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Taking leave.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Silently, Bree collected the last of the provisions into her basket. Mama had already taken the children out to the wagon, an the quiet of their first home wrapped around her. She took a shuddering breath and ran her hand up the bannister to the loft. The first thing Roger had ever built.
She saw the rug, herself and Lizzy had made from rags, and the quilt Marsali had made for them. All the love that lived within this small cabin. Tears flowed down her cheeks, and she hastily wiped them away as the door opened. It was her Da.
He strode to her and wrapped her in his arms. Resting his chin on her head he held her tight, as the sobs of leaving wracked through her.
“Shush a leannan” he whispered to her. “we will always be with you, always”
“But who will I ask, when I need advise, who will I turn to?” she gasped.
“Roger Mac, he will always steer you right, ye ken that my child. Ye are no doing this alone, no like when ye came to us. Ye will be doing it the four of ye, and with that knowledge ye will get through the heartbreak” Jamie told her.
“But what if, what if the operation does not work, what if we lose Mandy, anyway” she sobbed even more.
“Yer Mama, she is sure she will be cured in your own time. And if not” Jamie swallowed hard. “Then it will be God will, just as when yer Mother and I lost Faith. But Faith is still with us, and always will be, as she will be with you to guide you. Bur Amanda will be fine.” He lifted her chin and wiped away her tears
“Now come, tis time my daughter”
She couldn’t touch her mother, just look at her, eyes locked as she climbed onto the wagon. Mama’s lip trembling as Da put his arm around her. Roger handed her the basket with the baby asleep, and Ian took the reins. Jem sat on the buck board at the back of the wagon, and without a word , all words having been said, they pulled away.
With a lurch, Jem sprang from the board and ran back throwing himself into his grandfathers arms. Jamie lifted him and held him as Roger sprang down as well and went back.
“Do you want to stay?” he asked quietly, looking into his sons eyes. “We would never make you go if you wanted to stay”
Jem shook his head “nay Da, I just, “ the boy shook with grief “I just couldna say goodbye”
Roger nodded his head in understanding, and took the child from Jamie.
“That’s why we are no saying goodbye” Roger said gently , and his gaze ran back over Claire , her face white and lost, to Jamie, who just nodded, and Roger carried the boy back to the wagon, and sat him up front between Ian and himself.
Quietly and softly the in his rasping voice,

 

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and…

Chapter Text

The wagon stopped, and Ian climbed down, Roger jumped off the other side and around they will to the back. Bree was asleep with Jem curled into her side. The baby was awake in her nest of blankets and he lifted her up and out.
Ian joined him and looked down at the tiny baby, dark lashes against the slightly blue skin. Dark curls upon her head.
“What will they do to cure her” he asked Mandy’s Father.
“Operate” Roger said
“On such a tiny bairn, can they do that?” Ian looked worried
“Aye they can do many things in our times, that seem impossible” Roger said.
“Is life so much better, in your time?” Ian asked, looking at the sleeping duo in the wagon bed.
“Better, no, different, more things are possible, but no not better, here, we have family, we have a life together. There we will have no one. Joe Abernathy, Claire’s friend is the only person in America, who knows where were are and Fiona, my friend is the only one in Scotland. So as when we came here and could not talk about how we came to be here, because we would be thought to be witches. There we could be thought of as mad. So, either way, it is difficult.” Roger hitched the baby onto . shoulder as he talked, and pulled a bag from the wagon.
“Bree” he shook her and she began to wake “We are here hen”
She sat up and stretched, and ruffled Jem’s hair. The boy stirred and sat up too, the tears that had fallen off and on over the two week journey looked like they threatened to fall again. He went to his father who smiled down at him.
“It is time now son” and took his hand, leading the way, with Ian following with Bree, he lead them up the rise to the stone, the one hidden behind the Rhododendron bushes.
And suddenly the humming began, they could feel it in their bodies, the baby began to fuss and Jem shook.
They stopped at the top and looked at the large standing stone. Bree turned to Ian and sadly smiled
“I guess we have to say goodbye now” Bree said and took his hand, Ian lifted hers to his lips and kissed it, then turned and placed a hand on Jem’s head. Finally, he turned to Roger.
“Look after them my brother, and look after yourself. Look for us in your books and your history, maybe you will find us. If we will leave things for you to find. “ Ian said
Roger nodded, “I will brother, I will look for you. I cannot believe someone as you will not be known to history.” He said with a smile.
Bree strapped the baby to her chest and placed the diamond within her wrappings, and handed Roger and Jem their jewels. The three of them held hands, and turned to the stone.
“Ready” Roger said and looked at his his wife and son. “One, Two, Three” and they laid their hands on the stone.
Ian didn’t move, in fact didn’t move, until he realised that the sun was going down and the air was getting chilly. He walked forward and reached out to the stone. It was cold and hard. And solid.
He dropped to his knees and prayed, in Gaelic, in Mohawk, in English, that the small family had made it through to the other side. That the baby would live. And that his Uncle Jamie and Auntie Claire would live through their going.
The baby’s cries, brought Bree round first, Roger was lying beside her, with Jem over him, she reached to touch her son and felt his breathe take his chest in and out, Roger’s eyes fluttered open and he turned his head and vomited. Jem began to cry, and sat up.
“its ok honey, its ok” Bree pulled him to her, her tears mixing with his, the baby screamed, and Roger wrapped them all within his embrace.
“Maybe you should feed the wean” he said as he let them go, Mandy was crying in earnest now. “I will go see where we are.” Roger said and stood up. His legs felt wobbly and he still felt sick, but he walked away from the stone, which was rumbling through his bones.
From the rise he could see into the valley, not far below he could see a road, and café. Going back for his wife and children, he lead them back down the rise, and onto the road. Jem stopped, not sure if it was safe to stand on it. Roger gave Bree a wry smile. It would take some getting used to being in this time.
They had a story ready, that they had been hiking, and robbed, that all their money and possessions had been taken. At the café, Bree asked to use a phone and called her Uncle Joe.

Chapter Text

She rested her hand against the cool glass and realised she was holding her breathe. The tiny mound in the cot being brought through, was a mass of wires and tubes. Uncle Joe came through the door and smiled to her.
“She is doing fine. Once she is through recovery you may go in with her” He told her, and she felt the breath of her husband behind her, slowly let out.

She rested her hand on the cool glass and looked out, not seeing the Ridge, but the clean white hospital, where once she had worked. Smelt the disinfectants and the squeaky wheels of carts and beds. Was her granddaughter there now, was she in Joe’s care. Behind her she felt the breathe of her husband as he wrapped his arms about her.

He rested his hand on the glass, he could not settle, not till Mam and Da came home, he watched as the car pulled up. He still could not get used to being in one, the speed , and the smoothness. The Strangeness that was this land that was the land he had left, but not the land. He started as he was sure he felt his Granda’s breathe behind him.

She rested her hand on the glass, as she looked down to the cabin. Thinking of when Brianna had brought her with her to this place. Of the daring and courage, the woman had instilled in her. She missed her greatly and wished she could have gone with her. But her own Da, and Marsali, they needed her now, and what would the twins do without her. Her boys were her life now. And she felt the breathe of a new life stir within her.

He rested his hand on the glass and thank god, for the deliverance of his daughter, in the Gaelic, he whispered a prayer of thanks, and wiped the tears of relief away. He ken, that now, once the wean was recovered, then he would take his family home. To Lallybroch, to where they would all feel the breathe of the family behind them.

He rested his hand on the glass, and breathed in all the breathe of this family and this place, all this responsibility, and all this love, and expelled it with every prayer and deed, for the tiny granddaughter, who had to live, to be the reason that going was for. To heal his heart.
He picked up the quill and began the first of many letters.

Chapter Text

Jem looked out of the car window; the world rushed by outside. Beside him sat his Mam, with Mandy wrapped up in her arms. The bairn cried now, something she didna do on the Ridge. He felt the same.
Since going to the stones, it felt that they had always been leaving something. He missed his Grand and Grannie sorely. He would do anything to snuggle against them, hear the rumble of his Granda’s voice, and smell the earth and plant smell of his Grannie.
Then, he had been left with Uncle Joe and Auntie Gail, although he hadnae known them then, no really and had felt lost. While Mam and Da had been at the hospital with Mandy. He had been scairt then, scairt for Mancy and scairt for being left.
And now when Uncle Joe and Auntie Gail, had become liked family, they were leaving again. Would they ever stop.
Bree looked over at her son, and reached out and took his hand.
“It will be alright Jem, when we get to Scotland, you will see it will be alright. Lallybroch was your Granda’s home, it will be ours, and you will feel more settled there. I promise” she told him.
Jem nodded, but couldna really think of Granda, it made him feel wobbly inside. He wished he could pick up the telephone and just hear him, just talk to him. Granda would have made everything alright.
The airplane took off, and again they were leaving, this time America, where Granda and Grannie had been. Jem looked out through the clouds. He understood, that Granda was in a different time, although didnae really understand how it happened, Mam said she dint really ether. And understood that in the now Granda would have died a long time ago. He wondered if Granda was now in these clouds, he smiled and liked to think he was.
Lallybroch, rose through the mist as Da stopped at the top of the rise leading down to the house. It was early morning and they had driven all night from Heathrow. It seemed to glow in the sunrise. Da and Mam got out and stood arms around each other. Da rested his chin on Mam’s head.
“It will be different Hen, not as it was” Da said quietly.
“Yes, but it is till home” Mam said and smiled up and him.
They got back in the car, as Mandy stirred in her carrycot
As the pulled up the door opened and a small dark-haired lady came out.
“Aye ye here” she said with a big smile. “Come in come in, I’ve got some messages in for ye breakfast, and beds made up.”
Messages ? Jem thought, “was there a message from Granda” he asked his Da.
“No, messages, mean shopping here lad” Da told him.
Jem sank back dejected into his seat.
Da got out and hugged the lady, then Mam did the same. Shyly Jem climbed out too.
“And ye would be Jeremiah, tis good to meet you” the lady said.
Jem nodded.
“Jem this is your Auntie Fiona, I have known her since she was a wee bairn” Da said with a big grin.
With the introductions over, Mam took his hand and Da lifted the carry cot from the car, and they went into the house.
Would this be the last leaving?

Chapter Text

Claire finished her box of medicals and tied the top before taking it to the wagon, trying not to cry. Was it always hat her children would leave?
Jamie was helping Fergus stack the wagon and tie it down, as Germain was corralling the hell kittens. Fergus saw her coming and jumped down from the wagon to take the box.
“I’ve put everything, I could think of, just in case Marsali needs anything on the journey and for when you get there. “Claire said handing the box over.
Fergus took it and turned to give it to Jamie.
“We will be alright Milady, you have taught Marsali well.” He pulled Claire into his arms and hugged her hard.
“Milord will bring you to see us in the spring. And we will come back when we can. It is not forever” Fergus told her.
“I know I know, it’s just” she gestured to the children now playing. “I so wanted to see them grow, as did your Father.”
Jamie climbed down from the wagon and took Claire from Fergus. “ Fergus, is a good printer Claire. Ye ken that, and he cannae do that here, at least not yet, Frasers Ridge is no big enough. He needs to support his family” he whispered in her hear.
“I know I know” she repeated.
There had been so many leavings though.
Marsali came out of the house carrying Henri Christian, followed by Lizzy carrying the baby’s basket.
“Now stop greeting ma, or I shall surely start, and that will start the bairns, and then where will we be” Marsali said, her lip trembling.
Claire swallowed hard and took the warm bundle of the baby, and Jamie caught a granddaughter in each arm and swung them up onto the wagon. Germain waited till they were in then threw himself into Jamie’s arms.
“You will not forget us Grandpere?” he asked anxiously.
“Now as if that would ever happen” Jamie said. “Jem has gone away but do we forget him?”
Germain shook his head. “Well then, and we will see you soon, and you must write, nay just ye parents, I will want to see how ye schooling is doing mind” Jamie said ruffling the blonde head.
Germain pulled a face, then turned to Claire. “Grandmere, I will miss you, but I will look after the little ones and help Mama, as I promised” he said formally.
Claire hugged him tight. “I know you will Germain, and you will make all of us very proud.” Claire wiped her tears away and gave him a watery smile.
She handed the baby up to Marsali and with waves and a click to the horses, the Frasers drove off, wagon stacked high with children and belongings.
Jamie wrapped Claire in his arms as she wept, when the corner was turned, and they were out of sight.
“Oh lass, we will see them soon, but I think it is also for Bree and Roger and the children you weep”
Claire nodded and muffled into his shoulder said.
“Why must all our children leave”
“As we did, our children must make their own way in the world, whether in this time or theirs. But they will always be with us, here, in our hearts, All of them, Faith and William too.” Jamie said and turned her to climbed the steps to the Big house, at the top Lizzy stood and took Claire’s hand as they walked back in.