He wrapped the blanket tighter around the baby, then tucked her into his coat. He looked back at the bed where his wife lay sleeping and smiled sadly. As he went passed the trundle at the foot of their bed he bent and pulled the quilt up and around his son's shoulders. Although he knew by the time he had gotten to the door, the child would have shrugged it off again. The boy never felt the cold.
He quietly opened the door and stepped outside, into the frosty moonlit air. He could hear the creaking of the roof, laden with snow, and the owl in tree the lightening had scorched last spring.
The baby snuggled against his chest, and he bent to kiss the top of her head. She hadn’t settled after her last feed, and his wife was so tired, so he had brought her out here, to walk in the moonlight, to see if the air and his warmth would persuade her to sleep again.
She rarely slept well. To tired to feed properly, she fell asleep halfway through, then would wake only an hour later hungry, and so the circle went on.
He walked slowly up towards the Big House. The light was on in his in laws bedroom window. And he wondered, if like him, they could not sleep. Wondered like him, if they were terrified, that something would go wrong. And that the baby would not be strong enough to withstand that awful place.
As he turned the corner, he saw that his father in law was awake. He was standing on the side porch, as still as a statue looking out over the Ridge. He turned when he heard the man and the baby. The scrap now making snuffling noises again.
‘Is she no sleeping?” his Father in Law asked.
“No, not so much, and I dinna want to wake the others. It will be hard enough, to say goodbye, without being tired” he replied
They stood together then, in silence for a while.
Then the man spoke again.
“I came here, intending only to find my love, then return. And when I found myself stuck here, I thought I would never find my place , nor my feet. And now, now we are going back, and the world we are going back to feels more alien, than this world ever will" he said.
“Aye, it may be, but you will find yer feet. And yea will be all together, and the wee lass will be mended. Her Grannie is sure if that. And that is how it must be" the older man said quietly.
“ Aye, I ken, but how will we live without you all. Without this family? There we will only have each other. We will not have you. Nor brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces. No one to see you and ken who you are. No one who just understands and picks you up. No one to teach us, to guide us and to hold us" tears were falling from the young man’s face. Freezing in the icy air.
“ You will have each other, and you will lean on each other. It will be hard, but you have a strong marriage, and the bairns will grow, and have families if their own one day, and it will nay be just the four of ye then" the elder put his hand on top of the child’s head and stroked it gently.
But there were tears in his eyes, at the thought of this man, who he had thought so little of, when he had given him to his daughter, leaving. Not just because with him would go his daughter and his Grandchildren. But because this man was a true son if his heart, as much as his natural son and his adopted son. As much as the nephew he had, had the bringing up of.
They stood there a while longer, till the baby’s cries became stronger, and he walked away. Taking her back to her mother. At the point in the path, before he disappeared, he turned back.
“ Bree came to save you, and her Mother. I came to save Bree. We leave to save Mandy. Ken this Father of my heart. Coming here and meeting you made us all whole. I will never forget you. And never stop loving you.” With a final look at Jamie, Roger took Mandy back to Bree, for her final feed, before they must wake Jem, and they must leave the Ridge forever.