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The Seven Stages of Faith

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Prologue


Her first thought was that she didn’t feel quite human. She felt apart from herself like driftwood floating in the red sea. It was like the sun and moon were pulling her from limb to limb, trying to bring her closer to their designated orbit. She felt exhausted, her body shaking from head to toe with fever.

The water began to wrap itself around her, creating a chasm of warm water like the inside of the womb. She could hear the inner sounds of it working around her. But something felt wrong. The water began to turn a dark red, swirling around like a hurricane, violent and extreme. It was suffocating her, filling her lungs so she felt the panicked contractions of the womb around her losing its control. Then all went still and quiet.

In the momentary solitude she saw in her peripheral vision a blurred figure of a woman. She knew it was her mother. She couldn’t describe how she knew it. It was an innate feeling deep in her bones. She was holding a small baby with little tuffs of beautiful red copper hair. She tried to move closer to them but then stopped, feeling the presence of another figure standing on the opposite side. She turns around and sees him just standing holding his hand out to her. A sense of calm washes over her as she looks at him.

“MAMAN!!”

She felt her body awaken at the words, a maternal instinct ingrained at the sound of a child’s whimper. She opened her eyes, The shadows of the candle lights fluttering with the sudden movement of Jamie and Fergus clutching onto her bedside.

She turns her head sharply to Jamie seizing his arm. “Where is she?”

She studied his face, looking desperately into his eyes. She knew. His throat tightened and she saw the lump in his throat ripple as the words tried to come out, but words failed him. The tears in his eyes began to stream as his voice let out a cracked sob.

“Mo chridhe-”

And she came undone. The sound she made did not sound human. It came from a raw guttural animalistic part of her. She releases her grasp on Jamie’s shoulder.

“I want to see her.” Claire muttered, her voice low but determined. Jamie looks at Claire, not knowing what to do or say.

“I don’t think it’s a good-”

“I want my baby, NOW!” Claire violently grabs the glass on the bedside table and throws it against the wall causing it to shatter, which startles Jamie. Claire’s breathing becomes rapid and erratic the feeling of panic taking over.

Jamie tries to help Claire through it but she pushes him off. Fergus speedily rushes to her side holding her tightly to help stabilize her irregular breathing. He hums a French nursery rhyme into her side, the vibration of it calming her down. Jamie takes this opportunity to leave the chamber to look for mother Hildegarde.

“Milady?”

Claire looked down hearing the gentle voice of Fergus. His big blue eyes staring up at her filled with tears. She could tell he was scared. She smiled sweetly at him with the little energy she had left.

“Come here…” Fergus tentatively snuggles into Claire’s shoulder. She stroked his damp curly hair, giving him a little kiss on the head. He fumbles with the blanket in his hands, tightening his grip on it.

“What’s that you’ve got?” she gently whispered into his hair. Fergus tugs nervously at the cream knitted blanket. Fergus shrugs his shoulders not giving her an answer. Claire registers his response, knowing who the blanket was for.

She pulls him closer to her, gratitude and love overwhelming her with the blessing of this sweet boy.

Claire’s head jerks up at the sound of footsteps entering the chamber. Fergus lets go of Claire. She holds her breath as she sees Jamie standing there holding the bundle of white blankets in his arms. His face was solemn and tear stained. His eyes had aged, he no longer looked like a young man. Claire sat up straight feeling the breath in her lungs tighten as Jamie moved closer.

She exhales the moment Jamie sits down to give her their baby daughter.

“Mother Hildegarde baptized her, and gave our lass a name. Faith.”

Claire traces the features of her daughter. She was so small she could cup her head in the palm of her hands. Her ears stuck out just a little. She had the most beautiful wisps of copper red hair. Claire’s heart had never been filled with so much love. Words failed her. No amount of time or lack of would change that. This she knew.

Jamie and Fergus watch Claire helplessly.

“Milord will Milady be ok?” Fergus asks Jamie worriedly. Jamie’s eyes scan over the hunched profile of his wife rocking his daughter in her arms.

“No” He answers simply. “ But time will help her heal.” Jamie’s attention moves to Fergus, his manner sobering.

“Fergus lad… I need ye to do me a favour. When the time comes, take Faith to Mother Hildegarde. She’ll ken what to do.”

“Ten fingers, ten toes” Claire mutters, causing Jamie and Fergus to snap out of their conversation. Jamie rushes to Claire’s side placing a hand on the small of her back.

“Aye she has…” Jamie whispers into Claire’s hair as she begins humming an English lullaby to Faith.

Fergus looks down at his knitted blanket plucking up the strength to do what must be done.

“Milady, may I hold her? lle st temps.” Claire’s eyes shot up, a look of betrayal plastered on her face. She looks to Jamie desperately begging him to do something. He is completely helpless. The two of them glance at one another, their eyes speaking a language of their own, willing one another to muster up the courage to let their baby girl go. The two of them touch heads looking down at Faith. Jamie whispers gaelic prayers hoping his daughter will hear them in her new world. Jamie kisses Claire before they both proceed to kiss their daughters forehead. Fergus holds the knitted blanket out to the two of them and together they place Faith in his arms.

Claire lets out an uncontrollable sob as she part from her daughter. She tries to take her back but Jamie grabs a hold of her arms in an embrace clutching her tightly to his chest. Jamie feels his walls breaking down as he sobs into Claire’s hair. The two of them just sit there crying into each other’s embrace mourning the death of their daughter.

Fergus slips away quietly leaving the two grieving parents to themselves. He looks down to his little sister whom he too, loved so deeply. He sits down on the steps of the staircase properly wrapping her up with great care in the blanket he made for her.

“I promise you I will look after our parents and protect them with my life. I promise you. I love you ma souer”. He kisses her head tenderly saying his goodbye as he walks towards mother Hildegarde, the start of the promise already in fruition.