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Jamie’s POV

 

Saturday, 21st December 2019

 

Christ, I canna believe that that’s my wee lass Brianna four weeks old today. It’s been such a quick month.

Claire and Brianna were both discharged from the maternity clinic the day after Brianna was born. Both mother and daughter were doing verra well.

I was able to stay with my girls at the clinic the night Brianna was born. The clinic provided a wee pull out bed for me in Claire’s room. If Claire had of had the bairn in the hospital, I would of had to leave after visitin’ hours and returned the next day.

It wasna my plan to stay the night, but when the wee nurse offered, I couldna refuse. It was hard taken wee Faith back to stay with John and Joe after I brought her to the clinic to see her mam and meet her new sister, but we couldna have Faith stayin’ too. She enjoyed her time with her uncles and their wee lad Willie.

I still canna believe that fuckin’ Stephen Bonnet had the nerve to drop in on Claire the second my back was turned. She handled it well though and I couldna be prouder of her. I still canna believe he handed himself in. Claire had told me what he said. Honestly, I can understand him wantin’ to protect Claire fae that mad bastard Randall, but, he went about it in all the wrong ways. The poor lass was terrified. He was basically stalkin’ her and, as much as she hated Frank for what her did to her over the years, she believes he didna deserve what Bonnet did to him. I canna say much on the matter myself. I didna ken the bloke. I only ken what he did to my Sassenach. I’m glad the bastards dead and canna hurt her anymore. Or Faith. But I dinna think it was Bonnets right to do what he did.

With the new bairn arriving and Claire and I just wantin’ to focus on the four of us, we didna attend court for Bonnets sentencing. Louise and Charlie did and phoned us straight away with the outcome. Stephen Bonnet will be safely locked away from my family for the next ten years. Good riddance if ye ask me. Claire and I dinna talk about the guy now. We have our own little family to focus on. That’s what matters.

 

Both Claire and I are continuing with our therapy sessions. I attend every Monday evenin’ after work between six and seven. I have also reduced my workin’ hours to try and be more supportive for Claire. I ken we have friends and family to help, but this is our family. Our bairns. We would rather ask their help if and when we really need it. Claire has one of her therapy sessions on a Monday mornin’ from nine till ten, so I usually start work at noon on a Monday and get home after my session just after seven. Claire’s other session is on a Friday at the same time, so I don’t usually start work on a Friday until noon again, and then come home after work around four or five. Claire has her wee mother and baby group on a Wednesday that she goes to with Brianna. They only went for the first time last week and Claire really seemed to enjoy it. And Faith, she’s growin’ up too quick. We managed to get her in to a wee playgroup on a Wednesday and Thursday. The playgroup is only round the corner from the new house which is really handy. She’s only there for three hours a day, but she’s lovin’ it so far. It’s good to have her mixin’ with weans her own age as well.

 

The plan was to move in to the new house as soon as we left the hospital with the new bairn. Luckily, that’s exactly what happened. A week before the birth, we were worried the house wouldna be ready in time, but thankfully it was. We didna want to take the bairn hame to the house we were living in as there honestly wasna enough room for all of us and all our stuff. PLUS, it’s best to get the bairn in to some sort of routine as quickly as possible. We didna want to unsettle her with movin’ to a new house.

We’ve all settled in quite nicely. Even Faith. The first few nights she kept wakin’ up when she heard the bairn, but she soon got used to it and I dinna ken how, but she’s manages to block out the noise and sleep right through now.

Things are goin’ pretty well. I’ve never been so happy. I never thought I would ever be so happy.

I have a beautiful fiancé and two gorgeous daughters. That’s all I’ll ever need in my life. My wee family.

Now all that’s left to do now is plan the bairns christening. We’re thinking around February/March time.

Claire hasna been to church in quite a wee while. She is catholic like myself, but she basically stopped going to church after she married Frank. I myself go as often as I can. When Claire and I got together and after she finally realised the bairn was hers as much as mine, we began to talk about how we wanted to raise both our children. I explained to Claire that it was important for me to have the bairn christened. Claire was on board, she kens how much my faith means to me. Even if I lost it for a while there.

Claire had went on to explain that Faith hasna been christened. No that I was surprised, I mean, she did say that she hadna been to church since she was married. Even then she married Randall in a registry office in London. I asked Claire the other day, now that Faith’s adoption has been processed and I am now legally Faith Fraser’s father, if we could have Faith baptised as well. I wasna sure how Claire would react to that, but she was verra encouraging. I haven’t gotten around to speaking to Father MacLeod yet, but I hope it won’t be too much of an issue that Claire and I aren’t married yet.

Claire wants to wait a while for the weddin’. She didna want to get married before the bairn came, and then decided she didna want to get married so soon after. As much as I want her as my wife now, I can wait until she’s ready. She seems verra excited to start plannin’ the weddin’ though. Apparently Frank didna give her all that much notice when they were married. This time I am determined that Claire has her dream weddin’. Whatever my Sassenach wants, my Sassenach gets.

 

Well, it’s only four days till Christmas. Our verra first Christmas altogether as a family. Usually I spend Christmas with Jenny, Ian and the bairns in Edinburgh, or we go up to Lallybroch if we can. This year I have decided to spend our first Christmas in our new home, just the four of us. John, Joe and Willie are coming over on Boxing Day for dinner. Then Claire, the bairns and I are heading up to Lallybroch for hogmanay with Jenny, Ian and the bairns. Mrs Fitz will be there too and Murtagh and Jocasta. I just ken it’s gonna be verra special.

Claire and I have already got the majority of the girls’ Christmas presents, but there is still a couple of wee things left to get. I honestly suspect that Claire forgot to mention such items on purpose just to get Charlie and Louise to watch the bairns whilst she and I spend some quality time together. I canna blame the lass though. It feels like ages since we were alone just us two.

That’s why, when it came to picking Claire’s main Christmas present, I decided to book us a wee night away to a wee cottage in Edinburgh. It looks beautiful. Jenny and Ian have already agreed to take the girls for us. I think Claire will worry about leavin’ them for a night, but it has to happen at some point. We need the chance to reconnect. And, if anything happens and Jenny and Ian need us back, we won’t be too far away.

 

“Are you ready to go?” Claire asks from the living room as I tie the laces on my trainers.

“Aye, Dinna fash sassenach, I’m coming.”

“Good. The sooner we leave, the sooner we get back.”

“Where all is it ye need to go anyway?”

“We’ll just head over to Braehead. I’m sure I will get everything we need in the shopping centre.”

“I hope so Sassenach cause it’s the Saturday before Christmas, everywhere is gonna be packed.”

“I know. But, it does mean you and I have a little time to ourselves.” Claire walks over to me and wraps her arms around my neck and kisses me as I wrap my arms around her waist.

“That is true. I might even treat ye to a wee bite to eat if we can find somewhere no too crowded.”

“Hmmm, that sounds lovely. Come on, before Bree wakes up and starts crying blue murder and then Faith begs to come with us.” She kisses me again and takes my hand and leads me out the front door to the car.

 

The shopping centre was busy, but not as busy as I expected. We picked up a couple of things from the Disney store for the lassies Christmas and Claire also spent a good hour browsing round a candle store.

Now it’s time to head home and relax the rest of the day with my girls.

I canna wait to spend our first Christmas together. I ken Brianna wilna remember, but Faith will. And I plan on take as many photographs and videos as possible.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

25th December 2019

I wake up and turn over to my right to see Jamie fast asleep. His lip is curled up in to that little smile of his. I can’t believe this man will be my husband one day. He is so kind and generous. Funny and smart. Gentle yet fierce. I never thought anyone, especially a man could make me this happy.

I lean over and kiss his forehead. I can feel him stirring now.

“Good morning handsome. Merry Christmas.” I whisper in to his ear so I don’t wake the girls.

“Is it mornin’ already Sassenach?” Jamie asks as he moves to sit up on the bed.

“Ah ha, it’s just after six o’clock.”

“Really? And when dae ye think our eldest will make an appearance?” He asks as he leans over to kiss me.

“I don’t have a clue, but if we’re very quiet, hopefully it won’t be anytime soon.”

“Claire, they said no sex for at least six weeks. It’s no even been five since ye had the bairn.”

“They said between FOUR and six weeks and don’t you think we’ve waited long enough? We have only made love ONCE, and that was ten months ago Jamie. Every time we tried, something always got in the way. Faith is fast asleep, as is Bree. And I feel fine.”

“Claire, ye ken I want ye, but am no gonna risk anythin’. I promise, when we go to Lallybroch for Hogmanay, ye and I will slip off and have some alone time, aye?”

As much as I love Jamie. And as sweet as he is, it really annoys me how he wants to protect me all the time. I just want to have sex with my fiancé. I didn’t realise that was too much to ask for?! It’s been four and a half weeks since I had Bree. It’s my body. And I’m fine. Not that he’ll listen.

“What? With your whole family in the house as well? Do you remember the last time at Lallybroch when your sister and her family arrived?”

“Aye, well. That wasna verra great timin’, but it’s no like they did it on purpose. They didna ken what we were up to. AND, if I remember rightly, I would of just ignored them, but it was you that flipped out and slapped my arm as if it was my fault they arrived earlier than planned.”

“Hmmm. We need to make time for ourselves Jamie. This has never been the most normal relationship and I’m scared that if we don’t make the time for ourselves, we’ll just drift apart.”

“That will NEVER happen Claire. I love ye, and ye love me. We have a family. We’ve been through too much to just drift apart. I promise, we will have our time at Lallybroch.” He kisses me and then turns to reach over to his bedside table. He picks up and envelope and hands it to me. “Merry Christmas Sassenach.”

I take the envelope from Jamie and I open it.

Oh. My. God.

It’s a conformation email for a small cottage in Edinburgh.

“Jamie—“

“Ye dinna have to say anythin’ Sassenach. Like ye say, we need some us time. I only booked a night away because I kent ye wouldna want to be away fae the bairns too long. Jenny and Ian have kindly agreed to babysit for the night.”

“Jamie, this is perfect. Thank you.” I give him a kiss. “When do we go?”

“No for a while yet Sassenach. I booked it for March. I was thinkin’ January, but I kent ye wouldna want to leave the bairn so soon. If ye want me to cancel or reschedule then I will.”

“No don’t. Thank you Jamie.” I give him another kiss and snuggle in to his side and we just lay there in one and others arms.

 

*Claire and Jamie’s bedroom door swings open

 

“Mam, Da, Santa’s been!” Faith runs into our room and jumps on the bed.

“Shhh sweetheart. You don’t want to wake Bree just yet.”

“Sorry.” She whispers as she climbs under the covers beside me. “When can we wake her so I can open our presents?”

“Come on lass, I’ll get ye fed some breakfast whilst yer mam gets herself and Brianna organised, aye?”

Jamie slips out of the bed, thankfully he took my advice and started wearing pyjama bottoms to bed. Faith likes to jump in to bed with us in the morning if she awakes before us. It doesn’t happen too often, but we always need to be prepared. One of the main reasons Jamie and I haven’t managed to be intimate in quite some time. I don’t know how she does it, but sometimes our daughter just appears from nowhere.

“Aye. Can we have apples and peanut butter?” Faith asks as she climbs out from the covers and climbs over me to jump on Jamie.

“No lass. But ye can maybe have that as a wee snack later aye?”

“Aye.”

Jamie carries Faith out of our room and takes her down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for us. Just as I’m about to get myself organised, Bree wakes up screaming her little lungs out right on cue.

I pick her up from the Moses basket and carry her over to the rocking chair in the corner of the room that looks out our bedroom window over the lake behind our house. It’s a beautiful view to wake up to every morning.

“Shhhh, it’s alright my darling. Mummy’s here. Shhhh.” I unbutton my pyjama top and let Bree latch on.

Bree has definitely taken to breast feeding better than Faith did. With Faith, it took weeks. I was almost ready to give up, but then one day she managed.

 

“Beautiful.”

I didn’t even realise Jamie had returned and was stood leaning in the door way.

“What is?”

“Mo ghraidh feeding our beautiful new born daughter. This is one of my favourite images. So beautiful. So natural.” He steps towards me and gives me a kiss.

 

After Bree is fed and changed, I pass her over to her daddy whilst I jump in the shower quickly and get ready for our first Christmas together.

When I come through to the kitchen, Faith is sat happily eating her boiled eggs and toast soldiers. There is another plate left out next to her which I assume is mine. When I go to sit down, I see Jamie sitting at the head of the table with our new born resting against his bare skin.

“Beautiful.”

“What’s that Sassenach?”

“My love holding our beautiful new born daughter. That is one of MY favourite images.” I smile at my loves and take a bite of my toast.

 

Jamie’s POV

I woke up this morning to Claire kissing my forehead. Not a bad way to wake if ye ask me. We sat and chatted for a wee while and I gave her one of her Christmas presents, an envelope with the conformation email for the cottage in Edinburgh. I think Claire was verra happy with it.

We lay in bed and just held each other close for a wee while and then little miss Faith made her appearance in our room to announce Santa had been. I soon enough brought her her through to the kitchen and started on her breakfast whilst Claire woke Brianna and got her fed and ready for the day. I went back to the bedroom to see if she needed me to take Brianna whilst she went for a shower. The image I saw as I stood in the doorway took my breath away, Claire breastfeeding our newborn daughter. It’s one of the most beautiful and natural things I have ever witnessed in my life.

I took Brianna from Claire once she was ready and I brought her to join Faith and I in the kitchen whilst Claire had her shower. Faith set the table for herself, Claire and me whilst I dished out three rounds of boiled eggs and toast. (Toast Soldiers for Faith). Just as I sat down at the table with Brianna in my arms, Claire came down to the kitchen.

“Beautiful.”

I glance up from my baby daughter and look at Claire, “What’s that Sassenach?”

“My love holding our beautiful new born daughter. That is one of MY favourite images.” I smiled at her just as she smiled at me. I said something verra similar or her when I saw her feeding Brianna earlier.

 

After breakfast, Claire cleared all the dishes away and the four of us went through to the living room to open our gifts from Santa and our friends and family.

Since Brianna is only a month old, Faith verra kindly agreed to open her baby sister’s presents for her.

Faith was over the moon with all her presents. I think Claire and I may have gone overboard a bit, but I think we had our own reasons for spoiling Faith this year. Claire tryin’ to make up for all the birthdays and Christmases she never got to spend with her daughter. Myself, well I never dreamed I would have a family of my own to spoil. I just wanted to make our first one together special. I ken it’s no about the presents under the tree. It’s about the time spent with yer family. That was the best gift... my own family.

Faith was thrilled with her new Anastasia doll and a pram for her. And, now that Claire and I have managed to introduce Faith to other Disney films besides Snow White, Faith loved her new Bo Peep and Woody figures from Toy Story.

 

Now both girls are down for a nap, Claire and I are doin’ our best to tidy up the mess left behind after openin’ all the presents.

“Thank ye again Sassenach for all my wee gifts. Ye didna need to do any of that though.”

“Jamie, it’s Christmas. I couldn’t just not get you anything. I know they’re not the most amazing or even the most special of gifts, but you are a very hard man to buy for Mr Fraser.”

I pull her close to me and wrap my arms around her waist as her arms reach up behind my neck. “That’s because all the best things in life are free Sassenach. Ye and the lassies is all the gift I ever needed, or wanted.”

“I have to agree with you on that. The day isn’t even over yet, but this has definitely been the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Waking up with you beside me and spending the day with just us and our two daughters, nothing else could be any more perfect.”

I give her a wee kiss and then lead her in to the kitchen. She’s no the best cook my Sassenach, but she can give me a wee hand.

I had already put the turkey in the oven earlier, but there was still an hour or so left for it to cook away. Claire made a pot of lentil soup last night for our starter today. (It’s probably one of the best things she can make). I get Claire to start peeling the potatoes whilst I start on cooking the rest of the vegetables.

Faith made it clear she would eat broccoli, mashed potato and carrots, but she dinna want any turkey on her plate because she doesna like turkey. She’s asked for dinosaur shapes instead. Which are turkey by the way, but canna tell Faith that or she’ll start a three hour argument with ye on the matter. Aye, just as stubborn as her mam.

 

When we sit down to dinner, Faith insists on sittin’ next to me as she sat next to Claire at breakfast.

“Faith, dae ye want to try just a wee bit of Turkey?”

“No.”

“No even a wee bit?”

“Ye aren’t makin’ Bree eat it.” I glance over at Claire who is tryin’ her best no to laugh.

“Well no. She’s just a wee bairn. She drinks yer mam’s milk. Yer a big lass, so why no try just a wee bit?”

“No.”

“Well, I think that’s you told daddy.”

“Hmmm.”

 

Well, Faith maybe never tried any of the turkey, but she did eat all her soup and left a clean plate after her main course.

We’re no really a family that eats verra big portions or eats more than one course usually, so we had our soup at one o’clock. Then, we had a wee rest and we sat and watched a wee Christmas film that Faith picked from Netflix. We had our main course about three and then demolished some strawberry cheesecake as a dessert. Wee Faith wasna in the mood for a dessert and just asked for her wee apple slices and some peanut butter.

 

When we get both the lassies settled and they’re fast asleep, Claire and I had a lot of tidyin’ and cleanin’ to dae in the kitchen.

“This is the worst part of Christmas Day. All the cleaning and tidying afterwards. I can’t wait till the girls are old enough and we can just go out for Christmas dinner and then we don’t have to worry about all this.”

“Ye dinna mean that Sassenach. Would ye really want to spend part of the day out in some restaurant somewhere celebrating Christmas with complete strangers?”

“Well, probably not. I just hate having to deal with so many dishes.”

“Why don’t ye go for a wee lie down aye? It’s been a long day and if ye’ve no been feedin’ or changin’ Brianna, ye’ve been helpin’ me in the kitchen or entertainin’ the lassies. Ye deserve a wee break.”

“There’s still so much to do though Jamie.”

“I’ve got it Sassenach. Go. Please. Both lassies are asleep. Ye need some rest yerself. Canna have ye burnin’ yerself out. Where would we all be then?”

“Thank you Jamie. Have I told you I love you today?”

“Ye might of mentioned it once or twice, but I’ll no argue at hearin’ it again.”

“I love you Jamie Fraser.”

“I love ye too Sassenach. Now, get some rest.”

Claire puts down the wee tea towel she was using to dry the dishes and pulls me over for a wee kiss before she heads up to bed.

 

I have one of the wee baby monitors in the kitchen with me and I can hear Claire walking in to our bedroom. Brianna wakes and starts to cry. She’s no hungry, I ken that. I dinna think she has a dirty nappy either. I think she just kens her mam’s there and she wants a wee cuddle.

I love the bond between Claire and Brianna. Especially after how long it took Claire to come to terms of the bairn being hers. It was a long and dark road for her, but she got there in the end. We all did. I’m so proud of her and how far she’s come. Especially in the last month since Brianna came in to the world.

“Shhhh my darling. It’s okay, mummy’s here. Come on my sweetie, let’s have a little cuddle shall we?”

 

When I head up to bed myself a short while later, I peek my head in to check on Faith, she’s fast asleep with her new Anastasia doll next to her. When I walk in to mine and Claire’s room, I see her sittin’ on the rocking chair fast asleep with Brianna in her arms.

 

Not a bad first Christmas at all.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

31st December 2019

“Da, when will Kitty be here?”

“Och, no for another couple of hours or so. Yer uncle Ian got held up with work so they only just left about an hour ago. Dinna fash, they’ll be here a’fore the party kicks off, aye?”

“But I want to show Kitty my new toys Santa brought me.”

“And ye will leannan. She’ll be here soon enough.”

Faith takes off into the kitchen. No doubt to find her mam.

She’s really taken to her cousins. Kitty in particular because they’re so close in age. It’s nice. I always wanted the opportunity to have my bairns growin’ up with Jenny and Ian’s bairns, and now that what’s happenin’. Obviously with us living in Glasgow and them living in Edinburgh, the kids dinna see each other all the time, but thanks to FaceTime, I dinna think there is a day where Faith isna talkin’ to her cousins or her aunt and uncle.

 

“We need to find something for Faith to do to burn some of that energy off. She’s going stir crazy waiting on Kitty arriving and honestly, between that and Bree’s constant crying because of the new surroundings, I don’t think I can cope much longer.” I pull Claire in to my arms and hold her as she relaxes into me.

“Dinna fash Sassenach. Murtagh and Jocasta will be here any minute. They need to go in to Inverness to pick up some last minute provisions and I’m sure they would love to take Faith along with them. That will keep her occupied for a while. And then it will just be you, me and Bree.” Claire removes herself from my arms and walks over to stand in front of the hearth and watches as the flames dance around in the fireplace.

She has tears in her eyes.

Faith appears out of nowhere.

“Da, Unca Murtagh and Aunt Jocasta are outside.” She sees Claire turnin’ away from her. So, typical Faith wonders over to check on her mam. “Mam, what’s wrong? Is it Da?” Faith turns to me to give me am accusing glare.

“Thank ye Faith. I’ll speak to them in a second. And no, I didna do or say anythin’ to upset yer mam. She’s just overwhelmed with the party later. On ye go and see yer aunt and uncle. I’ll be out in a second.”

She turns back to Claire and pats the side of Claire’s leg. “I love ye mam.”

Claire bends down to lift Faith up in to her arms. “I love you too my sweet girl. Now, do as your daddy says okay?” Claire kisses our daughter and let’s her back down to go and greet our guests.

“We will talk as soon as they leave Sassenach. I’ll ask them to take Faith along with them to Inverness.”

She gives me a slight nod as I walk over to her and give her a kiss on her forehead before I leave the room.

 

Murtagh and Jocasta are only too happy to take Faith with them to Inverness. I think Faith is just as excited by the adventure. We’ve been at Lallybroch for two days now and she’s gettin’ verra impatient waitin’ on everyone else arrivin’.

Now that the three of them have left the house, it’s just Claire and I downstairs in the living room whilst wee Bree is up in our room havin’ a wee nap. She’s only been down for twenty minutes or so, but it’s the longest she’s been able to settle all day.

Claire and I are sat on the couch and she cuddled right in to me. Her wee head resting on my chest. She’s struggling. I ken it.

“What’s wrong Sassenach? Ye’ve no been yerself since we got here. Ye ken ye can talk to me about anythin’.”

“I know. I just... I don’t know what to say Jamie. The past few months have been... I never dreamt that... I don’t think that...”

“Claire, look at me.” I tilt her head up to look me in my eyes. “I love ye. The bairns love ye. Ye are a fantastic mother to both our daughters and a wonderful partner to me. It’s normal after everythin’ ye’ve been through to have an off day. But, I need ye to ken that I’m here to share the load. I dinna want ye struggling alone.”

“I just feel so useless Jamie and I don’t know why. Everything was fine at home. I think we just brought Bree away from home too soon. She isn’t settling here. Maybe she and I should just go back to Glasgow and we’ll see you and Faith when you come home in a couple of days.”

“Ye’re no useless Claire. Aye, the bairn has took a wee bit of time gettin’ used to her new surroundings, but she’s happily asleep just now Claire. Dinna be silly, ye and the bairn are no goin’ back to Glasgow on yer own.”

“I just don’t know what to do with her Jamie. How is anyone supposed to relax and have fun with a screaming newborn around?”

“She’s fine Claire. I promise ye. And all newborn bairns scream. Jenny and Ian have four bairns, they’re used to it. Mrs Fitz is used to it. And I’m pretty sure Murtagh and Jocasta wilna mind. Dinna worry, the lass will be fine. She’s no screaming now is she?”

“No, which is worrying me. I’m just going to go and check on her.”

“She’s fine Claire, I can hear her breathin’ through the baby monitor.”

Claire gets herself up from the couch and heads upstairs to check on our finally settled daughter. I follow up behind her. I think she’s worrying over nothin’, but what can I say to her that she doesna already ken herself? I think the problem is more with Claire no feelin’ settled and no Bree. Claire and Jenny are gettin’ on better now, but there is still a bit of uncertainty between them. They’re both tryin’ for my sake which I’m verra grateful for, but this will be the longest they’ve spent in each other’s company. I think that’s what’s worrying Claire. She’s just using the bairn as an excuse.

 

When we get in to the bedroom, Bree is still fast asleep. Claire and I both stand at the side of the Moses basket and watch our youngest daughter whilst she sleeps. Her wee chest moving steadily up and down.

“See Sassenach, she’s fine.” I whisper in to Claire’s ear.

Claire lets out a small sigh. “I know Jamie.” She turns herself in to me and wraps her arms around my waist and rests her head on my shoulder.

“Come on lass, why don’t you get some rest whilst she’s asleep and Faith is away?”

“Only if you join me. I don’t like being in that bed all on my own.”

“Well, how can I refuse Sassenach?”

I give her a kiss and I lead her over to the bed. We kick off our shoes and Claire jumps in to the bed first and I slide in beside her. She turns to face me and rests her head on my chest. I can feel her drifting off to sleep straight away. The poor lass is shattered.

 

 

Claire’s POV

When I awake from my nap, I’m still wrapped up in Jamie’s arms whilst he is still asleep. I also notice that, at some point, he must of removed all his clothes. He’s completely naked next to me. I quickly check the time on my phone and realise that we still have plenty of time before anyone arrives home. More importantly, Bree is asleep and isn’t due her next feed for another half hour.

Jamie looks so peaceful laying there beside me, and it would be a shame to wake him but, who knows when we will get this much privacy again when everyone arrives?

I climb to hover over Jamie as he sleeps and trail my mouth with kisses from his mouth, down his neck and on to his chest. I can feel him starting to wake.

“Sassenach?”

“Shhh, lay still.” I whisper in to his ear.

He actually does as told for once as I continue to trail my mouth down his body. I can feel him watching me and I can’t help but smile.

“What are ye daein’ Sassenach?”

“Well, the last time we were here, you very kindly saw to my needs. I am just simply... returning the favour.” I took hold of his very hard cock in my hand.

Jamie reached down to try and take my hand away.

“Ye dinna need to do that Sassenach.”

“Oh, but I want to. Just lay back and relax.” I lean down and kiss his stomach before taking my mouth lower.

I sit up on top of him and give his cock a gentle squeeze and begin to stroke him. Jamie lets out a gasp and reaches to remove my shirt. I bat his hand away.

“Behave yourself lad. This is about you.”

Jamie let out another gasp as I cupped his balls and continued to stroke his length up and down.

“Please Sassenach. Let me inside ye. I dinna want to make a mess of yer wee hand.”

“Shhh Jamie. Don’t worry about that, just relax and let go.”

He starts to whimper. I can tell he’s trying to stop himself, but he can’t hold it any longer. He grabs hold of my hips and tightens his grip on me as he spills himself over my hand.

When he comes back down to earth after his orgasm, I reach over for the tissues to clean us up. I jump off of him to go to the en-suite to wash up properly when he pulls me back to the bed.

“Yer turn now Sassenach.” He tries his best to wink at me.

I just smile and remove myself from his grasp. “Sorry, but I have to get cleaned up. I need to feed Bree soon. She’ll be awake at any moment.” I give him a kiss and right on cue, our daughter wakes up with a cry.

I walk over to her Moses basket and give her a kiss. “Daddy will hold you for a minute whilst mummy washes up. I will be back in a moment sweetheart.”

As I turn to head to our bathroom, Jamie reluctantly climbs out of bed to go and see to our daughter.

Whilst Jamie goes for a quick shower, I pick up Bree and take her downstairs to nurse her in the living room before everyone arrives home.

 

Jocasta and Murtagh arrive home with Faith a while later. Jamie is out at the stables speaking with the lad who works the stables for the family. Faith comes running in to find me in the kitchen and throws her arms out for me to pick her up.

“Mam, is Kitty here yet?”

“Not yet my darling, but they aren’t too far away. Your aunt Jenny just rang before you came in to say they won’t be too long. How was Inverness? We’re you a good girl for your aunt and uncle?”

“Aye. Unca Murtagh bought me a cake.”

“Oh did he now?” I give Murtagh an accusing look as he brought the groceries in to the kitchen.

“Aye, I did. The lass needs a treat noo and again. Don’t ye lass?” He looks to Faith and smiles at her.

“Aye.”

I love the relationship Faith has built with Jamie’s family. Everyone is just so fantastic with her. Especially Murtagh and Jocasta. They come to visit us at least twice a week. Well, I say us, I get the impression they are more coming over to spend time with the girls than Jamie and I. It’s great though. I was worried about how they would all react to Faith and Jamie adopting her as his own daughter, but everyone was so very supportive.

The entire family, including Jamie’s Uncles Callum and Dougal, are desperate to know when the wedding will be. Honestly, I can’t wait to be Jamie’s wife and be a Fraser just like our daughters but, I really want to get the girls christenings sorted first and then focus on the wedding. I think if Jamie had his way, I would of been his wife and both girls would of been baptised the second Bree came in to the world. He’s been fantastic though and was very supportive when I asked him to put the wedding on the back burner just for a little while longer. I also want to get back in to at least some sort of shape before I get married. I don’t plan on getting married again, and I just want my wedding to Jamie to be perfect.

 

When the Murrays finally arrive, Ian and the children get settled in straight away. The children, including Faith all go and play upstairs and show off the new presents Santa brought them for Christmas. Jamie, Murtagh and Ian sit in the living room knocking back as much whisky as they can whilst Jenny, Jocasta and I prepare dinner in the kitchen.

After dinner, we have to get cleared up as quickly as possible as some people from the village will be coming up to the house for the Frasers annual Hogmanay party.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t around a hundred people arriving in a short space of time.

By nine o’clock, all children are happily tucked up in bed. During our stay this time, Faith is sharing Kitty and Maggie’s room with them. She was excited at first when Jamie told her, but then she got annoyed that she couldn’t stay with Granny Ellen. Since we arrived, Jamie had been dropping in to that particular bedroom, but he couldn’t see or sense anything. It’s still pretty freaky though, so we agreed with Jenny that it would be better for Faith to stay in Maggie and Kitty’s room.

By eleven o’clock, my eyes are closing. Everyone is up and about dancing around the house and I’m just sat in the corner trying to stay as awake as possible whilst speaking to Jenny about Jamie’s surprise Edinburgh trio for us.

“Jamie, come here lad and take Claire up to bed. The poor lass is shattered. She can barely keep her eyes open here.”

“No, I’m fine. Honestly Jenny. It won’t be long before we’re ringing in the new year.”

“Nah, come on Sassenach. Ye need yer sleep. Ye can wish everyone a happy new year in the morning.”

To be honest, I am glad of the opportunity to retire early, but at the same time, this is my first time celebrating Hogmanay with Jamie and his family here at Lallybroch. At least Jamie can still go back down and celebrate bringing in the new year with his family.

“No Sassenach. I’m stayin’ here with you. I’ll see everyone in the mornin’.”

“No Jamie, it isn’t fair you missing out just because I’m too tired.”

“Claire, the only person I want to bring the new year in with is ye. And if yer up here, I want to be here with ye. No one will mind. Jenny and Ian have bairns themselves. They ken how tiring it is. Dinna fash. Come on, let’s get some sleep.”

 

I awake the next morning to Jamie being rather busy with his fingers between my legs. I moved my left hand up to grab hold of his neck whilst my right hand slipped down to cover Jamie’s.

“Good morning Sassenach. Happy New Year to ye.” Jamie says cheerfully as I’m just barely waking up.

“And what a new year it is.”

“Did ye sleep well?”

“Yes. Shame about the night feeds though.”

“I’ll do better tonight. I promise.”

Jamie managed to sleep through the whole night leaving me seeing to Bree all night. I don’t mind too much as Jamie is usually up with me every time Bree wakes. He’s just as exhausted as I am.

I take a firm grip of Jamie’s hand. “I need you to stop please Jamie.”

“What? Sorry Sassenach, I didna think. I’m so sorry Claire, I didna mean to make ye feel—“

“Relax Jamie. It was a wonderful way to wake up. It just isn’t enough.” I swing my left leg over Jamie to straddle him. “I need you inside me.”

Jamie pulls his head up from the bed and kisses me before gently flipping us over so he is on top of me and settling between my thighs.

Our eyes locked. His beautiful pale blue eyes were turning darker with passion.

God. His eyes. The most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen in my life.

I reached my hand down to take a hold of his cock and guided him home.

 

Not a bad way to bring in the New Year at all.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

19th January 2020

I wake around six thirty. I reach over to feel Jamie, but instead of finding his warm body next to me, I find his side of the bed cold. He’s been up for quite some time then. It’s unusual for Jamie to get up with out me feeling the emptiness beside me.

I reach for my navy and white floral robe that’s laid over the chair next to my side of the bed and I put it on. I get up from bed to go over and check on Bree.

She’s isn’t in the room with me.

I start to panic slightly before I realise that they are both gone.

Jamie must have Bree.

As I open the bedroom door and head to the top of the stairs, I hear Jamie speaking soothingly in Gaelic. Only as I make my way slowly down the stairs, I catch a glimpse of Jamie in the living room laying on the couch with Bree cradled to his chest.

When I reach the bottom of the stairs, I make my way quietly over to stand behind the couch not wanting to disturb either of them.

It doesn’t take long for Jamie to sense that I’m there listening.

“Morning Sassenach. I wanted to let ye sleep in. What your daeing up already?”

I walk around the couch and sit down next to Jamie and Bree after he swings his legs off the couch to make room for me.

“Morning. That’s very sweet my love, but I woke up and you weren’t there and then I realised Bree was gone too.” I put my arms out to take Bree from Jamie. “Sorry, I need to hold her.”

Jamie passes our youngest in to my arms and then he kisses my temple before putting his arm around my shoulders and pulling me close to him.

“Are ye okay Sassenach?”

“Yes. Just had that nightmare again.”

After Bree was born, I would sometimes have the same dream. Not every night, but it was coming to me more often than not. It scared me more because it wasn’t just a bad dream. Not just a nightmare. But, it’s partly a memory.

Not all of it, not the ending. But certainly the beginning

The memory of how close I came to not having my darling daughter Brianna in my life. How close I came to giving birth to her and then just handing her over to Jamie and walking away from her forever. How could I possibly think that would of been okay?

The dream always starts the same. I’m pregnant with Bree. I know I’m pregnant with Bree. But, I don’t FEEL pregnant like I did with Faith. It just feels like nothing. I feel nothing. I’m empty. Jamie tries to talk to me, include me in the appointments. I don’t say anything. I don’t look at the screen when we go to the scans. I don’t listen to what the doctors or midwives say. I block it all out. When I go in to labour, I’m calm. Too calm. I don’t feel like I’m about to give birth to my child. I give birth to Brianna. I don’t hold her after she’s born. I don’t even look at her. I leave the clinic the next day without even looking back. And then I wake up. Always reaching for Jamie’s touch. Always needing to see my daughter. Hold her. Let her know she is wanted and loved.

 

I spend the next while laying in Jamie’s arms with Bree before we both have to get ready for the day ahead. I nurse Bree whilst Jamie goes for his shower and then I go for my own shower and get ready when he’s done.

It’s Sunday, so Faith gets a little bit longer in bed than usual. When she wakes up, we sit down and have breakfast as a family. Jamie heads off to church afterwards whilst I take the girls out in the car to go and collect Fergus. He’ll be spending the day with us today.

Jamie and I both felt it very important to let Fergus and Faith spend plenty of time together when we brought her home to live with us. They are practically brother and sister. The relationship they have built is so pure and beautiful, we didn’t want to destroy that.

 

“Sassenach, how are you this fine day?” I didn’t even hear Jamie coming in the front door. He walks over to me in the kitchen and kisses me whilst I’m cooking our usual Sunday brunch.

“Very well thank you. How about you?”

“Alright I suppose. Where are my wee princesses this morning then? Did he get Fergus okay?”

“Bree is resting in her Moses basket in the living room whilst I prepare brunch. Faith is there too showing off all her new toys to Fergus. Yes we got him fine.”

“How is the lad?”

It turns out that Rachael has taken ill and she and her husband have made the difficult decision that they can no longer take care of Fergus. Fergus was taken back in to a group home the other week. The poor soul isn’t settling in very well.

“Still the same. Not settling at the home and whilst he is happy speaking to Faith and even Bree, he’s barely said two words to me since we collected him apart from hello, please and thank you. He seems to have lost his spark Jamie. It isn’t right.”

“I’ll go through and have a wee chat with the lad.”

Jamie gives me another kiss before he turns to make his way through to the children in the living room.

I wish there was something we could do to help Fergus. We’ve got to know him very well over the last few months and he is usually such a bright and vibrant child. Lately though, he just seems down and unwilling to communicate properly with anyone who isn’t Faith. Or Bree.

 

After brunch, we all sit in the living room and play some games. Today we let Fergus choose the game as a way to try and bring him out of his shell. He chooses snakes and ladders, although I’m sure that was just to keep Faith happy.

During the game, both Jamie and I try to start a conversation with Fergus, but he only really answers with one word. It breaks my heart to see him so lost and confused like this.

At least I got strong enough to be able to bring my daughter home. Give her the family she deserves. Poor Fergus doesn’t have that chance. I still don’t know his situation, but I know that he is a beautiful boy who deserves a family who truly loves him and are able to take care of him.

 

When it’s time for me to change Bree’s nappy again, Faith comes through to the nursery with me to help. She likes to help Jamie and I with Bree when she can.

Whilst Faith and I are tending to Bree, we leave Jamie and Fergus in the living room playing a game of chess. This is something Jamie and Fergus always do when Fergus comes to visit. Apparently one of Fergus’ mothers friends taught him how to play when he was living in France. He doesn’t remember much about living in Paris, but he vaguely remembers this man teaching him how to play chess.

It isn’t really my kind of game and Faith is still to young, so Jamie adores his games with Fergus when he comes to visit.

 

When we all sit down to dinner, Jamie at the head of the table, Faith and Fergus sat across from me, it’s pretty quiet.

“So Fergus, have you had fun today with the girls?”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you for inviting me.”

“You’re welcome here any time Fergus. And please, my name is Claire.”

He nods his head but doesn’t respond. He just puts his head back down and continues to eat.

“Have ye got much planned next weekend then Fergus?”

“No sir.”

“It’s Jamie, lad. Call me Jamie. Please.”

Again, Fergus just nods to Jamie and continues to eat.

“We are planning a little weekend trip up to Lallybroch next weekend. If it’s alright with your social worker, would you like to come with us Fergus? I know the girls would love it. Jamie and I would too.”

He looks across at me, but it’s like there is nothing there. No feelings of any kind. He reminds me of myself when I was feeling so low whilst I was pregnant. He’s a child. He shouldn’t be suffering like this.

He looks over to Jamie who is giving Fergus a great big smile. Fergus turns back to me. “I don’t want to intrude on your family time.”

This little boy is just breaking my heart in to a million pieces.

“You ARE part of the family Fergus. You’re like a big brother to both our girls.”

“Not really. Faith and I just lived together a while. She has her family now.”

“But, you’re still my big brother Gus!” Faith had explained to him.

Fergus took a hold of Faiths hand in his and replied, “No Faith. We are friends. Best friends. Always will be. We used to be foster brother and sister, but not any more.”

 

After dinner, all four of us went on the car journey to drop Fergus off at the children’s home. It was the longest journey there. He sat in the back with Faith and Bree and spoke quietly to Faith. When we got to the home, he thanked Jamie and I for having him today. Waved goodbye to Faith and kissed Bree’s cheek and jumped out of the car.

I walked him to the door before he went inside, he put his arms around my waist and gave me a quick hug. “Thank you again ma’am. I had a lovely day.”

I asked his care worker to have his social worker call me in the morning if possible as I wanted to ask if it would be okay to take Fergus up to the highlands for a couple of nights. The care worker promised to pass on the message.

 

The car journey was just as quiet. I jumped in to the back with my girls. I could t help but continuously stare at them both. How lucky I am that they are both safe and loved. They know they’re loved.

I couldn’t help but think of Fergus the entire ride home. I could tell Jamie was the same.

 

As Jamie and I both get ready for bed. We are still pretty silent. Had been since we dropped off Fergus. It was breaking both our hearts to see the boy in such a confused state. He doesn’t deserve a life like this. No child does.

When I climb in to bed, Jamie is already turned away from me ready to sleep.

“I think we should foster the lad Claire.”

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

19th January 2020

 

God. That poor lad. Doesna ken if he’s comin’ or goin’.

I ken it’s no his foster parents’ fault they can no longer take care of the lad, but Christ, I’ve never seen a child so lost. Confused.

Claire and I invited Fergus to Lallybroch with us next weekend. I think he was excited at the invitation, but didna want to show it. He said that he didna want to intrude in our family time.

My heart broke at that. I didna think it could break any more until he turned to wee Faith and told her that they aren’t really brother and sister. He told her they used to be foster siblings, but now, now Faith has her own family.

The poor lad has lost his spirit. His spark. His wit.

The lads lost himself.

He’s usually such a funny lad. Always tellin’ jokes. No anymore though.

I dinna even think the lad smiles anymore.

 

Earlier, Claire had went away through to change Brianna in to a clean nappy. Wee Faith decided to go and give her mother a hand. Always on hand to help with the bairn is Faith. She’s such a proud and protective big sister.

Anyway, this time gave me the opportunity to have a wee one to one conversation with wee Fergus. No that he said much though. I got the chess board out and set it up for a game. This is something Fergus and I do every time he comes over to visit. It’s one of his favourite games. Mine too. We usually bond and chat over a game.

Claire isna that fond of the game and Faith is a bit young to understand the game properly.

I tried everythin’ I could to get the lad to speak to me about anythin’ really. Even the weather. I commented on how amazin’ it was that we had no rain in three days just last week. Christ, usually in Scotland, Glasgow in particular, it’s common to experience all weather conditions in just one day.

It didna matter what I spoke of or asked him, school, the home, his football games, the lad just wasna interested in speakin’ about anythin’. We had been told the other day when Claire and I made the arrangements for him to come over today. One of his care workers at the home had informed Claire and I that the lad was struggling to settle in and he wasn’t for speaking much to anyone. The only person her would speak to was Faith. He only ever spoke to any of his care workers to ask if he could use the phone to call Faith.

I suppose, for a while, Faith and Fergus were the only constants in each other’s lives.

 

On the way home after we dropped Fergus off at the children’s home, I couldna stop thinkin’ about him. What he must be thinkin’? How must he be feelin’?

It didna take me long to decide what needs to be done. The lad needs a stable and loving home. Claire and I can provide that for him. He’s already part of the family whether he kens such or no. It makes sense for Claire and I to take in and foster the lad. I think he could be verra happy with us and the lassies. I ken Faith would love the idea. I just had to discuss it all with Claire.

I could tell her wee heart was breakin’ for the lad as well. I was so sure she was thinking the same idea as me. On the way home, Claire sat in the back with the lassies. She couldna take her eyes off them. I watched her through my rear view mirror. She was just as devastated by Fergus’ situation as me.

 

When we get hame, we get both our girls bathed and ready for bed. Claire read Faith a story whilst I settled Brianna.

Once the girls are both asleep, Claire and I get ourselves ready for bed. We havena said much to each other since we dropped off Fergus. What could we say?

I got in to bed and turned off my bedside lamp and tried to sleep as soon as possible to try and avoid thinking more of Fergus. Claire and I will discuss it in the morning.

When Claire climbs in beside me, I ken I’ll no be able to sleep for worrying over the poor lad.

“I think we should foster the lad Claire.”

There’s an uncomfortable silence for a few moments.

Did I read the situation wrong? Does she no want to help the lad?

Why no?

 

Suddenly, Claire answers me, “No.”

I turn myself to face Claire. “Claire. The lad. He needs us. He needs a stable family to love and care for him. That’s us Claire. I ken it.”

“I agree Jamie.”

“But ye just said—“

“I agree Jamie. He needs us. All of us. I think Faith needs him too. WE need him Jamie. We need to show him he IS loved and he does belong.”

“But, ye dinna want to foster the lad?”

“No. I want us to adopt him Jamie. If we’re going to do this, we do it right. We adopt Fergus.”

“Claire, I love that idea, but—“

“I know. It takes time for the adoption process. So, why don’t we speak to his social worker tomorrow and enquire about fostering Fergus whilst the adoption is in progress. That way he isn’t in that awful children’s home any longer than he has to be.”

“Aye. Aye, we’ll speak with Mary tomorrow and see what can be done. I hate the thought of the lad bein’ stuck in that home. He’s no himself Claire. He’s—“

“He’s depressed Jamie. That poor sweet boy is suffering something terrible that we can only imagine. I know you and I have had our own issues, but I am sure of the fact that you and I can make this a safe and loving home for Fergus.”

“Of course we can Claire.”

“I think we should discuss it tomorrow properly, but I also think I should discuss it at therapy tomorrow morning. This feels right to me Jamie. It really does. Fergus belongs here, with us, but I need to see what my therapist thinks. I can’t take the risk before I’m ready and ruin yet another child’s life.”

“Yer right, Fergus does belong here, with us Sassenach. And ye should discuss it at yer session tomorrow mornin’. I’ll discuss it at my session tomorrow night as well. But, I am sure Claire, this is what’s meant to be. Fergus is meant to be here at home with us, and his sisters.”

I gather Claire in to me so her wee head is resting on my chest. I kiss the top of her head and we agree to speak properly tomorrow before speaking with the social worker about how we want to go forward and make a home for Fergus with our family.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

24th January 2020

 

It’s been what feels like an extremely long week. I’ve been in meetings up and down the country with customers. Usually we try to speak to customers over the phone or on video call, especially with Ian and I both reluctant to travel too far with us both having young families at home. This weeks appointments couldn’t be helped though.

Over the last year, our Lallybroch Whisky has become more and more popular. More pubs and clubs are starting to sell it and many more shops over the UK and Ireland are looking to stock it too.

This week has consisted of me travelling from Glasgow to Dundee, and then up to Aberdeen. I’ve also been down to Ayr and Dumfries as well.

I did worry about leaving Claire at home on her own with the two girls for that wee bit longer than my usual working day, but she handled it brilliantly. Deep down I knew she would. She’s the strongest woman I know. She just, overthinks things sometimes.

The time spent at home this week consisted of Claire and I discussing our plans for the future for us and our girls, as well as Fergus. We both discussed our decision with our therapists. I know I have definitely come along way since first meeting Claire. I’m no longer that lost and angry man anymore.

Claire has come a long way too. Definitely. As I said before, she over thinks things and starts to doubt herself now and again, but that’s the same with everyone. She is a wonderful and loving mother to our two daughters and a wonderful and loving partner to me. She has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. She has so much love for us all and then some. I truly think Claire would be the perfect mother to Fergus.

Claire and I have discussed in great detail about how we would like to adopt Fergus as our own. He is already part of the family. This would just make it official and we can take care of the lad and love the lad as he needs. Fergus isn’t settling in to the group home at all. He refuses to speak to anyone unless he feels he has to.

The adoption process could take some time and with the way Fergus is currently feeling, Claire and I spoke with his social worker Mary, and decided that we should apply to become Fergus’ foster parents. Then, if the lad settles with us okay and if he agrees, we would then like to make it more permanent and adopt the lad.

There has already been so much hurt and confusion with the lad being in and out of various homes over the years, we want the lad to feel safe, loved and secure with us, as well as letting him know that he has a choice in this too. We dinna want to force the lad in to somethin’ he doesna want.

 

Mary has approved that Claire and I can collect Fergus after he gets home from school and take him up to Lallybroch with us for the weekend. Before Mary could approve the weekend stay, she had to travel up to Lallybroch and see for herself is the house was safe and secure for Fergus to stay.

 

Claire and I have been busy packing all morning for our weekend trip to Lallybroch with the kids. Faith is extremely excited at the fact Fergus is able to join us. She canna wait to show the lad around the land introduce him to the horses in the stables. I think Fergus is excited about the trip too. When Claire spoke to him on the phone yesterday afternoon, he seemed more like himself. Asking Claire loads of questions about Lallybroch and the highlands. Enquiring on how much clothes to pack and what else he would need to bring with him. It’s the most he has spoken to Claire, or anyone really besides Faith, since moving back to the children’s home.

The plan is to get the car loaded with all our things straight after lunch and then head on over to the supermarket and collect a few groceries before collecting Fergus from the home just after three and then make our three hour journey up to Lallybroch. We will probably make a wee stop in Perth for a wee snack or something and then possibly again at Aviemore. That will give us a wee chance to stretch our legs a bit.

 

When we arrive to collect Fergus, he comes out to the car with his backpack on his shoulder and he’s carrying a wee blue overnight bag. It looks like it’s seem better days, all ripped and holes all over. He doesna look verra happy.

Claire and I get out of the car to greet him and one of his care workers along with Mary. I open the car boot to pack in Fergus’ bags. He grunts a quick hello to Claire and I made jumps in to the back of the car with the girls. Once he gets settled in his seat and fastens his seatbelt, I can see him smiling as he talks away to Faith.

“The school rang earlier to set up a meeting with myself on Monday. Fergus’ teacher is just as concerned with his sudden change in attitude and behaviour recently. He is very withdrawn in class. Apparently he is still taking everything in as his schoolwork is not a concern. He is just not speaking to anyone and isolating himself from anyone and everyone at school. His homework is not as good as his schoolwork though. He either doesn’t do the homework set at all, or it’s not up to the standard of his school work.” Mary informs Claire and I.

“Do you think he might be copying his schoolwork from someone in his class then if he isn’t doing as well with his homework?” Claire asks Mary.

“No. We know he isn’t as he has removed himself from his usual desk and now sits up at the back of the classroom by himself. I have an appointment on Monday morning with his principal and his class teacher. I did try speaking with him about it when he came home, but as you can see, it didn’t go to well. I was in two minds weather or not I should allow him this time away this weekend. It isn’t fair to put this kind of behaviour on you.”

“Dinna worry Mary. Claire and I will take good care of the lad. Hopefully we will be able to get him to open up a bit to one of us. He had a good conversation with Claire yesterday and he seems okay just now with Faith. It would be a shame to tell him he can’t come away with us now.”

“I know you will take good care of Fergus Mr Fraser, it’s just I worry you and your family won’t enjoy your weekend as much with Fergus there feeling the way he does.”

Claire quickly steps in to respond before I get the chance, “Mary, I appreciate your concern, but Fergus IS part of our family. I think this weekend will be good for him. Please. Trust us.”

“Very well then, if yer sure?” Claire and I both smile and nod to Mary. “Any problems, call me and I can come and collect him.”

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary, but thank you. We should be home around seven on Sunday evening. Fergus will have dinner before we bring him home.” Claire explains to Mary and the care worker.

 

When Claire and I return to the car, we ask Fergus how he’s doing. He smiles at us and tells us he’s very well and looking forward to the weekend trip. Faith has told him so much about Lallybroch and he can’t wait to see it for himself.

On the road, we expected a verra quiet journey up to the highlands, but it was the complete opposite. Fergus was back to being his usual funny and caring self. He sat in the back with the girls and told Faith loads of stories about fairies and the Loch Ness Monster. Claire and I couldn’t help but smile.

We were right, the lad does belong with us.

 

Claire’s POV

 

When we eventually get to Lallybroch, all three children are fast asleep in the back. Jamie quietly gets out of the car and starts to take in some of our bags. I manage to get Bree’s car seat out without disturbing Fergus or Faith. I pick up the only bag left in the boot and take it in to the house with myself and Bree. After Jamie has put our bags in our rooms, he comes back out to the car to carry Faith up to her bed before coming back out to carry Fergus up to his bed.

We let the children sleep for another half hour or so whilst Jamie and I unpack as much as we can and get dinner started. Since it’s been a long journey, it isn’t anything remotely interesting for dinner tonight, but the kids will love it. Just a simple dish of sausages, chips and beans.

As we all sit down to dinner, Fergus is just as lively as he was in the car. He tells us all about how his class has been tasked with doing a mini topic and they each get to choose what topic they want to research. The topic has to be a minimum of twenty five pages so there they can find out as much as they can about their topics. Fergus is in two minds of what he would like to research. He likes the idea of finding out and writing about France. Jamie and I both think it’s a wonderful idea and offer to help in any way we can. I know a little bit about France as my fathers side of the family are French, but since I grew up in England, I don’t know all THAT much about the beautiful country, but I don’t mind helping where I can. Jamie spent a fair bit of time in France over the years. He has a cousin Jared who lives in Paris. The other idea Fergus has come up with is on the history of Scotland. The second Jacobite uprising and the battle of Culloden to be exact.

“Well lad, I’m no THAT much of a history buff, but being a Scottish lad myself, there are some areas in that topic I may be able to help ye with if ye chose to go ahead with that topic.”

“Really? That would we awesome Sir. Thank you.”

“For the last time lad, just call me Jamie aye?”

“Sorry.”

“Dinna apologise lad. I just want ye to feel like ye can come to Claire or I about anythin’ at any time. Yer part of this family Fergus, whether ye realise it or no. So, no more of this Sir or ma’am carry on, aye lad?”

“Okay. Thank you. For everything. Inviting me here with you all this weekend. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here with you all.”

“You have no idea how happy we are to have you here with us Fergus. Actually, once we put Faith and Bree down for the night, Jamie and I would like to speak with you about something. Is that alright?”

“Of course. Is this about Mary’s appointment with the school on Monday? I swear to you I am doing my school work. I promise, I’m not falling behind.”

“We ken that lad. It’s no so much to dae with the school we want to talk to ye about, but something else just as important.”

 

With both of the girls now tucked up and fast asleep after Fergus telling Faith another story about some magical creature and a princess in a castle in France, Jamie and I sit down in the living room with Fergus sat between us on the large couch. I wonder if these stories are something someone once told Fergus when he was a lot younger.

“Okay lad, the thing Claire and I would like to discuss with ye is pretty big and we want ye to ken that if ye don’t like the idea or ye dinna want to, we wilna push ye. We just want ye to ken that the offer is there and there is nothing in the world that Claire and I want more than this.”

“Okay. What is it?”

I take Fergus right hand in mine and he turns to face me. “Well, Jamie and I have noticed how different you have been since leaving Rachael’s and having to move back to the children’s home. You haven’t been yourself Fergus and everyone has been extremely worried about you. Jamie and I included. We have told you how we think of you as part of this family. You are already a wonderful big brother to Faith and we see the way you care and love Bree as well—“

“Sorry, I shouldn’t treat Faith like that. Or Bree. It’s not like Faith and I are like brother and sister anymore.”

“Of course you are. Nothing will EVER change the fact that YOU are Faith’s big brother. NOTHING, do you hear me?” Fergus nods his head and I pull him closer to me so I can wrap my arms around him. “Jamie and I have been talking, and if it’s alright with you Fergus, Jamie and I would like to become your foster parents. Well actually, Jamie and I would really like to adopt you. We no it’s a big deal, especially for you, so we thought that maybe we could foster you first and see how we get on. You are part of this family whether you like it or not Fergus. We just want to make it official.”

“The choice is yers lad. As Claire said, we wilma push ye. Ye need and ye deserve a family that loves ye. That can take care of ye properly and Claire and I would like the opportunity to provide that for ye Fergus.”

“We love you so much Fergus, and we hate the fact you have become so lost. Can you please just think about our offer? There’s no hurry. Just know that Jamie and I will ALWAYS be here for you for whatever you need whenever you need it.”

 

Fergus didn’t say much during our conversation. He just went quiet again and nodded along.

After a little while, he excused himself to go up to his room for bed.

 

Jamie and I really worried that we maybe pushed it too much. Maybe we overwhelmed him too much.

“Maybe we shouldn’t of said anything Jamie. Maybe we came on too strong and overwhelmed him. Maybe we should of left it to Mary to bring it up with him.”

“Dinna fash Sassenach. I’m sure the lad will be fine. He just needs time to process. At least he kens we’re here for him.”

 

As Jamie and I settle on the couch with a bowl of sweet and salted popcorn, ready to choose a film on Netflix to watch, Fergus makes his way down the stairs and in to the living room. He doesn’t say anything, but just stands in the doorway.

“Are you alright sweetheart?”

“Ye struggling to sleep lad?”

“Em, no. I, um. Well, I’ve made a decision about your offer.”

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

24th January 2020

 

“Fergus, Colin and Jimmy are coming over to my house tomorrow afternoon for lunch and to play some footie. Dae ye want to come over too? Ye haven’t been over in a while. My mam says ye can stay for tea tae if ye want?.” Rabbie asked me as we left the classroom for lunch time.

“No thanks Rabbie. I’m actually going away this weekend.”

“If ye dinna want to come over Fergus, just say so. Ye dinna have to make up lies.”

“I’m not. I’m going up to the Highlands today after school. I won’t be home until Sunday night.”

“Aye whatever. Now that yer back living in that unwanted kids home, ye wilna be gan anywhere. But, if he’d rather hang around with all the other unwanted kids than us, that’s fine. I’ll no be inviting ye over again.” Robbie huffed and turned and walked away.

I suppose what he said should hurt me, but it doesn’t. To be honest, I don’t really care. I know what everyone in school is saying about me behind my back since I moved back to the group home. They look down their nose at me as if I’m something disgusting they stepped in.

I don’t want to hang around with my so called friends any more because I know that whilst they may not say anything as bad as everyone else, they don’t defend me either. I know they are really embarrassed to be seen with me. I know that it was really Rabbie’s mothers idea for me to go over tomorrow. Rabbie and the boys have been talking about this weekend all week and never bothered to invite me before. That’s okay. As soon as I get home from school, I pick up my bags and Mr Fraser and Ms Beauchamp will soon be round to pick me up and they’re taking me to Mr Fraser’s family home. Faith says it’s a really big house and there are stables with horses. Mr Fraser even promised to take ,e riding tomorrow.

 

I headed down to the lunch hall to collect my lunch. It’s Friday, so there wasn’t a lot of variety of food left by the time I got down to the tuck shop. I always get my lunch from the tuck shop instead of having a cooked meal for lunch. The cooked meals at school aren’t that tasty. I get a home cooked meal at night anyway. I usually have either a filled roll or a sandwich, a banana and some orange juice.

When it was my turn to be served, there was only sandwiches left, but it was only egg or ham left. Neither of them really appeal to me, but I chose the ham anyway. Better than eating nothing I suppose. There was no bananas left, so today I ended up having some shortbread instead. Luckily, there was one last orange juice left.

I took my lunch and walked outside to the playground. It’s January, so the weather is pretty cold, but I don’t want to be sat in the hall with everyone’s else staring at me and talking about the “poor boy who was dumped in the unwanted kids home”.

 

The rest of the day at school went by so slow. I couldn’t wait to get on the road with Faith and her family. I still can’t believe they actually want me to go with the, for the weekend.

When Rachael told me that Faith was going to be moving home with her real mother, I was really upset.

When Faith was just a baby, only a few months old, she came to live with us at the group home. We lived together for a few months before I went off to live with a foster family. Faith was just a baby, somI didn’t take much notice of her. Faith was the only baby living in the home with us at the time.

I was only with that foster family for about six weeks before they sent me back to the home. To this day, I don’t know what I did wrong. When I went back to the group home, Faith was still there. I didn’t quite understand why though. Most people wanted to foster or adopt babies, not children over the ages of three or four.

After a while, I was fostered again by another family. It was going really well. I really thought they wanted me. I really thought they loved me, but then the woman fell pregnant and they decided they didn’t want me anymore. I went back to the home for a while and then I was fostered by Rachael and her husband. Everything was going really well. They had a son of their own who was quite a bit older than me, but we got on quite well. Then after I was living with them for a couple of months, they brought Faith home. For a little while I thought they brought her home to replace me, but they wanted us both. For the first time I felt like I was really part of a real family. I felt a big responsibility towards Faith. I knew her from the home, and now we were fostered by the same family. I knew early on that no matter what would happen in the future, Faith would always have me and I would always have her.

When I found out that Faith was going to be moving in with her real mother, I was very very upset. I felt like I was losing my little sister. I suppose I was really lucky though. This kind of thing happens in our situations, but Ms Beauchamp always made it clear that I was welcome to visit Faith anytime. I was able to speak to Faith on the phone too. It wasn’t the same, but at least it was something. Ms Beauchamp didn’t need to allow that. She could of easily taken Faith home and I would never of seen or heard from her again, but she didn’t.

 

A few months ago, Racheal took extremely ill and was in hospital for about a week. No one told me what was going on. I was placed in an emergency placement with another family for that week. It was one of the worst weeks of my life. And I’ve had a lot of bad weeks in my lifetime.

When I eventually got home to Rachael, she told me that she was sick. Very sick and did t know if she could look after me anymore. She and her husband had to focus on her getting better. Which, of course. I totally understand, but that meant that I was taken back to the group home for “unwanted kids”. When I first went back to the home, Rachael called me at least once a day, but after a week, she just stopped. I called her one day and her husband told me that I shouldn’t bother Rachael whilst she tries to recover.

I suppose it’s true what the kids at school say... I’m just an unwanted kid.

 

I don’t remember getting to Lallybroch. I fell asleep in the car sometime after stopping in Aviemore for a snack and a drink. Mr Fraser must have carried me from the car to my room because I just remember waking up in the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. The room is beautifully decorated too. It’s a nice calming blue colour with some splashes of cream to break the blue up a bit.

 

Dinner was lovely. Ms Beauchamp made some sausages, chips and beans. Mr Fraser joked about how Ms Beauchamp couldn’t cook properly, so this was a safe option for Faith and I.

We spoke about all sorts of things. I told them about school and the latest project we have been asked to do. I told them I couldn’t decide on which topic to research, but both Mr Fraser and Ms Beauchamp have offered to help me in anyway they can.

Faith is lucky to have them as parents.

Claire told me that when the girls go to sleep, she and Jamie would like to speak to me about something. I never would of dreamed of the talk we would have.

 

Once both Bree and Faith were asleep, Ms Beauchamp, Mr Fraser and I say on the couch in the living room. Basically, they want to foster me. Well, no. They want to ADOPT me.

I was in complete shock when they were speaking to me. I was trying to take it all in. They want to foster me first to see if I like living with them, then, if I want them to, they want to adopt me.

All I could do was stay silent and nod my head slightly.

Why?

Why do they want to take me in?

Am I that pathetic, they feel sorry for me?

I agreed to think it all over and excused myself and came up to bed.

 

They are wonderful people. A wonderful family. Faith’s family.

Could I really be a part of it too?

I know they say that I am already part of the family, but I don’t understand why they would want to take me in.

Honestly, I would love nothing more than to be part of their family. They are the most kind and wonderful people I have ever met. They are wonderful parents to both Faith and Bree. The fact that they have allowed me to still be part of Faith’s life is amazing. I don’t take that for granted. I could of easily lost all contact with Faith, but Ms Beauchamp didn’t allow that to happen.

I would love to be part of their family. Properly. But, what if it doesn’t work out? What if they decide they made a mistake and then I do lose all contact with Faith? I don’t think I could cope with that.

Us children that have been abandoned or left in care don’t have many constants in our lives, but Faith is the only constant in mine. I can’t lose her.

What if I say no because I’m scared things will change and then they stop me seeing Faith because I said no to living with them?

No, I don’t think they would do that. They’re really nice people.

If I could chose anyone to be my parents, it would be them.

 

After over an hour sat in my room thinking things over, I decide to go down stairs to speak with them. As I approach the doorway in to the living room, I see them both cuddled up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn about to watch something on the tv. I just stand there still and quiet. Just staring at these wonderful people who want me to join their family.

Ms Beauchamp looks over and sees me standing here.

“Are you alright sweetheart?”

“Ye struggling to sleep lad?”

“Em, no. I, um. Well, I’ve made a decision about your offer.”

Mr Fraser puts the bowl of popcorn down on the coffee table in front of him and Ms Beauchamp walks over to me and gives me a hug.

“It doesn’t matter what you decide sweetheart, Jamie and I will always be here for you. We meant it when we said we love you. We just want what’s best for you.” She takes me but the hand and takes me over to sit on the couch as before. Them on either side of me and Ms Beauchamp is covering my hands with her own.

 

“I would just like to thank you both for allowing me to spend time with your wonderful family. And for bringing me here to Lallybroch this weekend with you all. I just...”

“Look lad, if ye dinna want us to foster ye or adopt ye, that’s fine. It was just an idea Claire and I had. We both love ye so much and we just wanted to provide ye with the lovin’ home ye deserve.”

“If I could chose anyone to be my parents, it would be you two. I see the way you are with Faith and Bree, and that’s what I want.”

Ms Beauchamp moves slightly closer to me and wraps her arm around me shoulder and pulls me in to her. “Oh Fergus. You can have that too, with us. We want to be your parents too.”

“I just worry that it won’t work out. Having a family hasn’t worked out for me so far. Most of all, I’m worried about never seeing Faith again if it doesn’t work out.”

“Why would it no work out? Fergus, I know that it hasna worked out for ye in the past, but this is different. Claire and I love you so much. We love ye like a son.”

“Like our OWN son.”

“Really?” I turn to look at both of them and they both nod their head as if that was something I should of already known. “Well, I would really like to be part of your family. If you’ll have me?”

“Of course we will.” They both told me at the same time.

Ms Beauchamp lifted me up on to her lap and held me the same way she does with Faith. “We will speak to Mary on Monday and see how quickly we can get things rolling. Would you like for Jamie and I to foster you first and then you can decide if you want us to adopt you later or not? The choice is yours sweetheart. We don’t want to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

“I, um. Well, I don’t mind. Whatever you want to do is fine.”

“Well, would ye mind if we applied to adopt ye lad? As far as we’re concerned, you are ours. Our son. We would like to make it official. But, only if that’s okay with ye.”

“That would be good.”

Ms Beauchamp pulls me closer for another cuddle. Mr Fraser picks up the bowl of popcorn from the coffee table and hands me the remote control.

“Ye can pick the film lad. Just dinna tell yer sister we let ye stay up with us a bit later, aye?”

I take the remote from him and scroll through Netflix and put on Jumanji.

“Ah Fergus, that’s rated 12.” Ms Beauchamp explains to me.

I turn to look at her, “I know, but I’ve seen it before and it’s quite funny.”

“Calm down Claire, ye said ye wanted to see it anyway.”

The three of us settle on to the couch together and we start to watch the film. I don’t get much of the popcorn as Mr Fraser has the majority of it. I don’t care though, I’m just happy being here with them.

Hopefully this will all work out.

It just feels right me being here with them.

Throughout the movie, I can feel Ms Beauchamp just staring at me. I cuddle in to her to let her know everything is okay.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

25th January 2020

 

I awake very early in the morning to a screaming Bree. As I turn to get out of bed, Jamie reaches to pull me back.

“Dinna fash Sassenach, I’ll see to the lass. Ye just get some more sleep.”

“It’s fine Jamie, you got up the last time.”

“I ken, but it’s no even six. I canna sleep anyway, so I’ll sit with the lass while ye sleep a bit longer.”

Jamie kisses my cheek before getting up and lifting our child from her crib and carrying her out of the room. It’s hard to argue with him as I really could do with sleeping just a little bit longer.

 

The next time I wake, Jamie and Bree are no where to be seen. I reach over to my bedside table and grab my phone to check the time. Jamie obviously turned my alarm off at some point as I don’t recall hearing it. It’s well after eight.

I silently curse the man for allowing me to sleep so long but also thank him for letting me rest.

I climb out of bed and make my way through to the en-suite for a shower and get myself ready for the day. I know that Jamie is taking both Fergus and Faith riding round the grounds today, but I’m not sure what else Jamie has planned for today. I am aware that it is Burns Day today. Jamie hasn’t mentioned anything specifically, but I can guarantee that he has planned something for the family.

 

When I come down stairs and walk in to the kitchen, Fergus and Faith are both sat at the kitchen table eating their porridge that Jamie made for them.

“Mam, da say he left you some in the micoway to heat up.”

“Sounds lovely sweetheart. Where is your daddy and Bree this morning?” I walk over to Faith and kiss the top of her head before heating up my porridge in the microwave.

“Outside.”

“Alright. And how are you two this morning? I’m sorry I wasn’t up earlier, your father must have turned my alarm off. I didn’t even hear any of you getting up this morning.”

“We are fine thank you Ms Beauchamp. Mr Fraser said it was a good idea to let you rest this morning since you were up most of the night with Bree.”

“Well I’m glad. Did you sleep alright? It’s a big house and it can take a bit of getting used to here. And yes, Bree was pretty unsettled last night for some reason.” I say to Fergus as I sit down across from him and Faith with my own bowl of porridge.

“Yes, I slept wonderfully ma’am. The bed is so comfortable. The most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. Thank you so much to you and Mr Fraser for inviting me this weekend.”

“No problem sweetheart. I’m glad you settled in well, but Fergus please, for the last time, it’s just Jamie and Claire.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t apologise for being polite sweetheart, but we’re family. You don’t need to be so formal with us.” I reach over and take a hold of his hand and give it a small squeeze.

 

After the three of us finish breakfast, Jamie takes Faith and Fergus out on a tour around the estate. This gives me time to pop down to the village and get some things from the shops. Since I have Bree with me, there isn’t really time to have a proper wonder round all the local shops.

I don’t know why Bree was so fussy during the night. She wakes most nights, but nothing like last night. It seemed that every time I went to lay her back in her cot, she started to scream her little lungs out again. If Jamie had it his way, he would have her sleeping in the bed with us. There is no way that I’ll be allowing that. If we start letting her sleep in bed with us, the transition in to her own bed later will be even more tough for her. Not only that, I personally don’t understand why parents could even think of having a baby in bed with them at this age. I would be scared in case I rolled over the wrong way and squashed my child.

No. Bree will continue to sleep in her cot and Jamie will just have to let her get used to it.

 

Later on in the afternoon, Jamie goes out to help the young lads in the stables. Faith decides she wants to go with him and see exactly what it is he does with the horses.

Bree is settled in her Moses basket for a little while and this gives Fergus and I a chance to speak properly.

Last night went really well. Jamie and I sat Fergus down and told him we wanted to adopt him. At first he didn’t really say anything and decided to head up to bed. A while later though, he returned to speak with Jamie and I. He thought about everything and he has agreed to the adoption.

I can’t even begin to put in to words how happy it makes me that Fergus is officially going to be part of this family. Officially be mine and Jamie’s son. I know that Faith will be over the moon when she finds out too. At the moment, we aren’t going to tell her anything until the process is underway. None of us want to get her hopes up in case something happens and things don’t work out the way we plan them to.

If, for whatever reason, Jamie and I can’t adopt Fergus, we still want to foster him. That boy is a part of our lives now. Part of our family. The love we have for him is too much to just sit back and watch him get lost in a very poor system.

For weeks and weeks now, Jamie and I have both witnessed the change in Fergus. The sadness. The worry. The fear. We can’t let him go on like that.

Since he’s been with us this weekend, he’s slowly began to go back to the happy, smiley and cheeky lad that he used to be. I will be doing my absolute best to make sure that this boy knows how much he is loved and wanted by Jamie and I.

 

Fergus is sat on the couch in the living room reading one of Jamie’s fathers books on Culloden. Fergus mentioned yesterday about maybe researching that topic for one of his school projects. Jamie’s father Brian certainly collected a rather large amount of information on lead up to the battle of Culloden. I’m sure Fergus will be able to find everything he needs right here at Lallybroch.

If we had more time, we would of happily taken Fergus to the Culloden visitor centre and the battlefield. Unfortunately we have to be back in Glasgow tomorrow evening for him being back to school on Monday. I think he said he had four weeks to complete this particular project, so hopefully Jamie and I could maybe bring Fergus up again in a couple of weeks.

“Fergus sweetheart, I’m making some tea. Would you like a cup?”

“No thank you. But could I have a small glass of milk please?”

“Of course you can my darling.”

 

When I come back in to the living room with my tea and Fergus’ milk, I hand him the glass and sit down next to him. He’s so engrossed in this book, but I think it’s important for us, well, for Fergus to get to know me properly. I know it isn’t the same, but my childhood is similar to Fergus’. I wasn’t abandoned by my parents, they died in a tragic accident, but I grew up from the age of five without them. Luckily, I had Lamb. He took me in and cared for me as his own daughter. If it wasn’t for Lamb, I could very easily of been in care like Fergus. And Faith.

I managed to get my life together with help from Jamie and I got my daughter back. I moved on from Frank and all the hurt he caused me over the years and I was able to be the mother my daughter deserved. Now I want to be the mother that Fergus deserves too.

“Have you thought any more about what Jamie and I discussed with you last night?” I ask Fergus before taking a sip of my tea and sliding back further on the couch.

Fergus gently closes his book after marking the page with one of Jamie’s old bookmarks and places the book on the coffee table before turning to me. “A little. I haven’t changed my mind though, if that’s what you mean?”

“I’m very glad to hear it. We meant what we said Fergus, we love you like our own son and we want the chance to be proper parents to you.”

“I would like that very much Ms... Claire.” I give Fergus a big smile and he returns one to me that reaches all the way up to his eyes. He hasn’t smiled this much since before he left Rachael’s to go back to the group home.

 

Fergus and I spend a good part of an hour just chatting between ourselves. He fills me in more about school and the way his class mates have been treating him lately. He tells me all about the rest of the kids in the group home. No one in the home seems to be around his age group. They are either a few years younger than him, or a few years older.

I tell Fergus all about my childhood and how it was my uncle Lamb who took me in and raised me after my parents death. Fergus and I have always had this bond, but I feel like now that I have shared more of my story with the boy, the closer we are. Our experiences are completely different, but in some ways, our feelings are just the same.

 

When Jamie and Faith eventually return from the stables, Jamie sends me upstairs to get the children all washed and ready for dinner. By the time we all come back down the stairs, the dining room is all kitted out in both the Fraser and MacKenzie tartans. The table is set for seven of us.

As I leave both Fergus and Faith in the living room and make my way to the kitchen, I find, not only Jamie, but Jocasta, Murtagh and Mrs Fitz as well.

“What ye daein’ in here Sassenach? Away will ye? Dinner will be ready soon. Away and get the kids settled at the table. Food’ll no be long aye.”

I don’t quite understand what’s happening, but it’s obvious it’s to do with it being Burns night. Both Jamie and Murtagh are dressed in their formal kilt wear. Both men wearing their Red Fraser tartan.

I’ve seen various pictures of Jamie in his kilt before, but nothing could of prepared me for the real thing. Just when I thought that man couldn’t get any more handsome, he goes and pulls a stunt like this.

I just hope that the rest of the family are staying tonight and they could be persuaded to watch out for the kids whilst I study Jamie a little bit more in his kilt.

 

I sit in between both Faith and Fergus at the table. Murtagh opposite me leaving Jocasta and Mrs Fitz on either side of him and Jamie at the head of the table.

Out of no where, music starts playing through the speakers in the dining room. A man’s a man for a’ that on the bagpipes. Jamie carries in the haggis and sets it down on the table. When the tune finishes, Jamie starts reciting all the usual speeches that normally get done at a Burns Supper and he dresses the haggis.

Soon, the music starts back up again and Jamie carries the haggis back through to the kitchen. Mrs Fitz and Jocasta follow Jamie and the three of them return with soup for everyone. Us adults are having broth and Fergus and Faith are having vegetable.

Once the starter is finished with and some convention, Jamie, Mrs Fitz and Jocasta return with our mains. Mince and tatties with some carrots for Faith and haggis, mince, neeps and tatties for the rest of us.

How they managed to pull all this off, I will never know.

More conversation happening around the table. Mainly everyone getting to know Fergus better. We haven’t told anyone about our plans yet, we’ll wait and see how we get on with Social Services first.

“So, why did ye no play the pipes yerself Jamie lad?” Jocasta asks Jamie.

“I’m sorry... you play the bagpipes Jamie?” How the hell did I not know this?

“Well, aye and no. I started learnin’ fae my uncle Dougal when I was about seven. Played in the local pipe band till I was about twelve and then gave it up. I still pulled my pipes out now and again just to keep my fingers gan, but I’ve been too busy with other things. Anyway, didna want to scare the bairns with the noise.”

“I want to hear ye play da.”

“Maybe another day mo leannan. Dinna want to disturb yer sister do we?”

“And what else have you neglected to tell me Mr Fraser?” I ask him with a small smirk.

 

That’s when I realise that even with the amount of time Jamie and I have known each other, and all the time we have lived together, even before we became a proper couple, there is still so much we don’t know about each other. Well, so much I don’t know about him.

I suppose it’s lucky we have the rest of our lives together for me to find all this stuff out.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

25th January 2020

 

Every single day since Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp came in to my life has been a gift.

From the first moment I saw the lass standing at the door of my flat, I kent she was the one for me.

My da always said that I would ken the one for me the second I laid eyes on her. I dinna quite believe it to be true. Lust at first sight, aye. But no love. No until the day I first laid eyes on her.

It took us so long, but we eventually gave in to our feelings towards one and other and became the family both of us so badly wanted. Needed.

I didna think I could love Claire any more than the day she fell pregnant with our wee Brianna or when we finally got together or the day Brianna was born, but I was wrong all them times. The love I have for this woman grows and grows every single day. I canna wait for the day she will finally be my wife.

Christ, if someone told me a three years ago I would soon be looking in to surrogacy to have a child of my own. That I would fall in love with the woman carrying my future child. That I would become a father to a three year old daughter before that child was even born. That I would be engaged to marry the love of my life. That we would be looking to adopt the wee lad who we have so much love for and couldna imagine our lives without him, I would of laughed so hard in their face.

It’s hard to believe how different my life has become since meeting Claire. I was so sick. So mad. So angry at the world. So sad and heartbroken. I didna think I deserved to be this happy. To have the life I have.

Almost everyone in my life that I loved was being taken away from me. Willie. My parents. I still had our Jenny though, and Ian, but it wasna the same.

I never thought I would be able to feel like a whole man again. I never thought my heart would be so full. I never thought I had so much love to give, but I do. For my sister and her family. For my godfather Murtagh and Aunt Jocasta. But more importantly, for Claire and our three wonderful children.

 

Last night, Claire and I spoke to Fergus about how we would like to foster him, or adopt him. He quite rightly so took some time to think on what we said, but ultimately, he approached us later in the evening and told us he would like for us to adopt him. I dinna think I’ve been this happy since the day Brianna was born and I first held her in my arms.

As far as both Claire and I are concerned, the lad is our son. Nothing would ever change that. Even if he decided he didn’t want us to take him in, we would still feel like his parents. I canna even begin to try and explain what it is I feel for the lad. He’s just... My son. I couldna love Fergus any more even if he was blood of my blood or bone of my bone. Same with Faith. She is my daughter and Fergus is my son.

 

It’s Burns Night tonight, which means a lot of Haggis. A lot of neeps. A lot of tatties. And a whole lot more whisky.

I want tonight to be as special as possible. Brianna is on,y a couple of months old so she won’t remember any of this, but Fergus and Faith are here, and they will remember.

Normally I would get my pipes out and pipe the haggis in myself, but they are quite loud and I dinna want to disturb Brianna if she’s asleep and I dinna ken how Faith would handle the noise.

Tonight, there will be bagpipes playing the haggis in and playing it out. It will just be played through the speakers in the dining room though. No exactly the same, but it will have to do.

 

I have Claire take both Fergus and Faith through to sit at the dining table and then send Jocasta and Murtagh in behind them no long after. All the food is cooked and ready, it’s just a case of keeping it all warm till we’re ready for that course.

Tonight we’re having broth soup for starters. The weans are having vegetable instead. Then, for our main course, we’re having haggis, mince, neeps and tatties. This is really the only time of the year I eat haggis. Burns night may be January 25th, but these Burns suppers can go on for weeks on end. Last year, I think I was invited to eleven Burns Suppers. I dae like haggis, but after eating so much in a matter of weeks, I find it best to leave it out the rest of the year. Claire likes it with a tattie scone in her breakfast roll now and again. Tonight though, she’ll eat it as it’s supposed to be. Faith isna all that impressed with haggis. She doesna mind it, but I thought tonight she would be happier with mince, tatties and some carrots instead of turnip. As for dessert, just a simple scoop or two of vanilla ice cream for the kids which they can top with whatever flavour of sauce they like. I also got some wee hundreds and thousands to top their ice cream too and some flakes. Us adults will enjoy some wee cake dessert Mrs Fitz prepared earlier. She hasna told me what it is yet and she hasna let me have a look. As if I would try and sneak a piece before hand.

 

Before it’s time for me and Mrs Fitz to head on through to join the rest of the family with the haggis and whisky, Murtagh stands at the table and recites the short, but verra important prayer, The Selkirk Grace.

“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the lord be thankit.”

 

Once I ken everyone is seated comfortably, I press play on my phone and the pipes start playing through the speakers in the dining room. I carry the haggis through to the dining room and Mrs Fitz follows behind me with a tray with the whisky. Every one is standing at the table and clapping their hands in time with the music as Mrs Fitz and I make our way over to the table. It warms my heart to see Claire and two of our kids embrace Burns Night like this.

When the pipes stop, everyone takes their seats and waits for me to address the haggis.

After I complete my recital, I toast the haggis before staring the music again and Mrs Fitz and I head back in to the kitchen with the haggis. Again, everyone claps in time to the piper as we leave the room.

 

We sit down to our three course dinner. And have some verra nice conversation. It gives everyone a chance to get better acquainted with wee Fergus. Aunt Jocasta then asks me a wee while later why I wasna piping myself. Claire got a shock. I hadna actually told the lass that I could play the pipes. I was young when Dougal first started teachin’ me, and I was still pretty young when I stopped playin’ in my local Pipe Band, but I always kept my hand in. I pipe at the odd weddin’ and such. Mainly Burns Suppers though. I just didna want to disturb wee Brianna or upset Faith if she didna like the sound. Bagpipes are quite a loud instrument. Faith insists she wants to hear me play though, so that must be a good sign. Maybe I’ll get my pipes out when we get back to Glasgow and give her a wee tune.

 

After all three courses are done, Murtagh stands to deliver the immortal memory. A speech about Rabbie Burns and his life. His politics. His nationalism. His literary genious. His highs and lows. The speech is to paint a colourful picture of Scotland’s beloved bard, showing some serious intent and some sparkling wit.

“...To the immortal memory of Robert Burns.”

 

After the immortal memory, I stand to give my toast to the lassies. The toast to the lassies is designed to praise the role of women in our world today. It is usually done by selecting quotes from Burns’ work and working them in to the toast to build towards a positive note. To make the toast more meaningful, it is a good idea to reference the women present. Tonight I have the wonderful Mrs Fitz who has been part of my life since I was a wee bairn. My Aunt Jocasta who has been a tremendous support to me. And finally, my beautiful and strong soon to be wife Claire and our daughters Faith and Brianna, who is upstairs asleep.

“...To the lassies!”

 

Next up is Aunt Jocasta delivering the Reply to the lassies. This is a speech where the women get their chance to seek revenge and reply to the men.

 

Always a great laugh is had at Burns Suppers with these speeches. It’s all light hearted and great fun.

 

Not long after the speeches, Claire and I take Fergus and Faith up to their rooms and tuck them in to bed. We allowed Faith to stay up a wee bit longer the night so she could join in for more of the night. She really enjoyed it. Fergus did too. Fergus has even decided he wants me to teach him piping. I have to say, I nearly fell off my chair when he asked me. The pride I felt that this young lad wants to take up a new hobby and even more, wants me to be a part of it too, it just made my heart swell.

It was such a beautiful day and evening spent with family. Fergus and Faith were extremely tired by the time they went to bed that they both fall asleep almost instantly.

Claire and I make our way back downstairs to help with the clearing up, but Mrs Fitz assures us she has everything under control and sends Claire and I back upstairs to pack an overnight bag as we are to stay in one of the newly refurbished cottages on the estate tonight instead.

“Ye two need a night off. Ye’s need some time for yerself. Between me, Murtagh and Jo, the bairns will all be fine. Just go and relax and have some fun.”

“Thank ye Mrs Fitz, but honestly—“

“Dinna argue wi me lad. It’s one night. No even a full ten hours. Just, go and get some well earned rest.”

“Thank ye Mrs Fitz. Truly.”

 

Claire and I hurriedly make our way back upstairs to chuck some clothes and things in to an overnight bag before making our way outside and taking a short walk down to the cottage.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

25th January 2020

 

This weekend has been the most wonderful weekends I’ve had in a long time. A fantastic weekend spent with Jamie and some of our family celebrating Robert Burns. I know last night meant a lot to Jamie, sharing this Scottish tradition with me and the children. The kids really enjoyed themselves too. Fergus even wants Jamie to teach him the bagpipes when we get back to Glasgow. I think that was the highlight of Jamie’s weekend. Well, I suppose it was a close second to Fergus agreeing to us adopting him.

God, I really hope this all works out. Fergus is and always will be a part of mine and Jamie’s family. I will be devastated if for whatever reason, we can’t adopt him officially as our own son. The talks we have had with Social Services so far have been very encouraging though, so fingers crossed.

 

After Jamie and I put Fergus and Faith to bed, Mrs Fitz told Jamie and I that the cottage was all set up for us to enjoy a break for ourselves. We were kind of reluctant to leave all three kids with Mrs Fitz and Murtagh and Jocasta, but Mrs Fitz insisted they would all be fine and if Jamie or I were needed, they would let us know.

The walk down to the cottage didn’t take too long. Maybe five or ten minutes. It only seemed longer because of how dark and cold it is here in the Highlands. Especially in January.

 

As soon as Jamie and I made our way through the front door in the cottage, we noticed the fire had been set and there was plenty of food and drinks for us for the night. Not that I felt I needed any more to eat then, dinner was very filling. Jamie had given me a bit more haggis than everyone else as he knows how much I like it.

We made our way through to the main bedroom at the back of the cottage to unpack our overnight bag.

As soon as everything was unpacked and put away, Jamie went to remove his Jacket and waistcoat. I didn’t mind as he must of been roasting in his full outfit. When he went to remove his waist belt around his kilt however, I had to put a stop to it.

“And what in gods name do you think you’re doing?”

“Getting changed. Ye no daein’ the same Sassenach?”

“No I am not. It’s still very early and I haven’t had the opportunity to really take in your outfit.” I moved over to him and grabbed his hand before he could do any more.

He raised an eyebrow at me. “Well lass, far be it from me to stop the opportunity of you takin’ me in my kilt.” I chuckled a little and gently pushed him away.

“Well, I’ve never seen you in your kilt before. In fact, I’ve never seen any man in a kilt before. In real life I mean.” I slid a little closer to him and reached up in my tip toes a give him a quick peck on his cheek. “Now tell me Mr Fraser, are you a REAL Scotsman or...”

“What dae ye think Sassenach?” He whispered in my ear.

God the things this man does to me.

“Well, I’m curious. That’s why I asked.”

“Why don’t ye find out for yerself?” Jamie attempts to wink at me and I can’t help but giggle.

“Hmmm, maybe later.” I turned around to head out of the bedroom and back to the kitchen.

“Eh? Where ye gan Sassenach? Ye canna just work me up like that and walk away.”

“Sorry darling, but this is the first time in a while that I have the opportunity to have a cup of tea and drink it whilst it’s actually hot. You’re not going to deprive me are you?” I call through to him as he follows me to the kitchen.

“Of course I’ll no deprive ye of a wee cuppa hot tea. Just dinna deprive me of ye later aye?”

“Of course not. Just DON’T take of your kilt. I’ll see to that later.” I gave him a wink as he grinned at me and then I went on to make us both a nice hot cup of tea.

 

We sat in the living room of the cottage and cuddled up on the couch together and watched a couple of episodes of Still Game. I have to admit, it’s one of the funniest sitcoms I’ve seen on television in a long time. It’s just a nice and easy show to watch when your trying to unwind. The characters are hilarious and the writing has been very well done. I can see why so many Scots enjoy the show. It’s not only Scots that watch it any more, now that the show has been put on Netflix. I think my favourite character has to be Isa, the gossip of Craiglang. She’s so funny. Trying her best to stick her nose in other people’s business. Some of her lines are just hilarious. I think everyone in the world knows an Isa. I think that’s what’s so special about this show as well, the fact that the characters are so relatable. Either you relate to them on a personal note, or you know someone just like them. When Jamie first made me watch it, I didn’t think I would like it, but it’s one of them shows where you can’t help but love and watch over and over. It’s a shame there won’t be any new episodes, but there are nine seasons of the show, seven of them available on Netflix.

 

When we finished the two episodes of Still Game, Jamie turned off the television and took our mugs over to put in the sink. He brought over a couple of chocolate brownies for us and some pouring cream. When he sat back down next to me and handed me my bowl, I had a couple of mouthfuls and placed the bowl down on the coffee table beside my seat.

“Ye no hungry Sassenach?”

“For chocolate brownie, no. For you, always.”

I don’t even recall what Jamie did with his bowl, but the next thing I know, Jamie has me thrown over his shoulder and he carried me down to our bedroom.

Once we got there, he lay me down gently on the bed and started to unbutton his shirt and slide it off.

The man is built like some Viking god. How is this man even real? How is he mine? All I can do is sit up and stare at this magnificent creature standing in front of me.

“Ye just gonna sit there and stare at me all night?” I just gently shook my head. Very aware that my mouth was open extremely wide. I’m surprised I wasn’t drooling. “Ye gonna let me show ye how much I love ye then?”

With that, I reached up and removed his waist belt and let it clatter to the floor at the bottom of the bed. I stood up directly in front of Jamie and kissed him. I found two buckles on the right side of his kilt and I undid them as quickly as possible and then I realised there was another buckle on the left. As soon I undid the buckle on the left, the kilt dropped to the floor.

Yes. He is a true Scotsman.

He sat down on the bottom of the bed and removed his flashes and socks. He was completely naked and I was still fully clothed. Not for long though. Jamie grabbed me by my waist and pulled me towards him and he slowly lifted my dress up and over my head and he dropped it down beside his kilt. He reached behind me and unclasped my bra and let it drop the the floor between us.

There was only one item of clothing between us now, and just as I went to hook my thumbs in to my panties, Jamie took a hold of my hands and pulled them away. He didn’t say anything, but his eyes were getting a darker and darker shade of blue as they always did when we were about to make love.

Before I had time to ask him what was happening, Jamie had me pinned to the bed beneath him and he started to slide my panties off of me with his teeth. As I looked down at him, I couldn’t help but think that I just wanted him inside me right then.

He looked up at me and grinned before kissing my mouth and keeping me pinned down. My legs wrapped around his waist and as he pushed his hips to mine, I gasped at the feel of his hardness pressing against me. He moved his mouth along my jaw and down my neck leaving wet kisses as his cock slid against my wetness making me cry out with pure pleasure.

Jamie glanced up at me again and grinned before taking one of my nipples in his mouth. He bit and licked and sucked. I was aching for him. I was wet and ready for him to take me.

“Now Jamie. Please.” I begged him.

I cried out as he pushed himself inside me in one thrust. He moved slowly at first and then he moved harder. I groaned as he pushed in me and withdrew. He pushed a little deeper each time.

That was probably the best sex I had ever had in my life. The sex is always good with Jamie, but last night was amazing.

My body started to shake and I tightened around his cock. We both gasped as we came together. He kept thrusting in to me though and poured himself inside me.

It was the most powerful orgasm I have ever had. I could hardly breathe.

Jamie pulled out of me gently and he turned us both on our sides to look at each other.

“I love ye so much Sassenach.”
“I love you too Jamie.”

We kissed and he held me tightly in his arms as we drifted off to sleep.

 

In my whole life, I never dreamed of finding a love like this. I thought the kind of love Jamie and I have was only in books or movies. It isn’t usual. I don’t know what it is exactly. I guess this must be what they call true love.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

28th February

I feel like I’ve been trapped in my office for the last month. Business is booming, even more so than before, and that means a lot of late night stays at the office and even more meetings with customers either over the phone or in person. It’s bound to be weighing on Claire and the bairns, I ken it’s frustrating for me, but I canna help it. Ian’s in the same boat. We have a fantastic and dedicated work force, but maybe it’s time to see about hiring some more staff to help out with some of the office work and the day to day running of the company. I canna speak for Ian, but I think I can safely say that he isna too happy about missing out in his bairns growin’ up, just like me with my own bairns.

It’s a wonderful company, and I’m so verra proud of all the hard work Ian and I have both put in to building the company to be even more successful than it was when we first took over. I just, I need to be at home more with my family. I’m sick of gettin’ hame to Claire and the bairns all fast asleep in bed and me being up and out the door before they wake in the mornin’. It isna fair on anyone. I can imagine Ian feelin’ the same with Jenny and their bairns.

Nah, the only thing we can do is hire one ore two more bodies to help with the day to day running of things.

 

It was Valentine’s Day a couple of weeks ago. Both Ian and I made the decision to finish work at four and get hame to the ladies in our lives. I dinna ken what his plans were with Jenny, and to be honest, I dinna think I want to ken. But my plan was finishing at four and going straight home to spend a couple of hours with my daughters before showering and gettin’ ready to take my Sassenach out for a lovely meal. Just the two of us.

Ideally, I would have liked to be able to take Claire away for the night. Not too far away, but it would of given us the chance to spend more time together. We’ve been like two ships passing in the night lately and it’s no good. We have so much we should be discussing. The lassies will be baptised soon. I feel like I just left Claire to organise it all when it was my idea to have them baptised. I ken Jenny’s been a great help to Claire these past couple of weeks and makes my heart fit to burst that they seem to be getting on a lot better these days. There’s no awkwardness between them now. I just wish that it was me that was helping to organise my own children’s christenings.

The Christening isn’t the only major event coming up. We are currently in the process of applying to adopt wee Fergus. The application has been sent in and the council and social services are reviewing it. Mary told Claire and I that it’s a long process and could take anything between six months and a year to be all finalised, if we’re approved.

Claire and I spoke again with Mary about the idea of fostering Fergus whilst the adoption process is happening. Mary didn’t have any concerns and went to work straight away to see how quickly we could get things rolling. It’s been a few weeks, but we’ve had many, many meetings with social services and Fergus. Social services have been to the house and done their inspections and things and well, finally, Claire and I were approved to become Fergus’ foster parents. The lad will be moving in with us officially next week.

Christ, I canna begin to explain how happy I am. The lad is fairly excited too. In fact, he’s even improved at school with his behaviour and his school work. He still isn’t mixing much with the other children in his class, but at least he has a bit of his old spark back.

Mary, Claire and I had a discussion with Fergus and asked him if he wanted to continue at the school he already attends, or if he would like to start a new school closer to the house. He opted for the latter. That was no surprise to any of us. He will start his new school on the Monday after he comes to live with us. I think he’s nervous, but excited about his new school. He’s no too keen on the uniform, but he is really impressed with the amount of lunch time and after school clubs there are. That can only be a positive.

 

Anyway, unfortunately Valentines Day didna work out as planned. Before I managed to leave the office, I got called down to a fight that broke out between a couple of our workers down at the distillery. A couple of the barrells were knocked over and I dinna ken what happened exactly, but one of the other lads ended up crushing his right hand under one of the fallen barrels. Luckily the lads alright. He broke a couple of fingers, but it could of been a lot worse according to the doctor at the hospital.

Unfortunately, because of all this nonsense, I didna get to spend Valentines Day with my love. I didna get hame till nearer ten o’clock. I didna even get the chance to speak with Claire that night as she was already asleep when I got hame.

When I slid in to bed beside her, she was still asleep, but I could tell she knew I was home. She turned over to face me and moved slightly closer and draped her arm over my chest. I turned and kissed the top of her head and told her I was sorry and how much I love her. I had hoped to speak with her when we woke to see to Brianna during the night, but I must of slept right through.

I never got the the chance to spend breakfast with my girls the next morning either. I was up and away to a meeting in Inverness before anyone was awake.

Today though, today I have left work early. I am on my way home to see my beautiful fiancé and our beautiful daughters. The plan is to stop in at a florist on the way home and pick up a nice bouquet of flowers for Claire and then stop off for some chocolates for Faith and somethin’ for Brianna.

When I get home, Claire is pleasantly surprised to see me. I didna tell her I was finishing early as I didna want to get her hopes up and disappoint her yet again if somethin’ came up with work.

“What on earth are you doing home so early?” Claire made her way to meet me at the front door and kissed my cheek.

“Well, like yerself Sassenach, I was verra disappointed to no be able to spend Valentines with ye. I thought I would surprise ye the day.” I handed her the bunch of red roses I bought for her and kissed her quickly on the mouth before Faith came runnin’ round the corner and leapt in to my arms. “And these are for ye a leannan. Just, dinna eat them all the now and spoil dinner later, aye?”

“Oh wow. Thank you Da.” Faith took the box of white chocolate and disappeared after I let her down.

Claire and I made our way in to the kitchen where she put her new flowers in a vase. “Louise will be over in a couple of hours Sassenach to watch the bairns whilst I take ye out for a romantic dinner and some dancing.”

“Jamie, you really didn’t need to do any of this. Just seeing you, actually seeing you is more than anything I could ever want right now.” She made her way over to me and wrapped her arms around my waist and buried her head under my chin.

“I ken love. It’s been a tough few weeks, but I just want tonight to be about ye and me, having fun and celebrating our love for each other. I asked Louise to come around half five so that would give ye plenty time to get yerself ready and it will give me some much needed time with the lassies.”

“It sounds wonderful Jamie. Where are you taking me exactly?”

“Tis a surprise Sassenach. Just be patient.” I grin and give her a kiss on the top of her head.

Claire pulls back from me to look me in the eye. “Jamie, I need some sort of clue. How am I supposed to know what to wear or how to style my hair or know what kind of make up I should apply?”

“First off, ye dinna need any make up Sassenach. Yer beautiful just as ye are. All ye need on yer face is that perfect wee smile of yers.” She couldna help but smile at that. “Second, yer hair is absolutely fine the way it is. And thirdly, I dinna care what ye wear, ye always look beautiful. All ye need to ken is we are goin’ for a nice romantic meal, and then we’re goin’ dancing. Maybe dinna wear too big a heel the night then eh?”

 

We get the lassies fed and ready for bed before Louise comes over. Still kinda early for their bed but, since I’ve no been around much at their bedtimes, I wanted to help bathe them and get them in to their pyjamas. It’s the wee things ken? Simple things like this that I’ve missed. Wee Brianna screamin’ her wee lungs out when it’s bath time. The lass just doesna like the water. Her sister on the other hand, it’s a struggle to get her in the bath, but once she’s their, ye canna get her out again. She kicks up somethin’ fierce whenever Claire or I tell her it’s time to get out. Still, I wouldna have my lassies any other way. I wouldna want to spend my evenings any other way.

My beautiful, perfect wee family mean the world to me. I never dare dreamed that all this could be mine. A wife. Two daughters. A son.

I knew, when I first met Claire that she would be the woman that I would spend the rest of my days with. Build a family with. I could never dream that we would be so happy and so full of love for our growing family. I just wish we were both braver, sooner. The amount of time we missed out on being together. I suppose though, everythin’ happens for a reason. We both needed to heal ourselves before startin’ on our journey together. What a journey it’s been though.

A wife. Two daughters. A son.

My verra own family.

My loves.

 

Louise arrives to take care of the bairns. She and I are standing in the living room chatting whilst I wait on Claire to come down the stairs. Faith is sat at the coffee table drawing Louise a picture of Lallybroch. Just as I turn to go and make Louise a cup of coffee in the kitchen, Claire appears at the door way.

Wow.

This woman is incredible. I canna believe she’s mine.

Claire is stood there in a beautiful red dress that really shows off the shape of her gorgeous body. The neckline is cut in to a low cut “V” shape.

Christ. I ken every man with eyes in his head will be staring at her the night. Normally I would be quite jealous. I suppose I will be. I dinna like men lookin’ at my Sassenach. But, at least I ken she’s comin’ hame with me at the end of the night.

“Christ Sassenach, ye look... really bonnie.”

“You don’t think it’s too much then?” She asks me with a slight smile tugging at her lips.

“Well, I would say it doesna cover enough of yer chest, but I suppose it really suits ye. Ye look beautiful mo neighan donn. BUT, I’ll thank men no to be starin’ too hard at ye the night.” I walk over to her and take her right hand in mine and bring it up to my lips so I can kiss it.

We say our goodbyes to the lassies and Louise and make our way out to the restaurant for our belated Valentines meal. The restaurant is only about a ten minute drive from the house, so it doesna take that long. Claire seems verra quiet. I can tell there’s somethin’ on her mind but, I’m sure she’ll tell me when she’s ready. I had hoped that there would be a lot more conversation since we’ve barely been able to have a proper conversation in about a month that didna consist of the bairns and wee Fergus.

When we arrive at the restaurant, we are seated at a wee table through the back. I was able to hire out the whole back room of the restaurant just for Claire and I. It’s nice and intimate. It’s not too small either so we dinna feel closer in. Tis perfect.

The waiter takes our drinks order and leaves us to look over the menu. I dinna have work tomorrow, but I did bring the car tonight so I wilna be drinkin’. I suppose I coulda got a taxi for Claire and I, but I decided to drive us myself. Claire offered to drive home so I could have a whisky or two, but I said no. I will enjoy myself simply just bein’ in her company, I dinna need alcohol. I just want to spend some quality time with her. My sorcha.

We both decided on the same dish for our starters. Just a simple bowl of lentil soup. The restaurant has a takeaway during lunch hours and Claire sometimes enjoys ordering some soup for her and Faith now and again. The soup here is quite delicious, so it wasn’t difficult to choose that as our starter. For our main course, Claire chose the seared duck with mashed sweet potato. It looked really nice, but I opted for the spaghetti carbonara for a wee change. It’s been a while since I had carbonara. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. When it came to ordering the deserts, we decided to just split a slice of chocolate orange cheesecake.

The conversation had flowed verra nicely throughout the evening. We talked about the lassies, especially how Faith is getting on at her playgroup. Fergus, and how well he’s doing in school and how we can’t wait for him to be coming to live with us soon. We spoke about the lassies christening and how well Claire and Jenny have worked together to try and get everythin’ done and organised in time. It breaks my heart that I havena been able to help Claire as much as I should. Their my daughters. I should be the one helpin’ Claire organise everythin’, no my sister. Though, I am grateful for Jenny’s help. We discussed our weddin’. Claire has some wonderful ideas for our big day and I canna wait to finally have this incredible woman as my wife.

We went on to talk about our therapy sessions and how well we’re both doing. Maybe a heavy subject for the night, but it’s good to talk things through with each other. This conversation led to Claire openin’ up about somethin’ she has been thinkin’ about for a wee while now. Somethin’ I didna even ken she was even considerin’. It just, it makes me really realise how absent I’ve been these last few weeks.

“Jamie? Jamie? I need you to tell me what your thinking?” I can see Claire speakin’ to me, but I dinna quite near what she’s sayin’ to me.
She reaches over to take a hold of my hand. “Jamie, please.”

“Sorry Sassenach. I just... I didna ken ye were plannin’ on goin’ back to work? I mean, when ye decided to resign fae the hospital, ye made it seem so final. So definite.”

“I know. At the time I was just... Jamie, I wasn’t myself back then. I was grieving for Uncle Lamb. Grieving over your baby—“

“OUR baby Claire.” I didna mean to raise my voice, it’s just, that is one thing we havena really discussed since it happened. The miscarriage.

“Jamie, the point is, I was a mess. I was depressed. Deeply. I couldn’t even bond with Bree who was growing inside me. I was just a mess.” Claire pulled her chair round to my side of the table so she was sat next to me. “I need this Jamie. I need to go back to work.”

“What about the bairns Sassenach? Dae ye no want to be at hame with them or somethin’? Are ye strugglin’? I promise I’ll do better Claire. I’ll stick to workin’ what I said I would and no more.”

“It isn’t that Jamie. I need this. I love the girls, and I love being at home with them, but I need to get back to normal. I miss my job. I miss helping people. I miss nursing. A job has come for a nursing position at the clinic Jamie. It’s part time. Three days a week, eight till four. It isn’t exactly what I did in the hospital, but it’s still nursing. Still helping and taking care of people. It’s perfect Jamie. There’s a crèche as well for the girls. Depending on what days, Faith may be in playgroup anyway and Fergus will be at school. It’s set hours Jamie. No shifts.”

I can tell she’s excited. I just, I canna help but feel like she shouldna be doin’ this. I canna explain it.

“Why don’t ye think it over a wee bit and then maybe apply for it once Fergus is home and we’re all settled.”

“Jamie, I’ve already applied. I have an interview on Monday morning. Joe is going to watch the girls for us.”

“Ye’ve already applied? Joe kent about this before me?!” I raise my voice slightly again. I didna mean to, but why did Joe ken somethin’ as big as this before me? Why did she apply for a new job without even tellin’ me?

“It was Joe that mentioned the job to me. And before you ask, no he didn’t tell me so that I would apply. He told me as a passing comment. The nurse who left the clinic is a friend of Joe’s and she’s moving down to Manchester. I wanted to discuss it with you, but in case you’ve forgotten darling, you haven’t exactly been around much, have you?! The closing date was a couple of weeks ago, so I had to apply quickly. They contacted me on Tuesday to invite me in on Monday for an interview. I wanted to tell you sooner, but this is the first time we’ve actually had a chance to speak properly.” She snapped most of that statement at me and a canna blame her after me raising my voice slightly at her.

“Fine. I suppose I should say good luck with yer interview then?” Claire ripped her hand away from my own and stood up quite abruptly.

“Don’t force yourself to try and support me in this Jamie. You shouldn’t have to. From the moment we met, you didn’t want me working. I sort of understood because I was going to be pregnant with your child. But Jamie, I’m not pregnant anymore. Why are you trying to stop me from doing what I love? You have your job. Your career. You love your business. You’re so passionate about it, as you should be. I support you in everything you do. Why can’t you do the same for me?” I canna answer her. She’s right. Why do feel this need for Claire to be at home? “I don’t feel like dancing. Enjoy the rest of the cheesecake. I’m going home.”

Claire turns to walk away and grab her wrist. “Claire, I’m sorry. Please, sit back down.”

“I’m going home Jamie. Don’t come home for a while. I need space.”

Just like that, she walked out of the restaurant and headed home.

What the hell is wrong with me?

What the hell just happened?

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

28th February

 

“Claire, I’m sorry. Please, sit back down.”

“I’m going home Jamie. Don’t come home for a while. I need space.”

 

 

What the hell was all that about?

What the hell?

That conversation was like going back in time. Like how things were between us when we first met. His need to control me for whatever reason and not want me working.

It was bad enough back then, but at least there was some kind of explanation for it. He was worried. I was pregnant with his unborn child and he wanted to keep it safe. He wanted to keep it protected. What’s his explanation this time? It’s alright for him to go out and work in a job he loves but I can’t? Why not? This is the twenty first century. Women can have children, a family, and still go out and work. There are plenty of women out there who work full time jobs and still manage to be a parent to their children. This job is absolutely perfect for me. It’s a practice nurse position at the clinic. It isn’t too far from our house, and it’s only three days a week. Fergus will be in school. Jamie can drop him off at school on his way to work. Bree can stay at the crèche at the clinic. Faith will be at playgroup, or if she isn’t, she can go to the crèche with Bree. Fergus has already shown interest in plenty after school activities, so I can collect him after I finish.

This doesn’t need to be an issue. As much as love my children, and I love spending time with them during the day when Jamie’s at work, it can be lonely some times. I miss adult conversation. I miss working. I miss helping people. I miss being me. A nurse is who I am. It’s three days a week for Christ sakes. It’s not like my old job at the hospital where I worked different twelve or thirteen hour shifts. This job is the perfect balance for work and spending time at home with my family. I feel ready to go back to work. I NEED to go back to work. I think it’s important for my own mental health to get back in to a work in environment. It’s important for my recovery to build and structure a routine for myself. The past few months my routine has revolved around Jamie and the girls, which I don’t mind. It’s important, but it’s also important for me to be able to go and do my own thing.

I need to explain all this to Jamie, but I can’t right now. I know he didn’t mean to, but I can’t speak to him when he raises his voice like that. I haven’t seen that side of him in a long long time. I think I was right to leave and put some space between us. I’ll speak to him when he gets home later. Right now, I need to get myself home.

I decide to pull my phone out and call Joe to ask if he can pick me up. I need to speak to someone and I’d rather it be Joe and not a random taxi driver.

“Hi Claire, are you alright? I thought Jamie was taking you out for a romantic dinner?”

“Oh, hi John. Em, yes. He did...”

“Claire? What’s wrong? What happened?”

“We got in to an argument. Well, I didn’t let it get too far, but anyway, I walked out of the restaurant and left him there. I told him I needed space and he wasn’t to follow me home just now.”

“Where are you? Are you on your way home?”

“I’m just wandering around—“

“Where are you Claire? I’m on my way. It’s too dangerous to be wandering around Glasgow on your own.”

“John I’m fine. I think I’ll just go to a bar and have a drink and then get a taxi home.”

“What bar Claire?”

“Jensons.”

“Wait inside at the bar and I’ll get you there.”

 

John and I used to be quite close. Before Jamie and I met. I used to spend quite a lot of time with Joe and John. John and I even used to do brunch every second Sunday. Just the two of us. I don’t know what happened exactly, but when I found out that the lads knew Jamie, I just sort of stopped hanging around with John so much. I don’t know why, but it just felt like John was Jamie’s friend and Joe was mine. It’s strange when I think about it. Why did our friendship change slightly just because he was best friends with Jamie? Looking back, I don’t think it was John who took a step back, it was me. I don’t know why though? He is a wonderful man and a wonderful friend. Maybe I worried that John would take Jamie’s side if we argued over something? I mean, there were a LOT of arguments between Jamie and I in the beginning. I should have known that wouldn’t be the case. I mean, he seemed genuinely concerned for me just now on the phone. He’s coming to collect me and take me home. Of course he is, John’s my friend too.

 

I made my way in to Jensons and sat at the bar like John told me to. I ordered just a fresh orange and lemonade, same as what I had at dinner with Jamie. The bar wasn’t too crowded for a Friday night, but then, I suppose it is still quite early.

It didn’t take long for John to arrive. He ,eat me at the bar and I bought him a drink. Usually I would of bought him a glass of red or a pint, but shine he’s driving, I for him a coke instead.

“Do you want to tell me what happened between you too then?”

“What? You didn’t call Jamie after I hung up?”

“No. He’s a big boy and can take care of himself. I know you can hold your own too Claire, but he isn’t the one wandering around Glasgow in the dark now is he?”

“I applied for the practice nurse vacancy at the clinic. They called me the other day to invite me in for an interview on Monday.”

“Claire, that’s fantastic. Well done. I had no idea you were thinking of going back to work. Sounds like a good position for you though.”

“Thank you John. It really is. It’s part time. Three days a week. I just need to be out doing something for myself. Is that selfish? I think Jamie thinks I’m being selfish. I think he thinks I should be at home with the children all day every day.”

“Is this what you argued about then?”

“Yes. He’s been working so much this past month. Do you know I’ve barely seen him since we came home from Lallybroch last month? I think I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve seen or spoken to each other lately. I know it isn’t his fault and I don’t blame him or resent him. It’s his job, and he loves it. The only conversations we have had lately have been about the children and social services. I didn’t have the chance to speak with Jamie about the job until tonight. I think that’s what he’s annoyed about, but it couldn’t be helped. I wanted to explain why I want to go back to work and why I feel like this job is perfect for me. I didn’t want to just tell him over an email or a text.”

“Of course not. He will calm down and I’m sure you will get your chance to speak properly about it. Jamie just... he has this tendency to be old fashioned. Traditional I suppose you could say. He can also be quite a forward thinking man—“

“He’s complicated. Just say it as it is John. He’s complicated.”

“He is. I think he just likes having you at home. Not to cook and clean and see to the kids, I think he just likes the idea of him coming home from a long day at work and just seeing you.”

“I know that. I can understand that. This job wouldn’t change any of that though. We really need to talk about it, I just needed some space. I just... it just felt like we were back to where we were at the beginning. Arguing about nothing and everything. It felt as if he went back to not even being open to listen to what I have to say. We’ve been through so much John. This relationship hasn’t been easy on either of us, but we got there. We both did a lot of work on ourselves and we made it work. I know he’s stressed right now, but I can’t go back to how things were. I refuse to. More importantly, I refuse to let our children live through that.”

John got off his seat beside me and moved over to put his arms around me and gave me a hug. I needed that. More than I realised.

 

Now we’re on our way home. John has been so kind and supportive tonight. He hasn’t said, but I’m sure he text Jamie before we left the bar. Probably to say that he had picked me up and was taking me home. It’s been almost two hours since I left Jamie in the restaurant. I’m assuming he will already be home when I get there. That will be good. The girls will be in bed, John will probably offer Louise a lift home and then Jamie and I can talk. Calmly and properly. I can’t see him getting too wound up with the girls asleep upstairs.

“You’ll work this out Claire. He loves you. I think it was just a shock to him. I mean, you said yourself that the idea just came out of the blue for yourself too.”

“I know. We’ll be fine. I know we will. I haven’t even got the job yet, it’s only an interview.”

“You will do amazing Claire. It’s what you’re meant to do.”

“Thank you John.” I turn to face John and give him a big smile.

“It’s true. You’re a wonderful nurse. You were definitely Joe’s favourite to work with... although, don’t tell Louise that.” He chuckles.

“I don’t just mean the encouragement over the job, I mean for everything John. Coming to collect me, letting me vent, giving me a shoulder to cry on, making sure I get home safely. Just being a really good friend. Thank you.” I say genuinely.

“I know you and I haven’t been as close as we used to, but it’s important to me that you know that you are one of my best friends Claire. So is Jamie. I may have known him longer, but I love and care about you just as much as I do about him. If ever you need to talk, or scream or shout, or even just shop... you know where I am.”

“Thank you John.”

 

When we pull up to our house, there’s no car in the driveway. Jamie isn’t home yet.

Where the hell is he?

John takes me in to the house and we chat with Louise about the girls and how they spent their night. I didn’t give her the full story, but she got the jist of what happened between Jamie and I tonight.

I try to call Jamie, but he doesn’t answer.

Stubborn Scot!

He better not stay away too much longer. I can’t go to bed without speaking to him. I don’t want this to go on for days on end. It won’t be good for either of us, or the girls. Fergus is coming over tomorrow afternoon as well to help Jamie decorate his room. I don’t want Fergus and the girls stuck in an awkward situation between Jamie and I. It isn’t fair to them.

John tries to phone Jamie too, but he doesn’t answer to John either. Probably because he knows that I’m with him. John text Jamie instead saying that he had safely dropped me off home and the girls are both in bed.

John and Louise offer to stay until Jamie comes home, but I tell them I’ll be fine. I’ll go for a quick shower and sit and read a book or something until he gets home. I’m sure he won’t be too much longer. It’s not like I told him to never come home. I just said I needed some space. He’ll be back when he’s ready.

John and Louise soon leave and I’m left on my own. Well, the girls are asleep upstairs, but I’m basically alone.

 

I go up to check on both the girls and give them a kiss goodnight. I half expected Faith to wake, but she doesn’t. She stirs a bit, but doesn’t wake. That’s good. It means I can have a quick shower whilst I wait on Jamie coming home.

 

I’m sat on the couch and I’ve read almost an entire book. It’s almost three in the morning and Jamie still hasn’t come home. I’ve left him five voicemails and ten texts. If it wasn’t for that stupid argument, I would be worried that something has happened to him. The fact that we did argue tells me that he still isn’t ready to speak with me and has decided to stay away.

Part of me wants to call Ian and Jenny and see if he appeared in Edinburgh to spend the night at their place, but it’s three in the morning. I can’t call them and disturb them at this time just to see if he turned up there after our argument. Although, if Jamie did go to Edinburgh, I’m sure Ian or Jenny would have contacted me to let me know.

In fact, any of our friends would have contacted me to say where he is, but no one has.

What if something HAS happened to Jamie and I’m just sat here reading a book?!

I try to call him again, but still no answer.

“Jamie, please call me when you get this. I’m really starting to get worried now. If everything was fine, I’m sure you would of come home by now. Please Jamie. I need to know you’re okay. I love you.”

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

29th February

 

“Claire? Claire?”

What the hell happened last night?

I came hame from work. Spent some time with the lassies whilst Claire got ready. Louise came over just before five thirty. Claire and I left the house a wee while later, getting us to the restaurant at six. I drove us there. In my car. I wasna drinkin’. Why do I feel like my heid’s been smacked with a metal pole or somethin?

Did we end up having some wine after the meal? Did we have some whisky at the club?

“Claire? I think I need some painkillers.”

I open my eyes. I’m lying in a bed. It’s nice and clean, but it isna my bed.

I sit up and take in my surroundings.

This isna my bedroom.

This isna my house.

Where’s Claire?

I edge out of the bed slowly. My clothes are folded up and sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. I still have my boxers on.

I dinna recall this room. I dinna think I’m meant to be here.

 

“Oh good, yer awake. I just made some coffee. What dae ye fancy for yer breakfast? I can make ye somethin’ special. Anythin’ ye want Jamie Fraser, it’s all yers.”

“Laoghaire? What happened? What am I daein’ here? Where’s Claire?” I ask the lass. Laoghaire is Mrs Fitz granddaughter. Although, I use the term verra loosely. The lass hasna had much contact with her grandmother in a few years now. No properly anyway.

“Ye dinna remember last night Jamie?” She asks as she walks towards me.

“No. I thought ye were over in America these days?” I ask as I quickly throw on the rest of my clothes.

“I came home a few weeks ago. I was offered a job here in Glasgow and decided to take it. We talked about it last night when we came home.”

“I dinna remember lass. Was I drinkin’? Where’s Claire?”

“I don’t ken who ye mean Jamie? When we met last night, ye were sittin’ on yer own at the bar in the club. I came over to talk and we had a few drinks. The conversation was really good and when we had too much to drink, we came home.”

“Right. I dinna really recall much from last night, but I really do need to get hame lass.” I try to make my way out of the room, but Laoghaire tries to block my exit.

“At least stay for breakfast aye?”

“Sorry lass. I need to get hame to my family. Before I go though, this is kinda awkward lass but, did anythin’ happen between us last night?”

“Ye really dinna remember dae ye?” I shake my head at her, worried about what’s about to come next. “Nothing Jamie. We kissed at the club and kissed a bit here, but we didna go any further than that. Why? Dae ye regret it?”

“Christ. I’m so sorry lass, but that should never of happened.”

What in the hell have I done?

I make my way past Laoghaire and see my phone sat on the kitchen counter. I quickly grab it and make my way out the door with out lookin’ back.

When I get outside, I quickly check my phone. It’s eleven in the mornin’. I have thirty one missed calls from Claire and forty seven texts. John and Murtagh have tried calling me a few times too.

Fuck! My phone was on silent and it’s about to die.

I look around the street to see if I recognise where I am. I dinna have a clue.

I spot a wee coffee shop across the road and decide to head in there and whilst I ask for some directions to a bus stop or a taxi rank, I can enjoy a much needed strong black coffee and somethin’ quick to eat.

I couldna have breakfast with Laoghaire. She’s a decent enough lass, but it just didna feel like the right thing to do. I need to get myself hame as soon as possible. I need to see Claire. I need to see my children.

 

It took two buses and a good hours walk to get home. When I make my way inside the house, John is sitting on the floor in the living room playing with Faith and Brianna.

“Da, where have ye been?” Faith asks as she comes running over to jump in to my arms.

“Good mornin’ a leannan. How are ye this morning?” I lift her up in to my arms and give her a kiss.

“It’s almost two in the afternoon Jamie. Where have you been? Claire’s been going out of her mind. We’ve been ringing around the hospitals and everything. Listening and watching the news to see if any accidents have occurred.” John explains to me with a disappointed look on his face. “Did you not get any of our messages?”

“My phone was on silent and when I looked at it this mornin’, my battery was almost dead, I couldna phone anyone back. I’m home now though. Where’s Claire? I need to speak with her.”

“Upstairs with Fergus. She asked me to come over and keep the girls company whilst she helped Fergus decorate his room.”

“Ah dhia. I completely forgot. Is she mad with me then?”

“She was last night. And then when you didn’t come home, she was worried. The fact you’ve just walked in sporting nothing major but a hangover, I think it’s safe to say she will be angry... yes. Make yourself a coffee and take some painkillers. I’ll tell her your home.” John turns to walk upstairs carrying Brianna, leaving Faith staring at me confused.

 

I tell Faith to sit and draw me a picture whilst I head down to my office and take some painkillers. I canna face Claire without them just now. I still canna recall all that happened last night. All I ken is I went out to dinner with Claire and then I woke up alone, half naked in Laoghaire’s flat. I don’t ken when Claire and I separated. I dinna even ken why we would have?

“Nice of you to come home. John is in the living room with the kids. Get yourself upstairs RIGHT now! You are going to tell me what the hell you are playing at!”

Christ. I didna even hear Claire appear at the door. She certainly isna happy with me. I dinna want to argue with her, but I guess I wilna get a choice in the matter.

“Can I at least go say hi to Fergus first and then go for a shower?” I ask her. I think I ken the answer already though...

“You may not! It’s bad enough the girls saw you in this state. You can see the children after you’ve pulled yourself together. Upstairs. NOW! I won’t tell you again.”

 

I make my way upstairs and down to the master bedroom. Claire and I have our own private en-suite. What I didna expect was Claire to follow me straight in to the en-suite and sit on the worktop next to the sink.

“Ye joining me Sassenach?” I try to break the tension with a wee smile. It obviously doesn’t work.

“You wish. I will sit here until you’re done. Can’t have you slipping and hitting your head now, can we?”

“So ye still care about me then?”

“We have three children who care about you and I don’t fancy going downstairs and explaining to them that daddy had too much to drink and slipped and hit his head and is now dead from a head injury.”

Wow. Okay then. This is gonna be tougher than I hoped. John said she was mad with me last night. I’m kinda wary to ask her why. I dinna want to upset her any more than I already have.

 

It’s probably the quickest shower I’ve ever had in my entire life. I could feel Claire’s eyes burnin’ right through me. Whatever happened last night, it must of been bad. Really bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Claire so annoyed with me. And she’s had plenty cause to be angry with me in the past.

I come out of the shower and wrap a towel around my waist and make my way over beside her at the sink to brush my teeth. She’s still sat on the work top just starin’ at me. She doesna say a word though.

After brushing my teeth, I have a quick shave before drying off and getting changed in to some lounge wear.

I make my way back in to the bedroom. Claire follows, not takin’ her eyes off me, but she still isna sayin’ anythin’.

“You’re not normally a closed mouth woman Claire, I expected nosier displeasure.” She keeps glaring straight through me. It’s kinda intimidating. “The quiet anger is verra quite effective though, I have to say.”

Claire sits down at her wee dressing table, but turns herself so she is facing me sat on the edge of the bed.

“I dinna ken where to start Claire—“

“An apology would be good.” She huffs.

“Aye. Em, I’m sorry Claire. I should have called. I shouldna have let my phone down. It shouldna have been on silent. I shoulda charged it before we left.”

“So you didn’t get any of my messages then? Did you get John’s?”

“I never seen any messages until I saw my phone this mornin’. I wanted to call ye straight away, but the battery was almost flat. I’m sorry Claire, truly.” I try to reach over to take her hands in mine but she pulls herself back.

“Where did you stay last night? Why did you decide to drink and stay away all night? I know I said I needed space Jamie, but I didn’t mean don’t come home at all.” She snaps.

“Claire... I need ye to tell me what happened between us last night.” I try searching her face to try and get her to make eye contact with me again.

“You mean you don’t remember what happened last night? Christ Jamie, how much did you drink?”

“I dinna even remember drinkin’ Claire. I swear it to ye. I remember we were in the restaurant enjoyin’ our meal. Neither of us had any alcohol. When I woke this mornin’, my heid was poundin’. I dinna remember drinkin’ though.”

“Where did you wake up? You haven’t said where you were Jamie.”

“Mrs Fitz has a granddaughter, Laoghaire. I dinna ken if I’ve mentioned her before or no, but she was living over in America somewhere. Anyway, she moved back here a few weeks ago and at some point in the evening, we ran in to one another. Apparently, at a club. I ended up staying at her place. Nothing happened though Claire. She’s a young lass of about nineteen or so. I woke up alone in her guest room.” Truth is, I dinna ken if it was her guest room, but I canna tell Claire that. Laoghaire said nothing happened, so that’s fine. She did say we kissed. I’ll no tell Claire that. I canna ruin my relationship over somethin’ I canna even remember. I canna even believe I would be in such a state to do somethin’ like that in the first place. Claire is the love of my life. I would never do something to ruin what we have.

Claire stands up and walks toward the bedroom door and then turns towards me. “Give me ten minutes to go downstairs and ask John to take the children out for an hour or so. I need coffee and I don’t want to have this discussion with the children in the house. I’ll shout you when they’re gone. I still don’t want the children to see you yet. We have a LOT to discuss James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser.” Claire turns and walks away.

Shit. Full name. I am in so much trouble.

Why the fuck can I no remember what happened last night?

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

29th February

He drank.

We had an argument. I left him in the restaurant and he drank.

I was clearly upset and instead of giving me a little bit of space like I asked, he went out and got smashed and stayed at some random girls home last night.

He claims he doesn’t remember what happened.

I honestly don’t know what to believe.

He was really annoyed with me for applying for that job without speaking with him first. Still, I don’t think he would be petty enough to get drunk and stay out all night. Surely he would of known I was worried?

He said his phone was on silent. His phone is never on silent. We have three children, we need to be able to get hold of one an other at any time. Even if it was on silent, how did he not realise how often I tried to contact him? Did he even see Johns messages about him bringing me home last night? Was he already drunk by that time?

None of this makes any sense. I don’t even know what good talking is going to do if he says even he can’t remember anything.

“Claire, is everything alright?” John asks as I reach the bottom of the stairs just staring in to space.

“Ahm, yes. Sorry. Um John? I hate to ask, but is it possible you could maybe take the children out to the park or something for an hour or so? Jamie and I really need to talk and I’d rather the children weren’t here in case things get...”

“It’s fine Claire. Just call me if you need me okay?”

“Thank you John.”

I help John get the kids ready for their outing and after they leave, I stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout on Jamie to come down.

I make my way in to the kitchen and see Jamie’s wallet and phone sitting on the kitchen table. His phone is definitely dead. I take it over to the living room and plug it in to charge. I want him to see exactly how many messages I left and how worried I was about him.

He’s certainly taking his time at coming down the stairs. I walk over to the staircase again and shout up to him.

“John has only taken the children for an hour. We have a lot to discuss Jamie. I need you to come down here now. Please.”

It doesn’t take him too much longer and he’s following me in to the living room. We’re both sat on the couch, but there is a comfortable distance between us. Not too far away, but not too close either.

“Not feeling any better after your shower?”

“No really. After ye came down stairs, I was sick. Just a little. Still feel kinda nauseous.” He explains to me as he looks to the floor.

I’ve never known Jamie to get in this state before. He owns a whisky company for Christ sake. He is very fond of his whisky. And wine. And beer. I’ve never seen him as hungover as this before though.

He was really angry with me last night. That’s no excuse though.

“Wait there, I’ll get you a glass of water.” I reach over and squeeze his left hand in mine.

 

“Since last night seems to be a bit of a blur for you, would you mind if I started explaining how our night went and why I left early? It might help you remember some things.”

“Aye. That would be good Sassenach.” Jamie finishes the last of his water and places the glass down on the coffee table beside the arm of the couch and sits back on the couch with his head turned to face me.

“Well, um we went out to dinner last night. It started of quite a good evening. We had a lovely starter and main course. The conversation was wonderful as well as the company. I had a really wonderful time. It hasn’t been easy these last few weeks when you’ve been overworking yourself. I’ve really missed you Jamie.”

“I’ve missed ye too Sassenach.” Jamie reaches over to lay his left hand on my right knee. I lay my hand on top of his and took a deep breath.

This is where things can go one of two ways...

“When the dessert came, I was telling you about a nursing job that has come up at the clinic. I applied for the job. Please, don’t say anything just yet Jamie, I need to say this without any interruption. I don’t want to argue with you.” He gives me a slight nod to encourage me to go on with the story. “I um, I really wanted to speak with you about the job before I applied, but time was running out and you weren’t here. I didn’t want to just text or email you to say. I wanted to speak to you in person. Anyway, I feel like I’m finally ready to be back at work. This job isn’t like working at the hospital, it’s part time and only three days a week. I truly believe we can make it work. Fergus will be at school, Faith will be at play group, and if I work on a day where she isn’t at playgroup, she can come to work with me and go to the crèche with Bree. I will see you in the morning before work and I will be home before you get home from work. I love being at home with the girls Jamie, I do. But, I need something for myself. I need adult company and conversation. I need to work. I want to work. I miss helping people. I miss nursing. After Lamb passing away and then the miscarriage... the depression... Frank and Bonnet... Jamie, I finally feel ready to be at work. I want to be at work.” I look at him and he’s listening to what I’m saying. That’s good. He doesn’t look angry, he looks like he’s understanding. Maybe I just didn’t say things properly last night? “It’s not like I’ll be working shifts like I was before. Anyway, I got a phone call the other day and I’ve been invited to an interview on Monday morning.”

“I didna ken ye felt like that Sassenach. I just assumed ye were happy bein’ at hame with the bairns. If it’s what ye want Claire, go for it. I’m disappointed in myself that I couldn’t see how much ye needed to be back in yer own wee routine. I’m sure ye’ll do wonderful on Monday. They’ll be lucky to have ye in their team Sassenach. Ye’re a wonderful nurse.” Jamie leans over and presses a kiss to my forehead.

“Is that it? Seriously? You’re not angry at me for applying for the job without speaking to you first? You’re not annoyed that I’m choosing to go back to work instead of stay at home with our children?” I look at him confused. This isn’t the response I was expecting. It’s completely different to how he reacted last night.

“Why would I be angry Sassenach? This is what ye want to do aye?” He looks just as confused as me.

“Jamie, when I told you about the job last night, ye weren’t happy with me.” He looks even more confused now. He doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about. “Jamie, you were annoyed that I applied for the job without speaking with you first. It was like we were back to where we were when we first met and you didn’t want me working at the hospital. We argued last night at the restaurant over it. I got up to leave and asked you to not come home for a little while as I needed space. Then I left. I didn’t mean stay out the whole bloody night though. I was so upset Jamie. I rang Joe, but it was John I spoke to. He came and met me at a bar close to the restaurant. We talked for a while and then he brought me home. I was expecting you to be here when I got home, but you never came back. I assumed you were still really angry with me, but the fact you didn’t respond to any messages or even contact John after he told you he brought me home... Jamie, it doesn’t make since what happened last night. The later it got, the more panicked I got. First thing this morning I called John to come over and we rang round our friends and family. No one heard from you. We started calling hospitals. We were listening on the radio for any accidents near by. I didn’t want the children to pick up on anything, so I asked John to stay and watch the girls whilst I helped Fergus with his room. Do you know how fucking difficult today has been for me? I couldn’t show how worried or upset I was in front of the children. I think Fergus knows something isn’t right. When John came to tell me you were home, I was so relieved, but to then be told that your hungover... I was going out of my mind whilst you were out there having a good time and sleeping at random women’s houses!” I couldn’t help it, I got really hysterical towards the end of my speech.

Jamie moved closer and lifted me on to his lap and kissed my forehead and ran his hand up and down my back to try and calm me down.

“Claire, I swear tae ye, I dinna ken what happened last night. I am so verra sorry that I put ye through all that. When I woke this mornin’ ye were the only person on my mind. I looked for ye, but ye we ran with me. I realised I wasna at home. I was so confused Claire. I dinna ken what happened or how it happened, but Laoghaire said that we met at a club last night. We talked a bit, had a few drinks. I slept in her spare room. As soon as I could, I left her place. I went across the road to a wee coffee shop and had a coffee and a wee pastry whilst I got directions to the nearest bus stop from one of the other customers. It took me two buses and a long while walking, but I got home Claire. I saw the missed calls when I left her flat, but I couldna return them or listen to any ,essages because my phone was about to die. I just knew I needed to get hame to ye and bairns as soon as possible. Claire, I love ye so much and I understand how ye must hate me right now, but Claire, I’m beggin’ ye, please dinna shut me out. I canna stand it when we fight. I canna stand it when I hurt ye or disappoint ye. I dinna ken why I didna support ye last night with the job. If that’s what ye need, if that’s what ye want... I will support ye lass. Always.”

I just nod. I don’t want to fight with him either. Especially when he doesn’t know what we’re fighting about.

I move to stand up off of his lap. He lets me, but he keeps hold of one of my wrists. “I love ye Claire.”

“I love you too Jamie. I don’t hate you and I don’t want to shut you out or argue with you. I’m just trying to make sense of all this. I’m sure you are too. I really am glad that you’re home, but I a, worried about you.”

“Why?”

“You don’t remember what happened last night Jamie. And not just what happened after I left, you don’t remember us arguing. You don’t remember our conversation. You spend the night missing and turn up home the next afternoon hungover. You said you don’t even remember drinking.”

“Well no, but Laoghaire said we were—“

“But the point is Jamie, YOU don’t remember. How are you feeling now? Still nauseous? Headache?”

“I feel better. Just tired is all. Why? It’s just a hangover Sassenach. Happens.”

“Not to this extent Jamie. Not since I’ve known you anyway. Ian and Murtagh have told me stories about when you were younger and grieving for you father, but you haven’t let yourself get in to that state in a long time Jamie. We have three children. Yes, you like a drink. Not like this though. Definitely not enough to actually turn your phone on silent.”

“Things just obviously got out of hand. It’ll no happen again Claire. I swear it. I give ye my word Claire.” Jamie stands to pull me closer to him so he’s holding me in his arms. It’s nice, but it doesn’t feel right.

“Jamie, how well do you know this girl? Do you trust her? Do you think it’s possible that maybe she drugged you or something?”

“Christ Claire, dinna be ridiculous. I was drinkin’. More than I should of been obviously. She’s a decent lass Claire. I’m no one for letting my drink out of my sight anyway, there’s no way anyone could of got near it to tamper with it.”

“You don’t know for sure though Jamie. This is really scary. I think you should go to the clinic or the hospital. They might be able to test you to see what exactly is in your system.”

“Claire, dinna be silly. I’m fine. I just need to sleep.” Jamie turns to walk out of the living room and makes his way back upstairs to bed.

This doesn’t make any sense.

Maybe Mrs Fitz will be able to help me talk some sense in to Jamie? And it was her granddaughter he was with. Maybe Mrs Fitz could get the girl to tell us what happened when she was with Jamie and how he was when she met him in the club?

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

1st March

 

“Da, is Gus coming over today?”

“No lass. No the day. Dinna fash though a leannan, Fergus will be here after school on Tuesday for dinner and then on Thursday, yer brother will be moving in to stay with us.”

“For good da?”

“Aye, for good. Ye excited? I ken me and yer mam are. I think Fergus is just as excited as well.”

“Aye da. I canna wait. Will Fergus call ye da too?”

“I dinna ken lass. It’s took him all this time just to call me by my name instead of “Sir” or “Mister Fraser”. I would love it if the lad felt comfortable enough to call me da though. As far as me and yer Ma are concerned, Fergus is our son. Just as ye and yer sister are our daughters.” I smile widely at my daughter as we both sit at the kitchen table eating our breakfast.

It’s nothin’ fancy, just a simple cheese omelette for me and a bowl of Rice Krispies for Faith. Claire is in the living room with Brianna.

Well, she was in the living room with Brianna. I didna hear her coming in to stand at the doorway in to the kitchen.

“Faith sweetheart, can you excuse your father for a second? I need to speak with him about something.”

Faith nods her wee head.

“Ye eat up yer breakfast a leannan. I’ll be back shortly and then I’ll take ye to the park, aye?”

Claire and I leave the kitchen and walk towards the living room. Claire’s been a bit quiet with me since yesterday. She kens I didna mean to hurt her or worry her. She is annoyed with me because I refused to see a doctor. After a decent sleep though, I felt a bit better. I still had a slight headache, but nothing major. Nothing worth wasting a doctors time over. I think Claire was just worrying over nothing. Just the kinda person she is sometimes. I feel much better today. She had Joe come over when he finished his shift last night. He wanted me to take a blood test and give a urine sample, but I said no. It was just a hangover. Was it sensible of me to get myself in such a state? No. Will I let myself get like that again? No way. I’ve seen what I put Claire through and I’ll never worry her like that again. I’m fine though. Her and Joe wear a best pleased with me, but they couldna make me go to the hospital.

 

“Why did you tell her that Fergus was going to be living here for good?” She asks me with a bit of a bite in her voice.

“Because he is.” I say simply.

“No Jamie. He is moving in here as we will be his foster parents. Yes we have applied to adopt him, but we haven’t been approved yet. We don’t even know if we will be approved. What if we’re not? What if they won’t let us adopt him? Will he be happy staying on with us? We can’t tell her he will be here permanently when we don’t know Jamie.”

I pull her in to my arms and hold her. Her head is tucked under my chin and she face is leaning against my chest. “Yer right. I’m sorry. I just canna believe that they’ll turn us down Claire. They ken how much we love that lad. They ken how much he loves us. We are a family. No matter what happens. Fergus is OUR son. He always will be. If they turn us down for whatever reason, we stay as his foster parents. We don’t let him go without a fight. He needs us Claire. Like we need him.”

She relaxes into my e,brace a bit more. “You’re right Jamie. God, I’m sorry I just... I can’t help but overthink everything. I just wish he was here with us now. I hate that I had to take him back to that god awful place last night, and we’ll have to do the same again on Tuesday evening.”

“I ken lass. But when he comes home to us on Thursday after school, that’s it. He’ll be home where he belongs. With us.”

Claire moves her head back so she can look up to me. I bring my face down closer to hers so I can kiss her mouth. She kisses me back. It’s a slow and gentle kiss.

“Jamie, I need you to do something for me. Please?”

“Ye ken I’d do anythin’ for ye Claire.”

“Good. Joe is on his way over here to watch the girls. You and I are going to the hospital.”

“What for? Ye alright Sassenach?”

“I am. You’re not. I don’t care what you say Jamie, I’m not comfortable with the state you arrived home in yesterday.”

“Claire—“

“No arguments Jamie. Please, just for my own peace of mind. If nothing shows up, brilliant, if it does, I’d rather know Jamie. Wouldn’t you? You’ve never been in a state like that before Jamie and it really scared me. I never want to go through that again.”

“Okay. I’ll go. I feel much better today, but if ye insist, then I’ll go. I’m no sure what good it will be though. Won’t whatever ye think it may be have left my system by now?”

“Not necessarily. Some drugs—“

“If there WAS drugs...”

“Some drugs can leave your system within twelve hours, yes. But, some drugs can stay in your system for up to seventy two hours. That’s why we need to go as soon as possible. That’s why I kept trying to get you to go yesterday. I should of tried harder Jamie. I should have just pushed you in to the car whilst John was here and taken you straight to the hospital then.”

“I’ll go. If it’ll make ye feel better, I’ll go Claire. But dinna kid yerself lass, yer one of the strongest women I ken, but there is no way ye would of gotten me in to that car yesterday.” I give her a body a quick look up and down and flash her a wee smirk. She gently shoves my shoulder.

“Probably not, but I should of given it a good try. If something shows up Jamie, I’ll never forgive myself for not making you go sooner. You have no idea the kind of effects that could be left with you now.”

“Claire, there was no way in hell ye or John or even Joe we’re gonna get me to get checked out properly yesterday. I’m tellin’ ye now that I feel better and I’m sure it was just a verra bad hangover. I’m sorry for puttin’ ye through it Claire. Truly. I’ll go to the hospital with ye and I’ll get examined and that, for you. I just think it’s a waste of time.”

“Hmm, your just being your usual stubborn self. There’s a time for that Jamie, and this isn’t it.”

“Ye can be just as stubborn as me Sassenach. Dinna ye forget it.”

“Well, I should of been more forceful with you yesterday.”

 

When we get to the hospital, Claire speaks with the lass on reception whilst she fills out the wee form for me. Apparently the computer system is down today, so everything is bein’ written in hand and things are taken a wee bit longer than usual. Doesna bother me really. I’m quite happy sat here in the waiting room flickin’ through some of the magazines that have been left out. Some of them are verra much out of date, but I suppose it’s still somethin’ to keep folks minds off whatever it is their here for.

Claire makes her way over to sit next to me. She tells me that they aren’t overly busy today, but they are running a tad behind due to the computers bein’ down. The receptionist told Claire that I shouldna have to wait too long though.

I put the magazine I was lookin’ at back down on the table beside me and turn to look at Claire. She’s got tears in her eyes. They arna fallen yet though.

“Claire, dinna worry. I’m okay.” I take her left hand in mine and gently run my other hand over her back to try and comfort her.

“This should of been seen to yesterday. I should of made sure we sorted this yesterday.”

“Claire, dinna start this again. I told ye, ye couldna make me come. But I’m here now, okay?”

She nods her head slightly and wipes away the tears as they start to fall.

“I love ye Claire.”

“I love you too Jamie.”

 

It doesna take that long before a wee nurse calls me through to take some notes before goin’ to fetch a doctor.

When the doctor comes it’s a case of tellin’ him all that I said to the wee nurse. Claire chips in now and again with bits and pieces that obviously she thinks is important. I tried to tell the doctor that I was sorry for wasting the NHS time, but he seemed to be of the same opinion as Claire, Better to get checked out although I can tell that he thinks I should of came in sooner.

Alright, I get it. Claire was right. I should of came in the second she told me to, but I didna. I went to bed to sleep of the hangover. And it kinda worked, so I do t feel too guilty.

The doctor explains the effects that can happen to someone who has had their drink spiked. A couple of the effects do match what happened to me. I canna deny it, but I honestly dinna think that it’s possible. I’m always so careful with my drinks. I never leave them unattended, and if I do, I dinna drink it later on, I order a new one.

I agree to the blood tests and giving a urine sample. It’s kinda embarrassing, but if it keeps Claire happy, I’ll do it. I put her through enough. I dinna want to be causein’ her anymore stress.

 

I dinna ken how long we sat in the hospital, but it was definitely a while. The results seemed to take quite a while to come. Anyway, the doctor eventually came back with the results.

Claire was right. There’s ketamine in my system. I have absolutely no idea how. What the fuck happened?

 

The car ride home is pretty quiet. I’m tryin’ my best to remember what the hell happened the other night. I don’t ken. Claire wants to blame Laoghaire. I dinna think the lass had anythin’ to do with it. My memory is lost from before I even bumped in to her. Things got hazy after Claire and I got to the restaurant.

“What if it was someone at the restaurant? It would explain why I dinna remember what happened between us Claire.”

“Or, you DO remember that part of the evening and using the blanks from the rest of the evening as an excuse?”

“Why on earth would you say that?”

“I just think it’s strange how we have an argument about me applying for a job and then you claim you don’t remember and when I talk to you about it again, you’re more than supportive.”

“Ye just took me to the hospital Claire. Ye saw me do the blood test and that. Ye were there when the doctor confirmed yer suspicion. I was spiked.”

“You need to call that girl and get her round to our place tonight when the girls are in bed and you need her to tell you everything that happened between you and her Jamie.”

“I think yer barkin’ up the wrong tree Claire. Clearly whatever happened, happened before he even left me.”

“Oh, don’t worry darling, I’ll be phoning that restaurant as soon as we get home and asking them if they noticed anything suspicious. I’m not resting or forgetting this until we have answers. You’ll also be reporting this like the doctor said.”

“The police? There’s nae point Sassenach.”

“Oh yes there is. People don’t just spike people’s drinks for no reason Jamie. Something is going on here and I don’t like it.”

She doesna speak to me the rest of the way home.

When we get in, it’s nearly dinner time. Joe has kindly made us some dinner. I sit down with Joe and the girls and dig in to the lovely meal Joe prepared for us. Us adults are having fish in a parsley sauce with some sweet potato fries. He made some turkey dinosaurs and chips for Faith.

Claire came straight in to the house and headed straight to the office without even a hello to Joe or the girls.

I’m sure that she’s on the phone to the restaurant right now. Wouldna surprise me if she calls the police afterwards too. I’ll give Mrs Fitz a call after dinner and ask for a contact number for Laoghaire. But right now, I’m gonna enjoy my dinner with my girls, and Joe.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

1st March

*Knock knock

“LJ, can I come in?” Joe asks from outside the office door.

“Ah, yes. Sorry Joe, I didn’t mean to be rude. I just need to try and find out what the hell went on. HE doesn’t seem to be taking this seriously it seems.” It isn’t Jamie’s fault, I know that. But I am so angry with him right now. It’s like he’s letting it all just go over his head.

“It’s okay Lady Jane. I don’t think he is taking this lightly though. He looks petrified. He’s trying to put on a brave face for the girls, but I can tell he’s just as scared and confused as you are.”

“He has a very peculiar way of showing it then. Everything I have asked him to do since he got home yesterday, he’s putting off. He wouldn’t go to the hospital even though you, John and I tried our best to get him there yesterday. I told him to call that girl he was with but, I don’t think he’s that keen on doing that either. He’s definitely not happy about getting the police involved and it’s me that’s contacted the restaurant to see if they seen anything suspicious. They said no. Jamie and I were through the back of the restaurant and had that area all to ourselves. It doesn’t make any sense for anything to have happened there, but that’s where his memory started to go. He doesn’t remember half of our time in the restaurant. It doesn’t make sense Joe and I can’t help but feel like he doesn’t care or he doesn’t want to know.” I start to sob and Joe pulls me in to his arms to comfort me.

“He hasn’t said anything to me because the girls are sat right there. What happened at the hospital? I take it something did happen then if you’re still this worried and calling the restaurant and speaking of the police?”

“Yes. The tests showed there is ketamine in his system.”

“Fuck.”

“Yup. I told him that people don’t just randomly spike people drinks. I mean, I know that some people actually do as a joke or a prank, but I don’t think that’s what this is. I can’t shake the feeling that something bigger is going on. I just don’t know what and I can’t do this on my own. I need him to get his elbow out of his arse and actually help me try and figure out what happened.” I start sobbing even more so Joe tightens his grip around me.

Faith runs in to the office. Probably to ask why I haven’t come to eat dinner yet.

“Mam, what’s wrong? Why are ye crying?”

I pull away from Joe and wipe my eyes with my sleeve. “Sorry sweetheart, it’s just been a long day.”

She doesn’t believe me though, next thing she’s running back to Jamie shouting that I’m upset and crying.

It doesn’t take long for Jamie to find his way to the office and pulling me in to him. Joe offers to take the girls over to his and John’s place for the night. Jamie agrees. I feel terrible that our daughters have spent more time with Joe and John the past couple of days than they have with Jamie and I. If the girls aren’t here though, maybe I can get through to Jamie about how serious this is.

 

Soon after Joe leaves with the girls, I sit down at the kitchen table to eat my re heated dinner that Joe made for me. Jamie is sat opposite me with a pen and a piece of paper in front of him. He’s already called the police and someone will be round to speak with him. He hasn’t called that girl yet. I don’t know what the hell went on with the two of them, but he doesn’t seem in a rush to speak with her.

“Did you sleep with her?” I ask as I pick up another chip to eat.

“Who?” He asks me looking all confused.

You know, for an intelligent man, Jamie can’t be half dum sometimes.

“That girl.”

“I told ye Claire, I slept in her guest room. Alone.”

“Okay. Did you have sex with her?”

“What?”

Think I just made him angry. Oh well.

“Sleeping and sex is different. I’m only asking Jamie.”

“Claire, I love you and ONLY you.”

“Sex and love are completely different as well.”

This has really angered him. Jamie abruptly pushes his chair back from the table and stands up and thumps his fist on to the table making me jump.

“I didna have sex with her Claire. I havena had sex with anyone but you. And before you, ye ken it was a while since I had been with anyone else.”

“I was just wondering Jamie. It’s not like you know for sure though right? I mean, you don’t remember what happened the other night. I’m not saying this to start an argument or anything, I just need you to understand how serious this is Jamie. I love you and I know you love me. I know you would never do anything to intentionally hurt me and I do believe that you wouldn’t have sex with another woman. But you weren’t of sound mind Jamie. Neither of us know exactly what happened after I left.”

Jamie comes around and crouches down beside me. I turn to face him and he lays his head on my lap. “I dinna ken what happened Claire and that scares the hell out of me. I’m even more scared to find out what did happen because I dinna want to lose ye Claire. I screwed up. Big time. As soon as ye left, I should of went to someone and give ye the space ye asked for and then came home, but instead I somehow ended up in a bar and fuck knows what else happened. I canna say for sure what did or didna happen, but I swear to ye Claire, I would never intentionally go out of my way to hurt ye. Never. Ye and the bairns are everythin’ to me. I canna lose ye Claire. I canna. I wilna.”

I can feel a dampness going through my sweatpants. He’s crying,

I gently run my hand over his scalp to try and soothe him. “I know that Jamie. You won’t lose me. I promise. I just need to know how and why this happened. Will you please speak to that girl? Jamie I am begging you. I don’t know her Jamie, so I’m not accusing her of anything. But, this girl is the only other person who may be able to help. Please?”

He lifts his head from my lap and reaches up his hand to caress my cheek. “I don’t have a contact number for her. I’ll call Mrs Fitz though and see if she can help.”

“Thank you.”

 

Jamie managed to speak with Mrs Fitz. Apparently she wasn’t aware her granddaughter was back in the country. I know Jamie said that they weren’t that close anymore, but how could the girl move back to the country and not even tell her grandmother? I suppose I just feel that if I still had my family with me, I would have as much contact with them as possible. I would give anything and everything to be able to share my life with my parents and Lamb.

Mrs Fitz gave Jamie the last known number she has for her granddaughter. She said there is no guarantee that it’s her current number, but it’s worth a shot. If that fails, Jamie and I will just go to her flat. John and Joe have the girls for the night anyway.

 

The police arrived just a short while ago. Jamie is speaking with them in the living room. I left them to it after I said what I know of the night and explained to them about the results at the hospital.

 

I hear Jamie showing the police officers out and then he returns to me in the kitchen. I’ve made him a cuppa. I know this is stressful for him too. I don’t want to be pushy with all this, but if I don’t, he wouldn’t of done anything. He’s the most infuriatingly stubborn man I have ever met.

“The police are going to speak to Laoghaire and see what she knows. I’ll give the number I have for her a wee ring and see what she says and let her know the police are looking in to it. They said they will speak to the restaurant and also find out the name of the club Laoghaire and I were at and see if they can find out something from there.”

“Good. I’m glad. Hopefully this will be sorted out soon.” I say as Jamie nods his head. “Thank you Jamie. I know this is hard for you, but I just—“

“I ken Claire. I’m just sorry that I’ve put ye through all this.”

“It’s not your fault Jamie. You didn’t ask for this to happen. I just hope that this will make you be more careful.”

“I usually am though. I dinna ken how this could of happened. But then again, I suppose the fact I canna remember anythin’ makes it possible that anythin’ could of happened and I didna even ken.”

 

Whilst Jamie calls Laoghaire, I head upstairs for a bath to relax and give Jamie some space. He can tell me about it later. Right now I just need some me time. I need to try and get rid of some of this stress. I also have my interview tomorrow and I haven’t had a chance to prepare properly for it because of the events of the past couple of days. And then Fergus is coming home later in the week. The girls’ christening is coming up soon too.

Could this of happened at a worse time?

I don’t think so.

 

I ran the bath and since Jamie used the last of my bath salts the other night, I only have bubble bath. It isn’t the best bubble bath for my skin, but it will have to do until I can get some more bathroom supplies with the shopping.

I lit some of my favourite scented candles up on the windowsill and got all my bathing product out and left on the shelf on the wall next to the bath. Sometimes when I have the space and time, I like to read in the bath or watch something on my laptop. I know that’s kind of weird, but sometimes the bath is the only chance I get for peace and quiet. Tonight though, I’ve decided to read. Nothing heavy, just a small romance novel that’s nice and easy to take my mind of things.

I’m not in the bath that long when Jamie appears in the bathroom and begins to strip his clothes off.

“I thought you were calling Laoghaire?”

“I did. She’s coming over tomorrow afternoon. She’s busy at the moment. I dinna want to talk about her though. Or anything else about the other night. I want to slip in to the bath behind ye, hold ye in my arms and yer gonna tell me all about this job ye applied for. The interviews tomorrow aye?”

I nod my head.

“Right. Well, after we’re done in here, I’ll help ye get organised for it. Ye’ve spent enough time taking care of me this weekend, now it’s time for me to take care of you.”

 

The rest of the night has been very chilled and peaceful. Jamie and I talked about the job at the clinic. He really listened to what I had to say about how I was feeling being at home all day everyday with not a lot of adult company or conversation. He spoke about his work and how stressful it’s been the last little while. He’s looking in to taking on another couple of people to help run some of the day to day tasks. I couldn’t help but feel happy about that. I know how much Jamie loves and is dedicated to the business, but it isn’t good for his health being so over worked and stressed.

Jamie helped me pick out my outfit for tomorrow’s interview. A nice pair of grey pin striped trousers and a grey blazer to match. It isn’t a suit I’ve worn all that often as I find it hard to find a nice blouse to match. Jamie suggested just a plain white blouse, but I think he was just getting frustrated with the amount of blouses and shirts I pulled out and dumped on the bed for us to look through.

Everything has been left out ready for tomorrow. And now Jamie and I are tucked up in bed. We haven’t had sex or made love tonight. Usually we would with the girls not being around to interrupt us, but I think we are just so happy to be with each other tonight. Both of us safe and together.

It’s been a long and stressful couple of days, but right now, I feel safe laying here in Jamie’s arms. I hope he feels the same.

 

“Yer exhausted Sassenach. Dinna fight it, close yer eyes and go to sleep. I’m here.”

Drifting off to sleep wrapped in Jamie’s arms at the end of the day is my second favourite part of the day.

My favourite is waking up wrapped safely in his arms in the morning.

The last few weeks we haven’t had this luxury. Tonight we do. When I wake tomorrow morning, Jamie will be right beside me.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

2nd March

 

Today’s been a really weird day.

Well, the last few days have been extremely weird.

 

I woke up this mornin’ feelin’ better than I had all weekend. I woke up to Claire propped up on her elbow on her pillow watchin’ me. She was smilin’. I hadna seen much of her smile the last few days. Understandably so. I wish I did as she asked sooner. I wish I had of listened to her. I dinna ken why I thought better. She’s a nurse. She Ken’s far better about these things than I.

No. I should of done better on Friday night. As soon as Claire left. I should of left too. Either follow her home and try and discuss things properly with her or give her the space she asked for by goin’ to a friends house until it was okay to go home.

I didn’t though. Somehow, I needed up in some club with Laoghaire of all people. Somehow I ended up back at Laoghaire’s flat and stayin’ the night.

When I spoke to Laoghaire on the phone last night, she was obviously busy with somethin’ and didn’t have the time to speak with me properly. I had wondered at the time if maybe the police were already there with her or somethin’. She did tell me though that she slept in her own room while I crashed on the bed in her spare room. That’s a relief. Means I didna actually lie to Claire. I am gonna have to come clean to Claire about the kiss with Laoghaire though. I ken I should of admitted it sooner, but to be honest, I’m havin’ a hard time believing that I could do such a thing. I love Claire more than my verra own life. I would never do anythin’ to hurt her intentionally. I was intoxicated, but I still dinna think I would let things get that far. Sayin’ that, I never thought I would end up stayin’ out all night and wakin’ up in another woman’s flat.

I invited Laoghaire over to the house later so we could talk properly about what happened. I said I would be in touch at some point today with the address and a convenient time. Haven’t gotten around to it yet as things have been a bit crazy today.

 

After wakin up beside Claire this mornin’, we spent some much needed quality time together. We called the lads and spoke to our daughters this mornin’ whilst I prepared Claire and I some breakfast. Nothin’ special, just some poached eggs and some toast and avocado. John offered to keep the girls until after Claire’s interview and then bring them home. He had enough to milk, clothes and nappies for Brianna anyway and Faith was havin’ a wonderful time with her uncles and Willie.

After hanging up with John and the girls, we called Fergus to apologise for not spendin’ the time with him this weekend that he deserved. He was old enough to understand somethin’ was goin’ on, but we didna tell him anythin’. The lad was verra understandin’ though. He’s a braw lad young Fergus. I canna wait until he is home with us properly on Thursday. It’s always so upsettin’ and heartbreakin’ whenever we have to return him to the home. Tomorrow night will be the last time though.

We wished Fergus all the best for school and told him to behave and stick in. Told him we’ll see him tomorrow and I will collect him from school when I finish work. He told us he loved us and we told him the same before lettin’ him go to get ready for his day.

Claire and I ate our breakfast together at the kitchen table and just enjoyed bein’ in each other’s company. Time was gettin’ on though and I had to leave for work and Claire had to get ready for her interview.

I told her I loved her and I was proud of her for doin’ what’s right for her. It wouldna be fair of me to ask her not to go back to work if that’s what she truly wants. What she needs. I dinna recall much of our argument the other night, the only explanation I have for my outburst is that maybe I thought she wanted to work because of money?! I dinna ken. My business is successful and just keeps gettin’ better and better. We are livin’ pretty comfortably. Money isn’t an issue for us. We are verra lucky. Claire doesna need to work as I make enough for our family to live well and safe. When Claire gave up her job last year at the hospital before Brianna was born, I tried to pay some of her bills and things for her. She wasna impressed. I just assumed that when she gave up her job, she would need me to help. I didna mind. I love her. I would give her anythin’ and everythin’ she needed. She explained to me that she didna need me that way. She didna want my money. She seemed verra offended actually. I didna mean to offend her. Turns out Claire had inherited a trust fund when she turned twenty five from her parents. That was the money she wanted to use to bring her uncle home. It was quite a substantial sum, but it wasna enough. She used a good chunk of it though to bring him home. I didna pay it all. When her Uncle passed, he had left her quite a substantial amount as well. She never told me how much, and I didna ask. It’s none of my business, but she has her money, and I have mine. Obviously we have a joint account and we use that for paying the house hold bills and the mortgage and such. Anythin’ we need for the kids comes from that account too. Maybe I wondered if she felt she needed to work for some kind of regular income? I canna say what was goin’ through my mind the other night.

I kissed Claire goodbye and I headed off to work. I wasna even halfway there and I had a call from Ian to say my Uncle Dougal was at the office lookin’ for me. I shoulda guessed then that the day would just go down hill from there.

 

As soon as I stepped in to the office, I saw Dougal sat in my chair. Ian was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he must of been checking on the staff or away to a meeting. I hadn’t had the chance to look at his schedule today to see if he would be about much or not.

“So lad, how was yer weekend? Did Claire enjoy yer wee date night on Friday?” Dougal asked me as I made my way over to my chair. “Christ lad. Ye okay? Ye look a bit peaky.”

Dougal reluctantly got off my seat and made his way to the other side of the desk to sit opposite me.

“Am fine. It was a lovely wee place. Been a couple of times, though no for some time. Apparently it has new owners now. Thanks for the recommendation. Claire thoroughly enjoyed the meal.” I didna want to tell him all that happened. Less conversation I have with the man these days the better.

“Aye. ‘Tis a nice wee place. That’s why I bought it.”

“You? Ye own it? Since when?” I ask him. He hasn’t mentioned anythin’ about it before. I ken we’re no all that close, but even Auntie Jo hasna mentioned Dougal buying a flippin’ restaurant.

“Aye. Nice wee investment. Only had it officially a week or do. Didna want to make a big deal over it though.”

I just nod.

“So lad, the reason I’m here. I ken ye said no before, and I understand, but I just wanted to ask again. Yer doin a braw job here, ye and Ian. Truly. But, dae ye’s no want to expand? Make the business bigger? Stronger? Have more of a variety fer yer customers? I can help wi’ that lad.”

There it is. Tryin’ to worm his way in. Again.

“Sorry Uncle. Ian and I have our own plans. Anyway, ye no busy enough with yer new restaurant?” It no the answer he wanted, so he did a hang about much afterwards.

Well, no at the office anyway. The sneaky bastard made his way down to the distillery to check on the workers. One of the men came up to let ,e know that Dougal had made his way down and was asking the staff of they liked workin’ for me. If I was a good boss. If I was fair. Why is he so hell bent on investing in THIS particular distillery? I’m sure this wilna be the last time he brings it up. At least he’s no gettin’ uncle Callum to do his biddin’ for him this time.

 

The fact I knew Dougal was still hanging around, made me feel uneasy. The man’s a creep. So sly. Verra dangerous.

When he’d gone. I started to relax a bit more and managed to get on with some work.

I got a phone call from the police and they informed me that they tried to contact Laoghaire both by phone and visiting her flat, but they were unable to contact her yet. This made me nervous. I only spoke to the lass last night and she agreed to help in anyway she could. She knew the police would be in touch.

The stress was too much. Even for a Monday.

 

Things started to pick up as I kept myself busy. Everythin’ was goin’ fine until Ian had returned. Apparently him and Dougal had a nice wee chit chat over some lunch at the deli round the corner. I dinna ken what Dougal said or promised or whatever, but now Ian is seriously wantin’ ,e to consider lettin’ Dougal buy in to the business.

Ian and I have our own plans for building and expanding. We dinna need Dougal MacKenzie. No way in hell do we need that man. Ian somehow see,so to think we do.

We had words and I sulked off back home to Claire and the girls.

 

I thought bein’ home would make me feel better, but now I have this to seriously think about as well as speak to Claire about what Laoghaire said about the kiss and I also have to contact Laoghaire about meeting me. Also, ask her why she never spoke with the police? It’s too much. My heids fried.

Claire put both Faith and Brianna down for their afternoon naps and comes to join me on the couch with a cuppa tea for each us.

“How did the interview go?”

“Very well actually. They called me a little before you came home to tell me the jobs mine if I want it. I accepted. They want me to start at the beginning of April.”

“That’s wonderful Sassenach! Why did ye no tell me when I came in the door? I thought that would of been the first thing ye’d share with me.” I pull her in for a quick cuddle and kiss her cheek.

“You came home early Jamie. You didn’t seem yourself. You don’t seem yourself. Do you want to tell me what happened? Is it the police? Have they found something?”

“No lass. They em, they did call, but just to say they haven’t been able to contact Laoghaire yet. She hasna been at home and she’s no answerin’ her phone. I dinna ken why. I told her they would be in touch and she see,Ed ,ore than willin’ tae help. I’ll try callin’ her in a wee while and see when she can come over.”

Claire moves in closer to me and lets me hold her. We hold each other. I tell her all about my day. Dougal’s visit and what he and Ian have cooked up between the twa’ of them. She seems just as upset about the situation as me. Thank Christ am no the only one that thinks Dougal comin’ on board is a bad idea.

“Oh aye, and did I tell ye it was Dougal that suggested I take ye to the restaurant the other night? I was askin’ Murtagh for some recommendations and Dougal suggested this place. We had been before and we liked it. I knew it was taken over by a new owner recently, but I didna ken who the new owner was.”

“Well, he made a good suggestion. It was a lovely restaurant. The food was delicious. Even if it is possible something happened to you there. I don’t think we will be back though Jamie. It was nice, but not if the customer ends up being drugged at some point. If it was the restaurant anyway.”

“Hmmm. Well, I found out the day that the reason he suggested it is because he is the new owner.”

“What? Dougal?”

“Aye. Told me the day. That’s reason enough for me no to step foot in the place again. Never mind the fact that someone could of tampered with my food or drink.”

It’s then that Claire looks to me as if she’s just figured somethin’ out.

“Jamie, do you think that Dougal might have tampered with your meal or something?”

“I-I ah. I dinna ken Claire. I dinna think so. I think it’s just been a random thing. Unfortunately that happens. I ken ye told me it doesna, but I ken fine well it does. Ye hear of people having their drink spiked by some random person when their out. No reason at all for it happening. Just some sick persons idea of a joke or a prank.”

“It’s far from a joke Jamie. You are extremely lucky that you didn’t end up in hospital seriously ill or worse... dead. Sometimes I don’t think you are taking this seriously Jamie.”

“Claire, I swear to ye I am. I just... it’s difficult. I dinna remember anythin’. It’s scary Claire. I think I’m a pretty strong man. Able to handle a lot, mentally and physically. But this Claire... I dinna ken how to describe it. I’ve lost hours of my life and I dinna ken or understand how or why. It scares me. A lot. I saw how scared and worried you were. I wanted to be strong for you. The bairns too Claire. Fergus kens somethin’s up. He does a ken what though thank Christ. I’m sure Faith Ken’s somethin’s no right too. I had to try and be as normal as possible around them. Around you. Truth is I feel like I’m slowly dying inside Claire and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m drowning Claire.”

Claire pulls me closer and rocks me gently in her arms as I start to gently sob. I’m no much of a crier, but I canna hold in my fears any longer.

“It’s okay Jamie. We will figure this out. It may take time, but we WILL figure this out. I promise you that.”

She’s being so kind. Too kind.

I need to tell her what Laoghaire told me. I’m just so scared she will walk out that door with our children and I’ll never see any of them again. I canna lie though. I canna keep this from her.

“Claire. Laoghaire did tell me somethin’ about the other night. Somethin’ I should of told ye sooner, but I just couldna wrap my head around it. It doesna make any sense and I dinna ken how it could of happened. I dinna see she has anythin’ to gain by lying though. But Claire, please know that I was out of my mind and I dinna remember it myself and know that I am so verra sorry and nothin’ like this will ever happen again. I swear it.”

Claire lets go of me, moves slightly away from me. She looks hurt. Devastated. Like I just did the one thing I swore I would never do. Break her heart.

“You said you didn’t sleep with her. You said you didn’t have sex.”

“And I swear we didna. I asked her and she said no Claire. She slept in her room and I was in the spare.”

“What happened then?”

I try to reach over for Claire’s hand but she moves them both out of my grasp.

“We kissed. At the club. I dinna remember Claire and I swear to ye I dinna ken why I would even do that to ye. I love ye more than anything in the world. Ye and the bairns are my life Claire. I would never do anything to intentionally hurt ye’s or make ye’s leave me.”

“Was it just one kiss?”

“Two. I think? Once at the club and then again at the flat. I dinna ken Claire, but that’s what she said. I am so sorry Claire. So verra sorry. I dinna expect ye to forget this, but am beggin’ ye to please forgive me Claire.” I get down on the floor in front of her and rest my head on her lap beggin’ her over and over again to forgive me.

She lifts my head and holds it between her hands.

“I forgive you Jamie. I forgive you because I do believe you would never do anything like that. I believe that even after a stupid argument, you wouldn’t go off with some random girl. I know you love me Jamie. You are the one thing on this earth that makes me feel safe. I forgive you Jamie because you don’t even know yourself if it’s true or not. If you say you can’t get your head around it, I believe you. I love you Jamie and I will never leave you. You need to forgive yourself though, because this, what happened to you, it isn’t your fault Jamie.”

Chapter Text

Ian’s POV

2nd March

“Jenny? Jenny, I’m home.” I called out as I came in through the front door.

I’m home later than usual thanks to Jamie doing yet another disappearing act.

“What time dae ye call this? Bairns are all in bed asleep. If I were ye I’d get up them stairs and pop yer heid in and give them a kiss goodnight.” As expected, Jenny’s none too pleased.

I give her a silent nod and make my way upstairs to check in on the weans and get showered and changed.

 

When I make my way back downstairs, I can smell the delicious dinner Jenny has prepared for me sat down on the kitchen island.

“Don’t ken how tasty it’ll be since I had to reheat it, but...”

“I’m sure it will be fine Jen. Sorry I’m later home than planned.” She turns away from me to finish unloading the dishwasher not saying a word. “Ye heard fae yer brother the day by any chance?”

“Mmhmm. About three hours ago. Text to say Claire was offered the job and she was accepting it. By the sounds of it, he was already home.” Jenny turns to glare at me.

“I’m sure he was.” I say sharply. “Did he say anythin’ else?”

“Why? Ye twa had an argument or somethin’?”

“Put it this way Jen, if yer brother wasna such an unreliable, stubborn, selfish arse, I would of been home on time to spend time with ye and the bairns. Ye’d think he was the only yin in the world wi’ a family waitin’ for him at home.”

“I dinna believe that man these days. What is he playin’ at? I thought he was finally getting his act the gether?! Ye need to say something Ian. James Fraser is NOT the only man in the world with a family waiting for him at home. I ken he and Claire have a lot goin’ on at the minute, but no offence to them, when do they no? I am sick of not seeing my husband and my children not seeing their father because James Fraser keeps dumping half his work load on you. I mean it Ian, if ye dinna say something... I will.”

She will as well. I’m actually half surprised she hasna either picked up the phone already to scream some choice words at him, or grab her car keys and drive over to Glasgow to have it out with him in person.

I dinna ken exactly what’s gan on with Jamie, but it just feels like since he met Claire, his heart and his head hasna been in the business as much as it should. I ken now that there were reasons he took so much time off when they first met and that, but surely they are both in a better place now?

He admitted himself we need some help in the office as things are just too much for just the two of us. Every person I have suggested to take on an assistant position, he’s just turned down flat. He’s quite happy to say we need the extra help, but he hasna actually done anythin’ constructive about it.

He’s already cut down his hours at work. I didna mind, I mean I ken Claire was strugglin’ wi her own issues and Jamie had finally decided to seek help for his own issues that he’s tried to keep to himself for years.

I’m glad he’s seeking the help that he needs. I’m glad he’s taking the time to take proper care of himself. I’m glad that he’s finally found the family he has so desperately wanted his whole life. I don’t begrudge him any of that, I just wish he was more committed to his work when he’s actually there.

Only a couple of weeks ago, he was meant to be at a meeting with one of our longtime customers up in Aberdeen, but for some unknown reason, he didna show. He didn’t even contact the customer to apologise or explain. I was at a meeting down in London so there was no way I would of been able to take over. Even if I was in Glasgow, I wouldna have made it to Aberdeen in time.

 

The business had been booming over the past two or three years. Maybe even longer. It was a decent enough wee business when Jamie and I took over from Callum, but there’s no doubt that Jamie and I have managed to take things to a whole new level.

We have plans to expand the business. At the moment, we focus on whisky. One of the best whiskies created here in Scotland. Something I know both Jamie and I are extremely proud of.

Jamie and I decided that we wanted to branch out a bit and we even purchased a wee vineyard over in Italy. Jamie hasna been over to see it yet. It was Jenny and I that had gone over to have a wee look around potential vineyards. With everything that’s been going on with both the business and home life, we havena been able to actually plan out next move and what to do with the vineyard. To me it feels like a waste, but I dinna want to start anything without Jamie. It’s his project too. It’s OUR business.

 

“Dougal came out to see Jamie and I this morning. Well, he came it see Jamie, but then he came lookin’ for me and asked me to lunch.” I say to Jenny as we make our way upstairs to bed.

“Ah. He did say he wanted to speak with ye both.”

“When did ye speak with him then?” I look over to Jenny confused. I didna ken they spoke that often unless it was to do with a family event.

“Last week. I called him to make sure he was still coming to the christening. We spoke for quite a wee while actually. Did he mention buying in again?”

I was shocked at how calm Jenny was about this topic of conversation. The last time Dougal brought up this suggestion, she was less than impressed. “Aye. I spoke to Jamie about it and that’s when he went off on one and went hame I suppose. I have to admit Jenny, what Dougal is offering is exactly what we need. It’s what Jamie and I want to do ourselves, but yer brothers heid and heart just isna in it anymore and I dinna want the business to suffer because of it. Dougal is offering to buy in and he’s happy to take over the running of the vineyard over in Italy and produce the wine we want to create. He has the knowledge, the money and he kens the right folk to help make it happen. He’s interested in creating a gin as well. He thinks that if Jamie and I agree, he can bring on the staff we need.”

“Do ye think ye could work with Dougal though? That’s the biggest question here Ian. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dougal could help ye’s take the business in the direction ye’s want. It would also mean that you and Jamie would have more time for yer families which, I ken would mean a lot to me and the bairns. I’m sure Claire would feel the same.”

“Honestly Jen, I think I could work with him. We seem tae have the same ideas for the business. We dinna need his money, but it wilna hurt. His knowledge and experience in this field is attractive too. It’s yer brother that has the issue, but I’m sorry to say Jenny, right now, it’s Jamie I canna see myself working with. I need a partner that I can count on and rely on. For some reason, that’s no Jamie any more.”

“Ye need to tell him that then. I ken he’s my brother, but that’s neither here nor there. The guy needs to take some responsibility. I ken things have been tough for him and Claire, but it’s no fair leaving you with the bulk of the work. Ye ken I help as much as I can, but I have my own job and I’ve got the running of this place and the bairns as well. It’s no yer fault Ian, but sometimes I feel like a single parent. Somethin’ has to give, and if that’s Jamie walking away in a huff and Dougal coming in and giving ye the help and support ye need, then that’s what needs to happen.”

“I hope the three of us could work together. I ken Dougal would try. Jamie in the other hand...”

“Ian Murray, this is YOUR business just as much as Jamie’s. you do what feels right for you. The business is doing grand, but if Jamie keeps goin’ as is, the business could easily fall to bits and then where will you, I and the bairns be? Ye need to do what ye think is best for you and your family. Dinna feel bad about James Fraser. That man clearly doesna think of ye.”

 

Jenny and I climb in to bed. I’ve got a lot to think about.

A lot I need to discuss with Jamie.

Maybe I should organise a meeting with Jamie and I with Jenny and Claire being there. Maybe he will listen more to what I have to say. And if he doesna, he might listen to his sister... hopefully.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

5th March

 

Today’s the day.

Today’s the day.

When I come home from school, I will be going home with the Fraser’s. Claire and Jamie are collecting me from school and taking me home with them. Hopefully for good.

I won’t be coming back to this god awful place.

I will be at home with a real proper family who love me and want to care of me. I will be a real big brother to Faith. And Bree.

Oh why can’t it be 3 o’clock already? I just want to be at home.

 

As I walk in through the gates of school, I see all the kids playing. Some of the girls in my class are over in the corner under the shelter dancing to the latest song that came out in the charts this week. I expect they will be practicing, or “rehearsing” as they call it, at play time and lunch time. They will probably give a “performance” after school as well. Some of the boys from my class are over on the grass playing football. There was a time when I would of joined in, but since I went back to live in the kids home, I realised these boys aren’t really my friends.

I just keep walking until I get to the main entrance of the school and make my way down to my classroom and get ready and organised for the day.

I take my jacket off and hang it over my peg. I grab my bag from the floor and and make my way over to sit at my desk. It’s Thursday, which means we will have our spelling test first, so I take my pencil case out of my bag and leave it on top of my desk. I take out a pencil and a rubber and leave them in front of my case. I hunt in my bag for my spelling book. Takes a while, but I finally find it at the bottom of the bag. It’s five minutes until the bell rings, so I take the time to read over the ten words I will be tested on whilst the rest of the kids are outside.

 

When the bell goes, I close my spelling book and sit patiently as the teacher brings in the children and they all get settled.

 

Claire helped me on Tuesday with some of the bigger words. There were some words I got mixed up with and confused some of the letters in the wrong order. But with Claire’s help, I managed to understand it better and I got 10/10 in my test. I was only expecting to get about seven or eight correct.

I’m not a terrible speller, but sometimes I get some of the letters mixed up. Not all the time. Usually with words I am not too familiar with. I did worry there was something wrong with me earlier in the school year when I struggled with some words, but my teacher assured me it was nothing to worry about.

One of the kids at the kids home has some kind of dyslexia. I worried I might have it too, but my teacher doesn’t seem too concerned. She said I just had to try and concentrate more. I guess she was right.

At least now I will always have Claire to help me with my spelling at home. And Jamie too.

Why can’t it be three o’clock yet? I just want to go home and see Claire and Jamie and tell them I got 10/10 on my test.

 

After break time, the teacher tells us about a new project the class will be starting. Since this is my last day at this school, I don’t pay too much attention to what the teacher is saying. My mind drifts to the Fraser’s. I just want to be at home playing with the girls or reading them a story. Helping Claire in the garden or playing chess with Jamie.

“.... Evie, could you hand out these folders to everyone please? Everyone’s name is on the top left hand corner.” Evie gets up to take the folders from the teacher. “Thank you Evie.” The teacher gives her a small smile.

Evie hands out the folders to everyone in the class except me.

“Em, Miss?” Evie calls to the teacher.

“What is it Evie?”

“There isn’t one for Fergus Miss.”

“Well of course not since this is Fergus’ last day.”

The whole class turns around to stare at me in shock and then the teacher comes to crouch down beside me.

“Sorry Fergus. I assumed you would have told your friends.”

I just shrugged my shoulders. The teacher told Evie to sit down and then she went back up to sit at her desk and started to tell us about how we would be going outside for a game of rounders after lunch since the sun was shining.

 

As the bell went for lunch, all the kids ran out of the classroom as quickly as they could. I quietly sat and put all my belongings from my desk in to my school bag. The classroom doesn’t get locked, so I prefer to take my things with me at playtime and lunch time. I see the teacher walking towards me. She pulls the chair out next to ,e and sits down.

“I’m sorry about before Fergus.” The teacher looks really disappointed that she could of upset me.

“Why? You didn’t do anything wrong.” I say.

“Why didn’t you tell your friends? I really think they were sad to learn you were leaving.”

“They don’t care. Not really. Ever since I went back to the kids home, they started treating me differently. They weren’t very nice.”

“Is that why you wanted to move to another school? I wish you could have spoken to me about this Fergus. I would have tried to help.”

“I know. I just... it doesn’t matter. You were worried about my schoolwork and I fixed that. I’ve been doing better.”

“I know you have Fergus, and I am so proud of you.” She smiles at me and I smile back. “Are you looking forward to starting your new school tomorrow?”

“I start on Monday. The Fraser’s thought it might be good for me to take tomorrow off to get used to being at the house. I’ve stayed there before, but this is different. They are taking me to the new school tomorrow afternoon though to meet my new teacher and classmates. I think they said I was joining in on their P.E. Class.”

“That sounds wonderful Fergus. I know a few of the teachers over at St Andrews, I’m sure you will settle in wonderfully.”

“Thanks Miss.” I give her a small smile and push my chair out to go for lunch. I brought a cheese sandwich and a bottle of apple juice with me today, so I don’t have to queue for anything today.

“Fergus, you’re not alright are you?”

“I’m fine Miss. Honestly. Just a bit hungry I guess.”

She doesn’t look convinced though. I do feel a bit funny, but that could just be nerves to start a new school or nerves about what the kids outside will say, if they say anything at all.

“Why don’t you go an collect your lunch and meet me back here in ten minutes?”

“No miss, you go eat. I’ll be fine. Promise.”

She doesn’t take no for an answer though. I tell her I brought a packed lunch and I head out to the packed lunch trolley to collect my lunch box. Turns out the teacher had the same idea. She heads down to the staff room to collect her own lunch and meets me back in the class room.

We talk about all sorts of random things and about Jamie and Claire and the girls. It’s quite nice. I think I’ve always preferred the company of adults. Sometimes the kids in care can be a bit loud and selfish and demanding. Not always, but that’s what I found living in the care home. The only other kid I really took to was Faith. I wonder if that’s because I knew that somehow we were really meant to be brother and sister? Hmm. Interesting.

 

After lunch, we go outside and play a game of rounders. I don’t want to take part. Not really in the mood, but the teacher doesn’t mind and has me help set up instead and allows me to watch from the steps. David and Chloe aren’t playing either, so the three of us just sit on the steps and watch. It’s girls vs boys.

David and Chloe are sat a couple of steps behind me and are chatting between themselves.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone ye we’re leaving Fergus? Rabbie’s fair upset ye never told him.” David pipes up out of nowhere.

“I didn’t think anyone would care. It’s not like anyone has really been friendly with me the past few months.” They don’t respond.

The three of us just sit there and watch the rest of the game. The girls won. The boys aren’t overly joyed about that.

We all head back inside after after everything is cleared away and we have a little free time before the bell goes at three.

 

It’s finally three o’clock and I’m sure I am the first one out the door. That never happens. I am always one of the last to leave. I said a quick thank you to the teacher before I left the room though.

As I run out of the school and head as fast as I can to the main gate, I see both Jamie and Claire stood at the gate waiting for me with Faith and Bree.

I keep running as fast as I can and when Faith spots me, she comes running towards me too. As soon as we meet, she runs right into me and wraps her little arms around me. I lift her up and give her a cuddle as I walk us over to Claire, Jamie and Bree.

“Ye ready to go home son?”

Finally.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

5th March

It’s been a rather strange week this week. Especially with Jamie. He’s sort of disappeared in to himself a bit and been extremely quiet. He hasn’t been back to work since he came home early on Monday. I’ve tried to speak with him about it, but he’s adamant he isn’t ready to see or speak with Ian just now.

Both Ian and Jenny have tried to contact Jamie the past couple of days. Jamie hasn’t answered any of their calls or responded to their messages either. I did catch him listening to a couple of voicemails though, but he didn’t tell me who it was from or what they said so I didn’t ask. I feel like all I’ve done the past week is push and push Jamie to talk and open up. I didn’t want to do it any more. If he wanted to speak with me about whatever was bothering him, he knew where I was when he was ready. I did tell him that. He just nodded and kissed my forehead, but didn’t say anything.

When the girls were around, he was acting and behaving like his usual self. Life and soul of the house. When Fergus was over on Tuesday, Jamie played Chess with him and the two of them had fun cooking dinner together.

After we dropped Fergus off back at the children’s home and put the girls to bed, he went back to being quiet and didn’t want to speak about last weekend or work or anything like that.

I had offered to call Jenny and let her know how Jamie was, but he didn’t want me to. He didn’t want me answering her of Ian’s calls either.

It’s strange. I don’t know what the hell is going on between the three of them, but whatever was left on them voicemails really shook him up.

 

Today has been a better day though. He’s happy, smiley, laughing and giggling with me and the girls. Jamie got up earlier than usual today to make us a special breakfast. Home made pancakes with lots of mixed fruit and cream instead of syrup. It was... interesting. Delicious though. He made plenty of pancakes so we have plenty left over. Perfect for an afternoon snack after we collect Fergus from school and bring him home.

I think the fact that it’s the day we’re finally bringing Fergus home to live with us is what’s making Jamie a lot brighter today. I don’t think anything could keep the smile from his face. Mine either to be honest. Our little boy is coming home.

I know it’s been stressful for him because he nor the police have been able to get a hold of that Laoghaire girl. For some reason Jamie hasn’t said much on the subject, but I have to say that that makes me quite nervous.

Did she just do a runner after Jamie told her the police wanted to speak with her? If so, why? If she had nothing to hide?

Unfortunately because Jamie doesn’t remember much, he can’t even give the police the name of the club they were at. There are three clubs close to the restaurant, but the police have explained that none of the staff at any of the clubs recall Jamie or Laoghaire being there. I’m not quite 100% sure, but I think I overheard one of the police officers telling Jamie that they were also looking in to clubs and pubs around Laoghaire’s area just in case.

Unfortunately, it’s looking like we won’t know much more until Laoghaire makes a reappearance. Jamie had mentioned she said she moved back to take a job, but she hadn’t said where or what she was doing. Not that he could remember anyway. The police weren’t finding much on that front either. It’s strange.

 

But, today is not a day for worrying about Laoghaire and what may or may not of happened last weekend.

Today is about Fergus and our family. Today is the day our family will feel properly complete.

Our son is coming home.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

5th March

Claire and I wait patiently at the school gates with the girls for Fergus to come out of class.

It feels like we’ve been standing here forever. There are loads of children coming out of various exits of the school, but I canna seem to see wee Fergus yet.

“Don’t look so anxious Jamie, he’ll be out soon.” Claire tells me whilst gently rubbing a hand over my lower back tryin’ to calm me down.

“I ken Sassenach. It’s just... it feels like we’ve been waiting forever to bring him home properly, ye ken?”

“We have been waiting forever. You and I together is home. Getting Faith back and you adopting her as your own and the birth of Bree, we’ve made a wonderful family unit Jamie. We were truly blessed with the girls, but Fergus just make our family complete.”

“He really does. Christ, I never thought I would be happier than when I found out ye were expectin’ Bree, but then you and I finally gettin’ our act together and becoming a proper couple, I didna think anythin’ could beat that Claire but, then we brought Faith home, and ye allowed me to be a father to her. I thought that was it, but I was wrong. That wee lad is absolutely everythin’ to us, and the girls. I hope we can make him as happy as he makes us Claire.”

“We will Jamie. I promise you.”

I glance over to the main entrance to the school and out comes a runnin’ Fergus. He’s just as excited as we are. Wee Faith spots him straight away and let’s go of my hand to run down the path to her brother. When Fergus meets her half way, she tightly wraps her wee arms around him hugging him close. Fergus picks her up and carries her up the path to Claire, Brianna and I.

“Ye ready to go home son?”

“Yes please.”

He puts Faith down but takes a firm hold of her hand. I tussle his hair a little making him smile even more before Claire hands me Brianna so she can give Fergus a big hug. Our family of five make our way over to the car and begin the journey home.

 

As we pull up the drive and I park the car, Claire informs Fergus that all his belongings are here. His social worker was supposed to be here, but she got called in to an emergency meeting. I call her and leave a voicemail to say we had collected Fergus safely from school and we are now back home. She calls me a wee while later to say she will pop round tomorrow afternoon to see how Fergus has settled in.

 

We spend the afternoon just chilling out and chatting about our day. I made some pancakes for breakfast, but I made a lot more than necessary so we all tuck in to some as an afternoon snack.

 

Since it’s Fergus’ first night home, we decided on take out for dinner. Much to Fergus and Faith’s liking.

“So Fergus, since it’s your first night home and we are celebrating that fact, you get to choose what take out to order.” Claire tells him with a big smile. The first one I’ve seen to reach her eyes in a while. If there is one thing that suits Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, it’s bein’ a Mam.

“Donald’s!” Faith shouted.

“No a leannan, yer brother is choosing the night.” I tell her as I pull her on to my lap.

She turns her wee head to give me the most horrible look ye’ve ever seen. The same bloody look her Mam gives me when I’ve said or done somethin’ wrong. “Pizza Hut!”

“Faith, I told ye, it’s yer brothers night to choose.”

“I don’t mind. What do you prefer Faith? Chicken nugget happy meal from MacDonalds or Pizza and ice cream from Pizza Hut?” Fergus asks her.

“Both!” She announces. I just look at Fergus and roll my eyes.

Claire is stood at the kettle with her back to us, but I can see her shoulders shakin’. I’m glad she finds this funny.

“Alright then, both it is. Fergus, make a list of what all we need to get, yer Mam can go and collect it.” That made Claire shut up and turn round and give me a glaring look.

“Em, I have to feed Brianna shortly, I can’t be running around Glasgow going to MacDonalds AND Pizza Hut.” She turns to Faith and Fergus who are sat at the kitchen Island, “Choose one or the other and we will just get it delivered. We are not getting two deliveries from two different places.”

“Maaaaam!” Faith wails whilst she turns her hands in to fists and starts banging them on island work top.

Claire just glares at Faith with that look. The same look Faith gave me only moments ago. Faith stopped with the attitude and turned to face Fergus. “I want Donald’s. Happy meal but I want a milkshake, no milk.”

“Okay, I’ll have a coke that comes with your happy meal, and get you a milkshake instead. Strawberry?” Fergus asks her and Faith nods her head.

Fergus takes a note of what everyone wants and I pull my phone out to order from Uber Eats.

 

After dinner, we play a game of Operation. Faith’s choice... obviously. Fergus definitely has a habit of letting her have her own way. I think the lad would do just about anythin’ to make the lass happy. It warms my heart to see them and the relationship they have. It’s special. I just dinna want the lad thinkin’ that his choices and preferences arna important. Faith needs to learn that Fergus might want to eat somethin’ different or do a different activity now and again.

“Dae ye no get seek of this game Faith?” I ask her. I’m sure she would pull it out every day if she could.

“No. I want to be a doctor like Mam.” She announces proudly.

“Well, that’s wonderful darling, but I’m a nurse, not a doctor. But, if you stick in with school and believe in yourself as much as we believe in you, you can be whatever and whoever you want to be my darling. We will always be here to help and support you.” Claire tells her before looking over to me and smiling.

 

After almost an hour of playin’ damn operation, Claire finally gets Faith to agree to tidy it away. I swear towards the end the lass was just makin’ it buzz just to give me a headache.

Fergus helped her tidy up and put the game away before Claire took Faith away for her bath. Brianna was already asleep, so that now leaves Fergus and I alone.

This is the perfect opportunity to give him a wee present. When we were at Lallybroch, Fergus had asked me to teach him how to play the bagpipes when we got home to Glasgow. I agreed, but I was so busy with work, I didna have the time to sit down with him properly. I did however manage to order him his very first practice chanter. It’s just a standard plain black plastic chanter. Perfect for the lad startin’ out. If he enjoys it and sticks to it, we might upgrade it to a better one for him.

I spend some time explaining to the lad that ye learn on the practice chanter first and then once he kens all the exercises and a couple of tunes, he can move on to the practice goose for a wee while before moving on to an actual set of pipes.

I start off by showing Fergus how to hold the chanter first. “Left hand goes on top, right hand goes on bottom. Need to make sure yer fingers cover all seven holes at the front of the chanter and the eighth hole at the back of the chanter.”

The lad picks it up quite quickly. I mind when I was a lad, I was desperate to have my hands the opposite way round. My uncle wouldna stand for it though because he claimed that pipers always stood out if they played left handed or even carried their pipes on the right shoulder instead of the left. It took some gettin’ used to, but now I canna imagine playin’ with my hands the opposite way round.

“Just keep yer fingers like that the now. Keep them straight, but keep them relaxed. Put the chanter down in a wee while and pick it back up again and see if ye can hold it properly and cover all the holes. Keep daein’ that for a wee while and then tomorrow, I’ll start ye on the first exercise... the scale.”

“Really?” Fergus asks as his eyes widen with excitement.

“Aye. If ye pick up the exercises as quickly as ye picked up that chanter, there’ll be no stoppin’ ye lad.” I give him a huge smile. It feels nice to be teachin’ the lad. Somethin’ I can pass on to my son.

“Thank you Jamie. I really want to be a piper like you. I’m glad you are able to teach me.”

 

After Claire bathes Faith and puts her to bed, Claire, Fergus and I sit down to watch a bit of tele. Well, Fergus is watchin’ the tv, Claire and I are watchin’ Fergus. I just think we canna believe he’s finally here. Finally home with us where he’s meant to be.

I canna even begin to put in to words how happy and complete this wee lad makes me.

 

About nine o’clock, Fergus says his good nights to Claire and I and gives us a hug and Claire a quick kiss on the cheek and makes his way up to his bed.

Claire and I arna that far behind him. It’s been a long week, but today has been the best day ever. Still tiring though.

 

I dinna ken what time it is, but I’m wide awake. I dinna want to leave the bed because I dinna want to disturb Claire. The rooms pretty dark, but I can see part of her face because of the reflection of the outside light shining through the window. She looks peaceful. This is probably the first night I havena felt her toss and turn. I’m glad. She doesna need anymore stress right now than what I’ve put her through.

Suddenly, I hear somethin’. It’s like someone’s cryin’ out for someone or somethin’. It’s definitely no Faith.

Claire hears it too as she wakes with a jump. “What’s that?”

“It’s no Faith.”

We both climb out of bed quickly and wrap ourselves in our robes.

We make our way down the hallway to Fergus’ room. We slowly and quietly enter. The lad is asleep, but he’s thrashing about on the bed. Obviously in a nightmare.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

8th March

Today is the day of our daughters’ christening.

Faith is really excited and has spent the past two days trying to convince Jamie and I to let her wear her gown. We both refused obviously, so she turned to her older brother and tried to tell him that we okayed it and he was to get it down from our wardrobe for her. Fergus didn’t believe her though and told her she would get wearing it soon enough.

That girl can throw quite the tantrum when she doesn’t get her own way sometimes. According to Uncle Lamb, I used to have many a temper tantrum when I was a child. I know I was stubborn, still am, but I can’t imagine throwing myself on the ground and banging my tiny fists on the nearest surface like Faith does.

It isn’t something that happens too often with Faith. I think I can count on one hand how many times Jamie or I have had to tell her to calm down.

Fergus is brilliant with her though. He always manages to calm her down. And you can tell she tries to be on her best behaviour whenever he is around. It’s cute.

 

“What time are Jenny and Ian arriving? I thought they would of been here by now.” I ask Jamie as I finish off applying the last of my make up. I haven’t put on too much, just some tinted moisturiser, mascara and a nice lippy. I want to look somewhat presentable in the photos. It is a special day after all.

Jamie doesn’t respond, he just keeps focussing on tying the laces of his ghillie brogues.

“Are they just meeting us there then?” I ask hoping for some sort of answer.

“There no comin’ Sassenach.”

“What do you mean they’re not coming? They didn’t bother coming over on Thursday evening for dinner when we brought Fergus home.” He doesn’t answer me again. “Jamie, why would they miss their nieces baptism? Jamie? Answer me or I will jump in the car and drive to Edinburgh and ask them myself.”

“Then ye’d miss the ceremony as well then Sassenach, and I dinna think ye will want to miss yer own daughters being baptised. Just drop it will ye? We dinna need them here.” Jamie makes his way out of the room and heads down the hall to check on Bree.

What the hell is going on?

I pull out my phone and send a text to Murtagh asking if he knows what’s going on between Jamie, Jenny and Ian.

Murtagh responds straight away telling me he doesn’t know the details, but according to Jocasta, Jamie had sent a text to Ian last night telling him that they were not welcome at the christening today. Murtagh offers to reach out to Jenny and Ian for me and see what’s what. I tell him I would be very grateful.

If this is about Dougal wanting to invest in the business, it isn’t a very good excuse for banning his own sister and brother in law from the baptism of the girls. Family means everything to Jamie. As does his faith. This is the last thing I would of expected.

As much as I want to know what the hell is going on right now, I don’t have the time. Today is about my girls. This is their day.

Tomorrow though, James Fraser is going to sit down with me and tell me everything that is going through that thick, stubborn head of his.

 

At the chapel, I am blessed to see how many people have turned up for this special day. I didn’t think many people would come, whether they rsvp’d yes or not.

Jamie is dressed in his Fraser family kilt. He had one made specially for Fergus as well and he looks absolutely dashing stood next to Jamie. Bree’s christening gown is a silk gown with short sleeves with a little bit of a puff. The lace overlay runs from top to bottom and there is a floral pattern embroidered at the bottom of the gown. Faith’s gown is similar to Bree’s. instead of the floral pattern just at the bottom of the gown, it’s all over. They both look adorable. I did want to go for a champagne colour gown for the girls and make them more traditional looking, but Jamie had the idea to add a tartan bow to the back of the gowns with the Fraser tartan. The bows look better on white gowns than champagne. I am very happy though.

We chose Louise and Joe as god parents to Faith and then Jocasta and John as godparents to Bree. It wasn’t that tough a decision, but I did think that maybe Jamie would have chosen Jenny. I suppose she is the girls’ aunt and I think he might not of wanted to ask Jenny and not Ian have Ian be godfather. I think he thought that would be unfair. He had no doubt in his mind that he wanted John to be godfather to at least one of our daughters, just like I had no doubt I wanted Joe.

I think we’ve made the perfect choice for god parents. I’m sure the girls will feel the same as they grow older. They are really lucky to have these people in their lives. We all are.

 

Just as the ceremony is about to begin, the door opens and in walks Jenny, Ian and the children. They sit up near the back of the chapel though. I smile at them as I’m so happy they actually came. Whatever is going on, they’re family, and this is a day for family.

I glance up at Jamie who is holding Bree and he doesn’t look happy. He starts to tense and Bree must sense it as she starts to cry. I take Bree from Jamie’s arms and send him a smile to try and calm him a bit. We are stood at the front of the chapel in front of all our friends and family and some of the usual Sunday congregation. Now isn’t the time to speak about whatever is on his mind.

 

The baptism went off perfectly. On the way to the Hayview hotel for the reception, Bree is asleep in her car set and Faith and Fergus are talking about Fergus starting his new school tomorrow. Jamie is driving and is still obviously in shock at Jenny and Ian turning up.

“Now isn’t the time, but we will speak about Jenny and Ian later.” I warm him.

“Oh, am sure we will.” He hisses back at me.

I just ignore him.

 

When we get to the hotel, Jamie and I paint big smiles on our faces as we head in to celebrate our daughters with our friends and family. The reception has only been limited to close friends and family, so there are only about twenty people altogether including the children. It’s nice. It’s perfect for us.

 

As soon as Faith see’s her cousins sat with Jenny and Ian in the corner of the small function room, she runs over to greet them. I have Bree in my arms and Fergus and Jamie at either side of me.

“Come on lad, I’ll get ye a drink and we’ll see about gettin’ this buffet open, eh? Could dae with a wee sausage roll or somethin’.” Jamie says to Fergus as he completely ignores the fact I’m stood right there too.

I watch as Jamie leads Fergus over to the main table sat in the middle of the room. They sit down and Jamie pours them both a glass of orange juice. I roll my eyes to myself and take Bree over to Joe before making my way over to Jenny and Ian.

I don’t exactly want this conversation in front of the children, and I suppose Murtagh knows what’s about to happen, because he soon appears beside me and bends down to entertain the children as I ask Jenny and Ian to follow me so we can talk.

“I have no idea what the hells going on here, but it’s obviously something big. What is it?” I ask them. Plead with them for some answers.

“If Jamie hasna telt ye anythin’ Claire, it’s no for us to say, but there was no way we were gonna miss the bairns christening.” Jenny explains to me.

Ian jumps in straight after, “Look, we ken Jamie didna want us here, so we were gonna just leave after the church, but Murtagh and Jocasta said we were to come back to the hotel. They made it seem like it was fine. Obviously it isn’t.” Ian turns to look over at Jamie who is sat glaring daggers at his brother in law.

“You’re not going anywhere. Today is about family, and that’s what you are. You belong here. Right now, I’d rather you here with the girls than their own father.” I send some looks towards Jamie myself.

“Claire, we ken this needs sorted. All week we’ve both been tryin’ to speak with Jamie, but he’s no interested. I think the four of us need to sit down and talk. He might listen more to what Ian has to say if you and I are both there too.” Jenny explains to me.

“Is this about Dougal?” I ask.

“No. I mean, I suppose it started off as Jamie having a problem with Dougal wanting to buy in to the business.” Ian pauses, “he did tell ye that, aye?” I nod my head and encourage him to continue. “Well, I think it runs a bit deeper than that, but this isna the time or the place Claire. Today is about the bairns. Maybe the four of us could get together sometime this week. Sooner the better. I really canna have Jamie off work much longer.”

“I understand. I really do. I’ll try and get him to go in tomorrow. He’s being more stubborn than usual though, so I can’t promise anything.” Ian and Jenny nod. “I’ll sort something for the four of us to get together, don’t worry.”

 

When we turn back to the table the children are at with Murtagh, Fergus is there with them too joining in with the games with his little sister and his cousins.

I can’t contain my smile when I see how well Fergus just fits in our family.

 

After doing the rounds and speaking with all our friends and family around us, I make my way over to Jamie at the bar. He sees me coming and when I walk up beside him, he hands me a glass of lemonade and ice. He’s drinking the same.

“I screwed up Sassenach. Big time. I’m so verra sorry.” Jamie says before breaking down in to tears.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

Claire leads me in to a small room next to the main function room. There’s a few collapsed tables and some chairs stacked up against the wall. This must be where they store the tables and chairs.

“Jamie, I really need you to open up and tell me exactly what’s going on. I’ve tried to be patient with you, but Jamie, I can’t ignore the state you’re in. Baby please. What do you mean you screwed up?”

I walk over to the other side of the small room and face the wall. I canna look Claire in the eye. I’ve ruined everythin’. Today has been perfect. The past few days have been perfect. And now I need to tell Claire I’m no the man she thinks I am. I’m no longer the man she fell in love with. No longer worthy of her or our children.

I can feel Claire walking towards me. She places a hand on my shoulder to try and turn me to face her, but I stay focused on the wall.

“Baby please. You are really scaring me now and it isn’t fair. What have you done?”

“I-ah. I, um. I’ve let everybody down Claire.”

“What makes you say that? Jamie?”

“Ian’s suggested either he or Dougal buy me out of the business.” I tell her.

“I’m sorry... what? Why the HELL would he suggest that?”

“I dropped the ball Claire. Big time. I didna even realise.” I turn to face her now. “I didna realise how often I’ve walked out of work or just not bothered goin’ in. For weeks I’ve been moanin’ about how stressed and overworked I am. Claire, I havena put in a quarter of the work Ian has. I used the excuse that I have a family at home and ye’s needed me. It wasna until he and Jenny left me a voicemail the other night tellin’ me exactly how I’ve been failing the business and Ian. Leaving them both with the brunt of the work, actin’ as if I’m the only one in the world with a family.”

“Jamie—“

“They’re right Claire. I’m no fit to be runnin’ that business. I worked so hard to get the business up and running with Ian. Jenny even helped a lot in the beginning. When you and I met, I started to drop the ball. Taking time off for clinic appointments. Not just enough time for the appointments, but taken the whole day. Why? I dinna ken. I took time off when yer uncle passed cause I needed to be there for you, even when ye kept pushing me away Claire, I needed to help in any way I could. Then ye suffered the miscarriage. We were both grieving. I couldna face work. Especially with no one kennin’ what had happened. I dodged it more when ye fell pregnant with Bree. All that trouble with Bonnet, I needed to be wi ye Claire. I needed to protect ye. When I’ve been focused on us and our life and tryin’ to make it better for us and the kids, it’s been Ian and even Jenny picking up my slack at work. They never complained. Not once. No until now. I didna see it before, but I see it now. I let them down Claire. Ian, Jenny. The staff. Ye and the bairns...”

Claire takes my head in between both her hands and pulls me closer to her. “YOU James Fraser have not let me down. Or our children. I am so sorry that I have been the cause of all this—“

“No Sassenach. Don’t you apologise. It was MY choice to put you before my job. Truth is Claire, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Ye and the bairns are the single most important thing in my life. Life is short. Too short. I want to take Ian up on his offer and let him buy me out. If he wants to THEN let Dougal buy in, he can. But I refuse to sell to that man myself.”

“Jamie, this is a huge decision. Why don’t you go to work this week and think everything over properly? Don’t just rush into this kind of decision.”

“It’s all I’ve thought about since listening to Ian and Jenny’s messages Claire. I LOVE that place. I love how Ian and I built it together, but I canna do it any more Claire. My place is with ye and the bairns.”

 

After at least a good half an hour speaking with Claire in the small storage room, we make our way back through to the function room where all our friends and family are celebrating Faith and Brianna.

“Is everything okay Claire? Faith and I were looking for you and Jamie, but we couldn’t find you.” Fergus runs over to ask Claire as soon as he spots us.

“Everything is fine sweetheart, we just had to go and check on the christening cakes. We got a bit held up. Are you alright darling?”

“Yes I’m fine. So is Faith. We just wondered where you went.”

It was then that I realised how Claire and I disappearing for a wee while would cause Fergus to become a bit anxious. Since moving in with us, he’s been having nightmares about us leaving him. The lads been abandoned so many times before, he expects it now.

“Dinna fash son. Ye’ll no get rid of Claire or I that easily eh? We love ye lad. Nothing’s gonna change that.” I pull him in for a hug.

“I love you too. Both of you. If you need to send me back, that’s fine. I understand you are both very busy people and already have the girls. You might not want me—“

“Fergus, YOU are our son. You are not just a toy from a shop that we will be returning. As Jamie said, we love you. Nothing is changing that, okay?” Claire tells the lad hoping he understands we’re not like his other foster families.

 

Not long later, Claire and I decide that we don’t want to be here anymore. We just want to take our kids home and spend some time just the five of us. We thank everyone for coming and encourage them to stay and finish the buffet and cakes.

Before we leave, I make my way over to Ian and Jenny. I awkwardly thank them for coming and apologise for my behaviour this past week. I tell them that Claire and I are leaving, but I will call them later tonight. I will be at work tomorrow and the rest of this week and we will organise a time and place for the four of us to sit down and discuss things properly as they requested. Jenny gives me a quick hug and Ian shakes my hand. I wasna expectin’ it, but I’m glad I havena ruined my relationship with two of the most important people in my life.

 

Faith and Fergus are both tucked up in bed fast asleep. So was Brianna until she woke herself up and refused to settle again. I’m laid out on the couch in my pyjamas with Brianna curled up on my chest. She’s so precious. I love each of my three children equally, but Brianna is the perfect mix of Claire and I. Living, breathing proof of our love for one another.

I can see Claire from the corner of my eye, curled up on the arm chair across from me with her wee book she’s been reading. She’s no doing much reading tonight though, she’s been staring lovingly at Brianna and I for the past twenty seven minutes.

“If yer no enjoyin’ the book Sassenach, just stop tryin’ to force yerself to get through it. Reading is supposed to be fun.” I tell her as I slightly turn my head to look at her.

She smiles at me. “It’s a wonderful book actually.”

“Must be quite a bit written on them two pages then.” She gives me a confused look. “Ye havena turned the page in almost thirty minutes Sassenach.”

Claire lets out a small giggle as she puts the book down and walks over to sit on the floor leaning against the couch. I move my head, tryin’ no to disturb Brianna, and give Claire a quick kiss on the back of her head.

“Being a father really suits you you know?”

“Aye? Well, being a mother really suits ye too Sassenach.” I smile at her and make her giggle again.

 

We sit like this until we are sure that Brianna is asleep and won’t wake when we move her.

When it’s safe, I take Brianna up to her nursery and let her sleep in her wee cot.

Before I head back down stairs to Claire, I pop my head in to check on wee Faith and then Fergus. Both of them fast asleep. It had been an exhausting day for them both. Well, all of us really.

 

“There’s something else you’re not telling me Jamie Fraser.” Claire tells me as we’re snuggled up on the couch just holding one another.

“Don’t ken what ye mean Sass—“

“Don’t! Don’t shut me out again. You need to be honest with me. What are you holding back? Is it Jenny? Ian? Dougal?”

I shake my head. “I havena said anythin’ because I’m no sure if it’s real or not. Maybe my mind playin’ tricks on me.”

“What is it Jamie? Please trust me with whatever is going on.”

“I trust ye with my life Claire.” I say to her firmly.

“Then trust me with this.”

I remove my arm from around her shoulders and sit my self forward on the couch. Elbows resting on my thighs. “Yesterday, I thought I remembered something from... that night.”

“Jamie that’s brilliant! What is it?”

Just as I’m about to open up, we hear Fergus coming through to the living room. When I see him walking through the door, I notice he’d been crying.

I jump up from the couch straight away and walk over to him. “Ye alright lad?”

“Yes. Sorry, did I interrupt something?”

“Of course not sweetheart. What’s wrong?” Claire asks him.

“I woke up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought I would come and sleep on the couch instead.”

“Was it another nightmare darling?” Claire asks the lad. He nods his head.

“Well yer no sleeping on the couch lad. Ye can sleep with Claire tonight and I’ll sleep in yer bed, aye?”

“N-no. It’s okay, I’ll go back to my own bed.”

With that, the lad turns on his heel and rushes back up to his room.

Claire and I just look at each other. Somethin’s no right. As Claire and I make our way out of the living room to follow after Fergus, we notice the washing machine has been turned on in the utility room. We go to have a look and see because we were sure all the laundry had been up to date. The next load wasn’t due to go in until tomorrow.

It’s Fergus’ bed clothes.

“Claire, dae ye think he...”

“Possibly.”

Claire and I make our way upstairs and in to Fergus’ room. He’s remaking his bed with fresh bedding. Nothing seems to have affected the mattress though. That’s probably down to the mattress protectors that Claire insists be out in the beds. I see it’s no longer on Fergus’ bed though. It must be in the wash with the rest of the bed clothes.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.” Fergus cries.

Claire runs over to him and pulls him in to a tight hug.

“Dinna fash lad. Happens to us all. Let me see to this and ye go and sleep with Claire in our room tonight, aye?”

“I don’t want to put you out though.” Fergus sobs.

I crouch down in front of him and take his wee hands in mine. “Yer no lad. But ye need a good nights sleep, and Claire here gives the best cuddles. Aye? She’ll look after ye and keep ye safe.” Fergus nods.

 

After re making Fergus’ bed, I go to pop my head in on Claire and Fergus to make sure the lads okay. They’re both cuddled up in the bed and Claire’s just finishing reading the lad a story.

“Ye okay now son?” I ask him.

Fergus and Claire both look towards the door and Fergus’ eyes go bright when he sees me standing there. “Yes. Thank you. I am sorry to put you out of your bed tonight.”

“Dinna fash lad. It’s no a problem. The main thing is that ye are okay.”

Fergus nods and lowers his head in to Claire’s chest. And, just like that, the lad is out for the count.

I walk over to the side of the bed and bend down to lay a kiss on his forehead. And then kiss Claire goodnight.

“You and I will speak first thing in the morning.” She whispers in my ear. I give her a small smile and nod my head.

“I love ye Sassenach.” I tell her.

“I love you too Jamie.”

“I love ye too son.” I say quietly to what I thought was a sleeping Fergus.

“I love you da.”

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

9th March

 

I wake in the morning laying on my back with Fergus’ arms wrapped around my waist. I can’t help but smile at the sight of him being with me. He’s asleep. And he’s peaceful. That’s all I want for him at this moment.

I gently turn my self, trying not to wake Fergus, to reach for my phone on my bedside table.

It’s 6am. I don’t need to wake Fergus for another hour and a half. Maybe an hour actually. Jamie and I need to speak with him about what happened last night.

We haven’t been pushing him to tell us about his nightmares because of he remembers them, he volunteers the details. It’s usually about being abandoned. Ex foster families returning him to the group home after deciding they can’t take care of him any more. It’s up to Jamie and I to show Fergus how much we love him and it would need to be something extremely serious to keep either Jamie or I away from our children. Fergus IS our child.

It’s one thing telling children you love them. Especially children with abandonment issues, but we need to make sure that we show Fergus how much we love him and make sure he knows that he IS a part of our family.

He called Jamie Da last night.

I didn’t think this boy could make my heart melt any more, but he did.

Jamie and I both thought he was asleep when Jamie said goodnight to me and told me he loved me. He turned to Fergus and said he loved him too and then out of nowhere, we heard Fergus say “I love you da”. I could tell that meant absolutely everything to Jamie. With everything Jamie has been dealing with lately, I know that what Fergus said made him happier than he’s been in a few weeks.

 

I gently remove Fergus’ arms from my wait and quietly slip out of bed. Jamie and I were speaking last night when Fergus unintentionally interrupted us. I can’t do anything this morning before speaking with Jamie about what he was about to tell me last night.

I poke my head in to Fergus’ room, but Jamie isn’t there. He’s left the fresh bedding on the chair next to the window and even put the new pillow cases and duvet cover on the bedding. He obviously didn’t remake the bed last night so it could air out.

I make my way down to Faith’s room, expecting to find him asleep in there. Nope. Just my beautiful little girl fast asleep having kicked the duvet off the bed, and her right arm resting under her head on the pillow and her little legs crossed over. How she manages to sleep comfortably like that, I have no idea. I sneak in quietly and place the duvet over her again.

I find Jamie asleep on the rocking chair in the nursery. Bree is asleep on his chest. It’s one of my favourite sights in the world. I slowly creep over and gently remove Bree from Jamie and silently praying I don’t wake her. I lay her down in her cot as Jamie starts to wake.

“Sassenach?”

“Shhhh, she’s still asleep.” I say as I turn to look at him. I’m amazed he could sleep there but, Jamie is one of these people who could sleep anywhere at all.

Jamie slowly stands and walks towards me and pulls me in to tight, warm embrace. He feels so good.

“Come on baby, I’ll make us some coffee and something to eat and you can tell me what you wanted to last night. I’ll wake Fergus after and we’ll speak to him about last night and then we’ll get him ready for his first day at school.”

Jamie nods and I lead him by the hand downstairs to the kitchen.

Jamie makes the coffee and I make us bacon and toast. Not the healthiest option for breakfast, but I need something more than a bowl of cereal or a pop tart. When breakfast is ready, we both sit down at the kitchen table.

“I’ve been remembering bits and pieces of that night. I dinna ken if they’re real memories or no, but it’s more than I’ve had. Still is a enough to make sense of things though.”

“Can you tell me what you remember? It might help, and I want to be able to help Jamie.” I reach my hand across the table to take a hold of one of his.

“It’s no verra clear Claire. Can ye... can ye bare wi me?”

I nod my head to encourage him to go on at his own pace.

“I vaguely remember ye stormin’ out the restaurant. Ye were so mad wi me. Ye looked... I dinna even have the words Claire. I hurt ye, badly. I wanted to go after ye, but I have enough experience to ken when to give ye the space ye asked for, so I stupidly let ye go.” He lifts his head from his plate to look at me. He has tears in his eyes. “No long after, well, I dinna think it was that long after, I got up to try and come after ye. As I made my way through to the front of the restaurant, someone called my name. I dinna ken who though. That all I can really remember. It’s no much, I ken.”

“It’s a start Jamie. It’s more than you remembered after it happened. You don’t recognise the voice who called you?” I ask as gently as possible trying not to push him too much.

“I canna say for certain Claire, but somethin’ tells me it was Laoghaire. She said we met at a club, but why would I go to a club when I was coming after ye? No one can find the lass. I canna ask her any of this. I’m fairly certain that when I was leavin’ the restaurant to come after you, Laoghaire was there.”

I get up off my chair and make my way round to sit on Jamie’s lap to hold him tight. I know this isn’t easy for him. I know it isn’t much to go on, but it’s a start.

Jamie wraps his arms around my waist and holds on tight. I kiss his forehead as a way of letting him know that I’m here and he’s safe and everything is going to be alright.

 

Jamie’s phone pings. I pick it up from the table to hand it to him and see it’s a text from Ian.

Hey Jamie. Listen, I dinna ken what’s happenin’, but I’m sure you’ll tell us when ye’re ready. Anyway, yer sister had an unsettled night last night and is convinced somethin’ has ye unsettled too. She’s had me cancel all her meetings and appointments for today. The only one I couldn’t rearrange was with Mr Blythe, but I can meet with him today instead. Jenny is insisting ye take today off and ye come back to work tomorrow. I really hope ye feel like ye can open up to us soon though Jamie. I ken Jenny and I have said some things lately, but we love ye man. Give us a ring tonight aye? We need to ken yer okay.

 

“That’s good. We can take Fergus to school and drop Faith off at playgroup and see if Charles or Louise can watch Bree for a little while—“

“What? Why?”

“So that you and I can go to the restaurant and ask if anyone remembers Laoghaire being there. Also, I don’t have therapy today, so you and I can just stay at home together and talk, or not talk. Whatever you want. Just know that I am here and I love you so very much Jamie. We WILL get through this. Together.”

Jamie drops his phone back on to the table and pulls me closer to his chest and kisses my cheek.

We sit here like this until we hear Bree screaming her little lungs out which causes Faith to start shouting for us to go and see to her sister so she can go back to sleep.

By the time Jamie and I get up to the Nursery, Fergus already has Bree out of her cot and is changing her nappy.

“Wow. You’re doing better job with that than Jamie usually does.” I joke to Fergus as we walk closer to the him at the changing table.

“Sorry, I just wanted to help. I used to help change Faith when she was younger. She was older than Bree at the time and kicked about a lot worse. This is nothing.” He replies with a small smile.

“Well, thank you Fergus. We appreciate the help. And I can imagine Faith being a hand full. She was from the moment she could kick from inside me. We wouldn’t have her any other way though.” I laugh.

“She’s just as fierce as her mam.” Jamie says as he plants a kiss to my temple.

“I think I might have called you “da” last night. I’m really sorry Jamie. I don’t know what came over me.” Fergus says to Jamie as he hand Bree over to me after dressing her in a fresh yellow baby grow.

“Oh, right. Um... it’s fine Fergus. Truly.”

I can tell that Jamie is a little disappointed to think that maybe Fergus didn’t mean to call him “Da”, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s not really the case.

Time for a conversation with Fergus.

I tell Fergus to follow Jamie and Bree downstairs and Jamie will get their breakfast sorted whilst I check on a sleeping Faith. It’s only just turned seven, so hopefully Jamie and I can speak with Fergus before Faith wakes up to get ready.

 

When I pull out my chair next to Fergus at the kitchen table, he is eating a bowl of coco pops. Faith’s favourite. Jamie is feeding Bree and Jamie also made me a fresh cup of coffee.

“I don’t want to push you Fergus, but you know if you want to talk about your dream last night, Jamie and I are here.”

“I know Claire. Thank you. I just... there isn’t anything to say. If there was, I would tell you. Promise.” He says.

“I know you would sweetheart.” I rub my hand over his back, just so he’s aware I mean what I’m saying. “Fergus?” He turns to look at me. “You know how you called Jamie “Da” last night?” He nods his head but his cheeks flush red like he’s embarrassed. “Well, if you want to call Jamie “Da”, I am 100% sure he is t going to mind. In fact, I think he would like it a lot.”

“Claire!” Jamie snaps at me.

“Wouldn’t you darling?” I ask Jamie with a smile.

Fergus looks over to Jamie who also now looks embarrassed.

“Well, I mean, if ye wanted to lad, I wouldna be opposed to it.”

I can see Fergus wants to smile, but it’s like he’s forcing himself not to.

“Listen sweetheart, Jamie and I love you and your sisters more than anyone or anything in the world. I know we’re not your biological parents, but we love you none the less and as far as we’re concerned, you are our child just as much as the girls are ours. If you want to call us Jamie and Claire, that’s fine. If you maybe wanted to call us Mum and Da, that would be fine too. It’s whatever YOU feel comfortable with and we’re just happy to have you safe at home with us. Let’s face it, anything is better than calling us Ms Beauchamp and Mr Fraser.” I joke to lighten the mood a little.

Fergus and Jamie both laugh along with me.

The conversation goes quiet as Fergus finishes his breakfast and then excuses himself to go and shower and get ready for school.

Jamie takes Bree in to the living room to watch some children’s morning story show whilst I go and wake our little monster and get her ready for playgroup.

 

We are actually running earlier than usual, so we decide to drop Faith off at playgroup first so she can play a bit longer with her friends. We then make our way over to Louise and Charles’ to drop off Bree for a few hours.

Our last stop this morning is to drop off Fergus at school. We offer to take him in, but he insists he’s fine going in himself. Jamie and I get out of the car anyway and walk him along the street to the gate.

“Have a wonderful first day sweetheart. I will pick you up at three.” I pull Fergus in for a tight cuddle and kiss the top of his head. I half expected him to push me off because I was embarrassing him, but he didn’t.

“Make sure ye behave yerself, and listen to what yer teacher says, aye?” Jamie says with a big grin and ruffles Fergus’ curls.

“I always behave, thank you very much.”

“Aye, that ye do.” Jamie responds with the biggest smile.

“Um, if da isn’t going to work, will he becoming with you to collect me after school?” Fergus asks me.

I can see Jamie’s face beaming with pride. “I expect so, yes. That alright?”

Fergus nods his head. “Um, I better go now. I’ll see you both later.”

“Goodbye sweetheart, have a wonderful day. I love you.” I call as Fergus walks down the path.

“I love you Mam. You too Da!” Fergus shouts back.

He called Jamie “Da”... again. And he called me Mam, just like Faith does.

It didn’t sound forced either, it sounded like the most natural thing in the world.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

9th March

 

I feel slightly nervous and uneasy about going back to the restaurant. At least I have Claire by my side. I dinna think I could get through any of this without her.

 

When we walk in the door, the place is packed with people having breakfast. I didna realise the place would be so busy.

“I’m sorry guys. It will be at least a twenty minute or so wait for a table for two.” Dougal announces as he makes his way over to us.

“Um, hi Dougal.” Claire says. “That’s not why we’re here. We wondered if we could maybe speak with some of your staff about the night Jamie and I were here?”

“Sorry lass, it could take some time. As ye can see, we’re pretty busy the now. One of my best waitresses has just upped and gone. No warning or nothin’. Everybody’s now having to work over time to cover her shifts whilst I find someone else.”

“Okay. Well, could you maybe have the staff call us if they get a spare moment or so?” Claire asks.

“Make yer way through the back to my office. I’ll bring some coffees and some pastries through aye?”

“Nah. Yer alright Uncle. Claire and I should get off. Sorry to disturb ye.” I say as I try and pull Claire towards the door, but she wilna move.

“Jamie lad. This IS my restaurant. I heard what happened and I’m sorry. I sweat to ye though that none of my staff would of had anything to do with it. But if they can help in any way, I’ll make sure they will. If I can help... Jamie, I ken ye and I have had our ups and downs over the years, but yer still my sisters son. Yer still my nephew. If something has happened, I want tae help. Please, go through to the office and I’ll be through shortly. I’ll send staff in when I can. I promise we will figure this out Jamie.”

I dinna ken what it is, but there’s somethin’ in a Dougal’s voice that makes me think he’s bein’ genuine.

He’s right, we havena had the easiest of relationships. He didna approve of my ma marryin’ my da. But, whenever I’ve had my struggles in the past, Dougal has been one of the first there to pick me up and push me on. I think it’s because I remind him so much of my ma.

He is a good business man, and I’m sure he could do great things with the business Ian and I have built up but, I ken my uncle. I ken he has his dodgy dealings on the side. I just, I dinna want my own business bein’ mixed up with that. I have a family now. I have Claire and our three beautiful children. I canna risk what all we have and what all I’ve built. I wilna.

I do believe that even though I am opposed to him joining Ian and I, I am fairly certain he will stick to his word and try and help us find out what actually happened that night.

 

After speaking with two of the staff that were working that evening Claire and I went to the restaurant, it was clear they couldn’t help. I could tell they wanted to, but they didn’t see anything we don’t already know.

Dougal came in to sit with Claire and I after the breakfast rush died down a little.

“What club did ye and this lass end up at then?” Dougal asks as he pours us all another coffee.

“I dinna ken. Definitely no yin around this area, that’s for sure. If Laoghaire would just come back and—“

“What dae ye mean Laoghaire, lad?” Dougal asks as if he’s shocked to hear her name.

“Well, it was Laoghaire I was at the club with... apparently. I woke up in her guest room the next morning. She told me we met at a club, but that does a sit right with me. I started to remember bits and pieces, but no enough, that’s why I wanted to speak with her staff again. I’m sure when I went to go after Claire, someone shouted me back. I dinna ken for certain, but I’m sure it was Laoghaire.” I tell him.

“Christ sakes lad. Why did ye no tell me this sooner?”

“What?”

“Laoghaire works here. Well, she’s supposed to. She’s disappeared. That how we’re short staffed. Jamie, Laoghaire was working here that night. I had her working through here in the office on some of the paper work I couldna get through myself. Dae ye... dae ye think she might of had somethin’ to do with this?”

“I dinna ken. But when it comes to that lass, none of this makes any sense.”

“Wait here.” Dougal tells me.

Dougal leaves the office and leaves me and Claire alone. Laoghaire did say she had a new job, but I dinna recall her sayin’ it was here with Dougal.

When Dougal returns, he informs Claire and I that not long after we arrived, one of the bar staff had asked Laoghaire to go and help out on the floor. Apparently when she was asked to take care of Claire and I, she insisted she would be better working the bar instead.

“It woulda been Laoghaire pouring yer drinks lad. I’ve kent the lass since she was a bairn. I wouldna thought she would be capable o’ any o’ this. It does a look good lad.”

Dougal wastes no time in picking up the phone and calling the police to inform them of what he’s discovered.

We still dinna ken the whole story because Laoghaire isna here to explain herself but, if ye ask me, this is all down to Laoghaire. I still dinna ken why though, and that’s the bit that’s really frustrating me now.

 

Claire and I make our way home a wee while later. I’m exhausted. I dinna ken what to say, or what to do. All I ken is I’m glad to be hame with Claire.

I send Jenny a wee text to see how she is, but she doesna respond. She’s either needin’ space from me the now, or she’s asleep. That would make sense. Ian said she was unsettled last night. Probably feelin’ similar to me right now.

 

I’m sat on the sofa when I hear Claire comin’ in to the living room with the hoover.

“Put that away Sassenach. Housework will keep another day. How often is it ye and I have the place to ourselves, hmm?” I walk up behind her wrap an arm around her waist and use my free hand to pull her hair so I can kiss her neck. “Let’s go to bed.”

“You definitely should sweetheart, but I’m not tired.” She doesna catch my meaning.

“I didna mean to sleep Sassenach. I’m sayin’, lets go to bed.” I kiss her neck again.

She lets go of the hoover and turns around to face me and wraps her arms around my neck. “I would love that Jamie, but you’ve been through so much, I don’t want make love to you and then have you going all quiet again afterwards and not feeling like yourself. I know you, remember?”

“I need ye Sassenach. Ye are the only thing in the world keepin’ me sane tight now. Ye and the bairns. I dinna want this whole Laoghaire thing to be what consumes me. There is a chance we will never ken what happened that night. We need to accept that. I wilna let it prevent me from bein’ the best father and husband I can be. So, what do ye say?” I lean down and press my forehead to Claire’s.

She smiles, “Lead the way Mr Fraser.”

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

14th March

 

It’s been a long hard week.

Between work and the bairns and tryin’ to find Laoghaire and therapy. I’ve barely had two minutes alone with Claire apart from when we sleep. We’ve both been so busy this week, when we go to bed at night, that’s all we want to do is sleep.

I’ve been thinkin’ long and hard this week. I told Claire on Monday I was wanting to sell my share to Ian and Jenny. They could them go on to sell that share to Dougal if they so wish. I didna want to to sell him my share straight off but, if Ian and Jenny canna afford to buy me out of the business, I might just have to sell straight to Dougal.

I love that place. I love the product. I love what Ian and I have managed to achieve these last few years, but I’m no the same man I was back then. I have a family now. Maybe Ian has managed to find the perfect work/life balance, I havena. I’ve tried. But ultimately, it comes down to me wantin’ to protect my family and always put them first.

The past couple of years has been a real rollercoaster. No just for me, but Claire has been through a hell of a lot too. Wee Fergus has been through the ringer his whole damn life. Thankfully he’s settled now he’s at home with Claire and I. My wee Faith tae. I dinna think she realises all the changes she’s been through in her young life, and in a way I’m grateful. But, a lot has happened.

I’m no so naive to think that this whole Laoghaire problem has gone. She’ll be back at some point. She obviously had a reason for doin’ what she did. I wilna rest until I ken.

I think the best thing for me and my family, is for me to sell my share of the business and focus on my family. Claire will be working again soon, so that means that Incan be home with the bairns. No need to send them to daycare when they don’t need to go. Fergus is at school Monday to Friday and Faith has her wee playgroup a couple times a week. I suppose there would be no harm in putting Bree in to the crèche at the Clinic once a week just to give me some me time. It will also mean less stress and more time with my family. More time to help Claire plan the wedding. I felt terrible she was left to handle the christening. But, I can be here for whatever she needs me to do for our wedding.

 

Tonight, Murtagh and Jocasta have come over to mind the bairns for us whilst Claire and I head over to Edinburgh to have a long over due chat with Ian and Jenny.

I feel terrible for the way I behaved and treated my sister and brother in law. There is no excuse. I should of been open and honest with them and admitted that I’ve simply no been coping. It’s all very well going to therapy once a week and talking it all out there, but I need to remember that my friends and family also need to know what’s goin’ on in my head. They’re here to help and support me too.

 

“How long until we’re there?” Claire asks me as I drive along the dark road.

“About twenty minutes or so Sassenach. Close yer eyes and rest. I’ll wake ye when we get there.” I tell her softly.

Poor Claire’s been really struggling this week with Faith’s sudden mood swings and Bree being constantly unsettled. Another reason why I’m determined to be at home. I need to be a better father and better husband. I feel like Fergus is picking up my slack at home and Ian and Jenny picking up my slack at work. I just... somethings gotta give.

I’m scared that I wake up one day and find Claire’s walked out the door with my children. I wouldna blame her if she did. But I would be devastated. Heart broken. It’s my biggest fear.

 

When we get to Ian and Jenny’s, I gently try to rouse Claire from her nap. She wakes up and I can just see in her face how exhausted she is with everything goin’ on right now.

Things are about to change though.

 

“Ye want us to buy ye out of the business ye practically built?” Jenny asks with a tone that tells me she’s annoyed and confused.

“Aye. I’ve thought long and hard about this Janet. At this moment in time, I canna commit to the business 100%. That isna fair to the staff or the customers. Most importantly, it isna fair on Ian, or you. I need to take a very large step back and focus on this whole Laoghaire mess and be there for my family.”

“I ken ye’ve got a lot goin’ on Jamie, but dae ye really thing selling yer business is the right way to go?” Ian asks.

“I do. Obviously, I wanted to give ye’s first refusal. I am aware ye may no be financially able to buy me out so... I have another idea too. If Ian is quite happy to work alongside Dougal, I could sell Dougal my share.”

Jenny and Ian just sit there looking at one another, but dinna say anythin’. Eventually though, Ian turns to Claire and asks what she thinks of all this. She tells the, that she’s tried to discourage me from selling all my share, but I am adamant in my decision. She tell them she knows it isn’t a decision I have taken lightly and she supports me 100% with whatever I decide to do.

“At the end of the day, Jamie and our children are my priority. If Jamie isn’t happy, I need to try and support him any way I can and help him to do what he thinks is right for himself. The stress of everything isn’t good for his health. That’s one of my biggest worries right now.” Claire tells them. I reach over than take her hand in mine.

“Okay. Can we think it over? When dae ye need an answer for Jamie?” I am asks me.

“Take as long as ye need. Sooner the better to be honest with ye, but it is a big ask. I ken that.”

 

Since Murtagh and Jocasta are staying overnight with the bairns anyway, I talk Claire in to us staying in a wee hotel just outside Edinburgh for the night. Just one night for she and I to get a good nights sleep. We both need it, and we ken the bairns are well looked after at home. It takes me a wee while to convince her though, but she eventually gives in.

 

The hotel room is lovely. Basic. But nice. We only need a bed for the night. We dinna need anythin’ fancy.

There is a chair and a desk with a small television on it. A king size bed with bedside tables at either side. I always carry my laptop with me, so I bring it in from the car and put on a wee film for Claire and I to watch to try and wind down from the week we’ve just had. Especially the conversation we just had with Ian and Jenny.

 

It doesna take long for Claire to turn the film off though.

“I’m not in the mood Jamie. I just want to sleep.”

“That’s fine Sassenach. I feel the same. Sweet dreams lass.” I lean down and kiss her forehead.

“I love you.” Claire tells me.

“I love ye too Sassenach.”

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

15th March

I open my eyes slowly and take a few moments to take in my surroundings.

This isn’t my bedroom. Where the hell am I?

I rub my eyes and sit up on the bed. Jamie is laying beside me fast asleep with his adorable little smile. At least he’s actually having a decent sleep.

I forgot Jamie talked me in to staying in a hotel last night instead of going straight home after our talk with Jenny and Ian. I was a little reluctant at first. I always feel guilty leaving the children over night. Not that we do it often, I just hate leaving them for any length of time. It was a good suggestion though. I slept pretty well last night.

Bree has been quite unsettled this week. I think she senses the stress and tension Jamie is suffering right now. And because Bree is unsettled, it unsettled her older sister Faith. I don’t know what’s got in to that girl lately, but as much as she loves Bree, Faith gets really frustrated whenever her sister cries. I always go to Bree as soon as I hear her, but sometimes it takes a little while to soothe her. But, that’s just babies. I tell Faith she was the same when she was Bree’s age, but she just scoffs and walks off.

I did wonder if Faith’s sudden change in attitude was because instead of her being an only child at home with Jamie and I, she suddenly had a little baby sister and now she’s the middle child with Fergus now at home with us.
Fergus assures me he doesn’t think it has anything to do with that as Faith was used to being around a number of kids when she was fostered by Rachel and her husband.

I suppose she is getting older now and I guess it really must be frustrating with Bree being unsettled all the time. Hopefully things will start to get a little easier soon.

It’s not that I want Jamie to leave his job, his business, but if that’s what it takes for him to properly take care of himself and bring less stress home, I’m all for it. His stress doesn’t just effect him, it effects all of us. I mean, Jamie has already reduced his hours at work, but that hasn’t helped. He ends up working the same hours as he did before some weeks, if not more.

 

I slide out of bed and make my way over to the kettle to boil it and pour myself a hot cup of coffee. Whilst the kettle boils, I look over to the bed behind me and just watch as Jamie sleep. Still has his lip turned up with that adorable smile. That is one of my favourite sights in the world. Along with him laying on the bed or the couch asleep with either of our daughters sprawled across his chest. Or when he’s teaching Fergus the chanter or they’re sat playing a game of chess together.

He really is a wonderful father, and I count my lucky stars every single day that James Fraser is the father to my three children and we get to raise them together.

 

Once the kettles boiled, I pour the hot water in to my mug and then make my way over to slide back in to bed with my very handsome fiancé.

As I get settled in the bed beside him, Jamie begins to stir.

“Good morning sleepy head.” I say to him.

“Mornin’ Sassenach. What time is it?” Jamie asks me as he sits up beside me on the bed, our backs leaning against the pillows.

“Just a little before nine.” I tell him before lifting my mug to my lips to take a sip of hot coffee.

“Hmm. No had decent uninterrupted sleep like that for a wee while Sassenach.”

“I know. You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to wake you. We should call Murtagh though and see how he and your aunt are getting on with the children.”

“I’ll send him a text. When I called last night, he said we weren’t to hurry home. Check out isn’t until noon anyway, so we could stay here a little while longer if ye wanted?” Jamie suggests as he takes my mug from me and starts drinking my coffee himself.

“IF, Murtagh says everyone is alright, then I suppose there would be no harm in us staying in bed just a little longer.”

 

Whilst Jamie shoots off a text to Murtagh, I go to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. With Jamie travelling up and down the country with work sometimes, he always has spare toiletries in his car just in case.

I let Jamie in after I’m finished and I go to make a fresh cup of coffee since Jamie drank most of mine.

I don’t have time to drink this cup either because soon enough, my strapping fiancé is stood right behind me, completely naked and pressing himself right up against me as he takes a firm hold of my hips.

“Ye coming back to bed then Sassenach?” Jamie whispers in my ear.

“Well, that all depends.”

“On what exactly?” He asks me.

“Well, are we going to bed, or... to sleep?”

“That is entirely up to you Sassenach. I just wanna be wi ye.”

I turn in his arms and kiss him on the mouth more passionately than I have done in what feels like forever. Jamie lifts me up and I wrap my legs around him to pull myself as close to him as possible.

I’m not wearing any underwear, but I am wearing one of Jamie’s old t shirts which is way too big for me. Again, something he had in his car for when he has to stop over somewhere unexpectedly.

I pull the T-shirt off as quickly as possible so we are now both completely naked. Jamie groans at the sight and then lays me down on the bed.

He starts off by kissing me on my mouth and then he trails some kissed down my jaw, my neck, down to my chest before he moves over to take one of my nipples in his mouth. He uses his fingers to play with my other nipple as he slowly moves his other hand down my stomach to keep me flat to the bed. He brings his mouth up to mine again and soon it’s like a war between our tongues. Hot and fighting for as much action as possible.

Jamie moves the hand from my stomach down to part my thighs. He lightly brushes his fingers up and down the inside of my thigh, making me shiver and shake at his slightest touch.

I can’t help the moans escaping from me.

I can feel Jamie moving his hand higher and higher.

“Christ Sassenach, yer so wet already.”

Jamie doesn’t waste any time before inserting a finger inside me, and then another.

Oh my god.

He moves his fingers in and out. In and out.

It’s so good, but it isn’t right.

I pull my face away from Jamie so I can really look at him. We don’t need words to communicate. Jamie moves himself over to in between my legs.

“I’m no gonna last long Sassenach.”

“I don’t care Jamie. I just need you inside me. Now.”

 

I wake up to find myself wrapped in Jamie’s arms. He’s awake too, just looking at me and running his fingers gently through my hair.

“Hello.” I say.

“Hi.” Jamie leads down and kisses me. “We should shower. It’s after eleven.”

“Can we just stay like this for a few more minutes?” I ask him.

“Sounds good to me.”

 

When I go to walk over to the bathroom, I’m a little unsteady on my feet. Jamie catches me before I fall over though and he walks me through to the shower.

“Will ye be alright to stand in the shower.” He asks me with a concerned look on his face.

“I should be. No funny business though.” I warm him as I push my finger in to his chest as he smirks. “You are the reason I can barely walk.”

“Really? Is that so?”

“Mmmhmm. My legs are like jelly.”

“Well, I’ve served ye well then.”

“Indeed you have my darling. Come on, we need to get showered and back home to Fergus, the monster and the munchkin.”

 

The journey home doesn’t take long at all I don’t think. Jamie and I are both well rested and feeling a lot lighter than we have all week. I don’t think we will be back to normal until we find out what the hell that Laoghaire girl was playing at, but at the moment, she isn’t here and Jamie and I have more important things in our life than worrying about that brat.

As soon as we walk in to the house, Fergus and Faith both run over to give us cuddles. Apparently they love seeing Murtagh and Jocasta for a visit, but the, staying over night was a bit much for the kids. Jamie and I can’t help but laugh.

“They treat me like a child though.” Fergus tells us.

“That’s because ye are a child lad.” Jamie tells him in response.

“Yes. But they tried to send me to bed at the same time as Faith. I’m older, I told them I get to stay up later.”

“Aye, but yer sister refused to go to bed at her usual time. We eventually got her there and she settled and fell asleep almost instantly, but that was near enough Fergus’ bedtime by the time she settled.” Murtagh explains.

“So, I should of been allowed to stay up a couple of hours later because she did.” Fergus whines.

“Doesn’t work like that I’m afraid sweetheart.” I say before kissing the top of my sons head. “Anyway, how did you sleep? Any nightmares?”

“None. I slept really well. I think keeping the door slightly open at night helps me.”

“I’m glad to hear it darling. How have your sisters been behaving?” I ask him.

“Apart from Faith’s meltdown last night about bedtime, she’s been fine. I think the old coot scared her in to behaving this morning.” Fergus tells me and I can’t help but smile.

“Hiy, who ye callin’ an auld coot?” Murtagh asks Fergus with a raised brow.

 

We all settle down to a lunch that Jocasta prepared for us all. Soup and sandwiches. It’s very much appreciated by everyone.

 

“Granny, can I have anoter soup pease?” Faith asks Jocasta.

“I’ll get ye a wee half bowl a leannan. Remember what we talked about last night? I’m yer Auntie.” Jocasta tells Faith and then turns to me and Jamie. “She’s been calling Murtagh and I Papa and Granny. We did try and talk to her.”

I look over at Jamie and we smile at each other.

“Weel, it’s no like the bairns have any grandparents. I dinna have a problem with it if ye’s dinna?” Jamie tells Murtagh and Jocasta, who turn to look at me.

“I completely agree. This family isn’t exactly the usual traditional family, but it’s our family and it works for us. If mine and Jamie’s parents aren’t here to be grandparents to our children, I couldn’t think of a more loving couple than you two to be our children’s grandparents. After all, you two are very much like parents to Jamie and I anyway. It just makes sense that Faith would think like that. If you don’t want that though, we will speak with her.” I explain to them both with a big smile on my face.

Murtagh takes Jocasta’s hand in his. “Sounds braw to me. I was never blessed wi bairns of my own. But Jamie here, he is like a son to me. And I couldna wish for a better daughter than ye Claire. To be a grandfather to yer bairns would be the greatest honour of my life.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Jocasta states as she stands up from her chair to go and fetch Faith some more soup.

Chapter Text

Hey guys.

So sorry it’s been a while since I posted on this fic.

I had the story completed, but as I re read through the last few chapters, I wasn’t entirely happy with what I had written, so I decided to re write parts. Problem with that is... due to my job at this moment in time, it’s taking longer than I thought it would.

I could easily just post what I had already written, but I know I could do better. I’m no where near the best writer, and I ken that, but I’ve spent months and months building these characters through two fics now, I don’t want to just post any old rubbish just to get something posted.

I hope you all understand.

I have the next chapter done and I WILL be posting it on Friday. I just need to re read over it before it gets posted.

I was hoping to post the rest of the chapters on a Monday and a Friday, but because it’s taking me longer than I thought to re write these chapters, I’ll only be posting chapters for this fic on a Friday.

 

Sorry again for it being a wee while, but I want to do the characters justice with this story haha.

Hope you are all doing okay and keeping safe during this trying time in the world.

Much love to each and every one of you 🖤

Kirsty X

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

20th April

 

Today is my first official day as retired man from the distillery business. It doesna half feel good.

I may no be working now, but I have a family, so plenty to keep me busy. Especially today. I need to prepare breakfast for Claire and the bairns. Make sure Fergus and Faith have everything they need for school and playgroup. I then have to take Fergus and Faith to said school and playgroup before dropping Claire off at her therapists for her Monday morning session. Whilst Claire is in her session, Brianna and I will head to the supermarket and get this weeks shopping done before collecting Claire.

Claire doesna work on a Monday, so it means we have the day the gether with Bree at home before Fergus and the wee monster get hame.

 

 

The shopping task is actually working out better than usual. Well, since it’s only Brianna and I, it’s a lot less... chaotic shall I say?

I love my children, don’t get me wrong, but shopping as a family always comes with its difficulties. Fergus and Faith having their little squabbles over what flavour of ice cream to get or Faith wanting to run off and do her own thing. It can get a bit much, and then it unsettles Bree.

It’s gotten to the point where either Claire or I will go and do a weekly shop and then we just go to the corner shop near the house to get more bread and milk when needed. Anything’s better than all five of us shopping together.

 

 

After the shopping’s done, Bree and I drive over to collect Claire from her session. When we pull up to park in the car park, Claire is already stood outside the building waiting for us.

Claire jumps in to the front passenger side of the car next to me with a big smile on her face and kisses me hello.

“Hello handsome.” She says as she pulls away.

“Sassenach. Take it it was a good session then?” I ask.

Claire has definitely been a lot happier since she started working at the clinic part time. Every time she comes out of a therapy session, she looks fit to burst with joy as well.

In fact, Claire’s been doing so well recently, she’s cut her therapy sessions right down to once a week.

We spoke a few weeks ago about maybe giving family therapy a go with young Fergus, but the lad insisted he was fine. We thought it would maybe benefit him a bit with all the changes the lad has had to go through. Someone he can speak to about his nightmares and such, but the lad says he feels a lot more safe and secure at home with us now, and he hasn’t had a nightmare in a while.

 

 

When we get home, Claire gets Brianna settled in her wee high chair whilst I bring in all the shopping from the car and then Claire gives me a hand to put all the shopping away.

“Your sister text me whilst I was waiting on you by the way. She said they will be here around one.” Claire informs me.

Jenny has been helping Claire out a lot with the wedding plans. Now that I’m no longer working, I was hoping to take on more responsibility myself. Unfortunately, my sister seems to be doing everything she can to keep me out of any important decision.

She does ken it’s MY wedding and no hers, right?!

It’s isn’t just Jenny who will be here over lunch time. One of Jenny’s pals from Inverness is a florist and has agreed to do the flowers for the wedding. No that Claire or I got much of a say in the matter. Jenny just decided for us.

Anyway, the lass is down visiting Jenny and Ian in Edinburgh for a couple of days, so Jenny is bringing her over so she and Claire can decide on what kind of flowers and things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and grateful for Jenny’s help. Plannin’ a wedding doesna come easy. It takes time and preparation. I just wish Claire and I were able to do it together, ourselves. I have spoken to Jenny about it all, but she’s just a busybody who likes to do things her way. It would help a lot if Claire said somethin’ to her, but since it took Jenny a wee while to warm to Claire, I think Claire doesna want to say or do anythin’ to put Jenny offside again.

“Right. Just, dinna let her railroad ye in to what SHE wants Sassenach. It’s OUR weddin’ remember, no hers. I ken she doesna want me hangin’ around the day when her and her pal are here, but tough. I didna get a say on which caterers to hire, or what food to serve. Hell, I didna even get a say on the bloody band she hired for the reception.” I say.

Claire comes over and wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me down so she can kiss me. “I’m sorry darling. I should of put up more of a fight. It’s just—“

“I ken Sassenach. It’s fine. As long as ye are there and I can officially make ye my wife, I dinna care about anythin’ else. Well, I just want ye to be happy.”

“I’m about to become your wife in four weeks Mr Fraser. I’ve never been happier.” She tells me with a wide smile on her face.

“Me either Sassenach.”

 

 

When Jenny arrives with her wee pal, she doesna even knock before lettin’ herself into the house.

“Ye still here brother? Thought ye would be gone already.” Jenny says as she dumps a huge weddin’ plannin’ folder down on the kitchen table and takes a seat and tells her pal to do the same.

“My house Jenny. My weddin’ tae by the way, so I’ll no be gan anywhere.” I respond firmly and take a seat next to her.

Jenny rolls her eyes and then introduces Claire and I to her friend Morag. Apparently Morag has been a florist for about twelve years now and has done flower arrangements for many weddings over the years.

She seems like a nice enough woman, I just wish Claire and I got to pick our own florist. Not that we ken any personally, but that’s no the point.

 

After a good couple of hours of talkin’ in great detail about the weddin’ and what thoughts Claire and I had for the flower arrangements and such, I ask Jenny if it wasna about time she went hame to see to her kids. She rolled her eyes at me and informed me Mrs Fitz was over in Edinburgh to take care of the weans.

Just as I was gettin’ up to make us all another round of coffees, my mobile rang. I took it out of my pocket and saw it was Dougal.

“Hey Dougal. Before ye ask, no. I’ve no changed my mind about workin’ at the distillery. I’ve made my decision and I’m happy wi’ it.” I say firmly.

Jenny and Ian couldna afford to buy me out of the business alone. They didna really want to take out a bank loan unless they really needed to. Dougal was still interested in buying in to the business and since he was being a great help to me tryin’ to track down Laoghaire, I eventually decided to let him buy my share of the business. It seemed to be workin’ out quite well. Dougal had brought in some of his own staff and had even started work on the vineyard Ian and I had purchased but hadn’t gotten around to actually doing anything with. Things seemed to be going well the past three weeks with Dougal there any way. He and Ian really do make a good team, and Dougals staff certainly have the respect for him that’s needed in a successful business.

I dinna regret my decision to leave. My family is my priority. Them... and finding Laoghaire to find out what the hell she was playin’ at that night!

“‘Tis’ nowt to dae wi’ the business lad. It’s Laoghaire. The Private Investigator we hired thinks he may have found her.” Dougal tells me.

“Seriously? Where?” I ask.

“He managed to trace her to Stornoway. He doesna think she’s staying in the town though, but he’s fairly certain she’s either staying on Harris or Lewis. He’s seen a lass matchin’ Laoghaire’s description twice now in the town. The first time, he followed her to a house in a wee village named Shawbost, but the second time, he followed her to a house in Tarbert. I’m just waiting on him sending the photos over to me. I’ll let ye ken if it’s her or no lad. Keep yer phone on ye, aye?”

“Aye. Thanks Dougal. Speak tae ye soon.”

 

 

I make my way back to the kitchen table without the coffees and collapse in to my seat. I canna see my face, but I imagine I’m really pale. I can feel the colour draining fae me.

“What’s wrong Jamie? What happened?” Claire asks me with panic in her voice.

I turn to her and say, “‘twas’ Dougal, Claire. He thinks... he thinks he’s found Laoghaire.”

“What? Really? Jamie that’s wonderful! Where is she?” Claire asks as she reaches over to take my hand in hers.

I tell her all that Dougal told me, but reminded her no to get her hopes up too high. It was only last week that Laoghaire had got in touch wi’ her grandmother and told her she was over in America. Mrs Fitz didna believe that story though, because if that was true, Laoghaire would of been callin’ her at five in the mornin’, her time. Apparently Laoghaire isna the early bird type of lass. For a minute though, I was hoping she was there and I could fly out and have it out wi’ her. The P.I that Dougal hired wasna convinced she went to the states either because her bank account hadn’t been used to buy flights to the states, it was used to buy a ferry ticket to the Isle of Barra though. That’s where the PI went off to when I last spoke to him. She might of made her way up the western isles then?

 

Just as Jenny and Morag stand up to put on their coats to leave, my phone dings with an email from the PI of pictures of Laoghaire. Claire’s phone rings and it’s Dougal.

“Did Jamie get the photos fae the Investigator lass? He said he was gonna send them over.” I hear Dougal ask after Claire puts her phone on speaker.

“Aye, got them now. It’s definitely her.” I answer.

“Aye, certainly is lad. What’s the plan now? What dae ye need me to dae?”

“Nothin’. I’ll take it fae here uncle. I thank ye though. Ye’ve been a great help, truly. This is something I need to sort myself though. I need to get myself over to Stornoway and speak to her myself. I need to ken why she did what she did.” I say with anger in my voice.

This lass could of cost me everythin’! My wife, my kids, my life! She could have easily killed me that night. And for what? I need to ken.

 

 

Before Jenny and Morag leave, Jenny calls Murtagh and asks if he can come and stay a few nights to help take care of the kids since Claire has work. Technically she could take Brianna wi’ her and out her in the crèche, but we think she would settle better wi’ Murtagh. Fergus and Faith would love him here too.

Claire and I look up flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness to Stornoway. It’s proving difficult to get a flight there though. Looks like I might need to drive up to either Uig or Ullapool and sail over. Not ideal, but it will have to do I suppose.

I finally manage to get a ferry booked for tomorrow morning from Ullapool to Stornoway. I call the P.I with my plans and arrange to meet him when I get off the boat tomorrow morning.

I just hope this isna gonna be a wasted trip. I really need to get this sorted. I need to ken why the lass did what she did. I dinna want to get married wi’ this still hangin’ over Claire and I.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

20th April

 

“Good afternoon sweetheart, how was school today?” I ask Fergus as he comes bounding up the path to the school gates.

He shrugs, “it was okay I suppose. Where’s Da?”

“He’s at home. Unfortunately he has to go away for a few nights, so he’s at home packing his bag.”

“What? Where is he going? How long for? Are you going too? Can me and the girls go too?”

I chuckle. Fergus and Jamie have become so close, I honestly don’t know how each of them will cope with this time apart. “I’m sorry my darling, I’m not sure how long he will be away, hopefully no more than three or four days. I’ll be at home with you and the girls, don’t worry.”

“But, I don’t understand. Da said that now he was finished working, he wouldn’t be going on any more trips away.”

“This isn’t for work darling, it’s a completely different issue. He will be home soon enough, he just needs to go and catch up with an old friend, alright?”

Fergus nods, but I can tell he feels uneasy about this trip. So do I to be honest, but for completely different reasons.

I’ve never met this Laoghaire, but she could have killed my partner. The father of my children. I don’t trust her, and I hate that I can’t be there with Jamie as he goes to find her and find out the truth.

 

The entire journey back home with Fergus is pretty much in silence. I try asking about what activities he got up to at school today, but he just mumbles an answer. I assume he said he had P.E. I then ask him if he had any homework due this week. He did answer that question, but was quite huffy about it.

“Yes. I have to do a mini topic on Mary, Queen of Scots by next Friday.” He mumbles glumly.

“Oh, that sounds interesting darling. You would love that topic.” I say.

Fergus loves history, so this topic is right up his alley.

“That’s why I chose it. We got to choose what topic we wanted to do, and I chose her because I thought Da would be able to work with me on it now he didn’t have to work any more. Guess I was wrong.”

It breaks my heart to see Fergus like this. The lad has many insecurities when it comes to family because he has been passed from pillar to post ever since he was a really small child.

He’s been so good lately. A lot less nightmares. More comfortable at home. Treating the place like his own home. The bond Jamie and I have been able to make with Fergus has meant everything to all of us. He absolutely adores the girls, and they adore him just as much. For the first time in his young life, he feels like part of a real family. I just fear that with Jamie leaving later, this might set Fergus back.

“Your father would love to help you with that topic. He could maybe start you off before he leaves later. I’m sure he will still be able to help you over face time whilst he’s away. He’ll be home soon and then you can work on it properly.” I say, trying to bring his spirits up a bit.

 

When we arrive home, Fergus jumps out of the car and runs straight in to the house, slamming the door behind him before I can get to the door myself.

I open the door and walk in to the house and hear Faith shouting at Fergus about being so noisy and waking Bree. As I go further down the hall, I see Fergus run upstairs to his room and then we all hear the bedroom door slam shut as well.

Jamie walks over to me cradling an unsettled Bree. “What the hell was all that about?” Jamie asks me as he passes Bree over to me.

“You need to go up and speak with him Jamie.”

“Damn right I’m goin’ to speak to him. He canna be comin’ in here with an attitude like that Sassenach. He unsettled Bree and gave wee Faith a scare.”

I chuckle. Not because I approve of the slamming of the doors, but because I’m thinking back to when I walked in to see Faith stood at the bottom of the stairs with her little hands on her hips giving Fergus both barrels for disturbing Bree. I know Faith and Jenny aren’t really related, but that’s exactly what the image reminded me off. Faith’s definitely picking up some things from her aunt.

“He’s upset you’re leaving. He asked when you would be home, but obviously I couldn’t give him a definite answer. I told him you would hopefully be home soon. He has a new mini topic to work on, it’s due a week on Friday. He decided to research Mary, Queen of Scots. He thought you could help him with it.”

“I’ll go speak with the lad. Of course I’ll still help him with it. I just... this is something I need to do Claire.”

“I know that. He’s a child though, so he doesn’t know what’s been going on Jamie. I told him you were going away for a few days to catch up with an old friend. Just... when you go up there Jamie, don’t be too hard on him for his attitude. I don’t want him pulling away again, I don’t want us going backwards. I’m going to speak with him again tonight about trying therapy, whether it be speaking to someone alone, or us doing family therapy—“

“He said no to that Sassenach.”

“I know he did, but we need to make sure that he always feels safe and secure with us Jamie. I hate that he was pretty much silent on the way home from school today because you’re going away for a few days. He’s insecure. We need to make sure we are doing anything and everything for our son.”

Jamie nods in understanding and makes his way upstairs to speak with Fergus.

 

“What’s wrong wi’ Gus Mam?” Faith asks as I put Bree down for a nap.

“He’s just a little upset your da’s leaving for a few days. He will be alright though, he’s just going to miss you father whilst he’s gone.”

“‘Kay. I gonna miss him too, but I didna make Bree cry. Dinna worry mam, I’ll be here to help you wi’ Bree.”

“I know my darling. You and Fergus will both be a great help. Your father shouldn’t be gone too long, but we’ll be fine.”

 

After an early dinner, Jamie sits down with Fergus and they begin working out a plan for what it is Fergus wants to include in his project whilst Faith and I sit through in the living room with Bree and play with her and some of her toys. Faith can be a little madam sometimes, but when I see her quite happily playing with her baby sister like this, it makes my heart melt.

Jamie was supposed to leave after dinner, but he has decided to leave just before the children’s bedtime. It means he’ll get to Lallybroch quite late tonight, but it will break the journey up for him. He’ll leave Lallybroch first thing in the morning and head to Ullapool to catch the ferry over to Stornoway.

 

“Right, come on then lass, time to get ye ready for bed. I need to leave soon so I’ll read ye a wee story now, aye?” Jamie says as he lifts Faith up from the couch and begins to carry her up to her room.

“It too early for bed Da!” She tells him firmly.

“I’m no puttin’ ye to bed a leannan. I just want ye to change in to yer jammies, and then I’ll read to you and yer brother and sister downstairs before sitting go.”

 

The five of us snuggle up on the couch. Fergus sitting in between Jamie and me with Faith sat on his lap whilst I have Bree snuggled up to me as Jamie reads us one of the stories from one of Faiths bedtime storybooks.

After the story is finished, Jamie said goodbye to each of the children with kisses and cuddles and promised to call them every afternoon and then again before bedtime. He’s also promised to make some time to face time Fergus to help him with his school project. He has also promised to be home by the weekend.

In some ways I’m glad, but in others... I wish he never made that specific promise. What if something happens that prevents him from coming home by the weekend? The children would be devastated. I would be devastated.

I know this is something he has to do, I just wish I could be there at his side. We have no idea what this girl is capable of. The last time she was alone with my Jamie, she almost killed him. Kept him away from me and his children for an entire night. Made him forget what had happened.

 

I walk with Jamie to the front door. The children are happy playing in the living room.

“Promise me you’ll be careful on this trip Jamie. I can’t lose you. Our children need you. I need you.”

“I promise Sassenach. I’ll be hame before ye ken it. I dinna plan on seeing that lassie on my own, the P.I. that Dougal hired has agreed to be there wi’ me when I go to speak to her. Hopefully it won’t take us that long to find her now we ken where she’s been.”

“Okay. Call me when you get to Lallybroch. I don’t care how late it is.”

“I promise Sassenach. I love ye Sassenach.”

“I love you too.”

We kiss goodbye and I watch from the door as Jamie puts his bags in to the boot of the car, jumps in to the drivers seat and drives off.

He better come home to me.

 

After I get the children settled and in bed, Instead of going downstairs again, I decide to just have an early night. I don’t mind if Jamie calls and wakes me up, I just don’t want to be alone downstairs.

About ten minutes after Jamie calls me to let me know he’s arrived at Lallybroch, Fergus lightly knocks on my bedroom door and comes in.

“Are you alright sweetheart? You didn’t have another nightmare, did you?” I ask him concerned. I didn’t hear him screaming or anything.

“No mum, I’m fine. I just wanted to apologise to you for my behaviour earlier. There’s no excuse for me behaving the way I did.” He says softly.

“It does t matter sweetheart. I know you and your father had a good talk. I know you didn’t mean it. I just hope you’re okay?”

“I am. I just wanted to say sorry.” He says as he turns to leave my room.

“Wait a second.” Fergus stops and turns to face me slowly. “It’s almost half eleven, have you been awake all this time worrying about how you behaved earlier?” He nods slowly, but he’s my son and I know there is more to it, even if he hasn’t said so. I pull the covers back on Jamie’s side of the bed. “Come here. You can sleep with me tonight.”

Fergus’ eyes widen. “Really? Are you sure?”

“If it means you will actually get some sleep, then yes. Come on sweetheart.”

Fergus jumps in beside me and snuggles up close to me. “Thank you mum.”

Chapter Text

22nd April

Jamie’s POV

I’ve been on the island since yesterday. Spoken to the P.I and I have yet to find Laoghaire.

Apparently since she’s been here, she doesn’t seem to stay at the same place for any certain amount of time.

I feel like if I overthink everythin’ too much, I might miss somethin’.

The P.I is goin’ to speak wi’ a crofter who he saw speakin’ to Laoghaire briefly the other day. I said I would go wi’ him, but he told me no. I was annoyed at first, but then I got it. I’m filled wi’ so much hurt and anger toward Laoghaire, lord kens what I would say to this man if he didna tell me what I wanted to hear. What if I blew up and Laoghaire found out I was here and did another runner? I need to be careful here, tread carefully. Try and blend in and no draw too much attention to myself.

That’s why I find myself at the museum at the Lews Castle grounds. Usually I would love this kinda thing, learning about the history of the Scottish Islands, but I canna take anythin’ in.

I make my way over to the little cafe at the other side of the building. It’s Starbucks coffee. Didna think I would get a Starbucks all the way out here on the Outer Hebrides, but there ye go.

I sit down at a wee table in the corner, next to the window. I pull out my phone and call Claire. She doesna answer though. She must be busy at work. I send her a wee text instead just so she kens how things are goin’, well, they dinna really seem to be goin’ anywhere yet, but hopefully we’ll find her soon.

 

Hey Sassenach. Hope you’re doing well today. I just thought I would let ye ken that we still havena managed to speak to Laoghaire yet. The P.I is away speakin’ with a local crofter that was seen speakin’ wi’ the lass a few days ago. Hopefully he can give us some information on where she might be. I’m afraid at the moment, it just feels like a wild goose chase. Anyway, give me a call when ye can, and I’ll give the bairns a ring tonight before their bedtime. I love ye Claire. Hopefully I’ll be home again soon.

 

Just as I’m about to get up and head over to the counter to order another coffee, I catch a glimpse of a long blonde haired lass walking in to the cafe and as soon as I hear her order a caramel latte, I ken it’s Laoghaire. I could never mistake that whinging noise she calls a voice.

When I go to make my way over to her to ask what the hell happened, I’m bein’ pulled back in to the gift shop beside the cafe by the P.I.

“Dinna be so foolish as to approach her out in the open like this. Lord only kens what this lass is capable of. I followed her here from the Croft at Balallan. Apparently that’s where she’s staying twice a week. Sometimes she’s staying in Laxey, and other times in Gravir. I’ve got this Jamie. Go and wait in the back seat of my car. I’ll see if I can get her to the car and then ye can speak to her wi’out everyone listening in.” He whispers in my ear as he hands me his car keys.

I reluctantly nod my head in agreement and slowly, trying to avoid Laoghaire, I slip out the door of the museum and head to the car. The car is parked just along from mine. I slip in to the back seat of the quite old and banged up blue Ford Focus. With the amount of money P.I’s make, I thought he would of been able to afford a newer, more reliable car.

When I asked him about his car yesterday, he told me that it helps him to stay hidden. People tend to take notice of the nice, fancy cars that people with money drive. They dinna take much notice of the wee car sittin’ down the street wi’ a few marks and scratches on it.

 

After about ten minutes, I see the P.I walking out of the museum with Laoghaire following on behind with her coffee order in hand. I try my best to keep hidden in the back, but it’s a small car, and I’m quite a large man.

When Laoghaire jumps in to the front passenger side, she’s so wrapped up in talking about herself, she doesna even register the fact I’m sat behind her.

I dinna ken how he managed to get her to the car, but I’m verra grateful.

“Now, I don’t actually have anythin’ on me at the moment, but if ye could give me an hour, I could get whatever it is ye want and we could meet up for the exchange.” Laoghaire says.

“Nah, yer alright lass. Drugs isna really my thing, ken? I have a friend here that would like to speak wi ye though.” The P.I says as he locks the door so Laoghaire canny get out.

It’s a guid job the car is parked a bit away fae the main entrance. No one will be able to see what’s happenin.

Laoghaire tries to open her door, and when she doesna succeed, she starts kickin’ the door wi’ some force.

“Now Laoghaire, that’s enough!” I shout.

Suddenly realising that there’s someone behind her, she slowly turns to face me.

“Jamie? Oh thank god.! Can he tell this mad man to let me go?”

“No lass. No until ye tell me what exactly happened that night. Why the hell did ye drug me? What could ye of possibly gotten out of doin’ such a thing?” I ask her, unable to mask my anger or frustration.

“It’s no what ye think Jamie. Ye need to believe me.” She pleads.

“Start talkin’ Laoghaire. I need ye to tell me what the hell ye were playin’ at! I canna take this any more. I’m supposed to be gettin’ married. I have been puttin’ Claire and our children through hell since that night. I need to ken what ye thought ye were playin’ at.”

“I promise I’ll tell ye all ye need to ken, but I have somewhere I need to be right now. Can we meet tomorrow? Please Jamie, I give ye my word that I will tell ye all ye want to ken. I just can’t today, I’m sorry.”

“Ye think your word means anythin’ to me lass? Ye DRUGGED me Laoghaire. Acted as if ye didna ken a thing about it and then disappeared after I told ye the police wanted to ask ye some questions. There no police here Laoghaire, it’s just us. Now talk!” I snap at her. I canna help but get more and more angry the longer I’m in the lass’ company. The sooner she talks, the sooner I can leave and move on with my life with my family.

“Jamie, please. I’m beggin’ ye. I really need to be somewhere. If I dinna make it back in time, I’m dead. Jamie, ye dinna understand what we’re dealin’ with here.”

“What do ye mean by “we”?” I ask her suspiciously.

“If ye agree to meet me tomorrow, I swear to ye on my grans life that I’ll tell ye everythin’. What I will say is I dinna mean for ye to get dragged in to this. I was trynna protect ye. It was Dougal they wanted to hurt, but when they saw you and your girlfriend at the restaurant, they started making plans for you too.”

“Who? What are ye gan on about Laoghaire?”

“Look, Dougal got in to some trouble with the Grants. I dinna ken the whole story, but the Grants hired me to get close to him and make him lose everything. Some reason, they wanted to take you down as well, I dinna ken why though Jamie, I swear. Please, just let me go and I’ll speak to ye tomorrow.” She hands a card over to me with her name and number on it. “Text me where your staying and I’ll come and see ye.”

“Fine, but if ye disappear again Laoghaire, I’ll find ye, and I’ll make ye pay. Ye have my word on that.” I tell her sternly.

She lets out a breath and slowly nods her head.

The P.I. Unlocks the car and lets Laoghaire out. As soon as she starts to walk away, I order the P.I to follow her and not let her get the chance to disappear again.

 

Sitting in my hotel room alone, I wait for Claire to call me so I can say goodnight to the bairns. I’ve only been away a couple of days, but I miss them all terribly.

I’ve gotten so used to going to bed with Claire and waking up with her beside me, I dinna like sleeping with out her.

 

After sitting on face time with my family as Claire reads the kids a bed time story, I sit and talk with Fergus for a while. He tells me what all happened in school and how he’s getting on with his school project. I managed to help him out a little last night, but it’s not the same as physically being there and helping the lad. Still, I have to do what I have to do.

I say good night to the lad before he heads up to bed himself. Being older than his sisters, he gets to stay up an hour later.

Then it’s just Claire and I. I had already filled her in on the Laoghaire situation earlier when she called me when she finished work, but it’s still playing on both our minds.

“Who are the Grants, Jamie? If they have issues with Dougal, why come after you?” Claire asks me.

“I’ll no ken until I speak with Laoghaire tomorrow I’m afraid. But, the Grants are a family that have had issues wi’ Dougal and Callum in the past. I dinna ken what actually happened, but I remember when I was a lad, one of the Grants came over to Lallybroch and threatened my mother because she was simply Dougal and Callum’s sister. I can only imagine that’s why they wanted to get to me. I am their nephew after all. What all this has to do with Laoghaire spiking my drink, I dinna ken Sassenach. But I will find out. I promise ye that.”

“Jamie, I just want you to be careful and stay safe. I hate that you are over there and I can’t be with you or do a thing to help.”

“Yer at home taken care of our bairns and making a livin’ Sassenach. I’ll be home soon. I ken it.”

We talk a bit more before I reluctantly have to hang up the phone.

The P.I has been texting me all day and all evening with updates as to what Laoghaire is doing. He’s due to call me anytime now for the latest update.

 

I dinna care what sorta trouble the lass has gotten herself in to. I just pray to god she shows up tomorrow mornin’ as arranged and explains herself fully.

I need to be at home with Claire and the kids.