Jenny invited Claire over later that week, and Claire went over leaving Fergus under the watchful eye of Mrs. Graham.
Claire found it nice to have a friend in this new place and enjoyed hearing Jenny talk about her simple life with her and her husband. Claire still felt shy to share about herself, but the woman did enough chatting for both of them. They could always talk about their children and often did.
There was a knock at the door, "Jenny!" she heard a familiar Scottish voice.
"Come in Murtagh! Ye ken the door is always open to ye. We're in the sitting room." Jenny called back. "Excuse my godfather. He's just come to drop something off."
Claire froze for a moment, unsure if her mind was deceiving her. Murtagh walked in and greeted Jenny without giving her a second glance, but then spotted the curls and turned.
"Claire?" he asked.
"Colonel Fitzgibbons," she said with a small smile. "I can't believe it's you."
"Com'here lass!" he greeted and pulled her into a hug. She nearly sobbed as he held her, spinning her around.
"Claire? This is the Claire?" Jenny asked. "Jamie's Claire?"
"Aye," Murtagh nodded. "This is the Sassenach that stole his heart."
"Oh tank the lord," Jenny said, pulling her into a hug as well. "I already like her."
Claire took a deep breath and looked at them. "I... Is Jamie alive?"
"O'course," Jenny said. "He's not far."
Claire let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding. "He is?"
"Aye, he was seriously injured after the bombing at the embassy. He was in a coma for quite a bit."
"But he's alive?"
She started to cry. "I prayed every day for this. To let him be here. To see-"
And then the baby started to cry.
Claire picked up the red-headed girl.
Murtagh and Jenny's eyes widened. "Is that -"
"Jamie's daughter, yes. This is Faith Geillis Fraser." Claire rocked the baby, unable to tear the smile from her face. "And we might even be breathing the same air."
"Claire-" Murtagh said. "Sit."
She saw the sadness on Murtagh's face. "What's wrong?"
"Jamie's not the same man you met in the war. He's not the same. "
"What do you mean?"
"Jamie was severely injured. He was -"
"I don't care how he looks. He's my husband."
"It's not that lass, although his back is a mess. He lost his memories- of the war."
"Including me..." Claire looked at Murtagh and sunk down into her chair. "What else are you hiding?"
"What else?" she asked sternly.
"I think I'm going to be sick."
"To a widow from the war," Murtagh said.
"She's a vapid little lass. I hate her," Jenny said. "Maybe you being here will spark his memories."
"If it doesn't kill me first," Claire said. "I... I don't know if I can see him, and have him not know me. It might be too much for one heart. And for Fergus?"
"The lad's with you?"
"He's at the Reverends. That's where I'm staying. I'm starting medical school rotations next week."
"Lass, I'm so proud of ye," Murtagh said. "Ye made it here."
"We did some things we aren't proud of to get here. But I needed my children to be safe."
"As any mother knows," Jenny said, stroking Claires back.
Claire returned to the Reverend's house, her heart heavy.
"Mama, how was your play date?" Fergus asked.
"I had tea with Ms. Jenny, and you'll never guess who I saw."
"Really?? Did he miss me?"
"Of course he did. I'm sure we'll see him later in the week."
"Was there any news about da?"
Claire sighed and sat Fergus down.
"Your father is alive."
"Why didn't he find us?"
"He was very badly injured at the embassy lovey. He hurt his head so bad, that he doesn't remember a lot of things... including us," she said. "He didn't know to find us."
"But we're here now. We can help him."
"I'm not sure it will darling. He's moved on and is engaged."
"He can't be engaged. He's married to you."
"We were only handfast. It only lasts a year and a day, and it's been longer. So technically, as much as it hurts me, he can."
"But he's wrong. We have to show that he is wrong!"
"I hope so Fergus. But I can't say for certain that he will."
Claire settled into her life in Scotland without a hitch for the most part, she started at the hospital and was learning hands-on long days, but she was happy to be working hard. She was happy Fergus had started to thrive in an actual classroom setting with his peers, and furthermore was making friends his own age for the first time. The Driving was taking some getting used to, but otherwise, she felt at home.
"Claire, d'ye mind bringing this tea into the reverend's office? He's having a meeting with a couple and I look a mess from baking bread."
"Certainly, Mrs. Graham." She took the tray of cups and the teapot into the reverend's office and set it down in front of a blonde-haired lass, sitting at the desk.
"Good morning." Claire greeted.
"Morning Mistress." the girl greeted.
"I brought tea for you and the reverend. But I suppose I lost him."
"He and my fiancee are out looking at a fence that needs to be mended in the back."
"Well, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials."
"Thank ye. Have you been married?" The blonde girl asked, gazing at the ring on her finger.
"Yes, one of the happiest days of my life," she said with a smile.
"I've been married before. My husband died in the war."
"I'm very sorry."
"It was more of a convenience thing than anything else," she said. "This one will be different."
"Well, I wish you happiness in your new marriage."
Claire was headed back to the kitchen when the door opened to reveal the reverend and the blonde's fiancee... Jamie.
She froze when she saw him, and he stared at her for a moment. She could almost see the hint of recognition in his eyes like he had known her from somewhere and just wasn't sure.
She wanted to say something, anything but her mouth was dry so instead, she rushed back into the kitchen.
"What's wrong child? Ye look like ye've seen a ghost."
"Something like that."
And so she told Mrs. Graham the story.
"Ye mustn't let the reverend marry them then. He's your husband."
"What can I do Mrs. Graham?"
She heard the sound of China breaking.
"Stay, I'll take care of it." Mrs. Graham insisted.
Claire sat there, and waited for her to return but was surprised to see her tall, broad, red-headed Scott instead.
"Hullo." he greeted.
"Hello," she responded softly.
"Mrs. Graham didn't mention ye were a Sassenach."
"That's me." she smiled at him. She could still feel butterflies in her stomach when he looked at her like that.
"She mentioned ye were a wee healer. I seem to have messed up my hand-"
"I'll patch you up in no time. "
"I'm Jamie-" he greeted.
"I know," she said. "Claire."
Jamie's face changed. "Have--- have we met before? Ye looked so familiar like from a dream-"
"Oh yes. We've done quite a bit more than meet." she gathered the supplies she needed to clean the cut on his hand. She boiled some water to cleanse the wound.
She nodded at him, as she started to hold his hand still. she felt a spark when their skin met, and the look on his face meant he felt it too. That somewhere deep in his soul, he recognized her
She took a pair of forceps and removed a small shard of the cup that remained, before using the sterile water to clean the edges of the wound.
"You look like ye need stitches."
"Doubt it's the first time," he said.
"It's not." she shook her head. "Not even the first time from me I'm afraid."
"So ye've nursed me before then?"
"And more." she left it vague, unable to speak of what they shared.
"I met ye during the war." she nodded as she prepared a syringe with lidocaine to numb the area.
"You're going to feel a pinch, then a burning sensation before the area goes numb," she warned him as she injected the area.
"I'm sorry, I know it's uncomfortable." she apologized.
"Not nearly as uncomfortable as ye looked as when I walked in before."
"Sorry." she apologized sheepishly.
"I apologize if I hurt ye-, I certainly don't ken what I did, but ye seem like a lovely lass and I wouldn't-"
"I know you wouldn't Jamie. I know you don't mean to but you are still even now-."
"I Dinna understand-"
She reached into the medical bag and prepared the sutures before pulling out the picture she kept inside. The picture of their wedding day.
She glanced at it herself for a moment, absent-mindedly playing with the ring on her finger.
"Where'd ye get that ring?" he asked, looking at it and then her.
"From you," she smiled briefly.
"Maman! You'll never guess what I-" Fergus froze.
Jamie looked up at the lad.
"Milord," Fergus greeted slowly. Claire slowly shook her head.
"What's going on Fergus?" Claire asked.
"I was just going to tell you I saw Monsieur Murtagh in the village while I was playing ball."
"I'm glad you two were reunited." she smiled. "I'm just fixing Jamie's hand. Give me a few minutes and we'll talk all about it."
She set down the photo, rewashed her hands and went back to work stitching his hand up.
"And the lad?" Jamie asked after Fergus left.
"Adopted." she smiled, "You gave him his name. He had nothing other than the clothes on his back, and you took him in." she looked the man up and down.
"I don't ken who I am anymore," he confessed. "I hope I'd do something like that."
"I know you James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. And you are a good man. You are a son, you are a brother, you are a soldier, you are a husband and a father." Her eyes drifted toward
She bandaged his hand, taking care not to wrap it too tight.
"Come back and see me to change the bandage " she instructed. "At least once every two days, more often if you soil it. The stitches can probably come out in 7-10 days. They might be itchy, please don't scratch them. I don't want you to get an infection."
She admired her handy work and absentmindedly kissed his palm.
"I'll see you in two days." She put away the rest of her supplies and watched as he stared at her.
"What?" she asked.
"How I could forget someone like ye?" he said.
"Head injuries, unfortunately, can do that. I only hope you remember me... and. the life we built-before it's too late."