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A Second Chance at Love

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“ I love you ” Claire cried “ Jamie, I love you. ” 

“ And I, you. ” He whispered against her lips. A single tear escaped, rolling down his cheek. 

This was it, he must say goodbye to her now, goodbye to their future, and all of the plans they had for it.  He must tear his heart out, he would live without his heart to see her and the bairn safe, safe in another century, safe in another man's arms. He knew he would die on that bloody moor and there would be no safe place for her and the bairn, not here, not in this time.  

He slowly walked her backward toward the tallest stone, standing ominously in the center of the circle of standing stones at Craigh Na Dun. He turned her slowly away from him, his chest pressed tight to her back in their last embrace. He began to raise their joined hands as they got closer to the stone. “ If only it could all be different ” He breathed into her soft curls and closed his eyes against the pain of losing her. 

Just as their fingers touched the stone, everything suddenly went dark and his body felt as though it was being ripped apart in every direction. He could hear the screams, he felt and heard his own screams ripping from his chest, then suddenly everything stopped, no sound, no sensation, he was bodiless and then just as suddenly as the ripping sensation began, he was ….. nothing.  

He wasn't sure if he had fallen asleep or if he had only swooned, but he felt as if his body had suddenly been torn into a thousand pieces and was just as suddenly coming back together. His head felt like he had been in a fog as he started to come back to himself and feel whole again. 

He could smell the wet grass and dirt and it felt as though he was laying on the ground, this didn't come as surprise since he experienced the sensation of falling. 

However, something strange had definitely happened. He could feel his body tense when he heard familiar voices all around, voices he should not be hearing. A voice that sounded like Dougal and another that sounded like Angus, but it could not be, could it? No, it could not be that, they were both dead, he had killed Dougal himself only hours ago and Angus had died at Prestonpans months ago. None of this was making any sense to him, unless ..... well unless he was dead, touching the stones must have killed him. 

He couldn't think clearly with his mind so muddled, he was sure he was only confused, dreaming perhaps, but surely, he must have died when he touched the stone, it was the only possible explanation for what he was feeling and hearing. 

He recalled Claire telling him of the screams inside the stones, she thought them to be the souls of those who could not make it through to the other side. He had heard the screams and the agony and felt it all himself. Did his actions and choices kill Claire, the bairn, and himself, surely this must be Purgatory, it was certainly what he deserved if his actions led to their deaths.  

Everything was so dark, he couldn't see a thing, then he realized that his eyes had been closed. However, before he could open them, he felt as though he was being lifted off the ground by many hands. As he peeled his eyes open, he became aware that he was being roughly carried into a cottage. Rupert and Angus were settling him onto a stool in front of an eerily familiar, bright, warm, burning hearth. As they stepped away from him, he became painfully aware of a sharp pain in his right shoulder. Surely you don't feel pain, smell grass, dirt, the foul sweat of the men around you, or feel the warmth of a fire if you are truly dead.  

Something strange was indeed happening here, but if it wasn't that he had died, what could it possibly be. He thought of everything that had happened since he touched that dreadful stone and came to a sudden realization that he was alive, “ What has happened? What is going on? ” He tried to stand but was held down by a large hand on his uninjured shoulder. 

Rupert spoke up “ Ye must a' hit yer head too, lad? ” he chuckled “ Do ye no' remember? Ye fell off yer horse when the Red coats shot ye, looks like ye knocked yer shoulder out of joint too. ” 

He was still alive but this didn't make any sense, he wasn't on his horse when they touched the stones, and there weren't any Redcoats about. They had left Donas hobbled at the base of the hill before walking up to the top. Moreover, why, or a better question would be, how are all the men here?  

His thoughts were cut off when the door burst open to reveal Murtagh stalking in, dragging nine other than Claire unwillingly behind him. 

It was at that moment that understanding came over him and he realized what likely had happened. God or the faerie’s in stones or whatever powers were responsible for the magic on that Godforsaken hill had heard the wish of his heart.   His wish for everything to be different.  

They had been given a second chance. They were starting over where they had first met. It would be easier this time, this time they both knew what the future held for them. They could make different choices, choices that didn't lead to torture, pain, separation, and death. 

“ What is it ye have there, Murtagh? ” Dougal asked. 

“ A Sassenach wench, Dougal, by her speech. ” Murtagh replied. 

“ Eh, a bonny one, Sassenach or no. ” Rupert growled. 

“ C’mere, lass ” Dougal stated as he stood to walk toward her “ What’s yer name lass? ” 

“ Claire ….. Claire Beauchamp ” She thought It would be better off if she used her maiden name, no use in leading them back to Frank. If they planned to ransom her, she would not do anything to help them.

“ Where did ye find this lass? ” Dougal asked Murtagh 

“ At the foot of Craig Na Dun. She was havin’ words with a certain captain of dragoons wi’ whom we chance to be acquainted, ” Murtagh added “ There appeared to be some question as to whether the lady was or was no a hoor. ” 

Dougal looked her over with a lecherous leer. Jamie had forgotten how they had treated her, peered at her in mistrust, and talked to and about her during those early days. He didn't like it, he didn't like it one bit. 

“ I see. So what was the lady’s position on the matter? ” Dougal asked. 

“ She said she wasna. The captain himself appeared to be of two minds on the matter, but inclined to put the question to the test,” Murtagh answered as he shrugged. 

Rupert spoke up with a chuckle “ We could put it to the test ourselves. ” 

That was too much, Jamie had heard enough, “ We dinna hold wi’ rape, do we, Dougal?” 

At his sudden outburst, everyone turned their heads in Jamie's direction. 

“ Do ye ken the lass then, Jamie, ye seem a bit protective over someone we just met? ” asked Dougal 

He quickly realized his mistake and had to conceive of something quick or they would both be dead in no time at all. “Aye, I remember her. She healed some of my scratches during my time in France when I was a soldier.” 

France, who is this man does she know him? Claire thought.  She needed to get closer to him so she could get a better look at his face, she never forgot a face and usually recognized voices as well. She knew some Scottish soldiers during the war, but she could not place that deep soft voice. 

Dougal’s eyebrows rose in a surprised expression then he said “ Is that so? ” he then turned and directed his attention back to Claire “ Well then ye should be able to fix the lads shoulder, aye? ” 

Claire did not know what was going on or why she was there, but something was telling her that she had better play along if she knew what is good for her. After being shot at and nearly raped, she no longer assumed she was on the set of some movie. “ Of course. I can, it is not that difficult really. You only have to get the bone of the upper arm at the proper angle before it will slip back into the joint. ” 

Claire stepped closer to the man sitting on the stool and knelt in front of him, looking directly into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. No, she had never met this man before, she never would have forgotten such a striking face or eyes the color of the ocean. Focus Beauchamp, she thought.  Fix his bloody arm, so they will let you go. “ This is the worst part. ”  

Jamie smiled sweetly back at her “ I remember from the last time ye fixed it Sassenach. ” However, he saw no recognition in her eyes at his smile or the familiar endearing nickname, only more confusion shown on her face. 

What is he going on about, the man must be delirious with pain. Oh well, better to just fix his shoulder and be done with it. Claire thought to herself. 

She looks lost and confused, does she not remember him, did she not remember them together, did she not remember their love.  His heart broke a little at that moment when he realized she had no memory of the last three years. He alone would suffer from the memory of what they had, what they had lost. 

Chapter Text

Claire wondered what in God's name the man could be talking about.  There had been no last time, she had never set his shoulder and neither had anyone else.  The joint slipped back in to easily to have been previously injured.  Of course, she fixed her fair share of dislocated shoulders while in the war, but she never would have forgotten that strong beautiful Viking face. Oh, for Christ's sake, stop it, Beauchamp, you need to figure out how to get out of here, you don't have time to be daydreaming about a man you just met. She reminded herself.  

Claire took hold of Jamie's elbow and wrist, suddenly she gave a slight twist and whipped his arm up, and in, there was a soft crunch and a sudden pop.  Just as had happened the first time she had put his shoulder back into joint. He smiled at the memory and the realization that he now had all the time in the world to spend with her. 

“ It doesna hurt anymore! ” He grinned at her and she gave him a smug smile of her own in return, obviously she was very pleased with herself.  

“ It will ” she stood not looking at him “ It will be tender for several days.  You mustn’t extend the joint at all for two or three days, when you do use it again, go very slowly at first.  Stop at once if it begins to hurt, and use warm compresses daily. ”  

He knew for sure at that moment that she had no memory of the last three years and that he would have to win her love again.  He had done it once before, he reasoned, he could do it again.  And this time he already knows what had made her love him the first time.  He would be bold, he would be careful and not miss an opportunity, he would not make the same mistakes he had made the first time.  And since he had already spoken of a connection, a relationship with her to Dougal, maybe he and Colum would not be so suspicious of her this time around.  

Claire turned to the man standing closest to her " Fetch me a belt or something, I need to put his arm in a sling so he doesn't injure it further. "  

" Fetch me, she says. " Angus replied, he really did act like an arse. 

" Give the lass yer belt " Dougal ordered him. 

Claire took the belt and finished binding the young man's arm, then the rest of the men went outside, presumably to ready the horses for everyone to leave. 

Once they were alone Claire took a step closer to the tall red-haired Viking.  God, he was so tall and well built.  She lifted her chin up closer to his ear so no one else would hear " How did you know I had served in France as a nurse? " 

Jamie looked down at her, remembering to play his part carefully " Served, I  dinna understand yer meaning Ms. Beauchamp? " He thought it best not let on too much to soon, if he made her suspicious now, she would never trust him, never let her guard down enough to allow herself to love him. 

" I heard yer name and kent it as French and assumed yer father to be French, also assuming ye had maybe spent some time in France.  Some of the lasses I kent when I was there had apprenticed in some sort of healing, I was only making an educated guess, mistress. "  

Hmm, apprenticing and healer, what's with the antiquated terms.  Something doesn't add up, maybe we did meet during the war and he's keeping a secret about that time from these men.  I'm going to find out what he's hiding, one way or the other. Claire thought to herself. 

Jamie led Claire outside to mount his horse, and gingerly mounted up.  Dougal hoisted her up onto his horse in front of him, and instantly he felt Claire's body tense up.  He could sense her stiffen when she settled in against him in the saddle. So he decided to try and put her at ease by revealing the fact that he knew something of the secret she was hiding. " The town is just there, but ye canna see any lights. " 

Claire twisted around as far as she could on the horse to look him in the eye, nearly falling off and dragging him with her " How did you know that's what I was thinking? " God is he a mind reader.  

He chuckled at the expression on her face  "Ye remind me of someone I once kent that had traveled through the stones, yer actions, the way ye talk and yer clothing.   Yer from a different time, when did ye travel from? " 

Can he be serious, Claire pondered, did she really travel back in time?  Well, she mused, she must have, there really is no other explanation for everything that has happened since she woke up on the hill. She decided that she needed to find out as much as possible if she was to get out of there, get back to her own time.  This whole situation is completely insane but he seems to know something about what has happened to her, she decided that she had no other choice but to trust him.  " 1945, but what year is it now? "  

"Tis May 1, 1743"   

She stiffened and whispered, "That's over 200 years."  

"Aye, and I ken yer scairt but ye need not be scairt of me or anyone else so long as I'm wi' ye. " She turned and settled, relaxing back into his chest a bit more. 

Scared, seriously, more annoyed at her situation, and who is this Jamie to offer her protection.  She had to admit to herself that she did feel safer with him than any of the other men, but she won't be here long enough to worry about any of that.  Right now her priority was to find out about this other traveler, maybe this other traveler he spoke of knows how to get back. Claire thought. 

" You said you knew another traveler? " She wondered if everyone could go through time, well surely not or she would have heard of it before it happened to her.  She would have avoided going anywhere near those bloody stones if she had known this would happen.  

She spoke so softly that he barely heard her question over the hoofbeats. " Aye, I  kent the traveler for a few years before we were separated. " 

" Separated, so then were you close? " Claire wondered, maybe the traveler told this man something important about how the stones worked.  She needed to come up with a plan, how to find out more without raising suspicion or sounding ungrateful for her rescue.  

" Aye, ye could say that. " He smiled but thought it best not to let on too much before he could gain her trust.  

The conversation seemed to be over as she settled a little closer to him and seemed to relax.  

He could feel her shivering so he tried to unpin his brooch but was having a bit of trouble with it, he had forgotten how difficult moving with an injured shoulder had been the first time.  

" What do you think you are doing?  Don't twist like that, you will injure your shoulder again " What is the idiot trying to do, he is going to undo everything I just did Claire thought.  

" I'm trying to wrap my plaid around us, yer shaking so much yer making my teeth rattle.  Can ye help me get it loose, can ye reach my brooch? " He grunted as he continued to fight with the offending pin.  

" I'll be fine " No sense getting too comfortable, she hardly knew the man she thought. 

  

" We have a long ride ahead of us, at least a few days till we reach  Leoch.  Ye will catch yer death of cold if ye dinna at least try to stay dry and warm. " he nearly growled at her.  God, she was a stubborn woman.  

  

Claire conceded then turned and reached up to his shoulder, she struggled with the brooch for a moment before releasing it. 

  

As soon as his plaid was loose he grabbed it and twirled it about them wrapping them both inside of its cocoon of warmth.  After a while he felt Claire relax against him, he could hear her steady breathing and he knew she had fallen asleep.  Jamie took the opportunity to rest his nose against her head, smelling her beautiful curls, and enjoying having his wife in his arms once again. 

  


  

After hours of riding, the sun was rising and Claire began to stir, she came to consciousness with a start before she seemed to remember where she was.  

  

They both realized where they were at that moment and exclaimed in unison " Cocknammon Rock, wasn't it used for..... " they looked at each other, Jamie gave her a slight nod to make sure she knew that he understood what she had wanted to say. 

Jamie rode up quickly passing the other men to speak to Dougal " I heard the English have been using the place for ambushes, we should take heed, just in case. "  

  

" Aye, right enough.  This is a grand place for an ambush.  Take the lass to a safe place, then get back here to help in the fight. " Dougal replied. 

  

He turned back the way they had come, back toward the stream where he had found Claire last time and rode off as he heard muskets being fired. Just as he was lowering Claire down to hide from the Red Coats he felt a sting in his shoulder and Claire's eyes went wide before everything went dark.  

  

Oh bloody hell, the man can't seem to keep himself from getting injured.  I can't leave him lying there on the ground bleeding to death.  I'll have to patch him up before I can make my way back to the stones. Claire thought to herself. 

Oh for Christ's sake here come the other men, they won't let me go now.  Maybe I can convince Jamie to take me back to the stones after I fix up his bullet wound. She mused.  

  

Jamie woke with a start and a burning sensation in his shoulder.  When he opened his eyes, Claire was leaning over him yelling at him for getting shot, he couldn't help but grin up at her. Just like the first time around, she was barking orders at the men and angry with him for getting injured.  He could see the worry and tenderness in her eyes. God, I do love her, he smiled up at her and thought happily.  

  

Why on Earth is he looking up at me like that, such tenderness in his eyes, I would think it was love if I didn't know any better.  Oh get over yourself Beauchamp, the man can't love you, he doesn't even know you, Claire thought.  

After getting some whiskey from one of the men, she finished bandaging his shoulder.  Her resolve to ask for his help floundering, he was not yet strong enough to help her escape.  If they should run into Redcoats, he wouldn't be able to protect either of them in his condition.  So she didn't argue when they returned to the horses and continued on their way. 

  

After a few moments and gaining some distance from the other men Jamie decided that he needed to warn Claire and show her that she can trust him, the sooner the better. Since they have some privacy here on the road while they ride, this is likely the best time to do it.  

" Claire... I mean, Ms. Beauchamp, I must warn ye that times like these are verra dangerous for women.  Women are not usually so outspoken as ye have been. " 

  

" Excuse me, I am not meek and obedient.  Are you trying to tell me that women should be seen and not heard?  Because I won't have it. "  Who the hell does he think he's talking to, Claire thought annoyed. 

  

" No, that's not what I am trying to say at all.  I just want ye to ye watch yer self, take a moment think about yer words and actions before ye say or do anything.  A light word or action can have dire consequences in this time, it's likely not the same where ye come from I wager.  I am only trying to help ye, to protect ye. "  

" The person I told ye about before was much like ye and was suspected of being a spy, it was not easy for them.  I figured ye could use a friend and I could maybe help make it a bit easier for ye. "   he said 

  

" Oh, well I guess I see your point then, Thank you, Jamie.  I suppose a friend wouldn't hurt. " I guess that makes sense, but if this other person was suspected of being a spy and now they are gone.  What happened to this person?  Is my life an danger, could I be killed?  Maybe I should heed his warning and try to be more like the women of this time and keep my head down, for now. She thought.  

  

" Ye ken we should probably get to ken one another some since I told the men we met in France, ye ken?  It will help when Colum summons ye and he questions ye. " he informed her.  

  

" Oh yes, yes you are probably right.  So why don't you start, tell me something about yourself. "  This is good, I can learn what I need to without giving to much about myself away. And maybe figure out what he is hiding.  Yes, indeed this is a good idea. Claire thought.  

  

That's my smart lass, find out about me first to gauge yer answers, Jamie thought.  " First let me introduce myself.  It is nice to meet ye Ms. Beauchamp, my name is James. Alexander. Malcolm. Mackenzie Fraser. But ye can keep calling me Jamie. "  

  

" Nice to meet you, Jamie, that is a lot of names, one could almost say to many for one person.  My name is Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp and you can call me Claire. " She replied with a smile 

  

This is good I have gotten her to start to open up, hopefully, I can get her to trust me sooner this time.  

" My family home is a place called Lallybroch, I haven't been back there for about 4 years. When ye met me in the cottage I had just arrived back from France. " I told her. 

  

" Why were you in France, is that why you haven't been home for so long? " she asked. 

  

" Awe well I was in the Abby, I was recovering from an injury I had received after escaping from Fort William. " I confessed. 

I chuckled " That is a bit of a story, why dinna ye tell me a bit more about yer self first. " 

  

Aww, of course, he's far too clever to just spill everything at once.  I guess if I am to find anything out I will need to play a bit of quid pro quo. Claire figured  "What do you want to know? "  

  

" Where are ye from? Ye said ye served in France, tell me about that. " I asked her.  

  

Well at least we are still on a subject that should lead me to what he is hiding.  It shouldn't hurt to share the basics  " I'm originally from Oxfordshire, but I was raised all over the world. My uncle was an archaeologist and I traveled the world with him. "  She took a breath before continuing " I was a nurse in the British army during World War II in Paris "  

  

" What is an archaeologist? " I asked 

  

She smiled " It is a Scientist who searches for and analyses history and artifacts. " Curious though, he had no reaction when I mentioned WWII.  Did this other traveler come from her time and tell him about things like that? 

  

" Why did ye travel the world with yer uncle? Didn't yer parents miss ye, what about schooling? " I asked 

  

Hmm, not something I like talking about.  I don't like thinking about the worst thing that ever happened to me but it couldn't hurt anything to answer him. Claire thought " My parents both died when I was very young, my uncle raised me.  I had tutors and I learned many things about healing from our travels. " 

  

" Oh Sassenach, I am sorry I asked, I didn't mean to make you remember such sadness. " I apologized 

  

Well at least he didn't ask how they died, that would have been a hard one to explain.  She thought  " It's ok, I barely remember them, my uncle gave me a good life."   she smiled  "What does Sassenach mean? " 

  

" Och it means outlander or English person.  I meant no offense by it, I only meant it as yer different.  I like that about you. "  I felt my ears turning pink at that confession. 

  

He likes me, I can feel my cheeks warming, I hope he doesn't notice " Oh " I'm not really sure how to reply to that, Claire thought.  

  

" What were ye doing at the stones? " I asked 

  

Oh, Christ, I don't really want to tell him about the Druids, he'll think I'm some sort of witch and I'll be burning at the stake before I know it.  I suppose I can tell him at least part of why I was there. " I was picking some flowers that I saw near the stones, it was an accident.  I didn't mean to travel back in time.  I would rather not talk about that right now. " Claire answered. 

  

I could sense she was beginning to feel too vulnerable with this line of questioning so I decided to let it go, I already kent all her answers anyway.  The talking was only to help her to trust me. 

" I won't push ye for things ye do not wish to tell me, but I will ask one thing.  I spoke up for ye back at that cottage and ye didn't let on that what I said wasna true.  So I think we owe it to each other. "   I said, " I think we can have secrets but no lies, do ye agree?"  

  

Well no harm in that, I don't have to divulge anything that won't help me to survive till I can make it back to the stones.  Besides, something tells me that I can trust Jamie.  " Yes, I think I can agree to that. "  Claire replied. 

  

" Good, why don't ye get some rest, we still have at least half a days travel till we reach Leoch. " I suggested.  

Before long her breathing evened out and her head started thumping me in the chest.  I would cherish these moments, for I didna ken when the next time would be that I could hold my wife so close to my heart. 

 

Chapter Text

It was mid-afternoon by the time Leoch came into view. I gently shook Claire by the should so she could wake and prepare herself before we rode into the courtyard of the castle. 

Claire did not appear as shaken as she woke this time, but she looked around as if she had been here before. I had to remind myself that she wasna remembering our time but the memories of when she was here in her own time, in 1945. 

We rode into the courtyard and dismounted, Mrs. Fitz came bounding out of the kitchen doors surprised yet happy to see us, just as before. Mrs. Fitz walked up to us with a disapproving look at Claire, so I introduced them. " Mrs. Fitz this is Claire Beauchamp, she is a friend of mine from France. We found her on the road and Dougal said we should bring her with us. " 

  

Mrs. Fitz replied " Well then, Claire. Come wi' me and we shall find ye somethin' more to wear that's' well ..... a bit more. " 

Fresh clean clothes sound delightful, hopefully, I can bath and some food as well, so I followed Mrs. Fitz without resisting. Claire thought.  

I realized she had not made a fuss about fixing my wound. I must go wi' her " Mistress Beauchamp, didn't ye say ye need to clean and dress my wound properly once we got back to the castle? " 

  

Christ, I am so I tired I had completely forgotten about Jamie's shoulder, Claire thought. " Oh yes, Mrs. Fitz, Jamie was shot yesterday and I bandaged it but I wasn't able to clean it properly so it doesn't get infected... I mean inflamed. I need to clean and dress it so he does not catch a fever. " I begged her, hoping she would let me tend to him.   

" Ye mean to tell me ye know what to do for that?  "  said Mrs. Fitz. 

" Well yes.  "  Claire replied. 

"  Jamie, ye heard the lady. Follow me. " Mrs. Fitz replied. 

That was close, I almost missed my chance to hold Claire in my arms. Claire had once confided to me that the time in the room when she fixed my shoulder had helped her to form a strong bond and showed her to trust in me. These were the moments that formed the foundations of her love for me, even though she had not immediately admitted that to herself. I hope it will be the same this time around.  

  

Mrs. Fitz showed us to a room, bringing the items that Claire had asked for and left us for Claire to tend my shoulder.  

Claire set the herbs and clean cloths to boil over the fire, I stayed silent waiting for her to say something. I kent she still felt vulnerable at this point last time, so I was willing to wait for her to open up again.  

Slowly Claire stood after taking a cloth from the herb pot and walked behind me. She moved the blanket from off my shoulders and back just as she had done the first time, only this time I did not flinch.  

I heard her gasp when my scars were revealed, then I felt her tenderly drawing her fingers over my scars.  

Christ, what kind of monster had punished this beautiful man so violently to leave such vicious marks on his lovely skin? Claire wondered. " How? " she whispered. 

" Red Coats. Flogged me twice, in the space of a week. They would ha' done it twice the same day, I expect, were they no afraid of killing me. There is no joy in flogging a dead man. " I answered her.  

  

Claire choked back a sob at his declaration " I should not think anyone would do such a thing for joy. "  

" No? You should have seen him. " I told her.  

" Who? " Who could do such a thing, these scars were at least a few years old. Is this why he was in France, are these the wounds he was healing from when he fled? What kind of crime could he have possibly committed to deserve this kind of torture? Claire wondered.  

" The Red Coat captain that skinned my back. If he wasna precisely joyous, he was certainly verra pleased with himself. Randall was the name. BlackJack Randall. " I kent this would shock her.  

" Randall!! " Could Frank's ancestor truly be responsible for such hate? I suppose he could, he did attempt to rape me after all and Jamie is so sincere, he has no reason to lie to me. Claire wondered.  

  

" That's right, I had forgotten that ye were familiar with the man. He is who Murtagh rescued ye from being raped by, wasna he? " I asked her.  

" Yes,"  she whispered " Why were you flogged? " 

" The first time was for escape and the second was theft or at least that is what the charge sheet had read.  "  I stated. 

" Was that what you mentioned before? When you had said that you had escaped Fort William? " Claire asked.  

"Yes" I replied 

  

"What were you doing there in the first place?" she asked.  

" I believe they called it obstruction.  "  I answered her 

" Obstruction, what is that? It does not sound very serious," she stated 

" Well it's whatever the English say it is, I suppose. In my case, it was defending my sister's honor against two Red Coats who were threatening her virtue. " I replied 

  

" Well you sound like a right dangerous character Mr. Fraser," she smirked at him. 

She's flirting wi' me " Oh, I am at that " I winked at her " A wonder you think yourself safe alone in the same room wi' me, and you an English lassie. " I teased her.  

" Well you look harmless enough and to be quite honest I have not felt as safe in my life as I do with you, Jamie.  " She blushed at her sudden honesty, she had not meant to share that last bit.  

" You have befriended me since the start and I cannot tell you what it means to be able, to be honest, and not have to hide who I am or when I am from. Thank you.  " She may as well be honest with herself. He has been kind, patient, protective, and gentle with her. She truly was beginning to feel something for him, he is a true friend.   

  

As Claire finished bandaging my shoulder and strapping my arm to my side I thanked her. " Thank you Sassenach, you are a kind woman, with a gentle touch. Your husband is a lucky man. " I didna want to remind her of Frank but I needed her to cry so I could comfort her. She had told me at one time that this is when she started to feel something for me. This was a vital part of our foundation and I wasna about to let it pass by.  

Claire walked back over in front of the hearth and started to cry, my husband. What must Frank be going through? She had been gone for three days. Does he think me dead, kidnapped or worst of all that I ran off with another man? Also, here I am thinking of another man in precisely the way I should be thinking of my husband, I am a terrible person. She thought. 

  

"  What is it lass, what is wrong?  "  I asked her tenderly. 

"  I was just thinking about my husband " Of how I should be missing him more than I do, how I haven't even thought of him till this moment. Of how guilty I should feel for thinking of you instead of my husband, except I do not feel guilty, not even a little. She thought to herself.  

Damn that Frank Randall, Damn all Randalls. I had to remind myself not to lose it now, I needed to hold her and needed her to trust me. 

"  Is he not alive?  " I asked, even though I knew what the answer would be and the truth of the matter. 

" No, he is not alive. " She started to cry even harder, oh I am an awful person. Why did I have to have a husband when this man finally walked into my life. Claire wondered. 

  

I gathered her in my arms while she cried.  

I whispered to her those things I needed to say to her but I knew she would not yet understand.  

" Och mo ghràidh,   Cha mi riamh falbh thu. Tha gaol agam ort mo chridhe. Tha mi direach an seo.  " (Oh my love, I will never leave you. I love you. I am right here.) 

  

She cried for a few moments holding tight to me with her head buried in my chest, slowly her sobs died down and she pulled back looking up into my eyes. I could see the hurt and fear in those beautiful eyes but also trust. That was good, she trusts me. 

" Do ye remember what I said to ye on the ride? Ye need not be scairt as long as I am with ye. " I promised her.  

" So when you are not with me? " She asked hoping that he would stay. She felt safer with him than she had ever before, even Frank never made her feel this protected. 

" Ye must remember that you are English in a place where that is no a pretty thing to be. However, I will do everything within my power to be near ye and protect ye as much as possible."  

"It should be simple enough after telling Dougal of our acquaintance in France. I am sure he will want ye to be guarded until he can decide if ye are a threat." I said to her.  

  

" Me a threat? Are you serious?  " What in the world could I do to any of them, every one of them was a Viking warrior, I thought. 

" Do ye remember I told ye about the other traveler that was suspected of being a spy? It is unfair, but they will not trust ye."  

"Get some rest now, I will go and speak with Colum. I suspect he will want to speak with ye soon. Just stick to the story I came up within the cottage and ye should be fine. " I told her. 

"Thank you, Jamie, for everything." I will do whatever Jamie suggests, I definitely do not want or need to be seen as a threat. I trust Jamie's judgment. Claire said to herself. 

  


 

After leaving Claire's room I went straight to Colum. I knew I could convince him, and I needed to limit the amount of time he spoke to Claire, I knew with her glass face that he would not trust her, but he would trust me.  

I knocked on the door to Colum's study he requested me to come in. 

" Dougal tells me ye know the Sassenach lass.  "  Colum stated 

" Yes, she is a friend of mine. We met in France after my escape from Fort William. She tended many scratches for me. " I said. 

" Is that so? Humph. Well, I will talk with her myself and I will decide what to do with her.  "  Said, Colum. 

" Murtagh found her in the clutches of Black Jack Randall. When he brought her into the cottage, I recognized her right away from my time in Paris. " I answered 

" Ye trust her then? " He said 

" Aye, I do, she saved my life in France. However, I can see why ye do not, with her being English an all. " I said 

" I also ken ye will want her guarded, I think I should be her guard. I can ensure she doesna see or hear anything that ye dinna want her to."  

"Since I am her friend she willna feel any need to hide or be secretive either and I can report back to ye any suspicious behavior on her part," I stated 

"Humph, Aye, that sounds like just the plan. Fine I will send for her and see what she has to say on the matter. "  He agreed. 

" After hearing about her healing skills I think I will send her to the Beaton's surgery. I will determine her healing skills for myself."  

"If yer to be her guard ye need not stink so, now go and clean up. " Colum said. 

 

Chapter Text

After leaving Colum's study I took a walk down to the burn to wash. When I came back inside, Mrs. Fitz found me a room inside the castle near Claire's new surgery. Close enough so that I could keep a close eye on her always. Just before dinner, I was summoned to Colum's study again, when I arrived I saw Claire walking through the door outfitted in the dress Mrs. Fitz had obtained for her the first time we came to the castle three years ago. 

" Welcome Mistress Beauchamp, Jamie. Please have a seat. " Colum welcomed us in with a nod. 

Claire turned and glanced over her shoulder, she had not heard Jamie enter. He must have bathed since he had been in her room. She is not quite sure why he is here, it does comfort her that he is though. She is glad to see him, perhaps his presence will help Colum to trust her.  

" Mistress Beauchamp, tell me, how is it ye come to be at Craig Na Dun in no but yer shift? " Colum asked. He was getting straight to the point, this had me worried. Claire and I had not discussed what to say about this. I had no idea what she was about to say.  

Claire replied calmly " Thank you for inviting me into your home Mr. Mackenzie. As for how I came to be in such a state of undress on the hill, well I am sure your men have told you of my unfortunate encounter with Captain Randall. " 

Colum nodded with a look for her to continue. 

" I met Jamie in the Abby in France, I was apprenticing there when he arrived. We spent a lot of time together and became close friends. While Jamie healed he would tell me stories about his home in Scotland. He painted such a vivid picture of Lallybroch that when my apprenticeship was over I decided to visit him and see Scotland for myself. I had been on a coach from Inverness when we stopped at the hill of Craig Na Dun to walk about and stretch our legs. That is when I happened to stumble upon Captain Randall and he relieved me of my clothes. Your man Murtagh found me just as Captain Randall was attempting to rape me. " she finished.  

Ifrinn the woman can weave a tale, hopefully, Colum believed it. 

" Well Mistress Beauchamp, I do welcome ye to my humble home. Jamie says yer a fair healer and ye yer self have said as much, so I want to show ye to our surgery. " Colum replied. 

" Yes, of course, I would love to see it. Thank you, Mr. Mackenzie. " Claire answered. 

Colum motioned for us to follow him. I glanced across at Jamie worrying, what the hell is going on? Should I be worried? Then Jamie mouthed 'Talk Later' to me. Well, at least he does not appear too worried. I need to stay in character and be a woman of this time. This is not a time to fight back or argue. I must remember not to give cause for anyone to suspect me of anything sinister. Claire thought to herself.  

  

Soon we arrived at the surgery. " Mistress Beauchamp" Colum started " This will be yer surgery, the castle has not had a healer in quite some time. I will provide ye with food and a bed and in return, ye will heal the castle's occupants. I believe this will benefit us both, do ye not agree? "  

Claire looked stricken but agreed. 

Colum continued " Also since yer an unwed woman ye will need a guard for yer own protection as well as an escort around the castle and grounds. I have assigned Jamie to be yer guard. Should ye be in need of anything ye can just ask Jamie. " 

" I will see ye both in the great hall for dinner. Jamie see to it that Mistress Beauchamp has everything she needs. " Colum stated as he left the surgery. 

" Sassenach, why did ye agree to his terms so easily? " I asked, this was not like my sassy wife.  

" Because of what you said while we were on the road, I decided it was likely in my best interest not to argue with the Laird. Do you think I should have tried to bargain with him? " Claire asked.  

" No, no I think that was a good plan, less reason for him to suspect ye of anything.  " I answered her " Do you want to begin arranging yer surgery or would ye like to head to the hall and get something to eat first? I am to accompany ye or stay, whatever yer decision may be. "   

" Let us go eat first, I am famished. " It feels like I have not eaten in days, the surgery can wait, furthermore I need a distraction from what is apparently to be my new prison for the unforeseeable future. Claire thought to herself.  

I offered Claire my arm and we set off toward the hall, so far this second chance was working out just fine. With more time to spend with Claire from the start, she should feel our powerful bond verra soon. I am willing to do anything it takes to ensure our future together.  

  


   

After dinner, Claire was ready to turn in, so I left her in her surgery and returned to my own bed-chamber next door. This would be my first night without my wife by my side.  

The first thing I need is for Claire to forget about going back to Frank or believe she cannot. She will never let herself love me if she thinks he is waiting for her and she can get back to him.  

I know the songs say that the stones work at certain times during the year. If I can take her back when the veil is closed, she will believe that she cannot get back. It will not be lying to her, it will just be a secret and we have already figured out she cannot get back anyway. I must do this, but now to discover how.  

I lay there thinking about my wife and all that we foolishly fought for and all that we lost. We have been given a gift and I do not intend to waste it. I can see now what is important, my wife, my family, and our future. I love my country but history has proven that we cannot change what is to come.  

It is time to think about how we can ensure our future. We will convince those who will listen and save as many as we can. However, we will not try to interfere or try to change history this time.  

We lost Faith because of our determination to stop the rising. I will not let that happen again. Time for a new plan. Most importantly, head off any disasters before they have a chance to throw our lives off course a second time. 

I decided I better get some sleep while I can, my lovely wife is sure to have a full day planned for us tomorrow.  

  


   

The next morning Claire had us clearing out old medicines and dusting the surgery from top to bottom. By midday, we were ready to go to the gardens and gather fresh herbs. As usual, when Claire was focused on a task she forgot to take care of herself, it would be up to me to remind her. It was a good thing that Colum agreed to let me be her guard.  

" Sassenach let us take a break and go have some lunch after we fill our bellies we can go gather herbs to yer heart's content.  "  I reminded her.  

" Oh yes, quite right Mr. Fraser. Now that you mention it I could use something to eat. However, I do not want to linger too long. If I am to be a proper healer here at the castle then I will need to replenish my stores as soon as possible. " Claire thought, if I am to be stuck in that dungeon, I should at least be well-prepared. I need to collect as many herbs as I can.  

I ken that my Sassenach would rather be out in nature so I decided we would pack a picnic and eat our lunch in the garden, I ken she will enjoy that. If I can get her to keep relaxing around me, she will trust in us by the time I get a chance to take her to the stones and she willna have any regrets when she chooses me again.  

  

As we made our way from the kitchen to the garden I decided to give Claire another bit of important information. " Claire I ken that I have asked ye to trust me, but I must ask ye not to trust anyone else in the Castle. They are suspicious of ye simply because yer English.  "   

" There are certain people that are worse than others. One, in particular, has a terrible reputation herself and if ye associate with her, ye will surely get the same reputation. In this time that reputation will get ye killed, ye must trust me on this. I am tellin' ye this to protect ye."  

" Who? What reputation, what are you talking about? " she asked. 

" Geillis Duncan has a reputation of being a witch. They will burn someone accused of being a witch at the stake, without proof. " I stated " Please Claire, trust me on this and stay away from that woman. " I hoped she could see the sincerity in my eyes. 

" I trust you, Jamie, you have never given me a reason not to. I will stay away from her.  "  Christ I forgot about witch trials, this century is more dangerous than I realized. Claire thought.  

Just as we arrived at the garden I noticed Geillis Duncan harvesting berries and I pointed her out to Claire. Claire then wisely headed the other direction and began to fill her basket. We spent the rest of the day gathering herbs for Claire's surgery. 

  

Several days passed by with Claire in her surgery while I helped with whatever task she asked. We ate meals together, laughed, and told each other about our lives. We were growing closer as the days went by.    

Then came the evening that grievances were brought before the Laird, last time I had stepped in to take Laoghaire's punishment to try to impress Claire.  

That had only ended in sending Laoghaire the wrong impression. I will not tempt fate again, I wouldna be doing that this time, that evil little wench tried to have my wife killed. I dinna care if she was humiliated in front of everyone. Later I had heard she was sent to a convent after her punishment in the hall. 

A few more days passed by and word had spread about the harp player's music in the Great Hall. I figured it wouldna hurt to ask Claire to go with me to watch the entertainment.  

" Claire, would ye like to go to the hall with me tonight to listen to the Gwenlynn's music? " I asked 

Claire replied " That sounds lovely Jamie, I would like nothing more " Christ, Jamie just asked me on a date. I hope I can calm these butterflies in my stomach or I will never be able to get ready. I wish I had time to wash my hair, it would be so much easier to tame if I could wash it. " I will meet you at my surgery after I have changed. "  

  


   

Claire and I sat near the back after we both stopped to grab a glass of Colum's Rhenish. Again, I translated the songs for Claire, I saw her brighten up after I translated the song about the woman of Balnain. I noticed the change in her this time, I cannot believe I had missed it the last time we did this. 

" Mistress Beauchamp, this dressing is chafing me, do ye mind changing it? " I asked her. 

" What, do you mean now? Yes, yes of course. Let's head to my surgery. " she said.  

  

We slowly made it to her surgery, after three glasses of Colum's Rhenish Claire was not exactly stable on her feet. Finally, we stumbled through the door.  

" Come here, Jamie, let me see how that wound is doing.  " She started by untying his stock, then the top button of his shirt, undressing a gorgeous man such as Jamie is so erotic. She tried to pull the collar to the side but with his waistcoat on, she pretended to be having trouble seeing the bullet wound. Truly she just wanted his shirt to be off, she wanted to see his beautifully sculpted chest again. His body filled her dreams, but her dreams did not do the real thing justice. She grinned mischievously.  

" Could you just take off your waistcoat and shirt, I cannot seem to see what I am doing. You have far too many clothes on.  "  Claire asked.  

"  Aye, I can do that.  " Well this was certainly different from the last time, my wee vixen wants to see my body. I wonder if it is our time together that has made her bolder with me. But I won't complain, I will do whatever she asks of me. 

I ken she is attracted to my body, so I decided I am going to enjoy watching her watch me. I will draw this out, so I slowly begin to unbutton my waistcoat one button at a time. I peel it over my shoulders so slowly it is almost painful. She is biting her bottom lip and I can see her bosom starting to heave. Next, I unbutton the cuffs of my shirt, I reach up and pull it gradually over my head, off one hand and then the other until all I am left wearing is my kilt and boots. I watch as her eyes roam over my chest, down to the V of muscles the disappears into the top of my kilt. Her blush starts at her bosom and gradually climbs up over her cheeks as she raises her eyes to lock with mine. I give her my most alluring smile and she then turns an even deeper shade of red, but she does not pull her gaze from mine. She wants me just as much as I want her.  

Watching him undress has me panting, God I want to touch him. I can feel the heat between my thighs, I wonder if he wants to feel it too. It takes only one step for me to reach him, I put my hand out to stroke his chest, I want to touch him. However, then I stop myself, what if he does not feel the same way about me. Claire thinks.  

I watch as Claire takes a step forward and reaches for my chest before stopping herself, why did she stop. My breath catches. Then she comes forward again and places one hand on my shoulder to lean up and examine my bullet wound. 

  

" Looks like it is healing nicely, no seepage or blood poisoning. I will change the bandage and you can take it off completely in a few days. " I said then took a step back, trying not to crowd him, he appeared nervous. I can't believe I almost crossed that line, I have no right to be lusting after Jamie. He is my friend, he has been a complete gentleman and I have no right to use him like that. Claire thinks to herself.  

Thank God for my sporan, she would have seen how thoroughly she affected me. That might not have been such a bad thing, I could tell that she wanted to touch me.  

" Ye had better get some rest Mistress, we have many patients to check on tomorrow. I will fetch ye in the morning."  

"Goodnight Claire," I said to her as I left her surgery.  

"Goodnight Jamie" she replied, gently closing the door behind him.  

I went back to my room and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, dreaming of holding my wife in my arms. 

Chapter Text

The next few days everyone was preparing for the Gathering, I knew I needed to avoid it and didna want to tempt fate again by being anywhere near it, so during the night of the Gathering, I planned to be away with my Sassenach.  

" Sassenach, would ye like to go for a walk down by the loch in the moonlight? " I asked her.  

" Why Jamie, that sounds like a lovely idea. Let me just fetch my cloak. " Hmm, She wondered why Jamie wants to go for a walk instead of attending the gathering. Everyone else appears so excited about it. He is a very complicated man, that Jamie Fraser is.  

He offered her his arm, he is such a gentleman, she thought. They walked away from the castle and made their way down toward the loch. " This is such a beautiful night, Jamie, I cannot believe how many stars you can see. " Claire asked him.  

" Yes, Sassenach the stars are beautiful, do ye learn about constellations and such things in yer time? " I asked Claire.  

  

She giggled at how cute he was " Yes we do, but there are so many electric lights, it was so bright that you could not see this many stars, it is nothing like this. This stroll was such a good idea. It is quite romantic, do you not think? " She could not help but look up at his profile and take in the beauty of his features. Those high Viking cheekbones, the strong knife-edged nose, his strong chin, and those full lips that she wanted to reach up and kiss until she could not breathe.  

I looked down at her to see her gazing up at me instead of the stars, I couldna help but smile. " Yes, mo nighean donn, tis verra romantic, tis a verra lovely night indeed. " But no as lovely as ye mo Calman geal. 

He keeps calling me that, he says it with such affection " What does that mean? That word you keep calling me? " Claire asked.  

I chuckled " It means my brown-haired lass. " I watched to see how she would react to the meaning. 

" Hmm, a rather dull color I have always thought. " She decided to return the affection, so she lay her head against his shoulder and snuggled a bit closer. He pulled her a bit closer, he does not seem to mind, Claire thought.  

" No, not dull at all. " I reached up and captured a soft curl between my fingers while gently stroking the silkiness of it. " It is like the water in a burn, dark in the wavy spots, wi' wee bits of auburn where the light touches it. " 

  

Oh, he is such a sweetheart, with such beautiful words. I smiled and hummed in appreciation " Well it's certainly not as beautiful as yours, all the shades of cinnamon, auburn, and golden highlights, it is like the sun itself. " God I want to run my fingers through his beautiful curls, would that be to forward of me? He has been such a gentleman, I better not push him too far. Claire thought. I giggled, trying to lighten the mood, not sure I can hold my self back if this goes on too much longer. " Perhaps we should head back Mr. Fraser, suddenly I feel quite tired " What is wrong with me, why am I suddenly being so formal? Well, perhaps he did not notice.  

" Of course, Mistress " We made our way back to Claire's surgery in a comfortable silence. " Goodnight Claire," I said to her.  

He noticed, hopefully, we can get back to normal tomorrow " Goodnight Jamie, and thank you for the walk. I really enjoyed it. " I smiled and he stood there as I closed the door, neither of us appeared to want the night to end. I heard him say something in Gaelic, just before the door clicked shut. I must get him to teach me, his words sounded so full of love. She thought.  

" Tha gaol agam ort, mo Sorcha " I whispered as I walked back to my own room.  

When I got back into my room I leaned against the door, overcome by the progress we have already made. She did not reject me and even more she has been thinking about my hair. I kent she has always loved it, she always told me so before. I thought she might reach up and run her fingers through it. However, to hear her say it so soon this time, my heart is fit to burst. It is time to put the next part of my plan into action. I will talk to Claire in the morning. 

  


 

" Jamie, are you awake? Jamie, open the door. " I did not intend to wake him so early, but I could hardly sleep last night thinking about everything that has happened since I fell through time. Claire thought.  

I jumped out of bed and ran to open the door. " What is the matter, are ye alright? " 

" Oh nothing is wrong, I was hoping we could go into the woods today. There is an herb that I need but it does not appear to grow in the garden. Are you up for an adventure? " Claire asked. It was the best excuse I could come up with to get him away from the castle. I need privacy for what I need to ask from him.  

" Always Sassenach, just give me a few minutes to put myself together. Wait for me in yer surgery, I will be right there. " I told her.  

About five minutes later we were headed for the woods. Once we had walked for a bit, I noticed that Claire was not really looking for herbs, so I asked " What herbs were ye hoping to find Mistress? " 

  

She was quiet for a moment, she could see he cares for her and she does not want to hurt him. However, she has to do this, no sense in putting it off any longer. The pull she feels towards him is getting too strong to keep ignoring " Jamie I did not bring you out here to look for herbs, I have a favor that I need to ask you. " 

" Oh, and what might that be? " I was now quite curious. 

" Do you remember the song the other night the one about the stones? That is what happened to me, well at least part of it anyway. " Claire whispered. 

My heart sank, I knew this was coming, but I had hoped we could avoid it altogether. " Aye, I know the stories, but what is the favor you need to ask lass, what has yer favor have to do with the stories? " 

" I told you about my husband, Frank, the thing is, it is not so much that he is dead, but that he has not been born yet. " she said " He must be worried sick, I need to try to get back to him. I owe it to him to try. " 

So much for my plan, I thought, Damn that Frank Randall.  

  

" However, there is something else I cannot yet explain, something I thought would go away with time. However, it has not, it has become ..... more," she said.  

She could feel herself blushing as she looked up at him through her lashes and shyly asked " This thing between us, tell me, do you feel it too? " 

I stopped and pulled one of her hands into mine, making her stop and turn to face me. " I am not sure, can ye tell me what ye are feeling, describe it to me? " 

I dropped my basket on the ground next to me, reached up with my free hand and rested it over his heart and looked up into those beautiful blue eyes " It is the most powerful thing I have ever felt, I feel guilty for feeling like this. Like I am being disloyal to my husband. " I looked down at my clutched hands and continued " I like you, Jamie, probably more than I should " Claire admitted to him.  

I feel like my heart is being crushed all over again. She tells me she cares about me but says she wants to return to Frank.  

I guess it is time to take her to the stones and let her make her choice. I can only hope that the stones will be dormant once we arrive. It has been hard to live like this when my wife has forgotten me but to live without her altogether. I ken I couldna do it.  

" I will arrange it, I will take ye to the stones myself if that is what ye truly wish, Mistress. " 

  

" Oh thank you, Jamie, you have no idea what this means to me. " There it was again, the formality from last night. I must have hurt him, I can feel him pulling away from me, hiding his emotions. I cannot tell him what I feel but I can show him. She thought, then, that she wrapped her arms around his neck, clutching her fingers in his thick red curls and pulling him down until her lips met his.  

She leaned up and kissed me. For a moment I was shocked, but it did not take long for me to kiss her right back. It started as a chaste kiss but soon Claire deepened the kiss, it became passionate and I lost myself in the kiss. I poured all of my feelings that I could not yet speak aloud to her into that kiss. I could feel her doing the same, there was so much love and hunger in that kiss. She was showing me, giving me back the same passion that I feel for her. Eventually, we parted but only for lack of air. Suddenly, without warning, Claire backed away and started apologizing. 

" Jamie, I am so sorry, please forgive me? " What the Hell was I thinking. I practically threw myself at him. Oh God, he kissed me back with such passion though. It is too late, I have waited too long. I cannot save us from pain, we are both going to get hurt when I return through the stones. I should not have kissed him, I am even more confused now. I am not sure what I should do now. Claire thought.   

" There is nothing to forgive lass, I feel it too. " I said.  

" Return to yer surgery, pack yer things. We leave for the stones in the morning, during the hog hunt. No one will notice that we have gone. " 

She turned and walked away. I need to make a decision, she thought. Sleep should help to clear my mind.  

  

I stayed at the loch well into the night, making sure to avoid the Oath taking ceremony. There was no way I was going to get caught up in that mess again. After a few more hours of walking and thinking, I sneaked back to my chamber to get some rest before morning, but lay awake thinking of a way to convince Claire to stay. I lay there awake till it was time to leave.   

  


 

  I saddled and readied Donas before sunrise, we must be off before anyone woke. I gathered Claire and her belongings, luckily she had few things. We rode like the wind. At this pace, we could make it in a little more than half a day. I do hope that the stones will not work. I dinna ken how I will survive if she decides to return to Frank this time.  

Finally a little before midday we arrived at the foot of Craig Na Dun and made our way up to the top of the hill after hobbling Donas nearby.  

" Here we are lass, the stones of Craig Na Dun. " 

" What did you do before? " I asked, unable to disguise the anguish in my voice. 

" I heard this buzzing sound," Claire said as she raised her hands toward the center stone, they appeared to draw her to them. 

" Do ye hear it now? " I asked anxiously. 

She lowered her hands before touching the stones but didna answer me.  

Then she turned and walked back toward me.  

  

" Do you want me to go, Jamie? " she asked. 

" This thing between us, this feeling. You said you feel it too, tell me, what is it that you feel? " I need to know, if he does not feel the same thing for me that I do for him, I will go, I will forget that any of this ever happened and I will go on with my life. Clair said to herself.  

This was not how it was supposed to go, we needed more time. I needed to show her that she belonged here, with me, in this time. Should I tell her how I feel, is it too soon? Will it give her sufficient reason to stay here or will it send her running scairt through the stones away from and back to Frank? 

I reached out and took her hands in mine and looked into her eyes, I can see the battle she is going through. 

I canna lie to her, she asked me to tell her. I must be honest with her. I willna waste another moment, this is my last chance to hold onto her. I will go down on my knees and beg her to stay this time. I cannot let her go without a fight. " No, I dinna want ye to go, Claire. " 

" I want ye to stay here with me, I want to court ye, I want to ask for yer hand in marriage, I want ye to be my wife."  

"Ye asked me what I feel, this power that is between us. It is more than I can explain, I want ye Claire, I want ye more than I have ever wanted anything before, I want ye more than life itself. I love ye, Claire. " 

Tears were running down her cheeks and the most beautiful smile was gracing her lovely face. 

  

" Oh Jamie, I love you too, I do not want to go. I want all those things as well. I feel the same. This is the most powerful thing I have ever felt. So powerful that it scares me. " Claire said.  

" However, should I not at least try to return, so he is not left wondering, do I not owe it to him? " I feel so guilty, one of them is going to get hurt, have their heart ripped out and it is all my fault. I do not know what to do. Claire thought.  

" That is not something I can answer for ye mo ghráidh. Only ye can make that choice. " I answered her honestly, but I am ready to fall to my knees and beg if that is what it takes to keep her here with me.  

  

Well, it is now or never, I do not even know if I can return. Claire thought as she dropped his hands, turned on her heel, and walked straight toward the tallest stone.  

I felt my heart stop as I watched her suddenly turn, and head straight for the center stone then she suddenly slapped both hands against it before I could utter a word or make a move to stop her.

Chapter Text

I couldna believe my eyes, she was still standing there. Nothing happened, she had not faded out like she had started to fade the first time I returned her to the stones. I do not understand, but could it be that the stones truly are closed? Then Claire's voice broke into my train of thought. 

" Jamie, I do not hear them. I do not know if it is because I do not want to go and I truly wish to be here or if for some other reason. However, I am happy that it did not work. " Claire said. 

" When I came through from my time, I remember wishing that my life could be full, that I could be truly happy and not have to work so hard for love, to have a home truly," she whispered as she came back toward me. " Perhaps that is why it did not work this time " 

" I dinna understand? " I replied as I reached out to bring her closer to me. 

" Don't you see, Jamie. With you, here in this place, in this time, I have all of that, you are my home " she said as she leaned into my chest " My dreams and wishes are coming true, right here, right now. This is where I belong, where we belong ...... together. " I am so grateful that the stones did not work, my heart made my choice for me, Claire thought.  

  

My arms circled her waist drawing her tight up against me, I couldna help the stream of tears falling from my eyes, as we pressed our foreheads together. She was finally mine again as I have been hers, since that first day she stumbled into my life almost three years ago. God, I love this woman.  

" Oh Claire, ye have no idea how happy this makes me. Ye truly wish to stay here, now, with me? To make a future with me in my time?" I whispered against her lips. 

" Our time, Jamie. I never felt like I belonged anywhere until I was safe in your embrace. Even since that first night on the horse, I had a feeling of belonging. I tried to fight it, to deny it to myself even. However, the truth is, I simply cannot live without you James Fraser, you are my heart. A person cannot live without their heart " She smiled to herself. I can feel that this is where I truly belong, right here with a man I love more than I ever thought possible to love someone. Claire mused.  

I pulled her tighter against me as her fingers played with the curls at my neck. She pulled my head down into a tender kiss, full of promises, I could taste the salt on our lips. Not sure if it was from my tears, her tears, or a mixture of them both. We sank to our knees and wept, not from sadness or loss, but from joy. The two halves of our soul finally joined together again, forever, for eternity. I would ensure that nothing could come between us ever again. This time we would survive, together.  

  


 

  

Since I still had a price on my head, we decided that Leoch was still the safest place for us right now. We remounted Donas and raced as fast as that stallion could carry us back to the castle.  

We arrived without notice just in time to join everyone in the great hall for the evening meal. By a strange streak of luck, no one had even noticed our absence that day. There would be no questions that we dinna have answers for. We ate our meal as usual so we dinna create suspicion. The only difference was our intertwined hands under the table, an unspoken message that we were in this together. We needed that touch, that connection. I couldna be happier than at this moment and I could see my own happiness reflected in the face of my wife. 

" Jamie, what has ye grinning like a loon? " asked Murtagh 

" Och nothin' a charaid, just found a wee bit of happiness in this drab castle. " I winked at Claire. 

Murtagh's eyebrows raised to his hairline as he looked back and forth from me to Claire. " Is that so, well I am happy for ye lad. I thought as much with how much time the two of ye have been spendin' together. " 

" Does Colum know? " He asked as he lowered his voice. 

" Not yet, I plan to tell him in the morning " I squeezed Claire's hand " We just discovered it for ourselves today. " I smiled. 

We finished our meal then Claire and I walked back to her surgery. I bid her goodnight with a bow and a kiss to the back of her hand. I longed to hold her in my arms and have her in my bed, but I reminded myself that this was the first time all of this was happening for her. I couldna rush it, it would do no good to move faster than she was prepared for. I had to show her the proper respect she deserves. " Goodnight, mo ghràidh "  

" Goodnight Jamie," Claire said as she closed the door. I must remember to ask him what that means, she thought to herself.  

  


 

   

I woke before sunrise to a loud pounding on my door. I opened the door to Dougal. " What is it, Uncle? What is the meaning of waking me so early? " 

" Get dressed and get the Sassenach, yer both coming with me " He barked over his shoulder as he walked away. 

" Going with ye, where? " I yelled 

"Yer both to join me on the road with the rent party. I could use a healer and since yer her guard I must bring ye along as well. Now hurry up, no time to be wastin' lad. " He yelled back as he turned the corner toward the kitchen. 

Damn, another interruption to our happiness, I didna even get a chance to speak with Colum about my betrothal to Claire. Are we bound to this series of events, can it not be changed? No, I will not accept that. We make our paths, each step determines where our lives lead. I will carefully select a different path this time. We are not fated to repeat the mistakes from before, we will be happy and together. I am determined to make it so.  

  


 

  

Twenty minutes later Claire and I were on our way to the stables to pick a horse for her to ride. Old Alec had suggested Brimstone, she was a large mare with a good temper. I knew Claire rode well, but it had been years since the first time she had ridden when we were at the castle before. Brimstone was a good choice for someone with little experience. I knew Claire would be safe with her. 

" Here mo chridhe, give me yer foot, I will boost ye up," I said to Claire. 

She smiled down at me and softly stroked her hand over the stubble on my cheek. I leaned into her hand a moment longer than what would be considered proper. " Thank you, Jamie " she replied softly.  

I strapped her medicine box and her bedroll to Brimstone's saddle behind her, then I strapped my things to my saddle on Donas. Soon we were headed out with the rest of the men of the rent party. We were positioned toward the center of the group. I have a feeling that we are both being watched. However, as long as I have Claire by my side, I do not mind it so much.  

I ken what Dougal has planned for me and my back so I confront him before he can make a spectacle of me and offer my back as an incentive. Hopefully, I can at least spare my shirts from being torn to shreds and Dougal may lose some of his suspicions of me as well. I must warn Claire so she does not get upset and confront him after the first night.   

" Claire, I must tell ye what is going to be happening. I dinna want ye to be upset with the events that will unfold tonight. " 

" Jamie, you have me worried, what events, please, just tell me. " She said. He does not appear concerned with whatever will be happening, but he thinks I will be upset. What could be about to happen? Claire wondered.  

" Nothin' to be fash yer self over. Dougal and the other men are Jacobites, I am sure ye have heard of them in yer time, aye? " she nodded so I continued " While we are on this trip he will be raising money for the Jacobite rebellion, for Prince Charles. " She gasped and started to shake her head, but I went on. " I am not a Jacobite, but Dougal will be using the scars on my back to show what the English do to their loyal subjects. " 

" No Jamie, you cannot let him use you like that. The rebellion is a doomed cause. The Scots will not win. " She cried. I don't want to reveal too many secrets, but I believe it's time that I tell Jamie about what will happen to the Scots, about Culloden, and all the lives that will be lost. I am not so sure he will believe me if I do tell him, but I must. Claire decided.  

" If I do not allow it, he will force me to anyway. I am under the protection of the Mackenzie's and as long as I am on their clan lands I must do as they say. " I stated " I offered to do this to help gain their trust, I want no part of the rebellion but I would rather pick my battles and a fight with Dougal now is not worth the risk. If I do as he wants now, he will be more willing to let us marry when we get a chance. " 

" Please trust me, Claire, this is what needs to be done to ensure a chance of our future together. " I plead with her. 

" All right Jamie, I trust you. However, be careful, I do not trust Dougal not to sacrifice you to save himself. " She said  

" Nor do I mo ghràidh " I replied to her. 

" Also, Jamie, I need to tell you about the rebellion. However, not here, we need to speak in private when we get a chance. There are so many things that I still need to tell you. " She whispered.  

  


 

So the weeks went by, collecting rents during the day and raising money for the rebellion in the evenings. Claire and I were spending as much time being together talking and just being with one another as we could. Then one day we were spotted by some Red Coats. They must have seen Claire as well because the next morning Dougal had received a message to bring her to Fort William for questioning by captain Jack Randall.  

" Jamie, I must speak with ye, Jack Randall has requested that I hand over Claire in two days' time. Now ye ken as well as I do that I wouldna even hand a dog over to that mad bastard. " Dougal spat " However I have spoken to Ned Gowen at length and we have come to one conclusion. We either hand over the lass to let the Red Coats do as they will or we turn her from an English woman into a Scot. She is too valuable of a healer to just hand her over so that leaves us with only the second option. The only way to turn her from an English woman into a Scot is for her to marry a Scot."  

" Now then, there are only three men in the rent party that are unmarried. Rupert, Willie, and ye, I will leave it to the three of ye to discuss who will marry the Sassenach. " Dougal grumbled.  

I couldna believe this. We had managed to avoid Claire's abuse at Randall's hand, but now I had to convince Rupert and Willie that I was the best choice to marry her. Each small change appears to affect everything still ahead of us, will the obstacles never cease. I can only hope the new choices we are making dinna end up worse for us than before.  

I walked into the tavern and saw Willie and Rupert at the bar, time to get this over with. " So lads, I assume Dougal has spoken with ye? " They both nodded. 

However, before I could continue Willie spoke up " Look, Jamie, everyone can see the way ye look at the lass and the way she looks back at ye. Rupert and I have talked it over and decided it should be ye to marry the lass. Neither of us is ready to be tied down and we can see ye want her as much as she wants ye, so congratulations on yer upcoming nuptials. " 

" We wish ye both all the happiness ye deserve," said Rupert 

I must have had a stunned look on my face because they both busted out laughing. " Close yer gob Jamie, ye will catch flies that way," said Rupert. 

" Thank ye both, sincerely. Now then, since that is settled I have a favor to ask of ye. " Their eyebrows quirked at that. " I want ye to take my key and have it made into a wedding ring for Claire " 

" Och aye, we can manage that, can't we Willie. " Rupert said as he slapped Willie on the back.  

" Thank you, truly, " I said.  

Now to find Dougal and tell him the news, I ken he will be happy. I will have no chance of becoming Laird of Clan Mackenzie, I will no longer be an obstacle for Dougal. 

  


 

  

" Jamie there ye are, has it been decided then? Who is to marry Ms. Beauchamp? " Dougal asked 

" I agreed to marry her, but I have conditions. " I smirked 

" Of course ye do, Christ it would be easier to kill ye both " Dougal hissed 

" Aye, but harder to explain, " I said " I plan to be wed but once and I will do it in a way that would make my mother proud " 

Dougal conceded " Fine, what are yer conditions then? "  

" First we are to be wed in a Kirk, by a priest. Second, she must have a fine dress, and lastly, ye must leave us be, alone in the tavern, for three days. " I said " I'll not consummate my marriage in the heather, while twenty drunken clansmen linger about trying to catch a keek at my bride. " 

With Dougal's agreement with my conditions, everyone set out to their tasks, while I went in search of my bride to break the news to her. 

  


 

  

As I arrived at the door to her chamber I listened for any sounds coming from inside, but I heard nothing. So I gave a quick rap on the door, then I could hear shuffling. 

" Yes, oh Jamie, it is you. Please, come in." She said as she opened the door.  

" Has Dougal told you the news? " I asked, she nodded so I continued " It is to be me that marries ye. " she looked up and smiled " I ken this is not how we planned it, but I mean to do this properly and do right by ye " I kept my head down waiting for her reply. 

" Jamie, look at me please " I raised my head to look into her eyes, I dinna ken what I expected to see but I was surprised with what I did see there. In her eyes was only love and devotion. 

" It does not matter to me that we have spent our courtship on a dusty road with twenty other men and with little time alone. I have been with you and that is all that matters. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be marrying you. To become your wife finally. " she smiled " We will not have to hide how we feel about each other anymore, this is what we have wanted. Perhaps not the when or how, but still what we want, right? " She questioned " This is still what you want is it not? " Then she dropped her gaze to the floor, seemingly unsure of herself. I hope this is still what he wants, he looks devastated. I hope he is not having doubts. Claire agonized.  

I placed a finger under her chin and gently lifted until her gaze met mine. " Yes mo nighean donn, more than anything, I canna wait to be yer husband. I had only hoped that I could court ye properly. I wanted to propose to ye and marry ye at Lallybroch. None of this is how I had planned it, I wanted it to be perfect. We didna have a choice in how all this happened. I only wanted to give ye the best and I feel as though I have let ye down. " I grinned and leaned down to give her a tender chaste kiss on the corner of her perfect rosy lips. " Now get some rest mo chridhe, we're getting married tomorrow. " I winked at her then turned leaving her to her rest and went downstairs to celebrate my happiness. 

" Oh Jamie, you have not let me down. I love you, you love me and that is all that matters. You go and get some rest as well. I will see you tomorrow, Goodnight, my love. " Claire replied 

" Goodnight mo ghràidh . " I said.

Chapter Text

I woke to the sun shining in through the open window warming my exposed chest. I opened my eyes and smiled as I remembered what today has in store for me. Today is my wedding to Claire. I swung my legs out and rested my feet on the chilled wood of the floorboards. I couldna wait to see Claire, but there was so much to do first. The first time around I had stayed in a barn and it was difficult to keep my wedding clothes free of dust. This time though we were at a different tavern with rooms enough for everyone. I was able to lay the plaid that Murtagh had found for me on the floor to pleat it with no worry about it getting dirty. I am no dandy, but Claire deserves for me to look my best.  

After I finished dressing I went downstairs and silently made my way to the Kirk. I wanted to arrive before Claire to be sure that everything was in order, she should arrive soon so I dinna have a lot of time. Willie and Angus helped me to light the hundreds of candles it took to light the church. It looked rather beautiful if I do say so myself. Just as we were finishing I heard voices outside coming closer. I could hear Claire speaking with Murtagh, so I decided it was time to go out and meet my beautiful bride. 

  

I stepped outside and it was as though suddenly the sun came out on a cloudy day. She was radiant, my Sorcha. I must have taken her breath away as well because her mouth fell open and stayed that way. I couldna help but grin, I knew I looked resplendent in my impressive full highland regalia, lace jabot and blue velvet overcoat that matched the color of my eyes. Claire once told me my eyes looked like two pools that she could drown in.  

Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun with small tendrils pulled down to frame her glorious face. The dress that the men had found for her shimmered against her smooth skin. It must have been luck, but they found a dress with silver strawberries embroidered down the front of her dress. I had never seen her looking more beautiful.   

I made a leg in courtly fashion and swept down in a bow of impeccable grace as I spoke softly, only loud enough for her to hear what I said next, " Yer servant, madam ". 

" Oh," she replied with a light blush on her cheeks. Oh my, he does look absolutely dashing. My rugged Viking Highlander is such a gallant gentleman, taking my breath away. I can hardly believe that I am about to be his wife. Claire thought to herself.  

I reached into my sporan to pull out a delicate strand of pearls. Stepping forward I placed them around Claire's lovely long neck. " These belonged to my mother, they are all I have left of her. They are verra precious to me, as are ye Claire. " The pearls had never looked so lovely as they did resting around my wife's neck, over the pearl skin of her sweet round bosom.  

She reached up and stroked the pearls with her long elegant fingers, with a brilliant smile and tears in her whiskey eyes. She said " Thank you, Jamie, I will cherish them, always. " Claire could not believe her luck, she was about to marry the most generous, loving, and honorable man she had ever met. She was amazed that by the end of the day he would be hers.  

Dougal burst our perfect bubble and said " Well if you are quite finished, let's get on wi' it" 

  

Time to move on, she thought. I am forgetting my past, Jamie has given himself to me. I will give myself to him completely, no more comparing, no more trying to get back. I have found my soulmate, the other half of my heart. I can feel it in my bones that this is where and when I belong. I have finally found the home I have searched my whole life for and I am so excited to start this journey of the rest of my life with Jamie by my side. Claire smiled at the peace settling over her. 

Claire took a few steps toward the church first then stopped and turned to me " Jamie will you keep this in your sporan, we may be able to trade it for coin when we reach a larger city. " saying this she placed her gold ring from Frank in my palm. This was more than I ever expected, she was truly letting him go. 

" Oh aye, of course, I would be happy to hold onto it for ye. I will keep it with me and here it shall be, should ye change yer mind. " 

Claire turned back toward the door and finished making her way inside to the front of the Kirk. I followed closely behind her, trying to keep my eyes off of her lovely round arse, there would be time to admire it later.   

  

We stood facing each other at the front of the church, I reached out a took both of her hands in mine. I gently stroked my thumbs over her knuckles, which appeared to help keep us both in regaining our calm. Claire looked up into my eyes and smiled as we began to recite our vows. 

" I James, take thee, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp to be my wife " she squeezed my hands " .... to love, honor and protect. For better and for worse, in good times and in bad. From this day forth, till death do us part " 

Now it was Claire's turn " I Claire, take thee, James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser to be my husband, to love, honor and protect. For better and for worse, in good times and in bad. From this day forth, till death do us part "  

By this time we both had lost a few tears. The priest asked if I had the ring, I turned to Willie, hoping he had not let me down. He placed the ring in my palm and I turned to place the ring on Claire's left hand. I brought her hand to my lips and placed a kiss over the ring.   

Then the priest said " You may now kiss your bride " I leaned down just as Claire leaned up. Her mouth was soft and warm, we deepened the kiss and took a step toward each other. I had just enough sense to hear the whoops of encouragement as we pulled apart. She grinned shyly up at me as I returned it with a charming grin of my own. 

  

We drew apart and Dougal reached for my dirk, I looked up and noticed the shock and bewilderment on Claire's face as Dougal swiftly drew the dirk across my wrist. I had completely forgotten to warn her about this part of the ceremony. The first time she had swooned as soon as we stepped outside the Kirk. Now she had no time to react before Dougal was making a shallow cut across her wrist. I pulled a length of cloth from my pocket and passed it to Dougal took it, pressed our bloodied wrists together and tied the length of cloth, binding our wrists together for the next part of the ceremony. Our blood mingled and whispered to Claire.  

" Say the words after me lass."  

"‘S tu smior de mo chnàimh, na mo chuislean ‘s tu ‘n fhuil  

Bheir mi dhut-sa mo chorp, gum bith ‘n dithis mar aon  

Bheir mi dhut-sa slàn m’ anam, gus an crìochnaich ar saoghal " 

She did great, only stumbling over a few of the words. The cloth was untied, the wounds blotted clean and then we were married. The men made their way out of the Kirk ahead of us, so that we were the last to walk back outside in the sunlight. I asked Dougal to give Claire and I a moment while the rest of the men went back to the tavern to begin enjoying the wedding feast.  

As we sat down on the bench outside the Kirk to enjoy a moment of peace, Claire leaned into my shoulder and said " That was a beautiful ceremony Jamie and Ned mentioned that everything, even my dress was because of you. Thank you for giving me such lovely memories of our wedding day. " 

" Yer welcome mo ghràidh, I wanted everything to be perfect for ye. I only hope that I have not let ye down. " I said. 

" Let me down, Jamie you have given me everything. You are everything, you are all that I need. As long as you are by my side I will never want for anything, I love you." Claire replied breathlessly. How could this lovely man ever think he could let me down, I am so lucky to be here with him? She thought. 

  

" When I saw yer face at the moment Dougal drew my dirk from its scabbard I worried ye might change yer mind." I winked at her.  

Claire grinned and winked back "That did appear rather Pagan one might say. What did the words mean? " She asked. 

  

I chuckled and replied " You are the marrow in my bones and the blood in my veins  

I shall give you my body, that the two might be one  

I shall give you all my soul until our world ends " 

  

" Oh Jamie, that is beautiful," she said. 

" It is a highland tradition that many priests willna allow, but it was important to me. Thank you for accepting me and taking the blood vow with me. " 

  

At that moment, both of our stomachs started to growled making our hunger quite clear.  

" Well Mr. Fraser it appears we both need sustenance for the day ahead, shall we go join the men and enjoy our feast? " Claire asked.  

" Aye, that sounds like a grand idea Mrs. Fraser "  

I rose from the bench and offered Claire my hand and we made our way back to the tavern.  

  


   

At the tavern, the food was readily available, in the form of a modest wedding feast, including wine, cheese, fresh bread, and roast beef. 

Dougal took both Claire and me by the arm and whispered " I want this marriage consummated, wi' no uncertainty whatsoever. " In a firm undertone, he added " There's to be no question of it bein' a legal union, and no way open for annulment, or we're all riskin' our necks for nothin'. " 

" I kent Jamie's father. If the lad's much like him, ye will have no trouble at all, huh Jamie lad. " Dougal stated 

The rest of the men continued to jest about my virgin state, causing Claire and I both to blush. 

" Jamie, do ye need me or Angus to grab a hoor and show ye on how it is done? " Rupert said while thrusting his hips forward. 

" Nah ye bugger, but ye might need help after I put my fist in yer face. " I shot back at him. 

" Claire, let me ken if Jamie doesna do his duty by ye. I will be happy to take his place " Shouted Angus 

Claire and I quickly decided to take our meal to our wedding chamber. It had been decided that we would stay in the room that Claire had slept in on the night before. It happened to be the largest room having the only bed large enough for the two of us. It also included a table set for two where we had set down our spoils from the wedding feast in the tavern below.  

  

After arriving back in our room, Claire removed her overdress, remaining in only her petticoats, corset, shift, and stockings. She settled nervously at the vanity with her hands resting in her lap. I could tell that she had something on her mind. I was curious about what it could be, after all, we had already shared so much about ourselves in our time together up till now.  

" So Jamie, you never mentioned being a virgin. Are you embarrassed about it? " She asked. I have never been with a virgin before, this could be interesting. He is mine to mold into the perfect lover for me. A wicked grin spread across Claire's face at the thought of what could be.  

Aw so that is what her nervousness was all about, I thought. I watched as her face changed from nervous to something downright animalistic. I had never seen such a grin on her face. Hmm, interesting, what could she possibly be thinking? It is not often that I cannot read her face, but this is new.  

" Nah, it just dinna seem important. I guess it goes back to something my Da told me when I was a lad. " I answered her as I leaned against the stone mantel.  

I guess in this time my body still is a virgin, but in my mind, I ken what she likes and how to please her. So my answer wasna a lie.  

" What did he tell you? " Her eyebrows raised into a look of curiosity. 

" He told me that a man must be responsible, dinna sow your seed unless yer ready to marry a lass. He said it is unfair to a lass for me to take my pleasure and leave her with the burden of my actions. "  

" He also said there is no better pleasure in this world than making lying with the women you love. He said I would ken when I met the right woman and I should wait till she came into my life and take responsibility for the seeds I sow. " 

She appeared surprised by my answer " Are you saying that I am that woman? " She said as she began to blush. 

" Aye, ye are. I have kent it since the moment I first met ye. " I replied 

" Oh," she whispered.   

  

" Look, lass, we have three or four days together here. We dinna need to rush this. While I dinna pretend to ken all there is to ken, I've lived a good bit of my life on a farm, and unless people are verra different from other animals, it isna going to take that long to do what we have to do " I said as I held her hand and led her over to the table. 

" We have a bit of time to talk, eat, and get over bein' scairt of each other, so let's enjoy our meal and go from there, aye? " I said. She nodded and agreed, but didna appear as nervous as she was the first time we had married. 

We ate and talked and time went by quickly without notice. We savored each other as much as the meal. Even the noises from the wedding party downstairs appeared to have died down long ago. 

Claire stood up from the table, walked over, and set down at the foot of the bed. 

" Well, it is getting late, perhaps we should go to bed. " Claire said softly. 

I couldna help but chuckle to myself, that's exactly what she said last time. She must be ready to accept me. 

So I replied like last time " To bed ....... or to sleep " I asked with my mischievous grin.  

" Well " she said faintly and mirrored my grin. 

" Ye'll likely not sleep in yer corset, so I will help ye wi' yer laces and such. " I said while offering her a hand to help her stand.  

  

Claire stood and took a tentative step closer to me, she quickly turned and directed me to untie her skirts first. I reached the inside of the waistband of her skirt and found the ribbons of her skirt. Pulling gently on the ties loosened the skirt enough for it to billow to the floor around her feet. After the skirt, I reached up to Claire's neck and slowly pulled the strings of her neck ribbon. I dragged the ribbon across her skin causing Claire to shiver and her breath come in short bursts with the touch.  

I leaned down and placed a soft kiss at the crook of her neck and shoulder, the skin so soft. I could smell her sweet herbal scent and something that could only be Claire herself. It was a dizzying aroma that I would gladly get drunk on for the rest of my life. Claire slowly turned as I lifted my head, her lips met mine. It was a tender brief tender kiss, Claire pulled back and guided my hands to the laces of her corset. Unlacing her corset took longer than a remembered, but once it finally fell away Claire stood there in nothing but her shift. My gift to finish unwrapping. I slowly set my hand against the skin of her chest, so gently so as not to scare her. She did not shy away from me, so I brought my hand down and inside the front of her shift. I cupped her lovely round breast in my left hand. It was soft and supple, just as I had remembered.  

I rubbed my palm over her pink nipple and the little pink bud at the tip hardened against my touch. Claire's breath hitched as she said " It is my turn now " 

I pulled my hand away as she reached for the buckle of my sword belt. She had a bit of trouble with the buckle so I reached down to help her, the belt fell to the floor with a loud thunk.  

I had to have her lips, I cupped her face and placed a hand on her back, pulling her into a passionate desperate wet kiss. I ran my tongue across her bottom lip and Claire moaned into my mouth. I plunged my tongue between her lips and our tongues began a furious dance, fighting for dominance. We separated, both panting and trying to catch our breath. 

" Where did you learn to kiss like that? " She asked breathlessly. 

" I have had a fair bit of practice, with a good teacher. " I winked at her and she giggled sweetly.  

I reached down and finished removing my kilt and boots. Claire sat on the bed and removed her stockings, she patted the spot on the bed next to her and asked me to come and sit with her. I shook my head and offered her a hand. " Have a wee dram wi' me, we have a bit of whiskey left. I want to say a toast to my wife. " Claire stood and came over to where I was standing, I handed her a glass and toasted " To a lady of grace, a woman of astonishing beauty and to my wife, Claire Fraser. " We set our glasses down and walked back over to the bed.  

  

Standing together in just my shirt and Claire in her shift our nerves started to rise again. It had been two months since I had seen or touched my wife like this, but I didna expect to feel like this again. So I decided to try something new, after all, we both wanted to be here this time. " Sassenach, take yer shift off lass, I want to look at ye " I swallowed hard.  

She stood there not moving, I hope I am not being too forward with her and she decides she would rather sleep than lay with me. 

 

Chapter Text

A blush slowly crawled up her neck and to her face, and she gave me the most devilish smile. " Only if you take yours off as well " she quirked her eyebrows slightly. We both removed our remaining clothing simultaneously, our eyes stayed locked for only a moment. " Mo bhean, mo gle ailleanta ban-dia. "  

" What did you say " she asked 

" I said my wife, my very beautiful goddess. " 

She giggled " Me, a goddess, oh you do flatter me so, Jamie " She smiled shyly " You are the one that is built like a Greek god, like Adonis. You are beautifully made. God I love your body. " 

She had said these things to me many times before but that didna keep me from blushing deeply at her declaration. Claire took a step forward, reaching her hand out and gently touched my chest with just her fingertips. She began a slow walk around me, looking me up and down as she went. Her fingers trailed over my skin as she moved, leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake. She moved her hand across my chest, over my shoulder, slowly down my arm. I felt her fingers lift off of my wrist before resuming their trail on the left hip. Her fingers skimmed over my arse, the pressure increasing ever so slightly before coming to a stop and leaving my skin again. She placed her fingers back on the skin of my right shoulder, she continued to drag them down to my right wrist before she pulled her hand back and took a step away from me. She turned toward me as her gaze dropped from my chest down to the hard length of my cock. My cock twitched under her gaze, which caused a sly grin to grace her luscious lips. Then she brought her eyes up to mine and she asked in a husky voice " Do you want me now, Jamie? " she whispered. 

It took two quick strides to reach her, I gathered her into my arm, drawing her tight up against me with one hand gripped tight into her curls and the other at the small of her back, trapping my cock between us. I was growing impossibly harder with the contact of her skin. I breathed my answer against her lips " Oh God yes " 

Claire reached up and twisted both hands into the thick red curls at the back of my head, pulling me down and bringing my lips even closer to hers. Our lips crashed together in a fiery kiss, we moaned into each other's mouths, our tongues dueling for dominance. I tightened my grip in her curls and gently pulled her head back, as we both broke away from the kiss, gasping for air. I planted a trail of wet kisses on her jaw, down her neck, on the top of one round heaving breast before capturing the pert, pink nipple between my teeth. I swirled my tongue over and around the nipple, dragging the most arousing wee sounds from her sweet lips. I kissed my way across her chest and repeated my attentions on the other nipple, eliciting more sweet sounds and moans from my beautiful wife.  

I released her nipple, lightly dragging the tip of my tongue back up the length of her neck before placing a tender kiss at the corner of her kiss swollen mouth. I then reached down and cupped her lovely round arse in both hands, sliding my hands down to her thighs and lifted her up against me. She bounced up as I lifted to bring her sweet long legs up to naturally wrap around my waist tightening them so She wouldna slip from my grip. I gracefully carried her over and gently lowered her to the bed, she was so light in my arms, it took no effort at all. I took a step back to take in the angelic vision of my lovely wife laid out before me, before ravishing her beautiful body. Claire let her legs fall open to the sides, revealing how wet and ready for me she already was.  

" Come here, Jamie, come here to me " she panted. 

" Not yet mo ghràidh , I am going to worship ye first, ye'll be begging, and calling out my name, before ye have me. " I grinned down at her.  

I knelt down at the edge of the bed, I kissed up the silky, smooth skin on the inside of her thigh, then repeated my attentions on the other thigh. I grabbed both of her ankles and pulled her body over the bed toward me. " Jamie, what are you doing? " she gasped. 

I chuckled, " I have been dreaming about tasting yer honey pot Sassenach, and I mean to fulfill those dreams now, aye! " 

She tried to back away from me, but I held her hips right in place. " But ... Jamie .... the ..... smell. " She blushed. 

I buried my nose against her pubic bone and inhaled deeply " Och mo chridhe , ye smell so sweet, dinna fash, just relax and let me love ye. " I could get drunk on the scent of her arousal for me.  

I brushed my nose against the little nub above her honey pot, she threw her head back moaning. She reached her hands down, running her fingers through my hair then taking a firm grip and tugging gently. I smiled against her before dragging my teeth over that nub and her hips bucked up off the bed. I swirled my tongue over the little nub, feeling it grow under my touch. I let go of one thigh to glide one finger over her silky folds, she was so wet. I gently started to suck on the nub and slid my finger inside of her, then another finger. I curled my fingers, gliding them in and out. Claire began to pant, I slid my fingers in, curling and adding a gentle pressure. As I continued to suckle her nub I felt her inner walls begin to flutter and tighten over my fingers. I increased the pace of my fingers and continued suckling her little nub. Claire screamed " Yes, Oh Jamie yes! " She shuttered, tugging hard against my hair, then her whole body went limp and she relaxed her grip on my curls as she came down from her peak of pleasure. 

I stood up, gathering her into my arms, against my chest. I placed a soft kiss against her temple then lowered her higher up onto the bed. I walked around to the foot up the bed, then I started to crawl upwards over her body, placing open-mouthed kisses up her legs, one on her pubic bone, pausing to inhale her arousal. I continued up her body, kissing her abdomen, taking each nipple into my mouth then placing a wet kiss over each breast. I lowered myself between her thighs, the tip of my cock resting against her wet entrance. I placed my forearms on either side of her body to keep from putting all my weight on her and crushing her. I looked deep into her eyes and with an almost imperceptible nod from my wife I gently slid my cock into her silky folds. 

My body had forgotten that this was not the first time. I remained still so this didna end too quickly. Claire started to buck her hips up against me, I could not deny her, so I slowly started to glide in and out. However, before too long I couldna hold back my passion for her and I thrust my hips harder, deeper and faster. Claire's breathing quickened and I did everything I could not to let go before she could enjoy her release along with me. After three more deep thrusts I could feel her walls tightening around me, pulling my cock deeper. I couldna wait any longer " Oh, Claire .... God Claire " I pumped my seed deep into her as she yelled out my name " Jaaa ...... mi ....... eee " she keened as her walls squeezed onto my cock. 

I collapsed against her trying to catch my breath, I could feel her heart pounding, matching the rhythm of my own pounding heart. Then Claire gasped " Jamie, you are crushing me " 

I rolled off of her to lay beside her. I reached up, tucking a stray curl behind her ear. I stroked the back of my hand down her cheek and whispered " Tha mi ‘n dùil sgàin mo chridhe " 

Claire placed her hand over my heart and quietly asked " What did you say? " 

I replied " I thought my heart was going to burst " 

She smiled " Are you sure you are a virgin, you appeared to know exactly what to do. I have never climaxed like that before. " she blushed at her accidental confession " Oh God, did I just say that out loud " she said as she buried her face in my chest.  

I chuckled " Well I'm certainly not anymore and I did have a verra good teacher. " I grinned 

She looked up at me and giggled " No, I suppose you are not a virgin anymore. " Then she relaxed, resting her head against my shoulder and closed her eyes. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her into a tight embrace against my side. I listened to her breathing slow and I could tell she had drifted off to sleep. I placed a soft kiss into the curls at the top of her head, leaned back, closed my eyes and joined my wife in a deep slumber.  

  


   

I woke to a tingling sensation on my collar bone, opening my eyes I looked down at Claire who was placing soft wet kisses down my chest. Stopping every few kisses to gently suckle my skin. She kept moving down over me, my cock twitched and grew harder the closer her mouth came to it. She placed a kiss to the tip of my cock, looked up and gazed directly into my eyes with a mischievous grin on her lips. I leaned back on my arm so I could look down and watch her. She lowered her head and took my cock into her mouth, all the while keeping her eyes locked on mine. 

My free hand instinctively reached down and grasped the curls, not to force her down or pull her away, just holding on. I felt a moan come from deep in my chest, she giggled around my cock and the vibrations in her throat made my impossibly hard cock grow and harden even more. She moved her mouth up and down, swirling her tongue around and over, using one hand to massage and gently squeeze my ballucks, while the other stroked up and down over my cock where her mouth couldna reach. I started panting, I was so close to releasing me seed down her throat I could feel my ballucks about to release, but I held back. I reached down and pulled Claire up by the shoulders " I need to be inside ye, now Sassenach. " 

She grinned and straddled my hips, asking " Is this what you want? " She hovered above me but didna move down onto my cock. My hips bucked up trying desperately to reach her center. Suddenly she dropped onto my cock. I gasped at the feeling, I thrust up into her, so hot, so deep. She moved up and down at an impossibly slow pace, but soon she sped up and became frantic in her movements. Suddenly she threw her head back screaming me name " Ja...mie, Oh God " At that I spilled into her, squeezing my eyes shut at the sensation. 

Claire collapsed against my chest, one fist curled between us against my heart, the other stroking the stubble over my jaw. I wrapped one arm around her shoulders and stroked her hair with my free hand. " I love ye mo chridhe " 

" I love you too, Jamie. Goodnight. " she said 

" Goodnight my love, get some rest. " I replied 

  


 

I woke just before dawn, Claire remained asleep, her back pressed up against my chest. She was so peaceful, snoring softly. I reached up and ever so gently stroked her face from her to temple to her chin. I was rewarded as her lips slowly curled up into the sweetest smile. I stilled my hand, not wanting to wake her. I simply wanted to appreciate the beautiful sight of my wife sleeping peacefully next me, finally.  

I pulled the quilts back and stroked my hand down her shoulder and over her hip, I couldna resist placing a soft kiss at the crook of her elegant neck and shoulder. She began to stir and stretch, so kissed across to her shoulder then back up to her temple. She rolled toward me, her eyes fluttering open and a smile gracing her soft swollen lips. I cupped her face turning her head toward me, I leaned down to kiss her and sucked her bottom lip between mine and bit down gently. Claire moaned into my mouth, nipping at my lips in return. 

" I am ravenous " Claire whispered against my lips. " Mmm, so am I" I replied as I kissed my way down her neck, then taking a lovely pink nipple into my mouth, suckling softly. 

She giggled as her wame rumbled under my chest " Awe, ye meant food " I said as I raised my head, looking up at her. 

" Yes," she nodded. " I'll go down and get us some more food, stay right where ye are, dinna move. " I instructed as I got up from the bed. I grabbed my shirt and pulled it over my head before heading out the door and down the stairs.  

  


   

As I descended the stairs I noticed Dougal coming through the front door, he looked up and waved me over to him. 

" I have just returned from Fort William, I notified the Randall of the marriage. I left out the yer name, he doesna need to ken yer back in Scotland " Dougal stated. 

" That information would only bring unwanted attention from the English, but Mrs. Fraser will be safe now. " He said.  

" I hope ye remember yer promise to leave Claire and I behind, here at the tavern for the next few days, Dougal. " I reminded him. 

" Aye, I'll be keepin' my word lad. The men and I will leave in at first light. Ye'll have three days alone, then yer to join us on our journey back to Leoch. " Dougal answered. 

" Thank ye, uncle. " I replied.  

  

I grabbed a plate and piled high with cheese, bread and what remained of the roast beef from the night before. I made my way back up to our wedding chamber, stepping in and closing the door behind me. Claire had her shift on and was sitting by the fire with her back to me. She turned toward me and smiled as I bolted the door. I set the plate of food on the table, Claire rose from her place by the fire to join me at the table. I poured us each a glass of wine and we enjoyed our breakfast in a comfortable silence.  

After we had our fill of wine and food, I reached across the table taking Claire's small delicate hand in mine. My large hand enveloped hers completely, I stroked her knuckles with my thumb and asked " Would ye take a walk with me, mo nighean donn? I'd like to show ye something. "  

Chapter Text

Claire and I finished dressing, left our wedding chamber, and made our way downstairs. I took Claire's hand in mine as we walked outside and noticed that the other men and their horses had left us to finish collecting the rents. I breathed a sigh of relief, we were finally left to spend time alone together. I wrapped my arms around Claire's waist, pulled her back against my chest, leaned down resting my chin on her shoulder and whispered " Tis a beautiful day for a walk mo ghráidh, are ye ready for a bit of a climb.? "  

 

" It is a beautiful day. I would love to go for a walk with you, but you while we walk could you teach me some Gaelic. " She turned in my embrace, wrapping her arms around my neck, smiling up at me, " You say all these things to me that sound so beautiful and I have no idea what any of it means. "  

" Aye, I will tell ye what it all means, and teach ye more if ye wish. " I returned the smile.  

"Mo ghráidh means my love, mo chridhe means my heart. Repeat after me, Tha gaol agam ort." I said to her 

"Tha gaol agam ort, but what does it mean?" she asked. 

I leaned down, cupping her face in my hands I brought her lips close to mine and whispered, "It means, I love ye." Then I tenderly brushed my lips over hers. I released her so we could begin our hike.  

  

We made our way around toward the back of the tavern and began to gingerly pick a our way up the hill. We reached the crest after about 15 minutes and Claire sat down on a log to rest and catch her breath. I sat on the ground next to her, leaning my back up against the log. We sat in silence enjoying the sounds of nature. A few birds chirped in the branches above us and a rabbit darted out of the heather and across the small meadow before disappearing into the line of trees at the far edge of the meadow that lay before us. I leaned my head back, watching the small fluffy clouds floating by. Suddenly Claire broke the silence " What will we do after we return to Leoch? " 

" Well, you have told me you are there under Colum's protection, but how long must we stay there? You said you have your own estate, Lallybroch, was it not? " she stated 

" When will we be able to leave Leoch and go there? I can feel the suspicion at Leoch. " Claire said. 

" I am not sure yet when we will be able to leave, Sassenach. We need to come up with a plan, a plan that keeps us safe and ye out of the hands of that bastard Jack Randall. " I replied with a grimace.  

" I think I might be able to help with that, or help to get the price lifted from your head at least. Once you are no longer a wanted man, we would be free to live where ever we wanted, including Lallybroch. " Claire excitedly replied. 

This surprised me, my eyebrows rose in question so she went on. " I think that we should sell my gold ring, Frank's ring. I do not need it anymore and we could use the money to help us clear your name. "  

" How would money help us to clear my name? " I asked, curious about the plan she had.  

" Well, I am still working out the details, but if we could make it to London and arrange an audience with the King .... anyway, I think it could work. " She said slowly.  

" We will come up with a plan together, we have time to think on it a bit, we have another couple of days here before we meet up wi ' the men. We might think of something by then, but for now, dinna fash yer self over it, let's savor our time together, aye. " I took her hand in mine and smiled up at her.   

I raised up to my feet to bring Claire with me, then hand in hand we gradually continued up the hill. There was a small loch just over the ridge that I was eager to show her. We made our way farther up and away from the clumps of gorse and heater. We were among serene green foothills, granite rocks rising higher than my head and looking out over the top of a small dun that sloped away toward calm loch below.  

Up here, we were exposed to the warm rays of sun and a gentle fresh breeze, the sense of freedom up here reminds me of Lallybroch. " Come along Sassenach, I'll take ye fishin'. " 

" How do you plan to catch any fish, Jamie? You do not have any tools to catch fish. " She stated smugly.  

I smiled down at her as we continued down to the loch. We kept walking, then I turned to the north, stepping over a jumble of rocks and made my way though a crevice I stepped out and waiting on the other side for Claire to come through. As she raised her head to take in the sight before her she gasped at the tine glen surrounded by green, vine covered rock walls, a dozen gurgling wee waterfalls, plunging down to fairy pools below before disappearing through the cracks in the rocks and ending in the loch on the other side.  

We removed our boots and stockings, we sat in the shade of a large willow tree and dangled our feet in the water. We sat talking of anything and everything, simply enjoying the serenity of the place. Claire then said as she cocked an eyebrow " I thought we were going fishing."   

" Aye, we are. I will show ye how to tickle a fish for our lunch. " I crouched down, avoiding the low branches from tangling in my hair and dropping leaves onto the surface of the water. " Ye just need to pick a good spot, and wait " I dipped a hand below the surface, slowly so not to splash or disturb the water. I laid the back of my hand down on the sandy bottom, just outside the edge of the shadows of the rocks at the edge of the pool. I slowly began to move my fingers back and forth, back and forth, like the leaves of water weed or worms dancing on the bottom. I watched as a fish came closer, I whispered " There he is, dinna move or speak. Fish can hear, aye. "

The fish came closer, then darted a small distance away before returning. The fish was drawn by my fingers repeated movements, the motion beckoning it closer still. Claire leaned closer trying to be as still as possible, but reaching her neck to see what I was doing. Just then the gills came to settle over my fingers, I moved fast, scooping the fish from the water, splashing us both in the process.

The fish flew from my hand and landed on the leafy bank, I quickly scrambled from the water and grabbing the fish by the tail I raised it up and brought it back down hard and fast, killing it instantly. " Should do nicely for our meal, I told ye I will keep ye fed Sassenach. " I said proudly. I wrapped the fish in layers of burdock leaves and mud to keep it fresh until we returned to the tavern below. Then handed it to her before turning back to the pool to rinse the mud from my hands. 

I leaned down and placed my mouth over hers in a gentle kiss, not wanting more, simply to show my love for her. We got to our feet and made our way back toward the meadow. After we had walked for a bit, we arrived near the center of the meadow. I stopped and turned to Claire " Would ye like to lie down and rest here a while? "   

She nodded, so I removed my kilt and stretched out the plaid so we could both lay upon it and gaze up at the sky. Claire lay next to me with her head resting on my shoulder as we watch the clouds moving across the sky in a peaceful silence. We stayed like that for sometime, just enjoying being in each other's company. I closed my eyes, listening to the sounds around us, warming our bodies in the morning sun, then drifted off to sleep with my arm holding my wife curled to my side.  

  


 

  

I woke sometime later when I felt Claire beginning to stir, the air had changed. It had gotten cooler and the clouds are starting to move in, obscuring the sun. Claire and I sat up and decided we should make our way back toward the tavern, when I heard an unfamiliar noise. I drew my dirk, listening and then I saw the arrow sticking out of the grass to the side of where we had been sitting only moments ago.  

I would recognize that fletching anywhere, I smiled and slid my dirk back into my scabbard. Claire glanced and the arrow then back and me with alarm. I got up and pulled her to her feet along with me just as my friend walked out of the tree line. " Claire, this is Hugh Monroe, a friend of mine." Hugh came to a stop a few feet from us " Hugh, this is Claire, my wife. " I introduced them. 

We all sat back down on my plaid then Hugh said he had some news for me, news of a Red Coat deserter that kent about the price on my head and kent of the man that was actually responsible for the murder of the soldier on the day I escaped Fort William. I already kent all of these details but I let Hugh tell me anyway. Hugh told me that the deserter wanted to arrange a meeting, I told him that I would think about it and get a word back to him with my decision. We shared some whiskey from my flask, then Hugh disappeared back into the trees to hunt for his dinner.  

After wrapping my plaid around me into my kilt we continued to make our way back down to the tavern. I saw movement up the road, in the opposite direction from which I kent the rent party had gone. I quickly dropped to the ground pulling Claire down with me. I didna want us to be see, I wasna sure who the riders were, but I canna be too careful with a price on my head. 

As they got closer to the tavern I was able to discern some of what they were saying. They must be the Watch, I couldna risk them to see me, so we crept backwards on our bellies away from the edge. We lay there in the ferns, listening for what appeared like hours, then finally we heard the men's voices again. I crept back toward the edge to try to see what was happening. The men had remounted their horses and had begun to ride off in the same direction the rent party had likely gone this morning. We waited until we couldna hear or see them anymore, then got up and made our way back down to the tavern. 

We walked into the tavern, Claire took the fish to the kitchen to see the cook about making it into a broth. I had waited for her at the bar with a dram of Whiskey, upon Claire's return she moved next to me and whispered in my ear that she wanted to talk. I agreed, there were some things that I needed to talk with her about as well.  

Once inside our room Claire sat on the foot of the bed and asked " Jamie, I can see why you would be hesitant to trust a deserter, but this could be just what we need to get the price lifted from your head. I could tell you were holding something back when you talked to Hugh, it was as if you already knew what he was going to say, what is going on? " She asked.  

This is it, I kent I would need to tell her someday, but I hoped it wouldna be so soon after we wed.  

" Aye, yer right. I did ken what he was going to tell me. I ken who the deserter is, I ken I canna trust him. I ken who killed the soldier the day of my escape. " I answered her. 

She gaped at me, confused. " Do ye remember when we agreed not to lie to each other? We agreed that there could be secrets, but not lies. " I asked her. She nodded her head so I continued " I think it's time that I told ye a secret, ye may no be ready to hear it just yet, but ye need to ken everything. "  

" You are scaring me Jamie, but I trust you. Please go on. " She whispered. 

Chapter Text

" Ye have told me yer from the future, from 1945. Ye have told me about Frank and about yer parent's death, about growing up wi' yer uncle. But not much else, and I havna asked about it. There is a reason why I havna, and yer probably wondering why I havna been more curious. " I stated. 

" Yes, all that is true and I have been wondering why you did not seem surprised at the things I have said or why you don't seem interested to know more. " She replied. 

I smiled and started " I have a lot to tell ye, please let me get through it before ye ask yer questions. I promise to answer anything ye ask of me when I have reached the end. " I said. 

She nodded, so I started to tell her of our lives over the past three years. 

  

" I ken about the bloody battle that will happen at Culloden Moore in three years' time. I ken that it is the beginning of the end of the highland culture, the banning of tartan, the end of the Gaelic language, and the hunting down and killing off any remaining Jacobite supporters. " I stated. Her eyebrows rose to her hairline and her eyes grew larger. She gasped and started to ask how, but stopped herself by bringing her hand up to cover her mouth. 

" I ken, yer asking yer self how I could ken of these events, and I'll tell ye. " I looked down at my hands and looked back into her eyes wanting to see her reaction to what I was about to reveal " I ken about it because my wife told me of it."    

His wife, I thought he was a virgin, he said he only planned to be wed once. Was he lying to me then, or is he lying now, how do I trust him now? Claire that to herself. 

"Ye told me about it, almost three years ago. " I stated. 

She couldna stop herself from asking " What, how, that's not possible. I have only been in this time for less than two months, how could I have told you three bloody years ago? " Wait, he is saying that I was his wife, and we were married three years ago, if that is true then why do I not remember any of it? Claire wondered. This is all so confusing.  

  

" I ken this is a lot to take in, but I'm tellin' ye the truth. Look into my eyes, ye will ken the truth of it in yer heart. " 

She looked me in the eyes, appearing to make a decision, then nodded for me to go on. 

" I went back through the stones myself, only a few months ago, I ken what the next three years hold for us. " I waited a moment for her to realize what I had just said. 

Now she really did look confused, I could see her mind working over what I had just revealed, trying to puzzle it all out. 

She looked up at me again, confusion apparent in her eyes " I do not understand, but keep going. I can see that there is so much more you need to say. " 

  

"Ye have yer memories from yer life in 1945 because ye are the one who went through the stones. I ken it is all confusing, I will try my best to explain."  

"Two months ago I went through the stones, but I dinna think you went through this time."   

"I think that is why I have the memories from before, from our three years together, but ye dinna remember it because ye dinna go through."  

"I traveled alone to start again from where we first met, the only explanation I have for it all is we made some wrong choice the first time and now we get a second chance to make the right choices."  

"I also think now that ye have tried to return through the stones again and failed that each of us can only travel once. I do not think we will get another chance if we fail this time."  

"I believe this is our last chance of happiness."  

" Ye and I, all of us have already lived through up to the day of the battle of Culloden, April 16th, 1746. On that morning I killed Dougal" she gasped, but I didna stop " I'll tell ye about that later, but I had a responsibility to the Prince and my men. I kent I would die on that moor, but first I had to make sure ye and the bairn ye were carrying were safe. " 

She gasped and her hands instinctively went to the area where her womb lie and a tear slid down her cheek, but she remained silent. So I continued. 

  

" But let me go back to the beginning, to the day we met, mo chridhe. " I took a calming breath, walked over, sat down beside her, reaching out I took both of her hands in mine, and continued. 

" We first met in the cottage where ye fixed my shoulder, but in this time, the time ye remember, everything was different from last time, the one I remember, from before I traveled through the stones. After ye walked into the cottage there were small changes, changes that I caused because I had my memories, but ye didna. I didna ken that ye didna remember at first, but when ye didna recognize me or appear to ken what I was on about, I figured it out quickly. " 

" Some of the things I said to ye on that day should make more sense now that ye ken that we did already kent each other long before that day. " 

" Do ye remember that I spoke of another traveler when we were on the horse riding back to Leoch for the first time? "She nodded " That traveler I talked about was ye. Ye later told me that when ye first woke in 1743, that ye thought ye were on the set of a movie, and ye only realized ye had traveled back in time when ye couldna see the lights from Inverness. " She nodded and replied " Yes, that is exactly what I thought but ..... I did not say it out loud ..... not ..... in this time. " 

From the look on her face, she appeared to realize that I might be telling the truth or I could at least read her mind. Then the look of mild confusion returned as she continued to listen.  

" Both times ye fixed my arm, both times ye rode my horse wi' me on the long ride back to Leoch. Both times I was shot, but that was another of the things that happened differently this time. The first time none of us trusted ye, ye recognized Cocknammon Rock and warned us about the ambush. I dumped ye into a gorse bush and rode off to join the fight and was shot during the fight. Ye tried to escape back the way we had come " I grinned " but I found ye. " 

" I didna tell ye I was shot, so we got back on my horse, we rode for a few hours, then I fell off the horse. That is, when ye noticed I had been shot, ye started yelling at me for getting injured again. Then ye were barking orders at the men, asking for iodine to clean the wound. That is when I kent I wanted ye, more than anything I had ever wanted in my life."  

" Ye fixed my wound and used part of yer dress to bandage it since it was the cleanest cloth we had. " 

  

" After that the ride back to Leoch was silent, we didna talk like we did in this time."  

" Both times Mrs. Fitz showed us to a room where ye could clean my shoulder. That is when I kent I loved ye. " 

" But after that everything has been different in this time. Last time I slept in the stables and tended the horses, ye came to see me with lunch and fresh bandages a few times. However, that wasna sufficient for me, I wanted to see ye, so I kept purposefully injuring myself, I even did things to try to impress ye. That didna work, ye just scolded me for my stupidity " I smiled at the memory. Claire smiled as well. 

" We didna spend much time together last time. We went with the rent party last time, but last time Dougal ripped my shirt to show my scars at the Jacobite meetings, I didna expect it and it angered me. That is why I agreed this time, I already kent his plans for me and I decided to choose my battles. "  

  

" Last time when we were in a village ye argued with Angus about Dougal taking a goat as a payment for rent. The family that handed over the goat as the payment had been using the goat's milk to feed their wee bairn, ye were upset that Dougal would choose to make a bairn starve. A Redcoat was in the village wearing plain clothes, we didna ken he was a soldier at the time. He overheard the argument and had asked if ye were all right. However, before ye could answer Dougal stepped in and said that it was no business of the man, he said that ye were a guest of clan Mackenzie. The Lieutenant eventually backed down. " 

" A few days later the Lieutenant rode up with some of his men to a stream where ye were having words with Dougal and insisted ye both ride back to the town with him to speak with his commander. " 

" Ye did as he asked, but while you were there in the town ye had a run-in with Black Jack Randall. He beat ye while ye were there, he hit ye in the belly, knocking the air out of ye. Ye fell to the floor where he kicked ye in the ribs. He even had another of his soldiers kick ye as well. Dougal heard the commotion, ran up the stairs, and he got ye out of there before he could harm ye further. " 

" Before ye both left, Randall told Dougal that he was to bring ye to Fort William for further questioning in three days' time. " 

" After ye and Dougal returned to the rest of us, Dougal told ye the only way to save ye was for ye to marry me. Ye didna want to marry me or any of the other men, ye were still tryin' to get back to Frank. However, ye agreed that it was the only way to stay out of Black Jack's grasp. " 

" So we married and consummated the marriage, but I was a virgin and was clumsy and it was over in a moment. I asked ye if ye liked it afterward, ye said ye did but I could tell that ye didna get pleasure from it as I had. I am sorry. " I blushed and she squeezed my hands in hers in reassurance.  

" We practiced a bit more that night and over the following days. Ye did things to me that I had no notion of before that and ye taught me what to do to bring pleasure to ye. Ye taught me that sometimes it can be rough but still verra enjoyable."  

I could feel my cock getting hard with just the thoughts of that night, but we had too much yet to talk about, so I pushed those thoughts back and decided to move on with my story. 

  

" Not long after we had rejoined the men in collecting rents, Hugh Monroe found us having a picnic on a hill and told us the same news that he relayed to us today. Last time I agreed to meet the deserter to discover what really happened, who had shot the soldier. I was determined to do whatever it took to clear my name and take my bride home to Lallybroch. I will not be meeting the deserter this time. " 

" One day we went off on our own, to lie together when a pair of Redcoat deserters found us. One of them held a pistol on me while the other tried to rape ye. Ye stabbed him in the back and killed him before he had the chance to take ye. Ye went into shock and became angry wi' me for not being able to protect ye myself. "  

" We left the glade and rode for a few more hours, I was supposed to meet the deserter that afternoon. So I left ye wi' Willie to protect ye while I rode off with the rest of the men to meet him. "  

" While I was gone, ye wandered off, when ye were walking ye saw the stones at Craig Na Dun and decided to take yer chance and return to Frank. However, the English saw ye and captured ye before ye could reach the stones. " 

" They took ye to Fort William, hands and feet bound and riding in the back of a wagon with no chance for ye to escape. When ye arrived at the fort, Jack Randall was waiting for ye, he was determined to get answers from ye any way he could. When ye were not forthright with him he ripped yer dress and pressed yer own knife to yer bared breast with the intent to rape ye. " 

  

" Willie saw ye struggling when the English took ye, so a few of the men accompanied me and we rode hard to rescue ye. "  

" I came through the window of Randall's office just in time to see that he had ye bent over his desk wi' yer skirts up, about to take ye before my verra eyes. We escaped wi' the help of the men and made it back to the inn later that evening. The men were angry because ye put all our lives in danger by yer actions, so it was up to me to punished ye. I did punish ye, I gave ye lashings across yer arse, even though ye kicked and scratched my face. " I chuckled at the memory " Ye fought back, gave as good as ye got."   

" Ye were so angry wi' me, ye wouldna speak to me for days. Once we arrived back to Leoch everyone congratulated us but Colum was enraged that I had married ye, it meant no one would accept me as his replacement as Laird when he died. I am sure he will be just as angry when we return this time as well. " I smiled and shook my head thinking about it. " Some of these things will still come to pass and you will ken then that what I say is the truth. " 

" I have much more to tell ye mo nighean donn, do ye want me to go on or would ye like to take a break and have some lunch? " 

She sighed " I am rather famished, and you have said a lot. Let us eat and I can mull over everything you have said so far, then we can continue after lunch. However, I am not sure I am ready to talk about any of it just now. "  

" That sounds like a fine plan, I do not want ye to ask any questions yet. I have much more to tell ye that might give ye answers to some of yer questions. " 

  


 

  

After our lunch of fish stew, bread, cheese, and wine we returned to our wedding chamber to talk some more of my memories of our past. " Sassenach, come sit wi' me, it is easier to tell ye everything when I can hold yer hands in mine. " We sat on the bed with our hands held together between us as I resumed the retelling of our history. 

" Where was I? Oh aye, we had just returned to Leoch. When we returned to Leoch ye were still angry wi' me, but I made a vow to ye, never to lay a hand on ye again. Later ye had confided to me that it was then that ye realized how much ye loved me and that ye no longer wanted to return to Frank. " 

" There was a lass at the castle that had thought I belonged to her, she tried to seduce me and put an ill wish under our bed to try to get me to hate ye. However, that would never happen, I love ye more than anything in this world, have since that first night at Leoch when I held ye weeping in my arms, still do. " 

" Ye were even tried as being a witch with Geillis Duncan, ye were friends wi' her the last time. The lass that was in love wi' me had tricked ye into going to Geillis, she had known Geillis would be arrested for witchcraft and the lass wanted to get rid of ye so she could have me. I was gone when all of this happened, I had to leave to escort Dougal to attend to his wife's funeral, so I wasna there to protect ye. " 

" When I left to escort Dougal, I had asked Willie to watch over ye. I kent ye had a soft heart and would go wherever ye were needed, I didna want ye to get hurt or into any trouble while I was away and unable to protect ye myself. " 

" Willie saw when ye were arrested along with Geillis Duncan and came to fetch me back right away. I raced back in hopes of rescuing ye before they could burn ye at the stake, luckily I made it in time. " 

  

" We rode away while they dragged Geillis to the pyre. Once we were in the woods away from the town ye told me where ye were from, when ye were really from. Ye told me everything. That ye were a combat nurse in a world war, that ye traveled all over the world wi' yer uncle the archaeologist since ye were five years old. Ye told me how yer parents died in an automobile. Ye told me about flying in an airplane. Ye told me of the tanks and bombs in the war. Ye told me how ye traveled through the stones. " 

" After ye told me all of this, I had decided that I needed to take ye back to the stones, send ye back to yer husband, back to Frank. My heart was breaking, but ye were not mine to keep and ye had been trying to get back to Frank since we found ye. It is what ye truly wanted, so I was going to give ye what ye had wanted since I met ye. " 

  

" It took us a few days to get to Craigh Na Dun, when we got there I hobbled my horse and we walked to the top and I said goodbye to ye. I left ye there on top of that hill and went back to our camp by the stream. My heart ached with the pain of walking away, I wanted nothing more than to fall to my knees and beg ye to stay. However, that wouldna have been fair to ye, I hadna yet told ye that I loved ye and I couldna do that and send ye back to Frank. I kent I would always love ye and no one else, but I had to send ye back without ever tellin' ye. "   

" When I got back to our camp, I laid down by the fire and cried. I was so heartbroken that I couldna bring myself to move, it didna take long to fall asleep. " 

" I started to dream of ye curled up next to me, with my arms wrapped around ye. I pulled my arms tighter around ye, I woke and realized that ye really were in my arms. Ye had come back to me, ye had chosen me. Ye turned and wrapped yer arms around my neck, we kissed and cried and held each other tight. Ye made me the happiest man in the world, I couldna have been happier than I was at that moment. " 

" We stayed at camp that night and started our journey to Lallybroch the next morning, it took us three days to get there and ye told me all about life in the twentieth century. " 

  

" After we had been at Lallybroch for a few days the Watch came, one of the men of the watch was the deserter that I had gone to meet when you were captured by the English at Craig Na Dun. He recognized me and blackmailed me into paying him more to keep my secret about the price on my head. Ian ran him through when he threatened ye and my family. The leader of the watch suspected something and traded my cooperation in helping him with a robbery for keeping my secret. " 

" I went with the watch, but the deserter had set us up, the redcoats were lying in wait. They arrested us, but soon I was able to escape, I evaded them for months. "   

" I had to go into hiding, ye and Murtagh came looking for me. Ye stopped at every village and croft trying to find me, ye dressed as a lad and started singing a song, a song I kent from when I was a just a lad. "   

" I tried to come to ye, but I was arrested and taken to Wentworth Prison to be hanged. " 

" I was standing on the gallows as a soldier was slipping the noose over my head and suddenly Jack Randall rode up to stop my execution. " 

" He put me in a dungeon and chained me to a wall, he had one of his thugs beat me. I was lying on the floor of the prison when ye found me. " I looked deep into her eyes, they were full of wonder and questions, but she was still listening.   

So I took a breath and went on " While ye were there trying to free me, Jack Randall came back to my cell. He threatened yer life, so I gave myself to him to spare ye. He took ye out of the prison and sent ye away. " 

" When he came back to my cell he broke me. " I stopped to calm myself, even after all this time it is still so hard to talk about this without feeling sick to my stomach. 

" How" she whispered " How did he break you, what did he do to you? " 

  

I looked down at our intertwined hands and whispered " He raped me, over and over and over. He confused my mind and made me imagine ye while he broke me. He broke us. " I could feel the tears on my face, she reached up and wiped the tears away.  

I looked up to see that she had tears on her cheeks as well, so I reached up and softly brushed them away with my thumbs. Claire leaned up and placed a tender kiss on my lips, then pulled away and said " What else, tell me the rest? " 

I chuckled " Ye used coos to rescue me, then we sailed to Paris where ye told me ye were wi' child. " 

  

" We decided to try to stop Prince Charles, to stop the rising. Before too long, I got close to Charles, he trusted me. He wanted me to go and talk to the King of France, his cousin on his behalf " 

" We eventually were invited to Versailles, where Black Jack Randall found us, up till then we had thought him dead. I challenged him to a duel, I needed to kill him for what he had done to me, but ye made me give me word not to kill him. Ye said Frank was innocent and deserved to be born, so I gave ye my word I would wait a year. " 

" It turns out that Black Jack is not Frank's direct ancestor, Alex Randall fathered Mary Hawkins child that will lead to Frank being born. So, just so you ken, I do plan to kill BlackJack at the first chance I get, that man is a monster and I must stop him. I'll not let him bring harm to anyone else. " 

  

" When ye were about six months gone wi' child, we were finally able to decode the letters we had stolen from Charles. Charles was keeping secrets, we had to discover what those secrets were if we had a chance to stop the rebellion. I had hired a child pickpocket to steal the letters, the child became like a son to us. "  

" I had gone to see about taking care of one of Charles' debts when I walked in on BlackJack raping the boy, Fergus was his name. I again challenged him to a duel, I couldna let him get away wi' what he had done to the boy. " 

" I went to the woods, met Randall there and was dueling wi' him. I kept telling myself that I couldna kill him, but in my rage, I couldna remember why only that I had promised ye that I wouldna. I ran my sword through his breeks and his cock or ballocks started to bleed, just then I heard ye call my name. When I looked up to where I had heard yer voice coming from I saw ye lying on the ground bleeding and not moving. I thought I had killed ye and our child. " 

" Dueling is illegal in France and both the captain and myself were arrested, I spent three months in the Bastille thinking ye and the bairn dead, thinking I had killed ye. " 

" After three months I was suddenly released, I didna ken why I had been released but I was happy to be free. I had learned while I was locked away that ye lived, so I made my way back to my cousin Jared's house, where we had been staying. I found ye there and ye told me we had lost our daughter, named Faith. " 

  

" We were grieving, but the conditions of my pardon required that we leave and return to Scotland immediately. King Louise had arranged for the removal of the price on my head in France and Scotland, I was no longer a wanted man. So we went home to Lallybroch, nursed our wounded hearts, and healed together. " 

" After a few months, I received a letter from Jared, congratulating me on joining the Jacobite cause. Charles had forged my name on a letter, swearing my allegiance to his father King James. The letter made me a traitor to the crown. " 

" Ye wanted to run, leave Scotland. I should have listened to ye, but instead, I let my honor get in the way, I raised thirty men from Lallybroch and seventy men from my grandsire Lord Lovat. We joined Prince Charles army, ye were by my side till the end, till the day of the battle at Culloden. " 

" Ye were again wi' child, about two months gone, ye wouldna let yer self believe it. Ye even tried to convince me that it was starvation from having verra little to eat. However, I had seen ye wi' child before, I kent yer body better than ye did, ye had not had yer courses in 46 days and yer courses were never late. " 

  

" The morning of April 15th, 1746 ye said to me that we had one more thing we could do to try to stop the Prince. Ye suggested we poison him, kill him to save everyone else. Ye said ye could put yellow jasmine in his tea and it would be like going to sleep and never wake up. " 

" Dougal overheard us discussing it, he tried to attack ye, so I killed him to defend ye. Rupert walked in just as I was pulling my dirk from Dougal's chest, I begged him to give me an hour to see ye safe. We rode hard and fast toward Craig Na Dun. We stayed in an abandoned cottage at the foot of the fairy hill, we made love and marked each other. I carved a J right here on your hand and ye carved a C on my left hand. When we pressed our hands together the blood mingled and we said our blood vows. We made our way to the top of the hill the next morning and together we walked toward the center stone. I wanted to hold ye for as long as I could before ye were gone from me forever. I expected to die on that moor or be hunted by Mackenzie's for murdering their war chief. " 

" We pressed our fingers to the stone and everything went black, I heard screams, I felt and heard myself scream, then everything stopped, no sound, no feeling, nothing. However, then I woke up and I was back in that cottage where I first met the love of my life. Then you walked in and I kent then that we had gotten a second chance ..... a second chance to make the right choices, to have a future, together. " 

She sat there quietly for a few moments then asked. " Is that everything? "  

" Aye, it sums it up, if you have questions about any of it, I will answer them " I replied. 

She stood up and started pacing back and forth, not looking at me. Then she stopped and looked up at me " I need some time, I need to think about everything you have said. Please leave me alone for a bit, I need to be alone, I need to process everything. " 

Chapter Text

I stood up, paused for a moment watching her then turned to walk out the door of our wedding chamber, and closed it softly behind me. As soon as the door clicked closed I leaned back against it and let out a breath I didna realize I had been holding. She kens everything, there is no going back now. Please God, let her understand.  

I am not surprised by her reaction. I had planned to tell her little bits of our past together over time, not to tell her all at once, not like this. I had been afraid of overwhelming her, but once I started to talk, it all came out. I gave it all to her and held nothing back. I ken she will need time, but how much, I am not sure of. I want to go out into the woods and get lost for a while, calm my mind from conjuring outcomes that may not come to pass, but I feel I should stay close. She may not need much time to think, after all, she traveled through time herself. She kens how mad it can all sound, surely she will understand why I kept it from her.  

I walked down the stairs and took a stool at the bar. I decided to wait right here, no matter how long it takes, I will be here for her when she is ready to talk.  

  


 

About an hour later I heard a door open, I looked up to see Claire coming out of our chamber. She walked down the stairs and came straight to me, her expression was blank, no anger, no confusion, no sadness. I couldna not read her face, I canna tell what she might be thinking.  

  

Claire reached out and took his hand "Jamie, please come back up to the room with me. We have a lot to talk about, I have so many questions." She had sat up in the room working through everything Jamie had said to her, trying to discover what this meant for them. Trying to understand everything he had said about a past she could not remember, and what that all meant for their future. However, no matter what she could not do it alone, she needed to discuss it all with Jamie.  

She led him back up to their chamber, closed and bolted the door. What they had to discuss could take some time and she did not want anyone to interrupt them.   

"You have said a lot. It all sounds mad, but so does what I have said about my own experience of going through the stones."   

"But you also mentioned things that you could have no notion of unless someone from the future had told you about them." she took a breath then continued "There is no way you could know about airplanes, tanks or bombs without being told about them or being from the future yourself, and you, my lad are not from the future."   

"So that only leaves one option, you must be telling me the truth. You have always been completely honest with me and never given me a reason to doubt you."  

"You did keep a huge secret from me and I can understand why. That was a lot for me to take in, I cannot imagine the burden you have had all this time. Knowing what you do and having to keep it to yourself." Well, I suppose last time I carried that burden, but this time he knew and was someone I could talk to from the start. Jamie saved me from having to keep that secret to myself.  

You have loved me all this time and patiently waited for me to love you again. You waited, never pushing me, never demanding anything of me, you let me decide for myself, you let me realize I loved you before you said anything about loving me."   

"Even the time in my surgery after we listened to the music in the great hall, you let me lead. You removed your shirt when I asked and stood waiting for me to touch you. Even when I could see that I had physically affected you, you remained still and let me decide."  

"This whole time you secretly loved me, not being able to share it and all the while you stayed close to me, befriended me and protected me. It all makes so much sense now, why you appeared to care so much, right from the beginning. You did care, so deeply, but you let me make the choice to come back to you all on my own."   

"Oh my God, it must have broken your heart when I asked to return to the stones. Oh, Jamie, I am so sorry." she began to cry. 

  

" Dinna fash mo ghráidh, aye keeping everything to myself was hard. But spending this time wi ' ye, getting a second chance to do things right, has meant everything to me. Last time I made assumptions that led to actions that I regretted, things that ended up hurting us. This time I made ye and yer happiness my top priority, my only priority and I think we are and will be stronger for it." I placed my finger under her chin to bring her lips closer to mine and placed a soft kiss at the corner of her lips.  

I gathered her tighter against me, tucking her head under my chin, and held her close while she sobbed. "Yer taking this better than I expected mo chridhe, I was afraid I would lose ye." I couldna keep the tears from coming and started to cry with her. "Take yer time my love, let yer self cry, let it all out. We can talk more when yer ready, I am not going anywhere."  

I walked us over to the bed, lying down, bringing Claire with me. She curled into my side, her head on my chest and slowly her sobs quieted down. Her breathing slowed as she drifted off to sleep. This had been an exhausting day for both of us, I decided to let myself drift off and rest with her. 

  


 

Claire woke with her head on Jamie's shoulder and her hand over his heart. He was still resting peacefully so she took a moment to study her husband's body. He had told her about so many terrors he had survived. She looked down at his hand, not broken, not damaged, no scars from her having to repair it .... still whole. This man had been through so much and still fought for their love, knowing they might end up right back where they were, making the same impossible choices. Even though she had no memory of their life together, she knew she owed her life to him. He had even tried to save her by sending her back through the stones. He was ready to sacrifice his life to save hers and their unborn child. She thought. 

That is another thing, she had always thought she was unable to have children. However, after what Jamie told her, she had something more to look forward to. She could give this amazing man the family that they both dreamed of. Claire decided that she would not live with any regrets or fears of a past she did not remember, a past that technically had not happened yet to her. She would live with the hope of the future in front of them, and they would only talk of the past when the knowledge of it would help them to make necessary changes to survive in this time.  

  

She was so deep in thought that she did not realize that Jamie had woken and was staring down at her smiling. "Wot" she asked. 

  

I chuckled at her strong British accent and her curious expression. "I could tell ye were thinking about something, what was it mo chridhe?"   

  

"I was just thinking about our second chance and everything you have said today. I think that I have made a decision," she said. 

  

"Och, and what have ye decided?" I asked her. 

  

"I have decided to make the most of our future, you have these memories of the past, but I do not. I cannot let a past, that I do not remember, determine our future."  

  

I grinned " So, ye still want to have a future wi' me then? " 

  

"Of course I still want a future with you, you are the love of my life, my whole world, you silly man. You told me about a life that I do not remember, you did not have to do that, but you did. I never would have known, never had any reason to know, but it was important for you to share it with me. To choose to be honest with me, when we could have just carried on with our lives, I could have remained oblivious." she replied. 

"I know that some of the things from the past you remember will affect the decisions we make in our lives now. I will trust you to tell me when those times come, but I want to live in this life, this time, now, with you. I do not want to look back anymore, not back to my life in 1945 or back to the three years that I do not remember. I am not asking you to forget, I know from what you have told me that you have some happy memories from then. I would love you to tell me about them when you remember them. However, I do not want us to dwell in the past."  

"I am sure I will have questions as decisions come up, but right now I do not want to think about it anymore. I just want to enjoy the rest of our honeymoon. Tomorrow we can decide what we will do next. Also, there are no more secrets, do you agree?"  

  

I canna believe that this amazing strong woman has put everything I have told her aside, she has chosen to live in the future. I canna believe how lucky I am. "Aye, my love. No more secrets, no more looking back. We have our whole future ahead of us and I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have many more years together."  

"We have one more day till we are expected to meet the men, what would ye like to do with that time?" I asked her. 

  

"Tell me about your family, tell me about us, tell me some of your good memories," she said. 

  

I chuckled, sat up against the headboard, got comfortable, and pulled Claire up against me, and settled in for a long story. 

  


 

"During the gathering at Leoch, I was expected to pledge my oath to Colum. Last time I was hiding in the stables trying to avoid the oath-taking ceremony."   

"Unbeknownst to me, ye had planned to escape that night but tripped over me when ye came to the stables to steal Brimstone. I took ye back to the castle so the drunken clansman wouldna harm ye. I ended up being forced to attend the oath-taking."  

"However, I didna give Colum my oath that night, instead I pledged to serve Colum as kinsman as long as my feet rested upon Mackenzie lands."  

"This time I wasna helping Alec in the stables so I had no reason to be there. This time I had a room in the castle where the men would find me more easily and again force me to swear my oath."    

"I didna want to tempt fate again by trying to recreate the past and making the same pledge when I had already changed so much. So instead I decided to get away and spend some time with my wife, that is when I took ye for a romantic walk near the loch under the light of the moonlight and stars."    

"That night turned out better than I expected, that is the night ye first kissed me if ye recall."  

She lightly smacked me on the chest and smiled.  

  

"The next day Dougal requested ye join him and the some of the other men on a boar hunt, that is when ye impressed Dougal enough with yer healing skills for him to take ye along as healer wi' the rent party."  

"I told ye what happened during our time wi' the rent party when we returned to Leoch and about ye being accused of being a witch."   

"After I rescued ye from the pyre at Cranesmure we went to the stones and ye chose me instead of going back to Frank."    

"When ye chose me I decided to take ye to Lallybroch, and when we walked into the dooryard my sister was there. I had heard rumors that Randall had gotten her wi' child on the day that he arrested me, so I was angry when I saw a bairn playing in the yard. I assumed she had played the hoor to Randall in exchange for my life."  

"My sister's name is Janet, however, I refer to her as Jenny. When we arrived at Lallybroch we found out that she is married to my best friend Ian Murray, they have a son, that they named after me and a wee lass on the way. In this time I shouldna ken about any of this." I winked at her. 

"It is one of those things I learned from our last three years together. There will likely be many facts I ken that I shouldna ken."  

  

"I told ye about the watch and getting captured. I told ye about Faith, but before ye realized ye were wi' child ye didna think ye could have children. Ye told me as much when my sister Jenny was in labor with our niece Maggie. Ye were so upset and felt terrible for not telling me before we wed. Claire nodded. 

  

She said, "Yes, that is what I have always thought, you see Frank and I tried before."  

  

"Ye told me that before as well, but I ken now that ye can have children and I canna wait." I winked at her and fondled her arse. "Do ye want to practice some more now?"  

  

Jamie's fingers were drawing small feather-light circles over her hip while Claire's fingers repeated the same patterns over his abdomen.  

Claire giggled and wriggled in his grasp "I think something can be arranged. However, first, tell me some more."  

"I told ye about spending time in France and trying to stop the rebellion after we lost Faith we forgot about trying to change the future and returned home to Lallybroch."  

"We were happy there for many months before that forged letter came in the post."  

"When I left to join the Prince's army, ye were by my side. Ye stayed with me through it all, ye were our army physician. Ye would have stayed and died on that field wi' me at Culloden instead of going back through the stones if I had let ye."  

"Ye even sacrificed yer self after one of the battles, we found ourselves with some of the men in a church. Rupert had been shot in the eye, we stopped so ye could patch him up."  

"Ye had just finished patching him up when the Redcoats found us, they threatened to burn the thatch over the roof if we didna surrender."  

"However, ye, my stubborn wee Lady, pretended to be a hostage so they would let all us men go."  

  

"They took ye to the residence of the Duke of Sandringham, he was a secret Jacobite, but playing both sides."  

"Murtagh and I found and rescued ye. The Duke had arranged for ye and a friend of yers, Mary Hawkins to be raped when we lived in Paris, but we didna ken that till we came to rescue ye back. Murtagh cut off the Duke's head he then placed it at yer feet and said 'I lay vengeance at yer feet my Lady'. I had never seen Murtagh do something so gallant."  

  

"The rest of the time we were traveling between battlefields or engaging in battle, eventually we ended up at Culloden Moore. I told ye what happened after that already."  

"However, now I want to get back to what we were discussing before." I wiggled my eyebrows at her and she giggled. "Would ye like to get some practice in makin' those bairns I promised ye?"  

"Well, since you asked so nicely, how could I ever refuse." She wiggled her eyebrows back at him and smiled her most seductive smile.  

  

With that I swiftly rolled Claire onto her back and settled hips between her thighs, placing my hands on either side of her head I leaned down and brought my lips close to hers and whispered "Do ye remember when I told ye I had a good teacher, mo ghráidh, ye were the best teacher. Ye taught me the best way to pleasure ye, the best way to love ye. I'm going to put those lessons to use and pleasure ye now and I dinna think I can be gentle." Then I crashed my mouth against her lips, burning with the need to join with her in any way I could. I pressed my cock against her so she could feel how much I needed her.  

"Stand up Sassenach, ye are wearing too many layers, let me help ye undress." Peeling the clothing from my wife's body is one of the things I love most about making love to her, well that and the wee sounds that she makes when I love her. Standing there looking so lovely, in all her layers waiting for me to unwrap her as if she is a gift given to me from God himself. I could hardly keep my hands from shaking as I reached out to untie her laces. 

 

Chapter Text

After all of our clothing lay pooled on the floor, we were both standing a few feet apart, ravishing each other's naked bodies with our eyes. "Mo nighean donn yer skin in the light of the fire glows like white velvet, may I touch ye?"   

   

Claire took a step toward him, reducing the space between them, she reached down, took hold of his hand, brought it up to cup her breast, and breathlessly whispered, "Yes, Jamie, touch me now."  

 

I gently massaged her breast, rubbing my thumb over her hardened pink nipple, eliciting a moan from her mouth.  

 

I reached out with my other hand, tucking a stray curl behind her ear, letting my hand fall to her shoulder, stroke down her arm and eventually landing on her arse to squeeze gently and pull her body against mine, trapping my hardened cock between us, restrained against her belly. 

 

I moved my hand from her breast to cup her head and tilt her face up toward mine, lowering my head I brought her lips up to mine and captured her mouth in a searing kiss.  

 

The kiss deepened while Claire started grinding her pelvis against mine, searching for more friction. I lowered both of my hands to her thighs, lifting her up against me, her legs wrapped around my waist, but our mouths never left each other.  

 

Our tongues danced and dueled back and forth, and around as I carried Claire in my arms blindly toward the bed. I felt my shins hit the bed, so I turned and sat down with Claire on my lap, her legs still tightly wrapped around my waist.  

 

I lifted her up ever so slightly, then lowered her back down as she slid onto my throbbing cock. Our mouths separated, and we both let out a moan of pleasure once she settled down to sheath my cock to the hilt. 

 

I placed my hands on each of his shoulders and began a slow rocking motion, back and forth up and down. His hands were resting on my hips, helping me to move and gyrate, around and around, up and down until the pace was not sufficient. 

 

Before I could think he had lifted me up, spun us around, and lowered my back gently to the bed, without dislodging himself from my wet center.  

 

He reached past my head to grab a pillow, he settled back onto his heels, lifting my hips, he placed the pillow on the bed underneath my hips.  

 

Even without him moving I could feel how much deeper he was, then suddenly Jamie began to thrust at a punishing pace, I yelled his name out in pleasure with each thrust.  

 

I looked up to his face to see the most beautiful smile and eyes so dark and full of love I nearly cried. I was so close, I could feel the heat pooling low in my belly. Jamie let go of my hips, cupping one hand over my breast and bringing the other down to our joining.  

 

As soon as his thumb touched and began to rub circles over my clitoris, I lost hold of reality and fell over the edge of ecstasy.   

 

When I came back to myself my heart was pounding and the most beautiful face was looking down at me smiling.  

 

Jamie moved both of his hands back to my hips, getting a better hold he started thrusting harder and deeper, I could feel myself reaching my peak again, just as I was about to fall over the edge, Jamie let a growl from deep in his chest, we both fell over the edge together as his body fell forward, coming to rest over mine.  

 

Jamie lay his head against my breast trying to control his breathing. After his breathing had slowed, and I was sure he was asleep I whispered, "Well, my love, if that is what baby-making is like, I believe you have ruined me from ever wanting to do anything else."  

 

Claire startled and jumped when I chuckled, then rolled off of her and gathered her back against my chest. I wrapped my arms around her, nuzzling my nose into her neck and whispered "Och aye, well then we best get some rest. I dinna think I will be ready for more till morning mo ghráidh ."  

 

I woke abruptly to shouting and hammering on our door. I scrambled out of bed, seizing my dirk from the bedside table, I glanced back toward the bed to see Claire sitting up, eyes wide with the sheets pulled to her chin and shaking her head no. 

 

The noise startled us both, I was frozen in place striving to decide what to do when all of a sudden I heard a whispered voice from the other side of the door.  

 

"Jamie, lad are ye awake?"   

 

I relaxed, set my dirk back on the table, pulled my shirt on, then walked over and swung open the door to see Murtagh standing on the other side. "I am now ye Auld bugger, what do ye want?"  

 

"Get the lass, we gotta get movin', BlackJack was seen headin' this way. We have got to get ye both to a safe place." Murtagh said, then hurried down the stairs and out the door.   

 

I turned to see Claire hastily throwing on her skirts and dress, not bothering with her corset. I closed the door and rushed over to pull on my breeks and boots. We shoved the remainder of our belongings into our saddlebags, then rushed out into the night to meet Murtagh at the stables already saddling Donas and Brimstone.   

 

"Where will we go, does he know we are here?" Claire asked as she mounted Brimstone. She was beyond worried after what Jamie had told her yesterday, she did not want BlackJack anywhere near her or her husband.  

 

" Dinna fash lass, I'll see to it that ye and the lad are safe. Just stay close, aye?" Murtagh assured her as he led the way out of the stables.  

 

She did not typically like being told what to do, but there is no way she would argue with him. The urgency in his voice told her that this was not the time and Jamie was not arguing, so she would follow his lead.  

   

"Stay close to me, Sassenach, we need to get as far as we can before daylight. We will have to travel at night and hide during the day. The army doesna usually come this far onto the Mackenzie lands, Black Jack must be searching for ye."   

 

"I will do anything you say, Jamie, I trust you to keep me safe. However, is this something that happened from before?" Claire asked a little frightened. 

 

"No lass this didna happen last time, but the last time he had a chance to question ye before we wed. Now stay close and keep as quiet as ye can, we must make haste."  

 

We rode hard and fast, staying off the roads just out of sight inside the edge of the treeline, pausing frequently to ensure that we were not being followed. 

 

The darkness of the night had started to give way, purple and orange hues stretching out across the sky. We need to find cover fast. "Murtagh isna there a croft just around the bend up ahead?"  

 

"Aye, there is. I will ride up ahead to see if they will hide us." Murtagh kicked his horse and rode off with a cloud of dust rising in his wake. 

 

We waited hidden in the trees for Murtagh's return, the light was coming too quick to risk going any further till we were sure they would accept us. After about 20 minutes, Murtagh came rushing back to urge us to follow him to the croft. 

 

Once we arrived Murtagh led us to their tiny barn. "They are willing to let us stay for the day, but they are fearful of being caught hiding us. So we are to stay in the loft of the barn till nightfall." Murtagh informed us, "We leave for Leoch at sundown tonight, we should make it inside the gates of the castle by tomorrow morning. Dougal and the rest of the men will meet us there in a few days' time."  

 

"We should all rest, it is going to be a long night. Rest yer head on my shoulder a nighean, when ye wake I'll fetch us something to eat. Murtagh get some rest, I will keep watch for a bit."   

 


 

Claire woke just after midday to the smell of something delicious. As I began to roll over, a pair of massive arms squeezed me into the chest of my very large, very warm husband whose lips were smiling against my shoulder. 

 

"Mmm, morning Sassenach, did ye sleep well?"  

 

"Yes, I did, thank you. Do I smell food?" she asked 

 

"Aye, Murtagh just bought us a plate of food, it's on the stool next to ye. There are eggs, bacon, bannocks, cheese and some whiskey."  

 

I reached out for the plate, stuffing a slice of bacon in my mouth, and asked Jamie, "Have you eaten yet?"   

   

"Aye, I have, enjoy yer meal mo chridhe. I am going to close my eyes for a bit, don't leave the barn, aye?"  

 

"I will stay right here, get some rest, my love, I will watch over you," Claire said as she leaned down, placing a light kiss against his temple. 

Chapter Text

Jamie had rested only a few hours when he sensed a shift beside him. Instinctively he stretched a hand out to gather Claire closer to him, except the place where she should have been, was only a warm blanket. His eyes fluttered open as he dragged his mind from the dream he had been having and back to reality.

As he sat up from the temporary bedding, his eyes adjusted to the approaching darkness that filled the barn. He scanned the room with distress until his eyes stopped and settled on the most exquisite thing he had ever beheld.

Standing near the slightly open door of the barn was an angel, her curly hair lit from the sunlight filtering in through the open door, giving her the most enchanting halo of brown curls about her head. A gradual, sweet smile reached across his face as he leaned back on an elbow to take in the wondrous vision before him.

He gradually stood from his resting place, moving mindfully so as not to make a sound, then just as silently he strode over to stand directly behind his wife. He encircled her waist with his long arms, drawing her snug against his chest as he brought his chin down to lightly rest on her shoulder.

 

Did you sleep well, my love?" she asked, leaning her head back against his shoulder.

 

He nuzzled his nose into her hair, grinning he took a deep breath, inhaling the scents of herbs, woods , hay, and what could solely be described as Claire. "Aye, I did. Nevertheless, I missed ye, I canna sleep soundly when yer not next to me."

"What is it that has yer attention, Sassenach?"

 

"Oh, nothing honestly, I was truly just reflecting," Claire replied.

"I have been so involved in relishing our time together in our little bubble, that I had not considered what might occur once we have to return to the real world."

"What will happen once we return to Leoch? Do we intend to stay there and for how long?"

 

"You and I, here together, this is genuine, is it no?"

 

She considered for a moment then nodding responded, "Hmm, yes, I suppose it is, although these last days together have felt more like a fairy tale. Well, at least up until we had to flee in the middle of the night."

 

"I didna ken what is a fairy tale, but I get yer meaning right enough. This has been more than I could have ever hoped for when I took ye back up to the stones that day before the battle of Culloden."

"I anticipate when we return the first thing that will happen will be a celebration to honor us. Nevertheless, I also expect Colum to be angry wi' me, by marrying ye, a Sassenach, I have excluded myself from his line of succession."

"We didna get a chance to talk to him about our engagement before we left with Dougal to collect rents, he will believe it to be a trick. We will have to convince him and everyone else in the castle of our genuine love for each other. They must acknowledge it for what it is, an honest and true love, not some conspiracy to save us both."

"We will only stay as long as we need. I canna say how long that will be now that we have the Redcoats on our tail, but we will make our way back to Lallybroch as soon as the opportunity presents itself."

"I dinna trust anyone at the castle, save Murtagh. But he is my father's clansman and owes no allegiance to the Mackenzies."

 

As the sun began its descent over the horizon, they stood swaying together in that doorway. Not only to soak up the last rays of the sun, but the last moments alone together before their impending return to Leoch as well.

 

A few moments later Murtagh came around the corner, startling both Jamie and Claire from their shared reverie. "Glad yer both up, we need to cover as much ground as possible. If we leave now, we should make it Leoch well before sunrise in the morning."

 

The three of them gathered what few belongings they had, along with a bit of food that their hosts Alasdair and Seonag Mackenzie were able to spare, storing it all in their saddlebags before securing them to the horses.

 

We were promptly on our way, keeping to the shadows of the forest to avoid any potential Redcoat patrols on the road. The army doesna ordinarily stay out patrolling after nightfall, but with Randall hunting for Claire, we dinna ken what to expect. "Sassenach, we intend to ride the entire night through, but ye will tell me if ye need to stop, aye?"

 

"Of course Jamie, but I assume I will be fine. I am warm enough, and we all got a great deal of sleep, we should only need to stop if we get hungry, even then we can take the food from our bags and eat while we travel." Claire replied in high spirits.

 

 

 

We had been traveling for several hours with only about an hour or so to go when Jamie spotted the movement and flash of a torch up ahead. "Stop, everyone quiet, I spied something up ahead. We should remain here a moment till we are certain who is out there."

 

"I will creep up and get close to them, see if I can determine who it tis." Murtagh whispered as he crawled away in the direction of the torch.

 

It was not long before he came trudging back with a companion at his side, I couldna see who it was, so Claire and I remained hidden.

 

"Jamie, Claire, ye can come out now, tis only Hugh Monroe. He states that when he didna hear back from ye yesterday regarding the meeting, that he elected to come down to the tavern to see what choice ye had made . Though, when he arrived there yesterday morning and discovered ye were gone he supposed we would be heading back to the castle."

"What meeting is he talking about, Jamie?" Murtagh asked wi ' a furrowed brow.

 

Jamie scrubbed his hands over his face as he came out from his hiding place, drawing Claire beside him. "Ye ken the reason I have a price on my head a charaid. Hugh met a Redcoat deserter that claims to have witnessed who actually killed the soldier that I am accused of shooting. The information could aid me to prove my innocence, though I dinna think I can trust him. He has forsaken his oath to the king already, how can I trust him, a stranger not to turn me in or be arranging a trap to obtain the rewards?"

"I have chosen not to meet with him, now that I have more than myself to consider. I believe it most suitable to stay away from mysterious characters, people I dinna ken I can trust."

"Hugh, ye can tell the deserter that I willna be meeting him if ye please." Jamie glanced down at Claire as she squeezed his hand and nodded yes in understanding and support.

 

"I willna argue wi' ye on that account, Jamie. I believe it is better to keep yer head down, we will figure this out, but right now we need to get back on the road. The sun will be rising soon, and we have a way yet till we reach Leoch." Murtagh stated.

 

We led our horses back to the wildlife path at the edge of the woods, bidding Hugh farewell and resumed our long slog toward Leoch.

Jamie guided the others through the gates at Leoch just as the sun had begun to wash the sky in brilliant hues of pink, purple, and orange, presenting the world in an almost ethereal atmosphere.

The three of us let out a sigh of relief as we rode up to the stables and dismounted. Auld Alec came out with a pair of stable hands to take and care for our horses.

Claire was so worn out that I had to lift her down. Her legs gave out as I lowered her to the ground, so keeping one arm on her back, slipped the other behind her knees, scooping her up and hugging her snug against my chest, I carried her into the castle.

Before I could reach Claire's surgery I was hindered by Mrs. Fitz . "Jamie, Murtagh tells me that ye married the lass, if that is so ye will need a new chamber, one big enough for the both of ye. Come wi' me, I'll help get ye settled."

By the time Mrs. Fitz had guided us through the labyrinth of halls of the castle and showed us to our new chamber, Claire had fallen asleep.

I moved to the bed to lay her down, I removed her boots and stockings off before tucking the quilts around her . I shed my boots and breeks, then climbed into the bed behind her. Winding my arms around her delicate frame, I drew her to me, closed my eyes, and followed her into oblivion.

 

 

 

We awoke in time to go down to the hall for the midday meal, though when we passed through the doors to the hall we were stopped in our path by a raucous cheer. Making our way to the table with the food, we were stopped several times to be congratulated. Claire never let go of my hand, but beamed and thanked everyone.

We were eventually able to sit down to eat when Colum and Letisha stepped into the hall, everyone fell silent at their arrival. "I hear congratulations are, in order, Lady Broch Tuarach." Colum smiled stiffly at Claire but didna even glance at me before he turned and abruptly departed the hall.

 

"Wow, that was awkward, he did not even acknowledge you, Jamie," Claire said in dismay.

 

"Aye, he did the same thing last time, I anticipated it. He willna be cross for long, I will go talk with him later after I deliver ye to our chamber. I am certain ye desire to wash the road dust off of that lovely body before I ravish ye." I winked at her and wiggled my eyebrows suggestively. "Though right now, let us eat, I am famished."

 

 

 

Jamie escorted Claire back to their chamber, he bent down and gave her a feather-light kiss, then made his departure to converse with Colum. The sooner the better he surmised.

He rapped on the door to Colum's study and waited to be invited in. While he was waiting he was considering what he could say to Colum without provoking him too much.

What to say to convince him that this was a good thing, as he was contemplating, blond hair flashed in the corner alcove, then disappeared.

He strode over toward the alcove to take a peek for himself, certainly, it couldna be whom it resembled. However, before he made it to the corner, Colum had summoned him into his study.

Jamie whirled around reluctantly and entered the study, he would have to identify who was lurking in the alcove later. This conversation with Colum was too important to be sidetracked by ghosts.

 

"Colum, I wish to speak wi ye. I want to say my piece before ye lash out at me if ye please." Colum grumbled but nodded in confirmation and indicated for me to go on. "I didna marry Claire to insult ye, I love her, and she loves me."

"I ken this appears like a betrayal after ye have granted me quarter, shared yer home with me, and offered me protection, but I meant no betrayal."

"I have spoken wi' Claire, and she assures me that ye have several years left in ye, enough for young Hamish to come of age and become Laird in his own right."

"The position belongs to Hamish, not me. I have my own clan to consider, to protect and it wouldna be suitable for me to take over as Mackenzie."

 

Colum huffed, rubbing his chin, pacing back and forth, he appeared to be considering what I had said to him. "Well, yer certainly yer mother's son, whose fool headed exactly as she was. Ran off and married yer father for love, even though none of us in the clan supported it."

"But I was glad to see her happy, just as I am happy to see her son so happy. I suppose I should have I anticipated it from ye. Well, congratulations then, Laird Broch Tuarach." he smirked, chuckled, and slapped me on the back, "Best get back to yer bride, ye dinna want to keep her waitin'."

Chapter Text

Jamie left Colum's study in an enthusiastic mood, things had gone better than he had anticipated with Colum.  As he made his way back to his new chamber with Claire he decided to put the ghost in the alcove out of his mind.

The person had been gone when he checked after leaving Colum's study and he wasn't even sure that it hadn't been a trick of his mind.  He couldn't wait to get back to Claire and tell her of the good news.  They were welcome to remain at Leoch and continue on as they had before they left with the rent party.  Claire would continue working in the surgery and Jamie would remain as her bodyguard.

 


 

Jamie had told me what Colum had said, it helped to take some of the stress of, knowing the the Laird approved of our marriage and would not have cause hand me over to the English. 

But being in this surgery day in and day out, pulling splinters and bandaging small cuts that amounted to nothing worse that a paper cut was wearing on me.  On top of that I have been feeling sluggish, tired and have been showing symptoms of the flu, but being the only healer in the castle, I can hardly take a day off for rest. I keep wishing for the day that we can leave this place.

Claire felt couldn't deny that she felt guilty about keeping Jamie with her in the surgery, especially after he had mentioned that he was an accomplished horseman.  But she also couldn't deny that she loved how much time they were able to spend together with him working along side of her.  She just hoped that he wouldn't get bored or come to despise her for the menial tasks of grinding herbs or mixing poultices. 

She knew he belonged outside, not cooped up in a dark dungeon, so she had sent him to fetch a picnic for them to enjoy lunch outside.  It was a rare sunny day and she figured they could both use a break from the mundane of everyday life that had become used to in the three weeks since their return to Leoch.  Jamie seemed to agree hardily at her suggestion. 

Just after Jamie had left for the kitchen a strange girl that Claire had not yet seen before had come to her surgery asking for a potion.  This struck Claire as odd and she explained to the girl that she was a healer, not a sorcerous or a witch and therefore did not deal in such things. 

She remembered that Jamie had told her about Geillies Duncan being suspected of such things, so she recommended that the girl seek her out for her request.  The girl had argued and seemed quite put off when Claire insisted she could not help her, which was even more confusing to Claire. 

After that strange encounter she had decided to mention it to Jamie when he returned from lunch.  Perhaps this was something that had happened before, she would need to ask him to be sure she handled the situation appropriately. 

Just then Jamie came back, pulling her out of her engrossment of the perplexing encounter with the young girl. "Oh good, you're back.  I hope you brought plenty, I feel like I am half starved." I smiled up at him as he leaned down to place a quick kiss on my cheek. 

 

"What do ye take me for, of course I brought plenty of food.  I promised I would always keep ye fed Sassenach.  Come, let's go have our wee picnic, it's such a bonny day for it."

Jamie offered Claire his arm and led her from her surgery and out of the castle toward the south fields.  I could see that she had something on her mind that she wanted to ask me about, but was having trouble finding the words to do so. "Sassenach, I can see something has yer danders up, what is it mo chridhe? What has ye bothered so?"

 

"Jamie, did you know that Mrs. Fitz has a granddaughter?" Claire looked up at him with a furrowed brow, still unsure how to ask the real question she needed to ask. 

 

"Aye, I ken she does, what of her, why do ye ask?" I said cautiously, not sure why she was asking about her. 

 

"The girl,  I think her name was Leery, she came to the surgery today, while you were fetching our lunch."  Claire replied knitting her brows together even further. 

 

"What, ye mean she's here and she came to see ye?" I exclaimed, not being able to withhold my shock and surprise. 

 

"Yes she did and she had the most bizarre request."  she answered. 

 

"What was her request?"

 

"She wanted a love potion, she argued when I told her I am only a healer and couldn't make her a potion.  She kept insisting, even got quite angry when I turned her away and suggested she go see Geillis Duncan if she was looking for witchcraft." Claire said

 

"Mac na galla. I thought we were rid of her."

 

"Okay, I know what that one means, I've heard the men say it often enough.  What is it about her or her request that make you so angry and what do you mean rid of her?"  Claire asked, wondering if the young girl was another one of those people that he had warned her about. 

 

"She hasna done anything in this time, not yet anyway.  But ye ken how I told ye about the lass that tried to seduce me, the one who put an ill wish under our bed, the one that tried to have ye burned as a witch?  She is the lass, the evil little wench that I told ye about."

 

Claire gasped, eyes going wide she covered her mouth and stared up at Jamie in disbelief.  The the realization hit her, why the girl insisted she could help her, why she insisted that she must have the love potion to save the man she loves.  She had been talking about Jamie, the girl is obsessed with him. 

 

"Now ye understand my anger, but I had thought she had been sent away to a convent.  That she would not be around to try and harm ye, harm us again."

"Ye see last time I did something to try to impress ye.  The lass was supposed to be punished for loose behavior and like a dolt I thought ye would be impressed if I stepped up and acted a hero."

"So I stepped up and took the lass' punishment for her, I did it to gain yer attentions, but instead it sent her the wrong message.  She thought I took her punishment because I was in love with her, in truth I wasna even thinking of her when I decided to do it." 

"And later as I was walking by an alcove near the kitchen she surprised me, through herself at me and kissed me before I could stop her."

"Ye happened to be walking by right at the moment before I had reacted and pushed her off.  Later ye teased me about it, but I could tell ye were jealous and hurt by it.  I dinna ken how to explain it all, since it seemed to anyone who didna ken my mind or see what truly happened in the alcove, that I had taken her punishment because I did like the lass.  It was all so confusing when I tried to think of how to explain it to ye, so I just let it bide."

"This time I didna even attend the hall on the day she received her punishment, I spent the day with ye.  I didna want to send any kind of message to the lass. Then a few days later I had received news that she had been sent to a convent as part of her punishment.  So ye see I didna expect to see her here again."

"We must come up wi' a plan to keep ye safe, I'll not let her harm ye, or put ye in danger again."

"I want ye to be careful, stay away from her Claire.  Ye are too precious to me to let anything happen to ye or the bairn ye carry." I said with a smile as I reached out to caress her still flat stomach. 

 

Claire's eyes went wide again as her hands came down to rest over Jamie's hand that was now gently rubbing her stomach "How could you know that, its far to soon to tell?"

 

Jamie chuckled, shaking his head, bringing his other hand around to her back and drawing her closer he leaned down to whisper into her ear "Ye havna been a day late in yer courses in all the time since ye first brought me to yer bed, tis been 37 days.  Besides, ye forget, I've seen ye wi' child before, seen the changes in yer body.  Yer hips are wider, yer nipples darker, yer hair softer, and ye carry yerself differently." He nuzzled his nose into her hair and rubbed small circles into her back. 

Now to come up with a plan to stop Laorghaire, Jamie kent that if she was asking for a potion that she still thought he belonged to her.  Which also probably means that she would do anything in her power to get rid of Claire.  Laorghaire would probably make the same or similar choices as she had the first time to get rid of Claire, which meant she had most likely gotten an ill wish from Geillis again. "I think Laorghaire wants me as her own, Sassenach.  I think she means to be rid of ye, and if my guess is right, I believe she will place an ill wish under our bed again." 

"So we should try to catch her doing it."

 

"And how exactly do you propose that we accomplish that?" Claire asked, quirking her brown and placing her hands on her hips.

 

"First, ye and I stay together at all times, no matter what, if something needs done or fetched, we do it together.  She can't get to ye while I'm wi' ye."  she nodded so I continued. 

"Second we place guards outside our chamber, I ken Murtagh will gladly help to get rid of that little wench and I'm sure I can convince Willie to help as well."

"They will only guard the chamber while we are away, but they will guard together, so if one must leave the other can remain." 

"If she tries to sneak into our chamber to put an ill wish under our bed, they will see her and Murtagh can send Willie to fetch us back straight away.  With luck we can get back to the chamber before she leaves and catch her red handed."  

"Then the third and final part of our plan, after we catch her we can fetch Mrs. Fitz and Colum, tell them what she done and let them take care of her."

 

"I'm impressed, that sounds like a good plan, it might actually work.  When do we start?"  Claire asked with an excited gleam in her eye.

 

"Right now, come wi' me mo ghràidh, we'll tell Murtagh first then have him fetch Willie and meet us at our chamber. 

 


 

It only took two days for their plan to work, Willie came running into the surgery with news that Laorghaire had entered their chamber with an ill wish in her hand. 

Jamie sent him to fetch Mrs. Fitz and Colum.  Claire and Jamie rushed back to their chamber as quick as their feet would carry them, they arrived just as Laorghaire was opening the door to leave their chamber. 

There in the hallway just outside their chamber, stood Jamie, Claire and Murtagh, arms all crossed, blocking her escape.  Laorghaire kent she had been caught, her jaw dropped open and her eyes grew wide. 

Only a moment later Mrs Fitz arrived behind the trio "What's this then, Laorghaire, what were ye doing in Mr. & Mrs. Fraser's bed chambers?"  she asked. 

 

"I'd be interested in hearin' what the lass has to say on the matter myself." They all turned towards Colum's angry voice. 

 

"I .... I." Laorghaire sputtered then clamped her mouth shut and looked down at the ground. 

 

Murtagh spoke up. "Jamie has suspected that someone was goin' in his chamber while him and his lady were workin' in the surgery, so he asked me and Willie to guard it while they were away." Laorghaire's head shot up looking at Jamie with a surprised expression, then moved across to glare at Murtagh and finally casting the same evil look on Willie. 

"Today while me and Willie were standing guard, watchin' from the alcove just there, we watched Laorghaire her sneak into the chamber, holdin' an ill wish in her hand.  She didna have it when she came back out.  I'd wager she hid it somewhere inside."  Murtagh said with a satisfied smirk and Laorghaire's eyes grew even bigger. 

 

"Well lets all go in and have a look for ourselves." Colum said as he ushered everyone inside in front of him. 

 

"Look, there's something under the bed."  Willie said as he bent down to retrieve it.  As he stood and handed the ill wish to Colum, Laorghaire tried to flee from the room.  But Murtagh was too quick and reached out grabbing her by the wrist before she could get away. 

 

"Well, lass, seems ye canna keep yerself out of trouble.  The lashing and time in the convent didna teach ye anything it seems.  So now ye'll receive a more severe punishment." Laorghaire flinched, not knowing what to expect. 

"Yer banned from my castle and my lands, ye'll not step foot on Mackenzie lands again, do ye understand?" Colum shouted and Laorghaire nodded with tears leaving wet streaks down her face. 

"Now get yerself gone and dinna come back, if I see ye on my lands again or anywhere near my kin, I'll have yer burned on the pyre for practicing witchcraft." 

 

Laorghaire ran shrieking down the hall toward her chamber to gather her belongings before leaving the castle and their lives for good. 

 

Mrs. Fitz shook her head, reached out taking hold of Claire and Jamie's clasped hands and apologized for her granddaughter's behavior. "I'm so verra sorry, I dinna ken what's wrong with that child, but I'll make sure she doesna bother either one of ye ever again."

Chapter Text

Since their ordeal and Colum's subsequent dismissal of Laorghaire, both Claire and Jamie felt more ease around the other inhabitants of the castle. 

After a few weeks more of being together as a couple and with Laorghaire gone, everyone within the castle walls had become more accepting of their new marriage.  So Jamie had starting fetching their lunches again, while Claire continued her work in the surgery. 

One afternoon on his way back to the surgery with their lunch, Jamie had spotted Dougal playing with Hamish in the courtyard. 

The sight brought a smile to his face, imagining what it would be like to play with his own bairns like that someday. Both Jamie and Claire were anxious to get to Lallybroch and begin their life as Laird and Lady. 

With the realization that he and Claire would have a tiny bairn in their arms in less than seven months time, Jamie decided he needed a plan to get the price lifted from his heid. He couldn't be a proper husband and father while he was still a wanted man.

Jamie had to find a way to be free, to be a man of worth again, a man who could protect his family, a man who no longer had to hide and steal to survive.

After thinking over all of his options and unable to come up with anything new, he decided it was time to ask for help. 

He kent he needed to speak to Claire, to find out what plan she had been thinking on, that involved selling her gold ring, Frank's ring.

 

Claire met Jamie as he arrived at the door of the surgery, with a smile that melted his heart. "How would you feel about having a picnic in the meadow today, Mr. Fraser?" She asked.

 

"That sounds like a verra pleasant way to spend our afternoon, Mrs. Fraser." He replied with a wink, wrapping one arm around her waist and drawing her close to his side.  They carefully ascended the stairs, emerged in the courtyardand made their way away from the castle to the meadow. 

 

Once they arrived at their destination, Jamie spread out the blanket and set about laying out their picnic.  He helped Claire to sit down and get comfortable, then he settled down to rest next to her, allowing her to lean her back against his chest and relax.

He leaned down, nuzzling his nose into her soft curls and inhaled the scents of his lovely wife. "Mmmmm, ye smell so fresh, like herbs, flowers and you, Sassenach, I canna ever get enough of ye."

 

"Mmmm, you smell good too and I know I will never be able to get enough of you either, my love." 

"You've been tense all morning, Jamie, was there something on your mind, something you wanted to talk to me about?" she asked.

 

He reached up, catching a curl between his fingers, stroking the tendrel and enjoying the silky feel of it he said "I've just been thinking about the bairn, will she have hair the color of mine or will it be brown like yers, will she have yer lovely curls or will her hair be more wavy like my own?"

 

"Is that what has you so worried then, who our baby will look like more? she asked incredulously, displeasure written all over her face.

 

"No, mo nighean donn, those bits I am excited for.  What has me worried is the price on my head.  I want to raise our bairn at Lallybroch, but we canna go back their while I am a wanted man, ye ken?"

 

"Aye, I ken." smiling, she did her best to mock his accent which served only to make Jamie chuckle and a wide grin light up his beautiful face.

 

"I have gone over every option I can think of and I canna seem to come up with a plan to resolve the matter." 

"When we wed, ye asked me to keep yer ring, Frank's ring, in my sporan and said it could be useful to us in removing the price from my head." 

"Ye said ye were working on a plan, have ye worked it out, or can ye tell me what ye have so far so we can figure it out together?"

 

"Well I though if we could sell the ring, we should be able to get a nice amount of coin in return for it, gold is quite valuable you know.  And if we are able to get enough to travel, the rest of my plan should fall into place." Claire beamed at him. 

 

"And where would we be traveling to for this plan of yers to work?"

 

"I thought perhaps I could gain an audience with King George, since I am English it should be no trouble.  We could show him your scars, and with me being a healer, I could explain that it was physically impossible for you to have shot anyone, that it was a miracle that you survived at all with the torture to your body." 

"Hopefully he would sympathize with us and grant you a pardon." She replied bashfully, looking down at her hands clasped in her lap. 

 

"Aye, tis a good plan, save the part about King George, I could never make it all the way to London without being taken by the army."

"But we ken from our past that we can go to France and gain the trust of the French king, King Louis.  He pardoned me before, he even convinced King George to pardon me in Scotland as well."

"My Lady, what would ye think about sailing to France?"

"We could leave for Inverness tomorrow and be on a ship in three days time."

 

"But Jamie, aren't you worried about what will happen in France, everything you told me about last time?" she worried.

 

"Aye, but this time we willna be trying to stop the rebellion, we ken it canna be stopped.  This time we would arrive two months sooner, so there willna be a risk of entanglement with the Prince. The Prince willna be in France for at least four more months."

"We should also be back in Scotland by the time Black Jack Randall arrives in France, so I willna end up in a duel wi' him." 

 

"That should work then, except the part about Randall, will he even be in France?" Claire furrowed her brows in thought. 

"You said last time he was there to help his brother Alex after he was arrested for raping Mary Hawkins.  Didn't you say he was arrested at our residence after Mary and I had been attacked?  If we are there early, I won't meet Mary and Alex shouldn't get arrested." 

"We will still have to deal with Black Jack when we return to Scotland.  Even without a price on your head, that monster will still be after you, he'll still be after both of us." 

"He has some crazy unfounded obsession with each of us. You told me yourself that he wants your body, that he means to break you.  He wants to break the spirit of a proud, honorable, beautiful Scot."

"You told me that he nearly did break you last time, and only my love and stubbornness brought you back from the edge."

"And who knows why he is so obsessed with me, other than he likes to control people, to break them. I guess since I'm a strong, spirited, outspoken, stubborn woman, I must threaten him.  I must be a challenge for him to break as well."

 

"Aye, yer right about that.  We need to decide how to handle Randall as well, that way when we return to Scotland, we will be free to live in peace."

"Last time we had Ned draw up a petition that told of the crimes that Randall had committed and entrusted it to the Duke of Sandringham.  He was to deliver it to the king, but he handed it over to Randall instead, who burned it before my eyes in that filthy cell at Wentworth."

"We could have Ned draw up a petition again,  I could write Jenny to get her account of what happened that day at Lallybroch so Ned could add it to the petition as well." 

"We could wait for Jenny to reply before we go to France, or we could still leave tomorrow. If we leave for France tomorrow, I'll write Jenny before we leave, I'll let her Ken we'll be at Jarod's place in France and she can write us there with her account." 

"After I receive her account, I can send her letter to Ned so he can draw up the petition. Ned would then need to send the petition onto us, so we could present it to King Louise and gain my pardon."

 

"So basically, what you're telling me is we could wait a few weeks here for Jenny's letter or leave for France now and wait a month or more for Ned to draw up the petition and send it to us." 

"I would think the best plan would be to wait for Jenny's letter.  I don't want to be stuck on a ship coming back to Scotland when I'm six or seven months pregnant." Claire said with a huff. 

 

"No, I dinna want that for ye either mo ghràidh.  I'll not risk ye giving birth on a ship.  I think yer right, I'll write Jenny a letter when we get back to the surgery.  Then once we receive her reply we can talk to Ned and make arrangements to sell yer ring and buy passage to France."

 


 

Once they returned to the surgery Jamie sat down to compose the letter to Jenny, the first step in changing the future of his family, all his family forever.

 

 

My Dearest Jenny,

It is my hope that you are doing well these past years since I was taken.

I am versa sorry that I have not returned or written in all this time.

 

 

You see, I had heard rumors that Black Jack Randall had gotten you with child on that day he tied and whipped me beneath the archway. 

 

 

I did not want to shame you, or force you to see my face after what you had sacrificed to save my life.

I recently learned that the rumors were a falsity.  I am embarrassed and wish to apologize for thinking such things of you.

 

 

Now into my reason for writing, I'm sure you have heard of the price on my head. 

After receiving 200 lashes with the cat of nine tails from Randall, I was near death. 

Uncle Dougal and his raiding party helped me to escape from Fort William. 

They helped me sail to France where I recovered in an abbey for a few months.

 

 

During my escape one of the British soldiers was killed,  I was accused of the murder.

I was so weak that I could barely hang on to a horse, let alone shoot a man. 

But I was accused none the less and a price of ten pounds sterling was placed on my head.

 

 

I am writing because I am going to try and have the price removed, I'm going to try and get pardoned.

Why now you are likely asking.

 

 

I have married the most amazing woman, you will love her. 

Her name is Claire, she is kind, caring, she's a healer and we love each other beyond what words can describe.

I cannot wait for you to meet her.

 

 

I'm also very happy to tell you that she is with child, we are expecting our first bairn early this summer. 

I couldn't be happier.

 

 

But with the price on my head I am not a free man, as a wanted man I am unable to properly provide for or protect my family.

 

 

I'm asking for your help.  I need you to write an account of what happened the day that Black Jack came to Lallybroch. 

What he did to me and what he did to you, what they all did.  

 

 

After I receive your account, I plan to have a solicitor draw up a petition listing Randall's crimes against our people.

Claire and I will take the petition to the King of France to seek his help in gaining a pardon.

I have information that I will share with the King Louis that should help us in this regard. 

We will be safe in France until I'm pardoned, then we shall return home to Lallybroch.  

 

 

I eagerly await your response dear sister.

 

 

Always Your Loving Brother

 

 

James

Chapter Text

Jamie had two reasons for sending Murtagh to deliver his letter to Jenny.  Most importantly, Murtagh was the only one he trusted with the information contained with the letter and he knew that Murtagh would not linger at Lallybroch any longer than necessary before returning with Jenny's reply. 

It turns out that Jamie's trust in Murtagh's discretion to the sensitivity of the delicate details included within the letter and expeditious return had not been misplaced.  Murtagh returned to Leoch only eight days after he had left Leoch with Jamie's letter. It took Ned a day to compile the list of complaints against Randall, it took another day to draw up the petition for capture of Randall and Jamie's pardon. 

In a fortnight Jamie and Claire were accompanied by Murtagh, boarding a ship to France.  Thankfully the weather cooperated during their voyage and they stepped off the ship onto French soil after only four days.  Luck had been with them and they had accomplished their goal of arriving in France ahead of Prince Charles. 

Thanks to Jamie's forethought of writing to Jarod when he wrote to Jenny, Jarod had received news of their arrival before the three of them had ever left Scotland.  He had rooms prepared for them and was awaiting their arrival in his parlor when they stepped out of the carriage in front of his residence.  One servant took their bags to deliver them to the room they would occupy and another showed the three of them to the parlor to speak with Jarod before settling in for the night. 

 

"Jarod, it is so good to see ye cousin, thank ye for letting us stay with ye.  Did ye have a chance to consider what I asked of ye in my letter?" Jamie asked as he ushered Claire over to a comfortable chair, he kent she was tired from their long journey and needed to rest.  He also kent she wanted to hear the exchange between him and Jarod, before heading upstairs to fiind their bed and get a proper nights rest. 

 

"Aye, I did and I think I have a solution that will benefit all of us.  You have come right in time, not two nights ago I received information about a vineyard in Portugal." 

"I need someone I can trust to take over operations here so that I can go to Portugal myself to become the France's sole Portuguese wine distributor." 

"You have always had a fine head for figures, I want you to manage my business.  If you are agreed then I can leave in a weeks time and arrive there before any of my competitors receive word of the vineyard."

"I would be willing to give you twenty percent of the profits of all sales while you oversee my wine business in my absence."  Jarod stood back watching Jamie with a hopeful expression.

 

Rubbing a hand over his chin, Jamie paced for a moment, reveling in making Jarod nervous "Forty percent and ye have a deal"

 

"Aye, you'll do just fine.  We have a deal and I'll leave the running of my house to you while I'm gone." 

"Claire, I think you'll be a fine host, you'll need to host a weekly or even biweekly dinner party to bring in new buyers for the wine.  A successful party leads to higher sales and higher profits." Jarod winked at Claire while shaking Jamie's hand. 

"Ask the servants for a list of current buyers, when you send their invitations ask each of them to bring someone that may be interesting in purchasing our wine." 

"If you invite five to ten current buyers to your first party, you should have a good start at making connections."

"It shouldn't take you to long to make the connection that will lead you to a party at Versailles and eventually to the ear of King Louis." 

"I have faith you will obtain your pardon by the time I return from Portugal.  Good luck to you cousin." Jarod said over his shoulder as he walked away to make preparations for his departure. 

 


 

Jamie escorted Claire up to bed, climbed in next to her, pulled her tight against him and fell asleep instantly.  He woke early the next morning, kissed Claire goodbye and left on an important mission, a mission that could not wait for even one more day.

As the carriage pulled up in front of the building, Jamie hoped he had not arrived to early to do what needed to be done.  Jamie climbed out of the carriage, looked around to be sure he had not been seen and walked through the doors of Maison Elise's Brothel. 

As he entered into the main dining room, he was glad to see there were other patrons about, so he took a seat and waited.  Jamie had only just ordered his first whiskey when he spotted him skillfully and without notice, pluck a handkerchief from the pocket of one of the regular patrons of the disreputable establishment.

Jamie discreetly rose from his chair, followed the pick pocket to the alley behind the brothel and caught him by the wrist before he had time to react "What have ye got there lad, I dinna think that belongs to ye?" 

 

"Please don't tell the madam, she will have me arrested." the boy begged while trying to free his arm from Jamie's strong grip.

 

"I'll make ye a deal, ye come to work for me and I'll not tell her.  But no more thieving, ye hear?" 

 

"Work for you, what will you have me do Monsieur?" The boy now curious and no longer struggling asked. 

 

"My wife needs a guard, I canna be wi' her all the time, I have a business to run.  She needs someone to protect her when I canna, someone that is observant and can move quickly without notice when the need arises.  I watched you in there and you would be perfect."

"If you do this, I will look out for you, feed you, give you a place to live and keep you out of the bastille."

 

"You want nothing else from me Monsieur, I only have to guard your wife and you would do this for me?" He asked hopefully

 

"Aye, and no more stealing, what do ye say, will ye do it?"

 

"Oui Milord, I will do it." He replied with a huge grin

 

"One more thing lad, what's yer name so I ken what to call ye?

 

"Claudel, my name is Claudel." He looked down at his shoes in embarrassment.

 

"Well that's not a very manly name, I'll call ye ...... Fergus."

 

"Oui Milord, Fergus is a manly name, I like it." He said.

 

"Good it's settled, now come wi' me.  I'll take ye home, get ye some food, a bath and then ye are to get to bed.  Yer mistress will be up early to start her day, ye must be up and ready to guard her."

 


 

Among the guests of Claire's first dinner party was none other than Marie Louise de La Tour d'Auvergne with her husband Jules, Prince of Guéméné.  Claire became fast friends with Louise and was invited to attend a party at Versailles after only two weeks of knowing her. 

Jamie remembered how much Claire disliked his reaction to Annalise on their first visit to Versailles or the fact that he let her escort him to the King's dressing. 

He did however realize that the King's dressing had been the perfect opportunity to get in his good graces. 

He decided to stay near Claire and they would ask Louise for an introduction to Monsieur Duverney.  Jamie would accompany Monsieur Duverney to the King's private chamber instead of letting Annalise escort him. 

As Monsieur Duverney ushered Jamie to the King's dressing, Murtagh stayed guarding Claire from the attention of the other men in the room. Jamie did not like the attention the other men were paying to his wife.

Once arriving inside the king's private chamber, Jamie again found himself in the position to advise the king on the benefits of eating porridge for breakfast. 

This time at Versailles however turned out quite different than the first time they were there.  Many people that they had encountered before were not even there this time, which helped Claire and Jamie to avoid the mistrust and misunderstandings their delicate relationship had suffered in the past. 

Two days after their initial visit to Versailles, Jamie had received an invitation to join King Louis at an outing to be held in his gardens.  While walking with the King, Jamie discovered that King Louis was in the market to purchase new horses for his stables.  Jamie took the opportunity to advise the king on best purchase for different purposes.

Before to long Jamie was being invited to all types of events and was often seen at King Louis side, he had become one of his most trusted advisers on many topics.  King Louis recognized Jamie's intelligence and honesty, he started to think of him not only as an advisor, but as a close friend. 

It was time for Jamie to begin telling Louis about the Prince's plans of the rebellion. 

 

It was a beautiful day walking through the gardens of Versailles when Jamie began "Your Majesty, recently I have heard some news that may be of some interest to you."

 

"Please, do go on" urged King Louis.

 

"I have it on good authority that your cousin Prince Charles has come to France, that he has been holding secret meetings to raise money to fund a rebellion against the British.  He plans to wage war against King George, he claims his father is the rightful king of not only Scotland but England as well."

 

"And what are your thoughts on his endeavor, Lord Brach Taurach?" King Louis asked calmly.

 

"While it's true that the British army has not been good to our people,  many people, many Scots have suffered at the hands of some of those in the British Army."

"However I dinna believe that a rebellion will change that, I support a Hanover King.  There are a few in his army that abuse their positions and unfortunately myself, my wife and my sister have suffered at the hands of one of those men."

 

"So you are not a Jacobite?  I wish to know of your suffering Lord Broch Taurach, please do go on."

 

"I carry the scars of 200 lashings across my back, I was flogged twice in the space of a week, nearly killed me.  The sight caused my father to have an apoplexy and die, when I passed out from the blood loss."

"The same man attempted to rape my sister on the day I was taken from our land.  He also would have raped my wife on the day I met her, had it not been for my god father interrupting him and rescuing her."

"Him and men like him need to be stopped and justice served, but I have met some good men in the employ of the British Army as well.  Unfortunately men like him give the whole army as well as the citizens of England a bad name." 

"My own mother's clan suspected my wife of being a spy just because she is English.  An unfortunate reputation created by those British soldiers that abuse their power and position."

 

"These are outrageous accusations you bring against this man, do you have any proof? Louis curiously asked as they continue to walk through the gardens. 

 

"Aye, I have the scars on my back and the word of my sister and wife.  We have even spoken to a solicitor who has drawn up a petition against the captain that committed these crimes against us.  We hope to get the petition to King George as well as pledge our loyalty to him, unfortunately we have not found an opportunity to do either of those things."

 

At that Louis's eyebrows rose in a surprised expression.  "A petition you say, I should like to see it, I should also like to see your scars." 

"Tomorrow, come to my palace, and bring Lady Broch Taurach with you, I should like to hear her account of the crimes you have described.  Now, please take your leave, join your lady, I shall see you tomorrow."

 


 

Jamie left the king, almost running to join Claire back at the meal tents.  He was so excited about the news, he could barely contain himself. "Claire, mo nighean donn, I have something I need to speak wi' ye about." He quickly masked his emotions so she wouldna guess what the news was about "I have talked with the king, he has summoned us to his palace tomorrow, he wishes to speak with both of us."

She looked at him confused "He does, what about?"

 

I wrapped both arms around, pulling her close, I nuzzled my nose in her hair and whispered "Walk wi' me and I'll tell ye, there are too many people here to speak freely." she nodded in agreement then took my arm as we started to walk away from the other guests.  

 

"Ok, talk, what is going on?" she asked

 

I couldna hide my excitement anymore as a wide grin spread across my face "We have our audience with the king.  He wants to see my scars, he wants to see the petition and he wants ye to tell him what happened between ye and Randall.  I told him we are loyal to King George and dinna wish for a rebellion, I think he will help to grant my pardon."

 

"What happens if he doesn't help, what if he is just curious and has a morbid obsession for gory details?" She said

 

"I dinna think that is true, but if it is I have another plan that could insure my freedom." 

 

"What might that plan entail and why haven't you talked with me about it?"  she looked at him accusingly.

 

"I only just thought of it today, as I was walking with the king I heard others talking to him about a Duke of Cumberland." 

"The Duke seems to have the power to punish soldiers who get out of line, soldiers like Randall.  He also has the power to grant pardons, albeit the process would be a lot harder and slower, it could be done."

"If the plan with Louis doesna work, we will try the plan with Cumberland.  We won't give up Claire, we will do whatever must be done."

Chapter Text

Jamie noticed that Claire seemed tired, so together they decided it best to go back to Jarod's and rest until they were set to depart for the palace the next morning.  Jamie escorted Claire to seat in the shade of a large willow tree, there she could wait for him while he went to fetch Murtagh and Fergus from the stables. 

The four of them rode back to the residence in a comfortable silence, everything seemed peaceful save Jamie's fingers constant tapping on his left thigh.  Murtagh quirked his eyebrows as if silently asking 'what's going on?'. Jamie simply shook his heid, raised one eyebrow with a tilt of his head toward Fergus, and sent Murtagh a look that said 'We will talk later.'.

Once they arrived at the residence Fergus was sent up to bath while Jamie, Claire and Murtagh gathered in the parlor to discuss what had happened at the gardens.

 

"Alright lad, what's happened, ye seem anxious, is it somethin' I should be worrit about, somethin' we need to prepare for?" Murtagh asked.

 

"Och no, nothing like that.  I spoke to the king today." 

 

"Ye speak to the king most everyday, why has today got ye so wound up?" Murtagh asked with a raised brow.

 

"We spoke of the price on my heid, I dinna tell him I am here for his help, and I won't tell him, not directly.  I must make him think it is his idea to help, it will be a gift from him, instead of my askin' a favor of him, that way."

"He wishes to see me and Claire back at the palace tomorrow morning.  He wants to see the scars on my back, talk to Claire about Randall's attack and read our petition."

 

"That all sounds like what ye wanted from the beginning, so what has ye worrit then lad?" Murtagh asked again.

 

"I'm worried that he will see through me, see that I am asking a favor of him.  The last time we needed something from him, there was a high price to pay."

 

"The last time? When have ye needed anything from the King of France before this?" Murtagh asked now completely confused.  

 

Jamie decided it was time to tell Murtagh about where Claire was from and about the three of them already having lived through these three years since he found Claire at the faerie hill.  He kent his god father would believe him, he had when he had told him before, at least the part about Claire.  He just hoped the auld coot would believe Jamie's part of traveling through the stones as well. 

 

"I have a lot to tell ye, we have a lot to tell ye." Jamie said as he reached over and took Claire's hand in his before continuing. 

"You have heard the stories of the faerie hill, the story of the woman of Balnain.  Claire is the woman of Balnain, she comes from the year 1945.  Now I'll tell ye all the details about Claire later, the important part that ye need to ken right now is about me."

"The three of us, all of us, we have already lived through this time." Murtagh's brows knit together with a frown, Jamie took a breath then went on "We lived through to the morning of April 16, 1746, the day of the battle at Cullodon Moore, the day the Jacobite rising was crushed by the British."

Murtagh's brows raised to his hairline, his eyes got wide and his mouth dropped open, but Jamie went on "That morning, I took Claire to the stones at Craig na Dun to send her back to her time, to save her and our bairn from what was to come.  But the stones didna send her back, they didna work for her again, instead they sent me back to the day we all met her, the day that ye brought her into that cottage and she fixed my shoulder."

"What ye remember of that day and everyday since then, we have already lived through it all, but I am the only one that remembers from before.  Claire doesna even have memory of before."

"I'll tell ye all ye want to ken, but right now I need to tell ye what has me worried about talking to the king tomorrow."

"As I said, the last time we needed a favor from the king, there was a high price to pay, Claire paid that price."

 

At this revelation Murtagh turned and looked at Claire as her eyes got wide and her mouth dropped open "What price did I pay and what was the favor we needed that had such a high price?"  she whispered

 

"Ye asked the king to release me from Bastille, I was locked up there for dueling wi' Randall.  I told ye about the duel and that I was in bastille when ye lost Faith, but I didna tell ye how I gained my release and pardon."

"In payment for my release the king wanted something from ye mo nighean donn.  In return for the payment ye gave him, he granted my release, my pardon for dueling and secured my pardon from King George as well."

"My release and pardon's were granted at the king's pleasure, his pleasure of lying wi' ye, Sassenach." Jamie said as he lowered his head then whispered "I'll not have ye pay that price again, if this doesna happen without him asking that of ye, we will need to leave France and try our hand with the Duke of Cumberland."

 

They all sat in silence for minutes or hours, none of them seemed to notice or sense how much time had passed before Claire spoke up "I did it to buy your freedom." It was a statement, not a question.  "I'll do it again, if I must, I don't want to, but if it means we can be free to live as we please, well then ..... I'll do it." 

 

Jamie's heid shot up, shaking his heid and pulling her hands against his heart he said "No Claire, I willna allow it, ye canna sacrifice yerself like that.  Ye did it last time to save my life, not just buy my freedom.  We have other choices now, last time there was nothing else that could be done.  It willna come to that, I'll make sure of it."

 

She let out a breath that she didn't realize she had been holding, squeezed his hand, nodded her head and said "Good, I was hoping you would say that, I really don't want to.  I think we should get some rest, tomorrow will be here before we know it.  We will deal with what comes, as it comes."

 

"I'll let ye both go up and rest for tonight, but ye'll both be telling me more, I canna believe ye kept this from me." Murtagh stated with a hurt look as he walked out the door, presumably to cool his temper and think over the revelations they had just shared.

 


 

Claire accompanied Jamie to Versailles, while Murtagh stayed behind with Fergus.  The ride to Versailles was made in silence, both of them so deep in their own thoughts that they hardly noticed when the carriage came to a stop to let them out at the palace. Jamie stepped down from the carriage first, then held a hand up to help his wife down.  Arm in arm they were escorted to the king's private chamber.  

They arrived in the chamber and were seated together on a plush red velvet settee to await the king. The servant left, the door clicked shut and a moment later the king came through a door on the opposite side of the room.  Jamie and Claire stood, bowing and curtsying to the king, he gestured for them to sit as he took a seat across from them. 

 

"Yer majesty, we came as ye requested, to show ye our proof of the injustices we have received from a certain captain of the British army.  Shall we begin?" 

The king gave a slight nod and gestured with his hand for Jamie to carry on, so Jamie removed his stock, waist coat and shirt.  He then turned slowly, waiting for the king to take in his back a moment before he spoke up "These are the scars from two lashings, the lashings I told ye about in the garden's yesterday." He continued to stand with his back to the king.

 

"You may put your clothing back on and sit, Lord Broch Taurach, but please do continue, tell me why you were arrested, what did you do to deserve this punishment?" Jamie flinched, he kent he did nothing to deserve such punishment and only hoped after he told the king about the circumstances that he would agree it was unwarranted torture.

 

"As ye ken yer majesty, King George put a levy on all the lands in Scotland.  One day regiment of his majesty's Dragoons came around to our estate, we always gave what was asked of us, we never gave any reason for them to harm or arrest us."

"My father was away at a funeral, so I was up helping in the fields that day, suddenly I heard screams coming from the front of the house.  So I ran down to see what was going on, who was hurt."

"When I rounded the corner, there were two soldiers molesting my sister Jenny.  They were pulling at her clothes and touching her in a way that isna appropriate.  I pulled them off and they hit me so I hit them back."

"Just as I hit the second one a captain came walking out of our front door and raised a musket at me head.  I raised my hands and assured him we didna want any trouble and they could take what they wanted."

"But he grabbed my sister by the hair, pulled her head back and began groping her bosom.  I lunged toward him, but the men I had hit got hold of each of my arms to hold me back."

"I yelled for him to leave my sister alone, but that only seem to encourage him.  He cut my sisters laces and dress, exposing her bosom to me and all the soldiers standing in the door yard."

"I tried to pull away from the two men holding me, but the captain raised his gun to me again, then told the men to string me up by my wrists under the arch of our dooryard."

"He whipped me a few times with a belt, while the men held my sister still exposed.  My sister cried out for him to stop, he said he would if she could offer him something better."

"I was afraid for her virtue so I told her not to go with him, even if he slit my throat.  The next thing I kent I was trussed up in a wagon on my way to Fort William.  They said I was being locked up for obstruction, I guess that's what me trying to protect my sister's virtue was called."

 

"Once I arrived at the Fort, I was placed in a cell and a couple of bannocks were thrown through the bars to the floor." 

"I decided I needed to get back and protect my family, so I put the bannocks inside my shirt and tried to escape.  But I was caught as soon as I left my cell." 

"I received one hundred lashes for stealing the bannocks and another hundred for trying to escape.  But neither of those are the reason I have a price on my head."

"The night after I received the last lashes, some of my clansmen helped me to escape.  A soldier was shot and killed during my escape and I was accused of it."

"I was so weak I could barely hang onto the horse, let alone hang onto or aim a gun and kill someone, but I am wanted for his murder."

 

"That is quite a tale Lord Broch Taurach, you do seem to have the scars to prove it.  What is the Captain's name that inflicted this injustice on you?" King Louis said exasperated

"I should like to see him punished, we do not lay down two hundred lashes in such a short span of time, you are lucky you are not dead from it.  The wounds need time to heal before more can be added." 

"You said this happened four years ago, yes?  The lashes on your back were laid down with such hate, they should never scar like that if the punishment is inflicted properly."

 

"His name is Johnathan Wolvertan Randall, Captain of His Majesty's Eighth Dragoons.  He is the same man responsible for all the atrocities I told you about and I'm sure many we are unaware of." 

"We have brought along our petition which outlines everything, we would like you to take a look at it then ask any questions you still have of us."

 

"Very well, I give you both leave to go down to the kitchen and get something to eat while I read over your petition."

 


 

After enjoying a lavish meal for almost two hours, Jamie and Claire were summoned back to the king's chambers. 

This time the king was already waiting for them when they arrived.

 

"Please come and sit, we have much to discuss." They both took as seat on the settee they had occupied before and waited for the king to continue.

"While you were enjoying your meal I read over your petition and made some inquiries of my own."

"Your petition mentioned a Duke of Sandringham as someone helping this Captain Randall, my informants tell me this Sandringham is a likely a traitor, playing both sides.  He is expected in Paris in a weeks time and will be arrested when he steps off the ship." Claire and Jamie exchanged matching expressions of shock, surprise and triumph.

"My informants also tell me that this Captian Randall has quite the reputation, he is known as 'Black Jack Randall' and earned this name because of the numerous atrocities he has committed against the British people." 

"Not only has he committed these crimes in the highlands of Scotland, but at every post he has held, including some committed on his own men." 

"I have found that Sandringham has been protecting him, I do not yet know why, but I will find out."

"I am going to help you gain your pardon, I do not need anymore proof, I believe your story and what is written in your petition."

"I will send a message to George about this Captain, he will be captured and punished for his crimes.  None of you will have to face him again."

"I will keep your petition and have my scribes make two copies, you may come back and fetch your copy tomorrow, I shall keep the original and I shall send one with my message to King George."

"I believe you are a loyal subject and do not wish to have any part in any uprising against King George.  However in exchange for my help, I will require something from you in return."

 

Claire and Jamie both swallowed audibly and exchanged a look of trepidation then Jamie asked "What is it that you require of us your Majesty?"

Chapter Text

The king looked over Claire with a lingering eye, then turned his attention to Jamie and said "It is not a secret, the way I usually require repayment for the favors I give. However you can take solace in knowing that I will not be asking payment from your Lady Broch Taurach for this favor, she has already suffered enough, you both have already suffered enough."  

"My request should be quite simple for you to complete.  It should not cost you nor your Lady any physical or emotional turmoil."

"I seek information about my cousin, Prince Charles.  As you have informed me yourself, Lord Broch Taurach, he is in my country illegally and holding illegal meetings for a cause which I do not support.  I want to know everything, I want to know who he is talking to, how much money he has raised, who his allies are."

"Lord Broch Taurach, you will befriend my cousin, become a confidant, gain his secrets, find out who his supporters are and bring that information to me."

"I will give you one month to bring me as much information as you are able to gather.  Once I have received your findings and if your information proves useful to me, then I will send correspondence to King George informing him of your loyalty and requesting you to be pardoned for the crimes with which you have been charged with."

"Are you both in agreement with this offer?" King Louis asked

 

We both nodded and said "Aye, we are in agreement, we thank ye for yer help, your Majesty, this is more than we ever could have hoped for, Thank ye, truly." 

 

"Good, its settled then, you may both take your leave now.  I expect to see you here again in one months time, do not let me down Lord Broch Taurach, I do not grant favors lightly." The king said and we were ushered from his chambers.

 

We walked through the halls of Versailles and out to our awaiting carriage in a stunned silence, in silent agreement we decided that waiting till we were well on our way before either of us spoke would be best. 

 

"Well, at least I didn't have to sleep with him this time." Claire said dryly.

 

"Aye, there is that, I am glad of it as well.  I expected a request, but I never expected him to request that of me. This will turn out to be quite simple, we already ken all of the Prince's secrets."

"I willna have to spend any time with the Prince, he willna ken of me, he won't see me as a friend, he will never ken my name and my name won't end up on his letter of support to his father in the rising."

"I willna become a traitor to the crown, again.  I willna have to join the rebellion, I willna have to fight or sacrifice my kinsman for a list cause."

"This would have been a terribly difficult situation if we didna already ken everything we need to ken for this to work.  I would have had to spend months at Maison Elise, spying on Charles, months of Fergus stealing his letters and months trying to decode them.  Months away from ye, mo nighean donn." 

"I dinna want to go through any of that again, I dinna want to take a chance at repeating anything that happened the first time.  None of what we experienced before was worth what we sacrificed and lost."

 

"Oh Christ Jamie, you're right, we just need to compile a list of everything we learned before, then take it to the King.  This couldn't have turned out better, this is exactly the chance we need to set it all right."

"This gives us time to focus on the wine business, spending time with each other and making sure this baby makes it into the world alive and healthy." Claire exclaimed

 

"Aye, Sassenach, it feels as though we have made the correct choices, taken the right path this time.  We still need to remain cautious and continue making the right choices, for us, for our family.  No more trying to change things that are bigger than us." 

 

"Agreed." She replied with a heart stopping smile on that beautiful face.

 

When we arrived back at Jarod's residence, we had formulated a fool proof plan to gain our freedom.  Now we just had to complete the first step to begin to carry the plan out.

 


 

Jamie had planned to begin making his list about Charles after everyone had finished their dinner and retired to their chambers, but Murtagh had other ideas and confronted Jamie and Claire about what they had started to tell him.  He wanted to know everything and he would not wait any longer. 

Jamie decided it would be better coming from him, so he started with the part about where Claire was from first, asking Murtagh to keep his questions till the verra end. 

 

"Claire came through the stones at Craig na Dun, she came from her time in 1945."

"She was born in the year 1918."

"She joined the British Army and became a combat nurse during the second world war in 1939."

"She learned some of her healing skills in the war."

"She married her first husband, Frank just before joining the war."

"Claire and her husband were on holiday in Inverness when she fell through the stones."

 

"Her parents died when she was only five years old, so her uncle adopted and raised her as his own."

"Her uncle was an archaeologist, which is a scientists who studies artifacts from the past."

"Because of her uncles profession, they traveled all over the world in search of ancient artifacts."

"She did not have a formal education because of their frequent travels, but had lessons from many tutors."

"Claire learned many of her healing skills and much of her knowledge of herbs and plants from their travels around the world."

 

Jamie took a breath "That is the basic outline about Claire, do you have any questions so far, Murtagh?"

 

"Not yet, I want to ken everything first, ye said ye went through the stones yerself as well, tell me about that then." Murtagh grunted.

 

"I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning."

"I was in the cottage with the other men when you brought Claire in, she fixed my shoulder and Dougal decided to bring her with us.  Nobody trusted her in the beginning, the men were even rude."

"She rode on my horse with me and warned us about the ambush at Cocknammon Rock,  Dougal thought she was a spy because she knew of it, but she knew because she was from the future, not a spy."

"I was shot during the ambush but didna realize how bad it was, after riding awhile with it bleeding, I fainted and I fell off my horse and she mended me."

"Once we returned to the castle, Claire cleaned and bandaged my arm.  That is when I fell in love with her, but I didna tell her for a long while after that."

 

"I was sent to help Auld Alec in the stables and it was a few days before I saw Claire again.  She came to see me in the stables, brought me lunch and new bandages."

"I stood up and took Laorghaires punishment during the grievances ceremony in the hall, trying to impress Claire, it didna work, she just scolded me for getting injured again."

"Claire was brought with us on the road to collect rents. Dougal said we needed a healer along with us.  She ended up going to an English command, and being questioned and beaten by Randall."

"She agreed to marry me for her own protection.  I agreed to it when Dougal asked, nobody but myself kent that I married her to protect her and because I loved her."

 

"Hugh Monroe told me about the deserter and I went to meet him."

"While I was away, Claire saw the stones at Craig na Dun and tried to make it back to them, to get back to her own time."

"Before she got to the stones the British army captured her and took her to Fort William For questioning."

"We went to rescue her, I arrived just in time to see Randall trying again to rape her."

"We got back to the Inn after her rescue and I punished her with my belt for putting all the men in danger.  She was angry with me for many days after that."

"Randall kent I was in Scotland again so we made haste back to Leoch."

 

"Once we returned Colum was angry with me and Laorghaire tried to seduce me."

"Laorghaire placed an ill wish under our bed and even lured Claire to Geillis house where they were both arrested and tried for witchcraft."

"I was able to rescue Claire just before they were about to drag her to the pyre."

"We rode hard away from Cranesmure, stopped in the woods and she told me the truth about herself, the truth about when she was from."

 

"I took her to the stones myself, but she chose to stay with me."

"I took her to Lallybroch, where we both finally admitted that we loved each other."

"The watch showed up, the deserter was with them, he blackmailed me for more money, but Ian ran him through."

"The leader of the watch found out that we killed him, so I had to go with them to rob a rent party in return for them not turning me into the English.."

 

"It was a setup that the deserter had arranged to buy his own freedom.  I was captured by the British army but escaped.  You and Claire searched for me for about a month." 

"You sword danced and she dressed as a lad and sang The Reels o’ Bogie to help me to find you."

"I was recaptured when I tried to reach you and taken to Wentworth to be hanged."

"I was on the gallows when Randall rode up, stopping my execution."

"Randall locked me in a dungeon, where Claire found me and tried to rescue me, but Randall caught her and threatened her life."

"I traded my body for her freedom, Randall raped me, beat me, whipped me and branded me that night.  I wanted to die."

"You, Claire, Willie, Angus and Rupert saved me by herding coos into the prison in a stampede."

 

"We escaped to France, where Claire saved my body and soul.  Claire told me she was with child."

"I infiltrated Prince Charles Jacobite cause, we drank with him and stole letters and decoded them to learn his secrets."

"We did everything we could to stop the rising,  Randall raped Fergus at Maison Elise when I went to pay one of Charles debts."

"I challenged him to a duel, ended up stabbing him in the cock with my sword.  We were both arrested right after he fell to the ground."

"I spent three months in the bastille, w e lost our daughter Faith because of it."

"Claire learned what happened to Fergus and slept with the king to buy my freedom from bastille and pardon for my crimes in Scotland."

 

"We went back to Lallybroch to heal, we weren't there long when we received a letter from Charles thanking me for supporting his cause." 

"He had forged my name on, making me a traitor to the crown.  I had no choice but to join his cause and try to win, even though Claire kent we would lose."

"We joined his army, even convinced my grandsire, Lord Lovat to send men to join."

"It all led to Cullodon Moore."

 

"On the morning of the day I took Claire to Craig na Dun, Claire and I had been discussing poisoning Prince Charles to try and save the army from dying on Cullodon Moore."

"Dougal overheard us discussing it and came after Claire, he wanted to kill her, instead I killed him.  As I was leaning over Dougal to pull my dirk from his chest, Willie walked in and saw what I had done."

"I asked him for two hours to take care of some things before he sounded the alarm on what I had done, he agreed."

"That is when I took Claire to Craig na Dun, fell through the stones myself and started all over again.  A second chance to make the right choices, if you will."

 

"That about sums it up, do ye have any questions now?"

 

"Aye, only one for now, but I'll need more time to think on it.  Why didna ye just tell me all this from the beginning, did ye think ye couldna trust me, did ye think I wouldna believe ye?" Murtagh asked. 

 

"Aye, we do trust ye, we didna want to burden ye wi' it.  So far wi' this second chance, there hasna been a need to bring any of it to light."

"Think on it if ye must, Claire and I must go to bed, we need our rest.  I must compile a list in the morning, it will need my full concentration.  I will see ye in the morning."

"Come Sassenach, yer wilting before my verra eyes, let's get ye up to yer bed."

Chapter Text

Jamie woke peacefully after the best nights sleep he'd gotten since leaving Scotland.  Finally able to relax, knowing that all their plans were starting to come together, Jamie decided that he could stay in bed a little while longer.  After all they had a month before the king was expecting their findings, there was no need to rush to compile his list.

He slowly pulled the duvet down and away from Claire's body so as not to wake her, revealing the tiny swell that held their growing bairn.  Jamie moved his body down along Claires curled form to bring his head closer to where their baby lay within.  

He gently placed his hands over the swell, using his thumb to stroke tiny circles over the soft skin beneath.  Claire had told him that at about four and a half months along, in this phase of the pregnancy that the baby should be able to hear his voice, so he began whispering in his native tongue to the precious life that grew inside of her. 

 

 

"God, shield my beloved, 

my white dove and the child that she bears.

Preserve them from violence and from harm

in this place and every place,

on this night and on every night."

 

Jamie crawled back up, laying his heid on the pillow next to Claire, he wrapped an arm around her and gathered her close to his chest.  She still slept soundly and had not been bothered by his conversation with the bairn.

He tried to drift back to sleep but his mind wouldna let him get any rest, instead it wandered.  He thought about the bairn, he kent it wasna likely to be the same bairn they lost before, not Faith. This time he had gotten Claire with child five months sooner than he had before, he wondered of the chances of it being Faith's soul that Claire carried in her womb. 

Would he finally get to see the daughter they had lost, or would she be different?  Would this child have Claire's brown hair and amber eyes, or would she look more like him?  He kent only time would tell the truth of it, but he was so anxious to finally hold his child in his arms, to watch the bairn suckle at Claire's breast, to simply live and breath.

Finally reconciling himself that everything was different this time, everything would be fine, he let himself drift back to sleep, his wife held close to his heart and his unborn child cradled in his hands.

 


 

Claire had so far not suffered from morning sickness this time, so when the sounds of retching drifted over to wake Jamie, he sat up straight and froze.  Looking over to the corner of their chamber to see Claire rubbing small circles over Fergus hunched form, Jamie took a deep breath and sat back against the headboard.  

He calmed his breathing and told himself that this was real, his coming through the stones had not been a dream that he was only now waking from. "Sassenach, is the lad alright?"

 

"Yes, he will be fine.  He came in to tell me that he was not feeling well, so I got up to make him a pallet by the fire so I could keep him close.  As I was sitting him onto the stool to wait for me his skin started to look green, and we barely made it to the chamber pot before he was loosing his breakfast."

"I'm running low on the herbs that will help calm his stomach, I will need to find an apothecary so I can replenish my stores.  Do you think you could watch Fergus while I do that?" She asked.

 

"I will have Murtagh stay with the lad, I ken of a place.  I remember from before that the proprietor is a skilled, knowledgeable healer himself.  In fact, he was a friend of yours from before.  He even healed yer body when we lost Faith, he saved yer life.  I should like to see him, I owe the man a debt of gratitude, though he will not ken it."

 

"Oh, yes I should like to meet him as well." Claire replied as she tucked Fergus into his temporary bed.  She gathered her clothing and stepped behind the dressing screen to change her clothes with as much privacy that was available.  She decided to forego the stays, she wasn't large enough yet for them to be in the way. 

But the restrictive clothing of the eighteenth century was becoming quite uncomfortable the further along she got into this pregnancy. 

 

While Claire finished dressing, Jamie had gone to fetch Murtagh up to stay with Fergus.   As Jamie rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs he noticed that Murtagh was sitting at the table enjoying a large breakfast. 

Watching Murtagh and seeing the healthy look of him, reminded Jamie that he and Claire had not had breakfast. 

Suddenly his mind flashed back to how starved Claire looked the day he tried to send her back through the stones. 

He shook his head in an attempt to dispel the dark images that had crossed through his mind.  He gathered a tray, piling it high with food enough for both of them, told Murtagh of their plans and bounded back up the stairs to their chamber. 

Claire was awaiting his return when he stepped through the door, he heard a loud grumble come from her stomach at the sight of the food he brought with him.

 

"Oh, I guess it would be a good idea to eat before we leave, I am famished." Claire said as she rubbed her belly and licked her lips.

"Did you tell Murtagh that we need him to watch Fergus until we return?" she asked. 

 

"Aye, I did, he is just finishing up his breakfast, he should be up soon.  We will have some breakfast while we wait, we can go once he comes to keep an eye on Fergus."

 


 

The carriage came to a stop at the bottom of the street, the hill was much to steep for the carriage to take them to the door of the Apothecary, they would need to walk the rest of the way.  

Jamie climbed out of the carriage first not waiting for the coachman to place the wooden step.  After Jamie had stepped aside the coachman placed the step and reached up to offer his hand to assist Claire in stepping out of the carriage, but Jamie beat him to. 

Claire placed her hand in Jamie's hand, lingering a moment in the open door of the carriage before gathering her layers of skirts and stepping down.

"We have a bit of a walk Sassenach, do ye think ye can make it?" He asked with a smirk, offering his arm to her for support.  She looked up at him with a raised brow that challenged his words.

"Come, we will go slow.  Murtagh is wi' Fergus, no sense in rushing." Ever since they had realized that Claire was with child, Jamie had worried about what had happened last time they were in Paris.  He was terrified of the same thing happening again, so he made sure to never leave her side.  He would do anything to make sure she wasna pushing herself to hard.

 

"I am not a fragile piece of glass Jamie, I am perfectly capable of walking up a small hill for a few minutes." She said

 

Jamie chuckled, placing his free hand over the one she held in the crook of his arm he said "I ken that Sassenach, but ye ken I worry about ye.  Ye recall that I ken what happened last time when yer body was too fragile, we must make assurances so that doesna happen again."

 

"Yes, you are right, we don't want that to happen again.  Did I know what happened last time, did I ever tell you?" she asked now curious

 

"Aye, ye did, If I recall correctly I think ye called it placental abruption.  I am going to make sure ye are not on yer feet more than necessary this time." 

"We are going to do everything we can this time, so ye dinna have to go through that loss, so we dinna have to go through that loss again." 

They continued up the street for the few minutes it took before they arrived at their destination.  Jamie held the door for Claire, then followed her inside. There was a girl that seemed to be running the shop so Jamie asked in French for the proprietor of the shop.  "Est le proprietaire ice?"

 

"Oui, Monsieur, Maitre Raymond. The servant answered him then walked to the back of the shop, presumably to fetch him. 

 

As they waited for Master Raymond to show himself, Claire wandered around the shop picking up and putting down things.  She hoped this man would be able to help with the list of things she needed.  She hated for Fergus to suffer, the poor boy had been so loyal and had begun to feel like a son to both of them. 

 

Claire was startled when suddenly next to her was standing a man that reminded her quite literally of a frog, what he said surprised her even more. "Bonjour Madonna, it is so nice to see you again.  Although I am a bit surprised, I did not expect to see you so soon.  You are a few months early are you not?  Since you are here so soon, this must mean you have already changed some things.  Perhaps you are now on the correct path."

 

That caught Jamie's attention at once, both him and Claire were shocked at what Raymond's had revealed. 

Jamie stalked over, bringing himself to full height in a threatening manner.  "What do you mean about changing things?"

 

"Well surely you must know, Red Man.  You have traveled yourself, have you not.  Is this timeline not different from the first time you lived it?"

"But I can see that you Madonna, you have no memory of living through the years with your Red Man, this is the first time for you."

"Madonna, you must let me teach you things.  You must do this for the sake of the babe you carry.  I will not be with you when the babe is born this time." Raymond stated.

 

"If I am to believe you, then you must know how I lost my baby before, what could you possibly teach me that would keep something like that from happening again?" Claire asked. 

 

“ You have many skills that you do not yet have knowledge of Madonna, you can learn of them yourself in time, but that would take many years, decades.”    

“I can teach you how to access those skills now.  You are very powerful, powerful beyond measure.  For you truly are Airmid.”  

 

Jamie froze, eyes widening. He had heard the stories, stories of another Celtic Witch.  After having called her La Dame Blanche last time in jest, he wasn't sure what to think of the possibility of her truly being a diety, a goddess, a powerful witch that held life in her hands.  Able to heal with only a touch.

 

“Though I have no memory of a previous life, you do seem to have known us and my husband did say he knew of you from before, that you were even a friend of mine.  So, I will trust that what you say is true.  I will take you up on your offer, but not today, tomorrow perhaps.”   

“Today I have a sick child at home, I am in need of some herbs to help him heal.  I have made a list of what I need.”  Claire said as she handed Master Raymond the list.   “Do you have these items perhaps, can you get them for me?”  

 

“Oui Madonna, I have these items, I can help you.  Please wait here while I get them for you.”  

 

Raymond went to the back of his shop to gather the items on Claire’s list, he was gone but a few moments.  Jamie and Claire left the shop thanking Master Raymond and made their way back down the street to their awaiting carriage.  

 

Once the carriage had begun to pull onto the road and make its way back toward their residence Claire asked  “Jamie, what did he mean by me having skills I do not yet know of or being powerful?  Do you know anything about it, is this something that happened before?  And who or what is  Airmid ”  

 

“I  dinna  ken Sassenach, ye always came to see him by  yerself , before.  Ye never mentioned anything about him teaching ye special skills or of being powerful.”  

“ Airmid  is   the Celtic Goddess of Healing. She was the finest member of the Tuatha De  Danaan , the most ancient race of deities and known as Mother of Herbal Healers, Sacred Herbs, and all things connected to the art of healing.”  

“She was known for her magical healing work, mainly for healing those who fell in battle.  Due to her commendable and magical healing work, she is worshiped as a goddess of Witchcraft and magic.”  

“A  dhia  Sassenach, do ye think it could be true?  I have always  kent  ye were special, but do ye think ye could be the goddess Airmid?”  

 

“Are  you  serious right now, Jamie, of course I’m no Goddess.  Master Raymond is just a delusional old man, who seems to know a bit more about herbs than I do.  So, I will indulge him at least once to see what I can learn from him.”   

“But I definitely don’t expect anything magical, I mean really.”  Claire said as she rolled her eyes.  

 

“ Wasna  it  magic  what brought ye to me, what  other  explanation do ye have for the stones at Craig  na  Dun?”   

 

“Hmmm, I don’t know, this all just seems a bit  improbable to be real , I guess I will find out tomorrow. “   she shrugged then sat back, watching the scenery passing by and drifted off to her own thoughts. 

 


 

The next morning Claire was up bright and early, she woke Jamie, excited to go see Raymond and begin her lessons.  She had dreamed all night about healing powers and what more she would be able to do if she really did have some kind of untapped mystical healing abilities.

Jamie escorted Claire back to Master Raymond's shop, he took them to the back of the shop to begin her lessons.  The things they would be doing needed to be kept hidden from prying eyes. 

 

"Alright Madonna, you are able to heal through the power of touch, but that is not all.  You can lay hands on a patient and see in your minds eye what the diagnosis is." 

"We are first going to test your abilities, see what you are able to do.  I will cut my hand, not deep and you will attempt to heal it."

 

Claire and Jamie exchanged a skeptical look then turned their attention back to Master Raymond who had just drawn a blade across the palm of his hand.  Blood began to well up and pool in his palm as he talked Claire through what she needed to do.

 

"Hold your hand over mine, there is no need to lay your hands against my skin, you can see the problem.  Once your hand is hovering above mine, close your eyes, good.  Now visualize the wound, once you have done that, visualize the edges of the wound mending themselves back together."

"Put everything else out of your mind, you must focus on healing the wound.  See the cut in your mind, watch as it heals." Master Raymond instructed

 

Jamie watched, captivated by what he saw, Claire's hands were glowing the most beautiful shade of blue he had ever seen.  The light seemed to be going into the cut on Master Raymond's hand, the wound was coming back together, as if it was being stitched by an invisible needle.  Jamie shook his head to clear his mind, but when he looked back it was still happening.

 

"Good, that is very good, now see the scar in your mind, can you see it?" Master Raymond asked. 

 

"Yes I can see it." she answered.

 

"See the scar, watch as it fades, keep watching till it fades away and disappears,  watch as the healthy unmarred skin replaces the scar.  Very good, now open your eyes." Master Raymond said with a smile. 

 

Jamie couldn't believe his eyes, the cut had turned into a light pink scar, but now even that was fading like it had never been there, then suddenly it was gone.   As Claire opened her eyes, the light coming from her hands faded, her hands looked normal again.  Jamie was speechless as he looked at Claire astonished at what he had just witnessed. 

 

"Until you build up your tolerance to this type of healing, it will be very draining for you.  You must start small, with small injuries or sicknesses.  You can continue to practice on your own.  You can come see me if you have any questions.  Good luck Airmid and welcome back.

 

Chapter Text

Master Raymond walked them to the front of the shop, led them to the door, handed Claire her supplies and said their goodbyes.  The couple made their way down the street in silence, separated by their own thoughts.  Arriving at their awaiting carriage, Jamie helped Claire in before climbing in and settling himself down on the seat next to her.  They exchanged the same look of wonder before Claire broke the silence.

 

"What the bloody hell was that? Did that really just happen? How am I supposed to practice on my own? Jamie, we need to come back."  Claire burst out without taking a breath.

 

"I dinna ken what that was, but whatever it was, it was a miracle.  I have never seen anything like it Claire, yer hands were glowing with a blue light.  I watched the cut on Master Raymonds hands heal before my verra eyes, then the scar disappeared as if it was never there.  Ye truly are a special creature, mo ghràidh.  Aye, we will come back tomorrow."

"But we canna let anyone see what ye can do, ye will surely be burned as a witch.   We must keep this secret to ourselves."

"Yes, you're right,  we can't let anyone see or know, we must be careful."  Claire replied with conviction.

 

They fell into a comfortable silence for the rest of the ride home, each contemplating what just happened and what they would do now.  Claire's new powers were not something Jamie had ever imagined, what would this mean for their future?  

Arriving home brought reality back in a flash, both Jamie and Claire had things that needed to be attended to.  Claire went straight to the kitchen with her herbs to make some ginger tea for Fergus, while Jamie went to the study to begin compiling his list for the king. 

Once the tea was ready, she made her way upstairs to the chamber her and Jamie shared. She poured a cup of tea for Fergus and helped him to slowly sip it till it was gone.  He later back and tell soundly asleep within moments.

The ginger tea seemed to be helping Fergus immensely, but Claire was curious if she could use her powers to determine exactly what was ailing the boy.  Claire sent Murtagh down to the kitchen to have some lunch, she wanted to be alone while she used her powers. 

Fergus was asleep curled up on his side, so she very carefully rolled him onto his back.  She gingerly pulled the blanket back from his body, placed her hands on his stomach, closed her eyes and concentrated.  She couldn't see anything, so she tried to remember exactly what it was that Master Raymond had her do before.  

She remembered he had said to clear her mind and only focus on the wound, so she tried again.  Clearing her mind, she focused on Fergus' body, but she still didn't see anything.  Suddenly she heard footsteps outside the door, so she hastily pulled the blankets back up over Fergus' body and quickly moved to stand by the hearth. 

She looked toward the door, slowly it swung open and in walked Jamie. "How's the lad then, has he woken up?"

 

"Yes, he was awake when we returned, I was able to get him to drink some ginger tea.  If it's what I think it is, he should be feeling better by morning."  Claire replied

 

Jamie's brow raised as he walked closer to her "Sassenach, what is it ye think the lad has and why do I get the feeling that ye are hiding something?"

 

"I believe he has a mild case of the grippe.  I'm not trying to hide anything, it's just .... well .... I tried to diagnose him, to see what was wrong, with my powers."  She replied sheepishly.

 

"Tried, so I take it that it didna work then. Can ye show me what ye did, I didna take my eyes off ye when ye healed Master Raymond, I may be able to help ye, I could tell ye if ye were doing something differently."  He suggested. 

 

"Well yes, that might help, if you wouldn't mind."  Claire said as she walked back over to where Fergus was snoring peacefully on his palette.

 

Jamie followed her over to Fergus, moving to stand on the other side of the boy, he gestured for her to begin.

 

Claire again pulled the blanket back, placed her hands on Fergus' belly, closed her eyes and concentrated but saw nothing. She opened her eyes, shrugged in defeat and looked at Jamie in hopes he saw something that she may have missed.

 

"I saw your hands cast the blue light again, but why are ye putting her hands on his belly?"  Jamie inquired

 

"Well since I'm not entirely sure what is wrong with him, I figured If I put my hands in the middle of his body I should have the best chance at seeing what was wrong."

 

"Didna ye tell me that grippe is in yer chest, something with yer breathing?  Should ye be placing yer hands there instead."

 

"Yes, you are quite right" she said then tried again, placing her hands on his chest, she went through the same steps, still she didn't see anything.

It doesn't seem to be working, I need to learn how to use these powers, otherwise what good are they.

 

Jamie pulled the blanket back over Fergus' little body, then reached across and took both of Claire's hands in his.  He stood and guided her to stand with him by the hearth, turning her away from him he wrapped his arms around her growing waist and gathered her against him. 

Placing his chin on her shoulder, he turned his nose into her hair and inhaled deeply.  "We will visit Master Raymond as often as ye need, for as long as ye need, mo nighean donn."

 


 

The next morning Jamie accompanied Claire back to the apothecary, she was anxious to learn more, to see what she was missing. When they entered the shop, Master Raymond was waiting for them. 

"Come Madonna, I can see you have many questions, let us begin your lessons." Master Raymond gestured for them to follow him to the back of the shop once again. "Tell me, what it is you would like ask?"

 

Claire explained to Master Raymond what she had tried to do with Fergus as well as her frustration about not being able to diagnose him.

 

"Oui Madonna, I understand your frustration.  You must understand that this takes time, you have not yet learned how to diagnose injury or infection.  We will focus our attention on that today, but I must prepare you, the way to diagnose is the same as that of accessing memories.  You must not be frightened by what you will see and feel."  Master Raymond said as he directed her and Jamie to have a seat. 

 

Claire nodded, ready to learn everything she can about her newfound abilities. 

 

"Monsieur Fraser, you will be of assistance to your lovely wife, if you please."  Master Raymond said.

"Madonna, place your finger tips on either side of your husbands head, right at his temples.  Close your eyes, clear your mind and listen to what his body tells you, feel what his body feels."

 

Claire did as she was directed, at first she heard nothing but complete silence, felt nothing but stillness.  Then as if being consumed in a dream, she could hear Jamie's heart thumping loudly in time with hers, she could feel his heart reaching out to her.  She felt his need to care for and protect her, his eternal love, for her. 

Then she could see, images flashing before her eyes, moments in time that she had no memory of.  Moments of the life that Jamie had described to her, she was overcome with the emotion.  She wanted to pull her hands away, but she felt the drawn to see,to feel and learn more.

Suddenly like rapid fire, memories came to her, but these memories were different, memories of the soul.  Memories of Jamie's soul as well as her own, but these memories were from many lifetimes, different lifetimes.  Memories from the beginning of time, she could now see that her and Jamie were two parts of one soul, forever coming together, always intertwined.

Together they were strongest, he gave her strength as she gave him purpose.  Their love was unlike any other, one to last for all of time, they would always come together.  Like two magnets once they came together, they could never be torn apart. 

Suddenly Claire felt at peace, she opened her eyes, removed her fingers from Jamie and smiled at him with such tenderness and understanding like she had not felt before.

 

Jamie opened his eyes, returning her tender gaze, he looked into her soul.   They stayed like that for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only minutes.  Jamie reached for her hands, stroking his thumbs over her knuckles he asked. "Was that real, did you see all of that, have we always been one?"

 

Claire leaned forward placed a tender kiss on his cheek, then she reached up to lightly stroke her fingers over the stubble on his cheek and down his jaw.  "Yes my love, I saw everything, it's real, it's all real, we are one, we are meant to be together."

 

Suddenly their reverie was broken as Master Raymond cleared his throat to regain their attention. "Well Madonna, it appears you have unlocked your mind.  All that is left is for me to tell you what you are and are not capable of."

"You share a special bond with your husband, he is the other half of your soul, the only one that you can share your memories with. "

"You are very powerful, but cannot heal everything, you cannot bring a person back from the dead.  You cannot regrow a severed limb, you cannot repair diseases contained within the body since birth."

"Most important you must hide this gift, there are those that will accuse you of witchcraft.  If you must heal someone it is best to do so while they sleep.  You must always keep your Red Man with you, he gives you the strength you need to heal."

 

"Master Raymond I cannot thank you enough.  I have a couple of questions though, if you don't mind my asking."

"You healed me of fever and saved my life when Faith was born, am I able to do that for myself, if the need arises?"

 

"Oui Madonna, you can heal yourself, it takes great concentration to do so, you must visualize every part of your own body.  The skeletal system, the muscular system, the nervous system, blood paths, all of it and see what needs repaired."  

"You can diagnose other people in this way, but you must move your hands above each part of a person's body to locate the affliction." 

"What is your other question Madonna?" Master Raymond replied

 

"Jamie is perfect to me, but he carries physical as well as mental scars, am I able to heal these?"  She asked lowering her eyes to keep from seeing Jamie's reaction to her question.

 

"Oui, you can heal your Red Man, but as with anyone, he must want to be healed.  You cannot heal anyone unless they are willing to believe it possible and want it for themselves." 

 

Claire raised her head to look into Jamie's eyes, to her surprise he was looking back at her with a smile upon his face.  He gave her hands a gentle squeeze as he nodded almost imperceptibly, an agreement to her need to help him heal. 

 

"Madonna, you must continue your traditional healing as well, keep using your herbs and knowledge from your time in the twentieth century.  All of your knowledge will be of use to you, you cannot depend on your special abilities alone."

"I will send you on your way now, what you have accomplished today is more than I could have ever expected.  You will need your rest, I will be leaving soon, I do not expect to see you again." Master Raymond stated as he walked them back to the front of the apothecary.

 

"Where are you going, why are you leaving?" Claire questioned, confused.

 

"I must leave Paris, the King is going to be searching for people to execute soon, people that he suspects of practicing the dark arts.  You must take care, Madonna, do not practice your abilities where anyone can see."

"We will meet one another again, but likely not in this life.  I wish you good fortune, my friend."  Master Raymond said as he ushered them out the door, closing it before they could respond.

 


 

Upon arriving back at Jarod's residence Jamie led Claire upstairs to their chamber, they sat on the end of the bed in quiet contemplation. Then Jamie spoke up "What scars are ye wanting to heal mo ghràidh?"

 

"I would like to heal all of your scars, Jamie.  They don't bother me, I love you just the way you are, but I know they bother you."  Claire whispered

 

"Aye, they do.  I guess if ye want to try, I willna stop ye.  Should we perhaps start wi' something small?"

 

"What did you have in mind, my love?"  Claire asked

 

"Perhaps the scar from my bullet wound, the one I acquired on the day we met." Jamie said as he lowered his eyes to their clasped hands.

 

"Yes, I think you are right, that scar should be perfect.  Let's get started then, are you ready?"  she asked standing and coming around to stand on his right side.

 

"Aye, I'm ready."

 

Claire held her hands over Jamie's shoulder, hovering just above the scar left by the bullet from only a few months before.  Closing her eyes, imagining the scar, she could feel the energy flowing from her hands to the scar.  She saw in her mind as the scar slowly faded and finally disappearing.  She opened her eyes, removed her hands, and gasped.

 

Jamie's head jerked up as he looked up into her shocked expression with worry reflected on his own "What's wrong?"

 

She reached her hand out, touching his shoulder, she whispered "Oh Jamie, I did it, it's gone, the scar is gone.  Wait here I'll bring a looking glass."

Claire hurried over to her vanity grabbing her looking glass she returned to Jamie's side and held it up for him to see.

 

Jamie looked into the glass, readjusting it to see his shoulder, he could see that indeed his shoulder was free of the scar.  He took the looking glass from her hands, placed it on the bed then pulled her into his lap.  Keeping one hand on her waist and tangling the other in her hair, he pulled her down for a searing kiss.  Finally separating he whispered into her curls "Thank ye mo chridhe, thank ye."

 

"Oh Jamie, love it was only a little bullet wound, but you are so very welcome."  She said 

 

"Aye, I ken it, but it means ye can heal my back.  I no longer must be shamed by what has been done to me.  It means ye dinna have to worry about losing our child, ye can stop it from happening." He cried into her shoulder.

 

"Oh my love, I will gladly heal all of your scars, everything that has happened to you.  I will erase all of your suffering, you will be whole again, we will be whole again.  We have been through so much, it will all be better now.  I promise, there is no reason for either of us to suffer, ever again." 

"Now we both know what we have faced, we both know what must be done to have a happy life from here forward."

"Right now though, we must get some rest, but tomorrow I will help you with compiling that list for our beloved King Louis."

Chapter Text

He tapped his fingers on the wood of the tabletop.  "What was your maiden name, Mrs. Beauchamp?"

"Look, Captain," I said trying to smile charmingly "entertaining as it is to play Twenty Questions with you, I should really like to conclude these preliminaries and arrange for the continuation of my journey.  I've already been delayed for some time."

"You do not help your case by adopting this frivolous attitude, Madam," he said, eyes narrowing, reminding me of Frank.

"I have no case to help, I'm making not claims on you, the garrison, or for that matter the MacKenzies.  All I want is to be allowed to resume my journey in peace.  And I see no reason why you ought to have an objection to that."

He glared at me in irritation. "Oh, you don't? Well, consider my position for a moment, Madam, and perhaps my objections will become clear.  A month ago I was with my men, in hot pursuit of a band of unidentified Scottish bandits who had absconded with a small herd of cattle from an estate near the border, when in the midst of this lawful pursuit, I encountered a half dressed Englishwoman, in a place where no Englishwoman should be, even in proper escort who resists my inquiries and assaults my person."

"You assaulted me first!" I shouted

"Whose accomplice renders me unconscious by a cowardly attack, and who then flees the area, plainly with some assistance.  My men and I searched the area most thoroughly, and I assure you Madam, there was no trace of your murdered servant, your plundered baggage, your discarded gown nor the merest sign that there is the slightest truth to your story."

"Furthermore, there have been no reports of bandits in that area within the last four months.  And now Madam, you turn up in company with the war chieftain of clan MacKenzie, who tells me that his brother Colum is convinced that you are a spy, presumably working for me."

"Well I'm not a spy, you know that at least."

"Yes I know that, what I don't know is who the devil you are.  But I mean to find out, Madam, have no doubts as to that.  I am the commander of this garrison.  As such, I am empowered to take certain steps in order to secure the safety of this area against traitors, spies and any other persons whose behavior I consider suspicious. And those steps, Madam, I am fully prepared to take."

"And just what might those steps be?" I inquired

Suddenly he stood up, looked down at me consideringly for a moment, then walked around the table extended his hand, and drew me to my feet. "Corporal Hawkins, I shall require your assistance for a moment."  A soldier standing by the wall uneasily joined us. "Stand behind the lady please, Corporal, and take her firmly by the elbows." Randall drew his arm back and hit me hard in the pit of my stomach, I doubled over in pain, struggling to draw air into my lungs.  The captain squatted down in front of me "I trust you are not with child Madam, because if you are, you won't be for long."

I knew I needed help, I need Jamie, this monster is going to kill our baby.  I started screaming his name JAMIE, JAMIE, then someone grabbed my shoulder and started shaking me.

 

"Sassenach, mo ghràidh, Claire, wake up, tis only a nightmare.  I'm here, yer safe, I'm here."  Jamie shook her shoulder, her eyes began to flutter open and he gathered her to his chest.  Stroking her hair, he whispered sweet endearments into her ear until her tears stopped and her sobs turned to hiccups. "Shh, yer safe now, I've got ye, I'll never let anyone hurt ye."

 

"I know that Jamie, it was just so horrible, he was so evil, I was so afraid for our baby." Claire cried as she burrowed into his chest.

 

"It always helped me to talk about the nightmares, ye taught me that.  So tell me about it, what happened?" Jamie asked softly, stroking her hair and rubbing calming circles into her back.

 

"It was Black Jack Randall," Jamie stiffened but remained quiet "I was at the garrison after Dougal and I had been escorted there.  He was trying to find out who I really am, by any means necessary.  There was a young Corporal that held my arms while Randall hit me hard in the stomach.  It was so painful that I fell to the floor and I couldn't catch my breath.  Then he said if I was pregnant that I wouldn't be for long, that's when I started screaming for you.  Then you woke me up."  Claire whimpered, clutching tight to his shirt front. 

 

"I dinna ken what happened exactly when ye and Dougal went to the garrison, Dougal just told me that ye had taken a beating at the hands of Randall.  Do ye think it may have been a memory?"

 

"I'm sure that most of it was, well until that last part, I wasn't pregnant last time when I was taken to the garrison.  I don't want to go back to sleep, I'm afraid I will have another nightmare.  By the look of the sky, it's almost dawn, I think I'll go down to the kitchen and fetch us something to eat.  Then maybe I'll take a stroll in the gardens, would you like to join me?"  Claire said as she got up from the bed and began dressing in her many layers. 

 

"I willna leave yer side mo nighean donn, let us go enjoy some breakfast." 

 


 

They leisurely meandered hand in hand through the gardens at the back of Jarod's property, savoring the peaceful calm that fell over them.  They sat on a bench and watched as the dawn approached.  All of the pastels, the blues, pinks, lavenders and oranges, like a burning ember slowly stretching across the sky and gently kissing that gardens surrounding them in a heavenly glow. The tranquil morning was a balm to their battered souls, calming their hearts and thoughts with each breath. 

Claire leaned her head into Jamie's shoulder and sighed "I've been thinking about my abilities, about healing all of your scars.  I want to heal the latticework of scars that cover your back, but I think it might be best if we wait until after you have received your pardon.  Perhaps the king would want to see them again, or perhaps king George will want to see them before I grants your pardon."

 

"Aye, tis a good plan, they dinna pain me, we need not rush in healing them.  Dinna fash Sassenach, they'll bide." 

 

"I was thinking however that you do have another scar that I can heal and maybe not just the scar but the damage underneath the skin as well."

"I've been thinking that maybe I could heal the scar on the back of your head, the one that Dougal inflicted on you with the ax.  That maybe I could even heal the damage he caused to your brain, maybe you could hear music again."

 

"How did ye ken that Dougal is the one that hit me?"  Jamie asked perplexed.

 

"You showed me in your memory, Dougal and the other men had just helped you escape Fort William after being flogged for the second time.  You didn't see him come up behind you, but your mind heard what he said after he felled you.  He said 'I have nothin' against ye lad, but no one will stand in my way, I am the rightful Laird of clan Mackenzie.  Ellen's son or no, it is my right.'  After that your mind went black."

"Before that, when you were in Paris at University, you were able to hear and enjoy the music.  Now it all sounds like a bee hive, you can only hear the music in your memories.  I would like to try to give that back to you, if you will let me."  She said shyly. 

 

"I always suspected Dougal was the one who tried to kill me, he even whispered to me when I killed him that he kent that eventually it would be him or me, never came right and and said though."

"Yes mo chridhe, I long to hear music again, to hear you sing would be a remarkable gift." 

 

Jamie rose from the bench, offering Claire his arm, he escorted her back inside, and ascended the stairs that led to their bed chamber. 

 

Once they reached their chamber, Claire asked Jamie to sit in one of the high backed chairs near the fire.  She gently combed her fingers through his hair, smoothing the curls away from the scar hidden below. 

She wanted to attempt to heal the damage to his brain first, so she did as Master Raymond had instructed for Diagnosing an injury.  She held his hair out of the way with one hand, while holding the other hand over the scar at the base of his skull. 

She closed her eyes, released everything in her mid and waited till all sounds and all feelings faded away.  After what seemed like minutes, but was likely only seconds, she could feel in her skull the pain, the frequent headaches caused by constant buzzing. 

She willed her mind to go blank again, then everything again faded away.  After a few seconds the image of the base of his brain began to form in her mind, she could see the damage.  She remembered what a brain should look like for her time in the war, so she imagined a healthy full functioning brain. 

Then she watched as the damaged brain, slowly began to repair itself.  Bit by agonizing bit the dead parts faded into healthy, functioning tissue.  She watched until she no longer saw any remaining damage.  Then she slowly opened her eyes and removed her hand. 

The scar on the base of Jamie's skull remained, but she was confident that the underlying tissue had been healed.  She replaced her hand, closing her eyes again, she emptied her mind.  The image appeared faster this time, she saw the scar that lay below her hand, she imagined it fading, she imagined the skin smoothing out. 

The scar faded away and disappeared in moments.  Again she opened her eyes and removed her hand, but this time when she looked, the scar was gone. 

She walked around the chair, lifted Jamie's chin so she could see into his eyes.  "Jamie, my love how do you feel?  Do you hear the buzzing?"

 

"No I dinna hear any buzzing, my head doesna hurt either." Reaching a hand to the back of his head, he searched for the familiar texture of the scar "A dhia, I dinna feel the scar, it's gone."

 

"It is gone, but we need to find out if you can hear music.  Would you like me to sing you a song, perhaps The Reels o’ Bogie?" She asked with a grin, he nodded reflecting her grin with appreciation.

 

"Och Aye, I havna heard that one since ye sang it dressed as a lad."

 

"All right here goes, but don't laugh at me"

Here’s to all you lads and lasses that go out this way.

Be sure to tip your coggie when you take her out to play.

The lads and lasses toy and kiss.

The lads never think what they do is amiss.

Because there’s Kent, and Keen, and there’s Aberdeen,

And there’s nane as muckle as Strath-bogie-wogie.

 

For every lad’ll wander just to have his lass,

And when they see a pintle rise, they’ll raise a glass,

And rowe about their wanton een.

They dance the reel as the troopers go over the lea.

Because there’s Kent, and Keen, and there’s Aberdeen,

And there’s nane as muckle as Strath-bogie-wogie.

A-root, a-toot, a-rooty a-doot….

 

He giggled, goggled me.

He was a banger.

He sought the prize between my thighs,

became a hanger.

 

By this time Jamie was smiling so much, he couldna contain the laugh any longer and a deep booming rumbled escaped from his chest. "I'm sorry mo nighean donn, but to see ye perform that song, I canna help but laugh.  Ye have a beautiful voice, thank you."

 

"Well thanks a lot for laughing at me, I will never sing it again.  But does that mean that you can hear the tune?"  She asked hopefully.

 

"I think so but I dinna ken for sure, I suppose we will have to wait until we come across some music to ken for sure.  Never the less, ye did all ye could do and for that alone I shall be forever grateful to ye."

 


 

Over the next several days with no wounds or injuries to heal, Claire decided to practice her diagnosis abilities.  Jamie was the best patient for her practice, so she would have him lay on the bed in various states of undress as she slowly ghosted her hands over every inch of his body. 

Jamie always did his best to lay perfectly still while she did this and he was usually pretty good at it, but today Claire asked him to completely disrobe.  She wanted to ascertain if she was able to see more without any barriers in her way.

Jamie watched as Claire prepared herself, the moment she closed her eyes, her hands began to glow.  Without the protective layer of clothing, Jamie's skin was sensitive to the energy flowing from her hands. 

His whole body tingled at her almost touch, he was quickly become aroused, he stifled a moan when she brought her hands closer to his throbbing cock.  Her hands were within inches of his ever hardening erection, he closed his eyes, willing his body to behave.  This wasna meant to arouse, this was for Claire to learn, nothing more. 

 

But suddenly her eyes popped open as her eyes were draw like a compass to his cock, a slow mischievious smile spread across her face.  She quickly and quietly undressed, attempting to be as quiet as possibly.  Jamie's eyes remained closed as he fought his arousal, she wanted to surprise him. 

"Keep your eyes closed love, I am just going to move over you to see if I can get in a better position." She asked and he nodded in agreement.

She placed one foot on the outer side of each thigh and slowly lowered herself down.  She reached a hand down and separated her folds and sank down on his cock in one smooth motion, taking him in to the hilt.  His eyes shot open and his hands came to her waist "Sassenach, what are ye doing lass?"

 

"Well my love, I thought you knew what making love to your wife would feel like by now." She smirked as she slowly moved up and down, up and down, keeping a steady rhythm.  The only sounds in the room was their joined moans and their wet flesh coming together, over and over. 

 

Jamie gripped her hips, pulling her down as he thrust up, harder and harder, both of them chasing their release, that was just out of reach.  Jamie swiftly lifter her off of him, she gave him a look of distress and he gave her that gorgeous seductive smile that makes her knees go week.  "On yer knees lass, I mean to take ye from behind, grab hold of the head board and dinna let go."

Jamie moved behind her, reaching down between her thighs he could feel how hot and wet she was.  He used to fingers and slid them back and forth over her silky folds, then in and out until she moaned.  He could feel her inner walls tightening around his fingers, beginning to flutter, so he pulled his fingers out, fisted his cock and thrust hard.  He continued with the punishing rhythm as she shattered around him.

He reached around her to take a breast in one hand pinching and rolling the perky pink nipple between his fingers, then he used the other hand to rub circles and pinch the little bundle of nerves above her honey pot rolling and swirling.  He played her like a fine instrument, pulling the most beautiful sounds he had ever heard from those pretty lips.  He could feel her walls fluttering again, she was getting so close. 

He wanted them to reach their peak together so he quickly brought both hands back to her hips, pulling her against him with each of his thrusts, slamming harder and deeper with each thrust.  She screamed out his name, shattering and going boneless beneath him, he followed only a second later, his body falling down on top of hers then rolling off to the side so he didna crush her. 

 

"I'm verra sorry mo ghràidh, I dinna mean to interrupt your practicing, but I canna resist those hands on my body, or over my body it seems."  Jamie said

 

"You have nothing to apologize for Jamie, you were trying your hardest to lay perfectly still.  The closer to your cock, the more energy I could feel coming off of you, then when I got right too it I realized it was your arousal that I was feeling.  Your reaction to me, caused my arousal, I relished in how I was able to do that to your body, without even a touch.  It made me what you so that is when I took you, I quite enjoyed it as well."  She smiled

 

Jamie reached out and gathered her in his arms, pulling her to his chest, he could feel their hearts thumping together as one.  He nuzzled into her hair, he could never get enough of the scent of his amazing wife.  "Tha gaol agum ort, mo chridhe.

 

"I love you too Jamie."  Claire replied sleepily. 

 

"Sleep now mo nighean donn, we shall get our rest before there is anymore practice.  When ye wake I shall fetch us some food, I'm famished, but right now I am to weary to move from this bed." Jamie whispered.  He breathing slowed to a steady rhythm moments before he peacefully joined her in her dreams. 

Chapter Text

Claire's repeated diagnostic practices on Jamie came in quite useful, she deduced that simple barriers like clothing did not reduce her ability to see injury or illness.  During these practice sessions, she was able to see several old fractures that had knitted themselves back together. 

She decided that these old fractures would be perfect for her to practice her healing abilities as well.  She attempted to heal an old rib break, while Jamie remained clothed, she had little success.  She was unable to see the bone scar fade and disappear.  Claire appealed to Jamie to remove his shirt, with a promise only to heal the old break and do nothing else. 

Jamie didn't feel any different after these practices, so Claire could only try and look over the area again to see if there had been any changes.  She was satisfied that it had worked without barriers. They then concluded that it was time to try and heal emotional wounds and scars.  Claire could think of one trauma that had been plaguing her husband since they had arrived in Paris.  

Jamie had been having the occasional nightmare of his time in Wentworth Prison, when Black Jack Randall had violated and attempted to break him.  She and Jamie discussed the possibility of her attempting to heal these types of wounds. 

She thought the best way to focus on the wound she would heal would be to get Jamie to remember what had happened.  Claire was worried that bringing up the memories would be to traumatic for him, but if she could heal that wound, it would eradicate the nightmares forever. 

 

"Alright my love, what I am going to ask you to do, its going to bring up some horrible memories, but if this works, that pain and fear will be gone forever."  she squeezed his hands and smiled reassuringly at him.

 

"I trust ye mo nighean donn, what is it ye wish me to think of?'"  Jamie asked

 

"I will need you to do more than think about it unfortunately,  I need you to tell me what happened ....  what happened at Wentworth."  Jamie stiffened at her words, with his lips held in a tight line, then he nodded.

 

Claire asked Jamie to lay back and relax, she cradled his head in her lap and waited for him to begin recounting his tortures.  Claire gently placed her hands, fingers spread out on both sides of Jamie's head, closing her eyes, she let his words wash over her. 

She absorbed the words more than listened to them, in doing so she could see what was done to him, feel his pain, his torture.  Claire concentrated on obliterating the pain, on destroying the images from his memory.  The only thing she seemed unable to remove was the knowledge of what had happened itself.  

She destroyed all sensory trauma, but the knowledge of what had happened would remain.  Jamie would no long be tormented by the nightmares from the torture he received at the hands of Black Jack Randall while he was locked in the dungeon of Wentworth Prison.

When Claire opened her eyes and looked down at Jamie, she could see he had been crying, she realized that she had been crying as well. "Open your eyes love, look at me, tell me how you feel."

 

"I feel .... better, thinking about it, it doesna pain me anymore.  I ken what that mad bastard Randall did to me, but I canna see it anymore, I dinna feel his touch on my skin any longer.  I ken the details, but it is as if it was a story told to me rather than something that happened to me."

"Ye truly are a gift from God himself, Sassenach and I dinna ken what I would do without ye."

 


 

Over the next two weeks until they were expected to meet the king, Jamie and Claire alternated between compiling their list against Prince Charles Stuart and Jamie helping Claire to practice her healing abilities. 

By the end of the first week, the only scars that remained on Jamie's body and soul, were those located on his back.  Scars that originated from the two hundred lashings he received at the hands of Black Jack Randall.  He didn't count the mark on his wrist as a scar, but more of a reminder of their everlasting bond. 

They decided it best if they return to Scotland, to Lallybroch before Claire attempted to heal those scars.  They wanted Jenny to have a chance to see the scars for herself, seeing the scars had been the reason that she had forgiven Jamie before. 

With the traumatic memories subdued into nothing more than awful stories, Jamie's mind kept wandering to the new memories he had shared with Claire.  Memories that had flashed through his mind when she had placed her hands on his temples and read him.  The memories had flowed across his consciousness so fast that he was having trouble distinguishing what was what.

So he decided to ask Claire for help in working everything out, help him to make sense of it all.  "Sassenach, do you have memories of our life together, from last time, I mean?"

 

"Yes, I do.  I remember everything that happened before, but it's different than what you shared with me."  she answered

 

"Different, ye dinna think I have lied to ye?" He answered vexed at her mistrust of his word.

 

"Oh no, that's not what I mean at all.  I know that everything you have told me is true, I just mean I remember from my own point of view.  I experienced things a bit differently than you did."

"For example, I remember looking into your eyes that first time, back when I fixed your shoulder and thinking they were the most beautiful, lively eyes I had ever seen and that I could drown in them."

"Or when I wept at castle Leoch that first night and you held me in your arms.  Calming me with your sweet Gàidhlig that I didn't understand but soothed me just the same. I remember thinking that it must be what makes you so good with horses and that if you could do that to me, well then I wouldn't mind letting you ride me anytime you wanted."  She admitted with a blush.

 

Jamie jerked his head up, eyes wide and twinkling, as a gorgeous smile spread across his face.   "Oh, aye.  I dinna ken that, I wish ye would have told me.  Did ye think something like that this time when I held ye?"

 

"Well this time things progressed differently, by the time we reached Leoch this time, I could already see that you would protect me.  I remember thinking that I just wanted to stay wrapped safe in your arms forever."  she smiled a sweet smile and he returned it. 

"I certainly fell in love with you faster this time, well no that's not exactly true.  This time I didn't fight what I felt, I didn't try to deny my feelings for you.  I allowed my self to realize I was in love with you much sooner this time."

 

Jamie's brow quirked up in question. "Why would ye deny what ye felt, even to yerself?  I dinna understand."

 

"Last time I was.......  Hmm not sure quite how to word it exactly. Well I suppose I was trying to hide who I really was, I had a huge secret that I was afraid might get me killed.  I was so busy trying to keep my secret that I didn't feel like I could trust anyone, let alone my own feelings." 

"You were my friend and I did trust you, even love you, but I was hiding to much.  I was afraid that if you knew who I really was that you wouldn't want to be my friend anymore, let alone love me."  She said bashfully as she lowered her gaze to the hands she held clasped together in her lap."

"When you agreed to marry me, I thought you did it because Dougal ordered you to, out of obligation, not to anger him."

"The reason I didn't want to marry you, wasn't because I didn't want you, it was because of a few things really.  Things I never told you.  Yes there was Frank, I felt that I was betraying my vows to him, well honestly I felt I had done that already with my feelings and lust for you from the beginning." 

"But the biggest reason was because, I wanted you but I was afraid I was forcing you into it, I was afraid that you didn't want me too.  I thought you wanted Laorghaire, after standing up for her and taking her punishment and then seeing the two of you in that alcove, I felt guilty for taking that chance from you."

"I know now that it was all irrational, I know not only because you have told me, but because I have seen all those things through your eyes as well.  I didn't love you quite as soon as you loved me, but I knew it was something very strong, something special.  It just took me longer to figure it out."

"But getting back to why I didn't deny myself this time, that is pretty simple really.  This time you gave me a reason to trust you, right from the moment we met, well the moment I met you.  You cared for and protected me from the start, you never questioned anything I said or did.  You never suspected me of being more than what I said I was, and you stood up for me."

"I never had to hide myself from you and you never hid yourself from me, not like you did last time.  Last time you kept your emotions masked from me, this time you let your love for me shine bright in those beautiful blue eyes.  I never had a doubt that you returned my affection for you, I knew you wanted me as much if not more than I wanted you."

"So I let myself feel those feelings, I let my emotions guide me instead of guilt of past obligations.  So yes, I let myself love you sooner this time, I let myself love you when I knew I loved you, and I have no cause to regret it."

"I can also see that the reason it took so long for me to get with child last time was because it didn't happen until I allowed myself to love you.  I had been holding a piece of myself back from you.  This time I didn't hold back and I got with child on our wedding night."

 

Jamie looked surprised at her revelation. "But how can ye ken that, when it happened, I mean?"

 

She giggled and rubbed a hand over her belly. "Since learning about my new abilities and how to use them, I have become more in tune with my own body.  I have looked back at my own memories and I can tell you with certainty that we made our baby the very first time we lay together, well in this time.  Last time it was the night that you revealed how long you had loved me and I told you I loved you too." 

"I can also tell you what this baby is, if you would like to know, I can tell you if you will have a son or daughter." 

 

Jamie came to sit beside her, tears in his eyes from everything she had revealed to him and placed both hands over her growing belly. "Nah, I dinna need to ken, as long as the bairn is healthy.  I will be happy no matter what we have." 

 

She giggled and leaned into Jamie's shoulder "But I have gone off on a tangent, there was something you wanted to ask me, a reason we started this conversation.  What was it?"

 

He grinned sheepishly at her then began. "Well ye have pretty much answered my first question, but that is not all I was planning on asking ye about." 

"I saw memories of past lives with ye, but they came to me so fast that I dinna ken what is what.  Will ye help me to parse them out?"

 

"Of course my love, would you like me to start at the beginning, our very first life together?  It will likely help explain everything that came after it."  she asked

 

"Aye, let's start with just that for now." He replied

 

"You know that I was the goddess Airmid, I am not a goddess anymore, I can be hurt and I can die, I will die someday.  But I wasn't the only one, you were a god as well, you were known as Lugh Lámhfhada." 

"The Irish god of nobility, Lugh of the Long Arm was a master of crafts and a cunning warrior. He was both Ollamh Érenn and King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and wielded the Spear of Assal, which none could stand against." 

"Lugh was a master of many talents. As the god of oaths, he held domain over rulers and nobility. He also served as the god of justice in its many forms; his judgement was often swift and without mercy. In what may seem like a contradiction, Lugh was also a trickster who was willing to lie, cheat, and steal to overcome his opponents."

"I'm sure you knew all that already, funny though, I could be describing you now, with that list of traits." 

"We were not intended to be together, but our souls were drawn to one another.  As deities we are always stronger on our own, but our souls have another half, another soul to complete us.  We fell in love, but love made us weaker, it made us human." 

"We sacrificed ourselves for love, but because we were once gods, we will live many lives.  Always finding each other, the other part of ourselves, our souls will return to each other for all of eternity."

 

"No matter what, we will always find each other, mo nighean donn." Jamie said as he caressed her cheek.

"I think I understand better, what it is between us, the need to be near one another, the pull or attraction as ye say.  We are destined to be together and I dinna intend to waste another moment parted from ye." Jamie missed her tenderly then rested his forehead against hers, admiring the beauty before him.

 


 

At long last the month had passed, it was time to go see the king. At six months pregnant, Claire decided it best to remain at home and off of her feet as much as possible.  So it was Murtagh that accompanied Jamie along to Versailles.  

Jamie presented the list to the king and waited contently for him to read over it.  He had been able to compile everything from his memory into a four page list, so it would take a bit of time for the king to read over the whole thing.  

As the king paced back and forth, reading the document in his hand, Jamie sat quietly already contemplating what he would do if the king did not accept this as am acceptable exchange for his pardon.  His thoughts were interrupted when the king suddenly spoke up.

"Yes, I believe this will do quite nicely.  Lord Broch Taurach, you have done your job well, I shall lament the loss of someone as skilled as yourself.  But as you wish to return to your homeland, I shall not hinder you.  I will have the letter requesting your pardon drawn up and sent to King George.  I will also write to him about receiving justice for the crimes committed against you by Captain Johnathan Wolverton Randall."

 

"Forgive me your Majesty, but what will you do now, with the information I have brought you?  What will happen with Prince Charles Stuart?"

 

"Awe, you leave that up to me, I have a plan that will thwart his advancements of his dream of a rebellion.  I will send for you when I get a reply.  You may take your leave."

 

Jamie stood, bowed to the king, walked out of his chamber and let out a breath he didna realize he had been holding.  He couldna wait to return home and tell Claire of the news, they were almost free to return to Scotland. 

Chapter Text

It was another two months before Jamie received a summons from King Louis, beckoning him to come to Versailles.  By this time Claire was eight months gone with child and would not risk leaving their bed chamber, not even for the King.  Once again it was up to Murtagh accompanied Jamie to Versailles. 

After arriving at Versailles, they were quickly escorted to the King's chamber.  King Louis presented Jamie with his pardon from King George, he had been forgiven of all crimes and was now considered a free man.  King Louis then opened another letter which he began to read to Jamie.

 

"Dear Mr. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Thank you for bringing to my attention the crimes perpetrated by one Johnathan Wolverton Randall former Captain of His Majesties 8th Dragoons. Your complaint as well as several others that I have recently received against Johnathan Wolverton Randall have assisted in determining appropriate actions to be taken to forestall any further criminal acts to be perpetrated against the loyal citizens of my kingdom by the predator mentioned above.

It is with my greatest pleasure that I inform you of the measures that have been taken to bring you justice in this matter. 

Johnathan Wolverton Randall was summoned to London immediately upon receiving your letter of petition, where he was promptly taken into custody. 

He is currently imprisoned in the tower of London, awaiting his execution to be held on April 16, 1744. 

I wish to extend an invitation to you, to witness the execution of Johnathan Wolverton Randall.  I have sent a formal invitation for you to attend, your wife and sister may accompany you, if you wish.

Johnathan Wolverton Randalls' properties have been seized and sold, you will receive the proceeds as restitution for the unlawful crimes committed against you.

I wish to thank you for your loyalty to the crown, you are not now and will not ever be branded as a traitor.

 

Your King, George II"

 

 

Jamie couldna believe his ears, not only had he received the pardon that he had come to seek, but the promise of punishment for the torture they had received at the hands of Black Jack Randall as well.  He didna ken how much property Black Jack held, not that it mattered, but to see that mad bastard brought to his knees, bought a joy that he couldna contain. 

 

 

"Lord Broch Tuarach, I have taken the liberty of instructing my scribe to make you copies of the this letter, your pardon and your invitation.  You are free to return to your home, to Scotland whenever you wish.  However I have been told that your Lady Broch Tuarach is expecting to experience her lying in time momentarily and that you will become a father.  You are welcome to stay in France for as long as you like.  Good luck to you Mr. Fraser.  You may take your leave."  King Louis said as he handed Jamie the copies of the documents. 

 

"Thank you, your Majesty, my wife and I canna thank you enough.  We do wish to stay in France until our bairn arrives and is old enough for a sea voyage, thank you." Jamie said as he bowed to the King and left Versailles for the last time. 

 


 

In the two months it had taken for Jamie's pardon to come through, Jared had returned from Portugal.  Since Jamie had done such a fine job overseeing his warehouse in his absence, Jared decided to keep him on until their return to Scotland.  With Jared back however, Jamie was free to spend more time with his wife.  In his past life he let other responsibilities take up his attentions.  With the knowledge he had gained from living that life, he now kent that what was most precious to him deserved his attentions above anything else. 

So when Jamie returned to Jared's residence with his news from the king, he didna spare a moment for anything or anyone.  He bounded up the stairs taking them three at a time and burst into their chamber so loudly that it gave Claire a start.

 

Clutching her hand over her heart, eyes wide with worry she asked Jamie "What is it, what's the matter, is everything alright?"

 

"I'm sorry mo nighean donn, I dinna mean to frighten ye, yes, yes everything is grand.  Wait until ye see what I have brought to ye." Jamie said as he walked over and joined her, sitting on the edge of the bed next to her. 

Jamie handed her first his pardon, which brought a huge smile to her face and tears building in her eyes.

 

"Oh Jamie, you did it, you're free, we can go home." She said as a tear escaped to roll down her cheek.

 

He reached out, cupping her face and using his thumb to gently wipe the tear away. "Aye, I am free, we did it, I couldna have done it without ye Sassenach. Aye, we can go home, home to Lallybroch."

"But first we must wait for the bairn, it is too dangerous for you to be on a ship"

"I have more news, here read this letter."  Jamie said, climbing up on the bed next to her.  He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and handed her the letter from King George. 

 

Claire took the letter and slowly read it to her self, her lips moving slightly as she read.  When she finished she looked up at Jamie with shock and relief in her eyes, then she looked back down and read over the letter again.  She had to make sure that she had read it right.  When she finished the second time, she nodded slightly and ran her hand over the letter as if silently giving thanks to all those who had helped them.

She turned laying her head against Jamie's shoulder and softly started to sob.

 

"Dinna weep mo chridhe, Claire everything is going to be alright, this is good news." Jamie said as he gently stroked her hair and brought his other arm around to hold her close and comfort her.  He was unsure what made her cry, it could be anything, she had become so emotional these last months that a beautiful sunset could bring tears to her eyes. 

 

Claire gave a soft laugh then raising her head to look into his eyes, she cupped his cheek and said "Oh, my love, these are happy tears.  I am just so happy that I cannot contain it, the emotion seems to be leaking out."  She laughed again as she leaned up and pulled his head down for a salty tear stained kiss. 

"Well, now that we don't have any of that hanging over our heads and can breath again, we need to move onto other business." Claire said as she used the sleeve of her shift to wipe the remaining tears from her face. 

 

"Aye? And what would this other business be?"  Jamie asked confused.

 

Claire laughed again as she rubbed both hands over her ever expanding belly. "We need to discuss names for our child, have you thought of any, or do you have a name in mind that is special to you?"

 

"She was named Faith last time, do ye not want to name her that this time as well?"  Jamie asked

 

"Actually, now that I have all of my memories from that time, this feels like a different child, this is a new child.  I think we should come up with new names, one for a girl and boy, just in case." She answered

 

"Do ye have any names in mind, mo chridhe?"  Jamie smiled back at her, he had never thought of this child as a new child, he had always thought it would be a second chance with Faith. 

 

"I have a few, for a girl I was thinking either Aila, it means from a resilient place or Eilidh, which means radiant sun."

 

"I like Eilidh, for my mother, tis similar to her name, is it no?  What about for a boy?"  Jame asked

 

"It is similar, that is why I chose it.  I think it's beautiful.  As for boys names, I have only one name, Alexander for you of course."

 

"Aye, I like that as well.  There is more people we must honor, mo ghràidh.  We can honor all those that made this bairn possible.  We could do that with middle names, what about Eilidh Julianna Elizabeth Fraser, for a girl.  And Alexander Henry Brian Beauchamp Fraser, for a boy?"

 

"Oh, yes I quite like both of those, honoring both of our mothers' and fathers' as well as us.  The names are perfect, now we only have to wait to see if we shall be meeting Eilidh or Alexander."

 

Jamie leaned down cupping Claire's belly in both large hands and whispered "I canna wait to meet ye baby Fraser, we will be happy with whoever ye turn out to be." 

 


 

They only had to wait three more weeks when Claire's pains began.  She wouldn't let go of Jamie and insisted he stay with her throughout the entire delivery.  He kent she needed his strength to get through it, so when the midwife tried to make him leave, he refused.  

Jamie helped Claire walk when she need to walk.    He rubbed the tension out of the muscles of her lower back through each contraction.  He held her up when she buried her head in his chest and breathed through the pains.  He reassured her when she cried from exhaustion.  And when she was so tired that she couldn't stand anymore, he lay beside her giving her comfort.

When it came time for the delivery, Claire asked Jamie to sit behind her, to hold her up while she gave everything she had to bring their child into the world. 

 

She pushed for what seemed like days but was truly only about two hours, gripping both of Jamie's hands so tight she feared she would crush the bones.  But he never flinched or pulled away, he only whispered words of encouragement into her hair.  Every so often he would press his lips to her sweaty temple in a lingering kiss, offering whatever strength he could. Finally Claire pushed has hard as she could and they were rewarded with a mighty wale. 

 

The midwife smiled up at them as she wiped the newborn clean she said "Ye have a bonnie we lad, I'll clean him up and then ye can hold yer son." 

 

"Please I would like to hold him for a moment, then we will give him to Jamie, we are not done here."  Claire said

 

The midwife did as asked and handed the beautiful little bairn to his mother. 

 

"Hello Alexander, I'm your mum and this is your da, welcome to the world my sweet boy."  She kissed him, then handed him back to Jamie.

 

Jamie didn't argue, Claire had told him about the afterbirth and possible infection if left inside to long.  He held the baby in one arm and Claire in the other, tears fell from his eyes as he looked down into the eyes of his son, he had never felt such love.  He was suddenly pulled from his reverie by Claire.

 

"Jamie, put him down on the bed beside us, I need your hands again."  Claire said urgently.

 

Jamie did as instructed as Claire began to push again,  he kept his eyes on his new son.  Claire pushed a few more times and relaxed against his chest as another wale came from the direction of the midwife at the end of the bed.  Jamie's head jerked up in surprise as his eyes landed on another bairn.

 

"Congratulations, ye have a wee bonny lass as well."  The midwife said as she handed the crying baby to Claire.

 

"Twins, we have twins, a lad and a lass?"  Jamie asked in awe as his eyes traveled between his son, his daughter and his wife.  He leaned over scooped Alexander back into his arms, he held the baby against his chest as tears of join streamed down his face to land in Claire's curls. 

 

"Yes Jamie, we have twins, would you like to meet your daughter Eilidh?" she beamed at him as she held their daughter close to her breast. 

 

Jamie moved from behind Claire, stacked the pillows so she could lean back against them and settled down to sit beside her.  Both Alexander started to fuss and root around, hungry after their exhausting journey into the world.

 

Claire pulled down her shift and settled Eilidh to her breast, the baby latched on with no help, Claire hissed at the new sensation.  Then Jamie handed Alexander into her free arm and helped her to position the baby against her other breast, he too took to the breast with no trouble.  Jamie wrapped his arms around his family cradling them all close to his heart.

 

Claire looked up into his eyes, seeing so much love directed at all three of them she whispered "I love you Jamie Fraser."

 

"And I ye mo ghràidh, I canna thank ye enough for our children, ye were so strong.  Ye have made me the happiest man in the world. I love them both, they are so beautiful, thank ye."  Jamie whispered against her hair, letting the tears come.

On March 8, 1744, they became a family of five.

Chapter Text

For the first night as a family, Claire propped against the headboard with pillows to support her, held Eilidh against her chest as she slept. Jamie seated right next to her and propped in the same position, held Alexander against his bared chest. Alexander woke first, a mere three hours after they had drifted off to sleep, voracious for his mother's milk. 

Jamie gently shook Claire by the shoulder, careful not to wake Eilidh. "Sassenach, I think our wee lad is hungry, hand Eilidh to me, I'll hold her while you feed Alexander."  With careful maneuvering, Jamie handed Alexander to Claire as she slipped Eilidh into his other arm.   Eilidh didn't make a sound or stir when she was handed to her father, and Alexander immediately latched on once Claire settled him against her breast. 

Just as Alexander's mouth went slack against Claire's breast, Eilidh began to stir and root at Jamie's shoulder. "Hush now, mo chuisle, tis alright, yer mam is just finishing up with yer bhràthair."

"Sassenach, I think our wee lass is hungry now, mo chridhe, let me put wee Alexander down in the cradle while ye nourish wee Eilidh."

 

While Eilidh had no hesitation in latching on to Claire's breast to devour her meal, she had finished much quicker than her brother. Using the back of a single finger, Claire stroked the downy soft skin of Eilidh's face from temple to chin. "We make such beautiful children, Jamie.  I am so happy they both got your hair, and your viking features.  It's not clear yet what color their eyes will be, but in a few weeks time, we should know if they will be blue like yours or amber like mine. I'm just so happy they are finally here with us, healthy and happy."

 

"Aye, Sassenach, tis still hard for me to believe that we got a second chance, a second chance to live, a second chance to love one another and a second chance to have a family together.  I still canna believe ye are truly here." 

"As a lad, I dinna ken what it was to truly give yer heart to someone, to love someone wi' all yer heart.  Each day I find I love ye more, now ye have given me two bairns, and I find my heart and my love only grows more each day, my heart becomes fuller.  Thank ye mo ghràidh, thank ye for always choosing me, thank ye for always loving me and thank ye for giving me my children, our children."  Jamie said as he leaned over leaving a lingering kiss on her temple and reaching a hand over to cup Eilidh's head. 

 

Claire laid her head back against Jamie's shoulder as she said "It's me that should be thanking you, you saved me when you touched that stone, you made all of this possible.  You gave us a second chance and guided us so we could avoid all of the losses and heartaches.  I thought I knew what love was when I was with Frank, but I was only fooling myself.  I was happy to lead a safe, perfectly dull life.  I thought I was happy, that I knew what love was, that is until I met you and fell helplessly, heedlessly, deeply in love with you. This, right here with you and our children, this is love, this is happiness and I am so grateful to be able to share it with you."

 

Jamie stood from the bed and reached for Eilidh. "Seo mo nighean donn, give me the bairn, ye need yer rest, I'll put her down in the cradle with Alexander."

 

Claire handed Eilidh over to Jamie as she readjusted the pillows and snuggled down into the bed. By the time Jamie returned to the bed, Claire was already fast asleep. He crawled in, laid down beside her and gathered he close against his heart.  Placing a kiss into her curls, he inhaled the intoxicating smell of his lovely wife and drifted of to sleep. 

 


 

The night continued in a similar manner, with Jamie fetching the babies for Claire to feed them, then he returned each to the cradle when they finished.  At sunrise the twins were resting, having just finished their last meal, when Jamie heard a soft knock on their chamber door.  Fergus peeked his head around the door and quietly asked "Milord, would you and Milady wish to have some breakfast brought up or will you be coming down for your meal?" 

 

"Fergus, come in, come here.  Would you like to meet yer new brother and sister?" Jamie asked. 

 

Fergus stepped in, eyes wide, scanning the room "Milord?"

 

"Aye, Fergus, quietly, come and meet the bairns."  Jamie said as he walked to the cradle. 

 

"Milord, two of them? You are have been blessed twice Milord." Fergus said as he leaned over to get a closer look at the twins. 

"They are beautiful Milord, they have your coloring and features, but with Milady's ears." He said with a smile. 

 

"They should wake in a few hours, when they do ye can hold them then.  Go now, fetch Suzette, have her bring breakfast up for me and Milady.  Thank ye Fergus."  Jamie gave Fergus a pat on his shoulder before he sent him out. 

 


 

After a few days, word the twins birth had traveled outside of the walls of Jared's residence.  Over the next week everyone got used to life with the twins, Fergus rarely left their side.  A few visitors arrived to meet the twins, and to give congratulations to Jamie and Claire as well.  Jamie wrote Jenny to tell her of their news.

My Dearest Jenny

I am overjoyed to tell you of our news.

I have become a father.

Claire has blessed me with not one, but two bairns.

We have a son, Alexander Henry Brian Beauchamp Fraser, and a daughter, Eilidh Julianna Elizabeth Fraser.

Claire has made me the happiest man alive, I canna wait for ye to meet my family.

We have also adopted an orphan boy called Fergus, he will be accompanying us home as well.

 

We intend to return to Lallybroch when the bairns are old enough for the voyage across the channel.

Claire says they should be ready in a month or so.

We should arrive in Inverness around mid April if everything goes as planned, I'll send word ahead once we dock. 

 

Your Devoted Brother

James

 

Once the twins were a month old, it was decided that they were old enough for the short ocean voyage it would take to travel from France to Scotland. Luckily the twins were to young to be affected by the movement of the ship, so Jamie was the only one to suffer from sea sickness.  Both Fergus and Murtagh helped to care for the twins, so that Claire could brew ginger tea to try and calm Jamie's stomach. 

The ship docked in Inverness on the afternoon of April 15th, just a day before Black Jack Randall was to be executed.  Murtagh secured a few horses and a wagon for their return to Lallybroch, while Jamie secured them a couple of rooms at the Inn.  They would begin their journey home at sunrise, everyone needed a good nights rest after the stresses of being on a ship. Jamie penned a quick note to send ahead to Jenny and sent it with a messenger.

Dear Jenny

We have arrived in Inverness.

We have secured transportation.

We should arrive at Lallybroch in four to five days time.

Travel will be slower with the wagon, but please have the lairds room ready.

We will be in need of a cradle, we have brought one with us, but the bairns are getting to big to fit in it together.

 

With Love

James

 


 

At sunrise the next morning Jamie helped Claire to get the twins ready while Furgus and Murtagh packed and secured their belongings into the wagon.  It was decided that Murtagh and Fergus would each ride a horse while Jamie drove the wagon that carried his wife and two wee bairns. 

After about an hour of travel with the bairns fussing the entire time, they decided to stop and try to calm them.  Once Eilidh and Alexander had each been fed, changed and placed back in their baskets they fell easily asleep.  Jamie placed the baskets back into the wagon, helped Claire up to sit with the bairns and climbed into the drivers seat to resume their journey home. 

But as soon as the carriage started moving both children waled, so Jamie stopped and climbed in the back to try and help Claire calm them.  Neither bairn would calm, so Jamie placed Eilidh back in her basket, climbed down from the wagon and asked Claire to pass Alexander to him.  Claire picked up Eilidh and tried rocking her to no avail.  But as Jamie walked Alexander, he cuddled into his chest, calmed down and fell fast asleep.  Claire placed Eilidh back into her basket so she could take Alexander and place him back into his.  Then Claire handed Eilidh down to Jamie to see if walking would calm her as well.  It only took a few minutes of Jamie walking for Eilidh to calm and fall asleep as well.

"We canna walk them the whole way home Sassenach, it will take us more than a week to reach Lallybroch.  I dinna want them to be sleeping rough for all that long, we need to figure out something else.  They dinna seem to like riding in the wagon."  Jamie said exasperated.

 

"I don't blame them one bit, even though it's been more than a month since I've given birth, riding in this bloody thing is quite uncomfortable.  I'd rather be riding on a horse than have to endure a three more days in this thing." Claire replied.

 

"Shall we see if they fuss on the horse?"  Jamie asked, out of any other ideas that may help to keep his children calm. 

 

"I guess it's worth a try, here give her to me, I'll hand her back once you get on the horse."  Claire took Eilidh and waited for Murtagh to get off his horse and trade places with Jamie.

As soon as Jamie was on the horse, Claire handed Eilidh back to him.  He rode around for a few minutes, but she didn't make a peep.  So they decided to try it with Alexander as well.  Alexander seemed to prefer the motion of the horse over the wagon as well.  So Claire fashioned two slings so the she and Jamie could wear the children against their bodies as they rode. 

Claire took Alexander from Jamie and handed him to Murtagh, she then helped Jamie to wrap the sling around his body and placed Alexander inside the sling.  Then she wrapped the other sling around her body, climbed up on Fergus's horse and Murtagh handed Eilidh into her arms.

 

Murtagh helped Fergus into the wagon, then climbed up to drive it himself, grumbling the whole time.

 

Jamie and Claire led the way on horseback, each with one arm holding their children against their close to their hearts.  The twins stayed asleep with the gently rocking motion of the horses.  They stopped after three more hours so that Claire could feed the twins, she fed Eilidh first since she was already in her arms.  Then Murtagh took Eilidh as Jamie handed Alexander to Claire for his feeding. 

Jamie was a wonderful husband and changed Eilidh, while Alexander had his meal.  Claire finished feeding Alexander, changed his nappy then handed him to Murtagh so she could remount her horse.  Claire put Alexander in her sling this time and Jamie kept Eilidh with him.  Claire told Jamie it was important that the children spend time with each of them, so that they would both have a calming affect on their children.   They continued in this manner until nightfall. 

Fergus watched over Eilidh and Alexander as the adults setup camp.  Jamie fashioned a sort of tent to keep any rain off of his children while they slept. Fergus and Murtagh would sleep under the stars. The first night out of doors went by just like any other night, except Jamie and Claire kept the twins nestled between them to share as much of their body heat with the babies as possible. 

 

When everyone woke in the morning, Claire fed and changed the twins, Fergus fetched fresh water and Jamie took Murtagh with him to hunt for something for their breakfast.   They arrived back with two fish, three rabbits and a couple of handfuls of fresh raspberries.   Jamie skinned the rabbits, then roasted them and the fish over the fire.   After they finished their breakfast, Claire went down to the creek to wash up a bit, as the men stayed with the twins.  Claire soon returned and they set off on their journey once again.   

Being on the horses seemed to have quite the calming effect on Alexander and Eilidh, they didn't wake for four hours after they had departed that morning.  With Claire and Jamie tending their children, Fergus helped Murtagh to take care of finding and cooking their lunch. After lunch they set out again, the rest of the day seemed to go the same, they stopped only twice more to tend to the twins before making camp for the night. 

Once they found their rhythm with the twins the rest of the journey went smoothly, they would arrive at Lallybroch on the afternoon of the fourth day since leaving Inverness.  With luck they would arrive just in time to receive word of Black Jack Randall's execution.

 


 

As they came over the rise and Lallybroch came into view, Jamie and Claire both sighed in relief.  They were glad to be home after so long. As they rode up to the arch, the dogs started to bark, Jamie warned everyone to stay where they were.  They stopped and waited for Jenny or Ian to fetch the beasts.  Jamie would not risk getting off his horse to calm them with Eilidh strapped to his chest.  The dogs were to excitable and would likely knock their long missed master to the ground.  

Before long Jenny came around the corner with wee Jamie in tow and hushed the dogs.  Murtagh and Fergus climbed down from the wagon as Jenny walked toward the group. Jamie carefully climbed off his horse, holding Eilidh tight to his chest, as Murtagh helped Claire to dismount her own steed.  

Jenny ran up to Jamie and went to throw her arms around his neck, but stopped short when she saw what he held against his heart. "Oh mo ghràidh, she is beautiful, she looks just like ye."  Jenny said as she leaned over to kiss Eilidh lightly on the head. 

 

"This is Eilidh, my daughter." Jamie wrapped his free arm around his sister to bring her in for a hug, then walked her over to meet Claire and his sons.  "Jenny this is Claire my wife." He said then took his arm from around her shoulder, reached out and pulled the sling back from his bairn's face and introduced his son. "And this is our son Alexander." Then he motioned for Fergus to come stand with them. "And this is the boy we adopted in Paris, this is our son Fergus." 

 

"Oh Jamie, ye go away a boy and come back a man grown, with a wife and a family.  I am so proud of ye.  I would like ye all to meet my wee Jamie."  She leaned down and scooped up the toddler and introduced her brother to him. "This is yer uncle mo chridhe, the one yer named after."  

 

Just then Ian came walking from the back of the house and spoke to Jamie. "Jamie, it's good to see ye, I hear congratulations are in order.  After four years, we thought ye died, till we got yer letter.  We didna think to see ye again after the Red coats took ye off to Fort William." 

 

"Aye, I didna think I'd make it out of there alive to tell ye the truth of it.  Black Jack Randall nearly killed me, after we get inside and get everyone settled, I'll show ye my back."

"There is an evil in that man that no one can sway, I thought he'd raped Jenny and got her with child till I got her letter."  Jamie said, keeping to himself that he knew what happened from their past life. "But hopefully a messenger will be arriving soon with news of his execution."

 

Jamie motioned for Ian to come closer "But come, meet my family.  I'd like ye to meet my wife, Claire Fraser." 

 

Ian nodded "Nice to meet ye Claire."

 

"Nice to meet you to Ian." She replied

 

"So it's true, ye did marry a Sassenach." Ian said a bit startled

 

Claire chuckled "It's true, I was born in England, but only lived there until I was five.  I actually grew up all over, but I'll tell you about all that later."

 

"This is Fergus, our adopted son from Paris."  Jamie said as he put a hand on Fergus's shoulder.

"This here in my arms is our wee daughter Eilidh and in Claire's arms is our wee son Alexander." Jamie said beaming with pride.

 

"Ye have a beautiful family Jamie, yer mam and da would be proud." Ian said as he gave Jamie a pat on the back.

 

Jamie noticed the darkness flash over his sister's face before she quickly schooled her emotions again.  He knew he would have to show her his scars soon and tell her about his flogging. She needed to forgive herself as much as forgive him for their father's death.  Besides that he couldn't wait for Claire to heal the scars and never have to deal with them again, he was ready to be a whole man again.  

"Thank ye Ian, ye and Jenny have done well in my absence as well, wee Jamie is bonny, he looks just like ye Ian."

 

"This has all been wonderfully exciting and I'm so happy to meet you all, but if it's all the same to all of you, I would like to get inside and wash some of this road dust off and then perhaps rest a bit before these two are hungry or need changed again.  It's been quite a long journey and a hard couple of days."  Claire said

 

"Aye, mo nighean donn, yer right, let's get ye inside and upstairs.  We could all use a wash and some rest before dinner.  Lead the way Jenny."  Jamie put his free hand on Claire's back to guide her into the house.

 

"Dinna worry about yer things, I'll have some of the tenants come down from the fields and fetch them up to yer room for ye, Jamie."  Ian called after them

 

"Dinna worry about that lad, the boy and I can get their things upstairs for them, go on ahead and join yer family."  Murtagh said as he began pulling the trunks from the wagon.

 

Ian nodded his head and followed his family through the door of the house. 

 

Murtagh handed the cradle to Fergus "Here lad, take this up, they'll be needin' it so they can put the bairn's down." Then he grabbed the trunk that held Claire's belongings and they carefully made their way upstairs to the lairds room. 

Chapter Text

After a short rest with his wife and children, Jamie went downstairs to talk with Jenny and Ian. He found them sitting in the parlor, Ian reading a book and Jenny knitting. "Jenny, I think we should talk, I read yer letter, I ken what happened to ye that day that the English took me off to Fort William.  I ken ye blame me for father's death and I need to tell ye what happened to me once I arrived at Fort William, I need to tell ye how father died." Jenny nodded so he continued. 

"Father died, while I was being flogged, Dougal was there as well, they thought I had died.  Dougal said father made a small sound then grabbed his chest and collapsed.  I didna see it, I had fainted from the pain."

"When I first arrived at Fort William, I tried to escape, I had taken a couple of bannocks with me.  I received one hundred lashings for escape, then Randall inflicted the next hundred lashings a week later for the bannocks, the second lashing is what father witnessed."  Jamie said as he started to pull his shirt off over his head.  He turned around to show them the scars on his back, as soon as he was completely turned he heard both Jenny and Ian gasp.

 

Jenny stood and walked to Jamie, gently laying a hand on his back she whispered "Oh bhrathair, I thought ye must have done something to anger Randall.  I blamed ye for father's death, but to leave scars such as these, the lashes must have been laid down with such hate."

 

"Aye, there is a monster in that man. I dinna ken if it was hate or if he was joyous at the pain he inflicted upon my back." Jamie answered flatly.

Jamie pulled his shirt back on, turned and pulled his sister into a hug and placed a kiss on the crown of her head.  Then he pulled back, looked down into her eyes, stroked her hair and said "I have one more thing that I need to tell ye, I need ye to listen wi' all yer heart and wait till the end to ask any question, aye?"  She furrowed her brow, but agreed with a nod.

"Wait here, I need to go up and fetch Claire, this has to do with her as well."  Jamie said. 

Jamie went upstairs, woke Fergus so he could watch over the twins, then hand in hand Jamie led Claire back downstairs.

Jamie guided Claire over to the settee and sat down beside her then started "Jenny, do ye remember the story of the woman of Balnain?" she nodded, so Jamie continued "Claire is the woman of Balnain, she traveled from the future, from the year 1945, she has knowledge of the future that will help to keep us safe.  But we will talk of all of that at a later time.  I have also traveled, I traveled back three years."  Jenny gasped and Ian's eyes got wide, but they both stayed quite, waiting for Jamie to continue.

"All of us have already lived till the morning of April 16th in the year 1746, the morning of the battle of Cullodon, between the Jacobites and the English."

"I ken this is all verra hard to believe, in time I will be able to prove it to ye.  A few things I can tell ye now, so ye will ken the truth of it soon though, Ronald MacNab willna like that I have wed a Sassenach, if the price were still on my head he would turn me into the English.  The watch will be here in three weeks time, there will be an Irishman with them.  The Irishman will have a plan to ambush a rent party to steal their money and goods, but he is setting them up to be caught by the English.  The Irishman is a deserter from the English Army, the Irishman's name is Horrocks."

"But that still is not all that we have to tell." Jamie said as he squeezed Claire's hand and she gave him a slight nod in confirmation to go on. "Claire isna just the woman of Balnain, she is also the Goddess Airmid, or she was, and I was the God Lugus."  Jenny and Ian exchanged a look of confusion but Jamie continued "Claire isna witch nor a goddess, nor a fairie, but she does have special abilities, she only has them when we are together.  We would like to show ye, ye have nothing to fear.  Claire canna harm, she can only heal.  Would ye like to see what she can do?"  

 

Jenny spoke up "Ye have said a lot brother, but if we are to believe any of this, I think we must see it for ourselves, who will she heal?" 

 

"She will attempt to heal some of the scars on my back, dinna be afraid.  Ye must remain quite so she can concentrate." Jamie said as he again removed his shirt and laid down on the floor, leaving room for Claire to kneel next to him. 

 

Jenny and Ian moved closer so they could see exactly what was about to happen.  Claire knelt down next to Jamie, held her hands just above his back, over his shoulder where the uppermost part of the scars began.  She had already diagnosed the damage to his back, so she knew there was nerve damage below the skin and planned to heal that first. 

She closed her eyes, cleared her mind and visualized the severed nerves knitting back together.  Once the nerves were repaired, she emptied her mind then visualized the scars under her hands, she saw the skin smooth and mend in her mind, then she visualized as the coloring evened out and the scar disappeared.   

Claire opened her eyes, touched Jamie on the shoulder and moved back to sit on the settee and looked up at Jenny.  Jenny and Ian both looked on in awe with their hands covering their mouths.  Jamie rose up and returned to sit next to Claire, taking her hands in his, they patiently awaited Jenny's response. 

 

Jenny stood silently for a few minutes before returning to her seat on the chair opposite them, shaking her head and looking down at her clasped hands.  She took a moment to think, then raised her head and looked straight at Claire with wonder in her eyes "Yer hands, they ....  there was .... a blue light, coming from yer hands.  Yer hands they were glowing and the scars .... they .... just .... vanished.  They're gone, ye healed my brother, but how?"  

 

Claire smiled and explained "I am able to see the damage in my mind and see it heal, I draw my strength from Jamie himself to be able to heal. I am not able to perform magic, I am only able to us my abilities to heal, but I also have limitations.  I wouldn't be able heal Ian's missing limb, but only because the limb had been gone for so long.  But I am not limited to healing by only using my abilities, I have traditional knowledge of healing herbs and my experience as a combat nurse from my time in 1945.  You should also know that I am here to stay, I will not be returning to the time I was born to, this is my time.  Jamie and I are meant to be together, our love is eternal, his soul called me to him and this is where I belong.  You have nothing to fear from me, I only wish the best for our family, all of us."

 

"I believe both of ye, I dinna understand it all, but I believe ye.  We are glad to have ye here Claire." Jenny said as she walked over and pulled Claire into a hug. "Can ye heal my brother's whole back or is it to damaged?" 

 

"Oh yes, I can heal it all, it will take a bit of time since there is extensive nerve damage beneath the skin, but I can definitely heal it." Claire replied

 

"Could ye do it now, can we watch, its just so fascinating to see a miracle happen before my verra eyes."  Jenny said with excitement. 

 

Claire and Jamie exchanged a look then both chuckled "I don't see why not, Jamie could you lie back down my love?"

 

"Of course mo ghráidh." Jamie leaned over and gave her chaste tender kiss then resumed his position on the floor.

 

Little by little Claire healed Jamie's back, it took a couple of hours and several breaks for Claire to rest a bit, but finally his back was healed.  It looked like it had before he met the English on that fateful day in the dooryard.  Jamie stretched, turned and moved in ways he hadn't be able to do for years, the skin on his back no longer tight and unfeeling, he finally felt like a whole man again. 

"We must ask ye to keep this between us, not even the servants can ken about it.  If word got out, Claire could be tried and burned as a witch, she will only use her powers when they are absolutely needed, and even then not in front of anyone else."  Both Ian and Jenny nodded in agreement, both aware of what could happen if anyone knew what Claire was. "Healing takes a lot out of Claire, I will take her upstairs for a bit, but we will all be back down for dinner." 

Jamie took Claire back up to their room to tend to the children and get a bit of rest. 

 


 

The fifth day after returning to Lallybroch, happened to also be quarter day. Unlike the way Colum collected rents by sending Dougal out with a rent party visiting all the tenants, Laird Broch Tuarach's tenants came to him. Most everyone brought some type of gift to celebrate the Laird's new Lady and their family.  The day was filled with congratulations and celebration.  With all of the visitors and well wishers wanting to take a keek at the new heirs to Lallybroch, the twins were unable to maintain the schedule that Jamie and Claire worked so hard to resume.

Word of Claire's abilities as a healer spread quickly during the gather, she bandaged a few scrapes, removed a couple splinters and even splinted a broken finger.  Most of the injuries were caused by over indulgent men and their drunken clumsiness.  Nothing happened that called for her use of her special abilities. 

Claire witnessed Ronald MacNab abuse his son, but instead of interceding she immediately went to talk with Jenny.  She told Jenny what had happened in their previous life when this came to pass so that Jenny could make an informed decision on how to best handle the situation.  Jenny decided to have Ian and Jamie to confront Ronald together about the boys abuse.  Ronald relinquished Rabbie to them without a fight.  Jamie could still see that Ronald was bitter and warned his sister and Ian that they needed to keep an eye on him. 

Jamie was still quite aware that there were still people that threatened the safety of him and his family.  He knew that even though he was now a free man, that all of Scotland would be engaged in a bloody war in a few years time.  He needed to prepare his family and tenants for the hardships to come. 

 


 

The next afternoon Rabbie came running up to the fields, out of breath he said "My Laird, I saw two riders coming over the rise, they're Redcoats sir."

"Good lad, run back to the house, tell Mistress Murray and My Lady to stay inside, then ye go and hide yerself in the stables.  Myself and Master Murray will be waiting for the soldiers in the dooryard."  Jamie said as he mounted Donas and made his way back toward the stables with Ian on his own horse close behind him. 

Jamie and Ian made to the stables, removed their saddles and left the horses out in the paddock.  They walked over to the dooryard with a few minutes to spare before the the pair of Red coats rode up. 

"Can we help ye gentleman?  What business do ye have here?"  Jamie asked with a hand on his dirk.

 

"Yes sir, we are here in search of one James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser."  The older of the two soldiers said as he dismounted from his horse. 

 

"What do ye want with this man ye seek?" asked Ian, careful to mask an emotion from his face. 

Chapter Text

"Begging your pardon sir, we didn't mean to frighten you.  I have forgotten my manners, allow me to introduce myself, I am Harold Grey, Duke of Pardloe, Earl of Melton, Colonel of his Majesties 46th Regiment of Foot.  This is my companion Lieutenant Jeremy Foster." Hal said as he and Jeremy gave a graceful bow. 

 

Immediately Jamie knew this was out of the ordinary for the soldiers to show such respect so he decided to introduce himself as well. "Welcome gentleman, I am James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser Laird Broch Tuarach, the man which you seek, and this is my brother in law, Ian Murray.  How can I be of assistance to you?" 

 

"Mr. Fraser, we have brought a message to you from King George II." Hal said as he pulled the letter from his saddle bag.

 

"A message?" Jamie said as he reached to take the letter

 

"Yes sir, we are to wait until you have read it.  Should you wish to send a reply, we are to take it directly back to the king ourselves." Jeremy spoke up.

 

Jamie recognized the seal of King George II, a lion on the left and a unicorn on the right.  There was no doubt that the correspondence had come directly from the King.  He carefully broke the seal, opened the letter, catching a key as the letter unfolded and began reading to himself. 

 

Dear Lord Broch Tuarach

It is with pleasure that I inform you that Johnathan Wolverton Randall execution was successfully carried out at the Tower of London on April 16, 1744.

The manner of death was executed by firing squad. 

 

I received word from King Louis of France upon your departure from France, it is unfortunate you were unable to attend the execution yourself.

I have sent a case with Colonel Grey, he knows not of it's contents.  

Inside is a letter explaining what it holds and how you may use it. 

Wait until you are alone with your family to open the case.

There is a second letter within the case from King Louis.  

He has requested that you do not open this letter until you are alone.

 

I have instructed my army to treat you and your family with the respect that any loyalist deserves. 

They will not bother you again. 

 

Best wishes for a happy life

Your King George II

 

Jamie finished the letter and looked up to see Colonel Grey and Lieutenant Foster removing a rather large case from a cart that he had not noticed before.  "Thank you gentleman, we can take it from here.  You may take your leave, we will no longer be in need of your services."  All the men bowed to each other, then the soldiers remounted their horses and were on their way. 

 

"Does the letter say what the case is, Jamie?" Ian asked as he tapped it with his wooden leg. 

 

"Nah, but the letter does say to open it in the presence of family only.  Let's get it inside and see what it contains."  Jamie said as he tucked the letter into his waist coat and bent down to retrieve the case.  

 

The men made their way inside where Claire and Jenny awaited the news of the Redcoats visit. Jamie set the heavy case on the table in the dining room. Everyone gathered around as Jamie used the key from the letter to unlock the case.  Jamie slowly lifted the lid, almost afraid of what would be contained inside, but as the lid opened all the way, everyone gasped. 

Jamie reached in and retrieved two letters from the top of the contents.  He opened the letter that was sealed with King George's seal first.  

 

Dear Lord Broch Tuarach

As you can see, the contents of the case are of great value.

As promised, I have sent you the profits from the sale of the estate of Johnathan Wolverton Randall.

Inside the case is £10,000 sterling

You may do as you wish with it as long as you remain royal to the crown. 

Your King George II

 

Jamie handed the letter to Claire, she read the letter then passed it to Jenny and Ian.  They all stayed silent as Jamie opened the letter from King Louis. 

 

Dear Lord Broch Tuarach

I wish to thank you for your friendship and honesty during your time here in France.

Without your cunning mind and wisdom, we never would have known of the underhanded dealings of my cousin Prince Charles Stuart. 

You asked me what I would do with the information that you were able to obtain for me.

I wish to tell you what has been done.

Upon your departure from the shores of France the King's Guard descended on the brothel known as Maison Elise. 

Prince Charles was found there in the company of The Comte St. Germain and The Duke of Sandringham.

All three men were arrested and taken to the Bastille where they were interrogated. 

All three had different accounts of their association with the others, it is my suspicion that they are all lying.  

They will remain in the Bastille for the rest of their natural lives. 

Thank you again my friend, you are welcome in France any time you wish to visit.

King Louis

 

Jamie looked up at Claire, nearly dropping the letter in his shock.  It appeared as if they had stopped the uprising without even trying this time. They had accomplished what they had set out to do the first time, but this time with no loss to themselves and with verra little effort.

 

Claire took the letter from Jamie's hand and read it to herself. "Jamie, can this really be true, did we really change the future without even lifting a finger this time?" 

 

"Aye, Sassenach, it looks that way, but we won't know until the day comes. But with all of this, this news, these riches, we have certainly been blessed, at least for now."  Jamie said as he pulled Claire into a tight embrace. 

Chapter Text

The four of them sat at the table quietly, overcome with everything that had just happened.  Then Claire spoke up "Do you know what this all means? The future is not written, everything that happened last time, even everything that happened up to my own time, it will all be different."

"According to history as I know it, the bonny Prince was never locked away in the Bastille.  Since he is now, he can't possibly sail to Scotland, raise an army and start an uprising that will end the highland culture.  I don't know what will happen now, but if there is no Prince to lead the clans....."  Claire trailed off. 

 

"Aye, yer right Sassenach, we dinna ken what's to come, not even for the next two years, everything has changed.  We must keep our heids about us.  Danger could still find us."

"But with this case of sterling, we shall never want again, Lallybroch and all of our tenants shall never want again.  We need to devise a plan."  Jamie said

 

"Aye, we could use some of the money to buy seeds, and materials for rebuilding some of the structures." Ian spoke up.

 

"Aye, we can, but we canna keep this amount of money in the house, we need to hide what we dinna spend." Jenny said. 

 

"You're right, Jenny.  Even if the English keep their word, someone is bound to find out and come looking for it.  Aren't the watch expected to be here in a few weeks time, they will surely like to get their hands on it.  They might even be willing to kill for this amount of money." Claire said with a worried expression. 

 

Jamie reached over to take Claire's hand in his, he stroked his thumb over her knuckles in reassurance.  "Dinna fash Sassenach, we willna let that happen.  Do ye remember last time, we dug a root cellar for the potatoes?  We could dig several of them, split up the money and hide it."

"We could buy seeds for planting without notice, but materials would need to be purchased a bit at a time, so as not to bring attention to us."

"Ian and I can travel to Inverness next week to purchase seeds." Jamie said

 

"No you can't go next week, your twenty third birthday is in six days, and now we have even more reason to celebrate." Claire said

"Besides, do you just plan on leaving me here?" she said.

 

"Aye, we can put off the trip for few more days.  And aye, I do plan on leaving ye here, the children are to young to travel and ye canna be leaving them behind.  But dinna fash mo chridhe, I shall leave Murtagh to watch over everything.  He willna let anything happen to any of ye." Jamie squeezed her hand.

 

"Well yes, I suppose you're right.  I just do not wish to be parted from you, bad things tend to happen when we are apart." She said with a small pout.  "What if something happens to you, I won't be there to heal you.  I don't like this."

 

"Aye, yer right, we shall ponder it a bit.  Enough talk for now, come Sassenach, I wish to look upon our son and daughter." Jamie said as he stood and offered her his hand to stand. 

 


 

After three days, they still had not come to a decision about traveling to Inverness.  Jamie, Ian, Murtagh and some of the tenants were up in the fields as Jenny and Claire decided to take a break from their daily chores to take the children down by the mill pond to enjoy some spring air. 

Fergus was playing in the shallow water with wee Jamie while Jenny and Claire sat on a nearby blanket with Maggie, Alexander and Eilidh. "Jenny, I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me to be accepted as part of this family.  It is more than I ever could have hoped for.  Growing up as a single child, I always wanted to have a big family, so to be able to give my children the opportunity to grown up with their cousins is a dream come true."  Claire confessed.

"Oh, Claire, do ye not see how happy we are to have ye here?  I can see how happy ye make my brother.  I love ye like a sister, I couldna have chosen a better match for Jamie.  Ye are meant to be here." Jenny leaned over and pulled Claire into a heartfelt embrace.

 

They were interrupted when Fergus ran up to them dripping wet with wee Jamie in his arms, said "Milady, a group of British soldiers are coming, what should we do?"

 

"Just sit down and stay quiet Fergus, I will handle this."  Claire responded to him as she laid Eilidh back in her travel basket. 

She stood up, squared her shoulders and waited for the soldiers to approach them. "How can we help you gentleman?"  She stated more calmly than she felt.  The arrival of the Redcoats always left her nerves on edge. 

 

"Madam, I am Colonel Grey, I must assume that you are Mrs. Fraser, I spoke with your husband a few days ago." Hal said

 

"You would be correct in your assumptions, I am in fact Lady Broch Tuarach, Claire Fraser, what is it I can do for you sir?" Claire asked a little annoyed now. 

 

"I beg your pardon for the interruptions madam, we have received reports of the Black Watch being seen in the area.  As such, I have orders to protect your family as loyalists to the crown from such threats to your property and person.  Would your husband be available, I should like to inform him of these orders myself?"  Hal said

 

"He is working up in the high fields just now, if you would follow us back up to the manor, I can have one of the lads fetch him." Claire said as she and Jenny began to gather their belongings and the children back into the wagon. 

 

"I would be grateful madam, may we assist you in getting your children back to your home?" Hal asked as he began to get down from his horse.

 

"No thank you Colonel, I believe we have got everything.  If you will just give us a moment to secure the children, we can be on our way."  Claire answered as she followed Jenny up onto the wagon bench. 

 

The trek back to the house was slow so as not to jostle the children around to much.  Alexander and Eilidh still did not like riding in the wagon, but seemed to be content for the short ride from the mill pond to the house as long as they weren't bounced around to much. 

It took about twenty minutes to return to the dooryard.  Claire helped Jenny and Fergus down from the wagon, then handing each of the babies down in their baskets.  Mrs. Crook had come out as they approached the house and helped Jenny and Claire to get the children inside.  Claire sent Fergus up to the fields to fetch Jamie and Ian. "Fergus tell Milord that we met a group of soldiers down at the mill pond and that Colonel Grey has a message for him."

 

"Oui Milady, I will not let you down." Fergus yelled as he took of running toward the fields. 

 

Jamie came into the door yard riding Donas with Ian right on his heels. "What is all this then?" He said as he jumped down off his horse and tossing the reins to Rabbie MacNab, the stable lad. 

 

"Mr. Fraser, it is so good to see you again and in good health.  I do beg your pardon for the intrusion, I have orders sir."  Hal said as he swung down off of his own steed.

Hal reached his hand out to shake Jamie's hand.  Jamie guardedly accepted the gesture and shook Hal's outstretched hand, before stepping back and placing his hand on the hilt of his dirk.  "What orders would those be Colonel Grey?" Jamie asked. 

 

"As I already informed Mrs. Fraser, we have received word of the Black watch being spotted in the area.  King George has ordered my regiment protection against any and all threats to your person, your family and property as loyal subjects of the crown."  Hal replied.

 

"Aye, is that so?  Ye canna be here, if yer seen on my land like this, it will cause enemies from nearby clans."  Jamie said

 

"Yes, King George thought of that, this is why we will remain hidden around the borders of your land.  We shall not bring unwanted attentions to your family.  If you would be so kind as to show us the borders, I will place sentries to guard your land.  I myself as well as Lieutenant Jeremy Foster, which I have already introduced you to and Lord John Grey, my brother will stay in your stables to be close at hand should the Black Watch or another threat arise."

 

"It sounds as though I dinna have a choice in the matter, how long do ye plan on staying then?" Jamie asked with a grunt.

 

"We shall only stay a few days, if the Black Watch does not show up within a week, we shall move off your land, but we will remain close by shall you be in need of us.  You are have become a very important supporter of King George, he does not wish to see harm to befall you or your family."

 

"Fine, let me talk to my wife and then we shall be off."  Jamie said as he walked into the house to notify Claire of the Colonel's intentions. 

Jamie quickly returned from talking with Claire, mounted Donas and with the British soldiers in tow, left to show them the borders of the Lallybroch estate. 

Two sentries were to remain at every post, each post was within a few minutes riding distance to the next,  Lallybroch was surrounded by British soldiers and Jamie had never before felt so uneasy. 

Upon returning to the manor, Jamie invited Colonel Grey into his study to discuss what he knew of the watch. "Colonel Grey, please join me in my study, I have some information of my own about the Black Watch that you may be interested in learning yerself." 

"Mrs. Crook, please bring something for Colonel Grey to eat, we shall be in my study."  Jamie commanded

 

"Yes my Laird, right away sir." Mrs. Crook said as she curtsied to Jamie and returned to the kitchen to fetch some pastries.

 

Colonel Grey followed Jamie into his study "Please Colonel, take a seat, would ye like a whiskey?" Jamie offered as he poured himself a dram.

 

"Yes thank you sir, now what is it you have to tell me about the Black Watch?" Hal asked as he took the glass that Jamie held out to him. 

 

Jamie took a seat behind his desk, leaning forward he started to tell Hal what he knew from his interactions with the Black watch from his previous dealings with them in his past life. "The Black watch in this area is led by a man called Taran MacQuarrie, from what I remember he has five or six men that travel with him.  One of the men is a British deserter called Horrocks, he is an Irishman, I dinna ken any more about him."

 

"This is very interesting information indeed, how did you discovery all of this, may I ask Mr. Fraser?" Colonel Grey asks him as he sips his whiskey.

 

"As ye ken I have just returned from France, so I have yet to encounter the Black Watch myself.  But my sister Jenny and her husband Ian have informed me that they come around to our place every couple of months for nigh on two years now.  They take what they wish with a promise of protection, they stay for a few days and then move on."

"They have had previous discussions about ambushing rents parties for neighboring clans and I ken that the Clan Chisholm will be out collecting rents near our shared border over the next week.  It may be your best bet to catch them and stop their thieving of innocent crofters." Jamie said with a smirk.

 

"Yes, yes that could work.  Do you per chance know of a place where they might try to ambush this Clan Chisholm that you spoke of?" Hal asked his curiosity peeked.

 

"Aye, I do, there is a bridge a few hours ride to the south of here.  It would make the perfect place for an ambush.  But if ye mean to catch them, how will ye do that with yer men surrounding my lands?" Jamie asked, hoping for a way to remove the soldiers from his borders. 

 

"I will dispatch Lieutenant Foster with correspondence to the nearest garrison to send a troop to this bridge you speak of, there they can await the rent party, should they we not catch them here first."  Colonel Grey said as he finished his whiskey, set his tumbler on the desk and rose from his seat. "I thank you for the information Mr. Fraser, I shall see myself out.  Good night to you sir." Colonel Grey said as he bowed to Jamie and excused himself from the room. 

 

Jamie followed the Colonel from the study, escorted him from the house and showed him to the stables where the other two soldiers awaited his arrival. "I'll have Fergus and Rabbie fetch ye some fresh blankets and some food to eat."

 

"No need sir, we have everything we need in our saddle bags, we will not impose on your hospitality for providing us with a roof." Colonel Grey said. 

 

"Aye, well have a good night then.  Oh and Colonel, we are having a celebration in a few days, if ye couldna be here when the guest begin to arrive, it would be much appreciated." Jamie said as he turned to leave.

 

"A celebration sir?  What are you celebrating?" Hal asked.

 

"Aye, a celebration.  It is my twenty fourth birthday in three days time and we are having my son and daughter baptized as well." Jamie answered

 

"Oh, that is something to celebrate, indeed we will be gone or at least out of site when the time comes.  Good night Mr. Fraser and thank you again."  Hal replied.

 

"Goodnight gentlemen." Jamie said as he left the stables and headed back toward the main house. 

Chapter Text

Three days had passed with no sign of the Black Watch, Claire woke to the smooth sounds of Jamie's voice.  She turned over to see him saying soothing words in Gaelic to the twins.  Alexander and Eilidh were looking up at their father in complete awe.  Each of the twins had one tiny fist wrapped around their fathers respective pinkie finger and the other fist stuffed into their mouths. 

She laid still and watched for a few moments, not wanting to disturb this beautiful moment.  The children began to make cooing sounds in response to what Jamie was telling them.  Claire must have made a small sound, because Jamie turned his head in her direction, caught her eye with his and gave her the sweetest smile. 

"Good morning mo nighean donn, did ye sleep well?" Jamie asked as he leaned over to give her a chaste kiss.

 

"Good morning, yes I slept very well, thank you for looking after the children."  Claire replied with a sigh of contentment. 

"Happy Birthday my love." 

 

"Thank ye, and ye dinna have to thank me for taking care of my own bairns, it brings me joy to do it." Jamie gave her an owlish wink.

"Ye ken, we have more than just my birthday to celebrate today?" 

 

"Yes, the children are being baptized today as well, I haven't forgotten."  Claire replied

 

"Aye, they are, but that is not what I was thinking about." Jamie said

 

"It's not?  Then what were you thinking about?" Claire asked

 

"Do ye not remember then?  It was a year ago today that we met, a year since ye came through the stones.  Ye have been the best birthday gift I could have every wished for mo ghráidh, I love ye." Jamie said as he leaned over to give her kiss on the temple.

 

"Yes, of course I remember, indeed that is something to celebrate, the most important day of my life that began the best year of my life.  I was given an amazing caring husband and three beautiful children. 

 

Just then Alexander, having heard his mother's voice began to fuss. "I think our wee man is ready for his morning meal. Come here a bhalaich, let's go see yer mam." Jamie said as he lifted Alexander and handed him over to Claire.

 

Eilidh continued to coo as Jamie lifted her up into his arms and held her to his chest.  She took hold of his free pinkie with one little fist and caught a handful of one of his curls with her other tiny fist. 

By the time Alexander had finished his meal, Eilidh was ready for hers.  Claire handed Alexander back to Jamie as she took Eilidh and put her to the still full breast.  Jamie changed Alexander's nappy, clothed and readied him for the day, then set him in his cradle to play.  While Claire finished feeding Eilidh, Jamie was able to dress and ready himself for the day.

Claire handed Eilidh to Jamie to change and dress as she took the time to dress herself. "Jamie, you are such a wonderful father, I appreciate everything you do.  I can't thank you enough for being such a presence in the children's lives, from helping to ready them in the morning to waking with me in the night when one of them needs something.  You are so much more than I could have ever hoped for."

"Even in my time, father's are rarely so involved in their children's lives.  You are the king of all men."  Claire said as she walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing a kiss between his shoulder blades. 

 


 

Meanwhile in Inverness May 1, 1946 Frank had returned from Oxford England to Reverend Wakefields's home.  It had been a year since his wife's unusual disappearance and he needed to distract himself, this day was too painful.  He had decided to seek Reggie's help with more research into his own families past.  

Frank pulled his family bible from his briefcase and opened it to the first page where the family tree was recorded.  He had thought several times about adding Claire's name next to his, but the point seemed moot now.  In the year since Claire's disappearance, Frank was tested and it had been determined that he was infertile, so there would be no names to add below his, even if Claire had not disappeared. 

Frank moved his finger from his own name, tracing back through each generation, then suddenly came to a stop.  The date under Johnathan Wolverton Randall's name had changed.  His death was now recorded as happening on April 16, 1744.  He was sure it had said April 16, 1746 and that he had died at the battle of Cullodon.  

Shocked Frank pulled out his research of Cullodon and scanned the documents for the information he had read hundreds of times.  But the information was no longer there, he could find no trace of Johnathan Wolverton Randall.  What could all of this mean, something was not right but what could it be.  Why would the date in the bible change, why would his ancestors existence from Cullodon suddenly be erased? 

He had to speak to Reggie, he had to find out why Johnathan Wolverton Randall's death had been changed.  Could Mrs. Graham be right about time travel, and could Claire's disappearance possibly have something to do with the change of the year of his ancestors death?

 


 

Back at Lallybroch May 1, 1744, Jamie and Claire took the children downstairs, leaving the twins in Mrs. Crooks care, Jamie and Claire went to the dining room to enjoy their breakfast. 

After breakfast Claire went to tend her garden, while Jamie went to the stables to see the three Redcoats off before their guests began to arrive. 

Jamie entered the stables to see Colonel Grey and his brother John Grey involved in a game of chess.  He stood quietly right inside the door and watched for a few minutes.  "Colonel, I believe Lord John has you in the next move." Jamie said with a smirk.

 

"Ah, it appears he does, I must concede defeat." Hal said as he tipped his king over. "Do you play then, Laird Broch Tuarach?"

 

"Aye, I have been known to play a game or two now and then." Jamie said as he stepped closer to the pair of Redcoats.

 

"Would you like to try your hand at a game with John, he's very good.  I can never seem to be able to beat him." Hal said.

 

"Maybe another time, I came to see what ye planned to do with yerselves today.  May I remind ye that we have several guests arriving for the festivities today and it would not do anyone good for ye to be found here." Jamie said

 

"Quite right, today is your birthday, I wish a Happy Birthday to you Mr. Fraser.  We will clean this up and make ourselves scarce, but we will not be far away, should you be in need of our assistance."  Hal said as he stood and began to gather up the game. 

 

"Thank ye, the guests should begin to arrive within the next two hours, the sooner yer gone, the better." Jamie said as he turned to leave the men to gather their belongings.

 


 

Jamie walked across the yard, around the to the back of the house and to the garden where Claire knelt gathering herbs.  Jamie approached Claire quietly and waited for her to notice his presence, not wanting to startle or disturb her.  She hummed quietly as she went about her work.  He could see when she noticed his presence, she stopped humming and looked over her shoulder and smiled. "Is everything alright my love, have the soldiers gone?"

 

"Aye, everything is just fine, the Redcoats are gathering their things and leaving as we speak.  They won't be far, should we be in need of them.  I was just enjoying watching my wife peacefully enjoying her garden.  Would ye walk wi' me Sassenach?"  Jamie asked as he reached a hand out to help her to her feet. 

"Of course, I will go anywhere with you." Claire said as she took his arm and strolled next to him.

 

Jamie led Claire up a small rise toward the back of the property, as they came over the top of the rise the reason for the walk was revealed. A few paces ahead was the family burial grounds.  Jamie led Claire to the two headstones where the names of Jamie's parents were engraved. 

Jamie knelt down, tracing his mother's name with a finger he introduced Claire to his parents.

"Mam, Da, I would like to introduce ye to my wife, Claire Elizabeth Fraser.  She's English, but I'm sure ye wouldna hold that against her.  I ken ye would love her as I do. I dinna ken if ye remember Da, but she is the One, the one ye told me was made just for me, I love her wi' all my heart.  She is the other half of my soul, she fills a place in my heart that I dinna ken was empty.  She is the most beautiful, thoughtful, caring, generous person I ken.  She has blessed me with two beautiful bairns.  A son, we named him Alexander Henry Brian Beauchamp Fraser, to honor all the men that made his existence possible.  We also have a daughter, they are twins, we named her Eilidh Julianna Elizabeth Fraser, in honor of the women who made her possible." 

"The children were born on March 8, 1744, they will be two months old in a week, not quite old enough to be out of doors for so long.  We shall bring them up to introduce them to ye properly as soon as the weather is warm enough.  We also have a son that we adopted during our time in Paris, his name is Fergus.  He is ten years old, we dinna ken his birthday.  We shall likely celebrate his birthday on the day that we found him."

 

Claire knelt down next to Jamie and took his free hand in hers, she caressed Brian's name engraved on the stone and began to talk to them.  "Hello Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, it is so nice to meet you.  I wish I could have met you in life so that I could thank you.  You have raised a wonderful son, you would be so proud of the man he has become.  He is such a thoughtful, considerate, loyal, affectionate, understanding, compassionate man, husband and father.  I could not of dreamed of anyone as amazing as him.  Thank you, for giving me the love of my life." 

 

Jamie rose, helping Claire to her feet then led them back toward the house.  "I try to come and visit them on my birthday and other meaningful occasions.  As ye ken it has been several years since I have able to return home to Lallybroch, so today was most special indeed."

 

"Is this the first time you have visited them since we have been back?" Claire asked

 

"Nah, I came to visit them the day that we returned.  I miss both of them so much, it hurt my heart to be away from them for so long."  Jamie replied

"But come, now it is time to celebrate, the guests should be arriving by the time we return to the house.  We still have much to do to prepare." 

 


 

By the time Jamie and Claire arrived back at the house, several of the tenants had helped Jenny to setup tables behind the house for the celebration.  The table we lined with food, drink and flowers, awaiting the arrival of the rest of the guests.  Claire surpassed the activity in the yard with her sole focus on her twins.  The twins would need to eat and be put down for a nap before the festivities would begin. 

Before they had separated, Jamie gave Claire a quick kiss on the temple then headed to the stables.  Upon arriving at the stables, Jamie looked around to make sure no one else was around, then slowly opened the door and slipped inside without notice.  He looked around, but could see no signs that the Redcoats had ever been there.  The only tell tale sign that anyone had been sleeping there was the flattened straw in the empty stall.  Jamie grabbed a nearby pitchfork and quickly stirred the flattened straw to remove any traces the men had left behind. 

Jamie used a cart to bring hay bales to the yard, they would make comfortable place for people to sit.  Jenny brought down some spare blankets to throw over the hay bales to make them a bit more comfortable. 

Before long the yard was filled with guests.  Once the priest arrived, Jenny and Jamie escorted him into the Parlor, the twins and Maggie would be christened inside the house with only the family in attendance.  As Jenny offered the priest a dram of whiskey, Jamie went upstairs to fetch down Claire and the children. 

Mrs. Crook carried wee Margaret down as Jamie brought Alexander and Claire carried Eilidh to the parlor.  The priest started with Maggie since she was a few months older than the twins.  He drizzled water over each of their heads and said. 

"I baptize you Margaret Ellen Murray, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." 

"I baptize you Alexander Henry Brian Beauchamp Fraser, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

"I baptize you Eilidh Julianna Elizabeth Fraser, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Baptizing the children only took about twenty minutes, once they were finished the children were taken to the nursery where Fergus and wee Jamie were already playing together.  Mrs. Crook would stay with them while the family returned to the yard to host their guests. 

The celebration went late into the afternoon, everyone enjoyed good food, drink and dancing.  Jamie and Claire both felt like they could finally relax.  Everything in their world seemed right and they had a beautiful future to look forward to.  

Chapter Text

Colonel Grey, Lord John Grey and Lieutenant Foster returned to hide in the stables after all the guests had left on the night of Jamie's twenty fourth birthday.  They had news to share with the Laird and Lady of the estate.  Jamie waited until dark before he went to the stables to talk to them and see them settled back in. 

"Colonel, thank ye for staying out of sight while our guests were here.  Is there anything I can get ye?" Jamie asked, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the inside wall of the stable. 

 

"Thank you kindly Mr. Fraser, we have all we need.  But we do have some news for you, we have received word that the Black Watch has been seen in Broch Mordha with plans to arrive on your lands some time tomorrow." Lieutenant Foster said. 

 

"Is that so?  What is yer plan for taking them into custody then?" Jamie asked, his interest now peeked. 

 

"You see, we will need your help with that, you and your family that is.  You mentioned that your sister and brother in law are familiar with the group, they know who should be arriving." Colonel Grey spoke up this time.

 

"Aye, that's the truth of it, right enough, but what does that have to do with ye needing our help?" Jamie asked.

 

"Well you see Mr. Fraser, we want to arrest all of the men at once and word in Broch Mordha was that the group is waiting on another man to catch up with them.  We don't want to expose ourselves before we can catch them all at once.  We don't want to leave any of them free to escape and continue to terrorize innocent people."  Colonel Grey said.

 

"Aye, that is a sound plan.  But surely ye do not intend to arrest them in front of my family.  There is sure to be bloodshed, I dinna wish for my children or my nieces and nephew to witness such a thing.  That is not something that innocent children or women should have to see." Jamie replied

 

"Sir, you are right about that, we do not wish to subject the women and children to such uncivilized atrocities that may come about in such circumstances.  We shall wait until they leave your home and follow them before we make our move to capture them.  We have men camped out near the bridge you told us about, we hope to capture them there."  Colonel Grey stated.

 

"That should be fine, but please keep yerselves hidden until then, no matter what happens." Jamie demanded.

 

"You have our word Sir, we will make ourselves scarce, just as we did today.  Once we capture them, we will send word back to you so you know that you no longer have reason to fear them." Lord John spoke up for the first time. 

 

"We appreciate the protection, thank ye gentleman, goodnight to ye." Jamie said as he left the stables and walked back toward the house. 

 


 

Jamie came in through the back door of the house and through the kitchen, walking through the house he could see that everyone else had already gone up to their rooms.  He made his way up to join Claire in the Laird's room, making sure to enter with as little noise as possible in case the twins and Claire were already asleep. 

As he stepped inside the room, gently closing the door, he watched as Claire knelt between the two cradles where Alexander and Eilidh lay sound asleep.  She was singing softly and rubbing their tiny backs in a soothing pattern.  Jamie knew this would be a moment forever burned into his memory, a moment he would cherish forever, he took a moment to appreciate it. 

Jamie walked up behind her and placed his hands on each of her shoulders.  He bent down and whispered in her ear, so as not to startle the children. "Sassenach, will ye come to bed wi' me?" 

 

She slowly stood, turned towards him, wrapping her arms around his waist, leaning into him, she smiled and whispered back "To bed or to sleep?" 

 

Jamie's arms went around her waist drawing her tight up against him, grinning down at her and answered "We have plenty of time for sleep mo nighean donn, I have missed my wife.  Take off yer shift lass, I want to see my wife." Then he stepped away from her to give her space to do just that. 

 

"I've missed you too Jamie, take off yours as well. I want to look at you too." Claire replied in a sultry voice.

 

They removed their clothing and as soon as the last of it hit the floor, Jamie had taken a stride toward Claire, smoothed his hands down her back, over her arse and down to her thighs.  He swiftly scooped her up as her legs instinctively wrapped around his hips.  He turned and carried her the few steps back to their bed and gently laid her down before climbing up over her like a predator stalking its' prey. 

Claire scooted back toward the pillows to get more comfortable as Jamie came toward her, his eyes dark and wanting.  Jamie slowly lowered his head, keeping his eyes locked on hers the whole time.  He slowly nipped, kissed and sucked the skin of her naval, slowly moving up her body, kissing, nipping and licking along the way.  

Jamie wanted to take her like a savage, but he was determined to take it slow and be gentle with her. This would be the first time they would lay together since she gave birth to the twins, he would let Claire set the pace. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her.

"A dhia Sassenach, ye are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, God I do love ye mo ghráidh, with everything that I am." Jamie said as he continued to place kisses over each of her breasts.

 

"I love you too Jamie, you make me feel like the only woman in the world.  I can't believe I am lucky enough to call you mine." Claire replied with a sigh.

 

"Oh, Claire, to me ye are the only woman in the world. The only one that matters, and I will continue to prove it to ye ever day, for the rest of our lives." Jamie whispered as he took one nipple into his mouth and suckled gently. 

He paid the same attention to the other breast before placing tender kisses along the delicate skin of her neck and over her jaw, until he finally captured her lips in a crushing kiss.  Claire's fingers tangled in the curls at the nape of his neck as she moaned her pleasure into his mouth. 

The kiss grew deeper until they both pulled away panting and staring into one another's eyes. Jamie reached between them to guide himself into her wet, waiting honeypot, he entered her ever so slowly, allowing her to gradually become accustom to the girth of his cock after so many months apart.  

Claire placed one hand on his shoulder to hold on and slid the other down over his buttocks to pull him deeper into her.  Jamie slowly let his cock glide in and out savoring the feel of her silky folds, pushing deeper and deeper each time he entered her.  Claire moved her hand back up to hold onto his other shoulder, fingernails digging in as her legs wrapped around his hips, tightening and holding him to her.  She hooked her feet behind his back and pulled him deeper and faster into her.

He took the hint and began to thrust harder, keeping up a steady pounding rhythm, after a few hard thrusts he could feel her internal muscles fluttering and squeezing his cock, pulling him in deeper.  He couldn't hold out and his release followed quickly after hers. As he pumped his seed deep inside of her he lowered his head to capture her lips. "Give me yer mouth Sassenach." he breathed into her mouth, kissing her deeply as he finished spilling into her.  Then collapsed beside her as the strength went out of his arms. 

They lay staring into each other's eyes, Jamie stroking her curls as Claire stroked her fingers over the stubble on his jaw. Then Jamie asked her "Well, was it like ye thought it would be?"

 

Claire giggled, remembering when she had asked him the same thing and answered "So much better than I ever could have imagined."

 

Jamie grinned at her and placed a tender kiss on the tip of her nose.  "I love ye mo nighean donn, mo bhean."

Claire placed a chaste kiss at the corner of his wide mouth, eliciting a sweet smile from him and said "I love you too my husband."

They drifted off to sleep like that, facing each other, arms wrapped around one another and legs tangled together, blissfully happy to remain right where they were. 

 


 

The following morning Jamie was awoken to a noise in the dooryard.  He carefully untangled his limbs from Claire's and slowly got out of bed so as not to wake her and made his way quietly over to the window to see what the commotion was.  Just as he was about to approach the window, Eilidh began to fuss.  Jamie walked over to her cradle, scooped her up and realized immediately that the lass needed her nappy changed.

He gathered the supplies needed, set her down at the foot of the bed and went about his business of getting his daughter cleaned up and in a new nappy.  He wrapped her back up, picked her up and held her to his chest as he whispered soothing words in Gáidhlig to her.  She calmed down and stopped fussing, but she was gumming her fist with vigor.  The lass was hungry and before long she would become frustrated with her fist and begin to fuss.

Jamie walked over to the side of the bed and gently leaned over to wake Claire. "Sassenach, wake up mo ghráidh, our wee lass is wanting her breakfast." 

 

Claire woke up, rubbed her eyes and moved to sit up against the headboard.  She reached up to try and tame her hair a bit, then giving up the struggle, she took Eilidh from Jamie and put her to her breast.

 

Jamie pulled on his breeks and made his way back over to the window to see what had caused the noise a few minutes earlier.  He looked out the window, making sure to remain in the shadows and could see four men with horses talking with Jenny and Ian.  He recognized them as the men from the Black Watch.  He could see that Taran MacQuarrie was the one talking with Ian, but Horrocks was nowhere in sight.

He walked back over to the bed, leaned over and kissed Claire on the temple and whispered to her "I shall return in a moment mo nighean donn, I must send Fergus on a wee mission." 

Claire hummed in acknowledgement as he left their room.

 

Jamie knocked on the nursery door before opening it quietly. Fergus and wee Jamie were quietly playing with blocks on the floor. "Fergus, I need ye to do something for me, but ye must stay out of sight.  I need ye to let the Colonel ken that the watch has arrived but not all the men are with them.  Then I need ye to come right back here, do ye think ye can do that for me?" Jamie asked. 

 

"Oui, Milord, you can count on me, I will not let you down." Fergus said as he scrambled to his feet and swiftly left the room. 

Fergus returned five minutes later with a message from the soldiers. "Milord, the Colonel and his men were gone when I arrived in the stables, but I found a letter addressed to you." Fergus said as he handed Jamie the letter. 

 

Mr. Fraser

We had word before sunrise that the Watch would be here today.  We have removed ourselves to the woods bordering your fields.  We will remain there until tonight where you can find us and we can decide our next move.

Colonel Hal Grey

"Thank ye Fergus, good man.  Go back to playing wi' wee Jamie and dinna leave the room without an adult wi' ye."  Jamie patted him on the back then turned, walked out of the room and returned to Claire. 

Chapter Text

Jamie and Claire had warned Jenny and Ian about the watch and what would happen to them.  He told them of their previous life where the watch entered the house and held Jamie at gun point.  The four of them had decided that Jamie and Claire would remain in their room when the watch finally did arrive. Jenny and Ian would inform the watch that the Laird of the Estate had returned with his family, and would be down to welcome them soon. 

Jamie and Claire waited for the commotion in the dooryard to die down and listened patiently for footsteps outside their door.  Ten or so minutes after the noise in the dooryard quieted down, Jenny along with Mrs Crook came to fetch them down to meet the watch.  Neither Jamie or Claire wanted the twins anywhere near the men of the watch, so Mrs. Crook stayed in their chamber with the children.  Claire went to fetch Fergus to have him join Mrs. Crook and his siblings in the Laird's room.

Jamie descended the stairs first with Claire a few steps behind him.  He made his way into the formal dining room, pulled out a chair for Claire, then took his place next to her at the head of the table.  Ian escorted the men of the watch in to meet the Laird, they each bowed then took a seat at the opposite end of the table from Jamie and Claire.

Jenny assisted by Mary MacNab, brought breakfast out to the table.  Ian pulled a seat out for Jenny to sit on Jamie's left side, then he took the seat right next to her.  Ian spoke up to make introductions. "Laird Broch Tuarach, may I introduce you to the men of the Black watch, this is Taran MacQuarrie and his men.   Taran, this is our Laird, James Fraser."

 

"Pleasure to finally meet you Mr. Fraser, I have been curious about the long lost Laird of this estate." Taran said with sarcasm dripping from his voice. 

 

"Not lost at all Mr. MacQuarrie, I have been away soldiering in France, then studying with my uncles Colum MacKenzie, Laird of Clan Mackenzie and Dougal MacKenzie, War Chief of Clan MacKenzie at Castle Leoch.  Then my Lady and I had some business with King Louis in France." Jamie said as he reached a hand out to take Claire's hand in his possessively. "We are glad to finally be home."

 

"King Louis ye say, do ye ken him then? Ye have spoken to the man himself?" Taran asked skeptically.

 

"Aye, we have spoken to him several times." Jamie answerd, being calculating in the information he shared. 

 

"Oh, yes my husband is good friends with King Louis, he personally invited us to Versailles on several occasions. Why, he even had us for a going away breakfast right before our departure and expressed his regret in letting us go."  Claire said with an air of arrogance.

 

"Well it must be something to be held in such high regard by a man such as King Louis." Taran replied

 

"Hmmph, shall we eat breakfast and then ye can tell me why ye are here." Jamie said, effectively ending anymore talk of their association with King Louis. 

 


 

Once breakfast was finished and the table cleared Jamie didn't hesitate to start the conversation back up where he had left off. "So Mr. MacQuarrie, what brings ye to my estate?" 

 

"I should think yer sister, Mistress Jenny would have informed ye of our regular visits.  But in any case I can tell ye myself.  We offer protection to the land owners here abouts." Taran said.

 

"And what price do ye ask for this protection?" Jamie replied getting annoyed, but carefully masking any emotion from his face.

 

"Oh, just food and lodging and a bit of coin, not much." Taran replied with a cocky gleam in his eye.

 

"And who pray tell do ye offer us protection from, who is it we have to fear so greatly that we canna protect our own?" Jamie said getting right to the meat of it. 

 

"Well the British Army of course, we heard what happened here.  We heard about your arrest for trying to protect Jenny's honor.  We were told about Captain Black Jack Randall's attack on ye and Jenny.  Nothing like that will happen again as long as we are around to protect folks such as yerselves.  Ye wouldna want anything like that happening to yer lovely wife, I'm sure." Taran replied, sure of himself.

 

"Oh ye've heard of that have ye.  Well I dinna think we need to fash over that scoundrel anymore." Jamie stated

 

"Oh, I wouldna be so sure, a monster like that will always come back for more.  Someone like that can never get enough torturing of innocent people." Taran said, sitting even taller and prouder with each declaration he made.

 

"I canna argue wi' yer logic, but it would seem as though ye havena been well informed.  Ye see Captain Randall was executed by firing squad a bit over a fortnight ago at the tower of London." Jamie confirmed with a smirk.

 

"I hadna realized, how did ye come to hear of such goings on in London?" Taran asked defensively.

 

"Well ye see, that is the business which my Lady and I had with the King of France.  We took a petition of complaint regaling his repeated provocations of a high born English Lady, my wife,  his attempted rape of my sister and his inhuman torture of me to the King.  King Louis was instrumental in securing my pardon and the execution of Johnathan Wolverton Randall.  We no longer have anything to fear from him."

"So now, I ask ye again sir, what business do ye have on my land?" Jamie said as he stood to his full height and determination in his eyes.

 

"As ye ken Mr. Fraser, ye canna trust anyone in the employ of the British Army.  Even if what ye say about Captain Randall is true, there are surely others that will take his place.  We continue to offer our protection." Taran said entirely perplexed. 

 

"Hmmph, my sister Jenny tells me ye are waiting on another man to join yer party, have ye any idea when he might arrive?" Jamie asked, letting the subject of protection drop.

 

"Aye, Horrocks an Irishman, he's actually a British deserter, he couldna condone their treatment of us Scots. He should be her in the morrow.  He has arranged a plan that should put some coin in our pocket, yer welcome to join.  Life on a farm can be rather dull for a man such as yerself." Taran said.

 

"Fine, ye can stay here till this man arrives, but then ye must be on yer way.  We dinna have enough supplies for ye to stay on any longer than that." Jamie huffed as he left the room. 

 


 

Jamie waited until nightfall then headed to the edge of the forest to meet the soldiers. He crept up with the stealth of a lion, then spoke up to make himself known once he was only feet away from the men sitting near the campfire. "Ye ken if ye dinna wish to be seen, ye should shield yer fire." He said

All three men jumped at his words. "Oh Mr. Fraser, you startled us." Colonel Grey said, regaining his composure. 

 

"Aye, I can see that.  I suppose it's a good thing we're on the same side and I dinna wish to kill ye." Jamie joked

 

"Yes quite right, a good thing indeed.  I take it you have news for us." Lieutenant Foster piped up.

 

"Aye, I do. Seems thr information he received is correct, they are waiting on one man.  A man by the name of Horrocks, they said he was an Irishman, a deserter of the British Army.  MacQuarrie said he would arrive in the morning.  I told them they could stay in one of the out buildings until he arrived and then they must be off. There will be give men in total, counting this Horrocks."

"I think it best if the three of ye stay put until then.  I can signal ye with smoke when they leave.  I have some brush to burn that will cause quite a bit of smoke.  There is a rise just to the north of here, about a hundred meters or so.  If ye climb up on top of it, ye should be able to see the smoke, while ye remain well hidden from any observers down below." Jamie said

"I dinna want my family involved in any of this.  I think it best that when ye return with word of their capture that ye wear plain clothes.  Folks are bound to get suspicious with so many visits from the British Army and nobody being taken." Jamie stated.

 

"Yes, I agree, it is quite unfortunate, but you certainly speak the truth on that front.  We will not allow any harm to come to your family sir, you have been quite hospitable to us.  We can't thank you enough for the information you have provided in stopping these criminals." Colonel Grey said. 

 

"Well I must bid ye goodnight gentlemen, my wife will be expecting me back. I dinna wish to keep her waiting.  Be sure to watch for my signal."  Jamie said as he stalked back into the forest and out of sight of the soldiers without a sound. 

 


 

On the morning of May 3, 1946, Frank woke determined to find out anything he could about his ancestor.  Not only had the date changed in the family bible, but the lineage had changed as well.  The information recorded there now showed Alex Randall as Frank's direct ancestor instead of Johnathan Randall. 

After spending the entire previous day at the library in Inverness he had come up empty handed, so he decided to ask Reggie where he might find more information about Johnathan Randall.  To Frank's surprise Reggie had more books about the time period in question in his personal collection than the library could hope for. 

Together the two men poured over countless books ranging from 1743 to 1745.  After three hours Reggie was ready to take a break and eat some lunch.  Frank was determined to find out something before he had to return to London in two days.  Just as Mrs. Graham was announcing dinner, Frank's finger skimmed over and found the name he had been searching for.  The passage held a bit of startling news.  News which Frank never expected, it read. 

 

 

 

Johnathan Wolverton Randall - Executed by way of firing squad on April 16, 1744

Charged with crimes against fellow soldiers and loyal subjects to the crown.

Instrumental in bringing this villain to justice include the following:

James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser - Laird Broch Tuarach

Claire Elizabeth Fraser - Lady Broch Tuarach

Janet Flora Arabella Fraser Murray - Sister to James Fraser

Lieutenant Henly of His Majesty's 8th Dragoons.

(The list continued for another page.) 

The formal petition of complaint against Johnathan Wolverton Randall is located at the National Archives in Edinburgh.

Johnathan Wolverton Randall was the first of a few officers of His Majesty's Army to be charged with unlawful crimes against the crown's citizens. His execution was a significant turn point in history in recognizing and punishing soldiers who committed war crimes. 

Frank nearly fell out of his chair, there in a book published thirty years ago, was Claire's name, well close enough to her name.  It had to be a coincidence, after all both Claire and Elizabeth were common enough names.  But now that he thought about it, they were common English names, not so commonly used in Scotland, even today.  Could her parents have named her after some long ago family member?  Frank knew that Claire's mother's maiden name was Thompson, and that she was Scottish.  He needed to find out more, this was all just speculation.  He would head to the National Archives in Edinburgh tomorrow and track down that petition.

Frank went up to bed without eating dinner, he tossed and turned, unable to sleep.  Thoughts of Claire running through his mind.  The police searched for months before calling her disappearance a cold case.  No trace of a body, no evidence of foul play.  They said she ran off with another man, the highlander Frank spotted outside their window.  But even if that was the case, she would have taken her clothes.  She would have left some clue, people don't just disappear without leaving some sort of trail behind.

But then there was the story that Mrs. Graham had told him, fairy tale more like it.  Time travel is not possible, is it? But then how does one explain her name in a book published before she was even born?  No not her name, but similar enough to question it.  

If he were to admit that it could be true, that time travel was indeed possible, then why would the book show Claire's name as Fraser and not Randall or even Beauchamp?  Could she really have moved on and forgotten him so easily, after less than a year? 

He could answer none of the questions rattling around in his head right now, he would have to wait till morning.  He was just working himself up over what was probably nothing.  He had to get some rest if he was going to have a clear head for research in the morning. 

 


 

Frank had finally been able to get a few hours of sleep, when Mrs. Graham was knocking on his door to let him know that breakfast was ready.  He hastily dressed and made his way downstairs. Then Reggie looked up at him with a puzzling expression. "Did ye get any sleep last night, Frank?  Ye look dead on yer feet."

 

"Thank you, yes I was able to get a few hours.  I was kept awake by a break through I had in my research last night and stayed awake thinking about it, probably longer than I should have."  Frank replied as he took a seat at the breakfast table. 

 

"Oh, well that is good news then.  What sort of break through did you have?" Reggie asked with a hint of excitement in his voice.

 

"Well, I'm not entirely sure yet.  I have yet to follow the clues, I am heading to Edinburgh today to see where the clue leads me.  The break through might be nothing and it might be .... everything."

 

"That sounds intriguing, would ye like me to go with ye?  I've already written my sermon for church on Sunday, so I will just be wondering about here, getting in Mrs. Graham's way otherwise." Reggie asked hopefully. 

 

"Oh no, that won't be necessary.  I'd like to follow this lead myself, if you don't mind.  But I am sure I will need to look through your books once I have tracked down the document I'm looking for.  I could use your help when I return this evening." Frank said apologetically.  He hated to cut his friend out of the research, but he was afraid of what he might find once he reached Edinburgh. 

Frank finished his breakfast and excused himself to gather his briefcase.  Within twenty minutes he was on the road to Edinburgh. 

He pulled into the parking lot just moments after the National Archive opened for visitors.  He walked up to the reception desk and told the lady sitting there what he was looking for.  The receptionist brought one small box to a private room where Frank could examine the contents without interruption. 

After two hours of carefully combing through the documents contained in the box, Frank found it, the petition of complaint against his ancestor.  And there at the bottom of the petition was Claire's signature, he would recognize her handwriting anywhere.  She signed it Claire Elizabeth Fraser, the petition was dated just five months after her disappearance, but two hundred and two years prior. Frank felt like he had been kicked in the gut and had all the air knocked out of him. 

Here in his hand was irrefutable evidence that not only had his wife traveled back in time, but that she had married this Fraser character within five months of her disappearance. He couldn't wrap his mind around how she would do such a thing. 

After pulling himself together, Frank walked back to the receptionist and asked to get a copy of the petition.  He returned to the private room, packed everything back in the box and returned it to the receptionist.  He then asked for everything they had on a James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser from the years 1743 through the year 1744.

The receptionist brought several boxes to the private room.  "Everything contained within these boxes are just copies, the documents are not as fragile as that of Johnathan Wolverton Randall's box.  The Fraser family is still in possession of the originals. I will leave ye to it then, call out if ye have need of any help." She said.

Frank barely looked up as she left the room, he began with the file labeled May 1743.  That would have been when Claire arrived, if she met James Fraser right away.  He found a letter from James to a man named Murtagh, notifying him of his arrival in Inverness after sailing from France, it was the only thing in that file.  Then he moved on to the file for June 1743, the first thing in the file was a copy of a bible page with a Fraser family tree.  

At the bottom was listed James Fraser's parents Brian Fraser married to Ellen MacKenzie, children William Fraser, Janet Fraser, James Fraser and Robert Fraser.  Next to James Fraser's name was listed a wife, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp - Married June 8, 1743. 

Frank was fuming, he couldn't believe the gall of the woman, she had married Fraser only five weeks after she had disappeared. Which meant she was in a relationship with the bastard Fraser probably since the beginning.  Is that who he saw staring up at her through the window, did this James Fraser travel through time during the war?  Did she have an affair with him while the war separated her from Frank.  Had she used Frank to go to her lover and travel back in time where he couldn't reach her?

Frank angrily paced back and forth, but the historian in him couldn't stop there.  He needed to know more, after all Mrs. Graham said that travelers often come back.  Maybe Claire went back in time to change something and just married the Fraser person as a cover or to protect herself.  After all his own ancestor had tried to rape her on the day she arrived, maybe that is all it was, a marriage of convenience for her own protection.  He would give her the benefit of the doubt, but right now he needed to do more research. 

Chapter Text

Frank decided he had learned enough from the family tree, he had narrowed down the year where Claire had traveled to and the name she was using.  He figured that was all he needed to be able to track down where she had lived during the year she had been missing.  He packed the boxes back up and asked the receptionist to make a copy of the family tree he had found in the box labeled June 1743.  He took his copies and headed back to Inverness.

A few hours later Frank pulled into the driveway of Reverend Wakefield's manse.  He needed to speak with Mrs. Graham before he did anymore research.  She had told him about traveling to the past, she would know how it was done, she would be able to help him make preparations to travel. 

He went straight to the kitchen where he hoped she would be and just as expected she was standing at the stove stirring something that smelled delicious. "Mrs. Graham, may I speak with you please."  Frank asked as he sat down at the table.

 

"Yes, of course Mr. Randall, let me just turn this down to simmer so it doesn't burn while we talk."  she replied.

"What is it ye would like to talk about?" she asked as she turned from the stove and walked over taking the seat opposite Frank. 

 

"Last year, you had a theory about what happened to my wife." Frank said as he watched her stiffen in her seat.

"You told me an outlandish story of time travel and the mystical powers of Craig Na Dun." she nodded, so he continued.

"I think I now have reason to believe you."

 

"May I asked what changed yer mind, why now?" Mrs. Graham asked, now more curious.

 

"I believe I have found my wife, well more accurately, I believe I have found a record of my wife .... in 1743." Frank said and waited for her reaction.

 

"I see, what makes ye think it is her?" Mrs. Graham asked, not showing any surprise at all at his revelation.

 

"I found her name, well not just her name, I found her signature.  But she was using a different name." Frank said, realizing as he said all of this out loud that it sounded crazy.

 

"If it was a different name, why would ye think it was your wife who left this signature?" Mrs. Graham asked.

 

"You see the first two names were hers, she was using a different surname, I believe she married a Scot after she traveled back in time." Frank stated with more than a little scorn in his tone.

 

"I see, and ye wish to travel back yerself and fetch her back?" She asked

 

"Precisely, but if I am able to travel, I don't know where to begin looking for her.  I was hoping maybe you knew something about the surname." Frank asked hopefully. 

 

"What is the family name, Mr. Randall?" Mrs. Graham asked.

 

"Fraser, I believe she married someone named James Fraser." Frank said flatly.

 

"Well I will need a bit more to go on, Mr. Randall, there are several Frasers around these parts.  Do ye have anything else I can go on?" She asked

 

"Yes actually, I found something in one of Reggie's books with the same names.  James Fraser was Laird Broch Tuarach, Claire was Lady Broch Tuarach." He said as he noticed her gasp and bring her hand up to cover her mouth.

"With your reaction to that information, I am guessing that you know something." Frank said

 

"Aye, Mr. Randall, the Frasers of Broch Tuarach are a prominent family in the highlands.  They gained importance in the years just before the rising of Cullodon.  Their descendants still live on the estate." Mrs. Graham replied in almost a whisper. 

 

"Where is this estate, if you please, Mrs. Graham?" Frank asked his patience waning as the seconds ticked by. 

 

"The estate is called Lallybroch by the locals, it's just outside of Broch Mordha, not far from here actually, only about an hour or so." Mrs. Graham said. 

"I can take ye there if ye like, it's a bit hard to find if ye dinna ken where ye are going." She offered.

 

"I appreciate the offer, but if you could just draw me a map, I think I would like to go alone." Frank said.

 

"Aye, let me fetch some paper and a pen, it will only take a few minutes." Mrs. Graham said.

Mrs. Graham drew a crude map and handed to Frank. "Mr. Randall, I would suggest waiting until tomorrow morning to drive up, it is getting a bit late in the day already and ye dinna want to be making the trip back with the storm that is coming.  That road can get a bit treacherous in the rain." 

 

"Thank you, I agree, I will head up in the morning, that should give me more time to formulate a plan." Frank replied then went up to his room.  He needed to figure out exactly how he would approach the family, tomorrow was his last day of vacation.  He needed to figure out as much as he could in the time he had left.  This was not something he could ask Reggie to keep researching for him when he left to return to Oxford.

 


 

Jamie woke to cooing coming from Alexander's cradle, it was May 3, 1744 and the deserter Horrocks should be arriving today.  Jamie carefully crawled out of bed and walked over to sit in the chair between Alexander and Eilidh's cradles.  He leaned over and whispered soothing words to his son, he loved watching his wee lad play happily, singing to himself.

Eilidh was still peacefully asleep, snoring softly, her chubby cheeks had a healthy pink glow.  Jamie sat quietly taking in the peace his children brought to him.  Claire remained asleep, curled on her side with her back to the soft sunlight spilling in through the window.  Jamie pulled on his breeks and a shirt, then leaned over and scooped up Alexander, snuggling the baby against his heart.

He quietly made his way out of the room, softly closing the door behind him and slowly walked downstairs.  Mrs. Crook was in the kitchen preparing breakfast, so Jamie went to the breakfast table, sat down and settled Alexander on his thighs. 

Jamie talked quietly to his wee lad, enjoying the baby's soft cooing responses to his deep voice, waiting for Mrs. Crook to bring breakfast to the table.  

Soon the rest of the family had begun to wake up, the happy voices of the children filtered down the stairs. Jamie looked up just as Claire came in cradling Eilidh to her chest and smiling brightly at him. "Come Sassenach, come sit wi' me a while." Jamie said as he patted his knee.  Claire walked over and carefully sat upon his knee and wrapped her free hand around Jamie's shoulder.  Her fingers tangling in the curls at the nape of his neck as she leaned down and captured his lips in a passionate kiss.

Fergus came in and walked over to them asking "Milord, Milady, how are my brother and sister doing this morning?"  He wrapped his arm around Jamie's other shoulder and leaned in to see the faces of his siblings.  Claire couldn't help but wish she had a camera to capture this moment.  The five of them stayed there enjoying their own little bubble of peace.

 

Taran MacQuarrie walked in a moment later, disrupting their sweet family bliss. "Awe, I can see now why ye dinna want to join us Mr. Fraser.  I must say, ye have a beautiful family.  Of course the invitation still stands, yer more than welcome to come with us this afternoon."

 

"Nah, thank ye Mr. MacQuarrie, I have everything I need right here.  I've spent enough time on the road, now I just want to enjoy my family.  When do ye expect yer Irishman to arrive?"  Jamie replied

 

"He should be arriving within the hour." Taran replied

 

"Aye, I will have Mrs. Crook prepare some food for you to take wi' ye." Jamie said. 

 

"Aye, we canna thank ye enough." Taran replied.

 

"Please, sit and join us for breakfast, Mr. MacQuarrie." Jamie said as Claire rose from his knee and took her place in the chair next to him.  Fergus went to the kitchen to join the other children having breakfast.

Everyone was finishing their breakfast as a commotion from the dooryard drew their attention.  Jamie called Mrs. Crook into the room. "Mrs. Crook please take Alexander and escort Mrs. Fraser up to the Laird's room.  I will send Jenny up with the rest of the children."  

"Aye, my Laird, I shall see to it." Mrs. Crook replied with a bow, before taking Alexander from his arms. 

 

Jamie and MacQuarrie made their way to the dooryard, where none other than the despicable Horrocks was tying his horse to the post. MacQuarrie made introductions. "Mr. Horrocks, may I introduce ye to our host Laird Broch Tuarach, James Fraser."

 

That got Horrocks attention, he stopped what he was doing, turned around slowly and quirked his eyebrow.  "Pleasure to meet ye Mr. Fraser, this is yer land?" 

 

"Aye, that's right." Jamie said

 

"I may have heard of ye, who is Jenny to ye?" Horrocks asked.

 

"She is my sister, what does it matter?" Jamie asked

 

"Oh, no matter.  Ye seem like a strong lad, I have been putting something together that should put quite a bit of coin in our pockets.  I would like to tell ye about it, is there somewhere we can talk?" Horrocks offered.

 

Jamie had an idea why this Horrocks wanted to talk to him, but he decided to humor him none the less. "Aye, we can talk in my study, follow me."

Jamie led Horrocks into his study, closed the door and turned to face him, arms crossed over his chest. "Mr. Horrocks I think I ken why ye are here, what yer offer may be.  I recognize yer name, ye wanted to meet me about a year ago.  Ye had the name of someone who committed the murder that I was accused of, am I correct?"  Jamie asked.

 

"Yer a quick one, aye, it was me that wanted to meet ye.  Now I take it nobody else kens yer secret, so I have an offer for ye.  I see this whole estate is all yers, so you can afford to pay me to keep yer secret." Horrocks said with a cocky grin on his face.

 

Jamie couldna believe his ears, this eejit was still trying to blackmail him. "I dinna have a secret Mr. Horrocks, the man responsible for the murder has already been put to death and I have been pardoned, I have nothing to fear.  I am no longer a wanted man."

 

"Is that so? Well I guess we shall see about that when I give yer name and location to the British Army.  I would hate to see yer family locked up when the Army finds they have been harboring a wanted murderer." Horrocks said, believing he had the upper hand. 

 

"I guess we shall see, now if ye dinna mind, I have other business to attend to." Jamie said as he opened the door and ushered Horrocks out of his house.

Jamie found MacQuarrie in the dooryard "Mr. MacQuarrie, Mrs. Crook has prepared that package for you, I will have my stable lad bring yer horses and ye can be on yer way.  I am sure ye wish to get on wi' the plans ye had."

"I will bid ye goodbye now, I have some things I need to cleanup from my wife's garden.  Good day to ye sir." Jamie said as he turned and walked around toward the back of the house.

"Rabbie, fetch the Mr. MacQuarrie and the other men's horses, they are leaving, now." Jamie requested as he began piling up the dried weeds from Claire's garden.  He waited until he saw the five men riding out of the dooryard and down the path away from his home before lighting the pile on fire.  He threw some pine bows on the pile which caused quite a bit of smoke, luckily it was a clear day so the smoke could be seen for miles. 

He stood watch over the fire until it burned out, hoping that the Colonel and his men had seen his signal.

Chapter Text

Early the next morning Frank packed up his briefcase, using the map Mrs. Graham had made for him, he headed toward Lallybroch.  After a few hours and more than a couple of wrong turns he was finally pulling onto the driveway that led to the impressive estate.  As he drove up, he noticed the beautiful green landscape, the stables with horses in the paddock, the large garden behind the house, that could be seen as you drove up the long driveway and he couldn't help but think that this is a place that his Claire would have dearly loved to live.

Shaking the thought from his head, he gathered his thoughts and parked the car.  He opened the driver's door, stepped out of the car and was leaning back in to retrieve his briefcase when a voice startled him. "Can I help ye sir, are ye lost?" 

He bumped his head, almost losing his hat as he backed out of the car, forgetting his briefcase and turned around to face the person who's voice had startled him.  As he turned around to look upon the woman before him, he couldn't believe his eyes, right there before him stood a woman that eerily resembled the picture that Claire had of her mother.  Frank gasped and breathlessly asked "Julia, is it really you?"

 

He took a few steps forward raising his hand towards her face and the woman stepped back reflexively. "Nah, my name is Faith Fraser, might I ask yer name sir?" she said.

 

Frank dropped his hand to his side and quickly composed himself and realized that her eye color was wrong.  This woman had Claire's brown curls, but her eyes were the most striking shade of blue. "Oh, yes pardon me madam, I mistook you for someone else, you look so similar to her."  He cleared his throat. "Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Frank Randall, I am a historian at Oxford University." 

"I have been doing some research on prominent Scottish families in the area and I stumbled across Lallybroch as one of the locations and families to still exist from my time period of expertise.  I would be grateful if I could ask you a few questions for my research and if it at possible if I could get a tour of your lovely home.  My research suggest the Manor is over two hundred years old and in mostly the same condition it was when originally built, it would be a dream to see it." He rambled off with barely a breath.

 

"A historian ye say, I canna say we get many of those here abouts, come in.  My sister and I were just settling down to our noon meal, yer welcome to join us." Faith said as she turned and walked through the front door, Frank trailing behind her.

Faith gestured for Frank to sit as she brought him a plate of food and a glass of water. "Mr. Randall may I introduce ye to my sister Brianna, Brianna this is Mr. Randall, he is a historian." Faith said.

Frank reached his hand out to shake Brianna's hand, as she stood and directed her eyes to him, he froze.  Here stood a woman with Claire's hawk like golden eyes, but with blazing red shoulder length wavy hair.  These woman must be relatives of hers, but with her parents dying while she was still so young she would not know of the connection.  Maybe these women could help him to piece the puzzle together.  Or maybe Claire had known of these people and they were hiding her.  Regardless, he would figure it out and find his wife. 

 

"Mr. Randall are ye ok, ye look as though ye have seen a ghost?" Brianna asked 

 

"Oh yes, I am so sorry, I got lost in my thoughts there for a moment.  It's just your eyes reminded me of someone I once knew, your eyes look just like hers." Frank said as he took his seat.

 

"Mr. Randall, out in the dooryard ye mentioned something similar to me." Faith said "Ye said that ye had mistaken me for someone, may I ask who that was and who is it that my sister's eyes remind ye of?" 

 

"Well to be honest you both partially remind me of my late wife.  Well Brianna you have the same eyes that she did, I always thought they were so rare, but here you are and they are so similar to hers.  And Faith your hair, you have her hair, the color and curls.  But when I first saw you, Faith you looked just like my wife's mother, well a picture I had seen of her.  Her mother died when she was a child, so I never met her myself."

"I was actually wondering if maybe you might be related to my wife, with such similar characteristics." Frank stated

 

"Well anything is possible, I suppose.  What was yer wife's name, Mr. Randall?" Brianna spoke up, her curiosity peeked.

 

"Her name was Claire Elizabeth Randall." Frank spoke her name reverently. 

 

"I canna say I recognize the name Mr. Randall, was she a Scot?" Faith answered

 

"No ma'am, not really,  her father was from France and her mother was from Scotland, but she grew up with her Uncle who lived in England.  She sounded just like me, that is she had an English accent."

 

"No I dinna think so, what was her maiden name, before ye married?" Brianna said thinking the relation still may be possible.

 

"Beauchamp, was her maiden name.  Her mother's maiden name was Thompson." Frank said as he started to lose hope and thought this was probably another dead end.

 

"Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp ye say, well now that is strange, wouldna ye say Faith?" Brianna spoke up

 

"Aye, strange indeed." She answered her sister.

 

"Why would her name be strange?" asked Frank who was now confused at their use of words.

 

"Well her name is not strange, only the coincidence is strange." Faith said

 

"Coincidence?" Frank asked, there was that word again and he didn't believe in coincidence.

 

"Well yes, we have an ancestor with that name, that was her maiden name exactly.  An Englishwoman that married into the family in 1743.  She is our six or seven times great grandmother on our father's side." Said Brianna "Other than the eyes Faith looks just like her.  We have a portrait of her and our six or seven times great grandfather James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, hanging in the hall upstairs.  Would ye like to see it?" 

 

Frank stood abruptly almost knocking his chair over and said "Oh yes, I would very much like that, could we go now?"

 

"Aye, of course, please follow me." Brianna stood to lead him out of the dining room and up the stairs to the hall with Faith trailing after them. 

 

Brianna stopped in front of a large portrait and flipped on a light above it to illuminate the painting.  "Here it is Mr. Randall."

 

Frank stopped and looked up the portrait of his wife and a giant of a highlander.  Claire was looking up at the highlander lovingly as he looked down at her with the same look upon his face.  Frank was rendered speechless.  He stood looking at the portrait for a few minutes before his thoughts were interrupted by the voice of his hostess. "Their daughter Eilidh painted this portrait of them, the girl was ten or was it twelve at the time, I canna recall for sure."

 

"Their daughter you say, do you know what year she painted the portrait?" Frank asked 

 

"I believe it was in the mid or late 1750's.  I would need to go through our old family records and journals they kept to be sure of course." Brianna said. 

 

"Oh, yes of course." Frank said now hopeful.  He still had time to make it back to the past and stop Claire from being forced to have the highlander's child.  He needed to get back to the manse and talk to Mrs. Graham, he had no time to waste, he needed to travel as soon as possible. 

"Oh would you look at the time, I am sorry ladies, I do thank you for your hospitality, but I must be going.  I have a train to catch and I need to return to Inverness to fetch my belongings." Frank said as he made a hasty departure down the stairs and out the front door. 

Brianna and Faith stood looking at each other in utter confusion.  "He was a verra strange man." Faith said to Brianna as they walked back to the kitchen to finish their lunch.

 

Frank raced back to Inverness and pulled into Reverend Wakefield's driveway, throwing gravel as his tires came to an abrupt stop.  He jumped out of the car and ran inside to find Mrs. Graham. He found her in the kitchen with Reggie, enjoying their afternoon tea. "Mrs. Graham, may I speak with you a moment?" Frank said impatiently.

 

"Of course dear, have a seat, would you like some tea?" she said politely.

 

"No I don't have time for tea, may I speak with you in private, please?" Frank said as he tipped his head in the direction of the lounge in a gesture for Mrs. Graham to follow him.

 

"Aye, of course." Mrs. Graham stood then patted Reggie's hand "I'll be right back Mr. Wakefield." Then she followed Frank to the lounge.  "I take it this is about yer wife going to the past and ye dinna wish Mr. Wakefield to hear what ye have to say." She stated, rather annoyed at his need to hide his discoveries. 

 

"Yes it is.  I need to travel back in time before its to late, I need you to tell me how to do it, I need to go now." Frank said, his voice and temper rising.

 

"Mr. Randall, as I have told ye before, not everyone can travel.  But there is one day of the year that the veil is thinnest, ye may be able to travel then." she stated trying to calm him with her voice.

 

"When, what day?" He said as he lost his patience further.

 

"Samhain or what the English call All Hallows Eve, tis on October 31st." She said

 

"Halloween, I can't wait that long, that is nearly six months from now.  I need to travel now." Frank said as he began to pace back and forth.

 

"Well ye can try now if ye like, but it may not be possible.  Ye will need a gemstone to travel, ye will also want to buy or have made some clothing that matches that of the time period as well as coin to buy the things ye need once ye arrive.  That is if ye can travel." Mrs. Graham said

 

"Yes, yes.  I have gemstones and coins in my private collection, the only thing I will need is the clothing.  Is there a shop in town where I could buy such garments?" Frank asked. 

 

"Aye, there is.  It's a costume shop, they have costumes that the locals buy for the reenactment of the battle of Cullodon." Mrs. Graham said. 

 

"Fine, good.  I need to call the university and let them know I need another week of vacation.  I will need to go back to Oxford and gather my coins and the gemstone." Frank said.

 

"Mr. Randall, if ye do make it through, and are able to find Mrs. Randall to bring her back, ye will both need another gemstone to return.  The gemstones are for your protection through the stones, but they dinna make it to the other side.  Ye will need to acquire two more once ye arrive in the other time." Mrs. Graham said as she laid a hand on his forearm to stop his frantic pacing.

 

"Right, of course, that shouldn't be a problem.  I need to leave for Oxford now, please tell Reggie that I will return by morning."  Frank said as he ran out the front door, jumped in his car and took off toward England. 

 


 

Jamie, Claire, Fergus and the twins were down by the mill pond enjoying a peaceful family picnic when something caught Jamie's attention and he suddenly stood and placed his hand on the hilt of his dirk.  Claire and Fergus quickly turned their heads in the direction of Jamie's gaze.  "Colonel Grey, do ye have news for us then?" Jamie said as he walked over to meet the Colonel as he swung down from his horse. 

 

"Yes sir, I do.  The men of the Black Watch have been captured and thanks to you the Irish deserter known as Horrocks has been captured.  Although we all got quite a laugh when he tried to use your name to bargain with us to let him go.  I had the pleasure of informing him that you are indeed a free man and helped us in his capture."

"I don't know if you were aware, but there is a reward for any information that leads to the capture of deserters.  I have brought you the reward Mr. Fraser.  Twenty pounds sterling for your help in his capture and another ten pounds for the capture of the Black Watch." Colonel Grey said as he handed the purse to Jamie.

 

"Thank ye Colonel, we were not aware of the reward, we simply wanted dangerous criminals locked up so they couldna harm or threaten the innocent." Jamie said as he bowed to the Colonel.

 

"We thank you for your help none the less, I now shall bid you a good day Mr. Fraser, enjoy your picnic with your family." Colonel Grey said as he remounted his horse then turned and rode off the way he had come. 

 

Jamie walked back over, sat down next to Claire and handed her the purse of coin. "Sassenach, we need to get the rest of the root cellars dug out.  If we keep getting coin handed to us, we will run out of places to hide it."  Jamie chuckled at the thought and the strange turn of fortune that this new life was bringing them. 

The finished their picnic, loaded the basket, picnic blanket and children into the wagon and made their way back the the manor.  Once they arrived back in the dooryard, Mrs. Crook and Rabbie MacNab were standing on the steps waiting to help them unload everything. They got the wagon unloaded and had Rabbie lead the mare back to the stables to unhitch her from the wagon and put her back in the paddock. 

Mrs. Crook carried the picnic basket and blanket into the house, while Jamie and Claire brought the twins into the lounge where Jenny was sitting with wee Jamie and Maggie playing on the rug at her feet.  "Jenny will ye keep an eye on the bairns for a bit.  I need to discuss some things wi' Claire in my study?"  Jamie asked.

 

"Aye, of course brother, whatever ye need.  We will be right here when yer finished." Jenny said as Jamie and Claire set the baskets containing their sleeping twins down next to Jenny's chair.

 

As soon as they entered the study and shut the door, Jamie pressed Claire up against the closed door and kissed her with abandon.  He pulled back breathless, looked into her eyes and said "Sassenach, that was the last of the trouble from before, we are finally free.  I ken there will always be danger, but we have faced down everything from our past and come out on top of it all.  I have so much hope for our future, we can finally be happy without worry of hiding.  We can be Laird and Lady Broch Tuarach and live the life we were meant to live."

 

"Yes my love we can, but we still need to figure out where to hide all this sterling.  There is no way we can hide it all in root cellars, they take much to long to dig.  Do you know of any other place that may work?" She asked as she walked over and leaned against a book case.

 

"Aye, I might.  There is a cave, it is hidden unless ye ken where to look."  Jamie said as he walked over and put his hand on the shelf just above and to the left of Claire's head. 

Jamie leaned down to place a kiss on her temple but was interrupted by the sound of a soft click.  He quirked his eyebrow, raised his head and looked up.  "Did ye hear that mo nighean donn?" He asked as she stepped away and turned to look at the book case.

 

"Yes I did, I think the book case moved.  I felt a shift when I heard the click."  she said as she took another step away from the book case.

 

Jamie grabbed the sides of the book case and gently pulled, slowly the side of the book case began to swing open like a door. Jamie looked at Claire in shock and surprise. "I dinna ken this was here, a hidden door, but where could it lead?" 

 

"I don't know but I think we should find out, but first bolt the study door.  I don't want any of the servants coming in while we have this open." Claire said

 

Jamie walked over bolted the door then returned to the book case to pull the hidden door open more.  Hidden behind the door was a narrow, steep, winding staircase, they decided to follow it and see where it led.  Once they reached the top, they realized they were in the very top of the house, a hidden attic, with several dust covered trunks.  Claire turned to Jamie with a twinkle in her eyes. "You know what this means?" She said excitedly.

 

"Aye, we just found the perfect hiding place for the coin." Jamie said as he gathered her into a tight embrace and placed a kiss in the crown of her curly hair.

 

Clair pulled back from him and looked him in the eye.  "We need to tell Jenny and Ian and we need to bring the coin up here tonight after all the servants have retired to their beds.  No one will ever find it here, it has been here your whole life, and you didn't even know about it, it's perfect."  She said as she leaned back into him and rested her head under his chin. 

Chapter Text

With the children all put to bed, the adults all settled and relaxed in the parlor, Jenny knitting, Claire and Ian each reading a book and Jamie leaning on the mantle above the hearth deep in thought, staring into the flames.  Jamie raised his head, looked around the room at everyone and decided it was time to tell them of his plan. "Jenny, Ian, we have something we need to tell ye, Claire and I do."

 

"Aye, well go on then brother, dinna keep us waiting, what is it?" Jenny said as she laid her knitting in her lap to listen to whatever it was that Jamie had to tell her.  Claire and Ian both closed their books and set them down to listen as well. 

 

"Claire and I found a hidden passage in the house, quite by accident mind ye." Jamie said as he watched his sister for a reaction, she would show either surprise or acknowledgement of the existence of the passage.

 

"Jenny's eyebrows rose to her hairline as she asked "A hidden passage ye say, where?" completely surprised at what Jamie had revealed. 

 

"I'd rather show ye, we have been waiting for the servants to go to bed before we mentioned it.  I will only trust the people in this room with it's location." Jamie said

Jamie led everyone into his study, shut the door and bolted it, then turned around to look at everyone in the room. "There is a hidden room at the end of the passage, I think we should hide the coin from King George there as well as this." He said as he pulled the purse that Colonel Grey had given him from the desk drawer and tossed it to Ian. 

 

"Alright, Jamie ye have my attention, where is this passage then?"  Ian asked. 

 

Jamie walked past them and pushed on the book case until he heard the telltale click of the latch releasing, before pulling it open he turned to see the faces of his sister and Ian.  They were both equally shocked at what was happening.   Jamie turned back and began to slowly pull the heavy book case open to reveal the hidden staircase beyond. Jenny and Ian both gasped when the staircase came into view.

"Follow me up, be careful of yer step, it is steep and winding." Jamie said as he grabbed a candle from his desk to lead the way. 

They followed him up the seemingly endless staircase until they reached the attic.  After they all stepped into the room, Jenny walked over and lightly caressed the top of one of the trunks.  "Jamie do ye recognize this?" He shook his head no, so she continued "It was mother's, I always thought father got rid of it after she passed.  I looked for it and could never find it.  She kept her finest clothes and jewelry from her time at Leoch in this trunk." Jenny said

 

"I dinna ken about all of that, we will have time to go through everything, but I brought ye up here because we need to hide the sterling, I think this would be the perfect place.  Neither of us kent about it, and even the door is well hidden, nobody would find it up here.  Tis an even better hiding place than the priest's hole."  Jamie said

 

"Aye, that it is, let's get the coin up here right away and get it hid." Jenny said.

Everyone descended the narrow staircase back to the study, Jenny stood guard while Jamie fetched the coin from it's current hiding place in the priests hole and took it back up to the attic with the other's following him.  He laid an old rug over the case to hide it even further. Turning to look at Jenny he asked "Do you want to look in any of these trunks tonight, we have a bit of time before any of the children wake?"

 

"Jamie, Ian and I can go down and watch over the children, while you and Jenny look through some of the trunks.  If you find anything of interest you can tell us when you come down, alright." Claire said as she leaned up and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. 

 

"Aye, that sounds like a good plan mo nighean donn, we won't be long, I'll see ye in a bit." Jamie said

 

Claire and Ian made their way back downstairs, they settled back into their seats in the parlor, where they could watch for anyone going in or out of the study as well as hear the children, should any of them wake.

 

Back in the hidden attic, Jamie and Jenny chose a trunk to go through.  There were six in total and they had decided they would go through one per night. When they were able to get the chance, they would come up and look through the rest.  The trunks were not locked, so it was a simple matter of dragging it to the middle of the room and opening the lid.  Jenny had brought a few more candles up to the attic when they had brought the coin up to hide.  She set them around the room to spill more light into the trunk.

The trunk they decided to look into tonight had some documents, a few books and some jewelry.  Jamie picked up the documents, some were old letters, there were a few hunting maps, a drawing of Lallybroch manor and at the bottom of the stack was a deed of sasine for Beaufort Castle.  Simon Fraser or Lord Lovat had made out the deed of sasine to be transferred to James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser upon the death of Simon Fraser.  The deed was dated a few months after Jamie had left Scotland to attend University in France.

This was something important, but something that must stay hidden, he placed it carefully back in the trunk and picked up the other documents to look closer at them.  Looking through the letters he saw one that was addressed to him, it had his father, Brian's seal on it.  Jamie broke the seal and carefully opened the letter.

 

My dearest Jamie

If ye are reading this letter, it means that I have died

Everything ye see in the trunk before ye was given to me by yer grandsire Simon Fraser

It all belongs to ye upon his death.

He saw ye leave for University that day in Inverness, yer heid held high with pride and courage in yer heart.

He told me that day after yer ship sailed away toward France that ye would be a great man.  

That ye would be the only one worthy of taking over Beaufort castle after his death.

The deed of sasine is in the trunk, do with it as ye please.

If ye want Beaufort then take it with my blessing, but if ye do not, then I willna hold it against ye.

It is yer birth right, but ye have a choice, just like I had mine.

I'm proud of ye son and I love ye, dinna ever forget that.

Yer loving father

Brian Fraser

Jamie put the letter in the pocket of his waist coat, looked up to Jenny and said "I think we have looked enough for tonight, let's head back downstairs and tell them what we found." 

Jenny placed the fine clothing back in the trunk and lowered the lid.  They pushed the trunk back over into the corner and made their way back down to the parlor.  Jamie took a seat next to Claire and handed her the letter and watched as she read it. 

 

"Did you find it in the trunk?" Claire asked as she folded the letter and handed back to Jamie.

 

"Aye, it was in there." Jamie answered as he passed the letter to Jenny and Ian.

 

"What will you do" Claire asked as she watched Jenny fold the letter up and hand it back to Jamie.

 

"I dinna think the old fox will ever die, Sassenach.  We may not ever have to fash about it.  I guess we will see when the time comes.  I think we have had enough to think about and do today." Jamie said. 

 

"Alright we should all get to bed then, everything is back to normal and we no longer need to worry about someone finding the coin." Claire said as she hugged Jenny and Ian goodnight.  She then took Jamie's hand and led him up to their room where the children were already asleep. 

 


 

On the morning of May 5, 1946 Frank rolled into the driveway of the manse with determination written all over his face.  Mrs. Graham was waiting for him in the kitchen with her coat and purse sitting on the table ready to leave.  Frank walked in and saw that she was ready and gave her a curt nod.  "Ready then Mrs. Graham?"  

 

"Aye, but ye should change yer clothes before we go, just in case ye truly can travel." Mrs. Graham told him doubtfully.

 

"Quite right, let me just go grab my things and head upstairs to change, it should only take me a moment." Frank said as he rushed out the door. 

 

Mrs. Graham went back into the kitchen and poured herself a nice cup of tea and waited for Mr. Randall to return.  Ten minutes later he strolled into the kitchen dressed as an 18th century English nobleman.  Mrs. Graham rolled her eyes at his ridiculous choice of garments.  He would definitely stand out in the 18th century highlands, if he even made it through at all. "Looks like yer ready then, shall we?"  She asked

 

"Yes let's go, I have waited long enough to be reunited with my wife." Frank said as he rushed her out the door.

 

Twenty minutes later they arrived at the foot of Craig Na Dun.  They got out of the car and Frank grabbed a bag from the boot of the car. "Do ye have everything ye need then Mr. Randall?  A gem, the map I drew for ye, some food and coin?" Mrs. Graham asked.

 

"Yes I believe I have everything I need and if my calculations are correct, I should reach Lallybroch in a weeks time on foot and be back here a week after that with Claire by my side."  Frank said.

With that they both made their way up to the top of the hill, once at the top Mrs. Graham gave him some last minute instructions. "Ye need to hold the gem in yer hand and clear yer mind, think only of yer wife as ye touch the center stone." Frank nodded as he dug the gem out of his pocket and walked toward the center stone.

 

"Alright then, I am ready, thank you for everything Mrs. Graham, I shall see you in two weeks." Frank said as he touched the stone. 

 


 

Things did indeed get back to normal at Lallybroch, the men were usually out in the fields preparing the new seeds they had ordered, while the women stayed near the house.  Jenny would not let Claire near the kitchen, her cooking had not improved even with her newfound knowledge about herself.  While Jenny was cooking, Claire could usually be found in her garden.  Jamie built a cart that Claire could set Alexander and Eilidh's baskets in and push around while she worked outside.  She loved to keep the twins close to her, they were happy babies that were content to coo and sing to each other while their mother was busy with her wee herbs.

Jamie and Ian would come to the house to have lunch with their families everyday, they all knew just how important family was.  None of them would take what they had for granted.  About a week after the watch had left a messenger delivered the post.  There were novels from Jocasta Cameron to Jenny, a letter from Louise to Claire, some of the seeds they ordered from Inverness, and a letter from King Louis addressed to Jamie. 

Jamie sat at the table, broke the seal and opened the letter.

Dear Lord Broch Tuarach

I hope this letter finds you in good fortune.

I have received word of the execution of Johnathan Wolverton Randall being carried out.

It is my hope that this news has put your mind at ease.

Unfortunately I have some troubling news to deliver to you.

I am writing to inform you of the release of my cousin Prince Charles Stuart from Bastille.

His father James Stuart arrived in Paris to petition for his release.  

He paid a large sum for his release with the promise to take Charles back to Italy and keep him there.

It is my hope that Charles stays in Italy and forgets his silly notions of a rebellion.

James has informed me that he has no desire to take back the throne and Charles was not acting under his orders or knowledge. 

You remain in my thoughts good friend, I hope to see you again.

King Louis of France.

 

Jamie handed Claire the letter and sat quietly waiting for her to read it through. 

 

"This is terrible news Jamie, we both know that idiot will not let this go, now what do we do?" Claire asked. 

 

"I dinna ken mo nighean donn, but we must stay out of it.  I will not lead my men to battle again.  Charles is foolish to think he can beat the British.  I will not lose ye again, not any of ye." 

"Charles doesna ken of me this time, so perhaps we can go on living our lives.  King George kens we dinna wish to be part of this and the Colonel and his men have pledged to protect us.  We must let them, without complaint."

"Our family will be safe, so long as we stay here at Lallybroch." Jamie said as he reached out and took her hand in his and raising it to his lips to place a kiss on her knuckles. 

"There is not that we can do about it now, I will remain in contact with Colonel Grey and keep apprised of the goings on in Scotland and the army.  We will ken if Charles comes to Scotland and decide what to do when and if the time comes, but we willna be joining the war."  

"For now, let us eat, I'm famished."  Jamie said putting the letter aside. 

Chapter Text

Frank touched the stone and closed his eyes.  He wasn't sure how exactly this time travel worked or what was supposed to happy.  Up until a few days ago the idea of time travel had been a fairy tale and even now standing here, it is only a theory.  He continued to wait, nothing seemed to be happening, but maybe you didn't realize you had traveled right away.  Maybe it took a bit of time.  As he was going over in his mind what he would do once he arrived in 1744 he heard someone clear their throat and his eyes popped open, unsure of who he would see standing behind him he was hesitant to turn around. 

 

"Mr. Randall, I am verra sorry to say, but I dinna think ye can travel.  Well what I mean to say is that I dinna think the veil is thin enough for ye to travel just now.  Ye will likely need to wait until Samhain in October to try again, even then it may not be possible."

 

Frank turned and looked at her with disappointment and anger written all over his face. "How do you know I can't travel, maybe it just takes a bit of time, maybe I need to clear my mind and try again.  I wasn't quite focused, I was worried about how it all worked.  I just need to try again and only think of Claire this time."  He said as he turned, closed his eyes and touched the stone with both hands this time and thought only of Claire.  Again he was interrupted by Mrs. Graham after about a minute of standing there with nothing happening.

 

"Mr. Randall, if ye were going to travel it would have happened instantly, ye would have disappeared from my sight as soon as ye touched the stones.  There is no waiting, it just happens and from the stories I have heard, there is a wind that whips up and a loud noise almost like hundreds of people screaming, then darkness.  Did you feel or hear any of those things?"  She asked patiently, but fully aware that he didn't and he would be lying if he said he had.

 

"No nothing like that, you're sure about this.  You're sure that if I come back in October that I can travel back and get Claire?" He asked

 

"I canna promise that ye can travel in October either Mr. Randall, but it will be the best time for ye to try.  If ye try in October and the stones dinna take ye, then ye are not one that can travel and nothing anyone can do can change that.  I'm sorry." Mr. Graham replied as she rung her hands and looked down, waiting for him to lash out at her.

 

"Well I guess there is nothing more I can do for now, come Mrs. Graham I'll take you back to the manse.  Before I return to London I must speak with Reggie."  Frank said as he started back down the hill toward the car. "I will return in October."

Mrs. Graham followed him down the hill, got into the car and they drove off.  The ride back to the manse was filled with an uncomfortable silence, but neither one of them knew what to say to the other.  Once they arrived back, Mrs. Graham got out of the car and waited for Frank to get out then asked him "Mr. Randall, shall I make up a room for ye or will ye be heading back to London today?"

 

"That won't be necessary, thank you Mrs. Graham.  I only need a few moments to talk to Reggie and then I will be on my way." Frank said as he walked into the house, leaving Mrs. Graham standing in the driveway.

He walked inside and went straight to Reggie's study, where he found him going over some research. "Reggie, I need your advice." Frank said as he sat down across from him and poured himself a glass of brandy.

 

Reggie looked up and smiled at his friend "I don't know that I'll be able to help you, but I will try.  What is it you need my advice on Frank?"

 

"I have been offered a position at Harvard in Boston.  It is a great opportunity, but it takes me across the ocean." Frank said

 

"That does sound like a great opportunity, is there something keeping you in London, some reason you are even questioning this?" Reggie asked as he removed his glasses to get a better look at Frank.

 

"Well I suppose nothing is keeping me here, it's been a year since Claire disappeared and the police haven't found anything.  The case is as cold now as it was the day she left.  But if I leave,  it will be that much harder to find her." Frank said

 

"Frank, as I advised you last year after months of searching, you being here is not going to help find her any faster.  I think it is time you moved on and let her go.  If she didn't die somewhere out there, then she left of her own volition and she doesn't want to be found.  Either way, she is gone and likely not coming back.  You need to move on, you need to heal, there are other lasses out there.  You need to live your life, that is what she would want for you.  And I think the position at Harvard is the perfect opportunity.  You could move on from all this, leave it in your past and start fresh in a new place.  Find someone new that you can give your heart to."

"My advice is, take the position.  If the police do find something or if she comes back, you can always get on a plane back to Scotland."  Reggie said.

 

"You're right, I need to start living my life, I can't stay in this limbo forever.  She may never come back, thank you Reggie, I'm going to call Harvard right now and accept the position."  Frank said as he stood up and left the study.

 

Frank stopped in the foyer to use the phone, he made the call that would change the rest of his life. 

 


 

Waking up in the morning to see his children quickly became one of Jamie's favorite parts of the day.  The twins were growing so fast it was hard to believe that they would be three months old in a week.  That also happened to be his and Claire's one year anniversary and he wanted to do something special for her. 

Jamie picked Eilidh up out of her cradle and walked back over and sat carefully on the bed, making sure not to wake Claire.  The twins were sleeping longer now, but they were still waking in the night and Claire was exhausted, she needed as much sleep as she could manage.  Jamie was determined to let her get as much as she could and he would do anything to help her achieve that.

He adjusted the pillows with one hand and leaned back against the headboard, resting Eilidh on his bare chest.  Both twins loved skin to skin contact with their Da, it was the best way to get either of them to calm down when they were fussing.  Eilidh wasn't fussing now, Jamie just wanted to cuddle with his wee lass.  He was rubbing little circles on her back and singing quietly to her when suddenly she lifted her head to look him in the eye. "Well hello there lass, look how strong yer getting.  Holding yer head up all by yerself." Jamie said.

She could only hold her head up for a moment before she laid her head back down and rested against Jamie's chest.  He kissed her on the crown of her head.  Her red hair was already getting long enough to show the beginnings of curls, Alexander's hair was no different.  Their eyes hadn't changed either, there was no doubt who their father was and Jamie was as proud as a stallion to know that it was his and Claire's love that had created these two precious beings.

Jamie started singing to Eilidh again and drawing circles on her back with his finger, he was lost in thought, day dreaming of days to come.  He imagined the two toddlers playing in the yard, running and laughing as he chased after them.  He would scoop up one of them and toss them in the air then catch them as they fell, eyes full of delight and giggling, they would say 'again Da, do it agian'  and he would.  He imagined taking them down to the mill pond and teaching them how to swim, sticking their toes in the cool water and hearing them squeal at how cold and invigorating the water is.

He imagined seeing them taking their first steps, calling him Da for the first time, saying their first words, taking them riding for the first time, he was so immersed in his happy daydreams that he didn't realize Claire had woken up until she brushed a tear from his cheek that he didn't realize had spilled from his eye.

 

"What's wrong my love, what are these tears about?" Claire asked with concern in her voice.

 

"Och, nothin' they are happy tears.  I was just thinking about the life we have been given, how happy I am to have the ye and the bairns.  I canna wait to start teaching them things.  Thank ye for our family mo ghráidh, I love ye so much." Jamie said as another tear spilled from his eye to roll down his cheek. 

 

"Oh love, I dream of the same things.  I am so happy to be here, I am so happy that you chose me for a second time.  None of us would be here if it wasn't for you."

 

Jamie smiled at her declaration, she said things like that often, but he would never tire of hearing them. "Oh, Sassenach, I nearly forgot.  Our wee lass here lifted her head and looked at me for a full ten seconds, she did it all by herself." Jamie said with a prideful smile. 

 

"She did, oh Eilidh that is wonderful."  Claire said as she leaned over and kissed Eilidh on her rosy cheek.

A moment later Alexander began to fuss, he was ready for his breakfast and Eilidh was content to remain on Jamie's chest and snuggle with her Da. But by the time Alexander had finished and was laying against Claire's breast drunk with milk, Eilidh decided she was hungry as well.  Jamie took Alexander and handed Eilidh to Claire.  Alexander laid against Jamie's chest just as Eilidh had been only moments before.

"Sassenach, I am so verry happy we had twins." Jamie said

 

"Hmm, why is that love?" Claire asked as she stroked Eilidh's cheek, watching her nurse as their eyes locked together.

 

"I am happy because there is always one of them for me to hold.  I never have to feel jealous that you are holding the bairn and I have to wait.  This way, we each get to hold a bairn, my arms never have to feel empty." He simply stated.

 

"Jamie Fraser, you are such a sweet man, I couldn't have chosen a better man to be the father of my children.  I do love you so." Claire said as she leaned over to kiss him on the shoulder. 

 

Just then Alexander raised his head and looked directly into his father's eyes and smiled before laying his head back down to face his mother.  It melted Jamie's heart to see it and another tear rolled down his cheek.  "Mo nighean donn, did ye see that, did ye see what our wee lad just did?" He whispered as he turned to see Claire watching Alexander and a tear rolling down her cheek as well.

 

"Yes, Jamie I did, that was so precious, I think he agrees with me.  You Jamie Fraser are an a amazing father and our children love you for it." Claire said as she kissed his shoulder again then returned her attention  to Eilidh who's mouth had gone slack against her breast. 

Claire readjusted her shift and positioned Eilidh against her shoulder so that she could burp her.  With the children satiated the little family stayed cuddled together in their little bubble of peace and harmony for a little while longer.  But after about ten minutes Fergus and wee Jamie could be heard in the hallway headed down for their breakfast.  So Jamie and Claire decided to get dressed themselves and join the rest of the family down stairs. 

Breakfast at Lallybroch was an all out event to say the least with five adults and three children yet to eat. With everyone fed it was time for the adults and older children to do their daily chores.  Ian, Jamie and Fergus headed up to tend the fields and to tend the animals and the women stayed back at the house, today was laundry day. 

There was never a day of rest on a working farm such as Lallybroch.  Jamie and Ian had devised a playpen for the children to play in outside while Claire and Jenny did the washing.  So Jenny placed Maggie and wee Jamie in the playpen with some blocks, while Alexander and Eilidh stayed in their baskets at Claire's side.

The twins wouldn't go to play in the playpen until they could sit up without any help. Maggie being seven months old has been sitting on her own about a month now, so it is safe enough to let her play in the playpen.  

 

Claire and Jenny are just finishing hanging the wash on the line to dry when Colonel Grey and his brother Major John Grey dressed in plain clothes, ride into the dooryard and dismount their horses. "Good morrow ladies, I hope all is well on this fine spring day." Colonel Grey says.

 

"Good morrow Colonel, yes everything is quite well.  The men are up in the field but should be down anytime now for lunch, we would be happy for you to join us." Says Claire as she wipes her hands on her apron.

After his talk with Jamie last time about Jamie's fears over Charles Stuart leading a rebellion in the coming months, Colonel Grey has made it a point to stop by every few weeks to check on everything and keep them apprised of any news concerning the young pretender. 

 

"If one of you gentlemen can help me with one of the babies, I will show you in and get a drink.  You must be parched after your ride to get here."  Claire says as she lifts Alexander's basket and hands it to Lord John.  "Follow me gentlemen, we shall get you settled."

The men follow Claire into the parlor, Claire sets Eilidh's basket down and directs Lord John to set Alexander down next to her.

"Can I get you some tea, a whiskey or water?" Claire asks.

 

"Whiskey if you please madam." John says 

"I will take a whiskey as well, madam." Hal said.

 

Claire walks over to the drink cart in the corner, pours their whiskeys and pours tea for herself then motions for them to take a seat on the settee. "Jamie should be here soon, I am sure he is anxious to speak with you Colonel.  And John I know he would love a game of chess if you are up for it.  He already has the board setup in his study." She says as she hands then their drinks, then takes her place in the chair near the children.

 

A few minutes later heavy footsteps can be heard coming in through the kitchen door. "Sassenach, where are ye?  Fergus ran up to the fields and said he saw two riders coming up the road, do we have visitors?" Jamie's voice came through the hall. 

 

"In the parlor Jamie, Colonel Grey and Lord John are here for their visit, won't you come in and say hello?" Claire calls out. 

 

Jamie comes into the room only a moment later "John, Hal, so good to see ye, have ye any news for us then?"

 

"Good to see you too Jamie, no news about Charles Stuart, but we have heard that a group highlanders have been holding meetings to raise money for the rebellion.  We even heard that someone you know personally has been raising money."  Hal said.

 

"Who might that be?" Jamie asked as he walked over and poured himself a dram of whiskey.

 

"Your uncle Dougal MacKenzie." Hal replied.

 

"That sounds like something Dougal would do right enough, I sure wouldn't put it past him.  But I'm willing to bet that Colum doesna ken what Dougal is up to.  Colum wants to keep peace."

"I can tell ye that Dougal won't stray from MacKenzie lands to raise money for his doomed cause.  Ye'll have to lure him out or wait till he makes a mistake if ye hope to take him." Jamie says, walking over to stand next to Claire.

 

"That confirms everything we have heard Jamie, I suspect he will be a hard one to catch.  Would you be willing to help us lure him out?" Lord John asks.

 

"I dinna think I would be of any use to ye on that front.  Dougal doesna trust me, thinks I'm a traitor.  Calls my wife a spy for the English army.  He would just as soon kill me where I stand than listen to anything I might have to say."

 

"Yes, you are probably right.  We won't ask you to put your life or that of your family in danger." Hal says.

 

"Shall we have lunch gentlemen and then perhaps a game of chess John?" Jamie asks as he helps Claire to stand.

"Yes lunch smells delicious." Hal says as he and John both raise to their feet.

 

"We will meet ye in the dining room, go on ahead gentlemen ye ken the way.  I'm just going to help Claire put the children down for their afternoon nap, we will be right back."  Jamie says as he bends to pick up Alexander and Eilidh's baskets.

 

"I can take one of the Jamie, you don't have to carry both children." Claire says as she reaches for them.

 

"I dinna mind mo nighean donn, besides I willna be able to carry them both for long.  Soon they will be to big for me to hold both of my bairns at the same time.  I want to do it while I still can." Jamie says so Claire relents and follows him up the stairs. 

Jamie takes the children into the Laird's room while Claire goes to fetch Mary.  Mary MacNab came to work as a nursemaid at Lallybroch about two weeks ago when her husband died from Alcohol poisoning.  She has been a godsend when Jamie and Claire need someone to watch over the twins.

"I fed both of them about an hour ago and changed their nappy's they should sleep for at least two hours, but if they wake and need fed, come fetch me." Claire said as her and Jamie left the room to join their guests downstairs. 

 

Jamie escorted Claire into the dining room, where Jenny and Ian were already seated and talking with their guests.  Jamie pulled out Claire's chair then took his seat beside her at the head of the table.  Mrs. Crook brought out rabbit stew and bannocks for their lunch. 

"So Hal, we havena heard anything after ye captured the men from the Black Watch, what did ye decide to do with them?" Jamie asked as he buttered one of his bannocks. 

 

Hal wiped his mouth and swallowed his mouth full of stew then responded "Oh, yes I guess it has been about a month since their arrest hasn't it.  After their arrest they were transported to Wentworth Prison to await execution.  They all met their end on the gallows last week." 

 

"And what of the deserter, Horrocks was it?" Jamie asked.

 

"Yes that's right Horrocks, he was transported to the tower of London where he received a traitors death." John spoke up this time.

 

"A traitors death, what's that?" Claire asked

 

"Pardon my vulgarity madam, but a traitor's death is beheading.  Horrocks was beheaded upon his arrival in London." Hal said

 

"Oh, I see.  Well I surely hope we don't come across any more like them, they were vile men, the lot of them." Claire said as she turned her attention back to her stew, suddenly not quite so hungry anymore. 

 

"Indeed they were madam." John said.

The room got quiet as they all turned their attention to the meal in front of them. The rest of their lunch was consumed in silence.  Jamie, John, Hal and Ian retired to the study while Jenny sat down in the parlor to knit and Claire went upstairs to join her children for a short nap. 

Chapter Text

Over the weeks since the discovery of the hidden staircase, Jenny and Jamie had found time to go through the remaining trunks in the attic.  Most of the trunks contained clothing and quilts.  One of the trunks was full of old family trinkets, and jewelry.  The last one they opened was full of coins, Jamie estimated based on just the weight of the trunk that it had to contain at least £100,000 sterling.  But where did his parents get all of it, they both wondered.  They decided to leave everything in the trunks and puzzle that out another day.

A few days later Jamie remembered seeing a drawing of Lallybroch in the first trunk they had opened.  He was curious to take a closer look at it, so he retrieved the drawing and took it downstairs to get a better look at it in daylight.

Claire found Jamie in his study, going over the drawing carefully. "What is so interesting about the drawing, you have been in here a while, looking at it?"

 

"Tis not a typical drawing Sassenach, tis building plans.  Come over here, look at this."  Jamie said as he reached a hand out in her direction without taking his eyes from the parchment.

 

She walked over to the desk, stood next to him and peered at the drawing. "Jamie, honestly I have no idea what I am looking at, why don't you tell me what has you so intrigued." 

 

"Well, if I am reading this right, Da built several hidden rooms in the manor, not just the staircase and attic.  It makes perfect sense, the first rising was in 1715 after all and there was turmoil for several years before that.  Da also was raised at Beaufort Castle, so he would ken all about hidden rooms and secret passages and the reasons to have them."

"I need to have Jenny take a look at this, I want to find these hidden rooms, but this drawing doesna show precisely how to get into them."  Jamie said as he sat back in his chair and began to rub the stubble on his chin. 

 

"Didn't you say there were more letters in the trunk where you found this drawing?  Maybe there is something in the letters." Claire said.

 

"Aye, maybe.  Although none of the rest of them were addressed to me or Jenny.  I dinna feel right reading them, they are someone else's private correspondence." 

 

Claire nodded in understanding "Why were you up in the attic again anyway, I thought you and Jenny finished going through the last of the trunks last week?"  Claire asked as she turned and leaned against the desk.

 

"Aye we did, but I went up to retrieve some sterling for something special I wish to get for ye.  While I was up there I remembered the drawing and decided to bring it down to take a closer look at it." Jamie said as he reached out and grabbed Claire's hand, pulling her to sit on his lap." 

 

"Jamie the only thing I need is you and the children, nothing else matters." Claire said

 

"That may be so, but now I have the means to lavish my wife with gifts and as yer husband it is my privilege to do so." Jamie said as he tucked an escaped curl behind her ear.  He placed a hand on the back of her neck and drew her head down for a kiss.

 

She pulled back cupping his face in her hands, she looked deep into his eyes and said "You know you don't have to do that, but I love you just the same for thinking of me.  Why now though, why did you want to get me a gift?"

 

"Do ye forget so easily mo ghráidh, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the day we wed, June 8, 1743.  The day ye became my wife, and I yer husband.  The day we pledged our lives and love to one another and both meant it this time." Jamie said as he quirked his eyebrow at her.  "It is a day worth celebrating, is it no? Besides, I ordered your surprise a few weeks ago, it should be arriving any day now." 

 

"How could I ever forget that, you silly man, of course I remember.  Well are you going to tell me what it is or must I wait?" Claire asked

 

"Ye'll just have to wait and see."  Jamie answered

 

"Fine, then let's get back to the drawing, why did you want to look at it more closely, you have never really shown an interest in such things before?" Claire asked.

 

"I am pleased ye asked.  I could tell that it was building plans when I first glanced at it in the trunk and over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about our life here.  We already ken that Jenny is going to have more bairns, at least one more.  We ken that from the last time we lived through these years.  We have the twins and Fergus now and I ken I plan on having more bairns wi' ye mo chridhe."

"Before to long, we will have five bairns in the nursery.  Fergus is already old enough to have his own room, wee Jamie will be there soon.  The boys could share a room surely, but we dinna have a spare room for them to do that even now." Jamie said.

 

"So what does all of that have to do with you looking at building plans?" Claire asked

 

"Since I found the plans, I have been thinking about adding onto Lallybroch or building Jenny and Ian a place of their own on the land nearby.  Well near enough to visit regularly, but far enough to have some privacy."  Jamie stated simply. 

 

"Have you talked with Jenny and Ian about any of this?" Claire asked skeptically.

 

"Nah, not yet.  I wanted to talk it over wi' ye first and see what ye thought of the idea." Jamie said.

 

"Well, it's certainly worth discussing.  It's not a terrible idea. I mean we are running short on room and you did say you wanted to fill this house with our children.  I always assumed we would have more.  Do you know if the house has been added onto since your father first built it?"  She asked

 

"As far as I ken the manor was built just as Da designed it, it's been the same since it was built in 1712." Jamie said

 

"That's almost 40 years Jamie, I don't think we should go making changes to it.  I think building Jenny and Ian their own home is a better plan.  We can talk with them and see how they feel about it.  If they like the idea, we could all go for a ride tomorrow to see where on the land they would like their home to be."  Claire said

 

"Grand idea Sassenach, this is why I enjoy talking wi ye.  Yer always there to assist me in working my way through a perplexing predicament.  I always appreciate yer help, especially when it comes to dealing wi' my sister." Jamie chuckled then pulled her head down for a quick peck on the cheek.

"We shall talk to them this evening after the children are all put to bed.  Right now I have something else planned for us.  If ye could go ask Mary to stay wi' the children, I will go to the kitchen and fetch our lunch.  I will meet ye in the dooryard in a few minutes."

 


 

By the time Claire maid it out to the dooryard, Jamie had Donas saddled with his saddle bags full of food. "Where are we going for lunch?" Claire asked as she sauntered over to Jamie's side. 

 

"We are going for a picnic to an area of the property that I havena ever shown ye before." Jamie answered as he boosted her up onto Donas before easily mounting the beast behind her. 

 

Claire leaned back into Jamie's  chest as he wrapped an arm around her and drew her close.  Leaning his nose into her curls, inhaling her unique earthy scent Jamie whispered "Tis been a verra long time since we have ridden together, Sassenach.  It feels good."

 

"Hmm, I have missed this too, I can't believe that it's already been more than a year since Murtagh found me." Claire said as she leaned her head back against Jamie's shoulder. 

 

They settled in together and enjoyed a slow ride across the meadow and through the trees.  They talked of everything and nothing, they reveled in each other's company and the peace that came with just being together.  They finally came to a stop near an aqua green fairy pool, the water trickling down over several falls from the ridge above.  The sounds of nature caused a magical serene feeling to wash over them.  Jamie swung down from Donas, then carefully helped Claire down off of his back.  Then he removed the saddle bags, handed them to Claire and hobbled Donas.  

There was a shaded grassy area near the fairy pool where Jamie spread the blanket that he took from one of the saddle bags.  Claire lowered her self to the blanket and removed all the food from the saddle bag and spread it all out on the blanket.  Jamie knew what she liked, he had packed a wheel of cheese, some bread, fruit and wine.  Jamie added the flask from his sporran to the picnic spread as he sat down beside her. 

Jamie used his dirk to cut the cheese into bite sized pieces, he picked up a small piece and placed it in Claire's mouth.  She closed her eyes and let out a small moan as the flavor exploded in her mouth.  She opened her eyes to see Jamie looking at her with that sexy crooked grin of his and his eyes sparkling.

"Sassenach, if ye keep making sounds like that, this picnic will be wasted." He said as he slowly ran his tongue over his bottom lip.

 

Claire giggled and said "I'm sorry I know, it's just so good and this whole thing is so romantic.  I can't seem to help myself, you bring it out in me.  But I'm famished so I will try to behave myself." She winked then picked up a piece of cheese and fed it to Jamie. 

 

Jamie decided to tease her and moaned when she placed the cheese on his tongue, she nearly melted at the sound. "I'm jesting ye Sassenach, let's enjoy our lunch, then I wish to take ye for a swim."

They finished their meal in a comfortable silence, savoring each other as much as the meal before them.

 

Jamie stood, offered Claire his hand to help her stand and asked her "Can I help ye with yer lace mo chridhe?"  Claire nodded and dropped her hands to her sides.  Jamie first untied the lases of her bodice, then removed her stomacher.  He pushed the bodice from her shoulders and let it fall to the ground behind her.  Claire turned so Jamie could gain access to the ties of her skirt, he quickly removed her skirts and bum roll with practiced hands.  Claire turned again so Jamie could reach the laces of her corset, removing it with ease.  

He reached his hand out and tentatively touched the skin just above the neckline of her shift.  Claire giggled at the memory his touch had triggered, it reminded her of the first time they had been married.  When they were both so nervous, but this time Jamie's hand did not tremble. 

Jamie removed his hand and untied her shift, pushing it off her shoulders and letting it float to the ground to pool around her ankles.  Claire was left standing in just her stockings as Jamie placed a hand on her waist and cupped her head with the other hand.  He pulled her close, pressing her body against his own, he brought his lips down to hers for a searing kiss. Claire's hands reached up and tangled in the silky soft curls at the nape of his neck. The kiss seemed to last forever as their tongues danced, tasted and plunged into the depths of each other's mouths.  They separated only when they needed a breath. 

 

Claire released his curls and slid her hands down to rest on Jamie's chest.  She looked up into his bright blue eyes and said "Mr. Fraser, you are wearing entirely to many clothes, let me help you take these off."

Claire lowered her hands to the buckle of his sword belt, she easily unbuckled it and let it fall to the ground.  Then she reached for the buckle of his kilt belt, unbuckled it and let the belt fall from her fingers as his kilt pooled around his boots.  Claire stepped back to allow Jamie to unbuttoned his shirt cuffs then pull his shirt off over his head.  She took a step forward and placed her hands on his chiseled abs and whispered "My god, you are so beautiful."

 

Jamie chuckled, gathered her into his arms, leaned down an nuzzled his nose into her hair and whispered back "My goddess, ye are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." 

They finished removing their stockings and boots, then Jamie scooped Claire up, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck and walked into the fairy pool.  He walked further out, get deeper and deeper.  When the water finally reached Claire's bare skin she squealed at the sudden chill and tightened her grip on Jamie's neck.  Jamie chuckled at her reaction, took another step and waited for her to loosen her grip.  Claire placed her hands on either side of Jamie's face and pulled his lips to hers for a gentle kiss. 

Jamie pulled back, leaning his forehead against hers and smiled.  "Are ye ready to go for a swim mo nighean donn?" He asked.

 

"Yes she breathed" as she smiled up at him.

 

Jamie quickly lifted her and threw her away from his body.  Her face immediately flashed with shock as she flew through the air, splashed down and sunk below the surface.  Jamie knew he would be in trouble when she came back up, he stood still waiting for her ire.  When she resurfaced with a scowl on her beautiful face, he couldn't contain the laughter any longer.  A deep belly laugh escaped him as she started stalking over toward him, but he could see her lips twitching and the anger didn't reach her eyes, she wasn't truly angry with him. 

After a moment she started laughing hysterically as well.  They were both enjoying their mirth, when Claire suddenly splashed Jamie in the face and lunged at him, knocking him off balance.  He fell backwards and started to go under, but he was to quick and reached out, grabbing her wrists and dragged her down with him.

When they came up for air, their lips were locked together, Claire's nipples hardened against his chest and Jamie's throbbing cock trapped between their bellies.  Claire wrapped her legs tight around Jamie's hips as he carefully carried her out of the water and back to their waiting blanket.  Jamie slowly knelt down and delicately lowered Claire to the blanket. 

She released her hold on him as he sat back on his heels and let his eyes ravish her body.  His eyes raked over her naked from, taking in each lovely curve and dip, she reminded him of marble carvings he had seen in France.

He leaned down, placed his hands on either side of her body and gently administered kisses over each breast and down the length of her body, slowing as he got to her naval.  He placed kisses over the soft silvery scars left from the children she carried within her, then moved down to her thighs and placed tender kisses on the inside of each one.  

Claire began to squirm and buck her hips in anticipation of what she wanted most.  Jamie placed a forearm over her hips to hold her down. Then he nuzzled his nose against her mound and breathed in her womanly scent. "Ye smell so good Sassenach, it's been so long since I had your honey on my tongue, may I taste ye mo ghráidh?" Jamie asked her as he breathed her in again.

 

Claire looked down at him and whimpered "Yes Jamie, oh god yes, please." 

 

Jamie smiled against her mound, took his free hand, using two fingers he gently began to stroke her folds.  He used his tongue to circle her little pink bud and plunged two fingers inside her silky wet center.  She gasped and moaned his name.  He moved his fingers in then out, curling them forward each time he plunged them back in.  He removed his fingers and replaced them with his tongue, gliding his tongue up and down, in and out, evoking the most pleasurable sounds from his wife's lips.  His cock grew harder with each sound that escaped her luscious pink lips, he could feel her muscles beginning to tighten and flutter.  He removed his tongue and said "Claire, I must have ye now, I canna wait."

She offered the tiniest of nods and he slammed his cock into her, sheathing himself to the hilt in one solid stroke.  She erupted around him so hard that he had to still himself for fear of his own release.  He waited for her to come back to herself then he thrust over and over again at a punishing pace as Claire reached out clawing at him to draw him deeper and closer. 

He placed his hand behind her right knee and drew her leg up around his left hip, opening her legs wider so he could plunge deeper.  The new position elicited louder moans and screams of his name, she repeated his name like it was a prayer. "Oh Jamie, Jamie, Jaaiimmmeeee, I'm going to .... I can't .... harder, faster.  Don't stop, oh please ..... don't stop." 

He continued to thrust faster and deeper, he reached his hand down between their bodies to the point of their joining and began to stroke her sensitive bud with the pad of his thumb.  He was determined to give her as much pleasure as she could stand. It didn't take long before she was panting and calling out again, her muscles tightening, drawing him deeper then fluttering around his cock.  The sensation was so intense that he couldn't hold out any longer, he spilled his seed in her as she reached her peak, their releases crashing together in a crescendo of ecstasy.  Jamie collapsed on top of her and carefully rolled them to the side, still joined, neither one ready to give up their connection.  

They both lay there panting, smiling and lost in each other's eyes. "I love ye mo nighean donn." Jamie said as he stroked her still damp curls and tenderly kissed her on the tip of her nose. 

 

"I love you Jamie, thank you for such a wonderful day." Claire said.

 

"It is my honor to serve ye my lady, I'm verra happy ye enjoyed yerself." Jamie answered with a dazzling smile. 

Chapter Text

After a short nap lying cradled in each other's arms on their picnic blanket, the sun had shifted enough to allow the sunlight dappling through the trees to reach their eyes.  Jamie slowly opened his eyes to the angelic vision before him, a wide smile stretching across his face as he reached up to stroke her delicate features. "Claire, mo chridhe open yer eyes my love.  We must get up and go back to the house, the children will be waking and wanting their meal soon."

Claire's eyes began to flutter open as she stretched and moaned.  She hummed in acknowledgement as he stroked her smooth skin.  He leaned over and placed a chaste tender kiss at the corner of her smiling lips.  Jamie quickly stood up and began to dress as Claire lay there watching his graceful movements.  He spread his kilt out on the ground, placed his belt under it and began to pleat it.  Claire sat up to watch him, she was always mesmerized at the sight of her highland warrior putting his kilt on.  He did it with such skill and ease, obtained from years of practice. 

Jamie was finishing wrapping the kilt around his hips and buckling the belt when he looked over to see Claire watching him with a curious smile on her face.  He smiled back at her her and asked "What is it Sassenach, do ye find this funny?" 

 

Shaken from her thoughts Claire brought her attention back to Jamie's eyes and replied "No, not funny. I was just thanking my lucky stars that you are mine, I have my very own sexy Viking warrior to love and protect me for the rest of my life." she giggled. 

 

Jamie walked over and knelt down beside her, leaning over he whispered against her lips "Aye, a Sexy Viking am I?"

 

"Oh yes, very much so and all mine." she said as she leaned into his lips for the kiss his lips and eyes were offering. 

 

Jamie pulled back, took her hands in his and pulled her to her feet.  The blanket she had wrapped herself fell to the ground, leaving her completely bare.  He gathered her into his tight embrace and whispered into her curls. "Aye, I am yers and yer mine as well.  But we must go now, the twins will be hungry."  He kissed her on the nose then let go of her, took a step back and began to gather her clothing to help her dress. 

 


 

They arrived back in the dooryard to see Mary walking the children in the cart that Jamie had built for Claire to keep them close to her.  They had started to fuss and she was trying everything she could think of to calm them.  "I'm so sorry my lady, they havena been like this long, but I fear they are both hungry and ready for their meal." Mary said shyly.

 

"Dinna fash Mary, we are here now, ye can go and help Mrs. Crook in the kitchen." Jamie said as he dismounted and helped Claire to the ground.

Mary curtsied to both of them then turned and hurried back inside.  Claire and Jamie both walked over to their crying infants, Claire picked up Alexander to feed him first, he had less patience than Eilidh.  She carefully sat down on the front steps, released her breast from it's bindings and settled Alexander against her.  He latched on with vigor to devour his meal.  Claire sighed in relief as the pressure of the milk in her full breast relaxed.

Jamie removed his shirt, unwrapped the swaddling blanket from around Eilidh, picked her up and placed her against his bare chest. He began to walk back and forth and whisper soothing words in Gàidhlig.  Eilidh calmed immediately at the touch of Jamie's skin and the sound of his voice.  She pulled her fist into her mouth and began to suck on it noisily,  it would placate her until it was her turn at her mother's breast. 

When Alexander finished his meal, Claire slowly stood, walked over to their little cart and gently placed him back into his traveling basket.  Jamie handed Eilidh to Claire so that the lass could finally have her meal.  It didn't take long before Eilidh was fed, happy and back asleep.  They took the children inside and up to the Laird's room so they could sleep in their cradles.

As Jamie was coming back down the stairs he heard hoof beats in the dooryard.  He walked outside just in time to see a wagon carrying a large item, pulling into the yard.  "Awe, Mr. MacIntyre, so good to see ye, is that the item I ordered?" Jamie asked as he walked over to look into the wagon.

 

"Indeed it is, would ye mind helping me to unload it, we might need another hand.  It's heavy, the biggest one I have ever seen or built at least." Mr. MacIntyre said.

 

"Let me fetch Murtagh, we'll help ye unload it and I'll fetch yer coin." Jamie said as he headed back into the house.

 

When Jamie walked into the kitchen Murtagh was sitting at the table enjoying some afternoon tea as he chatted with Mary.  "Murtagh, the surprise I ordered for Claire has arrived, we'll need yer help to unload it and bring it up to the Laird's room.  I need to fetch the coin from my study to pay Mr. MacIntyre."  Jamie said as he turned to head toward his study. 

Murtagh grumbled, but stood up and went toward the dooryard to offer his help.  Jamie walked out of the study and was right behind Murtagh as they walked outside.  It took all three of the men to maneuver the item down to the ground.  Once they got it down Mr. MacIntyre lifted the canvas that had placed over it for protection, to allow Jamie to inspect it.  Jamie whistled "Fine craftsmanship MacIntyre, she will love this.  Here is yer payment and a bit extra for the trouble of delivering it all the way from Inverness.  Yer also welcome to stay in the loft in the barn tonight if yer not in a hurry to get back."  Jamie handed him the coin then patted him on the back. 

 

"Thank ye Mr. Fraser, I would appreciate that, it has been a few days.  And if it wouldna be to much of a bother, could I perhaps trouble ye for a bite to eat, I ran out of provisions this morning."  Mr. MacIntyre said as he wrung his hat in his hands.

 

"No trouble at all a charaid, Mary and Mrs. Crook are serving tea in the kitchen just now and yer more than welcome to join us for dinner."

"Now let's get this gift up to my lovely bride." Jamie said as he pulled the canvas back over the large gift.  Murtagh and Jamie bent down and carefully lifted the item to make their way into the house and up the stairs.

As they approached the door to the Laird's room Jamie whispered for them to set the gift down.  He opened the door and peeked inside, sure enough Claire was resting peacefully on the bed as the twins slumbered in their cradles.  He turned to Murtagh, held his finger to his lips, silently telling him to stay quiet.  They carefully moved the item into the room and set it to the side of the hearth.  Murtagh tiptoed out of the room and quietly shut the door behind him.  

Jamie gently sat on the edge of the bed, removed his boots and slid in next to Claire.  He reached his arm around her waist and pulled her close.  Nuzzling his nose against her neck, he whispered "Wake up mo nighean donn, yer surprise has arrived."

 

Claire's eyes fluttered opened, she turned her head to face him and smiled. "What was that you said?" 

 

"I said, yer surprise has arrived, would ye like to see it?" Jamie said, then leaned down and kissed her at the crook of her neck and shoulder.

 

Claire sat up with a huge grin on her face and said "Of course I want to see it, where is it, what is it, show me."

 

Jamie chuckled and pointed to the corner of the room next to the hearth where her gift had been placed. "Tis right over there, go have a look."

 

Claire climbed out of bed, staying quiet so as not to wake the twins and carefully made her way over to the corner, making sure to avoid the floor board that creaked.  She pulled back the canvas to reveal what was beneath.  Her hand flew to her heart as she turned to look at Jamie with tears in her eyes. "Oh, my god Jamie, where did you find this, this must have cost a fortune.  I can't believe you bought me a bathtub.  It's so beautiful, thank you."

 

Jamie laughed as he walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist, drawing her body against his. "Yer welcome mo nighean donn, I ken how clean ye like to be, now ye can take a proper bath every night if ye like.  I had the craftsman in Inverness make this for ye, he is in the kitchen now and will be joining us for dinner.  Ye can thank him for his efforts this evening." 

 

"Why should we wait till tonight, can't I take a bath now?" she asked as she started to unlace her bodice.

 

Jamie reached out and grabbed her hand to still her progress. "Not now mo chridhe, water still must be boiled and brought up, let's wait till the children have finished their nap.  Then I will have the servants bring up water and you can enjoy yer bath." 

 

"Yes, you're right of course.  Thank you so much my love, now I get to have hot baths and the love of my life.  I don't have to choose." Claire winked at him then leaned up to kiss his the small cleft in his chin. 

 


 

After dinner Jamie showed Mr. MacIntyre to the loft in the barn, while Claire, Ian and Jenny waited for him to join them in the parlor.  Jamie went to his study to retrieve the drawing of Lallybroch so he could present his plan to his sister.  He returned to the parlor and handed the drawing to Jenny, then took a seat next to Claire.

"What's this brother?" Jenny asked

 

"Tis the drawing we found in the trunk, but tis much more than that, tis the drawing plans for Lallybroch." Jamie answered her

 

"Well, I can see that, but why did ye give it to me?" She asked, confusion etched on her face.

 

"Two reasons, first I took a closer look at the plans today, there are secret rooms.  I wish for ye to help me find the entrances." Jamie said

 

"Alright and the other reason?" Jenny asked as she narrowed her eyes at her brother.

 

Jamie looked at Claire, she took his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze of encouragement to go on. "Our family is expanding, with the five bairns we have now and the servants, we dinna have room for more.  I ken ye want more children, as do I and Claire." Jamie took a breath

 

"Aye, what are ye gettin' at?" Jenny asked 

 

"I had thought about adding onto the house, to give us more room.  But after talking it over with Claire, we decided to leave the house as Da intended it to be.  He built the house how he wanted it and none of us have any right in mucking that up."  Jenny nodded at him so he continued. "So Claire and I thought the better plan would be to build a second house, a house for ye, Ian and the bairns.  Ye could pick the location anywhere on the land that ye want yer home to be built."  Jamie finished and looked up to see Jenny had a surprised expression on her face. 

 

"Aye, I can see how that makes sense, but I think I have a better plan, if yer willin' to listen." Jenny said

 

"Aye, I'll listen to ye, tell me yer plan." Jamie gestured for her to continue

 

"Ye ken I have had the runnin' of this house since Mam died.  I'm not saying tis my house, tis yers just as much as it's mine." Jamie nodded so she continued. "We now have the means to build another house, I think ye should build Claire a house to share wi' ye.  Ye have always said ye wanted to fill this house wi' yer bairns, even if we werena here, there wouldna be enough room for ye to have more bairns.  Ye need a bigger house, Jamie, one of yer verra own.  Ye are still the Laird of Lallybroch, ye always will be."  Jenny said and waited to hear Jamie's response.

 

Jamie stayed quiet for a while then looked at Claire and squeezed her hand.  "Jenny, if you will excuse us a moment, I think Jamie and I need a moment to discuss this."  Claire stood and pulled Jamie to stand with her, then she led him to the study and closed the door. "Jamie, everything she said is true, even if her and Ian were not here, that would only open up one more room.  It's not enough, once the children are older all those rooms will be filled and that is with Fergus sharing a room with Alexander."   

"I think the idea of us building our own home is a great idea, we can build it how we want it.  After all, Jenny is the Lady of this house, that will never change, no matter how much you wish for it."  Claire said as she stood in front of him and rubbed his arms.

 

"Aye, yer right Sassenach, it is a good plan." Jamie replied as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer.

 

Claire looked up into his eyes and asked "Do you know of anywhere on the land that you would like to build our home?"

 

Jamie grinned at her "Aye, my favorite place, tis up past the tower at the top of the ridge.  Ye can see for miles around from there, the view is among the most beautiful in all of Scotland, tis a perfect location.  I can build my lady her castle on the hill."  Jamie said as he pulled her closer and leaned his chin on the crown of her head.

"Let's go tell Jenny, she will be overjoyed.  We better get started soon, she will be carrying baby Kitty verra soon."  Jamie said

 

Claire looked up at him and smiled "Yes, we will be needing more room very soon as well."

 

Jamie pulled her away from him, looked down at her, quirking his eyebrow and said "Och Aye, are ye saying what I think yer saying Sassenach?"

"Yer courses havena started again since ye gave birth to the twins, how can ye be sure?" Jamie asked

 

"Jamie, are you forgetting that I knew exactly when we conceived each time.  Trust me I'm sure and as before I can even tell you if we are expecting a boy or a girl.  We will be adding to our family around the middle of February."  Claire said

 

Jamie pulled her into his arms, lifting her feet off the floor and spun her around.  With his face buried in her hair he said "Sassenach, ye have made me the happiest man alive, I'm going to be a Da again."

 

Claire laughed "Yes my love, we are having another baby."  She hugged him tighter.

 

Jamie set her down, pulled back from her and looked her in the eye "Just one this time though, aye?"

 

"Yes my love, only one this time." Claire said as she drew him back into her arms. 

Chapter Text

With the issue of housing settled Jamie began designing his new home, he would build a palace fit for a Queen.  He saw Claire as his Queen and he would build her a home worthy of that status.  But Claire had some ideas that she insisted on implementing in the design of their home.  She insisted that they would have what she had called water closets to be attached to every bed chamber. "It's a separate room where we would wash and use the chamber pot.  But we will have a chair for the chamber pot.  I'm sure when you attended the dressing of the King at King Louis' court in Versailles, you saw him use one.  With having small children, I don't want chamber pots just sitting around where they could get into them.  We will have a stand for the wash basin and a small hearth to heat water.  We don't need a bathtub in each water closet, it would be a nice addition later on though.  We should also have a few water closets near the main living areas, these will only require a wash basin and chamber pot seat."  

"I don't want to spend all of our money, many of these things we can build ourselves, or I could trade my healing services for them." Claire said. 

Everyone agreed that since Jamie was the Laird and he would reside in the new house, that it must be more grand than the original manor.  It was important for their tenants and visitors to recognize his position and respect him. The new manor would reflect some of the architectural features seen at Fyvie Castle and Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire.  It would include such features as imperiously high straight walls, bartizans, those little turrets that jut out from the topmost corners of the walls, crenulations along the tops of the walls, lancet windows in the bed chambers, spiral staircases and large windows in each of the main rooms. It would have a grand central entrance with a processional staircase in the front and a sprawling patio that led to the garden in the back. 

They would use the method of harling to insure the walls resist the Scottish weather, then they would be lime washed in an off white shade to give the manor a uniform color, enhancing the aesthetic appeal. It would be six stories high and include a few hidden passages between rooms as well as hidden passages to secret rooms, like the one at the current Lallybroch manor. 

The manor would also include a servants quarters, offering not only bed chambers but living areas as well.  Once finished the new manor would have the Lairds' bed chamber, which would be the largest of all of the bed chambers.  It would then have five double bed chambers, meant for couples, eight twin chambers meant for older children or single visitors. It would also have a large nursery, a formal dining room, family dining room, a kitchen, drawing room, parlor, study and a surgery for Claire to treat patients. 

Jamie sent for all of his tenants a week later and announced his plans.  The tenants would help to get the new manor built and in exchange Jamie would not charge them rent for the remainder of the year.  It would take the help of everyone on the land to man the fields and build the manor by the first snowfall.  They only needed to focus on things like the outer walls, the floors, the chimneys and the roof to keep the weather out. All the other elements could be finished during the winter.  Work on Lallybroch Castle began on June 15, 1744, they had about four months to get it finished enough for winter. 

They would share the already existing stables for now until a larger one could be built.  Jamie had a few ideas to increase the profits of Lallybroch, he wanted to breed horses and build a whiskey distillery that would put Leoch's to shame.  But all of those things would come once the new manor was finished. 

Everyone began to gather what materials they could find from the Lallybroch lands.  They were able to find enough granite for all of the walls at an outcropping a short ride from the main house.  They cut lumber from the forest on the Eastern side of the estate lands.  The materials that couldn't be taken from the land would need to be purchased in Inverness or imported from France. The wives and older daughters of the tenants helped to sew and dye drapes and bedding for the new castle.  Fergus and Rabbie and the older sons of the tenants were responsible for collecting the pebbles for the harling process.  Everyone had a job to insure the completion of the Laird and Lady's new home.  

 


 

By the end of the first week, the land had been prepared, the cellars dug and lined and the foundation laid. With more hours of daylight during the summer months, work never seemed to stop, but Jamie made time as often as possible to spend time with his family.  They would enjoy lunches and Sunday afternoons together, but there was little time for more.  With so much work to be done in such a small amount of time, Jamie often came to bed long after everyone had already gone to sleep.  He still woke up in the middle of the night to help Claire with the twins, but Claire could tell the lack of sleep and stress of everything was wearing on him.  So after a month of working on the new manor, Claire suggested that Jamie take the afternoon off and accompany her and the children for a picnic at the mill pond. 

Fergus was overjoyed to have a day off to just be a child, as soon as they arrived, he had stripped off his clothes and naked as a jay, dove into the water.  As Claire and Jamie watched him swim and splash about, they couldn't help but laugh at his youthful joy.   The twins had begun to roll over, so it was imperative to have eyes on them at all times.  Jamie was anxious to teach them how to swim and Claire had assured him that they were old enough to go in the water as long as he held on to them at all times.  He quickly stripped down to just his shirt, while Claire stripped everything off of Eilidh to prepare her for the water.  Eilidh was more active this afternoon, so she would get to swim with her Da first.

Jamie took Eilidh from Claire's arms, he held her with her back to his chest and a hand under her bum.  He stepped carefully into the pond, talking softly to Eilidh to keep her calm as her toes got closer to the water.  Claire held Alexander in her lap, facing away from her so he could watch his Da and siblings play in the water.  

As soon as Eilidh's toes touched the cool water, she sucked in her breath in shock, then squealed in delight and started kicking her legs.  The more she kicked, the more she splashed.  The splashing caused her to get water on her face and gasp.  Then she would realize she was fine and she would splash some more and squeal.  Jamie slowly walked further in until the water was just above his waist and mid chest for Eilidh.  She was now slapping the water with her little hands, smiling and squealing.  It was just how Jamie hoped it would be, just like his daydream,  his daughters happiness warmed his heart.  But after about fifteen minutes in the water, Eilidh began to shiver.  So Jamie decided it was time for her to get out and let her brother have a turn.

Jamie slowly walked back over to Claire, rising out of the water the closer he got to shore.  Claire had laid Alexander in his travel basket so she could prepare to take Eilidh.  She had a towel, warmed by the sun ready to accept Eilidh as Jamie handed her to her mam.  Claire wrapped her up and released her breast from the bindings so Eilidh could eat and hopefully fall asleep.

Jamie leaned down and took Alexander's clothes and wrappings off then picked him up for his turn in the pond.  Alexander did not want to turn away from Jamie's chest so Jamie held him face to face against his shoulder.  Alexanders little arms wrapped around Jamie's neck with his fists tangled in his Da's curls.  Jamie walked slowly, and had to go a bit deeper or Alexander's toes to reach the water. 

But when his toes suddenly touched the water, he looked into Jamie's eyes and his mouth turned down into a frown, chin quivering.  He was about to get very upset, so Jamie backed up a few steps toward the shore, so the water no longer reached the lad's toes.  He wrapped Alexander's feet in his large hands as he continued talking calmly to him.  Alexander's chin stopped quivering, but his blue eyes remained locked on Jamie's.  Jamie let go of his feet, scooped up some water and let it trickle over his tiny legs.  Alexander didn't seem to mind that, he did love to take a bath, so this was no surprise.  So Jamie continued to do this, bringing the water higher and higher until he was gliding the water over his little back. 

He kept doing this as he walked slowly deeper into the water, until Alexander's toes touched the water again.  He startled for a moment, but he wasn't getting upset.  Jamie continued, letting the water level rise against his son's little body.  Alexander kept his eyes on Jamie's, he didn't make a sound or try to splash, he stayed perfectly still.  The only indicatiom of his thoughts about swimming, was the grip he had on his Da's curls, he was beginning to pull harder.  Jamie stood motionless and watched his son, he realized that Alexander already had the gift of masking his emotions.  He could that Alexander was not enjoying this and Jamie didn't want to traumatize his son, so he turned and walked out of the water toward Claire, who already had a towel waiting for him. 

Alexander had been in the water with Jamie for about twenty minutes, which allowed Claire plenty of time to feed, dress and lay Eilidh down for a nap.  As soon as Jamie handed the baby to her, he was rooting for his meal.  Claire wasn't so sure it was only hunger that caused his reaction, she thought maybe he needed the comfort as well.   

With the twins quieting down, Jamie decided to go back into the pond and swim and play with his oldest son, Fergus.  They swam to the other side of the pond so as not to disturb the twins.  Fergus would climb on Jamie's shoulders then jump off and try to flip in the air.  Most of the time he would just flop with no grace into the water.  They had been playing for roughly and hour when Fergus's belly began to complain from hunger. "Well lad, from the sounds coming from yer gullet, yer about ready to eat something.  Shall we head back over and begin to dry off?"  Jamie asked

"Oui Milord, I'm starving, let us swim back to Milady and my siblings."  Fergus replied as he swam toward the bank where Claire was seated, reading her book. 

 

Jamie swam after him "Fergus, ye dinna have to keep calling us that, ye can call us Mam and Da, if ye like."

 

"I know Milord, but I like to call you such.  I will keep calling you that if you don't mind." Fergus replied with a shrug. 

 

"Aye, alright laddie, ye can call us whatever ye like, just as long as ye remember that yer our son."  Jamie smiled at him. 

 

Claire heard them coming so she had a towel ready for each of them when they climbed out of the water.  Jamie wrapped the towel around his waist like a makeshift kilt and removed his sopping wet shirt.  Both of them finished drying off, then redressed themselves.  Claire placed Jamie's wet shirt over the side of the wagon to allow it to dry and took his spare shirt out of the picnic basket.  With everyone dried off they began to eat. Mrs. Crook had packed some cheese, lamb, bread, fruit and whiskey for their lunch.  They all ate until they were uncomfortably full, then they stretched out the blanket for a short nap in the afternoon sun.  Jamie, Fergus and the twins all rested, but Claire decided to do some cloud watching and soak up this time with her family.  She knew that building the house would take up more and more time, with even less daylight available as time went on.  Days were already getting shorter.  They likely would not get another day like this till after the baby came next spring, so they better enjoy it while they still had a chance. 

Chapter Text

By September 15th, just two months after beginning construction on the new Lallybroch manor, Jamie and his tenants had completed the exterior walls as well as the main floor of the manor.  The crisp air of the coming autumn increased the scents of the world around them, reminding them all that they must get the roof finished by the first of October.

The twins had started to babble incoherent words over the last month, Claire had been trying to get them to say Mama and Dada, but so far it hadn't happened.  They were sitting by themselves for short periods of time and had finally started to sleep through the night. Claire being on her second pregnancy had started to show sooner. She no longer wore her stays, she couldn't fit them over the swell of her belly.  Her belly was larger this time around, she had a rather sizable swell where the baby grew beneath her heart.

Claire and Jenny were out in the garden harvesting the last of the herbs of the season when Hal, John and Jeremy rode up, followed by their regiment of twenty men. "Hal what brings you and with the whole regiment this time?"  Claire said as she stood and wiped her hands on her apron. 

 

"We have a letter for your husband and the men are going to help Jamie to get that roof built.  I know you can use the help, so don't even think of turning us down." Hal said as he dismounted his horse. 

 

Claire stopped and just looked at Hal, there was only one reason that Hal would be delivering a letter instead of it coming through the regular post.  It must be from King George.  "Of course I won't refuse help, you know we appreciate it.  Jamie and Ian should be down for lunch soon, can I get you gentlemen a whiskey while you wait for him?" Claire asked. 

 

"If it's alright with you ma'am, I think we will ride up to the big house.  I have another matter that I wish to discuss with your husband." Hal said as he remounted his horse, tipped his tricorn hat and waited for her response.

 

"Oh, yes of course.  That is probably a better idea, Jamie can get your men started as he speaks with you.  Go on up, you know the way and please join us for lunch." Claire said as she walked back toward the garden. 

 


 

Jamie was standing on the scaffolding helping to position one of the roof beams, when Hal and the other soldiers rode up.  He heard them riding up, so he wasn't surprised when he heard Hal call out his name.  Jamie carefully made his way down the ladder till he reached the ground.  "Hal, yer early, we dinna expect ye for at least another week.  What brings ye all the way out here today?" Jamie said as he walked toward the soldiers.  "I see ye brought the whole regiment, should we be worried about a threat?" 

 

Hal turned and looked at his men then turned his head back toward Jamie. "Oh no, no threat, we brought the men to help you to get the roof on before the weather turns.  But the main reason we are here today is to bring you this letter." He said as he pulled the letter from his coat and handed it to Jamie.

 

Jamie reached out, took the letter, realized the seal was from King Louis, then looked back up at Hal with an expression of surprise.  "How did ye get this letter Hal, this isna from King George."  Jamie said as he broke the seal and opened the letter.

 

"King Louis sent a letter to King George with this included to be hand delivered to you.  That also brings me to the other business that I needed to discuss with you, but please read the letter first."  Hal said as he took a step back to give Jamie some privacy. 

 

Jamie turned to read the letter.

 

Dear James,

Prince Charles has sailed from Italy, his father fears he may be on his way to Scotland to resume his original plan.

James has asked me to forward a letter to King George to inform him of these events and his wish to remain in Italy and not fight for the throne.

I wish for you to be prepared for what is to come.  It is my belief that Charles has found an investor and is moving forward with his plans for a rebellion.  James and I think he wants the throne for himself, not for his father's benefit.

I reminded King George of your loyalty, in hopes it would keep you out of the fight.

Good luck my friend.

King Louis of France

Jamie walked over and sat down on some stacked lumber.  He couldn't believe this was all happening again, but he must talk with Hal to see what other business he came to talk of.  Jamie folded the letter, put it into his sporan and walked back over to where Hal and John stood.

 

"What other business did ye have to discuss wi' me?" Jamie asked, crossing his arms over his chest and raising his eyebrow. 

 

"Well, bringing the men up here to help wasn't just for your benefit.  We have received orders to stay in this area to protect your family and insure that you do not join the rebellion.  King George has requested that we make camp near your land to follow through with these orders." Hal said

 

"Well then, I guess tis a good thing that my family is more important the this damned doomed rebellion, wouldna ye say Colonel?"  Jamie said with a smirk. 

"Bring yer men, I'll show them what to do to help us out." Jamie said as he walked back toward the manor.

 


 

With the twenty extra men helping Jamie and his tenants, they were able to finish the roof in half the time.  Since the soldiers were now camping nearby, Hal insisted they continue to help with the construction.  By the seventeenth of October they had finished all of the interior walls as well as the floors of the second story. 

At this rate they could have all the floors finished on all of the levels by the end of December, leaving just over a month to finish building furniture for the Laird's room, the nursery and the dining room. 

Hal had promised Jamie that his regiment would continue to help with construction and furniture building until the manor was finished.  Their next project right now would be the staircase leading to the front entry, up until now they had been using the backdoor to access the house.  The men had already hauled all of the necessary granite to the construction site and had begun carving the blocks that would be used for the steps. 

Jamie is in his study refining the drawings for the front staircase and veranda they had decided to add when he hears a soft knock on his door, he looks up to see Claire peeking in.  "Hey there love, we thought we would come for a short visit before you went up to the big house." Claire said as she carried Alexander in with Mary right behind her with Eilidh in her arms.

 

Mary handed Eilidh to Jamie then excused herself from the room. "Latha math, mo nighean ruaidh, ciamar a tha thu an-diugh?"  Jamie said to her as she watched him intently.  

 

Eilidh cooed back at Jamie as he smiled at her, listening to her baby babble. "Dada, Dada, Dada ... mmmm." she said to him as she placed her hands on his cheeks and looked into his bright blue eyes.

 

Jamie's eyes got wide "Say it again lass, say Da Da. Come on, say it for yer Da." Claire looked up not having heard Eilidh say it the first time.

 

Eilidh patted Jamie's cheeks, grinned her gummy smile at him and chanted "Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada" Jamie laughed and kissed her forehead then pulled her against his chest for a hug. 

 

Alexander watching his father and sister intently, was excited by it all and began to chant as well "Dada, Dada, Dada" then he reached for Jamie.

Claire handed Alexander to Jamie and took Eilidh in her arms and set her on the floor to play with the blocks that Jamie had carved for them. 

 

Alexander laid his head on Jamie's chest for a hug, Jamie pressed a kiss to the crown of his head. "Ciamar a tha thu, mo bhalaich ruaidh?" Jamie asked him and Alexander patted Jamie's chest next to where his head still rested and said "Dada" then babbled a bit more. 

 

Proud of her children, Claire wanted to see if they could say 'Mama' as well.  She carefully lowered herself to the floor next to Eilidh, being mindful of her burgeoning belly and asked her daughter "Eilidh, can you say Mama, say Mama for me sweetheart." 

 

Eilidh looked up at her, frowned and said "Dada, Dada"  then went back to playing with her blocks.

 

Claire shrugged and looked up to see Jamie and Alexander watching them. "Well one out of two is pretty good, I guess."

 

"Sassenach, dinna be disappointed, she will get it, it just takes a bit of time."  Jamie said

 

Alexander seeing his mother's distress leaned in her direction and said "Ma Ma Ma" as his little hands reached for her making grabbing motions.

 

Claire's eyes teared up at Alexander's sweetness, she reached out and took him out of Jamie's hands and pulled him to her for a kiss on the temple. 

 


 

Frank had been thinking about Claire all day, today would be her 28th birthday.  He tried to imagine how she would be spending it in the 18th century.  The people she lived with probably wouldn't even recognize that it was her birthday.  He decided he would make one more attempt, he owed to Claire to try and rescue her from the hell she was living in.  If he couldn't make it through the stones this time, he would move on, he would propose to Sandy.  He knew he loved Sandy, but Claire was still his wife, if he didn't try everything possible she would never forgive him, he could never forgive himself.

Frank used the intercom and asked Sandy his assistant to come into his office. She walked in and he gestured for her to take a seat.  He got up, came around his desk and sat on the edge of it facing Sandy. "Sandy, darling, I need to take a last minute trip to Scotland.  I will be gone for a few weeks, but I want to see you as soon as I get back.  We will have a lot to discuss, will you wait for me?" He asked hopefully.

 

Sandy stood up and came to stand between his legs "Of course I will wait for you darling, do you really expect me to forget about you in only a few weeks?  That is just silly Frank, I would wait for you forever.  I could never go on without you."  Sandy said

 

Frank pulled her close, burying his nose in her hair, he hugged her tight.  Then he pulled back kissed her deeply the said "Alright, I need to go back to my house and pack a suitcase, then I am off to the airport.  I must leave today, but I will call you when I land tomorrow morning.  I will not have access to a phone at the place I will be staying, but I will call you before I get on the plane to come back to you." Frank said as he walked around the desk, gathered his briefcase, jacket and coat and walked out the door. 

Frank drove to his house, packed his 18th century attire as well as the coins and other supplies he would need.  An hour later he was ready, he hailed a taxi and headed to the airport.  When he arrived at the airport he made a quick phone call to Scotland.

 

Frank: "Mrs. Graham, this is Frank Randall"

Mrs. Graham: "Aye, Mr. Randall, wait a moment, I will fetch Mr. Wakefield."

Frank: "No, no that's not necessary.  I called to speak with you." 

Mrs. Graham: "Och Aye, what did ye need to speak with me about Mr. Randall?"

Frank: "I am flying to Scotland today, I am coming to make a last attempt to go through the stones at Craigh na Dun and rescue Claire.

If it doesn't work this time, I will let it go and move on with my life.  But I have to try."

Mrs. Graham: "Oh, yes, yes of course.  Should I prepare a room for you?"

Frank: "No thank you, I don't want Reggie to know I will be there.  I will be staying at Mrs. Baird's bed and breakfast.  I will meet you at Craigh na Dun in the early morning of the 31st.  I will take a taxi and be there to see the druid dance, then I will attempt to go through after all of the ladies leave.  But I would like you to stay to make sure I get through, if I don't make it through you can take me back to the bed and breakfast."

Mrs. Graham: "Of course, I shall see ye then, have a good flight Mr. Randall.  Goodbye"

Frank:  "Thank you Mrs. Graham, I shall speak with you soon."

Frank hung up the phone, gathered his suitcase and made his way to the ticket counter.  He bought a ticket for the next flight to Inverness, he had a two hour wait before takeoff.  He would be landing in Scotland in about 14 hours, then he would only have to wait for nine days to travel back in time.

Chapter Text

Jamie woke to the sounds of his twins babbling to each other in their cradles, both seemed content so he let them be.  He leaned over to take in the face of his lovely wife lying next to him.  He kissed her tenderly on the shoulder, nuzzled his nose into her curls, cupped his hand over her large belly and the child inside and quietly whispered "Tis yer birthday Sassenach, I have a wee surprise for ye, when yer ready to wake up."

 

Claire turned her head and looked up into Jamie's eyes, her whiskey eyes locking on his sky blue gaze, a smile stretching across her lips.  "A surprise, what is it?" She asked

 

"Aye a surprise, if ye get up and get dressed, I shall show ye.  We must take a short ride, I'll go saddle one of the mares and be waiting for ye in the dooryard."  Jamie said as he leaned over and gave her chaste kiss, then rolled over to get out of bed.

Jamie dressed quickly, donning breeks instead of his kilt, it took less time to dress.  He walked over to say good morning to the twins before heading down to the stables. "Madainn mhath muirichinn" He said as he leaned down and kissed each of them on the forehead.

"Dinna forget yer cloak Sassenach, we had a wee bit of rain last night and it's still quite cold this morning."

 

"Thank you, I won't forget it.  Could you ask Mary to come in here, so she can watch the children while we are gone?" Claire asked him as she slid out of bed to begin dressing.

 

Jamie stopped in the kitchen to fetch Mary before heading out to the stables. "Mary please go up to the Laird's room,  Lady Broch Tuarach will be accompanying me on a short ride this morning.  We will need ye to watch the children while we are gone, Claire should be feeding them now." 

Jamie walked to the stables and saddled Eclipse, their most gentle mare and one that could hold their combined weight without strain on her back or hooves.  Jamie led Eclipse out of the stable and toward the dooryard, where Claire stood already waiting for him. "My lady, would ye like to go for a ride wi' a poor highlander?" Jamie asked as he bowed to her.

 

Claire laughed and placed her hand in Jamie's larger outstretched hand. "How very gallant of you Laird Fraser, I would love to go for a ride with you."

 

Jamie boosted her up into the saddle, then swung himself up behind her, gathering her close and reaching carefully around her to take the reins, he started them on their way at a slow manageable trot toward the big house.  They reached the big house fifteen minutes later, Jamie dismounted first, then carefully helped Claire down.  He hobbled Eclipse then led Claire up the slight rise and around to the back of the house. The steps in the front were not quite finished yet, should be ready in a week.  

 

"Jamie, Ive been up here several times, unless you have added something more to the plans I won't be surprised." Claire said, but she continued to trail after him regardless. 

 

Jamie remained tight lipped and led her into the house and stopped for a minute when they entered the main hall next to the kitchen so his eyes could adjust. "Follow me Sassenach." He said as he continued to pull her after him.

 

They walked down the hall till they came to the first doorway on the left, the doorway to Claire's surgery.  "Jamie, you already built and installed the door to my surgery?  Do the rest of the rooms have doors?" Claire asked

 

"Och Nah, Sassenach, the door is part of yer surprise, but ye must open it and go in to see the rest of yer surprise." Jamie said as he tried not to smile.

 

Claire walked forward, placed her hand on the door handle and slowly opened the door.  She walked in and looked around, she didn't utter a word, which made Jamie quite nervous.  "Do ye like it then, is it everything ye wanted it to be?"  He asked anxiously.

 

Claire brought her hand up to cover her heart, turned with tears in her eyes and whispered "Oh Jamie, it's perfect, I can't believe you finished it already.  When did you have time to build these lovely cabinets and that exam table.  Oh look there's even a wash basin on a stand in the corner.  Oh my love, you thought of everything." 

 

Jamie let the smile stretch across his face as he took her hands into his and placed their joined hands over his heart.  He gathered her against him, kissed her temple and said "It makes me happy that ye like it mo chridhe, now ye can move yer wee herbs in and start using yer surgery."  

"I'm sure Mrs. Crook would be happy to have her storage room back once all yer things are moved." Jamie owl winked at her as he brought their joined hands up to his lips so he could kiss her knuckles.

 

"Thank you Jamie, I love it. I can't wait to start treating patients here, not that I want anyone to get hurt, but it will feel amazing to have my own space to heal those who need it." Claire said against his chest as she nuzzled against the hollow of his throat. 

 


 

The plane touched down at 8:00 a.m. in Inverness, Frank hailed a taxi to take him to Mrs. Baird's bed and breakfast.  He couldn't stop thinking about what Sandy had said to him, she said she would wait forever, couldn't go on without him.  Wouldn't Claire feel the same way, if she had truly loved him.  The more he thought about it, the more he came to the conclusion that she had been forced to marry this Fraser fellow.  He was determined more than ever to bring her back with him.

Frank arrived at the bed and breakfast, paid for a single room and asked to use the phone on the desk.  He had remembered from his last stay when he was here with Claire that there were no phones in the rooms.  He needed to call Mrs. Graham and let her know he had arrived, later in the afternoon he would call Sandy, it was still the middle of the night in Boston and he didn't want to wake her. 

 

 

 

Mrs. Graham: Hello?

Frank: Mrs. Graham, it's Frank Randall, I have just arrived at Mrs. Baird's bed and breakfast.

Mrs. Graham: Oh, Mr. Randall, I am glad ye arrived safely.

Frank: Thank you, I could use your help with something.  I bought a map while I was at the airport, but I can't seem to find Lallybroch on it.  I was hoping I could meet you for coffee and you could point out the location for me. 

Mrs. Graham: Yes Mr. Randall, I can meet ye in an hour and a little cafe near where ye are now.

Frank: Great, I will see you in an hour.

Frank hung up the phone and went to put his suitcase in his room, took a quick shower and realized he had forgotten his lucky razor at his home in Boston.  Not that it would do much good in the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century anyway, he mused. He would be sporting a beard for the first time in his life, the thought of it made him laugh.  Claire probably wouldn't even recognize him with a beard.

Dressed in a clean set of clothes, Frank headed to the little cafe on the corner to wait for Mrs. Graham.  He hadn't eaten since his lunch at the University before he left Boston, so he decided to waive the waitress over and order some breakfast.  "Good afternoon sir, can I get a coffee, or would ye like to see a menu?" the waitress asked.

 

"Yes, a coffee would be fabulous and I would like to see a menu, thank you." Frank replied.

 

"I will be right back with that coffee and a menu, would ye like cream and sugar as well?" she asked.

 

"Black is fine, thank you." he answered.

 

A moment later the waitress returned with a mug of coffee and a menu. "I'll give ye a few moments to go over the menu."

 

Frank took the menu and looked it over, he was disappointed that everything on the menu seemed to be so Scottish, didn't they have anything without haggis.  He put the menu down and waited for the waitress to return.

 

The waitress noticing that he was ready to order, returned to his table by the window. "Have ye decided what ye'd like to order then?" she asked pen and notepad at the ready. 

 

"Yes, I have, could I just get some toast and a couple of eggs over easy?" he grumbled.

 

"Aye, I'll get that order in, should only be about ten minutes.  Just waive me over if ye have need of anything else."  She said as she turned and walked toward the back to give the cook his order.

 

The waitress returned with his breakfast and he was just finishing up as Mrs. Graham walked in and spotted him.  She walked over and took the seat across from him. "Did ye bring yer map, Mr. Randall?" She asked

 

Frank leaned over and pulled his map from his briefcase, moving his coffee to the side, he spread the map on the table. "From the map you had drawn me, I had a general idea of where Lallybroch should be on this map, but I can't seem to find it."

 

"Well it wouldna be labeled as Lallybroch, Mr. Randall.  Lallybroch is what the locals call it, it is officially kent as Broch Tuarach." She said as she pointed to it's location on the map, clearly labeled as Broch Tuarach.

"I wanted to talk to ye about travel as well, Mr. Randall.  There will be no roads in the 18th century and tis late fall now, travel will be much slower.  Even if ye first head back to Inverness and buy a horse to make travel easier, it will still take a bit more time than it would have in the spring.  In perfect weather conditions on a horse the trip should take seven or eight days.  With the weather being as it is in late fall, the trip could take two or three weeks.  If it snows it could take even longer to get to Lallybroch.  The veil will not remain passable for that amount of time, ye wouldna be able to come back through until Hogmany.  That's two months Mr. Randall, are ye prepared to be gone for that long?"  Mrs Graham asked him.

 

Frank sat back in his chair, stunned at what she had revealed.  Was he prepared for that? Yes, he decided, he was prepared.  He would need to call the University and take an extended leave and just hope for good weather. "Yes I will need to make some calls, but I am prepared to do whatever it takes to bring Claire home."

 

"Good, now ye will need a warmer cloak and more food provisions than ye had last time ye tried this.  Dried foods are best, they will keep longer." Mrs. Graham said as she stood to leave. "The ladies and I will be on the hill at 5:00 a.m., the veil is thinnest as the sun comes up over the stones.  I will let the ladies ken that ye will be traveling.  Good day to ye Mr. Randall."

 

Frank stood, threw some money on the table, grabbed his coat and headed to the costume store to buy what he would need for the trip through the stones. 

He spent the next several days preparing and planning his route, he was ready.  He made one last phone call to Boston before he traveled.

 

 

Sandy: Hello, Professor Randall's office.

Frank: Sandy, it's Frank, I wanted to hear your voice before I leave.  I will be doing some field work for the next couple of months and won't have a way of contacting you, I leave tonight.  But I wanted to tell you that I love you before I go.

Sandy: I thought it was only suppose to be a few weeks, but I understand.  I love you too Frank, I will be here when you return.  Good luck with whatever it is you are researching.

Frank: Goodbye Sandy, I will return as soon as I can.

Frank gathered all of his supplies into a canvas bag that Mrs. Graham had suggested.  He couldn't take anything with him that wouldn't already exist in the 18th century.  He had bought some flint to replace the matches in his pack and plenty of dried goods.  He tried to sleep, but found it impossible to make his mind relax.  Finally it was time to head to the stones, he called a taxi and impatiently waited for it to arrive.

The drive to Craigh na Dun went by faster than he remembered, before he knew it he was climbing to the top of the hill. He hid behind some bushes and watched the druids dance.  Suddenly he was standing as if drawn toward the center stone, his feet moving of their own volition.  He heard a loud buzzing sound, just as Mrs. Graham had described, he realized he would be able to travel.  Apprehension suddenly came over him, but his feet kept moving him forward.  He remembered to clear his mind and focus on Claire, his hands rose as he neared the largest stone.

Mrs. Graham and the other ladies stopped their dance and watched as Franks hands touched the stones and he suddenly disappeared as if he was made of mist.  The ladies having never seen anyone travel before all gasped.

Chapter Text

Frank woke, confusion filling his head over what had just happened.  He sat up and immediately began retching.  He slowly stood and took in his surroundings, the hill looked the same, well except some of the trees were younger.  The surrounding forest seemed fuller, he walked away from the stones, toward the road he had left behind just a few hours before.  But there was no road, no power lines, no indication of the world he had left behind.  But how was he to be sure that he had ended up in the right time.  There was only one way to find out, he had to make it to Inverness and have a look around.

After a few miles and not much progress, Frank having sprained his ankle at some point, decided to rest for a bit.  He had forgotten to buy appropriate shoes, not taking into account the untamed forest that he now must face.  Now with his feet sore, his stride had slowed to a snails pace.  Buying a horse once he reached Inverness was now a necessity, not just for speed, but to save his aching feet. 

Frank finally stumbled into Inverness three days later, muddy and disheveled.  He made his way to an Inn and paid for one night. "Excuse me sir, this may seem like a strange question, but I have been out in the wilderness for so long, I have lost track of time.  Could you perhaps tell me the date today?" 

 

The Inn keeper looked him over then came to the conclusion that perhaps this strange sassenach was indeed confused, if not lost. "Aye, today is the 3rd of November."  

 

"I don't mean to be a burden, but could you tell me what year it is, it's all confused in my head." Frank asked striving to remain calm.

 

"Why ye must ken, it's 1744.  How long did ye say ye have been wondering again?"  The Inn keeper asked with suspicion. 

 

Frank sighed in relief, he had made it to the right time, he would rest at the Inn for the night, buy a horse in the morning and begin the journey to Lallybroch.  Claire was finally within reach, things were at last looking up. 

 


 

The rain had not let up for weeks now and the weather just kept getting colder.  Jamie looked at the sky and could almost sense the impending snow storm.  With the soldiers help, Jamie had almost finished the furniture for the Laird's room.  The last thing they had to build was the bed, it would be a eight ft by eight ft, four posted canopy style bed.  Large enough for Jamie's tall frame to fit comfortably. They should be finished with the bed in a few days, then they could move up to the big house.   He walked back inside, carrying a few more pieces of lumber to use in the construction of the bed.

As he walked by Claire's surgery, he could hear her talking calmly to a child who's mother had brought him in with complaints of a toothache.  He smiled at his wife's ability to calm anyone in almost any situation.  The he continued on his way up the staircase they had installed only a week before.  The Laird's room was on the top floor with a stunning view of the valley below.

Jamie had just finished the frame of the bed, he stood up and walked over to look out the window before heading downstairs to join Claire for lunch.  As he looked toward the tower, he noticed Mary and Fergus walking toward the big house.  They must be bringing the twins up for their noon meal as well.  Jamie bounded down the stairs and out the front entrance to go and meet his children.  As he approached them the twins began to squirm about, trying to get to their father. "Alexander, Eilidh hello my wee bairns.  Did ye come to see yer Mama or yer Da?" He said as he reached and and took a baby in each arm.

Both children chanted Dada, Dada.  Eilidh reached up and placed her hands on Jamie's cheeks to get his attention, while Alexander laid his head on Jamie's left shoulder.  Jamie placed a tender kiss on Eilidh's mouth and she moved her hands to wrap around his neck and take hold of his curls.  He made his way inside and into the kitchen, he knelt down and put the children in the playpen that had been moved up from the old Lallybroch Manor.  

Jamie sat on a bench at the breakfast table that the soldiers had finished building just the day before.  Mary and Fergus joined him at the table and sat on one of the other benches.  Claire walked into the kitchen, carrying a basket that contained a lunch she had packed that morning.  She placed the basket on the table and began removing the contents.  First she pulled out a large cloth, which she would use to place the food.  There was a wheel of cheese, some bread, some ham and wine.  Next she pulled out four plates and placed one in front of each of them.  Claire sliced the bread, cheese and meat into thin slices, then assembled them making what she called sandwiches and passed one to each of them.  

Claire took a seat next to Jamie and they all began to eat their meal in silence.  As they were finishing up, Jeremy rushed in "Mr. Fraser I was upstairs working on one of the beds, when I went to the window for a moment of fresh air.  I saw a lone rider coming over the far ridge, would you like me to ride out and see what they want?"

 

Jamie stood, swallowing the last bite of his sandwich then replied "That willna be necessary, I will take Fergus out to meet them.  I dinna think we have anything to fear from a lone rider."  

Jamie leaned over and kissed Claire on the crown of her head "We willna be long Sassenach, stay here wi' Mary and Lieutenant Foster."  Jamie stood and gave Jeremy a look that said 'protect my wife with yer life'. 

 

Jamie mounted Donas and Fergus mounted Claire's horse Eclipse, they took off at a steady gait toward the rider.  Jamie thought there was something familiar about the stranger, but would have to wait till they got close enough to make out his face to be sure. 

 

At last they got close enough and Jamie let his shoulders relax "Willie, what are ye doing here.  Why are ye not wi' Dougal and the rest of the men at Leoch?"

 

"Dougal sent me to fetch ye back, Jamie.  He wants ye by his side in the uprising.  We got word that Prince Charles is sailing to Scotland and Dougal wants all of us to meet him at the port to welcome him and show our support."  Willie said. 

 

"Och Willie, I canna do that, I've a family now, this is mine and Claire's adopted son Fergus.  I dinna care which royal arse sits on the throne, I willna be joining Dougal or anyone else." 

"Ye can come up to the house wi' us, but I must warn ye, there is a regiment of Redcoats about.  Tis part of the condition of my pardon, I canna leave Lallybroch and they have taken up camp to insure I dinna break the conditions of my pardon.  Please dinna say a word about Dougal to them and dinna mention them to Dougal.  I dinna want any trouble around my family." 

 

"Ye have my word Jamie, I willna say anything.  It's nice to meet ye Fergus, I'm Jamie's cousin from Leoch."  Willie replied

 

"Well then, come, follow me to the new house, ye can meet my children and I ken Claire will be overjoyed to see ye."  Jamie said as he led the way to the big house. 

Willie followed them up to the big house, noticing a few soldiers carrying lumber inside and others cutting granite into slabs.  He rode up next to Jamie and whispered "Jamie, what are the soldiers doing, why are they building this house on yer lands?" 

 

"Tis my house Willie, they are helping out.  I have an agreement wi' the Colonel, if they want to camp here and have no trouble from me, they must help wi' the work."  Jamie replied

 

Willie was confused by what Jamie had said, but decided to let it go.  Jamie was older and wiser than him and always kent how to get what he wanted, he must have some kind of plan. 

 

They ride up to the house, dismount and hobble the horses and head inside.  Jamie leads them to the kitchen at the back of the house where Claire and the children await.  As Jamie enters the room, he is greeted by the twins calling out for him and lifting their arms to be picked up. "Dada, Dada, up."

He leans down and scoops both children into his arms, their little arms holding onto each of his shoulders. "Willie I would like ye to meet our son Alexander and our daughter Eilidh." Jamie turned to Claire and tipped his head toward her belly. "And that there in Claire's belly is our wee Fraser bairn, he or she will be here in February." 

 

"Wow Jamie, twins and they look just like ye, no offense meant to ye Mistress Claire, they are as beautiful as their mam."  Willie says as he notices Claire watching him.

 

Claire stands with the help of Fergus and walks over to bring Willie in for a hug. "It's so good to see you, Willie.  What brings you to Lallybroch?" Claire asks.

 

Willie looks around and notices a couple of people he is not familiar with so decides to keep his response short. "Does a man need a reason to visit a cousin he hasn't seen in months?"  He says as he gives Claire a sheepish smile.

 

She notices his reaction to the strangers and decides to send Jeremy out. "Lieutenant Foster, I think we are safe now that my husband is back, you are free to go up and continue working on the project you had started."

 

"As you say madam Fraser, just call out if you are in need of assistance." Jeremy says as he looks at Willie suspiciously, then turns and leaves the room.

 

Jamie sets the twins back down and waits until Jeremy's footsteps fade into the distance.  He pulls Claire close and whispers into her ear "Willie canna tell ye the reason he is here just now, it will have to wait till tonight when we dinna have ears about."  Claire nods in understanding, she knows exactly why Willie is there, she sensed it when she hugged him.  She doesn't need words to tell her. 

 

Jamie helps Claire to sit back down, then sits down next to her. He gestures for Willie to take a seat. "Willie this is our nurse maid, Mary.  Mary my cousin Willie from Leoch." They both exchange a friendly nod but remain silent. "Mary is going to be coming with us when we officially move in to this house in a few days.  She has been taking lessons from Mrs. Crook in the kitchen at the old house."  Jamie said and Mary blushed and lowered her head demurely. 

 

"So Willie, I can see that you have other news that you are eager to share with us.  By the look of you I would be willing to hazard a guess that it has to do with a lass." Claire stated and waited for him to admit it.

 

Willie blushed "Yes Mistress, I have met a lass.  I came for reasons I told Jamie of already, but I volunteered when Dougal asked who wanted to come fetch Jamie.  I wanted to ask ye Jamie, how did ye ken that Mistress Claire was the one for ye?  I can tell ye love her, but how did ye ken?"

 

Jamie smiled and took one of Claire's hands in his, rubbing gentle circles over the back of her hand, he pretended to think for a moment before answering. Claire kicked him playfully under the table. "Well Willie, it goes back to something my Da once told me.  He said 'Jamie lad ye must respect the lasses, yer going to be tempted, but ye must be responsible.  Dinna go spilling yer seed unless yer willing to marry the lass.  The best feeling in the world is lying wi' yer wife.'  I asked him how I would ken who that would be and he said 'Jamie when ye meet The One, ye will just ken.  Ye will ken it deep in yer bones, ye willna be able to remember what life was like before ye met her, she will be always in yer thoughts.  And it willna be just about the bedding, ye will want to be close to her, talk to her, get to ken her mind.  Ye willna feel whole when she isna near ye.  She will mean more to ye than anything else in the world, ye will be willing to give yer life to see her safe.'  He said, and that is exactly how it was wi' Claire, right from the very start." Jamie said as he leaned over a placed a kiss on her temple. 

 

"Thank ye Jamie, that's how I feel about Seonag, but I wanted to be sure before I asked for permission to court her properly."

 

"Congratulations to ye Willie, truly.  Tis the best feeling in the world to be in love and have a family wi' the love of yer life by yer side." Jamie said and Claire nodded in agreement and rested her head on his shoulder. "Yes it truly is." Claire said.

 

Jamie stood and asked Willie "Willie since yer here, can I get ye to help us out wi' a few things?

 

"Sure Jamie, whatever ye need.  I mean to stay here for a few days before heading back to Leoch, that is if its alright wi' you." Willie replied then stood to follow Jamie.

 

"If we can get the Laird's bed finished today, we want to be moving in tomorrow, but I need to get the children back down to the old house so they can nap while we continue working, they willna be able to sleep with all the racket.  Can ye give Mary a ride back?  Fergus will stay here to help, but Claire and I will each need to carry a bairn wi' us."  Jamie asked.

 

"Aye, I can do that." Willie said

 

Jamie leaned down and scooped up Alexander and handed him to Mary, then he picked up Eilidh and led them all out to where the horses were hobbled. "Willie can ye hold my lass, while I help Claire up into the saddle?" Jamie said as he handed Eilidh to a frightened Willie.

Willie didn't say anything just accepted the baby and held on carefully, afraid he would drop her and Jamie would kill him.   Jamie helped Claire up into the saddle on Eclipse, then took Eilidh back from Willie and passed her up to Claire.  Claire settled Eilidh in the saddle in front of her with and arm around her waist to hold her still.  Then Jamie mounted Donas and Mary handed Alexander up to him, Jamie settled him the same way Claire had done with Eilidh.  Willie helped Mary up into the saddle of his horse, then mounted behind her, maintaining as much distance between their bodies as the saddle would allow.  With the babies on the horses it would be a slow careful trek back down to the old manor. 

 


 

By the first of December Jamie and his family had moved into the big house, there was still a lot of work to do.  But with the tenants, soldiers and Willie's help they were able to finish the main living areas, the Laird's room, the nursery, kitchen, Jamie's study and a room for Willie to stay in.  Willie had to been there since the tenth of November and Dougal would be wondering what had happened to him and come looking for him.  Claire and Jamie decided that Willie would tell Dougal that Jamie was unable to leave his land as a condition of his pardon and was under the guard of an entire regiment of British soldiers.  They hoped this would be enough to deter Dougal from coming to fetch Jamie himself. 

Mary and Mrs. Crook had prepared some provisions for Willie to take with him, his journey would take a bit longer than usual since they had received the first snow of the season that morning. 

With the weather turning colder the soldiers had returned to their camp.  They still went out on regular patrols around the borders of the estate on a regular schedule.  A few days after Willie had left to return to Leoch, one of the soldiers arrived at the big house looking for Claire.  Mary showed him into the parlor as she went to get Claire from the Laird's room where she was playing with the children. "Mistress, there is a soldier here to see ye, he says they found a man when they were out on patrol."

 

"Thank you Mary, I will go and see what he needs. Fergus, stay here and keep an eye on your brother and sister, while I go talk to the soldier."

Claire made her way downstairs and into the parlor where the soldier was standing, waiting for her. "Hello, I am Mrs. Fraser, my maid tells me you found a man." 

 

"Yes madam, we found a nobleman while we were on patrol, he was not awake when we found him yesterday.  The other men I was with are bringing him in our supply wagon.  It appears the man was thrown from his horse, do you think you can help him?" The soldier asked.

 

"Yes of course I will do what I can, I will go and prepare my surgery, have your men pull the wagon around to the back of the house." Claire said as she escorted the soldier back to the front entrance of the house.  When she opened the door to let him out, she could see the men bringing the wagon up past the tower.  She closed the door and hurried to her surgery to prepare it for the new patient. 

 

Mary followed her into the surgery "Mistress is there anything I can do to help?"

 

"Yes Mary, thank you.  Please go get my husband, I may need his help when the soldiers bring the patient in." Claire said as she continued her preparations. 

 

A few minutes later Jamie came into the surgery "Sassenach, Mary said ye needed my help wi' a patient, a man the soldiers found."

 

"Yes, the soldiers are bringing the wagon around the back now, come with me.  I need to evaluate him before they move him, he may have a spinal injury.  If that's the case we have to be very careful moving him, we really shouldn't but I don't have a choice.  The weather is to cold to try and treat him outside and there is no way I will be able to get up into a wagon."  Claire said as she made her way down the hallway and out the back door with Jamie following closely behind her.

 

The soldiers pulled the wagon up to the door, they turned and climbed over the seat into the back to lift him up. "Stop, don't touch him.  I need to see how badly he is injured." Claire yelled as she walked closer to the wagon.

 

Claire made it to the wagon, peered over the side and gasped. Jamie ran to her side and looked down at her. "What is it Sassenach, is it the bairn?" He asked her.

 

All Claire could do is point at the man in the wagon, Jamie turned to see where she was pointing, his eyes got wide. "Randall."  He breathed.

 

Claire realized who he thought it was and grabbed Jamie's hand. "Jamie, wait. It is Randall, but not the one you are thinking."

 

Jamie looked down at Claire confusion written on his face. "What do ye mean, not the one I am thinking, Claire.  Look at him, it's Black Jack Randall."

 

Claire pulled on his arm and said "No Jamie, it's not, look at his shoes." Jamie turned and looked then turned back to Claire still confused.  She leaned up and whispered in his ear. "His shoes are not from this time Jamie, that's not Black Jack, it's Frank."

 

Jamie's eyes got even wider "Frank?  Ye never told me he looked just like Black Jack, are ye sure?"

 

"Yes Jamie I'm sure and I didn't think it would ever matter.  He must have come back looking for me."  Claire said

 

The soldiers interrupted their whispered conversation "Mr. & Mrs. Fraser, we need to get this man out of the wagon. Can we bring him inside so you can help him?"

 

"Yes bring him inside to my surgery." Claire said as she turned to lead the way.

 

Jamie grabbed her arm "Sassenach, are ye mad woman?" 

Chapter Text

"No Jamie, I'm not mad, but I can't let him die.  Don't worry I'm not going anywhere.  I love you, I belong to you and you belong to me.  I will try and help him and then we will send him back.  My place is here with you, and you, my love, have nothing to worry about.  You can stay by my side the entire time I am treating him, if it will make you feel better."  She said as she leaned up and kissed him tenderly on the lips.

 

Jamie breathed a sigh of relief and followed his wife into the house. He would not leave her side, not as long as Frank was there. The soldiers carried Frank into the surgery and laid him on the exam table, Jamie grabbed the arm of one of the soldiets. "Go fetch Colonel Grey and Major Grey, I need to speak with them, Now.  I dinna ken who this man is, but I dinna trust him in my house wi' my family.  I want a guard put on him until my wife says he is healed enough to leave."

 

"Yes sir Mr. Fraser, I shall go fetch them now." The soldier said as he left the surgery and walked out the back door. 

Jamie turned back to help Claire with whatever she needed. "What do ye think Sassenach, is he going to live?"

 

"Yes, I believe so.  I think he has a concussion and a bit of hypothermia.  We need to warm him up, could you ask Murtagh to go to the manor and bring back one of the trunks you found in the attic, the one with all those quilts?" She asked

 

"Aye, I'll have Fergus go fetch him after Hal and John arrive." Jamie said. 

 

Claire looked up at him, brows furrowed. "Why are John and Hal coming here?"

 

"I ken he was yer husband Claire, but this is my home, our home and I dinna trust him.  I am going to ask them to guard him while he is under yer care.  Dinna fight me on this Claire."  He said

 

Claire knew this was a stressful situation for him, he only used her name like that when his emotions were high. "I wouldn't dream of fighting you on it my love, I will go along with anything you ask of me.  Just help me treat him, I need to diagnose him with my powers to be sure of his injuries.  But I have to do it before anyone comes and witnesses my light."

 

"Thank ye mo nighean donn.  I'll watch the door, get on wi' it while ye have time." Jamie said as he leaned against the closed door, never letting his eyes leave Claire. 

 

Claire took the opportunity not only to diagnose Frank, but to look into his memories and find out how he had managed to find her.  She saw that he had moved on and fallen in love with a woman he called Sandy, which didn't surprise her.  She saw him going to Lallybroch and talking to two of their Fraser descendants and planning to erase them from existence by rescuing her, which angered her.  She saw the change on his family tree which triggered the search and eventual discovery of the petition of complaint which led him to her.  She decided she had seen enough and moved on to his diagnostics. After she saw all she needed, she opened her eyes and backed away from him.

 

"What is it Sassenach, what did ye see?  I could tell that ye were reading his memories."  Jamie said as he gathered her into his embrace.

 

"It is just a concussion and hypothermia, like I thought, he just needs rest and warming up.  But I won't try and heal him beyond that, he doesn't deserve it."  She said

 

"What did ye see, why does he not deserve yer help mo ghráidh?" Jamie rubbed her back and kissed the crown of her head.  He could feel the tension in her body.

 

"I know how he found me, it was the petition of complaint that led him to Lallybroch.  He met two of our descendants, two beautiful women in their early twenties.  They welcomed him into their home, under the pretense of researching Scottish history, they showed him a painting of us in the upstairs hall at Lallybroch Manor."  Claire stopped and took a breath as she began to sob.

 

"Other than the trickery to get inside, that doesna sound to bad, what else did he do, did he threaten them, the women?" Jamie asked, his own shoulders tensing.

 

"He didn't threaten them physically no, but after he saw the painting he rushed out of there with a plan to rescue me.  He planned to erase them from existence.  He hoped to erase them, make it so they would never exist, he only cared about himself.  He wanted to stop me from being 'forced' to have your children.  He convinced himself that I was forced to marry you and being held against my will."

,But you know that's not how I feel, right?"  She asked him as she stroked his cheek and looked hopefully into his eyes.

 

"I ken Sassenach, I ken ye love me and ye wouldna be here if ye didna want to be.  Ye must heal him and send him on his way, I am even more convinced that a guard is necessary.  I dinna want him anywhere near our children, I hate that he will be near ye."  Jamie said as he continued to stroke her back.

 

Neither one of them felt comfortable just standing there with Frank laying on the exam table, so they left the room and closed the door.  They went and sat in the parlor and waited for the Grey brothers to show up. 

 


 

Two days later, on the fifth of December Frank woke up.  He looked around trying to figure out where he was, the last thing he remembered he was flying off his horse.  The horse had been spooked by some Redcoats that were riding right toward them and yelling at him asking what business he had on that road. 

He came back to himself and the room He suddenly found himself recovering in. He heard a posh English voice from somewhere behind him, but his head was pounding to hard for him to turn enough to see who spoke. "Sir don't move, the healer says you must not move.  You have had a knock to the head, you have been out for four days now."  The voice came closer and a Redcoat soldier walked into his line of sight.

"Pleasure to meet you sir, I am Lord John Grey, Major of His Majesties 46th Regiment of Foot.  May I inquire as to your name sir?"  John said with a graceful bow.

 

Frank's eyes widen as he thought of how to introduce himself.  He quickly remembered that his ancestor had been executed for military crimes and thought it best not to use his own name. So without another thought he decided to use Claire's maiden name instead. "My name is Frank Beauchamp, it's nice to meet you as well.  Could you tell me where I am?"

 

"Oh, yes of course pardon me Mr. Beauchamp, you are in the home of Laird and Lady Broch Tuarach, at Lallybroch Castle."  John said

 

Frank was confused, why was this idiot calling the house a castle.  He had been there himself, at most they could call it a manor.  The Scots seemed to hand out titles like candy on Halloween. 

He needed to talk to Claire and get her out of here before anyone noticed.  "Is the Lady of the house perhaps here, I would like to speak with her.  I am feeling much better already, I would like to continue on my journey."

 

"The Lady of the castle is resting presently, but I can have my man fetch the Laird of the castle, he has been waiting for you to wake so he may speak with you." John said. 

 

"Yes of course, I suppose he would want to talk to me.  Please send your man to fetch him then, I suppose now is as good of a time as any."  Frank said as he laid back trying to figure out what he would say once he came face to face with James Fraser, the man who is holding his wife captive. 

 

Lord John opened the door to talk to Lieutenant Foster "Lieutenant, could you go to Mr. Fraser's study and inform him that the patient, Mr. Beauchamp has awoken."

 

"Yes sir." Jeremy said as he bowed then turned on his heal to fetch Jamie. 

 

Jamie looked up at the sound of a knock on his door "Come in" he said as he put down the quill he was using.

 

Jeremy opened the door and stepped inside. "Mr. Fraser sir, Lord John asked me to notify you that the patient has awoken."

 

Jamie's eyebrows rose as he stood and walked over to face Jeremy. "Did he say anything?" Jamie asked.

 

"Only his name as far as I know sir." Jeremy answered

 

"And what is his name, soldier?" Jamie asked a bit annoyed at having to draw each detail out of the Lieutenant.

 

"He said his name is Frank Beauchamp." Jeremy replied

 

Jamie stepped back, his eyebrows raising to his hairline momentarily.  He quickly realigned his features before Jeremy could notice his shock. "Beauchamp ye say, hmmm.  Well I should like to talk with him." Jamie said as he motioned for Jeremy to lead the way.

 

Jamie arrived at the door to Claire's surgery and gave a light knock letting the men inside know he was about to come in.  He opened the door to see Frank facing away from him, fists clenched at his sides and body rigid.  Jamie stepped inside, closed the door and waited for Frank to turn and look at him.

 

Frank turned his head toward the door when he heard the sound of it clicking shut.  Standing just inside the door was a giant of a man, standing well over six feet tall, with flaming red hair and an imposing figure. Frank gulped as he realized his plan to rescue Claire may not be as simple as he had originally planned. 

 

Jamie saw Frank swallow hard and knew he had intimidated him, he decided to have a little fun with it. "The Lieutenant tells me yer name is Mr. Frank Beauchamp." Frank nodded but did not speak so Jamie continued. "What were ye doing on my lands Mr. Beauchamp?" 

 

Shit Frank thought, he hadn't expected that question, well the best thing to do would be to stick to his army tactics, stick to the truth as much as possible, only reveal what is necessary. "I didn't realize I was on your land sir,  I was looking for my wife when my horse threw me.  We were separated a while ago and I'm trying to find her."

 

"Yer wife ye say.  Yer a sassenach are ye no?  What would a sassenach wench be doing in the highlands of Scotland?" Jamie said holding back a smirk. 

 

Frank was losing his cool, but he couldn't reveal to the barbarian who he truly was.  He wouldn't put it past the man to kill him and get rid of his body before he even had a chance to talk to Claire.  "My wife is not a wench sir, she is a highborn English lady.  As for what she would be doing in the highlands, we were on holiday in Scotland and we got separated."

 

Jamie did smirk at that, he knew fine well that Claire was a lady, but she was his lady. "As ye say, well Mr. Beauchamp, I shall let ye get yer rest, my wife should be waking from her nap soon and she will want to examine you."  Jamie said as he turned and left the room. 

As Jamie was shutting the door Mary was walking toward him holding Alexander, as soon as Alexander saw his father he starting calling for him. "Dada, Dada, up."  Jamie pulled the door closed and took his son from Mary's arms. "Ciamar a tha thu, mo bhalaich ruaidh?"

Jamie carried his son up to the Laird's room where Claire and Eilidh slept. Jamie quietly entered the room to see Claire sitting on the bed feeding Eilidh. "Did ye get enough rest mo chridhe?" Jamie asked as he came to sit on the bed next to her. 

 

She smiled up at him "Yes love, thank you for helping with the children, I don't mean to be such a burden.  This pregnancy just seems to be taking everything out of me." She rested her head against his shoulder. 

 

"Och, yer no a burden Sassenach, I love helpin' wi' the children.  Ye have nothin' to apologize for, yer growin' a wee bairn inside yer body.  Tis only natural that ye should feel tired." Jamie said as he turned and pressed a kiss into her curls.

 

Claire picked her head up, she had noticed how thick his accent had gotten, it only happened when his emotions were high or he was worried about something. She looked into his eyes "What has you so worried my love?"

 

Jamie looked at her, he was great at hiding his emotions but not from his wife, he smiled and said "Finish feeding the bairns and I'll tell ye about it mo ghráidh." 

Claire finished with Eilidh then handed her to Jamie as he handed Alexander over into her arms. Eilidh was always happy to see her father, she placed her hands on either side of his face, looked him in the eyes and said "Dada mwa."  Jamie chuckled and gave her the kiss she had asked for, then he set her between his legs and started reciting his daily gaelic poem verse for the children.  Eilidh sat quietly and listened to her father.  Alexander ate, but kept his eyes on Jamie, listening to every word. 

"An t-urram thar gach beinn aig Beinn Dòbhrain.

Na chunnaic mi fon ghrèin 's i bu bhòidhche leam .

Monadh fada rèidh, cùil am faighteadh fèidh,

soilleireachd an t-slèibh bha mi sònrachadh."

 

Claire loved listening to the lessons, she didn't understand most of the words, but they were beautiful none the less.  "What did that one mean, it sounds so beautiful." 

 

"Tis beautiful Sassenach, tis a poem about a mountain in the highlands."

"Let Beinn Dòrain be honored beyond every other hill.

Of what I have seen beneath the sun I think it the most beautiful.

A long even heath, a corner in which dear are found,

the brightness of the hillside I particularly noted."

 

Claire sighed "We should go there sometime, I would love to see the mountain that inspired such beautiful words."

 

"And so we shall, my lady." Jamie said 

 

"Alright Jamie, your son is just about done, now tell me what is bothering you." Claire said. 

 

Jamie sighed but he wouldna lie to her "Our patient has awoken."

 

Claire stiffened "Oh, and did you speak with him?"

 

"Aye, I did.  Claims his name is Frank Beauchamp."

 

"Wot, are you serious, he must be stupid.  He must realize that you know that was my maiden name, or he never expected to meet you." She replied 

 

"Aye, I dinna ken what he was thinking.  But he used his army training, only admitted to the most basic facts, just like ye told me he had taught ye how to do.  Like ye tried to do at Leoch the first time ye met Colum." Jamie grinned at her. "Says he was on holiday wi' his wife and the two of ye got separated and he's been searching for ye for a while."

 

"Christ, why in the hell did he come now.  I mean for Christ sake, he has a girlfriend in Boston, does he really mean to take me back and have us both.  I'm not sure I'm ready to see him Jamie."  She confessed. 

 

"I can see ye dinna wish to see him just now mo nighean donn, but he is yer patient and he is under yer care.  The sooner ye talk to him, the sooner we can send him on his way."  Jamie said.

 

"Yes, I know you're right, but even so, he is going to be here for at least another day so I can make sure his head has healed properly." she sighed

 

"I'll go fetch Mary and she can watch the bairns, I'll not let ye go to talk wi' him alone."  Jamie said as he got up from the bed and carried Eilidh over to her cradle.  "I'll send Mary up and I'll be waiting for ye in the parlor mo chridhe, dinna take to long." 

Chapter Text

"Wait Jamie, I think I have an idea, fetch Murtagh instead." Claire says. 

Jamie looks at her in confusion, shakes his head, then turns and leaves the room to fetch Murtagh.

When the men return to the Laird's room, Claire tells them of her plan.

"Frank has been asleep for four days and it's likely been even longer since he's had a decent meal." Claire looks at both men for their acknowledgement.

 

"Aye, Sassenach, but why are ye suddenly worried about the man's gullet?" Jamie asks annoyed.

 

"I'm not, but being that hungry means he won't turn down an offer for food, right?" She asks

 

"Sassenach yer talking in circles, what are ye getting on about?" Jamie asks her.

 

"What I'm trying to say is we can invite him to join us for our noon meal, I can listen to him as you ask questions and determine if there are any lasting effects from the head trauma. I can complete my examination without even having to be close to him." She stated.

"Aye, I see what her getting at. Keep a bit of distance between the two of ye. Ye dinna wish to be close enough for him to touch ye.  I canna say I disagree." 

"And ye want to send Mary to fetch him to the meal so ye dinna have to be near the man even for a moment, is that the gist of it then?" Jamie asked as his smile got bigger.

 

"Yes, that's it precisely." She answered, relieved he understood her ramblings so well.

 

"Well then Murtagh, would ye mind staying wi' the children while Claire and I go down to our noon meal?" Jamie asked as he gave Murtagh a firm pat on the shoulder.

 

"Aye, I love the bairns, I'll stay and watch 'em for ye. But ye'll be sendin' Mary up wi' my meal when yer done wi' the lass." Murtagh said as he quirked his eyebrow and returned the pat to Jamie's shoulder. 

 

"Aye, of course a goistidh, we canna have ye wasting away on us, now can we." Jamie laughed.

"All right Sassenach, let's go have our meal and see to yer patient, shall we." Jamie said as he offered his arm to Claire.

They carefully made their way downstairs, going slow due to the size of Claire's almost seven month pregnant belly. When they reached the parlor, Mary was waiting for them. 

 

"My Laird, my Lady" she said as she curtsied to them. "The noon meal will be ready soon."

 

"Thank ye Mary, we will be taking our meal in the formal dining room.  I shall escort my Lady there now, but we should like to speak wi' you after we are seated." Jamie said as he escorted Claire to the formal dining room. 

Once they reached the dining room, Jamie pulled out Claire's chair for her and helped her to get settled.  Then he took his own seat at the head of the table to Claire's left side. Mary came in a moment later and waited to hear what Jamie and Claire had to say. 

"Mary, first I will need ye to fetch Fergus, he is likely in the kitchen at the breakfast table, but we wish for him to join us here.  After he is seated I want a setting placed four seats down down from Fergus on my left.  Then ye will go to Mrs. Fraser's surgery and tell the patient that I request his presence for our meal." Jamie said

 

"Yes my Laird." Mary said as she curtsied then left the room to go fetch Fergus.

 

A few minutes later Fergus walked in and took his seat next to Jamie, right across from Claire. 

 

"Fergus, I know Jamie told you before that you could call us whatever you like, but I would really love it if you would call us Mama and Da, it would make my heart feel better about taking you from your home in France.  But if you still wish to call us Milord and Milady, that is your choice." Claire said

 

"Oui Milady, I mean Mama, but France is not my home, this is my home, here with you and Da. I don't wish for you to feel bad, I know you care for me as I care for you.  So I will do as you ask of me." Fergus said with a smile. 

 

Claire reached across the table and took his hand in hers giving it a gentle squeeze "Thank you Fergus, we do care for you, we love you, you are our son."

 

At that moment, Mary returned with the place settings for the three of them plus their guest. "Mary after our meal is served, would you be so kind as to take a meal up to Murtagh, he is in our room with the twins." Claire asked

 

"Yes Mistress, may I take a plate up for myself and join him?" She asked hopefully

 

"Yes Mary of course you can, thank you so much. We appreciate all you do for us." Claire said.

 

Mary left to go fetch their guest while they sat talking about plans for the rest of the house.

 


 

Frank was lying on his side, watching the door.  James Fraser had told him that his wife was going to come examine him, but this waiting was making him irritated.  What could be taking the bloody woman so long, the house isn't that big.  Just then he heard footsteps coming closer to the door and the door opened.

A women stepped in, she was not at all what he was expecting, she had dark brown eyes and mousy brown hair.  Frank began to panic, had he been wrong the whole time, was this James Fraser's wife?  Was this the right James Fraser, or if it was, could there possibly be another Claire Beauchamp. Shit now what ....

His thoughts were interrupted as the woman started to speak. "Mr. Beauchamp, Laird Broch Tuarach has requested yer company at the noon meal." She spoke softly, and she was definitely a Scot.  Frank began to feel like a complete fool.  He had traveled through time to try and save his wife and this woman was not who he expected. Then he suddenly remembered that she was standing there waiting for an answer.

"Yes, yes of course, please lead the way." Frank said as he sat up and followed her from the room.  She led him down different hallways, through a large room then turned down another hallway. 

Frank suddenly realized as he was following her that this was not the house he had visited last spring. This really was a castle, which meant there would be guards.  Now that he thought about it, that is why there were soldiers here, this James Fraser was not your typical Scottish Jacobite, he was a supported of King George and by the looks of his surroundings he was extremely well off.  Maybe this James Fraser could help him to find Claire.  

Shaken from his musings again by the young woman speaking to him "Mr. Beauchamp, we are almost there, the Laird and his family are in the formal dining room, right through these doors." She said as she opened two 9 foot tall solid oak doors.

As the doors opened, he stopped in his tracks, for there sitting next to James Fraser, holding his hand was his wife Claire.  He regained his composure, doing his best not to blow his cover, he could see Claire was playing her part and had not looked up at him.  He took the seat that the woman, who was clearly a servant had shown him to.  As he sat down he noticed the child sitting to the right of James Fraser.  Both Fraser and the boy were watching him closely, but Frank remained silent.  This felt like an interrogation and he wouldn't give them any information that could put Claire or himself in danger. 

 

Jamie watched Frank, waiting for him to say something but the miserable clout sat silent and rigid.  But Jamie was hungry and knew that Claire and Fergus would be too, he had waited long enough. "Mary, ye can now serve our noon meal."

"Mr. Beauchamp, after speaking wi' my wife, we thought ye might be feeling a bit weak after being unconscious for four days and without food for probably longer.  Please feel free to eat as much as ye like." Jamie said as he watched Frank intently waiting for him to look at either him or Claire.

Seeing that he wasn't going to reply Jamie tried again "Mr. Beauchamp, would ye like some whiskey or perhaps some wine, I prefer the whiskey but the wine, it's one of Claire's favorites.  She insisted we bring some back from France wi' us." 

 

Frank looked up at Claire then, but she kept her eyes on Mr. Fraser "Yes, a whiskey will do, thank you, and thank you for inviting me to your meal.  I must admit it has been a rather trying journey, I have not had much to eat recently."

 

"Ye said ye were looking for yer wife, can ye tell us about her?  Ye see my lovely Lady here is English and may ken of yer wife." Jamie said with a smirk as he brought Claire's hand to his lips and gently kissed each knuckle, eliciting a lovely pink blush to rise up Claire's neck. 

 

"Now, Jamie, you know I don't know any other English women here.  The only English I have come in contact with since I met you was the British army and the Duke of Sandringham." Claire smiled at Jamie.

 

Frank was flabbergasted, not only from the affectionate way in which she said the bastards name, but at what she had said.  He was looking at her with his mouth hanging open.  Then she turned and looked straight at him, he recognized that look, it was one of determination. 

 

"What's the matter Frank, you look as though you have seen a ghost." Claire asked him

 

Frank clamped his mouth shut, then opened and closed it a few times, looking like a fish out of water.  Before he could muster any words together she spoke up again.

 

"Really Frank, pull yourself together you look like a fool." Claire stated as she took a sip of her wine.

 

Frank looked from Claire to Fraser, both had a smirk plastered across their face.  He was confused, why was she acting like this, she was going to blow his cover and he would never be able to rescue her.  Then she said something that he never would have expected.

 

"Frank Randall, I would like to introduce you to my husband James Fraser, Laird of Broch Tuarach Castle, and this is our son Fergus."

"Jamie, this is my ex husband Frank Randall, who apparently came two hundred years to track me down." Claire said with spite in her eyes. 

 

Now Frank was angry he yelled "You fucking whore, I knew you were having an affair.  That night when I saw this fucking bastard staring up into the window, watching you brush out your hair.  You ran away with him, you left me for a fucking barbarian. Fuck Claire ...

 

He didn't get to finish his sentence, James Fraser moved from his chair and around to stand next to him and had grabbed him by the throat and drug him to his feet before he knew what was happening. "Ye'll not speak to my wife that way." He roared "Ye'll talk to her wi' the respect she deserves or ye'll not speak at all.  Now sit down, shut yer gob and listen to what the lady has to say to ye." Jamie said as he placed Frank back in his chair, none to carefully.  He then walked back over to stand next to his wife. 

 

Stunned, Frank attempted to regain his composure "Fine I'll listen." he grumbled.

Just as everyone had quieted back down, Mary and two of the other servants were bring the food in.  Everyone stayed silent until the food was served, Jamie returned to his seat, but didn't let go of Claire's hand.  He knew she needed his support. "Fergus why don't ye take yer meal and go with Mary to join Murtagh in our room." 

 

"Oui Da, I shall like to visit my siblings, and Murtagh as well." Fergus said as he piled his plate with food then left the room. 

 

Claire waited until his footsteps faded away. "Now, if you are quite finished Frank, I will tell you what happened, but you will not interrupt me, you will wait till the end and if you have any questions you can ask them at that time.  Do you hear me Frank?" She asked in a clipped tone.   He nodded, so she continued.

"First off, no I never cheated on you.  You were the cheater in our marriage Frank, what was it 7 no 8 women during the war." Frank's eyes got big but he remained quiet. 

"I didn't meet Jamie during the war, I didn't meet him until I got here, in the 18th century.  I went back to that God forsaken hill to pick flowers, I asked you to go with me but your research was more important.  That was suppose to be our holiday Frank, a holiday to get to know one another again.  But day after day I sat bored while you holed up with Reverend Wakefield, researching your long dead ancestor.  An ancestor which by the way turned out to be a fucking monster.  Not only did Black Jack Randall attempt to rape me, but he raped my husband and my son.  You wasted a holiday meant for us on that monster."

Frank had the decency to look abashed, but remained silent.

"When I fell through those stone, Black Jack Randall was the first person I ran into, he looked just like you, or rather you look just like him.  So naturally I thought you were playing some sort of prank on me.  He quickly informed me of my mistake and tried to rape me, if it wasn't for the brave highlander Murtagh, that found and rescue me, he probably would have succeeded."

"Murtagh took me with him to a cabin, where I met a group of highlanders, Jamie included.  I fixed his dislocated arm and the men decided to take me with them.  They couldn't leave a lone woman to fend for herself when there were men like Black Jack Randall lurking about.  So they took me under their protection.  Colum MacKenzie offered me the position of healer at Castle Leoch, I'm sure you remember the place and the room you said the trolls were kept.  That room was my surgery and I was proud of it and what I accomplished there.  None of them held me back from doing what I love, unlike you Frank, you wanted me to stay home and be a wife and mother.  Jamie and the rest of the men here never tried to hold me back, they helped me to be more, gave me the means to do it too."

"I was at Leoch for several weeks, living by myself, in my own room and working as a healer for the castle inhabitants.  I was happy there, but still trying to plan my escape to return to you, you arrogant bastard."  Claire was breathing hard and yelling now, and getting worked up.

 

"Sassenach, ye need to calm down it's not good for the bairn." He whispered to her.

 

"Yes Jamie, thank you.  I need to stand up and walk for a bit to calm down, could you help me?"  she said

"We're not finished here Frank, I just need a minute, you stay right there, don't you move." she said as she pointed a finger in his direction.

 

Frank's eyes never left her, he watched as Fraser stood up and walked behind her to pull her chair back.  Then he walked around her and offered her both of his hands to stand.  Why did she need help to stand, had she been injured when she came through the stones, is that why she hadn't come back?  He wondered, but then he saw something unbelievable.  Claire took Fraser's hands and she slowly stood, once standing she released his hands, both of her hands coming down to cradle her large belly.  Christ she is already pregnant, he thought. 

 

Jamie noticed Frank watching Claire and saw in his face the precise moment he realized Claire was pregnant wi' his child. Jamie smirked in triumph.  He quickly brought his attention back to Claire, placed a hand on the small of her back and took her hand with his free one.  They slowly walked back and forth for a few minutes until her breathing came back to normal and she seemed calm enough to sit back down. He whispered in her ear as they walked "I dinna ken ye felt that way about the day we found ye or all that time at Leoch, did ye mean everything ye said, lass?"

 

Claire smiled and whispered back to Jamie "Yes my love I meant every word.  I may not have realized some of it at the time, but it's how I felt none the less."

Once seated Claire started back in on berating Frank. "Dougal, one of Jamie's uncle requested that I accompany him and his men to collect rents from the tenants.  He said it would be good to have a healer along, I saw it as an opportunity to get back to the stones, so I accepted.  It was while I was with the rent party that I fell into the hands of Black Jack Randall again.  He didn't try to rape me that time, probably to many people around for his liking, so he only beat me, punched me and kicked me in the stomach until I couldn't breath.  He said that if I was pregnant, he would make sure I wouldn't be after he was finished with me." she noticed Frank wince so she continued.

"Dougal got me out of there, but Randall demanded that I was to be delivered to Fort William in two days time for further interrogation.  But we all knew what he meant by that, rape and torture surely and he may even have killed me.  But Jamie rescued me, he offered to marry me, by marrying him, I would become a Scot, no longer required to heed the demands of Black Jack Randall"  Claire finished and waited for Frank's response, she didn't have to wait long.

 

"So you were forced to marry him, you had no choice.  I'm so sorry for everything I have said, Claire, look I know you're pregnant, but now we can go back together, we can raise this child together, as mine and yours." Frank begged.

 

Claire's eyes got huge, what the hell is he thinking, he can't be serious.  Claire looked at Jamie and could see the rage burning in his eyes, but his face was carefully masked, she realized he was waiting for her to respond to Frank's ridiculous request. 

"No Frank, you have got it all wrong.  Yes the marriage was arranged and it happened out of necessity, but I never would have married Jamie if I didn't already want to.  I loved him before that, I tried to fight it, tried to deny it to myself.  But the truth is I fell in love with Jamie, the first night at Leoch, when he cradled me in his arms, comforted me when I was mourning the loss of you.  I will not be going anywhere with you Frank, this child is mine and Jamie's just like the other two upstairs." Seeing his eyes widen at that revelation she went on "Yes, that's right Frank, Jamie and I have a family, counting this one that I am carrying, we have four children and plans for more.  I am staying right here with Jamie, with the only man I love, right were I belong."

Frank looked at her with anger in his eyes, anger at being rejected. 

 

"Don't look at me like that Frank, don't you even pretend that you don't have someone back in your own time.  I know you have moved on, you need to leave, you need to go back to your time, go back to her and forget about me.  I have already forgotten about you." Claire said as she turned to look into her husband's eyes.  Eyes that reflected pride, love and support. Then she turned back to Frank "Now if you can be a civil human being and watch your language and anger, I would like to introduce you to my children.  I can see that you don't believe me about them, but when you see them you will have no choice."

Claire felt Jamie squeeze her hand so she turned back to look at him again, his brow was furrowed. "Sassenach, I dinna want this man anywhere near our bairns." he whispered to her.

 

"I know Jamie, but he won't stop trying to convince me to leave with him until he sees the proof of our love.  I can see in his face that he isn't going to just let me reject him.  I am afraid we don't have another choice, I promise that it will be alright, love.  He will not touch the children, he will only see them." Claire assured him.  Then left the room to get Lieutenant Foster from her surgery.  When she got there she felt bad, but she had to ask him a favor "Jeremy, would you mind doing me a favor, I know that is not why you are here, but I need to have Murtagh and Mary bring the children down, my husband and I do not want to leave our guest alone in the dining room.  Would you mind going and fetching them back for me?"

 

"Of course, madam, you needn't worry yourself.  I will go fetch them now."  Jeremy replied then bowed and took his leave to fulfill her request. 

 

Claire returned to the dining room where Jamie and Frank sat quietly.  Jamie stood as she came in and moved to pull her chair out.  He noticed that Frank did not stand, so he scowled at him for his lack of respect of a lady entering the room.  Once Claire was seated, Jamie moved to return to his own seat.

 

"Lieutenant Foster went up to Fetch Murtagh and Mary, we should eat while we wait for them.  We both know we won't be able to eat once the children see us." Claire said as she winked at Jamie.

 

He gave her a sweet crooked smile in return, the sexy smile reserved just for her. "Aye, yer right Sassenach, if they are awake, we will not be doing much once they arrive." 

 

Frank looked away from their sickening display and filled his plate, he was starving after all.  Not to mention there was a lot of food on the table and his stomach had been protesting since it had been delivered.  He might as well take advantage and eat while he can, no telling when the next time will be if Fraser has anything to say about it.  And he might as well eat as much as he can, no telling when these so called children that they claimed to have would be arriving to disrupt the meal. 

 


 

Twenty minutes later they had finished their meal in silence and were awaiting the children.  Frank was beginning to think they had made the whole thing up to try and get him to just get up and leave.  But he wasn't willing to give up so easily, he would sit here and call their bluff. 

 

After another minute or so, footsteps could be heard coming in their direction.  Jamie stood and walked over to pull Claire's chair out and help her up.  He knew she would want to be standing before one of the bairns was put into her arms.  Fergus opened the door and Murtagh, Mary and Fergus walked in.  As soon as the children saw their parents they began calling for them. "Mama, Dada" "Dada, Mama"  Murtagh handed Alexander to Jamie and Mary brought Eilidh over to Claire.  Eilidh grabbed Claire's face, holding it still for her kiss "Mama mwa." she said, so Claire obliged her daughter.  Alexander wrapped his arms around Jamie's neck, laid his head on his shoulder for his hug and patted Jamie's chest with his little hand "Dada mmm"  Both children giving their customary greeting's to their beloved parents.

Claire turned to face Frank, keeping her distance by remaining on the other side of the table, next to Jamie. "Frank, these are our children, this here in my arms is mine and Jamie's daughter, Eilidh Julianna Elizabeth Fraser and in Jamie's arms is our son Alexander Henry Brian Beauchamp Fraser.  They were born on March 8th of this year, exactly 9 months after mine and Jamie's wedding.  Yes Frank, they are real and so is my love for Jamie, all of us are staying here, but you need to go back."

 

Frank was speechless, she was serious, she was a mother and she was happy with Fraser.  He couldn't believe he had wasted any time on coming back and trying to rescue her.  She never wanted rescuing and had just moved on and forgotten about him.  There was only one thing left to do, he had to go home.  He would go back to Sandy and ask her to marry him, she would say yes and he would forget he ever met Claire Beauchamp.  "Fine, I will go.  I have one question though."

 

"What is that Frank?" Claire asked as she swayed back and forth to keep Eilidh calm.

 

"What about your inheritance from Lamb?  If I am to move on, I don't want any reason to think about you, what do you wish me to do with it? He left you £575,000, plus what your parents left you and the life insurance. If I am correct in my calculations it would be about £900k sterling total.  Since you have a family, I thought perhaps you may want it or need it, I will never do anything with it and it may help you once the rising starts. 

If you could see fit to take me back to the stones, since I don't have a horse anymore, the least I could do would be to withdraw the funds from the bank, trade is for 18th century coins and gems, then bring it back to you.  I could do that before I move on and forget you forever."  Frank stated, hoping it would make up for the epic blunder he had made. 

 

"Aye, I think a ride to the stones can be arranged.  It will take about three weeks in this weather on horse back, Claire canna go, she is to far along in her pregnancy to risk such a journey.  It would be more than a month before we returned."  Jamie said trying to maintain his mask. 

He could hardly believe what he was hearing, he truly had married a Queen.  Claire had more money than he had ever dreamed of having, even in her own time she must be like royalty and she had chosen to leave it all behind and stay here with him, a criminal with not even a single coin to his name.  He truly was a luck man to be able to call her his. 

 

"No Jamie, I will need you here with me in case something goes wrong, Murtagh could take him. Couldn't you Murtagh?"  Claire asked hopefully. 

 

"Aye, Mistress.  I can take him, ye ken I would do anythin' for ye."  Murtagh answered. 

 

"Great, now that it is settled, we should make a plan.  Mrs. Graham said I wouldn't be able to return until Hogmany."  Frank said, feeling more in control of his situation. 

 

"Aye, so ye would need to leave in no more than four days time, looks like ye'll be staying here until it's time for ye to leave.  Claire will need her surgery back, I'll have Mary show ye to the servants quarters, there is a spare room ye can use until ye leave." 

 

Frank wasn't to happy about having to stay in the servants quarters, but he decided it was better than being kicked out in the cold.  He followed Mary through the large kitchen and through a door at the side.  She led him to a room that was only a bit smaller than Claire's surgery.  Frank was actually impressed, even though it was meant for a servant, the room was nicer than the one he had rented at Mrs. Baird's bed and breakfast.  

"Mr. Randall, there is a water closet across the hall there, second door on the right.  The servants quarters have two water closets that we share, we don't have one attached to each room like the Laird and Lady have for their family quarters.  But since there are only three of us, it is enough for us, the one on the left is for women, please don't use that one."  Mary said as she left him to get settled. 

 


 

As soon as Mary had led Frank away, Jamie turned to Claire "Sassenach, ye didna tell me ye were a Queen in yer time." 

 

She laughed "Oh, Jamie, you silly man.  It is a lot of money for a single woman with no ties in 1945, but it is not as much as you are thinking.  It will help out here and last much longer here than it would there.  We will have enough to take care of our tenants, we won't suffer after the rising and we will have something to leave the children after we have turned to dust."

 

"Still, ye could have told me, I dinna feel worthy of ye now." He said as he bowed his head.

 

Claire placed a finger under his chin and gently lifted his head so he would look into her eyes. "James Fraser, you are the only man that is worthy of me.  You love me, you protect me, you are loyal to me and you are the father of my children.  I still choose you, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.  Only you, for the rest of my life.  I love you, so stop this silly nonsense, do you hear me?"

 

He smiled at her "Aye, I hear ye.  You are the only one for me too and I will never let you go." He pulled her close with his free arm and placed a tender kiss on her temple.  "Now we have truly dealt wi' all of the ghost of our past.  Only one thing left to face, the aftermath of the battle of Cullodon Moor."

 

"Oh I don't think we will have to worry about that at least, there were special considerations to those that stayed loyal to King George.  You will never lose your tartan, though you will have to be careful about where you speak gàidhlig when you are not on our land and you won't have to face the clearances.  But we may have to put up with British soldiers camping on our land from time to time over the next 5 to 7 years or so."  She shrugged.

 

Jamie laughed and kissed the crown of her curls "Well then, I suppose we have nothing truly to fash over anymore, now do we?"

Chapter Text

Frank sat on his borrowed bed, with nothing but the clothes on his back. Everything he had brought with him through the stones at Craigh na Dun, had either been used or lost when his horse reared up and thrown him to the ground.

He had been sitting there for three hours according to his wristwatch and he was getting bored. He decided to take advantage of the fact that he was staying in a real 18th century living castle.

He was going to explore and see how people lived in this time, being a historian, he couldn't pass it up. Frank slipped his shoes back on, walked over to the door, unlocked it and pulled it open. He stepped out into the hall and was immediately halted in his steps, standing next to his door was the soldier that had been guarding the door of Claire's surgery. "So am I a prisoner here?"

"No Mr. Randall, you are not a prisoner, you are free to leave as you wish, but within the walls of Lallybroch Castle, you will have a guard." Jeremy replied

"Hmm, well then I suppose I need to talk to Mr. Fraser, please lead me to him." Frank said

 

Jeremy turned and led the way back to the main part of the house, they stopped in the kitchen so Jeremy could speak with Mary "Excuse me Mrs. MacNab, do you happen to know the whereabouts of Laird Broch Tuarach?" 

 

Mary stopped cutting the carrots she was preparing, wiped her hands on her apron and replied "Yes Lieutenant Foster, I believe the Laird is in his study.  I will show you to Himself."  

As they were walking through the castle toward Jamie's study, Jeremy asked Frank a question "Mr. Randall, I have been wanting to ask you since I first saw you, were you kin to the former Captain of Dragoon's, Johnathan Wolverton Randall?"

 

Startled at the question and the use of his true name he took a moment to think, but decided to answer truthfully.  The people here already knew of his true identity, there was no use in continuing with the deception. "Yes he was a distant relative, never met the man myself.  Why do you ask, did you know him?"  Frank saw Jeremy shudder at the question.

 

"Yes sir, I did know him.  I ask because you look so much like him, when I first saw you I would have thought you were him, had I not been part of the firing squad that performed his execution.  Truthfully you look so much alike, that you could be his twin." Jeremy replied.

"Pardon me for saying so sir, but for your sake as well as the Fraser family, I hope you are nothing like him.  That man had a devil in him, he was a monster to all those who knew him, save his younger brother Alex.  The Fraser's are good people and do not deserve trouble, I like to think they are my friends.  I will do anything in my power to protect them to my last breath, as I am sure many of the fellow soldiers within my regiment would do." 

 

Frank followed along without another word, he didn't know what to say to a soldier that may or may not have killed his ancestor.  An ancestor that up until last May he thought he descended from.  An ancestor who had been deemed a hero.

Before he knew it he was stopped in front of a large door, Lieutenant Foster standing next to him, and Mary knocking on the door.  Lost in thought he had forgotten to look around at his surroundings as they made their way to Fraser's study. 

 

Jamie looked up at the sound of knocking on the door, he put away the letter he had been working on, leaned back in his chair and said "Come in."

Mary cracked the door open just enough to poke her head in "My Laird, Mr. Randall is here to speak with ye, shall I show him in?"

 

Jamie sat up straigher, curious as to what Frank had to say, he nodded in affirmation and waved his hand as a gesture for Mary to lead the man in.  Mary opened the door further, then turned and spoke to Frank "Please go in, the Laird will see ye now."  Mary stepped out of the way to allow Frank to pass by her into the study. 

"Thank ye Mary, please go to the kitchen and get yerself and Lieutenant Foster some tea and bannocks.  I will walk Mr. Randall back to his room when we are finished here." Jamie said to her. 

 

"Yes my Laird, thank ye."  Mary said as she curtsied then closed the door as she left the room. 

 

Jamie turned his attention back to Frank who was standing just inside the door looking at him.  Jamie waved his hand "Have a seat Mr. Randall.  What is it ye wanted to talk wi' me about?" 

 

Frank took the seat he was offered "Actually I was wondering about something, I have been sitting in my room trying to think of a way to make my situation better.  I am stuck here for four days and I think it would be a waste of my time to just sit in that room as the days go by."

 

Jamie nodded "It is a right waste for a capable person to sit about not doing a thing to fill the time.  One could say it is enough to make ye feel like a prisoner.  The difference is, ye can leave here anytime ye please.  We are no keeping ye here against yer will, ye chose to come and we offered our hospitality to let ye stay, we dinna have to do that." 

 

"Of course, you are right about that, you didn't have to let me stay and I am grateful that you didn't turn me out into the cold.  Don't take what I said before the wrong way, I am not complaining in the least, I was sitting there and I realized I have a grand opportunity at my fingertips." Frank said with a bit of excitement in his voice.

 

Jamie sat up straighter, leaned his arms on his desks, hands held in tight fists "Ye are no taking Claire wi' ye, we have already settled this.  Yer going back on yer own without her." 

 

Frank's eyebrows rose and he belatedly realized how his choice of words had sounded "Oh, no that's not what I meant at all.  I will not bother her about it any further.  I will go back to my time and marry Sandy, the woman I left in Boston when I came back to find Claire. 

The opportunity I was talking about had to do with me being a historian.  You see, I study history and my area of expertise is the Jacobite rising of 1715 and 1745, as well as everything Scottish between those years and right after the battle of Cullodon.  I realize that battle hasn't happened yet, nor has any of the battles leading up to it."

 

"Frank yer making my heid hurt wi' all yer rambling, what are ye getting on about?"  Jamie said as he leaned back in his chair again.

 

Frank gathered his thoughts and tried again to articulate the question he wanted to ask Fraser. "The opportunity I am talking about is to take advantage of my time here and see history in the making.  I know it's only four days, but the people here, now, you are all history.  This castle is history, which by the way wasn't here when I went to visit Lallybroch in 1946 last May.  That is one thing that I want to ask you about, how could that be?"

 

"So the opportunity you see before ye is to learn about the time ye currently find yerself in, and to do that ye want to ask me questions, is that the gist of it?" Jamie asked, summing it up easily without all the needless drabble.

 

"Well most of it yes,  I was also hoping that I could perhaps get a tour of the castle and you could tell me about it.  I was unconscious when I was brought here, so I don't even know what the outside looks like or where we are in relation to the Lallybroch I visited in my time."

 

"No, I dinna think a tour of my home would be appropriate, ye'll see enough of it as ye move between the rooms for yer meals.  Ye can take a look outside if ye like, though one of the soldiers will be at yer side while yer on my land.  When ye take a look outside, ye'll be able to see where the castle is in relation to Lallybroch Manor, the original house.   I dinna see why I canna answer yer questions.  Will ye be needing a quill and paper to take notes?"  Jamie asked.

 

Frank was disappointed he wouldn't get a tour, but the information he would gain would be worth the missed opportunity. "Uh, I have never used a quill before, but I am willing to give it a try if you are willing to answer my questions."

 

"Fine, but dinna waste my paper, it's costly to replace and impossible to get in the winter months."  Jamie said as he reached into his right desk drawer and pulled out a sheaf of papers, a quill and an inkwell. Jamie passed the writing instruments across the desk toward Frank. "Dinna drip ink on my desk, this was my father's desk, I dinna want it ruined by carelessness."  Jamie said, intimidation dripping from every word he uttered. 

 

Frank swallowed audibly and nodded his head "Do you perhaps have something I could put down to protect the desk until I get the hang of it?" 

 

"No" Jamie stated simply, loving every minute of watching Frank squirm. 

Jamie decided to jump right in "Let's start with Lallybroch, shall we." Frank nodded, dipped his quill and waited for it to stop dripping then started to write.

"The house you visited in your time is the original Lallybroch, which we now call Lallybroch Manor.  My father, Brian Fraser built Lallybroch in 1712, the land it is built on was given to him by his father, Simon Fraser.  He was kent in yer history books as Lord Lovat or the old Fox.  We broke ground on June 15, 1744 of the Castle ye now find yerself sitting in.  It has taken the work of all my tenants, family and an entire regiment of British soldiers to get it where it is today. I dinna ken why it was not there in yer time, perhaps we had not broken ground to change our history yet in this time. 

Claire said ye were mumbling in yer sleep about yer family tree changing since ye first looked at it."

"Perhaps time isna linear after all and changes we make now, are not recognized in yer time until we make the change in this time.  But that is getting off my main subject.  You wanted to ken about this time, I have answered yer questions about Lallybroch, so what is yer next question?"  Jamie asked, smirking at the lost expression on Frank's face. 

 

"I remember reading about Red Jamie, about you.  You were one of Prince Charles most trusted advisers in the rising.  So my question is, why is there British soldiers here, in yer home?  Are you secretly a Jacobite?" Frank whispered.

 

Jamie chuckled, and realized that the path that Claire and he had taken the first time had already happened in her time, it had been written in history books before she was even born, she was always meant to come back and stay wi' him.  "No I am no a Jacobite, perhaps I might have been if I never met Claire and learned of the fate of the clans.  Claire told me what would happen at Cullodon and the doomed cause, about the clearances and the end of the highland culture.  So together we went to France where we kent Prince Charles to be and we infiltrated the Jacobites, I befriended him then sold all of his secrets to King Louis."

 

"Is that how you were able to pay for the cost of building this castle?"  Frank asked having completely forgotten about the quill and paper.

 

"No, I sold Charles' secrets to King Louis in return for obtaining a pardon.  I had a price on my head in Scotland and I needed to get a pardon to live as a free man."  Jamie answered

 

"Why did you have a price on your head?" Frank asked now totally immersed in the story.

 

"I was accused of a murder that I dinna commit.  A murder that yer ancestor Black Jack Randall was responsible for.  I'm sure ye found the petition of complaint against him. 

Claire and I became close friends wi' King Louis, I even have some letters from him in my desk here.  He wrote King George with the information I had gathered and sent it to him along with the petition of complaint." 

"King George granted my pardon and executed Randall.  He sent the soldiers here to protect my family from those Scots that now see me as a traitor and to insure that I do not join the rebellion.  Which I have no intention of doing, all I want, all Claire and I want is to stay here and raise our children together and live in peace.  Claire assures me that loyalists will not be punished, but we may have to house soldiers.  I am willing to do that to keep her and my children safe and all of us alive."

Jamie stood "I think that is enough for today, dinner will be ready soon and I need to go up and help Claire with the children.  Come, I will walk ye back to yer room, someone will fetch ye when dinner is ready."  opening the door, he ushered Frank out. 

Chapter Text

Jamie pulled the door to Randall's chamber closed and turned to address Jeremy. "Mr. Randall is not to leave his room again tonight."

"I shall ask the Colonel to send someone up to relieve you.  I would like you to join my family for dinner in the formal dining room tonight."

 

"Yes sir, thank you sir, it would be my honor." Jeremy replied with a bow.

 

After leaving Jeremy to stand guard, Jamie stopped in the kitchen to talk with Mary. "Mary, Mr. Randall is to have his dinner in his room tonight."

 

"Aye, my Laird, as ye say." Mary replied with a curtsy.

 

Jamie walked outside and over to the small temporary paddock, where he had Donas penned up.  He took his saddle out of the small shed, saddled Donas and rode to the military camp to talk with Hal.  

Jamie arrived to Hal's tent, dismounted Donas and walked up to the open tent flap.  Leaning his head in he announced himself "Colonel, tis James Fraser, may I come in?"

 

"Yes, of course, how are you Jamie?" Hal said as he moved his tricorn so Jamie could take a seat.

 

"Good, our patient has woken up.  Jeremy has done well guarding him, but I am afraid I was right not to trust him.  I would like to request two guards to be put on him round the clock until he leaves in a few days.  I hope that willna be a problem."  Jamie stated as he sat next to John who had stayed quiet, listening to the exchange. 

 

"I don't see why that would be a problem, since you wish him to be guarded around the clock we will have six soldiers on rotating shifts of 8 hours each." John said proudly.

 

"Aye, that should be fine.  I have also come to invite the both of ye to join Claire and I for dinner tonight.  I have invited Lieutenant Foster as well, in order to thank him for guarding my family against an unknown foe, these past days."  Jamie said.

 

"We would be happy to join you, we will ready ourselves and make our way to the castle momentarily." Hal said as all three men stood and bowed to each other. 

 

Jamie rode back to the castle, put Donas back in his paddock and headed into the kitchen. "Mary, we will have guests, Colonel Grey, Major Grey and Lieutenant Foster will be joining us dinner tonight, please have Joan set the table accordingly."  

 

Jamie left the kitchen and headed to the stairway that would lead him to his family.  As he approached the closed door of his bed chamber he heard Claire's voice, she was singing to the children, a song he had never heard before.  He silently opened the door, just enough to see Claire sitting in the chair between the twin's cradles.  Her eyes were closed, a reverent smile on her face as she rubbed the children's sleeping backs and sang the beautiful song. 

 

"Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

 

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

 

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

But baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

 

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

 

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

 

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Jamie stepped inside, walking over to stand behind Claire, he placed a hand on each of her shoulders, leaned down and whispered in her ear. "That was a lovely song mo nighean donn, if not a bit sad.  Are ye alright, are ye sad about something?"

 

Claire turned and smiled at him "No love, I'm not sad, it's just a lovely song.  I guess it is a bit sad, I never thought of it like that though.  I like how the melody calms me and it seems to put the children to sleep as well." 

 

"That line 'love is not a victory march, It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujahwhat does it mean?" Jamie asked.

 

Claire thought for a moment "Well I guess it could mean that love takes sacrifice, and it takes brokenness, humility as well as passion, romance, excitement, spontaneity and devotion.  It's not always blue skies and sunshine, some days we may have to face dark clouds and rain.  Some days we will fight, cry and endure sadness, other days will be the most wonderful days we could ever imagine."

 

"Aye, so real love is not effortless, but if it's true love, some days can feel like it is, is that what yer saying?" Jamie asked.

 

"Yes, I suppose that is what I'm saying.  But love shouldn't just be a fight either, that is what I had with Frank.  We had to fight everyday to make it work, there weren't any effortless days."

"What we have, is what you described, some days it feels like everything is right in the world without anyone having to lift a finger, other days it can seem like the world is trying to pull us apart.  What we have is true love, I hope you know that by now." Claire said.

 

"Aye, I do." Jamie said as he placed a soft kiss on her cheek. 

 

"Since ye brought up Frank, I must tell ye, Frank came to my study and started asking questions about Lallybroch and this time period." Jamie said

"He said it was for his history research, I dinna trust him, so I dinna tell him anything of importance.  Do ye think that is really why he was asking questions?"

 

"Perhaps, Frank is a historian and when he finds a historical anomaly that interests him, he is like a dog with a bone.  What I mean is that he isn't willing to give it up without a fight.  What kind of questions did he ask you?"  Claire looked at him, puzzled. 

 

"He asked when we built the castle, he said it wasna there when he visited Lallybroch in his time in May.  He said that he read about me, about me being a trusted adviser to Prince Charles and being called Red Jamie.  I told him about the price on my head, about going to France.  I referenced our past life when I told him about becoming friends with the Prince.  We have changed all that now, so his history books would not record anything from before we changed them.  I told him that time is not exactly linear and changes would only be seen there, after we made the changes here.  He looked quite confused, it made me wonder if everyone that canna travel has new memories.  If their memories were changed and they dinna remember things from before we changed them. If in their minds things like Lallybroch Castle have always been there."  

 

"It sounds to me like he is hoping to gain insight into the reality of this time, instead of learning from the romanticized versions that history has recorded.  I think he means to write a book and make money off of the knowledge he gains from talking to you.  I don't think it is an innocent request, he hasn't got an innocent bone in his body.  Please be careful with what you tell him, please Jamie, promise me."  Claire pleaded with him.

 

"Dinna fash Sassenach, I willna share anything of great importance wi' him.  I came to fetch ye for dinner, are ye ready to go eat mo chridhe?" Jamie asked as he offered his hand to help her rise.

 

"Yes I am, but I don't think I can sit in the same room as Frank, I'm not ready for another conversation with him." Claire said

 

"Aye, already taken care of, I asked Mary to serve him dinner in his chamber.  Do ye mind that I invited Jeremy, Hal and John to dine wi' us?" Jamie asked as he guided her out of the room and down the stairs.

 

"No, my love, I don't mind, it will be good to sit down and chat with everyone." Claire beamed up at him. 

 


 

Frank sat in his room, waiting to be escorted to dinner.  He couldn't help but think about everything Fraser and the Lieutenant had told him about Black Jack Randall.  History didn't tell the story of a monster, until after Claire had come back.  There was no denying that her presence here had changed how history saw his ancestor.  He certainly didn't turn into the monster they described after meeting her, people simply didn't change that much.  The petition of complaint stated that Johnathan had attempted to rape her on the day she came through the stones, he was already a monster when she met him.  He could see now, why a man with such hate in his heart had become known as the first war criminal.  Not that it was something to brag about and he certainly wouldn't add anything about him in his book.  

Then there was the matter of time itself, how could anyone wrap their mind around that.  Maybe Fraser is wrong and time is linear and this castle would no longer exist in 200 years.  He would have to make a point to drive back to Lallybroch once he returned to his own time.  Not only that, he would have to go back over all of his research from 1743 and forward.  How many things had already been changed due to Claire's existence in this time, for that matter had his existence alone been enough to change history?  

That thought gave him another idea, did he have the ability to consciously change history?  Could he perhaps not go back through the stones right away and maybe find General John Cope?  Could he warn him of what awaited him at Prestopans?  On the other hand could he meet with Prince Charles and warn him of what awaited his army at Cullodon, perhaps advise him of a better plan, before it even got to that point?

He was distracted from his thoughts by a soft knock on the door, he got up from his place on the bed and padded over to open the door. "Yes, what is it?" He said before he pulled the door open.

 

"Pardon the intrusion Mr. Randall, it is Mary, I have brought yer dinner, please open the door and I will bring it in."  Mary stated

 

Frank opened the door and stepped to the side to allow her entrance.  Mary set the tray of food on the little table in the corner.  "Why am I having dinner in my room, why am I not joining the Frasers?" Frank asked annoyed.

 

"I dinna ken Mr. Randall, perhaps it is due to the Colonel and the other British officers joining them for dinner this evening.  Laird Broch Tuarach ordered ye to have yer dinner delivered to yer room, I only do as he asks.  Perhaps Private Lindsey or Private Prescott, yer new guards could answer yer question.  Enjoy yer meal, please let one of the soldiers ken when ye are finished, so I may remove yer dishes."  

 

Frank looked outside the door to see a guard standing on each side of the doorway, then turned around to Mary "Why do I now have two guards, was one not enough?" 

 

"I dinna ken that either Mr. Randall, ye must ask Laird Broch Tuarach, he is the one who requested it."  Mary said as she moved past him to leave the room.

 

"Of course he requested two guards." Frank grumbled as he closed the door harder than necessary. 

Chapter Text

After finishing their dinner and kissing Claire as she went upstairs to join the children, Jamie had offered John a game of chess.

Having lost yet again to Jamie, John decided to call it a night.  "Jamie, after all of these months of losing to you, a man should learn his lesson not to take you up on yet another game."

 

They all laughed as the four men made their way through the kitchen, toward the back door where their horses were tied up just outside. 

 

"If ye dinna play, ye willna ever have a chance to win." Jamie replied.

 

"Yes, you are right on that account, I suppose I will just have to keep playing against you, until the day comes that I finally beat you.  Although it does give me something to look forward to after putting the men through their paces all day."  John said wistfully. 

 

Jamie turned to Hal "Hal, speaking of the men, I meant to ask ye, do ye think ye can spare four soldiers to accompany Murtagh to deliver our guest to Craigh na Dun, when it comes time for him to leave?"  

 

"I take it you are worried the scoundrel will try to slip away from your man." Hal said.

 

"Aye, I am, I dinna trust the man.  I would prefer to have a few men there to watch Murtagh's back.  Wi' Claire being so far along in her pregnancy, I canna risk leaving her side.  Three bairns under one, would be to much for her to handle without me, even wi' the help of the servants."  Jamie admitted

 

"I understand your misgivings, I think we can arrange to part with four of the men for a short while.  When do you think they will be leaving?" Hal asked as he opened the door to step outside.

 

Jamie followed the others outside, looked up at the sky and answered Hal "Well I was originally planning on having them leave in four days time, but with this snow coming down, they will need to leave as soon as we can gather supplies in the morning.  It may be late January by the time they return, can ye still offer the men as guards for the journey?"  

 

"I will send four of my most loyal men on horses with supplies at day break, they will do what ever Murtagh asks of them."  Hal said. 

 

"Thank ye Hal, I appreciate everything ye have done for me, for my family.  I dinna ken how I will ever repay ye." Jamie said

 

"Don't worry about it, I swore to protect you and your family, Murtagh is your family.  I would not be fulfilling my duties if I let him go out on his own with this stranger."  Hal replied. 

 

"Thank ye again, goodnight gentlemen." Jamie said as he turned, walked back inside and closed the door.

Jamie decided to go tell Frank of his imminent departure before he went up to join Claire in bed.  He made his way through the kitchen and down the passage toward the servants quarters.  

 

Frank heard footsteps coming toward his door, so he opened it before the person on the other side had a chance to knock.  "Fraser, what are you doing here so late, is there a problem?" Frank asked sarcastically. 

 

"No Frank, not a problem, but ye will be leaving sooner than we thought.  The weather has changed which will put ye behind schedule if ye wait four more days before ye leave.  Ye will be leaving wi' Murtagh in the morning.  I dinna ken if ye have experience on a horse or no, so ye'll ride Claire's horse Eclipse.  She is gentle and will follow Donas anywhere, he's my horse, but I'll allow Murtagh to take him on the journey to Craigh na Dun.  Those two horses are inseparable, so ye willna have to fash about getting lost, Eclipse will follow Donas without ye having to instruct her to do so." 

"I'll talk wi' Mary, Joan and Isabel tonight and have them prepare provisions that can be packed in the saddles bags at first light.  I'll come to wake ye in the morning so ye can wash and prepare yerself for the journey.  Murtagh will camp at the base of Craigh na Dun for two days after ye go through.  There is a cabin there, he will wait for ye to return wi' the items ye promised Claire, then he will see ye safely back through the stones."  Jamie informed him then turned to walk away "Goodnight Mr. Randall, get some sleep, yer going to need it."

 

Frank closed the door and walked back over and flopped down on the bed and mumbled to himself. "Well there goes my chance at getting information for my book or making any notable changes to history."  He thought for a few minutes more then was struck with another idea.  "Hmm, actually perhaps not, maybe Murtagh would be willing to answer questions during our journey, we will be spending over three weeks together, surely that is enough time to learn enough to write a book."  Frank mused, then laid back to go to sleep, it would be an early morning indeed. 

 

Jamie quickly made his way upstairs to tell Claire of their good fortune.  He reached the top floor, walking down the hall toward their chamber, he approached the door slowly.  He listened for any sounds that would indicate the children were still awake.  The closer he got, the clearer their voices rang through the closed door.  He quietly reached out and opened the door, moving slowly so he didn't interrupt their game of peek-a-boo.  But as soon as he closed the door and turned around to face his family, the twins noticed him and together happily yelled out "Dada"  and crawled toward him. 

Huge grin stretched across his face at the welcome his children offered him, he would never tire of that.  He knelt down and scooped them both up into his arms for a warm hug.  Both children laid their heads against his chest, facing way from each other.  Creating the perfect place for Jamie to nuzzle his nose between them and inhale their fresh baby scent. 

 

Claire was sitting back watch the whole exchange between her husband and children, with a sweet smile on her face. "What has put you in such a great mood, my love? she asked. 

 

Jamie lifted his head up to look at her and replied "I have amazing news, it started snowing while I was playing chess with John."  Jamie grinned.

 

Claire tilted her head to the side, as if to determine the meaning of his words "And why, may I ask would you think that a snow storm is good news?" she asked as she crossed her arms over her chest and waited for him to enlighten her.

 

Jamie set the children down, walked over and lowered himself to sit next to her on the floor "A snowstorm is good news, Sassenach, because it means Frank is leaving in the morning.  If he waits any longer to leave, he likely willna make it to the stones while he can still travel."  he said with a smirk the wrapped his arm around her should and drew her close, placing a soft kiss at her temple. 

 

She leaned into him and sighed in understanding "Awe, that is good news, it also means we don't have to endure our unwelcome house guest for another four days.  Good, I'm getting a bit tired of hiding out in my own home.  I know that is irrational, that I likely wouldn't see him roaming about anyway, but it's the chance of running into him that has me hiding up here with the children."

 

"Nah, ye dinna have to hide, by understand why ye feel ye must, it will be good for things to get back to the way they should be."  Jamie said

 

"Yes it will, and we still have Yule Tide and Hogmany to plan for.  I am so glad that you are going to be here for that, for the children's first holidays.  I don't think I could do it if you were gone, no matter what the reason."  Claire said as she turned her face up and kissed him behind his earlobe.  "All of our tenants and family will be here to celebrate the first Hogmany at Lallybroch castle, it's simply to much for me to handle without you by my side, through it all."

 

"Aye, I ken Sassenach, I am glad of it as well.  But even if I had been gone, Jenny would be here to help ye wi' it, and the two of ye could handle it, I'm sure of it."  He said to her with a gentle squeeze to her shoulder. 

They sat quietly for a bit, watching the children play with their blocks, then Claire sat up suddenly, her eyes as round as saucers. "Jamie, I just thought of something, when I came through the stones the first time, I was wearing a wristwatch with jewels. The jewels were gone when I woke up."

 

"Aye, the amethyst was gone from my father's ring after I went through the stones.  Yer thinking that Randall's plan of purchasing gems in yer time and bringing them back willna work.  What should we have him purchase that could make it through, if not gems?" 

 

Claire looked down at her the silver ring which Jamie had placed on her left hand on their wedding day.  Frank's gold ring had been in it's place before she removed it and entrusted it to Jamie.  She looked up, wide eyed at Jamie and whispered "Gold, he can buy gold.  Frank's ring was gold, it made it through the stones without even a scratch, you must tell him before he leaves in the morning."  

 

"Aye, I'll tell him, but dinna get yer hopes up, he may going back and decide to keep yer money.  I'll be glad just to get him out of our home and back to his own time.   It would be nice to have yer money, should our circumstances change, but we dinna need it.  We have enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives already."

 

"I know you're right, of course, but it's not that really.  I don't want him to buy gems and have them all just burn up. I am also worried about the possibility of so many gems going through at one time, causing a cataclysmic event.  I just have a feeling that it would be really bad to try and bring more than a few through at a time, even if they could make it through intact." Claire exhaled

 

"Aye, that makes sense, I will tell him of the dangers and make sure he understands how serious it is." Jamie said as he stroked her hair, calming her worries instantly.

 


 

Frank laid in his bed, unable to quiet his mind.  Here he was a historian who had gotten the opportunity of a lifetime, traveling back in time wasn't something that many people could say that had accomplished.  Yet here he was, in the 18th century and he would be returning to his own time in less than a month with nothing to show for his time here.  What a disappointing waste of time this whole venture had been, what the hell would he tell Sandy when he returned.  Surely she would want to hear about his research, but he had nothing he could tell her that could explain his strange circumstances.   

If he told anyone what had happened to him over the past month, they would lock him in a sanitarium.  It was time to come up with a plan for when he returned, he couldn't just walk away after everything he had learned.  He may need to stay in Scotland a little while longer and research Lallybroch and the Fraser family.   

Before Frank knew it, several hours had gone by and he couldn't seem to find rest.  He picked up his candle and silently moved to the door of his room and slowly pulled the door open and peeked out.  Suddenly he was startled by the voice in the dark, he jumped at the sound of it. 

 

"Is there something you need Mr. Randall?" one of the soldiers said, he wasn't sure if it was the one called Lindsey or maybe it was Prescott, it didn't matter to him. No need to remember their names since he would be leaving this dreadful place in a few hours. 

 

"Yes, actually I need to use the water closet, I was hoping to get washed up before Mr. Fraser returned to fetch me in the morning.  Am I allowed to go alone or do one of you need to follow me in?"  Frank said with maybe a bit to much sarcasm for the situation he currently found himself in. 

 

"We can see the door from our posts here, please do as ye need, but do not tarry to long." the soldier on his left said.

 

Frank nodded as he walked out of his room, turned left and took the two strides down the hall to reach the door to the water closet.  Once inside he was surprised to see the setup of the room was actually quite modern for the time period.  He briefly wondered if Claire had something to do with that.  He quickly stripped off his clothes and took his time washing every bit of his body.  He hadn't had a proper bath since he came through the stones and to remove the layers of dirt from his skin felt incredible. 

When he was finished he picked up his dirty clothes he had bought in the costume shop in Inverness and shuddered at the thought of putting the filthy garments back on his clean skin.  But with no other clothing to change into, he was left with no other option.   He quickly redressed and made his way back to his room to await the knock that would signal his return to civilization. 

Chapter Text

With the provisions packed into the saddle bags, Jamie and Murtagh finished saddling the horses and strapping the bags onto each of them.  

The servants had prepared dried goods that would keep for weeks on the journey.  Murtagh would hunt for meat or fish to help make their food supply last.

He would ride down to Inverness and replenish his supplies, before he returned to the farm.

The four soldiers had arrived just before daybreak.  Joan, Isabel and Mary had prepared a big breakfast for the men to enjoy before they left for the long journey ahead of them.

The men finished readying their horses so Jamie invited them in to eat.  "Gentlemen come in, have some breakfast before he leave, eat as much as he like, we have plenty."

"I'll return in a moment to join ye, I just need to fetch Mr. Randall." 

 

Frank was sitting at the small table in the corner, staring out the small window, watching the snow slowly call to the ground. The knock on his door startled him out of his reverie.

He took a breath to prepare himself, looked over the room to be sure he wasn't leaving anything behind, then berated himself for that idiotic notion.  He had nothing here to leave behind, except his wife, who was no longer his.

He made the four strides it took to reach the door, took another breath to calm himself and opened the door to face his nemesis.

 

Jamie stood in the hallway outside of Frank's room, He had already dismissed the soldiers who had guarded him during the night. They would join the other men for breakfast before heading back to the military camp across the creek.

Jamie was just about to knock again when the door opened to a defeated looking Frank Randall. "Mr. Randall, Joan has prepared a large breakfast, come and eat before ye embark on her journey."

Frank nodded, so Jamie turned and led the way to the formal dining room. 

 

When they walked into the dining room Frank noticed four soldiers as well as his two guards from the night before and a Scot who must be Murtagh, sitting at the table having breakfast.

He walked over and took the seat where and empty setting was arranged.  Fraser sat at the head of the table next to the Scot.  He briefly wondered if Claire would we joining them before Fraser interrupted his thought. 

Mr. Randall I'll take a moment to introduce ye to everyone. Ye ken her guards from last night Private Prescott and Private Lindsey, this here is my godfather, Murtagh Fitzgibbons." Jamie said as he rested a hand on Murtagh's shoulder. Then he motioned to each soldier as he gave their name. "To yer left is Private Barclay, next to him Is Lieutenant Hadleigh.  Across from Lieutenant Hadleigh is Private Middleton and to his left is Lieutenant Acker." Frank politely nodded to each man as he selected food to put on his plate.

 

Frank do finished loading his plate, spread his napkin over his lap and looked at Fraser "Do you have soldiers for breakfast every morning?"

 

"Och, nah. Claire and I thought it would be a nice gesture before everyone set on her journey. Ye'll want to ride as far as he can before yer forced to stop to eat." Jamie said as he opened his own napkin and settled it over his thighs.

 

Frank looked up, his mouth full and his brow raised in question. "Everyone is going?"

 

"Nah, not everyone, Private Lindsey and Private Prescott will be returning to the military camp after breakfast, the others will be joining ye and Murtagh on yer journey to Craigh na Dun." Jamie replied as he lifted his fork and began to eat.

 

Disappointed in another blow to his pride, Frank focused on eating his breakfast.  There was no doubt in his mind that he didn't belong in this century, it was time to go home and get away from everyone here, everyone that made him feel like an insignificant pest.  

 

There was still plenty of food left on the table after everyone had eaten, Jamie would have Claire and the children come down to breakfast after the men had already gone.  Everyone stood from the table and started to make their way out of the dining room.  "Frank, I would like to have a word wi' ye before ye head out to the paddock. Follow me to my study if ye please."  Jamie said as he waited for the rest of the soldiers to leave the room. 

 

Frank didn't reply but silently waited for Fraser to lead the way.  He followed behind him through the house, looking around and taking in his surroundings.  He certainly wouldn't miss this place, but he wanted to see how things would change once he came back here after traveling through the stones.  Fraser opened the door to his study and ushered him inside.

"What did you have to say to me Mr. Fraser?" Frank asked. 

 

Jamie walked over to a trunk that sat near the large window looking out over the loch behind the castle.  He opened the lid and pulled out a navy blue cloak and handed it to Frank.  "Ye dinna have a cloak when ye were brought in from the cold, ye can have this one.  Tis heavy wool, it will keep ye warm and dry.  But that is not all, Claire and I were talking last night and she thought of something she would like me to tell ye before ye leave."

 

"Why doesn't she tell me herself, is she afraid that if she faces me that she will change her mind and come back with me?"  Frank asked.

 

Jamie clenched his fists, Frank was wrong, but that didn't change the fact that the thought of what he had suggested, was painful. "No, she has made her choice, I have tried to send her back three times, each time she chose to stay wi' me, she chose me.   I'm sure ye have noticed that Claire is pregnant, she is seven months along now and it is hard for her to go up and down the stairs.  I dinna have to explain this to ye, but since ye asked I'll tell ye, the Laird's chamber is on the sixth floor of the castle and it takes to much out of her to come down if she will not be spending the whole day down here."

"Now if ye are ready to set yer hurt pride aside for a moment, I'll tell ye what she asked me to pass on." Frank looked sorrowful and nodded for Jamie to continue. "Ye had mentioned trading her inheritance for gems and coin, but Claire doesna think it will work.  She says that gems are what is needed to pass through the stones and will burn up as ye pass through."  

 

"Yes, I used a gem when I came to find her." Frank said

 

"Do you need one to make the return trip?"  Jamie asked, worried

 

"Yes, I bought one when I went to Inverness and bought that traitorous horse.  It's here in my pants pocket." He said as he patted said pocket.

"I guess that makes sense that they might burn up, but certainly not all of them." 

 

"Claire says that the stones are for guiding the traveler to a specific time, she is worried that ye will spend all the money to buy them and none of them will make it.  But what has her worried more is the possibility of traveling with so many, she thinks it may cause a cataclysmic event and alter time itself.  She said when she traveled that she could hear screams inside the stones, screams of trapped souls.  She is worried that if ye try to pass through wi' more than one, that ye will become another one of those trapped souls."  Jamie said

 

"Well while I am surprised she is worried about me, I certainly don't want to be stuck.  What does she suggest that I do then, I certainly won't be able to find enough 18th century coins to purchase by the time I need to return?"  Frank asked exasperated. 

 

"She says gold can travel through the stones unharmed.  Her gold ring that ye gave her came through and it looks like yers did as well." Jamie said as he pointed to Frank's crossed arms, where his ring reflected the light spilling in through the window. 

 

Frank looked down at his ring and quickly shoved his hands in his pockets.  "Fine, I'll buy gold and bring it back through, that should be easier than finding coins anyway.  Is that all or did you want to say something else?" He asked as he looked up at Fraser. 

 

"I dinna have anything else, come I'll introduce ye to Eclipse." Jamie said as he ushered Frank out the door. 

 


 

With Frank gone and no more soldiers in the house, Jamie decided it was time to go down the hill to Lallybroch Manor and retrieve the rest of the items from the hidden attic.  Since it was snowing today and no one was likely to be doing much outside, he decided that he would ask Jenny if she was ready to look for the other secret rooms.   Before he left, he would need to let Claire know where he would be, should she need him.  He climbed the stairs to their chamber, opened the door and walked inside to see her sitting on the floor next to Fergus, playing with the children. 

"Sassenach, Frank left wi' the soldiers about ten minutes ago." Jamie informed her.

 

"Thank God, I am so relieved he has left.  I really didn't want to face him again, I can't thank you enough for dealing with him and handling him.  It was wrong of me to put all of that on you, I do apologize for it."  Claire said

 

"Och, mo ghráidh, dinna fash yerself over it.  Ye ken I would do anything for ye, and if I could do even a bit to keep the man from ye, I would do it." Jamie replied as he walked over to her and offered her his hands to help her stand. 

 

Claire took his hands and carefully came to stand, she leaned into his chest as she wrapped her arms around his waist. "Well, thank you none the less, I do appreciate everything you do for me.  I have no idea what I would ever do without you.  I'm lucky to be here with you." 

 

Jamie placed a kiss on the crown of her head and pulled her tighter into his arms "There is still some breakfast left, if yer ready to go down and eat."

 

"Oh, yes, I'm famished.  I just didn't want to go downstairs while them men were still here.  Fergus are you ready for breakfast?"  she said.

 

"Oui Mama, I'm starving." Fergus as he stood and came to stand next to them.

 

"Well then, pick up Eilidh, ye can carry her down.  I'll carry Alexander down and help yer mam."  Jamie told him as let go of Claire and bent down to pick up Alexander, who upon hearing his name had crawled over and pulled himself up by Jamie's kilt.

 

Jamie held Alexander in his right arm, his little arms were wrapped tightly around his Da's neck and his little fists tangled in Jamie's auburn curls. Claire held onto Jamies left arm as they carefully made their way down the stairs, with Fergus slowly following after them, using both arms to carefully hold his sister against he chest as she squirmed to get down. 

When they finally reached the bottom of the stairs and made their way into the dining room, Jamie told Claire about his plan's for the morning. "I'm going to go down to the manor house and fetch back everything from the attic.  But while I am there I'm going to see if Jenny is ready to look for the other secret rooms, I'm curious to ken how to get into them and what they may contain within."

"I dinna want ye to try and go back upstairs while I am gone, if ye need to rest, go lie down on the settee in my study." Jamie said as he pulled her chair out and helped her to sit down."

 

"Yes my love, I will be careful.  Fergus will be with me, as will Mary, Joan and Isabel, if anything happens I will send Fergus to fetch you back." she said as tipped her chin up for a kiss. 

 

Jamie leaned down and gave her chaste kiss. "Sassenach, eat and dinna do anything to strenuous.  I shall return by noon to join ye for our meal." he leaned down and gave her another kiss.  I'll go fetch Mary to watch the twins till ye are finished. 

Chapter Text

Since Murtagh had taken Donas and Frank had borrowed Eclipse, Jamie was forced to walk through the building snow down to the manor house.  On a summer day the walk would take a mere fifteen minutes, but in the blowing snow and slick muddy ground, it took Jamie half an hour before he arrived at the back door of the old house.  He had planned to go to the stables first and hitch up a horse to the wagon, but since the snow had begun to fall again, he needed to go inside and warm up first.  Besides that, there was no point in hitching the horse up and making it stand outside in this storm, until he was prepared to load the wagon and make the trip back to the castle. 

Jamie opened the door and was hit with a warm welcoming rush of air, smelling of Jenny's rabbit stew.  He walked into the kitchen, stomping the mud and snow off his boots, then removing them to keep from tracking any remaining mud through Jenny's house.  He could hear Ian's baritone voice drifting to the door where he stood, from the kitchen.  It sounded as though Ian was reading Robinson Crusoe to wee Jamie, he must be in the middle of his literature lessons.  Jamie would start Alexander and Eilidh on their own schooling after their birthday.  They wouldn't be able to respond to him clearly, but he knew how important educations was to build a strong mind.  He intended for his children to get an early start and have every advantage available to them.

Jamie shook the snow off his coat before removing it to hang it on the hook by the door, so perhaps it could begin to dry.  When he walked into the kitchen he encountered Jenny at the counter, cutting up wild onions and placing them in the pot over the hearth fire.  She looked up when she heard his approach. "Jamie, what in the devil are ye doing out in a storm like this?  Yer soaking wet, did ye walk all the way here?  Did ye leave Claire alone up there in that big house?  Wait, is it the bairn, is something wrong?" Jenny asked the questions in rapid fire succession. 

 

Jamie laughed at the quick pace of his sisters ever analyzing mind "Nah Jenny it's not the bairn.  No I didna leave her alone, she has Fergus and the servants wi' her.  Yes I walked all the way down here.  I'm out in the storm, because I thought now would be a good time to fetch the trunks from the secret attice.  Now do ye have any other questions for me, before I ask ye my question?" he said with a smirk.

 

"Aye, why did ye walk down instead of riding that devil horse of yers?" she asked with her right brow raised and her hands placed on her hips. 

 

"Murtagh borrowed Donas, I didna have a choice but to walk." He said

 

"Fine, then why did ye no ride Claire's horse Eclipse?" she asked becoming annoyed.

 

Jamie recognized the expression on her face as one of his own when he was losing patience. "Murtagh took Eclipse wi' him.  He'll not be back for six or seven weeks,  he had to make an unplanned trip to Inverness.

 

"An unplanned trip ye say, what was so important that couldna wait till spring, why did he need to go now?" Jenny asked

 

Jamie realized that she was not going to let this go easily and if she asked Claire about it, she would ken they were hiding something.  "The patrols found a man on the road about a week ago, he was unconscious when they found him.  The men brought him to Claire to care for, when they brought him to the house, Claire recognized the man."

 

"I dinna ken what any of this has to do wi' Murtagh, but ye better get to yer point soon brother, I'm beginning to lose my patience wi' ye.  Who was this man that Claire recognized, then?" Jenny said as she picked up her knife and began cutting up carrots to add to the stew.

 

"Ye remember when we came back from France and Claire told ye about where and when she was from, the man was from her time.  He was her first husband, Frank Randall." Jamie said and watched as Jenny froze and her eyes grew wide.

 

Jenny set the knife back on the counter "Her first husband, ye say?  That canna have gone over so well.  Still, what has any of this to do wi' Murtagh taking a last minute trip all the way to Inverness in the middle of a blasted snow storm."

 

"I'm gettin' to that Jenny, hold yer tongue and I'll tell ye." Jamie said, irritated with his sister's impatience. 

 

"Fine, get on wi' the tellin' of it then, as ye can clearly see, I've things to do, I dinna have all day to listen to yer stories." she said as she picked up her knife and went back to slicing.

 

"Frank was onconscious for four days after the soldiers brought him to the surgery.  He finally woke yesterday, and after an oral examination over dinner, Claire deemed him fit to travel.  Murtagh left this morning to return him to Craigh na Dun, he rode Murtagh and Frank rode Eclipse.  I dinna trust the man and I ken that Eclipse will stay wi' Murtagh and Donas, not allowing the man to venture off on his own path.  I did everything in my power to guarantee he goes back through those God forsaken stones without causing trouble here first."  Jamie finished.

 

"Ye mean to tell me, ye sent Murtagh to see to the scoundrel alone?  How is the man to get any rest if he is to constantly be on guard for fear of the lout escaping?" Jenny asked exasperated as she chopped the carrots with more force the strictly required. 

 

Jamie scoffed "Do ye take me for a fool, Jenny?  I have more smarts in my heid than to do a foolish thing like that.  I asked Colonel Grey if he could spare some men to accompany Murtagh on the journey.  He sent four of his best men, men I ken I can trust, men who have dined wi' us several times and will do as Murtagh asks.  I sent five men to be sure that Frank does as I wish and doesna slip through Murtagh's grasp unawares." 

 

"I trust yer judgement brother, I ken ye probably did the best thing in the strange situation ye found yerself in.  Now what of this question ye had for me, what is it?" Jenny asked as she finished with the carrots and slowly added them to the steaming pot. 

 

"Awe, well as I said I came to fetch the trunks from the secret attic.  I wanted to ask ye, since I'm here for a bit and there isna anyone to bother us, do ye want to see if we can find our way into those secret rooms that were on the building plans we found?" He looked at her sheepishly.  This was now entirely her house and it was up to her if she wanted him poking around inside of it. 

 

"Aye, today is a good day for such a thing.  Ye can go fetch the trunks down and by the time ye get them all down, I should be finished preparing our dinner.  Do ye remember where the rooms were located on yer map?"  she asked as she looked at him expectantly.

 

"Aye, I do, but I brought it wi' me so we could take another look at it together." Jamie said as he pulled the building plan from his sporan and held it out to her.

 

Jenny wiped her hands on her apron and reached out to take the plans from Jamie.  She looked the plans over for a moment then handed it back to him. "It looks like the secret rooms are all attached to the bed chambers.  Go on wi' ye now, let me finish here, I'll come find ye when I'm finished."

 


 

Jamie finished bringing the last of the trunks into the hall near the front door, just as Jenny rounded the corner, coming from the kitchen. "Are ye ready then, brother?" she asked

 

Jamie set the last trunk down and stood up, looking at her "Aye, mo phiuthar, let's go find those rooms and see what other treasures might be hidden inside."

 

"We shall start in the two guest rooms, then the nursery and end in the Laird's room." she said as she climbed the stairs in front of him.

 

Once they made it to the second floor and made their way into the first guest room, they pulled out the building plans and turned them until they lined up with the layout of the room.  Jenny determined that the hidden room was on the other side of the wall where the large oak wardrobe stood.  Nothing had changed in any room of the house since they were children.  All the furniture had always sat in the same place.  "I think the door is behind the wardrobe, we will need to move it out of the way.  I'll go down and fetch Ian to help ye move it." she said

 

"No need to get Ian, if ye can just help me push it, I think we can get it together." Jamie said as he got in position to begin pushing the heavy wardrobe out of the way.

 

"Nah, brother I canna help ye do such a thing, I'll go fetch Ian." she replied as she began to move toward the door.

 

Jamie sensed something in the way she replied to him, which made him stop what he was doing and really take a look at her. "Jenny, why can ye no help me, are ye ill?"

 

Jenny laughed "I'm no ill brother, only wi' child, now if yer done wi' yer questions, I'll go fetch Ian up to help ye."

 

Jamie grinned at the news. "Jenny, wait.  How far gone are ye then?" He asked as he walked over to her and pulled her into a warm embrace.

 

Jenny hugged him around the waist "Aye, I must be about nigh on three months now, the bairn should be comin' some time in May.  But dinna tell Claire, I want to be the one to tell her."

 

"Aye, I willna spoil yer surprise, congratulations, tis good news indeed.  Alright, get yer arse downstairs and fetch up that useless husband of yers." Jamie said as he kissed her on the crown of her head and let her go.  He walked back over to the wardrobe as she left to fetch Ian. 

 

A few minutes later Ian walked in, prepared to help move the wardrobe.  They both stood on the same side and pushed together. "Alright, on the count of three, ready one ... two ... three ... grrrr."  They pushed with all their might, the wardrobe stood solid at first, then with another heave it began to move.  They pushed it far enough out of the way for a man to fit behind it.  "Ian look, Jenny was right.  There is a small door right there.  I'll go get Jenny, she will want to see this." Jamie said before he left the room and raced down the stairs.  

"Jenny, leave Mrs. Crook to tend the bairns, come up, ye must see what we've found." Jamie said as he turned and bounded back up the stairs. 

 

Jamie made it back upstairs and into the room within moments, but both of the men wanted to wait for Jenny before they opened the door to reveal what was hidden behind it.   They didn't have to wait long, Jenny came into the room a few minutes later, excited to see if they had found one of the secret rooms.  "Well dinna just stand there, show me what ye have found." she said.

 

"We wanted ye to be the one to open the door, it's just there." Jamie said as he pointed to the small door.

 

Jenny looked up at him, he gave her a slight nod, which was enough for her to move to the door. She knelt down, placed two fingers in the small holes and pulled.  It had likely been since before they were born that the door had been open and it took a bit of effort for it to release it's holds on the surrounding wood.  Once the the door release it's grip, the panel easily pulled loose.  Jenny set it aside and peered into the darkness, but with no windows in the small room, it was impossible to see anything.  She turned and looked at Jamie and Ian "Hand me a candle, I canna see a thing." 

Ian fetched the candle from the window, took it to the hearth to light it, returned to Jenny's side and carefully passed it to her. "Here ye are mo nighean dubh." he said.

 

She took the candle and turned back toward the opening of the room.  She leaned inside and placed the candle on the floor as she crawled inside.  Jamie and Ian waited for her to go completely in, but waited for her to say something before they attempted to go in after her.

 

"Tis a small room, a few bairns could fit in here, but no much more, poke yer heads in and see for yerself." she said as she pulled her feet in and out of their way.

 

Jamie and Ian both got down on their knees and leaned their heads into the small passageway.  Inside the secret room was a small pallet, setup as a bed against the far wall and a basket with children's toys.  There was a small stack of quilts in the corner, but the room contained nothing else.  They both back out and made room for Jenny to come back out. "What do ye think it's for brother?" Jenny asked him after she had crawled out and came back to her feet.

 

"Well, actually it reminds me of the priests hole.  I think Da built it as a wee hiding place for us bairns.  The first rising was only three years after he finished the house, he must have thought that we may one day need to hide.  Let's go find the other secret rooms and see what secrets they hide."  Jamie said as he replaced the panel.  Ian helped Jamie to move the wardrobe back to it's original place, then the three of them went to the next room.

According to the building plans, the second secret room was also hidden behind the wardrobe.  They moved it out of the way and found a similar panel hiding behind it.  This panel was a bit larger, so Jamie removed it this time.   The second secret room was similar to the first, it was a bit larger and contained some books instead of toys.  Jamie decided to take the books out so they could get a closer look at them and add them to the library in his or Ian's study.  

Both the nursery and the Laird's room hid similar secret rooms.  The Laird's room hid the largest secret room, it was hidden behind a bookcase, just like the door in the study.  This one had a small window toward the ceiling, large enough to let light in, but small enough not to be noticed from the outside.  It contained a bed big enough for two adults to sleep tight against one another as well as a pallet in the corner, a rocking chair and several more books. They gathered the rest of the books and closed the secret room back up.

They carried all the books down to the parlor to see what all they had, most of the books Jamie had already read while he was at University in Paris.  But one book in particular caught his attention. De historia stirpium, written by Leonhard Fuchs, published in 1542. "I'm taking this one back to Claire, I dinna ken if she has heard of it before, but I ken she will love it.  I plan to gift it to her, so dinna ask her about it Jenny."  Jamie said. 

"That made my mindful of something, Claire wanted me to ask if ye'll be joining us for Yuletide and Hogmany this year.  We have plenty of rooms for everyone, she wants us to spend it together.  Claire wants to show us some traditions from her time for Yuletide as well."

 

"If ye want us there wi' ye brother we will be there.  We'll bring Mrs. Crook and the other servants wi' us to help wi' the cooking and decorating the castle.  We will need all the help we can get for a house that size." Jenny said as she smiled, excited at the idea of spending her first holiday in a castle.  She was also excited to see the castle, she hadn't been up since Jamie and Claire had moved in and now they were amost finished wi' it.

 

"Good, Claire will be pleased.  I better head out and hitch one of the horses up to the wagon and bring it around to the front so I can get these trunks back up to the castle.  If I take any longer, Claire will be wondering what has happened to me, and I dinna need her venturing out in the storm to find me." Jamie said with a look that said, that is exactly what his wife would do if he didn't return soon. 

 

"Aye, ye better brother, I love that woman, but she's stubborn as a mule.  We'll be out searching for her in this storm before to long if ye dinna show yerself to her soon.  I'll put this book in one of the trunks, to keep it protected from the snow."

 

"Thank ye Jenny, I shouldna take too long to hitch up a horse, then I'll have this mess out of yer hair." Jamie said as he leaned down and placed a kiss on her cheek. 

Chapter Text

With Yuletide just a few days away, Jenny, Ian and the children were spending more time at the castle.  Claire needed all the help she could get to prepare for the holidays.  She had told Jamie about some of the traditions of her time in the 20th century and he agreed that they sounded like something he wanted to start doing for their family.   Jamie took Ian and Fergus with him to the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree, they tied the tree behind one of the mares from the stable and brought it back to the castle.  When they finally got the tree standing, it stood over 12 feet tall.  

Claire had shown Jenny how to make dough ornaments that they could decorate the tree with.  They shaped the dough by hand, carving designs in them with a spoon handle and baked them till they were hard.  They made an ornament for each of them with thier name and the year they were made carved on the back.  For the children, they made larger ornaments and carefully pressed thier hands into them, carving their initials and the date on the back of the ornament.   Both Jenny and Claire had several old pieces of hair ribbon which they used to hang the ornaments onto the tree.  The pieces that were left over were tied into tiny bows to decorate the tree as well.

The men had brought back several boughs of evergreen to decorate the great room as well as the staircase that led to the entrance of the castle.  Claire helped Jenny to create a wreath to hang on the front entrance door.  It had to be large so the nine foot tall door did not dwarf the wreath, they used ribbons to decorate it as well.  By the time they had finished decorating everything, the castle was the most festive place that Claire had ever seen.  She was proud of what they had accomplished and excited for their guests to come celebrate with them on Hogmany. 

Jamie, Fergus, John, Jeremy and Hal all gathered in the kitchen to prepare for thier hunt.  Their goal was to shoot a red stag for their Christmas dinner, but they wouldn't pass up any rabbits they might come across.  Jamie knew of a place where a large male stag should be, Jamie had seen the stag several times when they were considering the cave as a hiding place for the sterling they had recieved from Randall's estate sale.   The men left on their hunt before daybreak, arriving there before the sun came up would give them the best odds for spotting the stag. 

As they made their way toward the cave, the men kept silent, they all knew how important it was not to make any noise that could spook the deer.  They slowly made progress up the hill toward the cave entrance, occasionally slipping on the muddy slope.  Eventually they had all made it into the small cave, where Jamie lit a fire to warm them up.  The cave was only about the size of a prison cell, so with eveyone packed inside, it didn't take long for the small fire to warm the space.

Once they were all warmed up again, they put out the fire and moved outside of the cave to watch the small clearing only 50 feet below.  It seemed like they had been there for hours in complete silence, just waiting for the stag or anything to come by.  Jamie decided to take Fergus and go check his snare lines while they waited for the stag to make his appearance. 

They were on their way back to where the other men waited when Jamie heard a twig snap off to his left.  The noise came from the tree line just outside of the meadow.  He grabbed Fergus's arm and pulled him down to kneel beside him. "Fergus get yer musket ready, the stag is right over there.  He is only twenty feet away, this is yer shot son." Jamie said as he pointed toward the treeline, where he could just make out the sillouette of a large stag.

Jamie readied his own musket and took aim, he would only shoot if Fergus missed.  There would be no second chances, once a shot was fired every animal within half a mile would scatter from the sound. They had removed 8 rabbits from the snares, but the stag would be a blessing.  The stag wasn't moving and neither was Fergus, the boy seemed nervous, so Jamie did his best to calm him.  "Just breath Fergus, take a breath and slowly let it out, do this until ye dinna feel yer heart pounding out of yer chest.  When ye are ready to shoot, take in a breath, then let out half of it.  Take yer shot as ye hold the rest of that breath in, it will help steady yer hand.  Dinna shoot until ye can kill the stag, ye dinna want to injur the animal and have it run off."

 

"Oui Da, Je suis prest." Fergus said as he took calming breaths.

 

"Aye, lad wait till it takes a step out of the shadows, aim just behind the shoulder." Jamie said as he watched the stag along the barrel of his own musket.

 

The stag had been grazing on the grass, just inside the tree line, when suddenly he took two steps out into the light and before Jamie could say anything he heard the loud crack of Fergus's musket.  The stag fell where he had been standing only a moment before.  "Well done lad, we must still keep watch, ye dinna want to get run through wi' one of those antlers.  Here take my pistol, we will carefully walk up to him, if he is still breathing, ye point that at his head and take the shot." 

They made their way over to the stag, moving around in front of him to guage his reaction to them, but the beast wasn't breathing.  Fergus had made a clean shot that killed him instantly.  Fergus whooped and cheered when he saw the animal was dead.  Jamie grabbed his arm and they knelt down to give a prayer of thanks.

O Lord, bless the blood and the flesh of this the creature that You gave us.
Created by Your hand as You created man,
Life given for life.
That me and mine may eat with thanks for the gift,
That me and mine may give thanks for Your own sacrifice of blood and flesh,
Life given for life.
  

"Alright Fergus, ye need to dress the deer, but be careful not to nick the intestines.  Yer mam uses them for medicine and we could both use a new bow string.  Start here and cut up the middle" Jamie said as he pointed to the anus of the stag and moved his hand in the direction he wanted Fergus to make the cut. " when ye reach the throat, ye will reach inside and pull the organs out.  We will keep the heart, the liver and the intestines, but leave everything else for nature to take care of.  Yer aunt Jenny will cook up the heart and liver and we will have it as part of our lunch."  

Fergus began to make the cut to begin dressing the deer just as the other men walked up to them.  "Nice clean shot, Fergus.  We watched ye take it from our position near the cave.  Mrs. Fraser will be very happy to see this." Hal said 

 

Fergus finished removing the guts and the men lifted the stag and threw it over the back of the large mare.  The horse wasn't happy about the situation, stomping her hooves and snorting.  The men mounted up on their horses and Jamie reached down to grab Fergus's hand and pull him up behind him.  Fergus held the reins of his horse, which now held the body of the stag, and towed the animal behind them.  They rode back to the castle talking amongst themselves, with the hunt over, there was no longer a need to remain silent.  Without the burden of staying quiet as quiet as possible, they made it back to the castle in half the time it took them to get ot the cave.  It took all the men to remove the stag from the horse and carry it into the kitchen. 

Jamie turned to walk the men back out to their horses, once outside he had an invitation for them. "Hal, Claire and I would like to invite ye and all yer men to our Hogmany celebration.  Yer not obligated to attend, but we wanted to let ye ken that yer welcome to join us.  There is much fun to be had, wi' good food, good music, dancing and friends."

 

"Thank you Jamie, perhaps some of us will attend, but I can't leave the camp completely unattended, not even for one night.  I'm sure you understand." Hal said

 

"Aye, I do, bring as many as ye wish and thank ye for yer help today.  Let me give ye a few rabbits in thanks." Jamie said as he walked over to his horse and untied the string of rabbits. 

 


 

Murtagh was getting really irritated with the incessant questions coming from Frank.  The miserable bastard hadn't stopped talking since they left Lallybroch, he couldn't wait to be rid of him.  They had so far had good luck with the weather and were only four days away from Craigh na Dun.  Although they would have to camp there until the end of the month, Murtagh could busy himself with hunting to avoid the man. 

Frank kept asking strange questions as if they were friends, but Jamie had warned him not to tell the man anything.  So Murtagh answered in Scottish grunts that he was sure the man didn't understand. 

Today was Yuletide and he would much rather be spending it with his family, but he was doing this for his family and he wasn't about to let them down.  The men stopped to make camp, three of the soldiers stayed at camp to guard Frank and the other man joined Murtagh to hunt for their dinner.  Since they had made it further than they expected they still had plenty of provisions, but meat would help to fill their bellies. 

Frank was becoming angry with the cold shoulder he was getting everytime he tried to ask Murtagh a question, the man was in a perpetual bad mood.  He thought about asking the soldiers some of his questions, but being British, they wouldn't have the answers he was seeking about the Scots.  He had gotten to the point where he was thinking about not returning with the gold he had promised he would bring back for Claire.  She and her family deserved to suffer for the way they had treated him.  They were acting like he was some kind of threat to them for God's sake.

After a few minutes of thinking about how happy it would make him to abandon her in the past without her precious inheritance, he came to his senses.  He realized that Claire had seen his family tree and would know who his ancestor was.  Even if it wasn't Black Jack Randall that fathered his ancestor Denys, Alex Randall still existed in this time.  If he abandoned her and didn't return with the gold, he was sure she and Fraser would find Alex or Mary Hawkins and put an end to his own existance before it had a chance to begin. 

He decided it would be in his best interest not to double cross Claire or her new husband.  He hadn't spent much time with the man, but if he kept Claire's attention, he must me intelligent.  If you could tell anything from the books in the man's study, he was clearly well educated, a man of the world.  No, he didn't stand a chance at outwitting Fraser or taking him in a fight.  He would be the one to lose everything if he backed out on the promise he had made. 

Frank looked up to see Murtagh and Lieutenant Acker returning to camp, with a dozen rabbits between them.  He was getting sick of eating rabbit and hoped it wouldn't be to long before they reached Craigh na Dun.  He couldn't wait to get back to Boston and take Sandy out for a nice steak dinner. 

Chapter Text

Jamie woke early, before sunrise, so he could place the gifts he had for Claire, the children and the rest of his family under the Christmas tree. This would be the first time he celebrated Christmas, and placing gifts under the tree seemed like a strange tradition. Even though it seemed strange to be giving gifts on this day, Jamie found himself excited to see the faces of his family as they opened his gifts to them. He had wrapped each gift in a bit of canvas from the kitchen. Claire told him that gifts were generally wrapped in paper, but the paper was too costly to use for such a frivolous purpose. At least the canvas could be reused to wrap meat for long term storage.  

 

Jamie woke early, before sunrise, so he could place the gifts he had for Claire, the children and the rest of his family under the Christmas tree. This would be the first time he celebrated Christmas, and placing gifts under the tree seemed like a strange tradition. Even though it seemed strange to be giving gifts on this day, Jamie found himself excited to see the faces of his family as they opened his gifts to them. He had wrapped each gift in a bit of canvas from the kitchen. Claire told him that gifts were generally wrapped in paper, but the paper was too costly to use for such a frivolous purpose. At least the canvas could be reused to wrap meat for long term storage.  

 

After retrieving the gifts from the secret room behind the bookshelf in his study, Jamie carefully placed them under the tree in the great room. Placing a pine tree in the house was another one of the strange traditions that Claire had told him about. However, he could not deny that it actually looked quite beautiful with all of the bobbles and ribbon that Jenny and Claire had placed on its branches. As he stood up from placing the last gift under the tree, he noticed one of the ornaments. He had not had a chance to actually look at them yet and what he saw melted his heart. He was gazing at the ornament with Eilidh's name carved into it, he had bumped the ornament when he stood up and it was currently spinning on its ribbon. As the ornament turned, Jamie noticed Eilidh's miniature handprint embedded on the other side, and his breath caught in his throat. 

 

He took a few minutes and looked at the other ornaments on the tree. There was one for each of them, with the children's handprints on each of their ornaments. Yes, this was a tradition, he would not mind continuing every year. He would have to guarantee that when it was time to remove the bobbles from the tree, that they were carefully wrapped and stored so that they could hang them on their tree next year.  

 

Jamie made his way back up to the Laird's room and carefully crawled back into bed, moving slowly so as not to wake Claire. He watched her for a few moments, simply relishing in her beauty. She was an angel, sent to him by God above. She made him feel like the happiest and the luckiest man on earth, and he would cherish her forever. With a smile on his face, he laid his head on the pillow, wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her against him. Nuzzling his nose into her curls and taking a deep breath of her scent, he closed his eyes and was fast asleep within moments.  

   

A few hours later, the sun was finally coming up. Alexander and Eilidh were sitting up in their cradles, babbling among themselves. Claire had turned over at some point after Jamie crawled back into bed, and he could feel her eyes on him. He kept his eyes closed and listened to his children's cheerful chattering.   

 

Claire reached out a finger and gently stroked his face, from his ear down along his jaw, to his chin and back up again. "I know you are awake, I can tell by your breathing. Open your eyes, Jamie, and look at me." 

 

He slowly opened one eye, just enough to see her smiling at him, then closed it again. 

 

Claire laughed, "How is it that you can peek at me with one eye, but you cannot wink to save your life?" 

 

He smiled "I dinna ken Sassenach, but when I figure it out, ye will be the first to ken. Did ye sleep well mo chridhe?" 

 

"I did, thankfully, our little cherubs over which there are sleeping through the night, but this wee one inside now wakes me every few hours to relieve the pressure on my bladder." She said.  

 

Jamie opened his eyes, smiled at her, and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose. "Happy Christmas mo nighean donn." 

 

Claire smiled back at him and placed a kiss on his chin, "Happy Christmas, my love." 

 

Jamie sat up and looked at his children. They had turned their attention to him at his sudden movement. With both children showing him gummy grins, he got out of bed, pulled his shirt on, and sauntered over to scoop them each into his arms. He walked back over to the bed and set the children down. "Go get yer Mama," he told them. So both children, obliging their father's wishes, turned around and crawled to Claire. Jamie took the moment to quickly pull his breeks on, then came around to Claire's side of the bed. He leaned down and scooped the children back into his arms before they could climb onto their mother.  

 

"Come, mo ghráidh, let us go see what Father Christmas has brought for ye," Jamie said as he turned to leave the room. 

 

"Jamie, Father Christmas? What have you done?" Claire said, surprised. 

   

"Come and see for yer self, the twins and I are going to go wake the rest of the house, so we can all go down together. We will meet ye in the great room when ye are ready, but dinna tarry too long." Jamie said as he walked out the door.  

 

Jamie went to wake Ian and Jenny first, asking Jenny if she could help Claire down the stairs since his arms were full of the twins. Then he went to Fergus's room to wake him. "Fergus, wake up my son, tis Christmas morning. Get dressed, then go fetch Maggie from the nursery and come down to the great room when yer finished." 

 

"Oui Da," Fergus said as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. 

 

Jamie skipped the nursery, leaving Ian and Jenny to wake wee, Jamie and Maggie. He carried the twins downstairs and waited for the rest of his family to join them.   

 

Once everyone had made it downstairs and into the great room, Jamie handed Eilidh to Claire and Alexander to Ian, Jenny held Maggie on her lap, while Fergus and wee Jamie sat on the floor near the hearth. Jamie went over to the Christmas tree and pulled all the gifts out, handing a gift to each member of his family and taking his seat next to Claire. They all stared at him in astonishment, but he just sat there with a huge grin plastered across his face.  

 

"What are all of ye waiting for, open yer Christmas gifts," Jamie said. 

 

Their eyes grew wide as everyone realized he had gifts for them, but no one had a gift for Jamie.  

 

Jenny spoke up first, "Och Jamie, ye dinna have to do such a thing." 

   

"Dinna be daft Jenny, I ken I dinna have to, but I wanted to. Now shut yer gob and open yer gift." Jamie said as he motioned to the package in her hands.  

 

Jenny opened her gift first, which Jamie had given her three books of French poetry that he had brought back with him from France. Then Jenny helped Maggie to open her gift, which was a doll made from rags, but Maggie loved it and hugged it tight to her young chest. Wee Jamie was next, Jamie had gifted him with a horse he had carved from wood. Wee Jamie started prancing the horse around, uttering whinnying sounds. Claire and Ian helped the twins open their gifts, which were another set of blocks, but both children were delighted, blocks were their favorite thing to play with. Fergus opened his gift next, Jamie had made him a sgian-dubh and carved the handle out of a deer antler. Ian opened his gift next, Jamie had gifted him with a new dirk that also had a handle carved from deer antler. Claire opened her gift last; it was the book, on plants, that Jamie had found in one of the secret rooms.  Tears started rolling down her cheeks when she read the title. "Oh Jamie, this is wonderful, thank you, my love." 

 

Jamie leaned over and took her in his arms "Do the tears mean ye like it then?"  

 

"Oh, yes, Jamie, I like it very much. This will be of great use in my healing." She replied as she leaned into him.  

 

Jamie released her and stood up. "All right everyone, I have asked Mary, Joan and Isabel to prepare us a Christmas breakfast, so if ye will all follow me into the formal dining room, we shall have a feast," Jamie said as he leaned down and took Eilidh from Claire's arms, then offered her his hand to help her rise to her feet. As soon as Claire was on her feet, Jamie released her hand and walked over to take Alexander from Ian. Jenny picked up Maggie, and Fergus took Claire's arm to help her to the dining room. Wee Jamie followed along behind the rest of them to the dining room to experience their first-ever Christmas breakfast in Lallybroch Castle.

Chapter Text

They had reached Craigh Na Dun only two days ago.  The men easily discovered the dilapidated old cabin at the base of Craigh Na Dun, where Murtagh decided to stay until it was time for Frank to go back.  Three of the soldiers continued on to the town of Inverness to replenish their supplies.  The soldiers would remain in town, staying at an Inn until it was time to begin the return trip to Lallybroch. Frank would be passing through the stones tomorrow evening.  He would wait till sunset when his probability of passing through was highest.  Over the past few weeks since leaving Lallybroch, he had been thinking about his promise to return Claire's inheritance in the form of gold, and the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like an unattainable feat.  "Murtagh, I know you do not want to answer any of my questions, however, It is my hope that perhaps you would not mind discussing something that has been troubling me."

 

"What did ye desire to discuss Mr. Randall?" Murtagh asked.

 

"Mr. Fraser mentioned before we left to come here, that gems could not make it through the stones.  I am aware of that and had forgotten that fact until he had mentioned it to me.  He suggested that I should bring gold instead, but now that I have had time to think about it, I do not believe that to be a feasible solution either.  What I wanted to discuss, or rather ask you is, do you suppose Mr. Fraser would be opposed to banknotes instead of gold?  It would be more manageable for me to bring it through and certainly far simpler for you to transport back to Lallybroch without the soldiers demanding an explanation.  An explanation that the massive cases of gold would undoubtedly provoke."  Frank said.

 

Murtagh stroked his hand through the scruff of his beard, then sitting up, he peered at Frank and replied, "Ye make a fair point, the Laird will be satisfied not to have to explain a huge case of gold and coins.  Banknotes would certainly take less space and be sufficiently inconspicuous so as not to raise suspicions.  Ye would need to purchase a bag that wouldna cause unwanted inquiries, perhaps constructed of leather.  Ye could bring back Claire's inheritance in that, and no one would be the wiser.  Do ye think ye could find sufficient banknotes from our time?"

 

"Yes, I do anticipate I will have more luck with banknotes than I would in procuring sufficient coins or gold," Frank replied

 

"Aye, then that is what must be done.  How long will it take ye to exchange her funds for those?" asked Murtagh

 

"Not long at all, once I can get back to Inverness, which should not take but twenty minutes or so.  I have someone on the other side that should be waiting for me.  I could probably be back at Craigh Na Dun by noon the day after I leave.  I will come back through at noon on the first of January in the year 1745 to deliver Claire's inheritance to you.  Once I have passed the bag to you, I will return through the stones, to my own time, and none of you will ever have to worry about laying eyes on my face again." Frank said.

 

"Good, it is settled then, ye will bring the bag of banknotes back at noon, two days from now, on the first of January in the year 1745," Murtagh replied.

 


 

All of the tenant's wives had arrived at the castle to help prepare the feast for tomorrow's Hogmanay celebration.  The men and even some of the soldiers were helping to erect a few simple sheds for the tenants and other visitors to house their horses in and out of the weather during the celebration.  The tenant's older boys had all used the few days since Christmas to hunt and harvest whatever they could to assist in making the Hogmanay feast that much more magnificent. 

Jenny could scarcely contain her excitement, they had never had this many people attend a celebration when they had held them at the manor.  It truly was a show of the loyalty that Jamie's people held in their hearts for him.  Jamie was proud to share his new home with all of his people, he had finally begun to feel like the Laird that his father had desired him to be.  He felt like a man of worth, a man his father and mother would be proud of.  He was not born to be Laird, but after everything he had been through in the past three and a half years with Claire by his side, he felt as though he, no not he, they had earned the titles of Laird and Lady of Lallybroch. 

Jamie had come in to join his family for the noon meal, while the men continued to work outside.  He strode in through the back door and noticed the twenty or so women preparing meals in his kitchen.  He smiled to himself at the sight of all of the women working together. He mentally patted himself on the back for the forethought of building a kitchen with sufficient space for these women to prepare their feast and have plenty of space to still move about.

"Feasgur math, ladies, I look forward to discovering what ye are preparing for our celebration tomorrow," with a nod of acknowledgment from a few of the ladies, Jamie stepped out of the kitchen in search of his wife and children.   He eventually found them in the parlor with Jenny, Ian, and their bairns. 

 

Sitting on the floor near the hearth, Fergus and wee Jamie were showing Maggie, Alexander, and Eilidh how to build a tower with their blocks.  Fergus looked up as Jamie entered the room, "Da, look we are building le Broch Tuarach for le petite babes'."

 

"Aye, a fine job yer doing of it as well.  Be sure not to exclude them, ye are playing with their toys, ye must be fair and share them."  Jamie said.

 

"Oui, Da, we will be fair with them.  Why have you come inside, did you come in to fetch me, is there something I can help you with?" Fergus stood up, forgetting about the blocks and rattled off the questions, not giving Jamie a chance to answer any of them.

 

"Nah, Fergus, I have come in to enjoy the noon meal with my family," Jamie said as he bent down and scooped Eilidh up into his arms.  "Now, who is ready to eat?" 

 

"Me," the three oldest children chimed in and were instantly mimicked by Eilidh and Alexander.

With the ladies using the kitchen, the family decided to take their meal in the formal dining room.  Jamie took Claire's elbow and gently escorted her to her seat, Fergus had plucked Alexander off of the parlor floor and brought him into the dining room following his father.  Jamie and Fergus set the twins on the floor near Claire so that she could keep an eye on them while Jamie and Fergus went to the study to fetch some books for the smaller children to sit on.  

Claire had mentioned that small children in the future would have special chairs, called highchairs so that they could join the older children and adults at the dinner table.  Jamie thought the idea of special chairs to be a ridiculous notion, but he did see the merit in the children joining them.  So he had been devising a design for a seat that could sit on top of the seat of the dining room chairs they already had.  This additional seat would raise the children to a sufficient height so that they could see over the table and eat comfortably with the other members of the family. 

But for now, at least until he could create one and get Claire's approval of the design and functionality of the seat, he was resigned to use his precious books.  Claire suggested lying a towel atop of the books to help protect them, but Jamie was still wary of the children sitting on them.  It was a bit dangerous if an adult was not continually guarding them to be sure they did not topple over and cause injury to themselves. 

Jamie and Fergus returned with a sufficient amount of books to raise Maggie, Alexander, and Eilidh to a suitable height.  Eilidh would sit between Claire and Jenny, Alexander would sit between Fergus and Jamie, Maggie would sit between Fergus and Ian and wee Jamie would sit next to Jenny.  Jamie noticed that the family took up half of the table and when Murtagh returned there would only be four empty seats remaining.  Next year when they celebrate Christmas there will only be two empty seats at the formal dining room table. 

This thought caused Jamie to wonder if he should have perhaps built a longer table.  He could not be certain how many more children Jenny and Ian were intending to have, but he is positive that the one she carries will not be their last.  He and Claire had considered having at least four more children after she delivered the one she was carrying.  So yes, he would positively need to build a larger table before too much longer. 

Once everyone was settled around the table, Jamie rang the bell to notify Mary that they were all prepared for the food to be brought in.  A moment later, Mary was followed by Joan, Isabel, and Mrs. Crook bringing in a simple meal of lamb stew, fresh bread, and butter.  Claire had mentioned to Jamie that the twins were now old enough to begin eating soft foods, so they got to have a bit of everything as well.  The lamb pieces had been cut small enough before they were placed in the pot to cook, that Jamie and Claire did not have to worry about fishing the pieces out of the stew to keep the children from choking on them. 

The family ate quietly, with only the sound of silverware scraping across crockery to fill the room.  The children all finished their meals, fairly quickly, as usual. Mary and Mrs. Crook were accustomed to this and were always waiting nearby to fetch the children and take them up to the nursery to play until it was time for their afternoon nap.  When the adults had sufficiently filled their bellies, Joan and Isabel would clean up the dishes and any remaining food from the noon meal.  The adults would retire to the parlor for a dram of whiskey and Jenny would read a few poems to them from one of the books that Jamie had gifted her for Christmas. 

As Jamie, assisted Claire to lower down and take a seat in one of the navy blue plush velvet chairs' near the fire, she said to him, "I wonder how Murtagh, Frank, and the men are getting along, Frank will be heading back tomorrow at sunset."

 

"Sassenach, I would venture to say that Murtagh is ready to be back home and be rid of Frank.  I dinna ken what ye ever saw in the man, he is a verra strange fellow." Jamie said as he sat in the twin of Claire's chair across from her in front of the hearth. 

 

"Honestly, now that I think about it, I think it was because he was similar to Uncle Lamb, they were both so caught up in the past and I missed Lamb terribly when he died.  I think I needed someone to fill that void and Frank happened to be there, I will always be thankful for him taking care of me through that difficult time, although perhaps what I felt for him was more of an infatuation than love.  He was the first male not from my family, who had ever really shown an interest in me.  I felt unwanted for the longest time after my parents died and then I was thrust upon Lamb. He did not have much choice in the matter, so that did not make me feel wanted either.  I used to think Frank wanted me, but what he truly wanted was for me to be the perfect professor's wife, he did not want me for who I am. " 

"The only person who ever wanted me for me and not what I could do for their image or position has been you, Jamie.  You have made me feel not only wanted, but you also make me feel needed, desired, craved, and required as much as your next breath, from the very first moment that I laid eyes on you, " Claire said to him. 

 

Jamie leaned forward in his chair, placed a hand on her knee, and said, "Mo nighean donn, ye are all of those things to me, ye have been since the first moment.  I wouldna have it any other way, ye are mine, Claire, now and forever, and I am yers." 

"Returning to our previous conversation, ye brought up Murtagh, it reminded me of something I have been wanting to ask yer opinion on.  What do ye think about writing a letter to ask Jared to send Suzette here?  She was an excellent ladies made to ye, as well as the tremendous help she was after the twins were born when we were in Paris.  I believe that we are in need of more help here and Suzette would make an excellent addition to our staff.  I have also considered appointing someone to fill the role that Magnus had as well, running a castle takes an immense amount of time and work.  Some of that could be taken off my shoulders if we had someone like Magnus and I could spend more time doing what is of utmost importance to me, that is spending time with my family. "  Jamie said, then sat farther back in his chair to await her response to the idea he had been pondering over for the past few months. 

 

"Oh Jamie, I think those are both excellent ideas, but wherever would we find someone like Magnus who would fit into the highlands of Scotland?" Claire asked

 

Jamie chuckled "He wouldna have to be exactly like Magnus, but he would need a good head for figures, he would need to be willing to help wi' whatever we may ask of him and above all, he would need to be discreet and loyal to us." 

 

"Yes I agree, those are all unquestionably qualities that will be required, we will need to think on it a while and we certainly have a bit of time before we make a decision, nobody will be traveling to Lallybroch until spring.

Chapter Text

With all of the preparations complete, the tenants had returned to their homes to get some rest.  It was now early morning, December 31, 1744, the last day of the year.  Tenants and visitors would begin to arrive sometime in the early afternoon to join in the festivities.  The air was full of excitement for the first-ever Lallybroch Castle Hogmanay Celebration.

The family would have a small breakfast since they would likely all overindulge on the evening feast that everyone had helped to prepare.  The family gathered in the parlor, the children played and the adults talked about their plans for the coming year.  "So Jamie, what are yer plans now that ye have the castle almost complete?" Ian asked.

 

Jamie grinned at Claire, then turned to face Ian "I'm pleased ye asked a charaid, Claire and I have discussed a few ways to bring more profits to Lallybroch, more than what the wool and crops could bring in alone."

 

"I canna say I havna thought on the subject myself, what did ye have in mind a bhràthair?" Ian curiously asked.

 

Claire squeezed Jamie's hand as a show of support and encouragement, "We want to breed horses, Clydesdales specifically, Claire tells me the Clydesdale will become the pride of Scotland by her time in 1945. The Clydesdale will be used for draught purposes, including agriculture, logging, driving, and riding, as well as kept for pleasure.  They’re one of the most gentle breeds ye will ever come across, which makes them great for a rider with little or no experience as well as seasoned riders. They don’t eat near as much as a thoroughbred because their metabolism is so slow.  The Clydesdales are capable of having twins that survive, which as ye ken is pretty unusual, so we have a chance to get two from each mare.  A Clydesdale’s horseshoe is close to the size of a dinner plate which means their feet are large enough to withstand the Scottish turf.  Claire tells me that Clydesdale horses will be conscripted by the army to serve in The First World War.  We may be able to sell them to the British army in our time as well."

 

"Aye, I have heard of them, that sounds like a grand plan, but ye said you had a few ideas in mind, what else are ye planning, Jamie?" Ian asked. 

 

"Aye, I do have another plan, I want to build a distillery, but that will be a long term project.  Claire tells me that aged whisky is better than new whisky and worth several times more when it's aged.  She tells me that if we age it in old wine casks, it will absorb the flavors of the wine.  I plan to write to Jared and ask him to sell me his empty wine casks.  We can age the whisky from as little as two years to two hundred years if we have a proper place to store the casks.  The oldest whisky Claire knows of from her time was bottled in 1851, we have 100 years on that.  None of us would see the profits from whisky aged that long but think of the legacy we would leave for our children and our children's children.  We could limit how much we bottle each year and hold casks back to keep aging, can ye imagine tasting whisky that we distilled ourselves in 20 or even 50 years." 

"We would have to build the distillery deep in the woods, and only sell or trade with those people we ken.  But this is not a venture I hope to make profits on right away.  This is something I want to leave behind for generations to have something of us.  What do ye say, are ye willing to help me with these business ventures?" Jamie asked Ian and Jenny.

 

"Aye, we're willing to help bhràthair, but where do ye plan to get the money to build all this?" Jenny asked. 

 

"Dinna fash, Jenny, we have plenty from the trunk we found in the attic to get started, and if ye recall the old fox left Beaufort Castle to me upon his death.  When he does die, I will sell off the estate and everything in it.  We willna have to worry over anything, also once my first foal drops, we will be making profits with the horses.  Claire and I plan to travel to Lanarkshire this spring to purchase four Clydesdales mares. We will have them bred to a local stud before we return to Lallybroch, and next year we will return to Lanarkshire and purchase a stud and two more mares.  If we are successful, we could have four to eight new foals in the first year and six to twelve new foals in the second year.  Of course, that is if they all take right away."  Jamie said.

 

"If everything goes as planned, we will have a verra happy new year indeed.  Our families are growing, our futures are looking bright, I dinna ken about ye, but I am ready to celebrate." Jamie said

 

"Now that you mention it, shall we move onto our plans for this evening, tell me about Hogmanay.  Even after all my time with you Jamie, I have yet to experience one." Claire stated.

 

"The origin's of Hogmanay are unclear and customs vary throughout Scotland, and usually include gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbors, with special attention given to the first-foot, the first guest of the new year.  Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year." Jenny said

 

"The practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whiskey, and black bun, intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day. The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall, dark-haired men are preferred as the first-foot."  Jamie added. 

"An old custom in the Highlands is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining of the household and livestock. Early on New Year's morning, householders drink and then sprinkle magic water from a dead and living ford around the house. After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers a restorative from the whiskey bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast." Jamie said.

 

"What is a dead and living ford and where do you find one?" Claire asked. 

 

"A dead and living ford refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead, there is one on our land, I will take Fergus out after breakfast to collect the water for sprinkling," Jamie said. 

 

"Though we have told you of our traditions, that is not all.  We will have a feast which everyone can partake from throughout the day, there will also be games, dancing, and drinking, lots of drinking." Jenny said as she chuckled. 

 

"Well it certainly sounds like we are in for a full day, Jenny would you mind staying with the children, Jamie and I have some things we need to take care of in the study before the tenants begin to arrive," Claire said.

 

"Of course, I would be happy to watch the children, go on wi' ye then, do whatever it is ye need to do," she said. 

 

Jamie helped Claire to rise from the plush chair and led her into his study, once inside they locked the door so they could complete their task without interruption.   The couple would spend the next few hours writing letters of thanks to each of their tenants and enclosing £1 into each letter as their Hogmanay gift to their tenants.  They planned to give the letters to the tenants before they returned to their homes once the Hogmanay celebrations had concluded.  Joan and Isabel were serving the noon meal by the time the couple finished sealing the last of the thank you letters.  Jamie stored the letters in the bottom right drawer of his desk.  He locked the drawer as well as the door to his study and escorted Claire to the formal dining room to eat with their family. 

They had a simple meal of cheese and bannocks, which would tide them over until it was time to layout the Hogmanay feast.  After eating, everyone retired to their rooms to wash and change into their formal wear for the evening's festivities.  Since completing many of the bed chambers, Jamie was able to commission two more bathtubs for the castle.  One of them was in the bed-chamber where Ian and Jenny were currently staying and the other was in Murtagh's bed-chamber.  Jamie had brought over the original bathtub that he had commissioned for Claire from the manor. 

Jamie with the help of Lieutenant Foster and Lord John had temporarily moved the bathtub from Murtagh's chamber into the nursery.  Jenny and Claire would wash the children in the nursery, while the men would wash in their chambers, then the ladies would wash last with fresh water.  Claire had commissioned a dress for Jenny while she was in a little town in France, she hadn't given it to her yet, she was waiting for this day.  So while Jenny helped Claire to heat the water for the children's bath, Jamie placed Jenny's new dress onto her bed. 

Claire hoped that Jenny would love the dress, it was a baby blue lace gown, with an off the shoulder boatneck neckline, elbow-length puff sleeves, embroidered with light blue, silver, and white roses.  Claire would be wearing a similar dress, her dress had a lavender velvet bodice with a grey lace skirt and split floor-length sleeves, and pink and silver velvet rose appliques placed over the bodice, sleeves, and skirt. 

The men would be dressed in full highland regalia, Ian in his Murray tartan and Jamie proudly wearing his Fraser tartan. The men came out of their rooms as Claire and Jenny were leaving the children in the nursery in the care of Mary and Isabel.  Both women looked up to see their highlanders strolling toward them, already dressed in their formal attire. 

Claire's breath caught in her throat when she took in her husband. She glided over to him, capturing his waist in her embrace and tilted her head up for a smoldering kiss.  She pulled away and whispered into his ear, "A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight, any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored or crabbed in appearance. However a tall, straight-bodied, and by no means, ill-favored young Highlander, at close range, such as you, my love, is simply breath-taking."

 

Jamie chuckled, "Och, Aye, ye like this then?" he said then pulled her back in for another heated kiss.  

 

Breathless, she pulled back again, "Oh yes, very much so, you are utterly dashing.  I could look at you like this every day and never tire of the sight."

 

Jamie backed away from her, "Well then, ye better go wash up and get dressed yer self, another young lassie may try to steal me away if ye tarry too long." 

 

Claire smiled at him before turning to enter the Laird's room, "You're funny Mr. Fraser, just let them try.  You are mine and no one is taking you from me."

 

Jamie smiled as he watched her walk away, "Yes, My Lady, I am yers, I will see ye downstairs, we dinna want to keep the guests waiting."

 


 

It was almost sunset at the hill of Craigh Na Dun, "Lieutenant Acker, Mr. Randall and I are going to walk to the meeting place, where his companions should be waiting for him.  I will likely camp overnight with them and return to the cabin tomorrow afternoon.  Please stay here to guard the cabin and our horses."

 

Lieutenant Acker stood, bowed to Murtagh, and nodded his head in confirmation, "Yes sir, I shall stay here and wait for your return tomorrow afternoon."

 

Murtagh and Frank skirted around the hill to avoid the soldier witnessing the direction they would take, once out of sight of the cabin, they began to ascend the hill. These few weeks since his departure from Lallybroch had given Frank time to think about everything he had done with his life.  He was proud of his academic accomplishments, however, he could see now, that he had not treated Claire fairly.  She had asked him to visit her countless times while she was on the front line and he had leave, instead, he had chosen to spend his leave with his many mistresses. 

He had been the one to suggest the trip to Scotland, he had even sold Claire on the idea of it being a second honeymoon, a place to get away from the reminders of war and get to know one another again.  Although he convinced her that those were the reasons to visit, he never planned on doing any of the things she had suggested.  He planned this trip with the sole purpose of researching his ancestors. 

He also had to admit that she appeared to be genuinely happy with Fraser, happier than he ever recalled her being with him.  If he was being truly honest with himself, they had been legally married for a bit over six years when she disappeared but had only truly been together for a month before the war started and a total of ten days scattered here and there over the past six years during the war.  Their marriage had been a spontaneous decision based on fear of the coming war and a mutual need not to be alone.  Love had never truly been part of it, at least not what he now knew of love, not the love he had for Sandy or the obvious love that Claire shared with Fraser.  

No, Claire was right, he never should have come back here, it wasn't fair to anyone involved.  He had been pig-headed and stubborn, he hadn't wanted to be left behind.  But it had taken Claire's inability to lie and her downright brutal honesty for him to see that.  Claire was happy here, she had carved out a life for herself with a man who loved her and would clearly protect her to his last breath, and a good man wouldn't begrudge her for it, and neither would he anymore. 

By the time Frank had come to this realization, they had reached the summit of Craigh Na Dun.  Frank could hear the buzzing increasing in volume with every step closer to the stones.  He stopped and turned to look at Murtagh, "If I don't make it back through, please tell Claire and Jamie that I am sorry, I can now see the love between them.  Tell her I forgive her and I can only hope that in time she can forgive me too, for everything I have done in this life and in the future."

 

"Aye, I shall tell them, Mr. Randall, If I dinna see ye by this time tomorrow, I wish ye a happy life.  Good luck to ye." Murtagh said with a slight bow of his head. 

Chapter Text

Frank turned back to face the stones, his hands rising of their own accord, he steps closer and the buzzing gets louder.  He stretches his fingers out and they gently brush the granite monolith, he is dragged screaming and fighting, suddenly consumed by the nothingness that exists between this time and his own.  He can hear the screams, feel the hands reaching out to grab and pull at him.  He fights the urge to let them take him. Even though he is falling through complete darkness, he closes his eyes, thinks of Sandy, and waits for the chaos to eventually stop. 

He wakes up to find himself lying on the cold wet grass, he looks up to see the monolith standing tall above him, he isn't sure if he has traveled or not.  He tries to sit up and look around at his surroundings, but his stomach is revolted against him.  He leans over and vomits until he has nothing left in him.  He is eventually able to sit up, he hears a voice calling his name. It's a woman's voice, he recognizes that voice, then he is suddenly hit with the realization that the voice belongs to Mrs. Graham.  Thank God, she came for him, just as she promised she would.  

"Mrs. Graham, I'm over here," Frank said as he slowly stood, attempting to dispel the dizzy feeling in his head. 

 

Mrs, Graham rushed over to where he was standing, she grabbed a hold of his hand and towed him away from the stones.  "Mr. Randall, did ye find yer wife, did ye find Mrs. Randall?"  she asked. 

 

"Thank you, Mrs. Graham, yes I did find her," Frank said

 

Mrs, Graham looked at his face, then turned and glanced back at the stones, before bringer her eyes back to his. "Well, where is she then?"

 

"She isn't coming back, she is happy there, she has a family there.  She has a husband and children, she loves them very much, her place is there with them.  She doesn't belong here anymore, she doesn't belong with me anymore."  Frank said as he continued to follow Mrs. Graham down the hill and toward her waiting car. 

 

"Oh, Mr. Randall, I am so sorry it didn't work out as you had hoped." Mrs. Graham said in an attempt to console him. 

 

"It's alright, no need to fret.  I am pleased to see her so happy and to have gotten the opportunity to see her one last time.  But I must ask a favor of you, I have promised Claire that I would bring her inheritance back through the stones.  I need to be back here no later than noon tomorrow.  I had originally planned to go to a bank in Inverness to withdraw her funds, however, I remembered as I was lying on the ground up there, that her inheritance is held at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. I know it is a bit over a three-hour drive from here, so we would need to leave now, so I could be back here in time.  Would you be willing to take me to Edinburgh or to loan me your car so that I may drive myself?"  Frank asked, hopefully. 

 

"Aye, I'll drive ye, but money from now will not benefit her 200 years in the past, Mr. Randall." Mrs. Graham said skeptically.

 

"Thank you, Mrs. Graham, I am entirely aware of that. I will need to purchase banknotes from a collector I am acquainted with while we are in Edinburgh, he should have what I need,"  Frank said

 

"Aye, I see, well let's not stand around here talking about it, we have a bit of a drive ahead of us.  It's already 1:00 am, we should arrive there no later than 6:00 am on these roads." Mrs, Graham said as she helped Frank into the passenger seat, then walked around the car, opened her door, and settled herself into the driver's seat. 

 


 

Claire and Jenny, arm in arm, slowly descended the stairs to join their family in the great room.  It was still decorated from their Christmas celebration with lit candles in the windows, bunches of holly and ivy affixed to the staircase and doorposts.  Ian had found a few pipers and fiddlers and their lovely melodies filtered through the rooms of the castle.  The women had set up tables covered in plum cakes, almond squirts, savory biscuits, several different types of cheese, ham, lamb, and stag meat as well.  The heady aroma of rum punch and whiskey filled the air.  

Several guests had already arrived, some of whom were talking casually with Jamie and Ian.  A few of the younger women were mooning over the twins, which Jamie held in his arms.  Not only did he hold them to show them off to his tenants and friends, but they also helped to shield him against any overzealous young women, with less than pure intentions toward him. 

Claire smiled at her husband, he was unaware of the effect he had on the opposite sex, his natural charm could lead a young lass to believe he was returning her affections.  She strolled over and took her place by his side, taking Eilidh from his arms and settling her above her growing belly. 

Jamie inclined his head toward hers to place a tender kiss on her lips.  He wrapped his free arm around her shoulder and drew her against his side.

Claire smiled at his possessiveness, he was more worried about someone stealing her away from him, then he was aware of the amorous attentions being shown to him from the single women milling about.

Jamie leaned down to whisper into Claire's ear, "Come wi' me, I must retrieve the letters from my desk, not everyone will be staying till the end of the night. We can give them the letters as we welcome them." 

Jamie took Claire's elbow and guided her over to where Jenny stood so that she could hand Eilidh into Jenny's care. After Jenny had taken Eilidh, Claire had spotted Fergus near the table of food, so she made a beeline toward him. "Fergus, your Da and I are going to fetch something from the study, go take Eilidh from your Aunt Jenny and meet us by the staircase, we will be back in a moment.  We as the family of the house are expected to welcome our guests before we eat." Jamie handed Alexander to Ian and joined his wife.

 

"Oui Mam, I hope it will not take long, I'm starving," Fergus whined

 

Claire rubbed his head "Don't worry, you will get to eat soon."

 

Jamie took Claire by the hand and towed her toward the study, once inside he closed the door and gently backed her up against it, he cradled her face in his large hands and tilted her lips up toward his, "I dinna ken when I'm going to get another chance to kiss ye like this tonight mo nighean donn, now give me yer mouth." 

Jamie felt Claire smile against his lips and her hand reach up to tangle her fingers in his cinnamon curls, that was all the confirmation he needed to crush his mouth against hers.  He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, nipping it tenderly then running his tongue over the delicate flesh to soothe the burn.  Claire moaned and parted her lips to allow Jamie's tongue to enter her mouth and caress her tongue.  Their tongues danced, dueled and tasted each other, Claire relished the taste rum punch on Jamie's tongue, and in her estimation, it had never tasted better. 

Claire reluctantly pulled her lips away from Jamie's, they were both breathless when the kiss ended, "Jamie, our guests are waiting, we need to stop.  We can come back to this tonight when the party is over." She said as she moved her hands from around Jamie's neck to wrap around his waist and draw him into her embrace.  Jamie moved his hands from her face to wrap around her shoulders and pull her tighter against him, tucking her head under his chin.  They both needed a few moments to bring their heart rates and breathing back to normal before either one of them was prepared to let go of the other.

 

After a few moments, Jamie lifted his chin from her head, planted a soft kiss in the crown of her curls, "Aye, we must return to our guests, we will definitely revisit this tonight, I need ye mo ghráidh."

 

"I need you as well Jamie, but we must get back out there before someone comes searching for us.  Besides Fergus is waiting for us and he can scarcely wait to fill his belly with all the delectable food out there." Claire said with a little giggle.

 

Jamie released her, walked over to his desk, unlocked the drawer, and removed the letters.  Claire walked over to the bookcase to take a basket down, from the shelf.  She removed the dried wildflowers that Jamie had gathered for her over the summer and placed them thoughtfully on his desk.  "I dinna ken why ye keep those dead flowers Sassenach," Jamie said as he deposited the stack of letters in the now-empty basket.

 

She smirked at him and rolled her eyes, "I keep them, Jamie, because they are the only posey that my husband has ever presented to me, and I mean to treasure them forever.  Your study just happens to be the most secure place for me to keep them, without the concern of the children getting a hold of them and pulverizing them."

 

"Awe, I see, so if I were to bring you a fresh posey, ye wouldna need to keep these any longer?" Jamie asked with a grin. 

 

Claire plucked the basket up off the desk and followed Jamie to the door, "Well, when you bring me a fresh posey, we shall see if I need to continue to keep them." 

 

Jamie opened the door for her, placed a hand on her back to guide her out, and pulled the door closed, bolting it behind them. The couple made their way back to the great room, where Fergus was waiting by the stairs, clutching his baby sister to his chest.   Jenny stood next to Fergus holding Alexander, she relinquished the baby to Jamie as he approached her. "Are ye ready to host yer first Hogmanay as Laird of Lallybroch Castle brother?" she inquired

 

"Aye, I am Jenny, tonight is going to be a fresh start for everyone.  I hope ye are no cross wi' me when ye see what Claire and I have planned for the tenants."  Jamie replied to her.

 

"Yer the Laird now brother, ye have done an excellent job of it thus far, I have no reservation that whatever ye have arranged will be the right decision for everyone," she said as she turned around and stepped over to join Ian on the opposite side of the staircase.

Jamie stood hugging Alexander in one arm, Claire stood next to him holding the basket full of letters and Fergus stood next to Claire cradling Eilidh in his arms.  The tenants made their way over to Jamie to congratulate him on his beautiful family and his remarkable home.  They thanked him for inviting them to spend Hogmanay with him and his family in the castle and for waiving the rents for the past year. 

Once each guest had been greeted, Claire would hand Jamie a letter addressed to whichever tenant he was speaking to and the man or woman would move down the line, saying hello to the rest of the family.  Jamie had urged each tenant not to open their letter until they were back in their homes, he ensured them that what was contained within would be good news and for them not to fash.  

Eventually, everyone had been welcomed and Fergus was released to go and taste the delicacies scattered on the tables.  Everyone was enjoying themselves, dancing, laughing, and chatting with friends.  The whiskey flowed and the food was devoured, and by 11:00 pm most of the children had fallen asleep in some of the most surprising of places. 

To determine who would be the first foot this year, Claire had proposed a drawing. Everyone would get a chance to nominate either themselves or someone else by writing a name on a small slip of paper and placing it in a bowl.  The nominations had continued to come in throughout the evening and now it was time to draw a name.  

Jamie raised his voice to get everyone's attention, once they had quieted down he explained what was happening, "Thank ye for yer attention, everyone, it's time to determine who will be the first foot.  Ye have all had a chance to place yer nominations in the bowl and now it is time to draw a name, your Lady Broch Tuarach will mix up the papers in the bowl, hold it as high as she can manage, then I will draw out one nomination.  Mistress Murray will read the name that is written down, the name she reads will be the person that will be the first foot this year, if yer name is announced, ye can go to the kitchen to see Mrs. Crook.  She has yer first foot offerings already prepared. Now, if everyone is ready, I shall draw a name."  He said as everyone cheered emphatically in confirmation.

"Alright, here we go," he said as he helped Claire up onto the first stair tread, then he reached into the bowl, stirring his fingers around and finally seizing one piece of paper and drawing it out.  He handed the small bit of folded paper to Jenny to read. 

 

Jenny cleared her throat and stepped up on the stair next to Claire as she unfolded and read the name, "Geoffrey McClure will be our first foot." 

More applause and cheers erupted throughout the great room and glasses were raised in a toast to Geoffrey McClure. "Slàinte mhath!"

 


 

Mrs. Graham pulled into Edinburgh just before 5:00 am, it was still early and the Royal Bank of Scotland wouldn't open for business for another two hours, so she drove to a small diner around the corner from the bank.  She could tell from the appearance of Frank when she picked him up at Craigh Na Dun, that he had misplaced everything during his time travel journey.  Thankfully she had the forethought to bring the suitcase that she had retained for him, he would at least have a fresh suit to change into before he went into the bank to speak with the bank manager. 

Mrs. Graham pulled into the parking lot, which was quite full for how early in the morning it still was, she parked the car, and extended her hand out to shake Frank awake, "Mr. Randall, we are here, we have arrived in Edinburgh, however, it is still quite early.  Shall we go in and have some breakfast while we wait for the bank to open?" she asked. 

 

Frank stretched and peeled his sleepy eyes open, he didn't realize how exhausted he had been until the jostling motion of the car had lulled him to sleep.  "Yes, breakfast sounds marvelous, after weeks of gnawing on rabbits and squirrels I can't wait to have a full breakfast." 

 

"I brought yer suitcase along, it's in the boot. I assumed perhaps ye might desire to change into some fresh clothes before ye go into the bank." Mrs. Graham said as she climbed out of the car and made her way around to the back to fetch out Frank's suitcase.

 

Frank got out of the car and came around the back to help her lift the suitcase from the boot. "Yes, I am most grateful to you Mrs. Graham, I will use the restroom and get cleaned up and changed, I will join you in a few minutes."

 

About 10 minutes later, Frank had returned to the table, having used the small sink in the diner's restroom to washup. "I ordered ye some coffee, Mr. Randall, but I didna ken what ye preferred to eat, the waitress should be over in a moment to take yer order." Mrs. Graham said as she sipped her coffee. 

 

"Thank you, Mrs. Graham," Frank said as he picked up the menu, scanned over the options, and promptly determined what he wanted.   The waitress came over a few minutes later, pen and notepad at the ready. "What can I get for ye sir?" she inquired. 

"I would like to get a glass of orange juice, some scrambled eggs, a couple of strips of bacon, some linked sausage, a small stack of pancakes, some hashbrowns and some toast with raspberry jam," Frank said as he looked up to see the waitress scribbling nimbly in her little notebook.

 

"Aye, that is a large order, it should be out in about 15 minutes.  I will be right back with yer orange juice," she said

 

It was already 10 minutes to 7:00 am when Frank finally finished the last of his breakfast.  The diner was right around the corner from the bank so he decided to put his suitcase back into the boot of Mrs. Graham's car then walk to the bank.  Mrs. Graham chose to walk to the park across the street from the bank and watch as the geese swam in the loch while she waited for Frank to complete his transaction. 

Frank ascended the stairs to the entrance of the bank, upon entering he glanced around for any indication of where the bank manager's office might be located.  With no signs pointing the way, he concluded that the simplest way to find the man would be to ask the receptionist for directions. "Good morning, madam.  My name is Frank Randall, I would like to chat with the bank manager please." 

The receptionist looked up at him with an expression of shock on her face, which confused Frank, the woman practically seemed as though she had seen a ghost. 

 

"Aye, Mr. Randall, right away sir, I will let him know yer here.  He has been expecting ye, please have a seat." The woman behind the desk said before she picked up the receiver of the phone and made a call, presumably to the bank manager. 

 

Frank sauntered over and took a seat on one of the white leather sofa's that sat in front of a large floor to ceiling window.  He began to wonder why the bank manager had been expecting him, perhaps the receptionist was mistaken and the bank manager was expecting someone with a similar name.  After all, he didn't even know he would be coming here until he woke up on that hill in the dark hours of early morning. 

It was only a moment before the bank manager had emerged and called Frank's name. "Mr. Randall, please follow me to my office." The man said as he waited for Frank to join him, before spinning on his heel and leading Frank down a long corridor that led to an office with floor to ceiling windows on every wall.  "Mr. Randall, please have a seat.  I have to tell ye, some of the boys and I have had a long-standing bet whether or not ye would show up today.  I have to say that I am especially pleased ye did."

 

Perplexed Frank looked at him, "I'm sorry, how did you know I would be here today?" 

 

"Oh pardon me sir, we have had a safety deposit box with your name as well as the name of Mr. & Mrs. James Fraser in our possession for almost 200 years.  There was a letter with the safety deposit box that stated that you would be in today and you would need to see what was in the box before you completed your transaction.  The boys and I didn't even think you existed, but here you are.  Here is the safety deposit box, it's one of our oldest, would you like a moment of privacy while you look inside?"  The manager asked.

 

Frank nodded as the manager pushed the box across his desk, "Yes please if you will give me a moment or two." Frank said astonished, and wondering what could Claire and Fraser have possibly left for him. 

 

Frank slowly opened the box, a musty scent billowed out of the box to assault his nose, Frank sneezed and seized a tissue from the manager's desk.  After he had cleaned his nose, he held the tissue in front of his face as he opened the lid the rest of the way.   He peered inside, resting in the bottom of the box was a letter with the Fraser crest pressed into a wax seal.  Frank being a historian imagined how delicate the document would be, so he grabbed a fresh tissue and gingerly lifted the letter from the box.  He very delicately attempted to lift the seal away from the paper, but the slight movement, caused the seal to shatter to pieces. 

He slowly opened the letter, conscious of the fact that the paper was just as fragile as the seal had been.  What was written in the letter nearly caused Frank to faint.

Dear Frank,

First I want to apologize for the way we talked to you and treated you while you were here.

My words and Jamie's actions were uncalled for.

I am not attempting to excuse our actions,  however I was very angry with you. 

For things you did while we were married and the way you talked to me in front of my son. 

I did let my hormones get the better of me and I shouted at you, I apologize for that.

However, I meant everything that I said.  I am happy with Jamie, I love him with all of my heart as I do our children.

I never meant to hurt you.  It is truly my hope that you can find someone to love you in the way you deserve, but that someone is not me.

If we are being honest with ourselves I think we both always knew that, we were both so scared of what the war would cost us that we jumped into marriage without fully realizing what we were committing ourselves to.

I didn't intend to fall through the stones, but I do believe it is the best thing that ever could have happened for both of our sakes.

I know you have made great sacrifices to come here to my time. 

Jamie and I discussed it and we wanted to thank you for everything. 

We were not grateful when you came, I was angry and Jamie was afraid you would steal me away from him. 

We were not good to you when you came.

You can still decide if you want to bring my inheritance back, at the time I am writing this letter, you haven't even made it to the stones yet. 

So I have no way of knowing if you returned it or not.

However that does not make a difference in what we have decided to do.

Hopefully this will make up for our behavor toward you. 

When you are finished with this letter, the bank manager will have some forms for you to sign, please sign them. 

Everything will be explained to you once you have done so. 

Thank you again Frank, for the good times we had together.

Forever your friend Claire Fraser.

 

Frank folded the letter, wrapped it in a few layers of tissue, and placed it in his breast pocket.  He grabbed another tissue and wiped the moisture from his eyes.  A moment later the bank manager returned with a file. 

 

"Mr. Randall, I have some forms that I will need ye to sign before we can move onto the business ye came in to see me about."  The manager said as he stepped around his desk, took a seat, and set the file down.

 

"Yes of course, whatever you need," Frank said as the manager handed him his silver fountain pen. Frank signed several forms, his eyes blurred with unshed tears stopped him from attempting to read what any of them said.

 

"Alright now that we have that completed, what brings ye here today sir?" the bank manager said to him.

 

"Right, yes.  My wife has elected to join the peace corp and she wants to use her inheritance to purchase supplies.  I need to close out her accounts, she should have two of them." Frank said to the manager.

 

"Yes, of course, I will just go get her file, what is the name?" he asked as he stood from his chair.

 

"The accounts are under Claire Beauchamp, I am on the accounts as well," Frank said as he sat back and waited for the manager to go fetch the files and return.  

 

The bank manager returned 10 minutes later, "I have those files right here, it appears that your wife opened her accounts with £900,000 pounds, with the compounded interest from a decade, that brings the total to £1,466,005.16.  Would ye like that in a bank check or are you planning to transfer the funds?"

 

"A check if you please, she will be elated, that is much more than she had hoped for," Frank said 

 

"Alright I will get that taken care of and then we have one more matter of business to discuss before you leave today Mr. Randall." the manager said.

 

"Another matter?" Frank asked

 

"Aye, there was a joint savings account opened in your name along with a Mr. James Fraser and a Mrs. Claire Fraser, with you sir, listed as the only signer on the account.  The account was opened 202 years ago, if you will give me a moment I will get that bank check for your wife's account, then we can move onto your savings account."  The manager said as he picked up the receiver of his phone and made a call requesting the check. 

 

"Alright Mr, Randall, I have a letter here from a Mr. James Fraser, you are to read it to yourself." The manager said as he handed Frank another 200-year-old letter.

Frank,

As Claire stated in her letter, our behavior was unforgivable.

We wish to recompense you for everything that was said and done while you were in our home. 

This is no much, however, it is what we can do for ye. 

Claire assures me that it will be a bit more when ye arrive to collect it. 

Good luck to ye Mr. Randall, Claire and I wish ye to find the happiness and love that we have found in each other.

Sincerely James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser

Frank set the letter down on the desk and looked up at the bank manager. "Alright Mr. Randall, this account was opened in 1745 with £1,000.  Today the value of your savings account is £19,065,070.35.  The forms ye signed a moment ago, removed Mr. & Mrs. Fraser from the account which made it all yers.  Ye can leave yer account with us or we can transfer the funds for ye.  Unfortunately, we cannot write ye a check for an amount such as this, however, if ye wish to take just a portion of it out, we can make accommodations for ye."

Frank sat there, completely stunned, not only were they not going to be angry with him if he had decided not to return her inheritance, but they had left him with over 19 million pounds.  He could quit his job at Harvard and travel the world in search of history, Claire and Jamie had given him a gift that he could never repay.  He suddenly realized that the bank manager was staring at him, waiting for an answer about what he wanted to do with these funds.

"Actually I think I would like to get a check for a portion of it if it won't be too much to do so," Frank said

 

"Of course Mr. Randall, how much did ye want the check to be made for?" the manager asked.

 

"I think that £4,500,000 should be sufficient," Frank said

 

"It will take a bit longer but we can certainly accommodate ye, Mr. Randall," he said

 

"As long as I can be back in Inverness by 11:00 am today," Frank said

 

"Och, it will only be about 20 minutes Mr. Randall, we should have ye out of here before 8:00 am. 

 

20 minutes later, Frank strolled out of the bank and crossed the street to where Mrs. Graham was sitting.  "Mrs. Graham, we are going to need to make a few stops, I have a few acquaintances who will be able to help me."

 

Mrs. Graham stood up and hurried after him toward her car.  An hour later, they were back on the road toward Craigh Na Dun.  Frank had stopped at nine antique coin dealers and purchased every banknote they had from the 18th century along with a few small bags of 18th-century coins.  He was able to exchange the entire £5,966,005.16 for money that Claire could use.  Frank hoped that with this, she could make a difference for the better for the Scottish people. He could hardly wait to begin researching the Frasers.  After he made his delivery to Murtagh, he would fly back to Boston, ask Sandy to marry him, quit his job and move to Scotland. 

Chapter Text

They made it back to Inverness at a quarter after 11:00 am and Frank had one more thing he wanted to do before heading back to the stones. "Mrs. Graham, if you wouldn't mind making a stop before we go back, I need to get a pen and paper.  I would like to write a letter to Claire, a final goodbye if you will."

 

"Of course, Mr. Randall, we can make a quick stop at my cottage, you can write the letter there and then we can be on our way."

Mrs. Graham pulled into her driveway and led Frank inside.  She sat him down at her kitchen table and went to fetch the writing implements for him.

 

 

Dear Claire & James

I received your letters, you likely will not have placed them in the safety deposit box by the time you receive this letter.

Don't let anything that I am about to reveal, change the plans that you have already made.

I don't know if my actions prompted you or your actions prompted me.

What I do know is that we surely find ourselves in a temporal paradox of sorts.

Thank you for the letter of apology Claire, however, the arguments and harsh words came from all of us.

I am partially to blame, if not mostly to blame as well.

Also thank you for opening the savings account for me, it was an unexpected and unnecessary surprise.  

As you were aware, your inheritance was £900,000 when the accounts were opened only a decade ago.

We both forgot about adding the 5% interest that the account would accumulate over time. 

That interest brought your savings account to £1,466,005.16, sounds like quite a bit, right.

However when converted to 18th Century currency that leaves you with £279,818.41, which is still a fair amount.

However, after I obtained the bank check for the £1,466,005.16, the bank manager handed me a letter from James.

I'm sure you are aware of what was contained in the letter and £1,000 is not a small sum in your time, that was a very generous gift, thank you.

Although, I feel as if I don't deserve it, especially the amount it is now worth, which by the way is a substantial amount of £19,065,070.35.

However this allowed me to do as you asked and make plans to enjoy my life. 

I plan to gift some of it to Mrs. Graham, who has helped me through this whole crazy scheme of mine. 

I am also gifting a portion of it back to you, I want you to have the full use of your inheritance.

It is also my way of apologizing for all of the atrocities that my ancestor put you both through.

So I have taken £4,500,000 from my savings account and used it to purchase additional 18th Century currency which Murtagh will bring back to you. 

With the additional money, I am sending back to you a total of £1,138,739.57 of 18th Century currency.

I know it is not as much as you have now gifted to me and I would have sent more if I could have.

I will forever be grateful to you for that gift.

It is my hope that with this, your family will have the freedom to accomplish anything you set your mind to.

I'm honored to have met you James and I will be researching your family very soon. 

I am so excited to find out what you have decided to do with your lives now that you are beyond limits.

You were already prominant people in your time, maybe with this you can help Scotland and it's people to avoid the after math of the war to come.

I know money isn't an apology and it can't buy happiness, hopefully, it can buy peace. 

Good luck and good fortune.

Your timeless friend

Frank Randall

Frank folded the letter, looked up at Mrs. Graham, and said, "I'm ready, let's go deliver the last gift I can give to my wife."

Frank stood up, followed Mrs. Graham out the front door, walked over to her car and opened the boot to slip the letter into the 18th Century saddlebags he had noticed and purchased when he was in one of the old shops procuring the banknotes.  They got in the car and made the 10-minute drive to Craigh Na Dun.  Once they arrived Mrs. Graham accompanied Frank up the hill to make sure he got through alright.  She had heard stories of people burning up in their attempt to pass through and wanted to be close at hand, should anything like that occur. 

Frank could still hear the buzzing of the stones, it was a bit fainter than when he came through that morning but still overwhelming.  He threw the saddlebags over his shoulder and tied the belly rope around his waist.  Then he began walking in the direction of the center stone, raising his hands as he gradually got closer. He reached out and his fingers touched the stones and just like before, he was hurled through time, enduring the madness of time travel.   

Once on the other side, he felt his stomach rolling again and fought the urge to vomit.  He sat up and looked around, just off to his left he could see Murtagh standing with his back to the stones.  Frank attempted to get up on shaky legs and must have made a sound of distress, because when he was finally on his feet, Murtagh was walking towards him. 

 

"I wasna sure if ye would come back, though it appears I was wrong and that ye are also a man of yer word, Mr. Randall," Murtagh said as he patted him on the back. 

 

"Yes, indeed I am," Frank said as he untied the saddlebags and handed them to Murtagh. "Please give this to Mr. Fraser and tell him I am truly grateful for everything." 

 

Murtagh peered at him with confusion in his expression but nodded when frank handed him the bags, "Aye, I will.  Mr. Fraser said ye would be needing a gemstone to pass again if ye came back through.  He asked me to give ye this emerald, so ye could pass back through to yer time." Murtagh said as he removed the gemstone from his sporan. 

 

Frank extended his hand to accept the gemstone, "Thank you, Murtagh, Jamie, and Claire are lucky to have such a trustworthy companion such as yourself.  It has been my honor to travel with you.  Goodbye Murtagh." Frank said as he turned around and touched the granite monolith for the last time. 

 


 

The Hogmanay celebration was a grand success, some of the soldiers even showed up to partake in the festivities.  Lord John had come earlier in the day and tried some of the local dishes and was pleasantly surprised at how much he had enjoyed them.  He left just after sunset to resume his post, so that Hal would have a chance to come and attend the celebration and see what all the fuss was about.  When Hal finally arrived just before midnight, Jamie attempted to pull him away from the party so that he could talk with him about an idea that he and Claire had come up with. 

"Colonel Grey, So good of ye to come.  Claire and I have been waiting for an opportunity to speak wi' ye tonight.  If ye have a free moment now, we have something that we would like to discuss wi' ye." Jamie said

 

"Of course, Mr. Fraser, shall we go to your study where it is quieter?" Hal asked

 

"Aye, right this way," Jamie said as he led the way, Claire trailing behind both men.

 

Once inside the study, the men pushed formalities aside, "What is it you wished to discuss, Jamie?" Hal asked

 

Jamie sat down at his desk and motioned for Hal to take a seat across from him.  Hal sat down and Claire went to stand next to Jamie, "I dinna ken if ye are aware of the rising tensions between the British army and the Jacobite supporters, but Claire and I are worried about what might be ahead if the Jacobites are not stopped." 

 

"I know you played a part in getting Prince Charles arrested and sent to the Bastille in France and that is the main reason that my regiment and I are here, serving as protection from Scots who view you as traitors.  Yet you seem to have new information that is causing this worry, what is it you think you can do to stop the Jacobites?" Hal asked. 

 

Claire placed her hand on Jamie's shoulder as a show of support, "We dinna have any new information, other than what ye have shared with us about Charles sailing from Italy.  We have no way to ken where he plans to go, but I do ken from the months I was by his side, gaining secrets, the man willna give up.  He believes God has sent him to overthrow King George, he is too ambitious for his own good.  I ken from letters I have received from King Louis that Charles father, James has no interest in taking back the crown, but that isna enough to stop his foolish son."

"I dinna ken if ye have heard of such a thing where ye are from, but Claire has a special ability," Jamie said as he watched Hal for his reaction.

 

Hal raised his brows in surprise, "What kind of special ability, and what does it have to do with any of this?" Hal asked

 

Jamie decided to keep it simple and limit what he revealed to Hal, "I dinna ken if ye have heard of them before, but Claire is a seer, she dreams of what is to come.  This is why we went to France to try and stop Charles, we were able to infiltrate the Jacobites and change what she saw.  But now she is dreaming again and the war is still coming, although it will be different.  We gained information to help King George and King Louis sent that on to him for us and King George took actions to strengthen his army.  But with the dreams that Claire is having now, it willna be enough."

"We want to go to London and seek an audience with the King and perhaps come up with a plan to stop the war before it has a chance to begin.  Claire says Prince Charles will arrive in Scotland by Early June and begin gathering support.  If ye would be willing to escort us to London to see the King, we believe that with the information that Claire has seen, we can offer the King advise and prevent this war and the unnecessary loss of lives."  Jamie finished

 

Hal sat back in his chair, taking everything he had just been told in. "My grandmother told me stories about seers when I was a young boy.  I always thought they were just stories, but you say that these visions that Claire has are what led you to France.  I can see that you believe it, so I must believe it as well.  When would you like to leave?"

 

Claire and Jamie exchanged a look of astonishment, they hadn't expected Hal to believe them so easily, "We would like to leave as soon as the weather permits, just after the twin's first birthday, we thought April 1st would give us enough time.  We will need to stop in Edinburgh at the Royal Bank of Scotland during our travels as well.  We want to open savings accounts for the children's educations and we may not get another chance if we can't stop this war.  On our way back, we will also need to stop in Lanarkshire to purchase some draft horses."

 

Hal smiled, "That is a fine idea, I will write to my Brigadier and inform him of your plans.  I will ask John, Lieutenant Acker, and Major Huckabee to join me as your escort.  We will leave Lieutenant Foster and Lieutenant Colonel Dudley to protect the rest of your family."

 

"Aye, we wish to bring Murtagh, Mary, and the children.  We dinna wish to be away from the children for so long and Claire is eager to show them where she comes from." Jamie said

 

"I don't see why that would be an issue, the journey will take a bit longer with a wagon full of children, but it is certainly an opportunity you should not pass up," Hal said 

 

Jamie stood, stepped around his desk and shook Hal's hand, "With the business now settled, let's go back and enjoy the rest of the party, it should be about time to welcome the first foot." 

They all made their way back out to the great room.  Many of the tenants had already left, hurrying off to their own homes to welcome the first foot. 

 


 

The next morning Jamie had woken up early, he and Claire had something they wished to discuss with Ian and Jenny. They all met in the parlor while the servants began to prepare breakfast.  "We have discussed what is to come before, what might come, the rising, the war, the clearances.  Claire and I think it may still come, so now we must discuss what we must do." Jamie said

Everyone was optimistic about Jamie's efforts to stop the rising for a second time, but they were cautious as well.  Jamie and Claire took this time to remind Jenny and Ian of what would be coming if their efforts turned out to be futile. 

"If our efforts did not have any effect on the overall outcome, then Charles Stuart will be arriving by ship in late Summer.  However we know that he sailed from Italy a few months ago, yet we have not received word of his intended destination.  I do not believe that he is willing to give up so easily.  He always said that he was sent by God, and he was doing God's will.  I imagine he still believes this and the rising will still occur, perhaps not according to the timeline that was in my history books, but I do believe we need to prepare.  With him sailing from Italy, he may be arriving in Scotland early this summer.  Everything may be happening sooner than it did last time, or not at all.  We can't be sure and we can never be too careful." Claire stated. 

 

"What do you suggest that we do to prepare?" Jenny asked

 

"I believe we should do what we did last time, we should plant potatoes, we won't have to sell off the land as we did before.  We are in a better position this time and we are known loyalists, so the British Army will protect us.  Whereas last time we were Jacobites and they hunted us and would have tortured and taken our food and supplies from us if we had lived to a time past the date of the battle of Culloden Moor."

"I believe we now have something else we can contribute, we can take on more tenants, those that do not wish to be part of this fight, those that will follow our lead and support of King George.  I also presume that since King George is now cognizant of us, that it would be pertinent for Jamie and me to go to London and seek an audience with him, show him our support and perhaps persuade him not to punish the whole of Scotland for the opinions of the few.  I am hoping to still make a change, but not through war, Jamie and I have discussed this at length and we approached Hal last night with the proposal to speak with the King and ask for his escort."

"Hal has agreed, we will leave for London on the first of April, tensions will be high by then, but being in the company of a few British officers should grant us some freedom to move about the country without fear of retribution, imprisonment or prosecution."

 

"Well those are all fine ideas if ye can speak to the King, what if the King refuses to see ye, then what do we do?" Ian asked

 

"I believe that we are still in a better position than we were last time we tried to avoid this war, we are already on the winning side.  If everything else happens as it did before with regard to the events that happened after Culloden, we are now loyalists and will not have our tartans taken away, we will not be punished, we won't face the clearances.  Loyalists were not punished according to my history books.  My plans are not to change that, I am hoping that if we can accomplish those things I mentioned before that perhaps we can save more people and try to preserve more of the highland heritage."

"Nothing we do now, will make it worse, but we still have a chance to make things better," Claire said.

Chapter Text

Two days had passed since the Hogmanay celebration and Jamie was in his study writing a letter to King George.  The letter would be delivered to him in the event that he would not grant them an audience. He looked up when he heard his door open, "Sassenach, are ye feeling alright, is it the bairn?"

 

Claire walked over and sat down in the chair across the desk from Jamie and rubbed her belly, "No Jamie, the baby is fine.  I did have something I wanted to discuss with you though."

 

Jamie set his quill down to give his full attention to his wife, "What is it ye wish to discuss, mo chridhe?"

 

Claire took a deep breath and stole herself for an argument, "If Frank truly followed through and returned my inheritance through the stones to Murtagh, I want to leave something behind to show our gratitude."

 

Jamie stiffened at Frank's name, but remained calm to hear her out, "What is it ye want to leave behind and how do ye propose we do such a thing and ensure it survives for two hundred years.?"

 

Claire looked down at the hands she had tightly clasped together and resting on her belly, "Well, I had an idea about that.  The best way to ensure it survives is to leave behind the only thing we can be sure will still be here in two hundred years."

 

Jamie could see that Claire was struggling with what she was attempting to share with him, so he got up, walked around his desk, knelt in front of her and took both of her hands in his, "Alright Claire, what is it that ye think we could leave behind?"

 

Claire looked up into his beautiful blue eyes and saw only trust and love reflected back at her, "If and only if, he kept his word, I thought perhaps we could open a savings account in Edinburgh at The Royal Bank of Scotland.  We already planned to stop there on our way to London to open accounts for the children, and I know it still exists in 1945 at least because that is where my inheritance was deposited.  I wrote him a letter about a week ago, attempting to explain my behavior toward him while he was here.  We could put the letter in a safety deposit box with his name on it in addition to the savings account."

 

Jamie stood up but did not release her hands.  This is not at all what he had expected her to say, "How much do you want to put in the savings account?"

 

"Well, I'm not sure how much my inheritance will be in 18th Century currency, but I thought that £1,000 would be fair."

 

Jamie released her hands and began to pace, rubbing the stubble on his jaw with his right hand and tapping the fingers of his left hands against his thigh.  He suddenly stopped and spun around, his brow furrowed, "Ye dinna owe him that much, Claire.  What changed to make ye want to do such a thing?"

 

Claire stood with a bit of difficulty, stepped over to Jamie and pulled him into an embrace, "After he left with Murtagh, I realized what he must have gone through when I first fell through the stones.  If I had not been so selfish in my need to be with you, I may have thought about that.  I could have left something behind when I first decided to stay and perhaps saved him the trouble of ever coming here."

 

Jamie brought his hands up around her and began rubbing circles over her back, "Still, why so much, that is 20 times more than what we gifted to our tenants for Hogmanay, people who are loyal to us and helped with the building of our home."

 

Claire looked up into his eyes, moved a hand from his waist up to cup his head so she could force him to look into her eyes and see her truth, "I realize that, but if I had left word when I decided to stay, he wouldn't have missed two months of work.  Besides that, I want him to be happy as we are.  I also said I only want to do this if he, in fact, has kept his word.  If he hasn't then we will pretend that this discussion never happened.  We wouldn't be taking away from what we already have, I would be taking it out of my inheritance." 

 

Jamie leaned down and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose and yielded, "Alright Sassenach, I see yer point.  We will do this, but only if he has kept his word.  For if he has, then I can trust he will keep his word about everything else that he has said.  We shall wait to see what our decision will be when Murtagh returns.  Until then, dinna fash over it, aye?"

 

"Yes Jamie, thank you for not getting angry with me over this," Claire said as she laid her head over his heart, allowing the steady rhythm to calm her.

 


 

It had been almost three weeks since their Hogmanay celebration and the weather had been fairly mild.  Jamie was expecting to see Murtagh riding up any day now.  Jenny and her family had stayed at the castle for a few more days after Hogmanay.  Since they had returned to the manor, Murtagh's bathtub had been returned to his room and his hearth had been stocked and prepared for his return.  

Since Claire's due date was getting closer day by day, Jamie and Claire decided that it was time to move the twins into the nursery.  They agreed that it would be simpler to get the twins used to sleeping away from them before the new baby came and caused a possible jealousy or abandonment issue.  Mary would move from the servant's quarters to a room that is adjoined to the nursery to serve as a nurse made until the children no longer required overnight care. 

Jamie had enlisted the help of a couple of soldiers to finish one more of the guest rooms so that the midwife could stay with them until the baby was born.  They had finished building the furniture but still had to hand drapes and bring the bedding in. Claire had been having false labor pains for a few days and had estimated that she only had a few weeks left until the baby would be born.  Claire had made the choice to stay in the Laird's room for the remainder of her pregnancy, which meant she had stopped seeing patients as well.

Claire had nursed the twins and put them down in the nursery for a nap and was waiting for Jamie to bring some lunch up to share.  She stood with her arms crossed over her chest in nothing but her shift at the window taking in the breathtaking view of the manor and landscape below.  She heard the door open, but couldn't pull her eyes from the view.  

 

Jamie set down the tray of lunch on the small round table in the corner of the room and walked up behind her.  Wrapping his arms around her shoulders, he pulled her to stand against him and rested his chin on her shoulder, "What has captured yer attention mo ghráidh?"

 

Claire leaned her head back against his shoulder and reached up to place her hands over his crossed arms, "I was just appreciating the view and counting my blessings."

 

Jamie kissed the shell of her ear, "Hmm, that is no all of it, is it Sassenach, something has ye worried?"

 

She patted his arm, "No, you are right that is not all, I'm also beginning to worry about Murtagh, shouldn't he be home by now?"

 

Jamie smiled as he saw movement in the distance, "Aye, he should.  Look to the top of the ridge Sassenach, I believe that is Murtagh coming now." Jamie pointed to indicate the direction he meant.

 

Claire let out a breath she was unaware she had been holding as she saw the five riders gradually getting closer.  They were just close enough that she could make out the uniforms of the four soldiers, "Oh, Thank God, would you mind lighting his hearth so his room is nice and toasty when he comes in?"

 

Jamie kissed her cheek, "Yes mo ghráidh, I will go light his hearth.  Wait for me, I shall be back in a moment and we can eat lunch together."

 

Jamie stepped away from her and had reached out to open the door when Claire stopped him, "Wait, Jamie, is there enough food prepared to feed them all, they must be famished after being on the road for so long?"

 

Jamie grinned at her, "Yes my love, there is plenty of food, Joan will make sure they are all fed when they come in."

 

As Jamie promised, he was only gone for a few minutes lighting Murtagh's hearth.  He returned to their room and helped Claire to sit at the table.  Jamie had discovered rabbits in several of his trap lines the day before, so Joan had prepared rabbit stew and bannocks for their meal.  While they ate their lunch and waited for Murtagh to arrive they decided to discuss baby names. "So, Sassenach, have ye thought of any names for the bairn?"

 

Claire hummed and nodded, "We already covered all four of our parents with the twins, so I thought for a girl, we could name her Arabella after Jenny.  For a boy, I thought perhaps we could name him William after your brother."

 

Jamie grinned, "Aye, I like both of those choices, but I what do ye think of changing it up a bit. What do ye think about William James Quentin Beauchamp Fraser for a boy and Faith Arabella Grace Fraser for a girl"

 

Claire looked up from her stew with tears in her eyes, "I love both of those, you are so thoughtful to think of uncle Lamb, but are you positive about using Faith?"

 

Jamie reached across the table to take her hand, "Aye, I am certain.  I have put a lot of thought into it, we dinna get a chance to hold our wee Faith in the last life.  I believe this is a bairn is a lass and she feels like Faith when I speak to her."

 

Claire could no longer hold the tears at bay, "Oh Jamie, that is the loveliest thing you could say to me right now.  Yes, I love both of those choices, but are you certain that you still want to wait for the baby to be born to see if it is a boy or girl?"

 

Jamie stood up, stepped around the table, took Claire's other hand to help her rise and pulled her tight inside the circle of his arms, "Aye mo ghráidh, I am certain, we shall wait, I'd be willing to bet my best shirt that the bairn is Faith.  We have but a few weeks until we ken for sure."

"Come, let me put ye to bed so ye can get some rest.  I'll go down and welcome Murtagh and the men, and I'll bring Murtagh up later so ye can see for yer self that he is whole."

Jamie guided Claire over to their bed, pulled the quilt back, helped her climb onto the bed, and tucked her in, "Sleep well mo nighean donn, always remember that I love ye." Jamie leaned down and placed a tender kiss on her forehead then quietly left the room. 

Claire closed her eyes and dreamed of the baby she carried inside of her.  She dreamed of three red-haired toddlers running and giggling through the fields of heather with their giant red-haired Scot of a father laughing and chasing behind them. 

 


 

Jamie made his way down to the kitchen before Murtagh and the men had arrived, "Joan, Isabel, Murtagh, and the men have returned, please set the table in the family dining room for the five of them.  Set some honey and jam for the bannocks, along with the stew.  The men will likely want some whisky as well."

 

Joan and Isabel curtsied to him, "Yes my Laird."

 

"Ladies, Claire, and I have told ye that ye dinna have to curtsy or bow when it is just us family in the house."

They both nodded and went to work gathering the items for Murtagh and the men to have lunch when they arrived. 

Jamie walked to the front of the house, took his heavy winter cloak down from the peg by the door, and went outside to stand on the veranda and watch Murtagh and the men ride up.

He walked down the staircase and by the time he made it to the bottom, Murtagh and the men had arrived.  Jamie strode over to Murtagh and Donas, took the reins, and tied Donas to the hitching rail. "Did he treat ye well, Murtagh?"

 

Murtagh dismounted, patted Jamie hard on the back, "Aye, that is one devil of a horse, but he is a fast bugger by God."

 

"Good, did Mr. Randall give ye any trouble?" Jamie asked as he checked Donas' hooves.

 

Murtagh huffed, "We bugger near talked my ear off.  Speakin' of Mr. Randall, he sent somethin' for ye, he also gave me a message for Claire."

Murtagh turned around and started to untie the new saddlebags, "He sent all these saddlebags back for ye, help me carry 'em in." Murtagh tossed a set of saddlebags at Jamie and began to untie the next set.

 

Jamie looked up at the soldiers, "Come in men, the ladies have prepared lunch for ye, come fill yer gullets before ye set off back to camp." Jamie waited for the men to tie their horses up, then turned and led them back into the house. "Murtagh, I'll take those bags to my study, could ye show the men to the family dining room?" 

 

Murtagh placed the other set of saddlebags over Jamie's shoulder, "Aye, we havna eaten since just after sunrise, I could eat a whole pig myself."

 

Jamie locked the saddlebags in his study then went into the dining room to join the men. 

Chapter Text

After lunch with Murtagh and the men, Jamie ventured back upstairs to check on Claire.  He quietly eased the door open and peeked around the door to ascertain if she still slept.  He could see that she was beginning to stir, which was expected.  This late into her pregnancy, she was no longer able to sleep for long stretches due to frequently needing to use the chamber pot. 

Jamie pushed the door open a bit more, just enough to enter the room, he silently pushed the door closed and made his way over to the side of the bed. He leaned down and brushed a curl out of her face and watched as her eyes fluttered open and came to rest on his face, "Did ye sleep well, mo chridhe?"

She stretched a hand out for him to help her to sit up, "Yes I did, knowing that Murtagh has made it home eased my troubled mind.  Did he say anything, did Frank come through?"

Jamie lowered himself down to sit on the bed next to her, "Frank sent some saddlebags back wi' Murtagh, but I havna had the chance to open them and see what is inside.  I thought ye might like to open them wi' me.  Would ye like me to bring them up or do ye think ye can make it downstairs in a bit?"

Claire smirked at him and rolled her eyes, "I'm not going anywhere Mr. Fraser, especially down 5 flights of stairs.  I will be waiting right here and you can fetch the bags up so we can open them together."

Jamie raised her hand to his mouth and kissed her knuckles, "Aye, I thought ye may say that.  I'll go fetch them and be back in a moment.  Dinna go anywhere while I'm gone." He smirked as he got up and headed toward the door.

Claire giggled, "I'm not likely to go anywhere, not with this basketball that I have to carry around." 

Jamie turned with a confused expression on his face, "Basketball?"

She waved him off, "Nevermind."

Claire took the time Jamie was gone to use the chamber pot and pull a dress on over her shift.  She wanted to see Murtagh today and it would embarrass the man if he came to see her and she was in nothing but her shift. 

Jamie returned just as Claire was lowering herself back onto the bed, she looked up as he was closing the door behind him. Jamie walked over a dropped the bags onto the bed with a heavy whoosh as they landed. "Which one shall we open first mo chridhe?"

Claire looked them over, attempting to decide where to begin then came to a decision, "Why don't we just dump them all out at once."

Jamie leaned over and picked up the first bag, opened the flap, and turned it on its end.  Claire gasped at the sight before her but waited until all four bags were emptied.  Jamie discarded the soft leather bags to the floor beside the bed, then lowered himself to sit beside the mountain of banknotes in the center of their mattress. "Well, it appears as though he has kept his word."

"Yes, it does at that.  I thought I saw an envelope fall out of that last bag, will you help me find it? Claire pointed to the area where she thought the letter may have landed. 

Jamie moved the bundles of banknotes around until he came across a white envelope, made of the finest paper he had ever touched. Written neatly across the front of the envelope was Claire's name, he handed the envelope over so that she could read what was inside.

Claire slid her finger under the flap of the unsealed envelope and pulled it free.  She carefully slid the folded sheet of paper out, opened it, and began to read it silently to herself.  After a few minutes, her free hand came up to cover the gasp that escaped unbidden from her lips which urged Jamie to speak, "Sassenach, what does he have to say?"

Claire cleared her throat and wiped her eyes then began to read.

Dear Claire & James

I received your letters, you likely will not have placed them in the safety deposit box by the time you receive this letter.

Don't let anything that I am about to reveal, change the plans that you have already made.

I don't know if my actions prompted you or your actions prompted me.

What I do know is that we surely find ourselves in a temporal paradox of sorts.

Thank you for the letter of apology Claire, however, the arguments and harsh words came from all of us.

I am partially to blame, if not mostly to blame as well.

Also thank you for opening the savings account for me, it was an unexpected and unnecessary surprise.  

As you were aware, your inheritance was £900,000 when the accounts were opened only a decade ago.

We both forgot about adding the 5% interest that the account would accumulate over time. 

That interest brought your savings account to £1,466,005.16, sounds like quite a bit, right.

However when converted to 18th Century currency that leaves you with £279,818.41, which is still a fair amount.

However, after I obtained the bank check for the £1,466,005.16, the bank manager handed me a letter from James.

I'm sure you are aware of what was contained in the letter and £1,000 is not a small sum in your time, that was a very generous gift, thank you.

Although, I feel as if I don't deserve it, especially the amount it is now worth, which by the way is a substantial amount of £19,065,070.35.

However, this allowed me to do as you asked and make plans to enjoy my life. 

I plan to gift some of it to Mrs. Graham, who has helped me through this whole crazy scheme of mine. 

I am also gifting a portion of it back to you, I want you to have the full use of your inheritance.

It is also my way of apologizing for all of the atrocities that my ancestor put you both through.

So I have taken £4,500,000 from my savings account and used it to purchase additional 18th Century currency which Murtagh will bring back to you. 

With the additional money, I am sending back to you a total of £1,138,739.57 of 18th Century currency.

I know it is not as much as you have now gifted to me and I would have sent more if I could have.

I will forever be grateful to you for that gift.

It is my hope that with this, your family will have the freedom to accomplish anything you set your mind to.

I'm honored to have met you James and I will be researching your family very soon. 

I am so excited to find out what you have decided to do with your lives now that you are beyond limits.

You were already prominent people in your time, maybe with this, you can help Scotland and it's people to avoid the aftermath of the war to come.

I know money isn't an apology and it can't buy happiness, hopefully, it can buy peace. 

Good luck and good fortune.

Your timeless friend

Frank Randall

Jamie looked at Claire in astonishment, "He sent us £1,138,739.57, what are we to do wi' it all?  How do we explain it all?"

Claire thought for a moment, this new wealth would certainly give them a leg up and Jamie was right, how to explain it all, "Well for starters we could put most of it in the bank when we go to Edinburgh.  We will be accompanied by British soldiers, so we shouldn't have to fear a robbery by highwaymen.  As for explaining it, we could say that I am the heiress of a French nobleman, the niece, and only living relative which he has bequeathed his fortune to upon his death." 

Jamie stared at her skeptically, "Do ye truly think anyone would believe that, Sassenach?"

"Yes actually, I do.  Besides everything about it is true, except perhaps the nobleman part, but who is there to say any differently."

Jamie acquiesced, "Aye it is the truth, but until then I am hiding this in the secret room behind my study."

He leaned down and grabbed the saddlebags off of the floor and began stuffing the banknotes back inside. 

Claire reached out and grabbed a hold of his sleeve to still his movements, "You know, now you can build a bigger stable, get a better start on your breeding endeavor."

Jamie huffed, "Aye, I can, but I'll still be the one training them all, that is until I can find a few trustworthy men, skilled at training large horses.  I will build a bigger stable, but we willna purchase any more horse flesh than we have already discussed.  At least not until I have the staff to help wi' more.  I suppose I had better find Murtagh and tell him of our plans for the horses and the distillery."

Claire's eyes lit up, "Ooh, I want to see Murtagh, would you mind bringing him up after you have hidden the saddlebags, I have missed his grumpy old countenance." 

Jamie chuckled at her unusual delight at the idea of visiting with Murtagh, "Aye, I'll bring the auld bugger back up wi' me. I'm certain he would like to see the twins as well, so I'll have Mary bring them from the nursery."

"Thank you, my love." Claire gushed as she blew a kiss to his retreating back. 

A few minutes after Jamie had left there was a knock on the door, "Excuse me mistress Fraser, it's Mary wi' the children, may I enter?"

Claire straightened out her skirts, "Yes Mary, please bring them in."

Mary opened the door and took a step back to allow Fergus to move past her and step into the room.  He walked over to the bed and set Eilidh down, "Eilidh, go get Mama" 

Mary came in, closed the door, and moved to put Alexander on the bed as well.  Alexander turned and crawled after his sister toward Claire.  Fergus climbed on the other side of the bed, using his body as a barrier so his siblings wouldn't fall off. 

"Mary, why don't you go down and have a snack before it's time for dinner preparations, tell Joan and Isabel to join you." Claire reached out to help Eilidh stand as she crawled up near her shoulder.

"Yes mistress, thank ye." Mary excused herself and closed the door quietly behind her. 

The children all three took turns placing messy kisses on Claire's cheek then Fergus convinced the twins to sit and listen while he sang to them. 

Frère Jacques
Frère Jacques


Dormez Vous?
Dormez Vous?


Sonnez les matines
Sonnez les matines


Ding ding dong
Ding ding dong

The twins clapped along as Fergus sang, every once in a while they would unsuccessfully attempt to repeat the words back to him.

As Fergus was finishing up his third rendition of the song, Jamie and Murtagh walked in, "What's this then, are ye teachin' 'em French already?"

Jamie clapped him on the shoulder, "Nah, only what Fergus tends to say to them, they'll not begin their formal French lessons until after their third birthday.  Only Gàidhlig and English for now." 

Murtagh looked over at Claire, "How are ye feelin' lass, yer positively glowing."

Claire alarmed at what Murtagh had said, looked down at her hands, but was relieved when she didn't see the healing blue glow that emanated from her hands when she used her abilities, "I'm feeling quite well actually, I am so happy to see you, to see you made it there and back in one piece. We have missed you, I would get up and come give you a hug, but it's a bit difficult for me to move around so much lately.  So come over here and give me a hug."

Murtagh grinned behind his mustache, but walked around the bed nevertheless and leaned down to give her a brief squeeze, "Motherhood looks bonny on ye Claire."

Claire grinned as he pulled away to stand beside her, "Thank you, Murtagh, I was hoping you would make it back before this little one decided to come into the world.  But pull up a chair, we have much to tell you."

Murtagh did is he was bid and sat down to listen to their plans, "Where do ye plan to build all this, the distillery and the stables?"

"The distillery will have to be hidden, I thought about one of the caves on the estate, obviously not the one we showed to the Grey brothers, but ye ken there are several more to choose from, larger more suitable places.  As for the stables, we shall build them just to the west of the castle, I dinna want the horses to far away during foaling season.  The stables will be grander than those at Colum has at Leoch.  I wish to start on the stables this week, but I wish to ask ye to oversee the construction since Claire is so close to having the bairn."

Murtagh nodded in appreciation of their plans, "Aye, I think I can do that.  Thank ye for not letting an auld man grow weary and givin' me somethin' more to do."

Claire and Jamie had not discussed it, but with a mutual look of understanding exchanged between them, they silently agreed, "Murtagh, Claire and I canna thank ye enough for everything ye do for us, everything ye have done for me and everything ye have done for our family.  We want to give ye a gift, we wish to give ye £50,000.  Ye can build a croft of yer own or purchase land or do whatever ye wish wi' it.  We all love having ye here wi' us, but now ye have the freedom to do what ye love and be where ye want to be.  Ye are no longer tied to us if ye dinna wish to be so."

Murtagh's eyes grew to the size of saucers and his jaw dropped open, he shook his head to clear his thoughts, "I thank ye dalta-baistidh, but my place is here, ye are my family and I dinna wish to be anywhere else."

Claire beamed at him, "We are so happy that you feel that way, you are our family as well. We have one other surprise for you, Jamie is going to write to Jared and ask that he send Suzette to us, so that she can serve as my ladies maid.  After she arrives, you may wish to change your mind about that croft, but you are welcome to build it here on the estate or you both can move into one of the larger rooms here in the castle."

Murtagh gave a small bow, "I thank ye, Claire, ye are a true Lady Broch Tuarach.  Jamie, shall we go take a look at those plans ye have for yer stables?"

Chapter Text

Before Murtagh started construction on the stables, he was sent to Broch Mordha to fetch the midwife back to the castle.  Jamie had prepared a special room for her, just two doors down from the Laird's chamber so that she could be close when the time came for Claire to have the baby.  Since it was still quite cold outside and the military camp was located so far away from the castle, only the tenants would assist Murtagh with the construction of the stables. 

Jamie had designed a simple building with stone walls.  There would be stalls along each side with a loft over the center, leaving the middle open with doors at each end.  The individual stalls could be accessed from a half door in the center aisle or from a split door outside.  The design would allow airflow to keep moisture out and reduce mold accumulation. The loft above the central aisle would allow space for hay storage as well as two bed chambers on one end for the stable hands. There would be 10 stalls along each wall, as well as a tack room and office near the front entrance of the stables. 

There was still enough granite from the construction of the castle left over to build the stables, however wood would need to be cut and brought from the nearby woods for the construction of the internal walls, loft floor, and roof beams. While on their trip to London, Jamie would order windows for the bed chambers in the loft. 

 


 

On February 8, 1745, Murtagh had been working on the stables with the other men for almost two weeks when Claire's pains began.  She would not allow Jamie to leave her side for more than a moment.  Fergus was sent to the manor to fetch Jenny so that she could help Mary with the twins.  This labor went much faster than the birth of the twins, but it was no less stressful.  Jamie crawled on the bed behind Claire when she finally determined she could not walk anymore.  She rested against his chest in between contractions, which unfortunately for her rest, were down to only two minutes apart.

A half an hour later the contractions seemed to come one right after another, so Jamie called for the midwife.  When the midwife checked Claire's progress, she determined that it was time for her to push.  Jamie offered her is hands to squeeze as well as offering her his strength. "Ye are doing so good mo nighean donn, I can see the bairn's hair."

Claire took a breath and tried to lean forward to see for herself but it was too great of an angle for her to accomplish in this state, "What color is the hair?"

Jamie chuckled, "This bairn takes after me as well mo chridhe, perhaps the next one will have yer hair."

Claire tried to smile as the next contraction hit her, "I ... don't care ... what color ... as long as ... the baby is healthy." she grunted out as she pushed again.

The midwife, rubbed an herbal oil on her perineum to help reduce the tearing, "One more push, Mrs. Fraser and the head should be delivered."

Claire pushed with all her might and felt the moment that her body released the baby's head.

"Good, that's it, now stop pushing and let yer body do the rest" The midwife murmured. 

Claire tried to keep from pushing, as she suddenly felt a wetness on her shoulders.  She craned her head around as far as she could without moving her body, "Jamie, are you crying, are you alright my love?" 

He nodded, "Aye, I am alright, just so happy."

A moment later Claire felt the baby slip from her body, the midwife cleared the baby's airway and a strong wail followed, "Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, ye have yer selves a wee lass.  Have ye chosen a name for her?"

Jamie nodded as the midwife wrapped up the baby and laid her gently into Claire's waiting arms, "Aye, Faith, her name is Faith."

"What a beautiful name, Mrs. Fraser, give me one more push so we can deliver the afterbirth, then I'll leave ye to enjoy yer new bairn." The midwife caught the placenta, cleaned everything up, pulled Claire's shift down for modesty's sake, and quietly left the room. 

A few minutes after the midwife left, there was a light knock on the door then Jenny peeked her head in, "May I come in and meet my new niece?"

Claire grinned, "Yes, of course, come in."

Jenny quietly closed the door behind her and made her way over to the bed and carefully sat down next to the little family, "Oh Claire, she looks just like ye, she still has yer hair bhràthair.  What did ye decide to name her?" Jenny stroked the baby's downy soft hair as she nursed at her mother's breast.

Jamie grinned as he watched his sister admire her new niece, "We named her Faith, Faith Arabella Grace Fraser."

Jenny looked up, tears in her eyes, "Oh, Jamie, ye gave her one of my names.  Thank ye."

Claire touched Jenny on the shoulder with her free hand, "We would also like to ask you if you would be her godmother, there is no one we would trust more?"

Jenny enveloped Claire in a hug, tears spilling down her face, "Aye, I would be honored to accept, thank ye sister."

Jenny sat up, wiped her tear-streaked face, "Are ye ready to introduce Faith to her siblings and the rest of the family? Everyone is aching to meet her."

Jamie, carefully moved from behind Claire, putting pillows in the space that he had vacated, then sat back down beside her, "Hand Faith over to me, Sassenach so ye can make yer self more comfortable."

Claire placed Faith in Jamie's waiting arms and Jenny helped her to tug the quilt down so that she could put her legs under it and pull it back up over her body. "Alright Jenny, you can send them in now."

Jamie handed Faith back to Claire, preparing himself to intercept the twins. A few minutes after Jenny left, the excited cries of the children could be heard coming toward their bedroom door.  The children had begun walking with assistance only the week before and they came toddling in on their wobbly legs. Jenny and Fergus brought the twins to the edge of Jamie's side of the bed, they were tall enough now to just peer over the edge of the mattress. "Up, Up," they both chanted, trying to get their father to lift them up.

"Is that how ye ask for something mo chuisle? What is it yer supposed to say when ye want something?" Jamie asked them.

Together, in quieter voices came their plea, "Up Da, pease?"

Jamie leaned over to them, "There are my sweet wee bairns, come then, give me yer hands." 

Jamie scooped up Eilidh, who was closest to him first and placed her on the bed between his legs, then he reached down and picked up Alexander and set him on his lap, "Would ye like to meet yer new sister?"

"Aye," They both echoed. 

"Be gentle you two, your sister is a tiny wee thing." Claire cautioned as the children slowly crawled over her legs.

Fergus walked around the bed and sat down next to Claire and gently stroked the baby's cheek. 

Alexander used Claire's arm to pull himself up into a standing position, "Whozat?" he pointed at the baby.

Claire smiled, "That is your baby sister, her name is Faith, can you say, Faith, Alexander?"

Eilidh pulled herself up with Jamie's help, "Fae." she piped up

"That's right, Faith is our new wee bairn a chuisle. Yer a big sister Eilidh and Alexander is a big brother." Jamie gently stroked Eilidh's back as he took in the sight of everything that matters most to him, all sitting on the bed he shares with Claire. 

Alexander turned to his father at the sound of his name, "Wee bear, Fae a wee bear?"

Claire and Jamie chuckled, "Yes my lovey Faith is our wee bairn."

Alexander clapped at his parent's approval, "Me Zander," he pointed to himself, then turned around and pointed to his sister, "Ewee?"

Jamie laughed and scooped up his son, "Aye, yer Alexander and that is Eilidh, my smart lad."

Just then Murtagh poked his head in, "Care for more visitors?"

Jamie turned and grinned at him, "Aye, come in a goistidh, come in and meet Faith."

The twins, hearing Murtagh's voice both turned to welcome him, "Murmur!"

Murtagh who normally had a grouchy countenance beamed at the children, "Aye, tis me Murtagh a chuisle." He bent down to scoop up both children as they both excitedly crawled over to him."

He walked around to Claire's side of the bed, Fergus got up to make room for Murtagh to see the new baby and moved to sit on the foot of the bed near Claire's feet. Murtagh leaned over, holding the twins tight in his arms so they didn't topple over and land on Claire and the baby, "Aye, she is beautiful Claire, she has yer lovely features, but that stubborn MacKenzie hair still made an appearance." 

Claire grinned and stretched her hand out to tangle her fingers in Jamie's crimson locks, "I happen to love that the children all have their father's hair, but we have yet to see whose eyes she has."

Murtagh set the twins down on the floor and stroked Faith's cheek, "Let's hope she has yer eyes, Claire.  May I hold the lass?"

Fergus got up and took both twins by the hand, "Come petites enfants, let's go play with your blocks so Mama, Da and Faith can get some rest." He led them out of the room and back to the nursery.

Claire handed Faith up into Murtagh's eager arms and grinned as he cooed to her, "The wee lass is bigger than Eilidh or Alexader were when they was born, is she no?"

Claire nodded, "Yes she is, but that is expected with twins, they are typically a bit smaller since there are two of them taking up the space that is usually meant for one baby.  But all of the children are above average for their age, I attribute that to their larger than life father." Claire turned and winked at Jamie.

Jamie scooted closer to Claire and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, drawing her against him, "How is the progress on the stables coming, a goistidh?"

Murtagh swayed back and forth, never taking his eyes off of Faith, grunted, "The stables shall be complete in a fortnight, everyone is working together easily."

"Good, we wish to invite the tenants for the twin's birthday and hold our quarter day at the same time.  We plan to hold the gathering in the stables and announce our intentions for the estate." Jamie stated. 

Murtagh finally tore his gaze from Faith, "Och, Aye, and will ye be invitin' the redcoats as well?"

Jamie shook his head, fully aware of Murtagh's disdain for the British soldiers, "Nah, not this time a goistidh.  We have a gift we wish to give to each of the tenants as well as an announcement, besides that of our plans of the whisky distillery and Clydesdales.  We dinna wish for Colonel Grey or his men to ken of our plans or the gifts we wish to bestow upon our tenants." 

Chapter Text

A few days after her birth, Faith's eyes had begun to change from the typical newborn grey into a more golden color that closely resembled Claire's eyes. Everyone who looked into her eyes became mesmerized by them, but none so much as Murtagh.  Murtagh would take his lunch in the castle every day, instead of eating lunch in the stables with the other men, so that he could hold his newest god-daughter. 

Even though he spent so much time with Faith, Murtagh along with the other men were able to finish the constructions of the stables in time for the Quarter day gathering.  The tenants helped Murtagh to build several tables that would fit in the center aisle of the stables and would provide enough seating for all of the tenants which had been invited to celebrate the twin's birthday as well as receive a gift from the Laird and Lady of Broch Tuarach. 

Once Jamie and Claire had shared their plans with Jenny and Ian for the gifts they intended to bestow upon their tenants, the couple offered help in any way that would be needed. The couple had decided to gift the families of each croft on their estate with £100 as well as build new crofts for each family and utilize the materials from their existing crofts in whatever way the individual families requested.  Whether it be to enlarge their new croft, rebuild the old croft for aging children about to marry, or use the materials for a barn or shed.  The tenants would be the labor force behind the project, each pitching in to help the others.  The tenants would also not be required to pay rents for the next ten years as long as they helped with whatever work was required around the growing estate as well as stay loyal to their Laird's wishes to remain loyal to their king.

Claire had decided that the best way to gift the families with the money would be to place it in a small pouch, and she would need help making enough of them in time for quarter day.  She enlisted Jenny's help with the assembly of the pouches, using the material from one of the old silk dresses they had found in the attic of the manor house. 

After a week and a half, Claire was becoming restless and decided to start welcoming patients to her surgery again.  She always kept Faith nearby in a basket in the corner of her surgery, while the other children played with Fergus and Mary either in their nursery or in the parlor near the hearth.  Everyone was becoming anxious for the weather to warm up so that they could enjoy some time outside as well.

Claire had been voicing her concerns to Jamie about the weather still being too cold for the children to travel by wagon when they would depart toward London on April first.  She came up with an idea and went to his study to present it to him, "Jamie, I have been thinking about our eventual departure to see the King and I think I have come up with a solution.  I don't know if they have been invented yet, but in America or the colonies, settlers will use covered wagons to travel across the country in search of their new homes."

"I'm not sure what they did to make them stand up against the weather but I thought we could use canvas soaked in oil the hung to dry as a cover for our wagon.  Once the canvas is dry we will stretch it over the arched framework and tie it down on both sides of the wagon.  There will be a flap at the front and back that can be secured to keep the weather out and the children warm inside.  If we build two wagons like that, there will even be enough room for everyone to sleep inside them during bad weather.  What do you think, do you think we have time for such a thing before we leave?"

Jamie had leaned back in his chair, his arms folded together over his chest as he listened to Claire's idea, "Aye, that sounds like a braw idea, Sassenach.  The children can stay out of the wind and rain, even harsh sun while we travel and we will all have a semblance of a roof over our heads at night.  Murtagh and I shall get started on building them the day after quarter day, three weeks should give us enough time." 

 


 

March 8, 1745, had finally come, Alexander and Eilidh's first birthday had arrived and the stables had been finished just in the nick of time.  The tenants began arriving bright and early, bearing gifts for the twins as well as food for the quarter day celebration.  Each tenant became emotional when Jamie presented them with the gift, a few even let a couple of tears fall before they were able to regain their composure. 

As everyone sat down to eat their lunch, Jamie used a fork to tap his glass, making a clanking sound to get everyone's attention, "Thank ye all for coming today, Lady Broch Tuarach and I wish to thank everyone for the gifts brought to our children as well as for coming to spend this special day wi' us.  Along wi' the gift we have given ye, we have additional news to share wi everyone.  We have a few things on the agenda, so if ye will let us get through the list before ye ask yer questions, it should save us all a bit of time.  I'll let Lady Broch Tuarach, take it from here."

Claire stood up next to Jamie as he sat back down beside her, "Thank you Laird Broch Tuarach.  As the Laird said, we thank you for coming.  Now to begin, we will not be requesting rents to be paid for the next ten years.  However, in order for us to be able to offer all of you such a thing, we shall request your help in keeping the entire estate running profitably.  We wish for each family to have a new croft built using the materials from our land, each of you will help the rest to accomplish this task.  It will take everyone to make this happen, we will complete one croft at a time, but with the help from everyone, we should be able to have two new crofts built per week.  By the time the weather turns again, everyone should have a new croft." 

"In exchange for all of this, we will request your loyalty, not only to us but to your king as well. The Laird and I are against a Jacobite uprising, it is a doomed cause and we will not engage in it, if you wish to stay as a tenant of Laird Broch Tuarach and me, you will be required to pledge your loyalty to us and the crown.  If you do not wish to do this, you are free to leave and find your place elsewhere in the world.  We are doing this to protect you and your way of life, but if you do not agree, please go now, no one will stop or harm you for your own beliefs."

"We also have plans to make Lallybroch more profitable, our new business ventures will also create jobs for some of you, which you will be paid fairly for.  First we are going to begin breeding prized draft horses.  Laird Broch Tuarach and I will be traveling to London next month to acquire our first broodmares to begin this business venture.  The stables you now find yourselves sitting in, have been constructed primarily for these horses.  Over the next few years, we will continually add to our breeding stock and may eventually need to add additional stables as well as hands to care for them."

"Our second venture is going to be a whisky distillery, this one, however, will take a bit more time to get started.  We wish to begin construction on the distillery once we return from London, however, that maybe a few months or more from now.  We will be planting barley crops so that when the distillery is complete we can begin with the next step in the process.  In addition to these crops, we will plant potatoes as well as some other crops you may not have heard of.  There will likely be a famine coming if a war does come, we must prepare ourselves so that we will survive.  Now if anyone has any questions you may seek either me or my husband out and we will do our best to answer them, please continue to enjoy your meal."

Everyone went back to their individual conversations and enjoying their meal, occasionally a tenant would come up and thank Jamie and Claire for everything they were doing for them.  A few tenants had come up asking about inviting family members to become tenants of the Lallybroch estate.  Overall Quarter day had turned out to be an overwhelming success.

That night Jamie retired to his study to write his letter to Jared requesting that Suzette be sent to Scotland.  Jamie, Murtagh, and Lord John would ride to Inverness the next day to post the letter and purchase supplies to build the covered wagons that Claire had suggested as well as purchase additional horses to pull the wagons.  The entire round trip would take them a fortnight.  Before they left, Jamie and Murtagh had talked with the tenants who had helped with the stables about building new stables near the manor house for Jenny and Ian's horses. 

The tenants would begin construction while Jamie and Murtagh were gone and hopefully be finishing up by the time they returned.  The stables would be a more basic design than the castle stables but would allow more room to work with the animals.  The rest of the tenants would begin work on rebuilding each of the tenant's crofts. 

 


 

A week had passed since Jamie and Murtagh had departed for Inverness when Colonel Grey came riding into the castle stables, throwing his horses reins to Rabbie MacNab. "Where is Laird Broch Tuarach, I must speak with him at once, it is a matter of great importance?"

Rabbie bowed, "He is not here Colonel, would ye like to speak with Lady Broch Tuarach?"

Hal nodded, "Yes, please lead the way."

Rabbie tied Hal's horse to a nearby hitching post then turned and led the way back to the castle.

The two entered the castle through the kitchen door at the back, where Isabel and Joan were preparing lunch for the family.  The women curtsied to Colonel Grey, "Colonel, the Laird is not here, shall I fetch the Lady Broch Tuarach to speak wi' ye?" Isabel addressed him. 

"Yes, please miss Isabel, I shall wait in the parlor for the Lady."

Rabbie left the castle to return to his work in the stables, while Isabel went upstairs to fetch Claire.  Isabel found Claire in the nursery with the children, Faith rested in her arms while Fergus and the twins built towers with the blocks that Jamie had carved for them. "Pardon me, Lady Broch Tuarach, Colonel Grey is waiting in the parlor to speak wi' ye."

Claire got to her feet, taking care not to wake Faith from her light slumber, "Mary, please take Faith while I go down and find out what has brought the Colonel here today."

Mary stood and took the few steps that brought her in front of Claire, "Yes my Lady, I will watch over the children."

"Thank you, Mary." Claire turned and followed Isabel downstairs and to the parlor, where Colonel Grey was pacing back and forth in front of the hearth.  Claire could tell by his demeanor that he was clearly agitated about something.  "Colonel, please have a seat and tell me what brings you here today."

Hal took a seat on the settee but didn't relax, "Thank you Lady Broch Tuarach, I have come to speak with your husband, but I have been informed that he is not here.  When should I expect his return?"

Claire walked over to the bar cart in the corner and began to pour two tumblers of whisky, "I'm afraid I do not expect my husband back for at least another week.  He left a week ago, headed to Inverness to purchase supplies for our trip to London.  Perhaps you can tell me why you are here, I may be able to help you."

Hal scoffed, but without having Jamie here to inform of his news, he had no choice but to leave word with Claire, "I was hoping to share this disheartening news with your husband, but since he is not here, I will share it with you.  We have received word that the ship that Prince Charles sailed from Italy on has docked on the Island of Eriskay, however, the prince was not seen disembarking from the ship."

Claire gasped and covered her mouth with her open palm. It was just as she had feared, Prince Charles had not given up this futile cause.  He had also arrived four months ahead of the time that history had recorded.  She and Jamie were quickly running out of time to secure the fate of their people.

Chapter Text

Jamie and Murtagh had arrived in Inverness four days after they left Lallybroch.  It was already evening by the time they rode into town, so they decided to stay the night in a tavern and shop for the supplies they would need in the morning.  While they were eating dinner in the tavern they overheard some Jacobite supporters talking about Charles Stuart and the ship he had sailed from having docked on the Island of Eriskay recently.  They also overheard that the prince was in Scotland to gain support to fight the British army. 

Jamie concluded that they would have little time to prepare once they returned home and decided to purchase already oiled canvas for the wagons in order to save a few days once they returned home.  They would need to leave immediately upon their return and could not afford an extra week of preparations.  They would also need to postpone their visit to Edinburgh until after they had spoken to the King, there was no time to waste. 

After discussing his concerns with Murtagh, the men decided that sailcloth would be the best option for the wagons since it was essentially waxed linen.  So at daybreak, they made their way to the shipyard at Inverness to purchase the sailcloth.  Jamie also decided to purchase four additional wagon wheels which could be mounted inside the wagon boxes.  It wouldn't hurt to have enough spares to change out a wheel quickly if they ran into a broken wheel.  After obtaining the rest of the provision as well as a horse and wagon to haul everything back to Lallybroch the men departed just past noon on the fifth day.  As long as the good weather held up, they should make it back to Lallybroch in seven or eight days.

 


 

Back in Lallybroch Claire handed Hal the whisky she had poured for him and sat down opposite him with her own whisky, "Do you think we will still have time to go to London and talk to the King?  Do you think he will even grant us an audience?"

Hal sipped his whisky, "Yes madam, I have written a letter and received a response about your husband's intentions.  King George is expecting you as soon as you can make the trip.  He is eager to hear what you have to say about what you think might be ahead for the future of his kingdom.  I understand you and Mr. Fraser would like to stop in Edinburgh on the way to London, but I would suggest that we go straight to London and stop in Edinburgh on the return leg of the journey.  I believe with the news that I have brought to you today, that it is imperative that we arrive as soon as possible."

Claire sipped her whisky, "Yes I agree that we must leave as soon as possible and wait until after we speak to the King to take care of our other business. However, Jamie and I have discussed what will be required for our trip to London and we have designed a covered wagon to protect the children from the weather.  We had planned to build them when Jamie and Murtagh return, but if you can send some of your soldiers up to the stables, I can get them started on building them so the wagons will be ready for their cover's when Jamie does return."

Hal threw back the rest of his whisky, stood and walked over to the hearth and placed his empty tumbler on the mantle, "Yes I think I can manage that, how many men will you need?"

Claire emptied her tumbler, stood, and walked over to the bar cart to refill her glass, "I appreciate everything you are doing for us Hal, I believe that we can have the wagons ready in time if you send four men to help build them.  If you could have them meet me in the stables at sunrise tomorrow morning we can get started."

Hal straightened up from his place at the mantel, "Yes Mrs. Fraser, I can spare the men.  I will send them over at daybreak if that is not going to be too early for you."

Claire set her now empty tumbler back on the bar cart and walked over to escort Hal to the door, "Thank you Hal, I appreciate it, I will send then back to camp as soon as we have the wagons ready."

 


 

The next morning, just as Hal had promised four soldiers rode up to the stables, prepared to do whatever Claire asked of them.  Claire was in the stables with two of her tenants waiting for them when they arrived. "Good morning gentlemen, I have the plans here for what we are going to build, Mr. MacGillery and Mr. MacAulley are going to take you to the woods to fetch the wood we will need to build the wagons, it shouldn't take more than an hour to bring back what we need.  We are going to build two covered wagons, we won't have the covers for them until my husband returns, so we will build the wagons and the frames for the covers so that when Mr. Fraser returns all we will need to do is place the covers on them.  Does anyone have any questions so far?"  

All of the men murmured a no that they didn't have any questions so Claire sent them to fetch the materials as she returned to the castle to feed Faith while they were gone.  Claire went straight to the nursery where Mary and Isabel were staying with the children, "Fergus can I count on you to help Mary and Isabel to watch your siblings and if anything comes up they will send you out to the stables to fetch me?"

"Oui Mama, I shall pay with Alexander and Eilidh, keep them entertained while you do your work.  I know that Da would want me to watch over them while you are both away." Fergus exclaimed as he continued to build block towers with the twins. 

Claire stayed in the nursery to feed Faith so she could enjoy the company of all of her children until it was time to get to work.  Once Faith had been fed and changed, Claire laid her in her the spare cradle which was moved to the nursery when Faith was born.  She retreated from the nursery, walked down the hall, and entered the Laird's room.  She changed into some leather breeks that she had asked Jenny to help her make and returned to the stables.

The men were just returning with their supplies from the forest when she walked into the stables. "Alright men, we are going to work together to get these wagons built as quickly as possible.  Mr. Fraser will be bringing back the wheels from Inverness with him, so we will be focused on the frame construction first.  Now if you will all gather around to take a look at the design and get an idea of what we wish to accomplish, I believe this will go faster."

All of the men gathered around a table where Claire had laid out the plans, they quickly decided who was best skilled to take on which job.  By midday they had the boxes for the back section of each wagon built and Claire invited all of the men inside to eat some lunch.  When they had finished their lunch of lamb stew and bannocks, they all returned to the stables to begin construction on the benches which would attach to the front section of the wagon box. 

The two tenants had an idea of the best way to bend the timber to make rounded frames for the covered area of the wagon.  They suggested soaking the timbers in the loch behind the castle overnight so that the wood would soften enough to bend.  Since they had finished everything besides the cover frames, the tenants returned to their crofts and the soldiers returned to the army camp in the early afternoon.  They would all return after lunch the following day to work on bending the frames. 

 


 

The tenants and soldiers returned just after lunch the next day to check on the flexibility of the timbers.  They retrieved one piece of timber from the loch where it had been soaking and carried it to the edge of the forest where they would essentially use leverage with rope and a large tree stump to bend the timber into shape.  A piece of rope was tied to each end of the timber with three men pulling on each end as the timber was braced on the opposite side of the tree.  As the men held the partially bent timber in place, Claire took another piece of rope and strung it between the two ends to tie on each end and maintain the tension and the shape of the frame piece. 

Once this was accomplished the timber was placed back into the loch to soften further.  They repeated this process with the seven other pieces of timber.  The bending of the timber was a grueling feat and took the men all day to accomplish.  They would return the next day to repeat the process and bend each timber even more.  Bending the timbers to the correct curvature took three days to accomplish, once they were bent into the correct shape, the timbers would need to dry, so they were brought into the stables to avoid possible rain. 

On the twelfth day after Jamie and Murtagh's departure from Lallybroch, they were ready to attach the frames to the wagon boxes.  The tension ropes were gradually moved closer to the curve of the frame and would remain on each timber frame for the duration of their trip to London and subsequent return trip home. 

 


 

Jamie and Murtagh pulled into the stables thirteen days after their original departure, they had arrived right on time for dinner.  Jamie led Donas and Eclipse into their stalls along with the new mare so that Rabbie could rub them down with straw, feed, and water them.  The supplies would remain in the wagon until the next morning.  Both men were filthy from their travels and famished from pushing so hard to get back as soon as possible.  The men washed their hands and faces in the outdoor basin near the kitchen before going inside to find their family.

Claire had invited Isabel, Mary, and Joan to join her and the children in the formal dining room to have their evening meal.  With Faith nursing and the twins sitting at the table on their own, she welcomed the help of the three servants to assist in getting the children fed.  Alexander, Eilidh, and Fergus were chattering amongst themselves as Claire nursed Faith and attempted to feed herself with her free hand.  Mary sat next to Eilidh and Isabel sat next to Alexander, feeding the children as they would quiet and take a bite of their Lamb stew.

Jamie grinned as he walked toward the formal dining room as he heard the cheerful sounds of his children.  He quietly opened the two large oak doors, unnoticed by the children, and took his place at the head of the table.  Murtagh followed suit and took his place at the opposite end of the table from Jamie.  Joan had noticed them come in and went to fetch two additional bowls for the men. 

Claire smiled sweetly at Jamie as he sat down next to her, "Hello my love, I am so glad you are back.  Unfortunately, I have some troubling news to share with you.  But we will talk about that after the children are put to bed."

Jamie took Claire's hand in his and placed a tender kiss on her knuckles, "Aye, I'm afraid that I have some troubling news to share with ye as well, mo chridhe.  I hope the children have behaved well enough for ye, while we were gone."

Claire squeezed his hand, "Oh yes, the children were angels while their father was away.  Fergus has been a godsend, he helped Isabel and Mary watch the other children while I was out in the stables this past week."

Jamie took the bowl that Joan had brought back to him and ladled himself some stew, "Aye, I noticed the two wagon boxes in the stables when we returned, ye have been busy and I am grateful that ye were able to get so much accomplished while I was away.  After I share my news ye will understand why I am so grateful to ye for having the wagons ready for the covers and wheels to be put on, but we will talk about that after we retire to our chambers.  Right now I wish to fill my belly and watch my children enjoy themselves."

Jamie finished his stew and then had a second bowl before the children noticed his presence.  Fergus turned to ask Claire a question when he saw Jamie holding Faith in his arms and stroking her tiny face with a single finger, "Da, you have returned to us, how was your trip?"

Before Jamie could answer, two identical squeals of delight filled the room.  Jamie passed Faith back to Claire as Eilidh and Alexander were helped down from their places at the table.  Once their feet hit the ground the twins barreled gleefully toward Jamie to welcome their father home.  Murtagh grinned at the sight of his godson and his family, knowing that Ellen and Brian would have loved to witness the joy that was unfolding before him. They would be so proud of the man he had become, he was a man of worth, a loving husband, an adoring father and a respected Laird and leader to his people.  God willing he would be able to speak to the King and become a savior to the Scots as well. 

Chapter Text

After everyone had retired to their chambers for the night and the children had been tucked in and kissed, Jamie and Claire returned to the Laird's chamber.  They relaxed in the plush chairs near the hearth, Jamie watching as Claire nursed Faith.  He loved to see his beautiful wife nourish their children, pouring the very essence of life into their tiny bodies.  He was startled from his reverie by Claire's soft voice, "What are you thinking about, you have a beautiful smile on your face so it must be something good?"

Jamie grinned and pulled his gaze from Faith to look into Claire's eyes, "Och, I was simply enjoying the vision before me, ye ken how much I love to see my bairns at yer breast."

She grinned back at him, tearing her gaze away from his to gaze down at Faith, whose mouth had gone slack, "Would you like to burp her and put her in the cradle?"

Jamie stood and took the single stride that brought him to her, he reached down and carefully removed the baby from Claire's arms.  He brought her to his shoulder, gently patted her back and nuzzled his nose against her downy cinnamon curls.  He would never tire of breathing in the unique scents of his children or wife.  Faith let out a tiny burp and melted into Jamie's shoulder.  He swayed back and forth for a few moments, savoring this time with his youngest daughter.  He began humming to the baby, it was one of the songs he remembered his mother singing to him when he was a small lad.

Claire paused her progress of removing her clothes and looked up at Jamie, "That is the first time you have done that since before we were in Paris, did you realize your voice is perfectly pitched?  I must have truly been able to heal everything from the axe blow that Dougal gave you."

Jamie laid Faith in her cradle and turned to look at Claire, "Aye, I suppose it did work, I had no' realized it.  I ken ye sing beautifully, but I have always thought so, yer voice has a lovely cadence which I could always recognize."

Claire hummed in gratitude, grinned at him, and continued removing her layers.  Once she was down to nothing but her shift, she sat down at her vanity to brush out her hair.  Jamie removed everything except his shirt and wandered over to the bed, pulling back the quilts and sitting against the headboard to wait for his wife to finish with her hair. 

Claire finished, rose from her seat, and walked over to join Jamie in bed.  She sat down next to him, tucking her legs under the quilts and pulling them up over her lap. "I have some news from Hal, it is the reason that the wagons are ready."

Jamie nodded, "I have some news as well, I am going to assume that our news is likely the same.  While in Inverness Murtagh and I overheard some Jacobite sympathizers talking about Prince Charles.  They said he had arrived in Scotland and was building an army."

Claire looked at Jamie wide-eyed, "Hal did say they had news of the ship Charles had sailed from Italy docking in Scotland, but Charles was not seen disembarking from the ship.  This is what I was afraid of, he is stepping up the timeline.  We must leave for London as soon as possible, we must speak to the King before this gets too far."

Jamie took her hand in his, "Aye, I agree.  I will ride to the army camp tomorrow and fetch Colonel Grey and his men.  I will have Murtagh fetch the tenants who will be building the distillery as well and we can speak with them all over lunch.  We can leave for London in two days' time."

Claire looked at Jamie with a confused expression, "Jamie, we can't leave that soon, we still have to coat the canvas in oil and then let it dry.  That usually takes weeks, the soonest we will be able to leave is in ten to fourteen days."

Jamie gave her a mischievous smirk as he stroked his thumb over her knuckles, "Nah, we willna have to wait, after hearing of Charles' arrival in Scotland I decided to purchase sailcloth.  It cost a bit more than plain canvas, but by doing so we have saved several weeks of waiting.  Mary, Isabel, and Joan can help cut the cloth into the right sizes, then we can strap the covers onto the wagons.  Once the covers are in place, Murtagh and I can attach the wheels to the wagons.  We purchased extra wheels that we will attach under the wagon boxes to save us time in the chance one of the wheels is damaged."

"Oh Jamie, you amazing man, I never doubted you. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, we should get some sleep."

Jamie pulled her against him and placed a kiss on her shoulder, "Aye, we should, but first, I have missed my wife and I ken it has been long enough since ye birthed Faith.  Do ye want me now, Sassenach?"

Claire sighed as she melted into his arms, "Oh God yes."

Jamie pulled her shift over her head, Claire lifted her hips slightly to aid in the removal of the thin garment.  He then pulled his own shirt off and tossed both pieces of clothing to the floor at the end of the bed.  He laid her down gently and moved to hover above her.  He began worshipping her body, placing kisses all over her lovely white skin, beginning at her collar bones.

He kissed and nipped down until he reached her nipple, he took it into his mouth, suckling enough to allow her pleasure but holding back to not bring down the milk meant for his wee Faith.  He kneaded the other nipple, occasionally pinching and rolling the hard nipple between his thumb and forefinger.  After a bit, he switched and suckled the other nipple as well as showing the same attention to the nipple his mouth just left.

He trailed his fingers down her body, causing goosebumps to rise in their wake.  Claire shivered, but not from the cold, her back arching off the bed as she tried to press her breast deeper into Jamie's eager mouth.  He softly chuckled at her reaction to him, "Lay back and relax my love, I wish to make this last tonight."

Claire tried to relax under his ministrations, but it had been so long since they had made love, she didn't know if she could wait much longer. 

Jamie moved away from her breasts and began kissing lower, he kissed each of the marks she had earned from carrying his children, "Tis my favorite part of ye, Sassenach, tis the marks of our love that will remain wi' ye forever." 

He kissed all over her naval, repositioning his legs to fit between hers, he lowered his body so his mouth was just above her mound.  She gasped as he blew gently over her nub.  He used a single finger to slide down over her folds, she was already so wet and wanting him.  He leaned down and inhaled, breathing in the heady sweet scent of her.  His finger glided over her folds, moving in ever so slightly with each pass.  He poked his tongue out and touched the tip of it to her bud, she squeaked at the sudden jolt of electricity that shot up her spine, then settled as a pleasurable warmth in her belly. 

He grinned, happy in the knowledge that he could bring her to such ecstasy and began to swirl his tongue around and over her bud.  His finger plunged into her depths and curled forward, evoking more delicious sounds from her lovely mouth.  He licked faster and his fingers matched the rhythm that his eager tongue set.  Claire began to pant, her hips bucking against his mouth.  He took hold of both of her thighs to hold her steady while he brought her to the edge of oblivion.

He doubled down on his efforts, switching to lick her folds, plunging his tongue as deep as he could reach, while his thumb rubbed with the right amount of pressure over her nub.  She let go of the bedsheets and gripped his curls tight in her fists as she cried out his name. "Oh Jamie, oh God, don't stop."

He wasn't planning on stopping and continued until she fell over the edge and her body went limp.  But he was far from finished, he crawled up over her, kissing her flushed pink body all the way up, capturing her lips between his teeth as he plunged his cock into her with a single swift rock of his hips.  They released matching groans at the sudden mingling of their souls.  He kissed her deeply and rocked his hips slowly until his body demanded more.  He released her lips, arched his back and slammed into her repeatedly, almost losing himself in the exquisite sensations shooting through his body.

He held himself back until he felt her walls quiver and her nub pulse against him.  Her fingers dug into his shoulder, surely leaving crescent-shaped indentations from her fingernails as she lost her self again, her orgasm brought on his as he spilled his seed deep inside, her body milking him to completion.  He lowered himself to lay beside her and gathered her against him without severing their connection.  He stroked her hair, peppering kisses all over her face, "I love ye so much mo chridhe."

She sighed, "Oh Jamie, I love you so much, I have missed you, I have missed this."

He grinned, "Ye missed the bedding?"

She giggled and stroked his stubble, "Well yes, but I meant just being together, having you next to me, being able to touch you whenever I want, to talk to you about anything and yes to be able to make love to my husband and have him worship my body.  I am beyond happy to have you back with me and I never wish to part from you for so long ever again."

He kissed the tip of her nose and looked deep into her amber eyes, "I canna promise that I willna have to part wi' ye again, but I dinna wish to either.  When the time comes that I must part wi' ye for good, if my last words are not 'I love ye' Ye will ken it is because there wasna time."

Claire smiled and placed a tender kiss on the corner of his lips, "Me too, my love, me too."

 


 

The next morning everyone woke early and converged in the formal dining room for breakfast and instructions on what was to be accomplished that day.  Jamie gave Murtagh instructions on which tenants to fetch, and Claire told the servants what would be required of them. Fergus was sent down to the manor house to inform Jenny and Ian that they would be needed at the castle for lunch. 

Claire waited for Fergus to return then gathered Isabel and Joan to help her with cutting and stretching the sailcloth over the wagons while Mary and Fergus stayed with the other children in the nursery.  With all three ladies working on the sailcloth they were able to finish placing the covers on the wagons after only two hours.  Claire returned to the nursery as Mary joined Joan and Isabel in the kitchen to prepare the large lunch that would be required for everyone that would be attending lunch at the castle. 

The formal dining room was not large enough for all of the soldiers, tenants, servants, and family that would be attending lunch so Claire decided it would be served buffet style in the great room.  Murtagh and the tenants arrived back at the castle first, so Claire urged them to grab some food before everyone else arrived.  If they could avoid everyone having to stand in line at once, it would make the meeting go smoothly. 

Just as the tenants were all sitting down, Jamie arrived with the soldiers and a few minutes later Ian and Jenny walked through the front door.  Everyone got a plate of food and sat down to eat.  Everyone was scattered about the room on the settees, the chairs, and even some on the stairs.  Joan was with all of the children upstairs to keep distractions at bay, while Mary and Isabel joined the family in the great room. Jamie decided it was the perfect time to let them all know the plan while they were eating and for the most part quiet.

Jamie stood up and tapped his fork on his whisky tumbler to get everyone's attention, "Thank ye all for coming, ye are here today because we have had to move up our plans to depart for London.  We recently received news that Prince Charles has landed in Scotland and as ye ken, Claire has the sight and kens what is to come.  If we are to have a chance to speak wi' King George and tell him what we ken, we must leave sooner than originally planned.  We will be departing at first light tomorrow."  

"I have already spoken to the Colonel about what we plan to do, so Colonel Grey and his men will stay in the rooms above the stables tonight.  Jenny and Ian, I would like for ye to stay in the castle while we are gone.  We have finished all of the rooms so there is plenty of room for all of the children.  Being in the castle will give ye a better vantage point to watch over the entire estate and most of the soldiers will be staying behind to continue to protect ye and the estate.  As for the tenants, I have a construction project I wish to put before ye, we will meet in my study and go over the plans after everyone has finished with their lunch."

Everyone stayed quiet, saving any questions or comments they might have until they could speak to Jamie or Claire alone.  When lunch was over, Murtagh led the soldiers out to the stables to show them where they would be sleeping as well as get them started on attaching the wheels to the wagons.  Jenny accompanied Claire upstairs to visit her nieces and nephews before they left on their extended journey the next morning.  Ian accompanied Jamie and the tenants to his study.

Jamie escorted the six tenants and Ian into his study, closed the door and sat down behind his large desk, "Ye all ken what ye will be building but I didna want to voice it in the company of the soldiers.  I have shown Ian the location in which the distillery will be built, it is not far from the castle, but it will be hidden within the woods.  Master Murray will be overseeing the construction, so if ye find ye need more hands or if ye have any questions or concerns, ye must talk wi' him.  For your help with the construction of the distillery, ye will be paid generously." 

"Lady Broch Tuarach and I might not return in time for the first harvest of barley, so we will need help wi' that as well as preparing the barley to distill.  Master Murray will oversee that as well and will keep on anyone willing and able to assist in that process.  It is imperative that ye dinna tell anyone what ye are building or where it is, not even yer wives.  Ye can all return to yer homes now and return to the stables in two days' time and meet Master Murray for yer instructions."

Upstairs in the nursery, Jenny held Faith in her arms as she watched the other children and Claire playing with their blocks, "Claire, do ye ken why Jamie wants us to stay at the castle while ye are away?"

Claire stood up from where she was sitting on the floor next to Alexander and joined Jenny on Eilidh's bed, "Yes, as you know we have all of the sterling hidden here, and as Jamie said you are at a better vantage point to keep watch over everything.  The castle is also better fortified should anything happen, your family will be safer here.  We would feel better about leaving the castle if you all stayed here and we knew you were safe."

Jenny nodded as she gently rocked sleeping Faith in her arms, "Aye, I canna fault ye for that, we shall stay and look after the castle for ye.  Do ye ken how long ye might be gone?"

Claire leaned over and stroked the downy hair on Faith's head, "Honestly, I'm not really sure, a few months at least.  It will all depend on how long it takes us to gain an audience with the king.  We will also be stopping to purchase the breeding stock on our way back.  I'm hoping we won't be gone for longer than four months but I can't promise anything."

Jenny sighed, "It was my hope that ye would have returned in time to help wi' the birth of this wee one." She said as she rubbed the swell of her belly.

Claire took Faith from Jenny's arms as she started to fuss and root against Jenny's chest, "That is my wish as well, Jenny, but as I said, I can't promise anything.  We will do our best to make it back home in time for the birth, until then be safe." 

Jenny smiled with tears in her eyes, "We will sister, ye be safe on yer journey as well, bring my brother and these bairns back home to us."

Chapter Text

Everyone woke early the next morning, it wasn't even daybreak when they set off on the road that would carry them away from Lallybroch.  Due to Claire's innovative ideas about how the wagons should be built with spring suspensions, the ride was much smoother than their journey had been after returning from Paris.  The children were all back asleep within moments of leaving the Lallybroch stables and remained asleep for several hours.  Murtagh drove one wagon carrying Isabel and Mary, while Claire drove the other wagon carrying all four of her children.  Fergus rode in the back of the wagon, watching over his three small siblings and Jamie rode on Donas next to Colonel Grey, leading the caravan toward London.  The rest of the soldiers brought up the rear of the group, guarding the family against attacks from other redcoats or Jacobite supporters. 

Alex and Eilidh began to stir around late morning, complaining about being hungry.  So the group decided to stop for a quick lunch as well as allow everyone to stretch their legs.  The men decided they would travel as far as the light would allow each day, then bed down for the night.  They would wake before dawn and resume their trek toward London each day.  After a few weeks of constant travel, the group arrived just outside of Glasgow.  They took a day to replenish their supplies, sleeping in the wagons just outside of town.

During the night, Murtagh and Fergus chose to sleep on a bedroll under the stars.  Alex and Eilidh slept with Mary and Isabel Flanking them in one of the wagons, while Jamie and Claire slept with Faith nestled between them in the other wagon.  During the day Fergus entertained Alex and Eilidh by pointing out different things on their journey and teaching them the French and English words for them.  Faith was unlike her older siblings during the bumpy ride and only fussed when she was hungry or needed her nappy changed.  Fergus held her in his lap, her eyes wide, watching everything as the world went slowly by. 

Almost two months had gone by when the group finally arrived in London.  Jamie decided that the family would stay in a tavern when they arrived so they could wash properly and get a good night's rest before meeting with the King.  Lord John had ridden to the palace when they arrived in London to seek permission for the Frasers to have an audience with the King.  The King had accepted, eager to meet the highland warrior that had tried to put a stop to Charles Stuart's foolish endeavor. 

Claire and Jamie were expected to arrive at the palace in time to take lunch with the King, so Isabel, Mary, Murtagh, and Fergus would stay in the room at the tavern with the smaller children.

Wanting to present themselves respectfully and give the King the best impression of them, Claire and Jamie had packed some of the clothing they had worn in France.  Looking like royalty themselves, Claire wore a deep red silk dress with a white body and delicate silver roping adorning her shoulders.  Jamie decided to wear his family tartan with a black velvet overcoat.  He planned to explain to the King the importance and true meaning of the tartan in hopes of persuading him not to banish it after the coming war. 

They arrived at the London Palace and were ushered inside to a large dining area.  The long table was set at one end, the head seat and a seat on each side, flanking where the King would presumably sit.  Jamie was placed on one side and Claire opposite him, but they were not permitted to sit until the King entered the room and was seated himself.  King George gestured for the couple to take their seats as several dishes were brought to the table. 

Everyone filled their plates and began eating in silence, the tension in the room was palpable.  Jamie and Claire remained silent, respecting the King and allowing him to address them first.  They had gotten about halfway through their meal before he took a sip of his wine and spoke up, "Laird Broch Tuarach, may I call you James?"

Jamie swallowed the bite of venison, "Aye, your Majesty, if it pleases ye."

The King folded his hands together, watching Jamie intently before he continued, "Lord John Grey came to speak with me yesterday, but he did not tell me what exactly you wished to speak with me about."

Jamie reached for his napkin, wiped his mouth, and answered, "We do wish to speak wi' ye.  I dinna ken how much ye ken of a person wi' the sight, but my wife, Claire has the sight.  She is able to see some of what is to come and what she has seen isna good."

King George looked at Claire with a surprised expression, "May I ask, what is it that you have seen exactly my dear?"

Claire having expected to speak hand already stopped eating and was waiting quietly with her hands folded in her lap, "It's a bit hard to explain, but I will do my best." Claire cleared her throat, "As you know Prince Charles Stuart wants to reclaim the throne in the name of his father.  I believe that he still wishes to do so and has taken measures to make that happen.  My husband and I, as well as many Scots, do not wish to see another rising and are quite happy with your rule.  We would like to help, I'm not sure if we can stop another rising from happening, but maybe we can minimize the effects."

King George nodded, "Yes I do not wish to see any of my people killed unnecessarily, so tell me, my dear, what is it you have seen and how do you think we can reduce the effects of what you see does come to pass?"

Claire placed her folded hands on the table, leaned forward, prepared to lay it all out there, "I have seen Charles, raising an army of Jacobite supporters, I have seen his army winning several small battles, but at the end of it all, I see many deaths on both sides.  But that is not all, I have seen how you punish the remaining Scots for the rising, whether they were supporters or not.  You will ban the Gàidhlig language being spoken or taught, which would be a travesty since it is an important part of their identity and heritage.  You will ban the wearing or even possessing of all tartans because you were either told or assumed the tartan was used as a war garment meant to show defiance to the crown.  Your soldiers will take food, valuables, and anything they deem as offensive from the Scots.  My husband and I are here, not only to advise you on what we know of Charles Stuart but to tell you the truth of those things you will wish to ban, in hopes that you do not punish innocent people or strip them of the heritage."

The King leaned back in his chair after listening intently to Claire,  "Some of what you have told me, I already know to be true.  I was informed that the tartan was in fact meant to rise feelings of hate against my army and myself, but if that is not the case, please tell me the meaning of it."

Jamie spoke up, "I will tell ye the meaning yer Majesty.  We Scots wear the tartan as formal wear or to celebrate holidays.  I wear mine today as a form of respect for you and your status.  It is not meant to raise any feelings of hate or anything else, it is simply worn to honor you and show pride in myself.  Each clan tartan has a different pattern, it is a visual way for other Scots to identify which clan we each come from.  I am basically wearing the name of my clan on my body."

The King nodded, "That is not at all what I expected it to mean, I will agree there is no need to ban the tartan and I must admit I had intended to if war did come.  I also understand the Gàidhlig language, however, it exasperates me that secrets could be spoken in the language unknown to me."

Claire spoke up, "I can understand that as well your Majesty, but it is no different than someone from France, speaking French or someone from China speaking Chinese.  It is simply a language of the region and there are several Scots, such as my husband or his kinsmen for example that would be willing to work as translators for you, if you deem it necessary."

The King folded his fingers together, placing them below his chin and clearly contemplating his next words carefully, "Yes I can see where a translator would eliminate that barrier.  As for my army taking food and valuables from the residents of Scotland, I cannot remove the levies, they are placed there in order to keep everyone in line."

Claire responded, "We are not asking that you remove levies entirely, only that the army does not take any more than necessary.  Families will starve and the country will fall apart if it goes too far, if we allow my visions to come to fruition.  I believe, we believe that in order to get the best outcome possible, we must make these changes.  Hopefully, we can stop Charles before it gets that far, but if not, we are hoping you will take our suggestions under advisement."

The King leaned forward, peering directly at Claire, "What can you tell me of Charles Stuart?"

Claire took a sip of her wine, "I can tell you who the main officers will be, but I'm afraid not much more.  I don't know where he is right now, but I know who his biggest supporters are. His Generals were George Murray, John O'Sullivan, John Drummond, and James Drummond.  He also had the support of my husband's own uncle, the war chief of Clan MacKenzie, although the Clan Chief is against the Jacobites and wishes for you to remain as king, your Majesty. 

The King's eyebrows rose, "What is the name of the war chief?"

Claire saw Jamie smirk out of the corner of her eye and tried not to react, "His name is Dougal MacKenzie, he has been know to raise money in support of Charles Stuart throughout the highlands.  We have no issue with the men responsible for the uprising being punished, but we do beg you not to punish the innocent for the actions of the guilty."

The King leaned back again, appearing to be thinking over everything that the couple had said.  He sat so long that Claire and Jamie resumed eating while the King was lost in thought.  They finished their lunch and the dishes were cleared away before the King spoke up again, "Everything you have said makes sense to me, but how will I ferret out the guilty from the innocent?"

Jamie quirked his eyebrow, this was a question he had pondered for several nights and was thoroughly prepared to answer, "We plant spies among the Jacobites, they will carry with them a symbol that they can show to your army in case of capture.  They will report their findings and lists of true Jacobite supporters to trusted officers within yer army.  All the spies will also be Scots themselves so they are no' suspected of being spies."

The King grinned, "I like this plan of yours, where will I find these Scots that I can use to infiltrate the Jacobites and report back to my officers?"

Jamie grinned, "My tenants, I have spoken to several of the men, none of them want to see anyone other than yer self as King.  They are ready and willing to fulfill this role and have become accustomed to the soldiers that frequent my estate and ken that respectable soldiers can be trusted.  They have asked that ye consider a monthly stipend to ensure their families are taken care of while they are away working to stop Charles Stuart and unable to earn money by regular means."

The King stood so Claire and Jamie stood, "Yes, I agree to this plan, before you leave London, send a list of the men who I will employ as spies.  I trust you to send them to join the Jacobites, they will send their findings to Colonel Grey who will forward them on to his superior officers.  Those on the list will be hunted down, captured, and punished by either imprisonment or death."

Claire curtsied and Jamie bowed, "Thank you, Your Majesty." They said in unison before he excused them. 

The couple returned to the tavern where Jamie wrote the list of the men willing to spy for the crown and sent it with a messenger to the King.

They left London the next day and headed toward Lanarkshire to purchase their breeding stock. 

Chapter Text

Murtagh was sent ahead on Donas, with a letter to Ian to gather the tenants that had volunteered to be spies for the crown and give them their orders.  Since Murtagh took Donas, Jamie took over driving one of the wagons.  The children all seemed to want to ride with their father, so Jamie took over Claire's wagon and Claire drove the wagon with Mary and Isabel and the supplies in the back.  They knew they were running out of time before Charles would have gathered his army, so they traveled for as long as they could each day. 

They arrived in Lanarkshire three weeks after they departed London.  Instead of taking the time to have his chosen mares bred while he witnessed it, Jamie elected to purchase mares that were already impregnated.  The cost was a bit more, but they wouldn't have to wait to be sure they took.  He purchased four pregnant mares and two proven studs.  The breeding stock was tied up behind the wagons to reduce any possible stress on the pregnant mothers.  The pace slowed down a bit due to the additional horses, so they stayed off the main routes to try and avoid the Jacobite army and any impending battles. 

The route to Edinburgh was fraught with danger and the children were becoming inconsolable at times.  They had taken to traveling at night, which slowed their pace even more, but reduced the danger of encountering Jacobites.  One morning, one of the scouts returned to their camp with reports of over 100 men marching toward Edinburgh.  Claire and Jamie put their heads together and came to the conclusion that the battle at Prestonpans was only days away.  They had to get far away from Edinburgh soon, so they decided to leave the children with Colonel Grey and the other soldiers hidden at the camp, deep in the forest, as they rode into Edinburgh and took care of their business at the bank.  They unhitched the horses from one of the wagons and rode the two hours into town at an unforgiving pace.  Since Charles had moved up his timeline, they only brought enough sterling with them to open accounts for Frank and the children.  They would return and deposit a larger amount after the rising came to completion.

They concluded their business at the bank in under two hours and wasted no time in returning to their children.  They had been gone almost six hours by the time they made it back to camp and luckily Mary had been able to keep the children calm.  Faith was beginning to fuss as Claire dismounted from Eclipse, so she ran over to feed her baby, leaving Jamie to deal with the horses.  Since the two horses had been ridden hard, they decided to wait a few hours before turning north toward Lallybroch.  With the army currently engaged at Prestonpans, they shouldn't have any delays for the remainder of their journey. 

A week after they left Edinburgh, they received news of the battle at Prestonpans, and just like the original battle recorded there, the Jacobites were victorious.  However many more lives were lost on both sides.  Jamie attributed this to the fact that Claire was not there this time to set up a field hospital and direct the other women in the care of those who were injured.  They pushed on toward Lallybroch, hoping to make back by the end of the week.  

The military separated from the rest of the group on the road to Lallybroch and headed to the army camp. The family finally arrived at Lallybroch castle just seven short weeks after they departed from London.  Jenny came rushing out as she heard the hoofbeats on the ground outside.  She was heavily pregnant and likely would deliver her youngest child any day now.  Jamie and Claire stopped the wagons at the font steps to the castle to usher the children and servants inside.  They had no time to stop for a proper wash during their speedy return from London and all were in need of a thorough bath.  Jenny, Joan, and Mrs. Crook took the three smaller children up to bath while Isabel and Mary went to the servant's chambers to take care of their own ablutions.  Murtagh and Ian had headed to the stables when they heard the group coming up the road, they met Jamie and Claire there and took over once they climbed down from the wagons.  

Jamie and Claire were sent inside to take care of themselves while the two men untied the breeding stock from the wagons and separated them into their designated stalls.  With the horses settled and fed, Ian and Murtagh went back inside the castle.  Jamie had gone into Murtagh's room to bathe, while Claire went to the Laird's room.  Joan and Jenny put Alex and Eilidh down for a nap, but Faith wanted to eat before she was put down for her nap.  Jamie finished bathing and dressing before Claire, so he took Faith from Jenny to bring her to Claire.  Claire was just stepping out of the bath when Jamie walked in with a fussy baby.

Jamie swayed with her to keep her calm while Claire quickly pulled a fresh shift on over her head.  Claire sat down in the plush chair near the hearth and arranged her shift in preparation for Faith.  Jamie walked over and settled the baby in her arms, then took a seat in the other chair across from her.  It has been so long since they had been able to truly relax like this and they were both relishing the moment.  

Faith finished eating 20 minutes later, her mouth going slack as she fell asleep in her mother's arms.   Claire passed the baby back to Jamie, so he could burp her while Claire finished getting dressed.  Jamie took Faith to the nursery so she could nap with her siblings.  Mrs. Crook was sitting in the nursery monitoring the children so the family could all have a chance to have lunch together and reconnect after almost four months apart. 

Jamie met Claire at the top of the stairs and then went down to the dining room together.  When they walked in, Jenny, Ian, Murtagh, and Fergus were already seated and waiting for them.  Joan brought in their lunch and they all commenced regaling the events that had happened during their time apart.

Jamie told them how the King took the advice they had to give him and Ian and Jenny were surprised that he sounded so trusting of them.  Claire told them about the breeding stock and told them they would be expecting four new foals around March.  Everyone was excited about this news.  Jenny mentioned that Dougal had sent Willie to Lallybroch again to try and convince Jamie to join the Jacobite movement.  Willie was happy however when Jenny sent some tenants with him to join the army.  Ian showed them the letter they had received only a week before from Jared, explaining that he would have to wait to send Suzette to Scotland since the ports were now closed and the tensions in the country were too great to send a single woman on her own all the way to Scotland.  Murtagh grumbled at the news about the delay in her arrival.  After they had finished lunch and had retired to the parlor Claire asked Murtagh to ride into Broch Mordha and fetch the midwife.  She was certain that Jenny would be delivering within the week and she wanted the midwife nearby. 

Jenny looked up at Claire, "How can ye tell, I'm not due for another two weeks yet."

Claire grabbed Jenny's hand, "When we arrived you hugged me and I could feel that your body is getting ready.  You have at most seven days before this next baby comes and I want you to stay here at the castle until she is here."

Jenny's eyes got wide, "Ye said she, are ye certain about that?"

Claire blushed, "Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't mean to say that.  Yes, you are having a little girl, have you chosen a name for her?"

Jenny looked at Ian and they both nodded, "Aye, we have.  If this wean truly is a lass, she will be Katherine." 

Claire squeezed her hand, "Well little Catherine will be here very soon, so I want you to stay close to the castle and take it easy, do not overexert yourself."

Jenny smiled at her, "I trust ye, Claire.  I will do whatever ye say."

Chapter Text

Six days later, Jenny's pains began and Claire and the midwife barely had time to gather their supplies before Jenny felt like it was time to push.   The labor lasted a mere thirty minutes before they welcome baby Catherine into the world.  Catherine was born on August 5, 1745, and three days later Jamie received word that the battle was headed toward Lallybroch.  

The family fortified themselves inside the walls of Lallybroch Castle in preparation against the carnage they may still be facing.  Colonel Grey relocated his entire regiment along with three others to the land directly surrounding Lallybroch Manor and Lallybroch Castle.  The tenants were all gathered, leaving their own homes behind and placed in the safety of the stables, behind the lines of soldiers sent there to protect them. 

Everyone hoped the Jacobites would turn south, away from Lallybroch, away from the innocent families.  Claire prepared her surgery and set up a temporary field hospital in the spare space inside the stables.  She trained the tenants on appropriate care of any wounded men that were brought to them, praying they would never have a need to use their newly acquired skills.  

A week passed by with no further word about either the Jacobites or the British army.  The family thought perhaps their estate had been spared, but neither the children nor the women were permitted outside without an army escort.  Lord John and Lieutenant Foster had moved into one of the empty bed chambers to help protect the family, should the battle breach the walls of the Castle. 

The next day a pair of riders were spotted coming toward the castle.  They were stopped by a group of soldiers as they approached.  Claire watched out of her sixth-floor bedroom window as all of this was happening, curious who the riders were.   When she was one of the soldiers break away from the group at a gallop headed toward the castle, she ran downstairs to warn Jamie who was in his study with Ian going over crop yields.  

She burst into the study, startling both Jamie and Ian as she entered. "Jamie a couple of riders have arrived, a messenger is coming now.  I couldn't determine who they are from this distance, but I think you need to be prepared."

Jamie stood abruptly, grabbed his rifle from the corner, and left the study with Ian and Claire in his wake. He stepped out onto the veranda, just as the soldier was approaching, "What is it man, who has arrived?"

The soldier jumped down off of his horse, having trouble catching his breath, "Sir, Laird Broch Tuarach, it is two men, they said they are kin of yours.  The Colonel sent me to fetch you, he doesn't trust them to come up to the castle."

Jamie nodded, "Aye, he was right to do so.  I'll fetch my horse and be at the Colonel's tent in 20 minutes."

The young soldiers mounted his horse and raced off in the direction of Colonel Grey's tent.  Jamie turned to head back inside and find Murtagh, he wasn't about to go face whoever the men were without his godfather by his side. 

After finding Murtagh, they both headed to the stables to saddle Donas and Murtagh's new horse Zephyr.  Together they rode at a moderate gallop to the Colonel's tent at the back of the army encampment.  The young soldier who had brought the message about the men, ushered them inside the tent where Colonel Grey along with two other soldiers and the men sat waiting for them, "Angus, Rupert, what are the two of ye doing here?" 

Angus looked up at Jamie with his ridiculous toothless grin, "Awe, Jamie lad.  I canna tell ye how glad we are to see ye.  We come seeking refuge, the Jacobites are losing, most of the men have turned tail and ran for the hills.  Dougal was killed at Prestonpans after Prince Charles escaped into the night with his Generals.  He left a letter behind after he took Dougal's horse, giving Rupert and I orders to go to Inverness and gather supplies."

Jamie's jaw had dropped open at all that Angus had revealed, but he quickly composed himself, "Ye ken I am no' a free man.  I am a prisoner on my own land as a condition of my parole.  I canna leave here and I canna offer ye shelter.  I canna associate with known Jacobite's.  I'm verra sorry lads, but I canna help ye.  If ye are wounded Claire can see to yer wounds, but nothing more.  Perhaps it's best that ye came here, ye can talk over the conditions of yer surrender with Colonel Grey here.  I'm glad I got to see ye, but I must be going now.  I must return to Claire and the children, they will be up from their nap before long."

Rupert tried to stand but was halted by a large hand of the soldier standing next to him, "We dinna ken that ye and Claire had any bairns, Jamie.  How many do ye have, what did ye name them?"

Jamie smiled thoughtfully and cast a glance at Colonel Grey as if silently asking permission to chat with the lads for a moment.  With a nod from Hal, Jamie took a seat and began to regal the men with stories about his children. "We have an adopted son, Fergus who we met when we were in Paris, he is 12 now and so helpful with his siblings.  We have the twins Alex and Eilidh, they turned one in March and we have our youngest, Faith, who was born in February and is just now beginning to crawl."  Alex and Eilidh are so full of energy, they keep me on my toes and follow me constantly.   They already say so many words, watching them all play together is the most joyful thing I have ever experienced"

Rupert smiled "Aye, I can see that fatherhood suits ye.  They are verra lucky to have ye Jamie and it seems ye have done quite well for yer self.  We couldna help but notice the castle as we rode up, how did ye manage that?"

Jamie grinned from ear to ear, "Well it seems that Claire had a rather wealthy uncle who left her as the sole heiress of his estate.  Claire, it seems is of noble French birth, everything ye see here is because of her.  Marrying Claire was the best decision I have ever made."

Jamie stood and walked over to join Murtagh where he still stood near the flap of the tent, "But I must be getting back now, Claire will worry if I am gone to long.  Good day, gentlemen."

As Jamie stepped out of the tent, he tipped his head as a gesture for Colonel Grey to follow him.  He walked far enough away from the tent, not to be overheard, and waited for Hal to appear.  A moment later Hal joined him, "Hal, is there anything ye can do, can ye keep them from getting hanged?  I ken they were only following their war chief's orders, but is there perhaps another way?"

Colonel Grey paced, "You know they are traitors Jamie, they must be punished.  Perhaps we can jail them instead.  I will write to King George and ask for leniency since they are your kinsmen."

Jamie mounted his horse, "Thank ye, Hal.  I ken I am asking much of ye and I willna be angry wi' ye if there is no other option, but I appreciate ye making an attempt."

Hal patted Jamie's leg, "I have more questions for them, namely if we should be expecting a battle to land on your doorstep.  I will write that letter after I have finished and send it with my best messenger to London, you have my word, Jamie."

"Thank ye Hal." Jamie kicked Donas in the flanks and rode off toward the castle. 

 

Chapter Text

The tenants all eventually went back to their homes and tended their own crops.  Everyone remained on high alert after the news that Ruper and Angus had brought with them.  Colonel Grey decided that the best way to keep the two of them under close watch was to indenture them at the army camp.  They were treated fairly, fed regularly, and given menial tasks that would keep them busy but not afford them a chance to escape.   They had no plans to escape since they were now being treated better and fed better than they had in the past months in the company of Charles Stuart's army. 

A month after Rupert and Angus arrived, Jamie had received a letter from Colum, inviting Jamie, Claire, and the children to return to Leoch.  He was offering the castle as a sanctuary from the ongoing battles.  Jamie replied with thanks, but declined his offer, reminding Colum that he was the Laird of Lallybroch and had his own people to look after. 

It took another month before Hal received a reply from the king about the situation with Angus and Rupert.  In that time a few of Jamie's tenants who had been working as spies for the crown had also returned with news.  It seemed that Prince Charles was taking over small crofts and villages across Scotland and was slowly building his army back up.  He planned to eventually storm London but had not regained a sufficient amount of men to consider such a bold move yet.  Scouts had been sent to search for Angus and Rupert since they had not returned from their trip to Inverness and some of the soldiers had leaked a false story that the two had been ambushed and killed.  Fortunately, Prince Charles' men seemed to have accepted the story without question.  

The spies also brought news of the young Simon Fraser arriving to join the Jacobites with 200 of Lord Lovat's men in tow.  Jamie wished he could have stopped Simon from joining and he wondered what had convinced him this time.  

Colonel Grey decided to share the news of King George's letter with Jamie before announcing what was to be done to the prisons with anyone else.  He rode up to the castle without escort, hoping by arriving alone, Jamie would not feel alarmed.   Jamie and Claire were waiting on the veranda as Hal approached, "Do ye have news for us Colonel?"

Hal jumped down off his horse, tied him to the hitching rail, and climbed the stairs to join the couple, "Yes Mr. Fraser, I indeed have good news for you."

Claire gestured to one of the free chairs at the table where they were sitting, "Have a seat, Hal, join us for some afternoon tea and bannocks."

Hal bowed to her, strode over, and gratefully accepted, "Thank you, madam."

Jamie made a distinctive Scottish noise in the back of his throat, "What of the news that ye have brought to us, Hal?"

Hal set down his cup of tea, "Awe, yes.  I have received word back from the King about what is to be done with Angus Mor and Rupert MacKenzie."

Jamie and Claire both sat forward in their seats, eager to hear what their punishment would be, "Go, on dinna keep us in suspense."

Hal grinned, "I think you will be quite happy with what he has agreed to.  The King suggested they be jailed at Ardsmuir Prison, he also suggested that many of the captured Jacobites could be imprisoned there as well.  It seems you made quite the impression on him when you visited London, he wishes for you to return when this whole uprising business is over with."

Claire and Jamie both let out a sigh of relief as they sat back in their chairs and resumed sipping their tea. "That is good news indeed, when will they be transported?  I should like to say goodbye to them in case we dinna ever see one another again, they are kinsman after all."

Hal nodded, "I will arrange it for tomorrow morning in my tent, they will be transported in two days' time, on October 18, 1945.  The information that your spies have brought to us, suggests that will be the safest time to travel, while the Jacobites are engaged at Falkirk with our army.  

Claire reached across the table and placed her hand over Hal's, "Thank you, Hal, for granting us these liberties and for everything else that you have done to show our kinsman mercy."

Hal pulled his hand back, uncomfortable with Claire touching him so openly, "It has been my pleasure to serve your family, madam."

Hal finished his cup of tea, then took one bannock for the return trip back to camp.  Jamie waited for him to ride away before bringing up the thought that was on both of their minds, "Hal said the army is to battle at Falkirk, tis the same as before.  They will be marching toward London soon, nothing has changed."

Claire got up and came to stand behind him, placing her hands on his shoulders and gently massaging the knots and tension from his body, "Not everything is the same, things are happening sooner than before.  Dougal is already dead, which means he was destined to die for this bloody cause and it wasn't your fault.  Our family is safe, Angus and Rupert haven't died, but instead are going to prison.  And if the King truly took what we had to say to him to heart, hopefully, the innocent will be spared, and the tartans and Gàidhlig language will survive.   We weren't trying to make big changes this time, but I believe we have succeeded anyway.   Now we just must wait until the final battle, I fear it will still be at Culloden Moor and then we will know for sure what our future holds."

Jamie sighed and leaned his head back against her body, "I ken ye are right, mo ghráidh, but until that time passes, I will still feel as though I have failed ye."

Claire slid her hands down his chest and pressed her lips against the top of his head, "You never failed me, Jamie.  I am here because of you.  We have a second chance because of you, a family and children.  Together we have made our life better and I am confident that we have helped to change the future of Scotland and her people."

Jamie didn't answer, so Claire decided to leave him with his thoughts, "I am going to go in and check on the children, come in when you are ready."

A few minutes after Claire walked away, Jamie got up and followed her in.  He knew the sight of his happy, healthy children would set his mind at ease.  He quickly made his way upstairs to the nursery where the children would be playing, opened the door, and was greeted by the most beautiful sight. "DA, ye pway wif us?"

Jamie grinned as he walked in, closed the door softly behind him, and lowered himself to the floor next to Claire, "Aye, Alex, yer Da came to play wi' ye."


Jamie and Claire woke up the next morning, kissed the children goodbye while they still slept and went to the stables to saddle Eclipse and Donas.  They rode slowly down the hill toward the army camp, passing Lallybroch manor on their way.  They arrived at the army camp, dismounted, and passed the reins of their horses to a familiar private.  Another private announced their arrival through the Colonel's tent flap, then they were ushered in.  Angus and Rupert were already inside, chatting happily with the Colonel.  They all stood as the couple entered and Rupert and Angus's eyes lit up when they noticed Claire coming in behind Jamie. 

She immediately walked over to them, running her hands over their bodies, assessing them for any injuries. "Are you both alright, they have been treating you well?"

Rupert grabbed both her hands, stopping her clinical examination, "Aye, Claire we are braw, they are treating us better than that fool Charles."

Claire decided that she was satisfied that they were indeed doing quite well, "Alright, I can see that."

Jamie grabbed her hand and drew her over to sit down next to him, "Have ye learned what will be happening to ye?"

Rupert and Angus looked at each other in surprise, "No, we didna ken that anything was changing, is that why ye are here, Jamie."

Jamie sighed and looked at Hal, who nodded, "Aye Rupert, we came to say goodbye to ye.  We dinna ken when or if we will ever see ye again.  King George has decided on yer punishment for yer part in the rising.  He has shown ye some mercy since ye wouldna have joined, if it were no' for yer war chief leading the charge."

Angus couldn't sit still as he listened to this, "What is our punishment, Jamie, are we to be hung, or shot?"

Colonel Grey spoke up, "You will not be executed, gentleman, thanks to your cousin, you have been sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment at Ardsmuir Prison, then 10 years of indenture in the colonies. 

Angus let out a breath, "Well, that is better than we expected.  Thank ye Jamie, we canna tell ye what it means to us to call ye our friend."

Jamie stood up and walked over to stand before them, "Stand up and give me a hug lads, ye are leaving for Ardsmuir tomorrow morning.  I dinna ever plan to get on a ship again, so we will likely never see ye again.  Ye can write to us if ye wish."

After saying their goodbyes, Jamie and Claire rode toward home, stopping at the manor so they could visit Jenny and Ian.   When they rode into the dooryard, Ian was sitting on the front steps holding Kitty in his lap, while wee Jamie and Maggie were chasing each other in circles.  Jenny was around the side of the house washing laundry but came around to the front when she heard them ride up. "To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?"

Jamie jumped down off of Donas, then walked around to help Claire down.  He tied their horses to the hitching post then walked over and scooped his sister up in a bear hug. "Can I no' just visit my sister and her family, do I need a reason?"

Jenny giggled then gently slapped his back, "Let me down ye fool, I'm much too old to be swung about like a wee bairn."

Jamie chuckled and set her back on her feet, "We just came from the army camp, they are sending Rupert and Angus away tomorrow, they are taking them to prison.  We went to say goodbye while we still have time."

Jenny looked over her brother, she knew he had been feeling guilty about their situation, "How do ye feel about that, Jamie, ye seem to be in a better mood than I have seen ye since they arrived?"

Jamie smiled softly, "Aye, I have been feeling a bit down, but after speaking wi' them today, I feel much better.  They thanked me for getting them sentenced to prison instead of executed."

Jenny looked him over again, not quite convinced, "Is that why yer here then, ye needed to see that I appreciate ye as well?"

Jamie cast his eyes to the ground, "I dinna ken, I just felt like I needed to see ye and I wanted to see my nephew and nieces."

Jenny took his hands in hers, "We love ye too, Jamie.  How about ye head on home and we will bring the children up for dinner.  We can even stay tonight if ye feel like ye need us wi' ye."

Jamie grinned and pulled her into his embrace again, "Thank ye, Jenny, I would like that."

She patted him on the back, "Alright get yer self back home then, I'm sure those bairns of yers will be missing their mam and da soon."

Jamie gave each of the children a kiss as Claire hugged them all. She ended with Jenny, "How would you feel about making every Sunday a family day?  You can bring the children up in the morning, we can all spend the day together just relaxing and enjoying each other's company, have dinner and you can stay overnight.  I think it would be good for us as well as the children to spend time as a family."

Jenny squeezed her tighter, "Aye, I agree wi' ye, I think we could all use a bit of time together.  It has no' been the same since all of ye moved to the castle."

Claire released her and grinned, "Good, I will let the servants know to expect everyone for dinner tonight.  Maybe we can read poetry or tell stories in front of the hearth like we used to when Jamie and I first returned to Lallybroch."

Jenny grinned, "Aye, I like the sound of that.  Jocasta just sent me a new book of French poetry, I have been trying to make time to read it."


It was at one of these family days, several weeks later that Colonel Grey and Lieutenant Hadleigh arrived at the castle with news from the spies.  Jamie invited them into the parlor where the family was gathered, "Come in gentleman, we are all gathered in the parlor, please tell us what news ye bring today."

The Colonel and Lieutenant followed Jamie to the parlor and bowed to the family as they entered.  They stood nervously with their tricorn hats occupying their nervous hands, "Pardon our intrusion, Mrs. Fraser, Mr. Murray, Mrs. Murray, children.  We bring news of the Jacobite army, it seems they are retreating back to the highlands for the winter.  Charles Stuart was a mere 5 miles from London when his generals convinced him to turn back for the winter.  The British army has not been able to track them since the men seem to have scattered.  Another regiment is being sent here to protect your family and estate.  Two soldiers will guard each and every cottage on the estate when they arrive.  We know that you are planning a Hogmanay celebration in 5 days, we would like to ask you to inform your tenants of the change and remind them we are here to protect them and they need not fear us.  I will only send my most trusted men to act as guards."

Ian frowned, "Do ye expect many of the Jacobites to come here?"

Colonel Grey shook his head, "We can't be sure where they will go, but one can never be too careful.  The order comes directly from King George, he holds Mr. Fraser in high regard and does not want to see any harm come to him, his family, or his lands.  We will only be here until we are ordered otherwise." 

Claire stood up and walked over to the whisky cart to fill a tumbler for each of the soldiers, "Thank you, gentlemen, we appreciate you letting us know and for the protection.  We will be sure to let our tenants know what to expect in the coming months.  How soon can we expect this new regiment to arrive?" She turned away from the whisky cart, whisky tumblers in hand, and walked over to offer them to the men before resuming her seat next to Jamie. 

Hal sipped his whisky, "The new regiment should arrive within a fortnight.  These new soldiers do not know your family or your tenants so they will be placed along the perimeter of the estate and my men will be moved to guard the cottages.  Lord John and Lieutenant Foster will remain here at the castle to guard your family.  Mrs. Murray, Mr. Murray, Lieutenant Hadleigh, and Private Lindsey will guard the manor.  You will not be required to give them quarters in your home, but it would enhance their ability to protect your family if such was granted."

Jenny grumbled, "Aye, I dinna like to have soldiers in my home, but ye and yer men have proved yer self honest and trustworthy.  I will make up a room for the men, but they will need to share, we dinna have as many spare rooms as my brother does here at the castle." 

Lieutenant Hadleigh bowed to Jenny, "Thank you, madam we will try to stay out of your way as much as possible and will only be inside the house at night."

Colonel Grey bowed, "Thank you for your time, we will now be on our way, enjoy your evening."

Chapter Text

After Hal left the family discussed their plan for Hogmanay, Claire knew she wanted it to be special for everyone, especially with the state of everything in Scotland. "Jenny, I will defer to you since you have been doing this so much longer than me, but I think we should treat this year's Hogmanay celebration as if it were any other year.  With the war between the Jacobites and the British going on, I think our people could really use the distraction and a day to just forget about the rest of the world.  Do you agree?"

Jenny set her knitting down, "Aye, I think after everything they have done for us this past year, they deserve a celebration.  Who kens if we will be in a state to do it next year, we may as well celebrate while we have the freedom and means to do so."

Claire grinned, "Good, that's settled then.  We can send the men, Jamie, Ian, Murtagh, and Fergus to the woods to fetch the decorations. Some pine boughs and maybe some holly would be perfect to bring that holiday feel to the great hall, and I adore the lovely scent they bring to the house."

Jenny always loved the holiday season and planning it was a treat for her, "Aye, and the tenants can go hunt and trap, maybe they can shoot a stag or two.  Their wives can join us at the castle to prepare the food, perhaps we can make some rabbit stew if the men catch enough."

Jamie and Ian sat back, sipping their whisky and admiring their wive's willingness to make the day special for everyone else.  They were both true ladies of the estate and the men couldn't be prouder of them.  This year's Hogmanay celebration promised to be just what everyone needed in the midst of the madness happening around them. 


Claire had hoped to purchase some new fabric for Hogmanay dresses while on their trip to London, but with Prince Charles moving up the timetable of the rising, she didn't have the spare time to stop.  Claire and Jenny would both wear the dresses they had worn the year before with some minor adjustments.  Claire had been 7 months pregnant the year before so her dress would need to be taken in quite a bit in the torso.  Luckily Isabel was quite an accomplished seamstress and Claire only had to stand once for the adjustments to be measured.

Claire and Jenny breastfed Faith and Kitty in the nursery and put them to bed for the night with Mary watching over them.  They both dressed and made it downstairs just after 6:00 pm to join Jamie and Ian in welcoming their tenants for the celebration.  Mrs. Crook was in the parlor with Wee Jamie, Alex, Eilidh, Maggie, and some of the tenant's children as they played and gradually wore themselves out.  The younger children seemed to tire and were ready for bed by 8:00 pm.

Fergus noticed that Mrs. Crook and Isabel were taking his siblings and cousins upstairs and made his way over to his parents, "Mam, Da, would it be alright if I were to stay up until the first foot tonight?  I am 12 now and big enough to stay up with the adults.  I promise that I won't cause any trouble or be in any one's way."

Claire looked at Jamie with a quirked brow, "What do you think, Jamie, is he old enough to stay up?"

Jamie made a sound in his throat, "Hmm, ye say that ye willna cause any trouble, aye?  Alright lad, but if I see yer eyes getting heavy wi' sleep, I'll send ye straight up to bed myself."

Fergus bounced on the balls of his feet with a huge grin plastered on his face, "Oui, thank you Da."

Jamie and Claire shook their heads, "He really has been a huge help with the children this year, I think it will do him some good to spend some time with the other children his age."

Jamie watched his eldest son walk toward a group of boys his age, "Aye, perhaps he will find a lass that draws his attention."

Claire scowled at Jamie, "He is far to young to be worrying about something like that, he needs to enjoy being a child while he still can."

Jamie knew better than to argue with his wife about any of the children, so he let the matter rest. 

He wrapped his arm around Claire's waist and drew her closer to him so he could lower his head and whisper in her ear, rapidly changing the subject to subdue her ire. "Do ye think the tenants appear happier this year?"

She looked around as she snaked her arm around his waist and leaned her head against his shoulder, "Yes, they do, they appear healthier too and have you noticed how many of the women are pregnant?"

Jamie grinned, "Aye, I have.  They must be happier, I have no' seen this many of the women wi' child at the same time in many years."

Claire poked him in the ribs, "Do you think it has anything to do with the way the new cottages were built?"

Jamie frowned and looked down at the crown of her head as she continued to peer out over the crowd of guests, "What do ye mean, why would that have anything to do wi' their happiness?"

She giggled, "Well, before the new cottages were built, the families were all crowded into a single room, now they have separate bed chambers.  Perhaps with the new level of privacy afforded to them with the new cottages, they are finding more time to enjoy each other in the bedroom, as we do."

Jamie's eyebrows shot up into his hairline as he scanned the room full of tenants again, noticing how the men were constantly touching their wives, unlike theit behavior toward them the previous year, "Aye, perhaps ye are right.  I had no' thought about it before, but I would be less inclined to ravish ye if the bairns were sleeping in the same room as us."

Claire playfully slapped him on the chest, "Jamie, hush, someone will hear you."

He chuckled and bent down to take her earlobe in between his teeth and gently nibble it, "I dinna care if they hear me, I love my wife and if they dinna ken that by now, they are blind."

In hopes of distracting her husband from his amorous intentions, Claire drug Jamie to join the other couples on the dance floor. They held each other close and whispered words of love into one another's ears.  At 11:00, Jamie had his fill of dancing and decided to announce the news that Hal had brought them.

He climbed a few steps to stand above everyone else and make it easy for all of his tenants to see him.  He tapped a fork on his whisky tumbler to get everyone's attention. "We are so glad that ye all were able to make it to our Hogmanay celebration tonight.  As ye ken, we have had quite a successful year with the new breeding stock and the distillery.  We canna thank ye enough for everything ye have done to keep this estate afloat during these hard times.   As many of ye may ken, the British and the Jacobites are at war and the battles have gotten quite close to our homes.  Because of this, King George has ordered another regiment of soldiers to come to Lallybroch." 

The crowd gasped and everyone looked around at the people around them.  Jamie cleared his throat and tapped his glass to regain their attention, "There is nothing to worry about, the soldiers are no' coming here to prepare for battle.  They are coming to protect us, but Colonel Grey has informed me that he will be using his own regiment as guards and the new soldiers will be placed along the perimeter of the estate lands, replacing his men.   He is assigning two soldiers per cottage as guards to protect ye." 

"We have two soldiers here at the castle and there are two soldiers at the manor to protect Lord and Lady Murray and their children.  We have offered the soldiers a room in our homes so they are close when we may need them.  Ye will not be required or asked to do such a thing, the soldiers will have their own tents erected near yer homes.  I ask that ye welcome them and their protection.  Colonel Grey is sending only his best men and wishes that ye inform me or him if they dinna act as proper gentlemen.  We dinna ken how long the guards will be required, but they will only stay until the war has come to an end and King George orders them to disperse.  If anyone has any questions, I will direct ye to seek out Colonel Grey in his tent at the army camp."

"Please enjoy the rest of yer evening and thank ye all for coming."  Jamie stepped down and rejoined Claire, Jenny, and Ian across the room in the corner.

Claire stroked his jaw as he came to stand next to her, "Well, I didn't hear any shouts or anger, so it seemed to go well."

He sighed and pushed his face into her hand, "Aye, we shall see, but I dinna foresee any trouble.  We have no' had any trouble from the tenants since we sent MacNab away."

The four of them stood back and watched their tenants enjoy the holiday celebration for the next hour.  Occasionally someone would come up and thank Jamie for his loyalty to the King and the protection that the alliance continued to provide for them and their families.  By the time the first foot arrived, each one of the tenants had approached either Jamie or Claire and offered thanks.  Several of the tenants had mentioned that they would provide the soldiers with a room to stay in during the remainder of the colder months.   Many of them had kept their original cottages and built new homes from the ground up, so they had the extra room to spare.  Jamie was grateful and promised to pass the information on to Colonel Grey when he next spoke with him. 

Their tenants began to depart for their own homes in order to prepare for the arrival of the first foot.  Jamie cast a glance over to the location where he had last spotted Fergus and noticed that the lad was speaking to one of the young McGillivray lasses.  They were both giggling with silly grins pasted on their flushed faces.  Jamie shook his head and smirked to himself, he had been right about the lad finding a lass, no matter what Claire thought was appropriate.

He rested his chin on her shoulder and tightened his arms around her waist, "Look, it appears that our lad is quite taken with a lass."

Claire turned her head to peer into her husband's eyes, then followed the direction of his gaze, "That boy better watch himself, her father won't be too pleased if he sees that."

Jamie hummed and nipped the shell of her ear, "Och, but wouldna he be, the lad is the son of the Laird after all.  I would think the father happy wi' such a match."

Claire scoffed, "Well, regardless, he is still too young to even be considering such a thing.  It's just a good thing that her family lives on the furthest part of the estate.  Otherwise, we would need to assign him a chaperone whenever he left the castle."

Jamie chuckled, "Aye, perhaps yer right, the lad does have a knack for getting himself into trouble.  Although he hasn't had much opportunity to do so since we returned to Scotland."

Claire leaned her head against his and began swaying back and forth, "No, perhaps you are right, he does deserve to be a child and find some happiness after the way he started life."

Their musings over their eldest son were interrupted by a sudden knock on the door.  Jamie stood up straight, not releasing his hold on Claire, "Tis the first foot, Sassenach."

He spun her around in his arms, her arms coming to rest over his shoulders and her fingers lacing together in his hair as he pressed a crushing kiss against her lips.  When they pulled back breathlessly, he murmured into her ear, "Happy New Year, mo ghráidh.

She turned her head so her lips were a breath away from his, "Happy New Year, my love."

Chapter Text

A week after the Hogmanay celebration, the new regiment of soldiers showed up at the army camp located on the Lallybroch estate.  Colonel Grey brought the new Colonel up to the castle to meet Jamie.  The two rode into the stables, dismounted and handed their reins to Rabbie with instructions to stable the horses without feeding them.  Rabbie quickly did as they asked, then escorted the two soldiers to the front door of the castle.

Mrs. Crook answered the door and escorted the two guests into the Parlor, "Please wait here, I shall inform the lad that ye are here."

The men stood, silently waiting for her return as Fergus and wee Jamie came bounding down the stairs.

Fergus skidded to a halt, quickly took in the new soldier with Hal, and addressed the Colonel formally, "Monsieur Grey, are you here to see my Da?"

Colonel Grey bowed to the boys, "Good morning Fergus, I have come to introduce the new Colonel to your father.  Mrs. Crook went to let him know of our arrival."

Fergus looked over the other man, "Da is in his study with Mam."  He bowed to the new Colonel, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Monsieur."

The new Colonel followed in Hal's example and returned the bow to Fergus, "The pleasure is mine, young Master Fraser."

Mrs. Crook returned just as the boys were making their leave toward the kitchen. "The Laird has asked that ye join him and the Lady Broch Tuarach in the study, please follow me, Colonel."

Both men followed Mrs. Crook through the winding halls of the castle before finally arriving at the door to the study.  Mrs. Crook knocked on the door and listened for the invitation to enter. 

Jamie sat straighter in his chair as Claire stood next to him with her hand on his shoulder, "Ye can bring them in, Mrs. Crook."

Mrs. Crook opened the door then stepped aside to allow the two men to enter.  They each bowed to Jamie as they entered the study, "Mr. Fraser, allow me to introduce you to the new Colonel who's regiment will be helping to guard your family and estate.  This is Colonel Archibald Wood, Colonel Wood, this is Laird Broch Tuarach, Mr. James Fraser and Lady Broch Tuarach, Mrs. Claire Fraser."

Jamie gestured to the men, "Take a seat gentlemen, tis nice to meet ye, Colonel Wood.  My family thanks ye for what ye are doing for us." 

They discussed what the new regiment would be doing and how things were done on the estate, Jamie promised to ride out with both Colonels and the new regiment the next morning to show them the borders of the estate and where the men would be posted.  

Twenty minutes later, the men stood up to bid Jamie and Claire goodbye, but Jamie still had something to discuss with Hal. "Colonel Grey, Claire, and I would like to speak wi' ye in private for a moment."

Colonel Grey turned to Colonel Wood, "Please wait outside for me, this will only take a moment."

Colonel Wood bowed to the Frasers, "It was a pleasure to meet you both, I look forward to the ride in the morning."

He opened the door and walked out into the hallway where Mrs. Crook was waiting for him and followed her to the parlor to wait for Colonel Grey.

Jamie waited for the door to close and the sound of footsteps to recede before he turned his attention back to Hal, "Hal, Claire thinks she kens where the next battle will take place.  She also thinks she kens where the Prince will be holed up for a few days before the battle is to take place."

Hal sat down hard, "If her sight proves true, we can end this before more lives are lost.  Claire, please tell me what you know."

Claire looked down at Jamie and he reached up and took her hand, squeezing it gently in reassurance.  She took a breath to fortify herself, "You know that these are only visions and most of the time they prove accurate, but not always?"

Hal nodded, "Yes, I am aware, but you haven't let us down yet, please continue."

Jamie squeezed her hand again, so she went on, "The last battle will be on Culloden Moor, just outside of Inverness.  I'm not entirely sure about the date, but I believe that it will be in mid April.  In my visions, I see the date as April 16th, but I am not sure how accurate that is.  In all honesty, it could be anytime between now and then.   I believe that Charles Stuart is at Bannockburn House now and will remain there until the battle at Culloden.  But if he can be captured, the battle will never happen and his army can be stopped and captured as well.  If we can stop that battle from happening, no more lives will be needlessly lost on either side."

Hal leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and pressing his palms together as if praying, "I will send a messenger, notifying General Cope.  I will tell him that the information was brought to me by one of our spies.  We will do whatever we can to put a stop to this.  Thank you, Claire, this information is invaluable."

Claire sighed, "I hope you are right, Hal.  I hope we can put a stop to this.  None of us wanted this needless war to come, but now that it's here, we will do what we can to put a stop it."


Colonel Grey had sent a letter with a messenger after he returned from his ride around the estate with Jamie and Colonel Wood but had not yet received a reply from General Cope.  Over the next couple of weeks, the new regiment was dispersed along the boundary lines of the Lallybroch estate, and Colonel Grey's soldiers were sent to the cottages of the tenants.  Several more tenants had come to appreciate the protection that the soldiers were offering them and in return offered them an invitation for them to sleep inside their homes and stay warm.  When the rest of the spies had returned to deliver their reports, Colonel Grey along with Jamie decided that it was time for them to return to their families.  The men had already sacrificed enough by putting their lives in danger to gather information against the Jacobites. 

With the information that Claire had revealed to Hal, they were all confident that Charles Stuart would be captured and they could put this bloody war to an end.   One of the spies did confirm that Charles Stuart was headed to Bannockburn House and planned to remain there until his army returned from visiting their families for the winter.  He expected them to meet him near Inverness at a place called Culloden Moor during the first week in April.  

They had received no further news about the Jacobite movements or confirmed Charles Stuart's location by the time Faith's 1st birthday had arrived.  The family celebrated her birthday quietly amongst themselves at the castle, after deciding that it was in their best interest not to hold any large gatherings during this uncertain time. 

Another 2 weeks passed before Colonel Grey received a response from General Cope, he rode straight to the castle when the messenger delivered the missive.  Instead of taking his horse to the stables to Rabbie, he tied his horse to the hitching rail located at the front of the castle.  He bounded up the steps and pounded anxiously on the big door. When Isabel answered, he nearly forgot his manners to push past her.  The shocked expression on her face, brought him to his senses, "Pardon me, madam, I have an urgent message for Laird Broch Tuarach, please take me to him now."

Isabel stepped back and ushered him inside, "Aye, I can see that ye are in a rush if ye will follow me. The family is in the formal dining hall having breakfast just now."

Isabel led him to the dining room, knocked on the door and poked her head in to announce his arrival, "Laird Broch Tuarach, Colonel Grey is here to see ye, he says it is an urgent matter.  Shall I show him in or would ye like to speak to him in yer study?"

Jamie smiled, "Please show him in and bring another setting, Colonel Grey will be joining us for breakfast."

She gave a small curtsy and opened the doors further to allow Hal to enter, "Please take a seat Colonel, I will return wi' a place setting in a moment."

Hal took a seat at the opposite end of the table from Jamie, attempting to maintain a calm demeanor.  But Jamie could tell that he was about to burst with the news he had brought. "Out wi' it Colonel, what news do ye have for us today?"

All eyes turned to Hal in anticipation of what he had to say, even Lord John appeared anxious to hear what news his brother had brought with him.

Hal cleared his throat, leaned forward, his elbows placed on the table and hands clutched tightly together. "I have received a missive from General Cope."

All of the adults as well as Fergus gasped and placed their utensils down, their complete attention directed at Hal.  Claire clutched Jamie's hand, squeezing it tightly, "Please Hal, tell us what the message said."

He grinned, "General Cope and his men have confirmed Charles Stuart's location at Bannockburn House.  One of the maids has shared the news that the Young pretender has been sick with scurvy.  He has been sending men out in search of a healer."

Everyone turned and looked at Claire, and she gulped audibly at the look on Hal's face, "Why does that sound so ominous, Hal?"

He sat back in his chair, placing his hands in his lap and was about to answer when Isabel reappeared with his place setting.  He clamped his mouth shut and waited for her to retreat back to the kitchen before continuing.  When he was certain that she was no longer within hearing distance he answered Claire's question, "Well Mrs. Fraser, it is my opinion that you could be the key to our entry, the key to our capture of Charles Stuart."

Claire gasped and whispered, "Me, but why, isn't there any other way?"

Hal shook his head, "I'm sure they're probably are other ways to end this, but this would be the simplest of them all.  We have your tenants that worked as spies, they are already trusted by the Jacobites.  They would have no trouble getting into their camp.  The Scots already know you as a healer and you are not bound to this estate by a pardon.  The MacKenzies already believe that if Jamie was a free man that he would have been a Jacobite as well and you are known to follow your husband.  This couldn't be any more perfect if we had planned it ourselves.  It must be you, Claire, you must go as his healer and return with the layout of the house and his location in it.  You will not be in any danger, soldiers will be near the entire time.  I have already sent the messenger back, informing General Cope that I will be bringing a healer with me who is on our side and whom Charles will trust.  A healer who can help us capture him."

When Claire didn't respond, Jamie turned his attention from Hal to his wife just in time to see all the blood drain from her face and her eyes roll back in her head.  Jamie pushed his chair back with such force that he toppled his chair over.  He rushed to her side and gathered her up into his arms and out of her chair just as she began to slump over.   He wanted to kill Hal for even suggesting such a thing after all they had sacrificed last time, but all his attention was currently focused on his wife who was alarmingly not regaining consciousness. 

Chapter Text

Jamie looked around frantically until his eyes landed on Mary, "Mary, bring me a wet cloth, quickly.  Yer mistress has fainted and she is no' wakin' up."

Mary scrambled out of the dining hall to fetch a cloth from the kitchen.  

Jamie knelt to the floor, pulling Claire into his lap and stroked her hair and whispered Gáidhlig endearments into her hair as everyone around the table watched on in a state of confusion.  Before Mary could make it back with the cloth, Claire began to stir.  Suddenly her eyes popped up and she looked up into Jamie's eyes with a pleading look in her eye.  "Jamie, you can't go with me.  If you go, you will die, you have to stay home.  I know Hal's plan will work, but I can't lose you, not now, not after everything we have been through, promise me you won't go."

Jamie scowled at her, "Ye ken that I can no' promise such a thing mo nighean donn.  I swore to protect ye, and protect ye I shall.  I told ye on the day we wed that ye had the protection my name, my clan, and my body.  That willna change, just because Hal wants yer help to capture Charles."

Claire pushed herself up into a seated position, forcing Jamie to relinquish his hold on her, "I'm not saying you can't protect me anymore Jamie, but if you go with me, you will certainly die.  I will be uncomfortable without you by my side, but I will be completely fine.  Charles will not suspect a thing, neither will any of his men.  I already know what I need to say to convince them, I just need you to say it to me, so that I won't be lying when I tell them."

Jamie raised his brow, still not convinced this was the best option, but curious what she thought would be a convincing argument, "And what might that be?"

Claire smirked, he hadn't completely shot down her idea yet, "If you tell me, that I must go and treat Prince Charles, that this cause must succeed and I am his only hope of making that happen, then when I repeat that to them, that you actually told me that, it won't be a lie."

Jamie scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest, "And why would I ever say such a thing, why would they believe that I would ever say such a thing?"

Claire moved to kneel in front of him, their bent knees touching and placed her hands on his crossed forearms, "Because my love, they still believe you to be a Jacobite sympathizer that is locked away under the rule of the British army that is blockading your front door.   But I am under no such lock and key, I, as a loyal British subject am free to wander where ever my restless little heart desires.  So you will send me to care for the Prince in your steed to ensure that the Jacobites find victory at their next battle."

Jamie rolled his eyes, a sure sign that he didn't like her plan, but didn't think it was completely foolish. "If, and I mean if, I send ye wi' Hal, and I stay behind, how do I ensure yer safety?  I canna lose ye either.  The children need ye, Hell, I need ye most of all.  I canna in good faith send ye into battle on yer own, I just canna do it.  I'm sorry, we must find another way."

Claire huffed, "Well you, my dear Red Jamie are much too noticeable with your muckle size and your flaming head of red hair, but what about Murtagh?  You have trusted him to protect my life before and he doesn't stand out even half as much as you do.  He could accompany me and serve as my protection while we infiltrate the Jacobite army and gain Charles confidence to undermine this rebe