Every anniversary was the same. Claire woke up with the tingling in her breasts, a dense ache in her womb and heart. Claire’s soul was intertwined with Faith’s for an eternity. No amount of time, space, or history could reverse that. Time would never be able to fully heal this wound.
The people of the Ridge felt it too, the shift from eleven o’clock to midnight. The energy of the air changed it became heavy and soundless. The pulsing of the wind reflected that of the mothers cry. When dawn came the heaviness followed the ridge around as they attended to their daily tasks. They knew not to disturb her. Instead they lit candles for her to help penetrate the heavy air so it could breathe and give hope and love to the grieving Laird and Lady.
Jamie felt the change too. His mind and body were heavy and his heart restrained with
soundless sorrow for his lost daughter. He lay there muttering prayers of love and forgiveness. He felt the guilt consume him like it did every year. He prayed to Faith, ‘help your mother find peace and solace’. He felt Claire stir beside him stir, instantly becoming rigid and cold. Neither of them dared to move closer to one another in fear of breaking the others sacred silence.
When dawn came they rose in silence and got themselves ready for the day ahead. Claire changed into her dark navy woolen dress with a single pink tulip embroidered on the top left-hand corner of her bodice like a broach. She pinned her unruly curls up into a secure neat bun that was unlikely to cause her any issues throughout the day. The two of them had planned to spend the day away from the hustle and bustle of the ridge and take the day to explore the Carolina wilderness further, leaving Roger and Brianna in charge. Claire picked up her tartan cloak that Brianna had made for her and fastened it around herself for warmth and safety. She picked up her medical satchel, took a shallow breath, and went to go find Jamie.
Jamie prepared the horses as Claire was getting herself ready. Being with horses helped focus his mind. He always felt calm and protected by them, he could sense their need to look after him as much as they needed to be looked after by him. The saddling and brushing grounded him. He guided the two horses towards the big house. He saw her standing there waiting for him. At first he had to do a double-take. He felt his heart swell and warmth coarsed through his chest. She looked so bonnie, so much how he remembered her looking when he first met her. How she hated and still did hate having her hair scraped up and confined. His heart began to sink at the realization she did have her hair pinned up neatly. His walk toward her slowed as his heart began to thud with each step closer to her. She smiled weakly at him as she mounted her
horse and the two of them set off in silence.
It was a warm spring day. The wildlife of the ancient forest was melodic and the soundscape of their activity eased both Jamie and Claire out of their restlessness. They stopped by a stream for the horses to get some water. On the other side of the stream, Jamie spotted a narrow pathway between two vine-covered rocks leading to somewhere unknown.
‘Sassenach?’Jamie called, smirking to himself. Claire turned around, her curls starting to loosen and fall out of her bun.
‘Tie the horses up to that tree beside ye’
‘Why?’ Claire asked warily, tying them up with trepidation.
‘Do ye trust me?’ Jamie reached out his hand toward Claire. She nodded, giving him a small but sweet smile.
‘Then follow me...’ He grinned, grabbing hold of her hand and pulling her through the stream making her squeal as her shoes and the bottom of her dress got soaked. In a single file they walked through the slender gap between the two rocks whilst still holding hands neither one of them letting go. The pathway was dark and twisted in several different directions. As they got closer to the end of it the sound of running water began to fill their ears. When they reached the clearing they were met with breathtaking scenery that took both their breaths away.
It was a mountainous waterfall, almost kingly in its stature. It was surrounded by large lanky trees billowing in harmony with the wind. The sunlight made the water sparkle and glisten on the rocks. The sight of the place brought tears to both their eyes. It reminded them both of their home, Scotland.
‘It’s so beautiful’, Claire said simply, unable to take her eyes off the water.
‘Aye, it is...’ Jamie whispered, looking at his wife, bathing in her features. She reached for his hand, her eyes still on the water. He placed his in hers rubbing his thumb along her knuckles. Her breath became shaky, he could see the tears starting to fall. He solidified his touch letting her silently know that he was there.
’The water reminds me of her...’ Claire admitted, walking closer towards it. Jamie watched her, scrambling to find his words. Claire knelt at the water's edge and lowered her fingers into the water playing with it.
‘Water always reminds me of her. Whether I hear the sound of a stream or someone pouring a glass my mind is with her. It takes me back to how it felt carrying her. She used to kick whenever I was near it. She would have loved the water I’m sure of it-’ Claire broke off, choking back her tears. Jamie walked over to her and crouched behind her whispering into her hair, stroking it.
‘Trees always remind me of her. When I was in the Bastille my cell had a window that looked onto a group of trees. They were all twisted and bent ‘round one another. When I did’ne hear word of ye and the bairn I would pray for ye both whilst looking at that those trees. The trees here are more like the ones at the Bastille so I canna help thinking more about...Faith.’ ,Jamie himself began to shake and cry gripping hold of Claire tightly.
‘You never told me...’ Claire said turning around to face him, looking intensely at him. Hurt and relief plastered across her face. They rarely spoke of their daughter, it never felt right, but today it did.
‘Neither did you’ he stroked her cheek lightly, making Claire close her eyes.
‘I feel her close to us’ Claire sighed opening her eyes looking around the vast open space.
‘Aye, she’s here. I think she’s the one who brought us here, showing us the water and trees.’ Jamie leaned in kissing Claire on the cheek with such tenderness it made claims heartbreak out into a million different songs.
‘Well, she’s most certainly a Fraser’ Claire laughed wiping her eyes, then beamed at her husband. He chuckled beside her resting his head on Claire’s shoulder.
‘Aye, she is. Always will be.’ Jamie’s eyes met with Claires. It was only them left in the world. Only the sound of the water and trees echoing around them gave them any sense of reality. They were rooted again to one another because of Faith. It was going to be okay.
‘I love you’ She whispered stroking his face. ‘And I you.’