised their glasses with Jamie. “-to Lallybroch and to Family.”
“To Lallybroch and to Family,” everyone echoed and fell silent as they drank.
“Let the festivities begin!”
A cheer erupted. Kitty wrapped an arm around Faith and the two girls embraced. She held up her glass of Mrs. Bug’s famous lemonade and cleared her throat. “To you, Faith, and the long winding journey ye took to get here. Better late than never.”
Faith laughed and linked her arm through her cousin’s, drinking from her own glass.
Though the party was to celebrate Lallybroch and the family, most of the activities centered around Faith. Everyone wanted to talk to her, but most just settled on being near her. She never faltered under the attention she was receiving, only showed love to everyone.
She met Murtagh properly, along with his fiance, Jocasta--who embraced Faith and promised to tell her all about the MacKenzies and the Frasers at a later time. Murtagh was clutching a package that was hastily wrapped in Christmas paper and presented it to Faith. She thanked him and grinned at the scrawled
“Welcome home, Faith” on the front as she undid the ribbon. Inside the package was a knitted blanket of forest green. It smelled freshly washed, but was very old, from what Faith could tell.
“I made that blanket with my own two hands,” Murtagh told her, jabbing the yarn with his fingers. “As I did for all of yer parent’s bairns afore they were born. Never got the chance to give it to ye, and I guess I could’ve given it to yer sister, but, it didna feel right to give a bairn a blanket meant for another child.” He shrugged. “Must’ve been intuition, for I’m giving it to ye now. ‘Tis a wee bit small- oh!” Murtagh gasped as the young woman threw her full weight against him in a tight hug. “There, there now, lass,” he said as she sobbed into his shoulder.
“Thank you.” The words were muffled by his shoulder but they made him smile all the same.
There were games to play and food to eat. As the day turned into night, the young people had all gathered at a table and were talking and laughing. After a song from Young Jamie (who was about one whisky away from proper drunk), Young Ian asked Faith about her tattoos. With a wary eye to the older people not far away, Faith stripped off her flannel shirt to stand in her tank top, exposing most of her tattoos.
“I got each of them after something important in my life,” she explained, pointing to some writing on her bicep. “My mom used to always write me notes on my lunch box, so I got it tattooed. ‘Tha gaol agam ort, a nighean.’ The thistle is for my dad.” She pulled the neck of the garment down to expose the single stalk of thistle placed right over her heart. “He died of cancer five years ago. The foxglove is a matching one I got with a girl in MSF in South Africa. The first one I got when I applied to school when I was 17,” She pointed to caduceus on her opposite shoulder. “I was really nervous about getting it.”
“Scared it would hurt?” Ian asked and Faith shook her head.
“Nah, I can stand pain no problem. I was worried because I was still waiting to hear if I’d gotten into the pre-med program, and if I hadn’t then it would’ve been very embarrassing for me.” There was a laugh as Faith put her shirt back on and sat down.
“Were you thinking of getting one, Ian?” she asked.
Ian’s ears turned pink but he nodded. “Aye.” He fished his phone out of his pocket and pulled up a picture to show Faith. “I was thinking of getting this.”
“Did you draw this?” Faith asked. “Kitty, look at this.” She took Ian’s phone to show it to Kitty beside her. Kitty looked to see a minimalistic drawing of purple heather with the words “Je suis prest” in black in.
“Prêt is spelled wrong though, just so you know, before you get that on you.”
Ian let out a laugh. “Ye dinna ken yer own family motto, lass. That’s how it’s supposed to be spelled.”
“What?” Faith grabbed the phone back from Kitty to look back at it again. She stared at it for a long while, before giving it back to Ian.”
“Who were you planning on getting it from?”
“There’s a lad in the village who says he can do it for me.”
“Do you mind if I get it too?”
Ian’s eyes lit up and he nodded ecstatically.
“Me too?” Kitty asked.
“Oh, I dinna ken, Kitty-”
“Och, shut up, I’m getting it and that’s that.”
Bree sat forward in her seat and held out her hand. “Let me see it.” Ian passed her the phone and she scrutinized the drawing. “I think I’ll get it to.”
At Bree’s approval, most of the younger generation all had a look at the drawing and decided to get it done as well. Even Jamie, who had hitherto been unapproving of tattoos said he would be willing to consider it, but that Willie was not allowed to get one until he was 18. They made a plan to go the next day to Ian’s friend and see about getting the tattoos done.
Claire stayed out of the discussion mostly. She didn’t feel comfortable butting in on the young people’s plans and passed on the opportunity to get a tattoo. She smiled as Faith sat beside her and brushed their shoulders together.
“Mam,” Faith said, softly.
“What is it, my darling?” She pushed a bit of hair out of her daughter’s face and tucked it behind her ear.
“I’d like to get a tattoo for you, if that’s alright.” Claire blinked a bit and nodded.
“What did you have in mind?”
“Well, actually, I had an idea about matching one for the two of us, if you’d like. ” Claire listened as she told about her plan and agreed with a small tear in her eye.
The next day, she was holding the hand of her husband and watching as Ian’s friend worked. Though the words would now be permanently visible on her skin, the idea had always existed in her heart. When they were done, she placed her right hand, wrist up, next to her daughter’s for a picture.
When placed together, the tattoos made up the first law of thermodynamics: “Nothing is lost...Only changed.”
The idea for Claire and Faith's tattoos is just stolen from one of my friends and her mom who have the same thing but with Beatles lyrics so shout out to them for that. This is the end for this fic, but as I said in the last chapter, I could go on. I'm mulling over and working out a plot for Arc II but that may not be out for a while. In the meantime, look out for ficlets in the next coming weeks. Thank you so much for all your support for this story. I wrote the first draft in late February and was sure it would never be something people would enjoy. I've never been more happy to be wrong. Love you lots, see you in the next one.