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Faith Fluff Days

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It had been some time since they'd had a letter from Jamie in France so when Jenny saw the seal she left Maggie and young Jamie with Mrs. Crook and hurried off in search of Ian. She met him leading the draft horses back to the barn and followed after him eventually perching on a bale of hay as Ian guided them into their stalls and returned the harnesses to their hooks.

“Well go on and read it aloud if ye’re so anxious o’er it,” he urged her with a grin.

Jenny rolled her eyes but was too nervous about the news it might carry after so long a silence.

“I’m hoping this letter finds Auntie Jenny and Uncle Ian—Claire’s had the bairn then!” Jenny exclaimed excitedly breathing a sigh of relief. “I’m hoping this letter finds ye with less incident than yer niece did as she made her entrance to the world though at least some of that incident arises from her own over-eagerness—it was hard to tell from Jamie’s earlier letters but I didna think Claire should have borne the babe so soon as this,” Jenny remarked, glancing up from the letter to spot Ian leaning over the wall of one of the stalls. The smile on his face sent a flush up into hers as she turned her attention back to the letter.

“There’s much to tell on those accounts as well as others but I’d rather acquit ye of the details in person than set my hand to cramping with trying to make it all fit the pages here, so fer now I’ll be brief and tell ye Jared’s wine business will survive my having had the charge of it and fer all the gossip and intrigue of Paris can be bothersome, it has yielded some much desired fruit in the form of a pardon—they’re coming home!” She jumped to her feet at that and ran the stall leaning her back against the wood planks so that Ian could read the rest of the letter over her shoulder along with her.

“They’re making their arrangements while Claire and the bairn recover their strength and then they’ll make their way here once and for all,” Ian happily summarized. “That’ll be some relief.”

“Faith,” Jenny murmured. “That’s the lass’ name.” She scrunched up her face a bit at it. “I’d have expected him to name her Ellen for our mam but he promises there’s a story there as well.” She folded the letter and pressed her thumb and forefinger along the seams to reinforce the creases. “Always full of tales, my brother. Sense on the other hand…”

“All Frasers are full of tales,” Ian teased her lightly.

“We should have word again soon telling when to expect them.”

Ian went back to watering the horses and mixing their supper.

“I’ll have another look through my mother’s things for Claire,” Jenny planned aloud. “And there’s that bit of blue silk I’ve been saving—might make a nice pillow for wee Faith.”

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A hand intercepted Faith’s before she could poke Brianna in the eye.

“Gentle, a leannan,” Jamie told her with a chuckle. “And we dinna want to wake her so ye must be quiet,” he added, lowering his voice to a whisper in demonstration.

Faith nodded and brought her newly released finger to her lips. “Ssshhh.”

“Aye.” Jamie grinned and ruffled the dark curls on her head. “Here,” he took her wrist again but with a looser grip and brought her hand to the baby’s head, using Faith’s small fingers to lightly smooth the strands of vibrant red hair that lay across Brianna’s slumbering brow.

“Beena,” Faith whispered to her little sister.

Jamie and Claire caught each other’s eye with a smile.

“Beena,” Faith hissed to her parents, her hand jerking in Jamie’s grip to get his attention.

Brianna had opened one of her eyes to peer at Faith who broke free of Jamie’s loose hold and clapped her hands. The noise startled Brianna into opening her other eye. She didn’t cry at all but began to squirm enough for Claire to readjust the baby’s position in her arms.

She paused as one of the pillows propping her up in bed shifted. Jamie moved to put it back for her but she stopped him.

“Hold on. Faith, why don’t you come sit here beside me,” she patted the spot on the bed.

Faith crawled over eagerly.

“On your bottom now, legs forward. Jamie, can you put the pillow here?”

Following her instructions he laid the pillow so that it was mostly in Faith’s lap with some of it ending up on Claire’s leg.

“Now hold still a moment,” Claire cautioned Faith.

Brianna made a snorting sound as Claire twisted to lay her down on the pillow.

“Make sure ye’ve got yer arm just under there,” Jamie told her, reaching to reposition Faith’s arm so it was more supportive of Brianna’s head. “There ye are.”

“I doing it,” Faith said with quiet awe, her eyes darting between both her parents.

“You most certainly are, lamb,” Claire assured Faith as she rubbed the two-year-old’s back.

Faith’s posture was rigid as she sat holding her little sister afraid to move at all and disrupt Brianna whose eyes hadn’t yet closed again. The baby curled up on herself a bit, drawing her knees towards her chest for a moment before arching her back and stretching, her limbs straining against the blankets that wrapped her loosely.

Jamie could see the momentary panic on Faith’s face before Brianna settled again. He shifted around the bed to sit beside her and add his own support beneath the pillow, silently reassuring Faith that everything was fine. Brianna’s eyelids slowly slid shut once more and her tiny mouth fell open as she slept.

“She sleeping,” Faith whispered, turning to her mother.

“She’ll do a lot of that for a while,” Claire informed her. “But before long she’ll be looking for you to play with her.”

Faith grinned, pleased with herself, and settled back against the wall of her parents’ bodies, content as Brianna slept soundly in her lap.

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“Bouton!” Mother Hildegarde called as he scurried to the door to investigate their visitors.

“Well hello there,” Claire said to the creature. “I’m afraid my hands are full at the moment.” She reached up to readjust the blanket that was covering Faith’s face to protect her from the sun.

“Madame Fraser!” Mother Hildegarde came forward with her arms flung wide to embrace her. “Ah, and you have brought la petite miraculée. It is such a relief to see you on your feet again, madame, and to see the little one is doing well.”

Mother Hildegarde moved the blanket to peer at Faith’s face. At the movement, Faith opened her eyes and blinked at Mother Hildegarde before starting to squirm, almost as though she recognized the nun.

“Would you care to hold her?” Claire offered.

Faith cooed and Mother Hildegarde smiled. With her hands free, Claire crouched to give Bouton a well-deserved scratch behind the ears.

“We’re leaving tomorrow,” Claire informed her friend. “My husband booked us passage but I wanted to take a proper leave of you and thank you once more… for everything. If it weren’t for you and L’Hôpital I don’t think Faith or I would be here.”

“In truth, I did very little. It was M. Forez who performed the necessary procedures—a wonderful change to see him bringing life into this world instead of ushering it out.” She brought Faith up to her shoulder and rubbed the infant’s back. Faith emitted a small burp that had Mother Hildegarde and Sister Angelique laughing.

“So you are bound for Scotland?” Sister Angelique asked taking the baby from Mother Hildegarde to have a turn of her own. She made faces at Faith who rewarded her with an amused squeal.

Claire grinned as she watched them. “His majesty secured Jamie a pardon from the King of England as well.”

“And you are pleased with the name I bestowed upon her?” Mother Hildegarde inquired self-consciously.

“We are though… we’ll be having a more formal Christening ceremony when we get there. It’s… actually one of the reasons I came here today,” Claire said, finally broaching the subject.

Oui?”

“Obviously you cannot come to Scotland for the ceremony… but I was wondering if… perhaps… you would stand as one of Faith’s godmothers. My husband’s sister will be her more formal godmother, of course,” Claire started rambling. “But given all you’ve done…”

“It would be an honor, madame,” Mother Hildegarde replied with tears in her eyes. Sister Angelique handed the child back to her new godmother.

“Her full name is going to be Faith Janet Hildegarde Fraser,” Claire announced, moving to stand beside her friend and adjusting Faith’s wrappings again.

The nun was speechless and could only nod to express her gratitude. Sister Paulette came hurrying over.

Mére, vous sont nécessaires á la fois.

Claire took Faith back and said farewell as Mother Hildegarde kissed first her forehead and then Faith’s.

“I will write to you,” Claire called as they sped away after Sister Paulette.

Chapter Text

“Faith…” Claire said in a drawn out voice of disapproval.

Faith looked up from the honey oozing down her finger over to her mother for a moment before sticking the finger into her mouth and lapping away the sweetness. When it was clean, she reached for a wet cloth nearby to clean her finger properly. “That was the last time, I promise,” she assured her mother.

Claire rolled her eyes and went back to pouring the melted wax into the tops of the glass jars, sealing the completed honey in against ants and apparently Faith. “You’ll make yourself sick if you’re not careful,” she warned out of habit. “Why don’t you see if your aunt needs help in the kitchen? And send your sister in to help me finish with these,” Claire suggested.

Faith frowned casting one last glance at the jars of freshly refined honey that would be disappearing into the root cellar to be used sparingly over the coming winter. A moment later, Brianna’s bright little head appeared in the doorway.

While Brianna practiced her writing on small slips of paper that would be attached to the tops of the jars with a bit of wax, Claire slipped in to check on how Faith fared in the kitchen.

Faith knelt on a chair pulled up to the table and she was eagerly licking the various spoons and dishes that had been used while Jenny and Mrs. Crook made the strawberry preserves. They too had reached the jarring stage and were busy in another corner of the kitchen. The red sticky fruit was smeared across Faith’s face.

Claire took up a cloth and dipped it into one of the pails of water near the hearth before tackling the mess.

You have an overdeveloped sweet tooth, little lamb,” she said as she set the spoon aside and took Faith’s chin in her hands.

“Which… one is it?” Faith asked, cringing away from the cloth.

Claire chuckled. “Now, if you could refrain from devouring every granule of sugar in this house,” she managed to say before Faith had pranced out of the room.

It was when Claire was standing near the door down into the root cellar watching as Fergus handed the crates of jars down to Jamie that Jenny appeared.

“Faith’s wantin’ ye, Claire. She’s doubled up wi’ a stomach ailment of some kind and says her head’s in pain too. I had Maggie help her up to her bed for now.”

“Thank you, Jenny.” Claire stopped off in the kitchens for a glass of milk before taking to the stairs in pursuit of her oldest daughter.

She found Faith lying on her side, her back to the bright light streaming in the window and her hands clamped over her belly. Claire refrained from saying ‘I told you so,’ and instead sat on the mattress beside her, brushing the girl’s dark curls back from her face.

“Sit up and drink this,” she said quietly. “It will help you feel better.”

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There was a muted thud as Faith landed hard on her bottom. She scowled with frustration but it faded quickly as Jamie lifted her and set her back on her feet.

“Ye’re doing fine, a leannan,” he assured her as he slowly took his hands away again. “I ken it’s hard to make yer legs do what they ought when ye’ve got a clout in the way and yer gown hinderin’ ye, but ye manage them a’right when ye crawl about. Ye just need to keep at it.”

Her knees wobbled beneath her but her attention was fixed on Jamie who sat on the floor with his legs stretched open in front of him, encouraging her forward. She lifted her first foot and swung it forward ultimately placing it down atop the hem of her long baby dress. She pitched forward and to her right this time, catching herself on his leg with her outstretched hands.

“There ye go,” he said, keeping his voice light and enthusiastic. She’d been pushing herself to walk for nearly a week, tired of falling behind Maggie all the time. Her balance was definitely improving but she over-reached the length of her stride and inevitably toppled, even when she had a firm hold of something nearby.

Claire came up behind Faith and reached down on either side of her to take the lass’ hands in hers. “Can Mama help?” she requested quietly.

Faith tilted her head back to look up at her mother, laughing to see Claire’s face apparently upside-down.

Claire smiled back as she worked her fingers into Faith’s fists so that her daughter had a firm hold and then she lifted Faith’s arms up over her head. The movement raised the hem of her baby dress by a few inches—enough to prevent her stepping on it again.

“Look at Da,” Claire instructed. Faith laughed still looking up at Claire.

“Come here, Faith,” Jamie called her holding his hands out towards her. “Come along, now.”

Faith lifted her right foot and tapped the ground in front of her twice before putting it down and shifting her weight. Claire reached out further until Faith moved her left foot forward too, then she began loosening Faith’s grip on her fingers so she soon let go.

After taking three steps on her own, Faith put her foot down on the hem of her baby gown again but felt the tug of the fabric quickly enough to stop and slide her foot back.

“Faith,” Jamie called again till he had her attention. “Like this, a leannan,” he reminded her before throwing his arms up over his head. Faith did the same with a high pitched giggle and took the remaining four steps to fall against Jamie’s chest, laughing into him as he brought his arms around her in a hug.

“I’ll re-hem her gowns tomorrow,” Claire decided before taking Faith from Jamie’s arms and carrying her a little further back than where she’d started the last time, setting her down so she could try again.

Chapter Text

Claire was incredibly pale but Jamie was reassured by the rise and fall of her chest as she slept. The bundle in his arms squirmed and he turned his attention to their daughter.

She hadn’t cried when she finally came and Mother Hildegarde had been quick to whisk her away while Jamie remained at Claire’s bedside, crying and praying that he wouldn’t lose them both. The sisters had cleaned Claire up and he’d lifted her himself to put her into the bed they pointed him towards. She’d lost a lot of blood but the nuns refused to believe that their friend and fellow healer lacked the strength to pull through.

Finally Mother Hildegarde had tapped him on the shoulder.

“I must apologize for taking her from you like that,” she said quietly, offering the child to him. “Given the circumstance, I thought it wise to baptize her immediately but your wife needed you.”

Mother Hildegarde placed the baby in his arms when he failed to take her himself. “Her?”

Oui,” Mother Hildegarde smiled. “You have a most beautiful daughter. I called her Faith in her baptism as I did not know what you and your wife had decided between yourselves. She is a small one and there is still great risk, but I believe she is stronger than she looks—just like her maman.”

Jamie couldn’t speak but nodded before peering down into Faith’s sleeping face.

“We hadna chosen a name yet,” he told Mother Hildegarde who had turned her attention to seeing how Claire fared. “Faith,” he whispered, taking his smallest finger and running it down the length of her nose. Her mouth twitched but her eyes remained shut. Still, that small sign of life was enough to strengthen his hope and Mother Hildegarde quietly slipped away, leaving Jamie alone with his wife and daughter.

“She’s beautiful, Claire,” he whispered to her. “She’s a few hairs on her head and they’re ruddy but I think they’ll darken with time.” He loosened the swaddling blanket so he could examine her fingers and toes. “Ye need to see her, Claire,” he intoned. “She’s perfect and soon, she’ll be hungry and looking for ye.”

He stroked Faith’s cheek and her eyelid twitched before opening a sliver.

“She’s no lashes yet,” he told Claire before finally reaching over to take his wife’s hand. He gave it a squeeze and waited. “She’s rousing Claire—ye’ll no want to miss this.”

Claire squeezed his hand back as she turned her head towards him.

“I want to see her,” she said in a rough voice.

With Faith in one arm, he shifted from his chair to the bed, helping raise Claire so she could sit up and lean against him. “This is our wee lass—Faith,” he whispered as he handed the baby to her mother.

“Look at you,” Claire cooed weakly. “You are perfect, aren’t you?”

Jamie slipped a hand round Claire’s shoulders and pulled her close for a kiss before burying his face in her shoulder and crying with relief.

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Mother Hildegarde suggested and Claire agreed that it would be best for her and Faith to remain at L’Hopital for at least a week for supervision before they returned to Jared’s house. Mother Hildegarde had sent word of the decision to the house so there was little surprise the following morning when Fergus appeared at the door of L’Hopital requesting to see Milady and the mademoiselle.

Though the young boy was at ease at a brothel, he was baffled when presented with the prospect of addressing the nuns. He found himself second-guessing everything he said as Sister Angelique led him to the bed where Claire was sitting hunched over with Faith lying between her legs having her clout changed.

“M-m-milady,” he said quietly, stopping several feet away.

Claire looked up and broke into a smile when she saw him. “Fergus. It’s all right for you to come closer,” she told him, pulling Faith’s baby gown down over her legs, still habitually curled up near her chest.

Fergus took halting steps toward the bed before suddenly pulling the small bouquet of blue irises from behind his back.

“Are those for me?” Claire took them and examined them carefully. “Thank you, Fergus.”

“She is all right?” he asked Claire moving closer to peer down at the infant.

“She arrived early so she’s smaller than she should be and her breathing can become labored but based on her coloring she’s getting enough oxygen and she has a healthy appetite…” Claire began reciting the litany of medical concerns she had but glanced up and seeing Fergus’ confused and concerned expression trailed off. Smiling she clarified, “She will be just fine. You can hold her if you like.”

But Fergus balked at the suggestion. “Oh no… I could not—I would drop her,” he said as he started to back away.

“All right then,” Claire soothed, “I’ll hold her but you should come here and sit. Perhaps Sister Angelique can fetch a vase or cup with water for the flowers.”

Sister Angelique nodded and slipped away and Fergus inched closer to the bed as Claire scooped Faith up and cradled her against her chest. With her ear pressed to Claire’s breast, the sound of her mother’s beating heart lulled Faith to sleep.

“She is quiet for un nouveau-née,” he remarked in a low voice. Now that the baby was sleeping, he was more comfortable reaching out to run a finger along her cheek.

“Well, I fed her just before you came and she has a fresh nappy so she has nothing to complain about at the moment,” Claire explained as she watched Fergus slip his hand along Faith’s arm to find and examine her fist. At his touch her hand opened reflexively so he took it in his larger one and ran his thumb along her delicate fingers, amazed by her tiny fingernails.

“Her name is Faith, oui?”

“Yes,” Claire confirmed.

Tu es belle, ma chére, tout comme votre maman,” he said, raising Faith’s hand and pressing a brief kiss to her knuckles.

Chapter Text

Claire massaged her breast. It was heavy with milk and beginning to ache. Jamie stood beside the bed with Faith in his arms and was swaying to calm her quiet fussing but they both knew the infant’s complaints were likely related to her hungry belly.

“Ye ready to give it a try then, Sassenach?” Jamie asked. He still looked at both her and Faith like they might vanish if he were to look away too long.

She switched her hands to the other breast but simply massaging them brought no relief and the weight was beginning to cause an aching in her back. She nodded to Jamie and reached for Faith.

It took a minute or two to figure out how to position the baby in her arms so that the tiny mouth properly aligned with her nipple—it wasn’t quite the way she was used to holding a baby. Jamie reached behind her to arrange the pillows more comfortably.

Faith’s lips moved across her sensitive skin but she failed to get the nipple into her mouth on her own so Claire reached down and helped her. At last she felt the first bit of tugging as Faith began to suck and she waited watching Jamie’s curious face as he sat facing her on the bed peering at Faith squirming as she tried to feed.

And then Claire felt it and startled, glanced down at Faith with a brief and triumphant laugh.

“Ye’re all right then?” Jamie asked with a bit of worry in his voice. He reached out to cup the back of Faith’s head to reassure himself.

“She’s got it,” Claire told him beginning to relax herself. She leaned back against the pillows and drew Faith closer, finding a more comfortable position so her arms wouldn’t tire though Faith was still so light in her arms—that would change soon. Faith soon began swallowing in a steady rhythm and closed her eyes as she nursed.

“She can eat in her sleep it would seem,” Jamie remarked shifting again so he could watch the little flutter of movement in Faith’s throat as she swallowed.

Claire couldn’t take her eyes off of Faith while her mind turned to an assessment of the sensation itself. It wasn’t draining in the way she’d expected it to be but then, the milk was not something she needed for energy herself. It was a little more of herself she could share with her child but it wasn’t the same as when they’d shared a body. Something about it felt more genuinely self-less… the difference between carrying life within and sustaining it as something separate…

“What are ye thinking of, Sassenach?” Jamie inquired. She looked up to see an amused smile on his face.

She shook her head. “I haven’t figured out how to put it into words yet,” she told him turning her gaze back to Faith—the rhythm of her suckling had slowed and her breathing was deeper than before—“but I’ll let you know when I do.”

Chapter Text

Claire and Jenny were elbow deep in tubs of warm water and lye soap as they worked at the washing of nearly a dozen people. The children were scattered about the yard playing under the eye of Mrs. Crook with the exception of Fergus and young Jamie—who were helping Ian up at the fields—and Rabbie and Faith—who were assisting Jamie with re-shoeing the horses.

In the rhythm of plunging the clothes in and out of the water, scrubbing, rinsing, and squeezing, Claire and Jenny were largely able to ignore the myriad screams of excitement and frustration as the children played and fought with one another. But Jamie’s voice when he called to Claire came through clearly.

She dropped the shirt back into the water to soak and dried her hands on her apron, hurrying to see what was the matter.

Faith was crying in his arms and there was blood on his shirt where she’d pressed her face to it.

“What happened?” Claire asked as she reached forward to examine Faith.

“She was going around throwing the hay into the stalls for me and Delilah didna care to wait till she was through wi’ feeding Samson—fitting, no,” Jamie couldn’t help commenting as he shifted Faith and urged her to let Claire see. “The mare swung her head to get at the hay Faith carried and caught her in the face.”

The blood was coming from Faith’s mouth but wasn’t flowing too freely anymore.

“Let’s get you inside, lamb,” Claire crooned, nodding to Jamie. “I think you might have loosened a tooth or two but the bleeding shouldn’t be anything to worry about—a fright more than anything.”

Faith’s sobbing had subsided by the time Jamie got her seated in Claire’s stillroom. Claire wiped away the blood with a damp cloth before handing Faith a glass of salt water.

“Rinse your mouth with this and then spit it into here,” she said holding a bowl. “It will sting a bit.”

Faith nodded through her tears and cringed as she swished the water around. Jamie kept a reassuring hold on her shoulders. When she spat the water into the bowl, a tooth went with it.

“See,” Claire said, retrieving it and setting it in the palm of her hand. “There’s your first tooth gone.”

Faith reached out and took it gently between her fingers, examining it closely and feeling the empty space with her tongue. Then she began crying again.

“What is it, a leannan?” Jamie asked, confused. “It’s just a tooth and no real harm done.”

“Is… is it…” she sobbed with her mouth open pointing to the gap. “It’s not my sweet tooth is it?” she finally managed to gasp.

Claire and Jamie exchanged a look over her head, both pressing their lips together to keep from laughing. Claire recovered first and reassured their daughter.

“No, lamb. It’s not your sweet tooth and even if it were, you’ll have a new one in that spot soon enough—a bigger one,” she whispered, calming Faith considerably.

Chapter Text

Claire had promised Faith that she could come and help when it was time for Fiona Duncan to give birth. Faith’s growing interest in the botany behind Claire’s healing skills had blossomed in the last few years and she’d helped with a few cases—mostly lacerations—that had come up around the estate. The intervening weeks before the baby was due would give Claire plenty of time to go over things with Faith and prepare her.

However, Ewan Duncan—the lad she bore—had other plans and Faith had been away from the house when Fiona’s husband arrived and desperately urged Claire to come with him because something was terribly wrong.

Faith had been disappointed at being left behind but Jamie had assured her there was no controlling the situation when a stubborn bairn decided to make an early entrance. He eyed her pointedly with a smile of amusement until she rolled her eyes.

“Ye mean me,” she said with resignation.

“Aye. Ye gave all of us all a scare yerself. Yer mam will be home as soon as she’s able and ye’ll go wi’ her next time she’s needed,” Jamie responded with resignation of his own. He wasn’t thrilled at the idea of their ten-year-old daughter witnessing such injuries and sickness as Claire assisted with but there was no denying the lass had the gift for it.

Word came from the Duncans later that evening. The child had arrived but there were complications and Claire felt the need to stay behind and watch over the new family. She promised she wouldn’t be gone more than a few days.

But then the storm struck. It was late in the season so most of the crops had been harvested and were safely stored, but the rains turned the overturned fields and roads to muck and limbs from many trees had broken under the winds. It would take weeks to repair the worst of the damage and winter was coming fast. There was great debate amongst the Fraser and Murray children as to whether or not crooked broch had been straightened or tilted worse than ever.

Word came from the Duncan household again—the roof had collapsed but the inhabitants were safe. Help was needed so Jamie set out with Fergus while Ian stayed to direct the repairs at Lallybroch.

Each of the next three days, Faith paced in the yard watching the gate for sign of someone returning. It had been almost two weeks since Claire left to help deliver the baby. She bit her lip and ignored Jenny’s pleas that she do something useful instead of standing idly by.

Finally they appeared on the horizon and Faith ran forward to greet her mother—the Duncans were there too, having been invited to stay in one of Lallybroch’s cottages until their home could be rebuilt in the spring.

“Faith,” Claire exclaimed embracing her oldest girl. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t bring you along—I could have really used your help.”

“I missed ye, Mama,” Faith said squeezing Claire before pulling back. “Can ye tell me about what happened? I want to hear everything ye did.”

Chapter Text

“What’s that?” Faith asked, pointing to the white flowers in the corner of the garden.

Claire turned her attention from Brianna who was struggling to roll over to her belly from where Claire had laid her down on the blanket. She glanced in the direction Faith pointed.

“That it feverfew,” she told enthusiastic the three-year-old. “It helps with headaches and the stiffness in Da’s hand.”

“That’s what ye give him to drink when it rains?”

Claire nodded. “And when he’s been writing lots of letters.”

“Oh.” Faith moved along through the rows of her mother’s herb garden, careful not to tread on the plants themselves. Claire set Brianna onto her back once more with a laugh the infant repeated before trying to roll again.

“What’s this one, Mama?” Faith called from further down the line.

Claire had to count off the patches to work out which it was as she was too far to see exactly.

“That’s peppermint,” she called. “It helps with tummy aches and smells really nice.”

The noise of them calling back and forth attracted Jamie’s attention from where he’d been chatting with Ian in the yard about how to lay things out for quarter day the following week given the likelihood of rain. Jamie wandered over to peer at his girls in the garden—the only one who noticed him was Brianna who began kicking her legs furiously as she fought to roll over and crawl to him.

Faith bent and picked one of the leaves, holding it up to her nose before breaking out into a smile and running heedlessly down the row back to her mother.

“Mama, mama,” she cried. “Smell it,” she implored, shoving it into Claire’s face.

Claire blinked and laughed as she pulled away from it and took light hold of Faith’s wrist so she didn’t get the leaf shoved up her nostrils.

“Mmm, that’s lovely,” she agreed. “Be careful with it though. You don’t want to get it near your eyes because it will sting and make you cry.”

“Can I eat it?” she asked.

Claire spotted Jamie as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Go ahead,” she told Faith. “See how you like it.”

Faith licked her lips before sticking the leaf into her mouth and chewing it slowly. She frowned after a moment and spat the macerated mess onto the grass at the edge of the garden––it wasn’t enough to just spit it though, she used her fingers to scrape the small bits that were left behind off her tongue.

“You don’t like how it tastes?” Claire asked with some surprise.

Faith shook her head. “Too spicy,” she declared, using the backs of her hands to wipe at her watering eyes.

Claire chuckled as Jamie came over.

“That’s no what ‘spicy’ means,” he told her reaching over to wipe a bit of plant matter from her chin.

“And it’s better when you drink it as a tea,” Claire added.

Faith looked at her skeptically before running off to inspect more of the herbs in Claire’s garden.

Chapter Text

Jamie yawned as he reached for Faith so Claire could retie her shift. He rose from the bed with the baby at his shoulder and walked around the room alternating between rubbing circles into her tiny back and patting it gently—Jenny had told him once the circles gathered gas bubbles in one place while the patting helped the child expel it as a belch. He heard a low eruption from Faith and grinned in the soft light of the smoored fire.

“Did ye hear that, Sassenach?” he asked, yawning again.

“Mmm.” He peered at the bed and saw Claire’s exhausted head nestled deeply into the pillow. There was still a subtle swell to her belly where Faith had so recently resided.

He carried Faith to the bed and slid in beside Claire. Propping himself into a sitting position, he drew his legs up to rest Faith against his thighs.

“Ye’re still wide awake though, are ye no?” he whispered to her, watching her big, beautiful eyes—the pupils so large it was almost impossible to make out the sliver of iris at the edges—as they passed over the blurry mass in front of her that comprised her father. He slid his thumbs into the centers of her fists, reassured as always by the strength of her grip—on him, on Claire, on life.

Another yawn wracked his body sending a mild shudder through him, startling Faith. Her bare feet rubbed lightly against his belly as she reflexively kicked him. He remembered the way it had felt to feel those feet kicking the palm of his hand through Claire’s belly—the movements hindered by her confined quarters.

He knew he should put her in the cradle on the other side of the bed where she would be close at hand the next time she needed Claire to feed her but he had a difficult time letting her go—even when it was to hand her over to Claire. It had been incredible to note her increasing presence as the weeks passed and she became more active in Claire’s expanding womb but there was so little he could do while the bairn remained one with Claire. Now that she had arrived, he didn’t want to miss a moment with her—a fact underscored by the time spent at L’Hopital when he’d spent the nights watching her and Claire quietly afraid something would happen to them if he wasn’t awake to make sure they still breathed.

He glanced over to where Claire was turned towards him with her hand under her cheek and a slight tension in her brow—Faith had the same small furrow between her eyes. He pressed his finger to smooth it out in Faith’s face, then lowered his legs and lifted her to his chest once more, clutching her tightly as he lay back properly. She was a warm and reassuring weight on his chest. Closing his eyes, he smiled and let himself relax into sleep, content with knowing he’d wake at the first movement or whimper Faith made.

Chapter Text

Duvernay was the earliest to arrive. When Duvernay was announced, Claire had insisted on changing into something more appropriate for entertaining but all Jamie was concerned with was that she bring Faith down with her when she joined them.

“She’ll likely just be napping,” Claire informed him.

“Even so,” Jamie insisted. “He’s come to see the bairn though he doesna say as much.”

“Oh has he?” Claire inquired, amused.

She had barely entered the room with Faith in her arms before Jamie had abandoned their fledgling game of chess and come to her side, at least having the courtesy to kiss her cheek before whisking Faith away to show her off.

“Just look at her grip,” he emphasized to Duvernay. “She’ll make a fine horsewoman wi’ a grip like that, no?”

“I am sure she will as I understand you have a way with horses yourself,” Duvernay agreed taking the infant’s small hand to gauge the strength of her hold for himself.

“Yes, Lord Broch Tuarach is quite the distinguished horseman,” the Duke of Sandringham agreed, breezing into the room before Magnus could properly announce him.

“Your Grace,” Claire said awkwardly dropping a courtesy and fighting the impulse to grab Faith from Jamie and flee the room—she knew of course that the Duke would receive a sound thrashing if he attempted to lay an unwelcome finger on their daughter.

“Lady Broch Tuarach, my dear, you are a vision of motherhood,” the Duke said with a flourish and a bow of his own. “I had heard that the long awaited child had arrived and settled on the notion that I must see the babe myself to determine the degree to which my predictions of her beauty were correct—for as to they’re being correct, there could be no doubt.”

“Aye, none at all,” Jamie said in an agreeable tone that caused Claire to start. Jamie sidled over to the Duke so he could see the sleeping child better. “She’s the most beautiful bairn I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

“It would appear she’ll have her father’s luscious locks,” the Duke commented.

“Nay, it’ll darken to match her mother’s,” he insisted with pride.

“The Prince and Princesse de Rohan,” Magnus managed to spit out before Louise and her husband burst into the room and Claire immediately realized her friend must have orchestrated the parade of well-wishers.

“Claire, ma cher,” she cried, bustling over to embrace her friend. “I cannot believe you will be leaving us so soon. I was counting on nos enfants being the best of friends like leurs meres. But where is she?”

Claire directed her gaze to Jamie displaying Faith with a gleeful grin on his face. Louise’s husband had slipped over to join the group.

“Men,” Louise sighed. “They can be so prideful about these things for having done so little of the work.” She rested her hand on her own prominent belly and quietly laughed with Claire.

“Let me see if I can persuade my husband to relinquish her for a few moments,” Claire said with a wink to Louise.

Chapter Text

Claire appeared in the doorway with Faith on her hip at midday. Faith was still rubbing her eyes from her morning nap, confused at the disruption to her daily routine but grinning as soon as she spotted Jamie.

“Da-da-da!” she squealed, reaching towards him with eager hands.

“Happy birthday, m’annsachd,” he said setting his quill aside and rising from the chair. He arched his back and stretched his neck then came around his desk to take her from Claire.

“It’s all ready in the kitchen,” Claire told him. “We’re just waiting for Fergus to return with Murtagh.”

“Are ye ready then, Faith?” he asked in a high voice that put amused grins on Claire’s face. Jamie led the way to the kitchen where Mrs. Crook set the makeshift birthday cake on the table as well as some shortbread biscuits for Maggie and young Jamie. Jenny had a sleeping Kitty in her arms as Ian sidled up alongside her.

Murtagh and Fergus slipped in at the back door and hung about the wall, Fergus giving a prideful nod to Claire to indicate he’d accomplished his task. Murtagh was red faced but whether it was from pride or embarrassment was impossible to tell.

“I ken this isna how we usually do things for the weans’ birthdays,” Jamie conceded moving his head out of Faith’s reach as she tried to clap a hand over his mouth while he talked. “But when this wee one here was born a year ago today… it didna look as though she’d last the night.” His voice was thick with emotion until Faith grinned at him, three small teeth protruding from her gums. “But thanks to help from every one of ye as well as a deal of luck and heavenly favor, she’s with us to mark her first birthday so Claire and I wanted to thank all of ye and do something special for Faith. It’s a tradition from Claire’s time wi’ her uncle growing up,” he said by way of explanation as Claire took Faith and sat at the table with the small cake in front of them.

Claire pulled it forward and picked a little bite from the edge for Faith to taste. It was a bit bland—there wasn’t much sugar to spare—and frosting had been deemed too frivolous so fruit preserves had been used to glaze the top and between the two modest layers. Mrs. Crook had set a second larger cake aside for the rest of them to sample as a treat after Faith had her way with hers.

Faith’s eyes went wide at the taste she was offered and began banging the table and looking to Claire for more.

“Here you go,” she said, pulling the plate closer for Faith to reach on her own.

She hesitated looking at both her parents who each nodded before taking a small fistful of cake and first offering a taste to Claire. Laughing, Claire took a small nibble and licked her lips adding, “Your turn again.” Faith shoved the rest in her mouth, smearing the preserves across her face as she grinned at everyone in the room.

Chapter Text

Da was supervising the harvest with Uncle Ian and Mama was going between her garden and her still room picking her herbs and hanging them to dry before cold weather set in and frost killed them. They should have been at their studies but even Auntie Jenny and Mrs. Crook were too busy to check on them as frequently as the adults of Lallybroch usually did during the day so the children had let their attention wander.

Maggie and Kitty each had one of the twins—who were just transitioning from crawling to walking—and had set up a course for them to try. They invited Faith and Brianna to join them but the Fraser sisters shook their heads and ran upstairs while the Murray girls turned back to the disinterested twins.

It was so quiet upstairs with no one about. Faith held a finger to her lips and Brianna nodded as she let loose a giggle, clamping her hands over her mouth. Faith tiptoed down the hall to their parents’ room and tested the handle. The door creaked as it swung open and both girls cringed at the noise looking desperately over their shoulders to be sure no one had heard. Then they slipped inside and shut it again.

There was so much blue in the room—the bedclothes, the tapestries on the walls, the cushions on the chairs. They ran to the bed and leapt onto it, rumpling the prim neatness—Mama was adamant about making the bed and lamented the condition of the mattresses, always wishing she could manage what she called a “proper hospital corner.” They flopped onto their stomachs and buried their faces in the bedclothes, inhaling deeply the various scents that made up their parents.

Brianna rolled off first and landed on the floor with a gentle thud and a laugh.

“There’s something under the bed,” she hissed at Faith.

From Brianna’s position on her back, it looked like Faith’s head appeared out of nowhere popping into appearance above her, her sister’s long dark curls hanging down and tickling her in the face.

“What’s it look like?” she inquired.

“I dinna ken,” Brianna said, reaching under the bed to touch the unknown object. “It’s hard… a bit cold—I think it’s something metal—”

There was an unexpected clatter as Brianna’s investigations knocked the object loose and it fell to the floor. She screeched and rolled away from it, knocking into the leg of their mother’s vanity table.

Faith plopped to the ground and reached to pick it up while Brianna recovered and scrambled to her feet.

It was heavy—a sword—but not one they recognized. She couldn’t lift it completely—the tip of the old blade still rested on the ground.

“It doesna look like Da’s,” Faith remarked.

“Then whose d’ye think it is?” Brianna inquired.

“That would be yer grandfather’s,” Da responded from the doorway. They hadn’t heard his footsteps in the hall or the door opening again. His arms were crossed over his chest but there was more amusement in his expression than genuine displeasure.

Chapter Text

There weren’t enough potatoes in the years immediately following the failed Rising to recreate the celebratory feast they’d had following the first harvest but it had come up in conversation over dinner a few times since circumstances had begun improving and it was soon decided there would be another potato feast following the coming harvest—a feast which quickly became a tradition at Lallybroch.

Though Faith and Brianna had cousins enough to play with, Jamie and Claire always appreciated the exuberance with which their girls interacted with the tenants’ children as the afternoon wore on and the food was prepared to one side of the great field with the wood piled and ready for the bonfire that would be lit as night fell.

“Do ye think the girls will appreciate it the same way now they’re gettin’ older?” Jamie asked as he came up and set down the buckets of water he’d carried from the well. Her fingers were beginning to shrivel from washing and peeling so many potatoes.

“What do you mean? Of course they’ll appreciate it,” she insisted, raising an eyebrow at Jamie.

“It’s not Bree so much as it is Faith.” He turned and nodded to where Faith stood off by herself gazing away from the larger party already gathered. “She looks like she doesna want to be here.”

Claire laughed. “It’s not so much that she doesn’t want to be here as it is she wishes there were a certain someone else who hasn’t shown up yet,” Claire said in a low and knowing tone.

“A lad ye mean? She’s but fifteen!” he exclaimed.

“Precisely my point.” Claire set her knife down on the far side of the potatoes, out of Jamie’s reach. “She’s a young woman now and it’s only natural that she’ll be… exploring her options.”

“She’s far too young to even think about such things,” Jamie insisted with a shake of the head.

“I married Frank when I was nineteen,” she pointed out.

“Aye and how old were ye when we were wed, Sassenach?” he reminded her.

You were younger than I was. Besides, that’s all beside the point. I was nineteen when I married Frank but he wasn’t my first love and that’s likely all it is between her and Glen Gilchrist,” Claire theorized.

“The Gilchrist lad?” Jamie rolled his eyes. “The boy doesna ken the first thing about—”

“None of that matters to Faith at the moment and you’re not going to interfere,” Claire informed him sternly. “It will run its course soon enough.”

Jamie watched Faith as the Gilchrists arrived. She welcomed them warmly and hovered about Glen as the two of them fell a few steps behind the others joining the larger group—but they didn’t touch and Jamie could at least take some comfort in that. The lad was keeping a respectful distance between them even as they appeared to be in a bubble all to themselves.

Jamie took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh as Claire rubbed a hand reassuringly across his back.

Chapter Text

Claire looked out at the view from the front yard of their house on the Ridge. Upon reaching the colonies, it had taken some compromising—selling Ellen’s pearls and Brian’s ruby ring—in order to pay for Jamie’s release from indentured servitude but the last few years of building the Ridge had restored a lot of Jamie’s sense of dignity… and the girls had flourished in the mountains of North Carolina as well.

“Mama!” Faith called from around the side of the house. “Come quick!”

Claire hurried afraid someone had been injured. She did find Faith crouched over an injured body, but the body belonged to a long-legged, long-beaked blue-grey bird.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt—”

“Christ,” Faith finished. “What kind of bird is it, do ye ken?” she asked as Claire crouched to examine the bird for herself.

“An injured one,” she summarized when the bird in question angrily snapped its beak at her as she touched what appeared to be a broken bone in its right leg.

“I gathered that much,” Faith responded with the eye-roll and sarcasm she’d adopted as soon as she hit the age of thirteen the previous year.

“It also appears to be an adolescent,” Claire added, pointing to the feathers at the bird’s back. “Not all of the baby feathers are gone and not all of the adult feathers are in yet. It… I think it… must be some kind of… heron.”

“Can ye fix its leg?” The all-important question.

“I don’t know but we can certainly try,” she offered in as upbeat a tone as she could muster. “I was a bird watcher once upon a time but the few books I had focused more on identifying the species by external characteristics rather than their internal anatomy. Their bones are supposed to be light, though—I remember that small fact—full of holes to keep their weight low and help them fly.”

“A strong stick or two and some bandages will make a workable splint, no?” Faith suggested, her eyes on the brush around them already scanning for candidates.

“It’s what I think we should attempt first but I think we’ll need your father’s help to hold the creature steady and keep the poor thing from attacking us—it could easily injure itself further if we attempt to do it on our own,” Claire said, transitioning into that mental problem-solving space she favored when presented with a challenging patient. “It isn’t as though we can easily anesthetize the bird. And once we are done binding its leg, we’ll have to figure out a way to feed it. Herons are water birds so I suspect fish would be a good place to start.”

“Brianna and Da can help with that,” Faith asserted. “I’ll go get them now if ye’ll stay here wi’ the patient.” She rose and dashed off before Claire could say another word.

The creature had stopped struggling. “Probably a good idea not to bother fighting,” Claire addressed the bird. “She’s a Fraser, after all.”

Chapter Text

“I dinna wanna go,” Brianna objected as Faith tugged her along down the road. Brianna looked back over her shoulder at the yard of Lallybroch disappearing behind them.

“Do ye no want to find Fergus?” Faith asked. “Da sent him along to Broch Mordha to fetch the new tutor which means he went this way.”

“But why did ye no tell Mama that Da sent Fergus instead? She wouldna have sent us to fetch him if she kent he was so far—what about Rabbie? We can fetch him to help her instead,” Brianna argued.

“If that’s what you think then you dinna have to come,” Faith pointed out.

Brianna stopped in the middle of the road. “You dinna want me to come?”

“That’s no what I said.”

“Fine!” Brianna fumed her face darkening as she spun on her heel. “I’m gonna go tell Mama about Fergus and then ye’ll—”

Faith reached out instinctively and pushed her sister to the ground to shut her up.

Brianna burst out crying.

“I’m sorry,” Faith immediately apologized and bent to help Brianna up to her feet again. Her sister shrugged off her help and pushed herself to her feet on her own.

“What’s going on here?” Da’s voice called out with an edge to it that quieted Brianna quickly. “What are the pair of ye doing out of the yard? Where d’ye think ye’re heading off to?”

“Mama wanted us to fetch Fergus,” Faith explained, shrinking under their father’s scrutiny.

“Oh, she did? And did ye no tell her that I’d sent Fergus to Broch Mordha in my stead?” He crossed his arms over his chest as he peered down his long nose at them.

“I tried to stop her, Da,” Brianna spoke up. “I told her we should fetch Rabbie instead but she—”

Jamie held up a hand and Brianna stopped talking.

“That’s enough from the both of ye. Ye both ken better than to leave the yard on yer own regardless. I want ye both to march back through those gates and into the house to explain what ye’ve done to yer mother, right now,” he instructed. “Faith, dinna leave out that ye pushed yer sister down and Brianna, dinna forget that ye were ready to turn on yer sister to get off lighter yerself.”

The sisters looked to one another before turning back to their father with matching hangdog expressions and nodding. Their mother wouldn’t spank them but she would give them a sound tongue-lashing—the dangers of being out on the road like that on their own to start, then she would lecture Faith about using physical force on her sister while she checked Brianna over for injuries and lastly she’d lecture Brianna about tattling like that to escape punishment. It wasn’t that their father didn’t yell at them for misbehaving but with their mother there was always such an underlying sense of having disappointed her that lingered more than their father’s flash of anger.

“Go on then,” Jamie urged. “To the house. Now. And dinna think I won’t be asking yer mother what she had to say about the matter later.”

Chapter Text

“What did you get into Jamie?” Claire asked as she watched him itching and scratching at his skin.

“I dinna ken,” he muttered. “But I can show ye where I passed later—perhaps ye’ll be able to figure it out and tell me so I can avoid it in future. Christ!” He pulled his shirt off over his head. There were angry looking red patches appearing on the skin of his arms and torso—front and back. “Please tell me ye’ve something to make the damned itching stop,” he pled.

“An aloe rub might help but I should like to wash the skin first in case there are any irritants remaining,” she explained. “Hold on and I’ll fetch water and a rag. Faith, you keep an eye on Da, all right? Don’t let him scratch.” After Faith nodded Claire bustled out of the stillroom towards the kitchen.

Faith circled her father with a shrewd eye making sure he didn’t move. He tracked her with his eyes struggling to keep his face solemn. She passed out of sight and he heard her footsteps stop.

“Da… what happened to yer back?” she asked.

“Dinna touch it if there’s redness there,” he warned. “Ye heard yer mother—there might be something there as would cause ye to get the same itchiness yerself.”

“Aye, it’s red but there’s lines too,” she remarked and he stiffened.

“Those are just my scars,” he told her.

Claire returned with a bowl of water and a rag. She glanced at Faith and Jamie’s back but didn’t say anything as she started to wash away the sweat and dust that had gathered there.

“How’d ye get them?” Faith inquired, moving in for a closer look.

“A bad man gave ‘em to me. A long time ago—before yer mam and I met.”

Claire set aside the rag and took up the tub of aloe salve on the nearby counter.

“Here,” she offered some to Faith. “Help me rub this into Da’s back.”

Faith’s tiny, slippery fingers traced the lines across Jamie’s back—some of the deeper grooves were as wide as her finger.

“Turn around now and let’s do the same to the front,” Claire advised, taking up the rag again.

Faith used the aloe salve to play with the copper hairs on Jamie’s chest, plastering them down and then swirling them into patterns with her fingers until he stopped her by taking her wrist gently in his grasp.

“Dinna do that—it tickles,” he told her.

“Wipe the salve from your hands,” was her mother’s final instruction before setting the jar of salve aside and carrying away the bowl and rag. “I’ll fetch you a clean shirt,” she said to Jamie as she walked out.

Faith returned to look at his back.

“Do they hurt?” she asked, reaching out and lightly tracing them once more.

“No,” he told her. “And the itch is fading too.” He sighed with relief. “Ye’ve a gentle touch—just like yer mam.” He swept his arm around and caught her round the waist, pulling her into his lap to kiss her forehead.

Chapter Text

“Why is it so much different wi’ you, wee one?” Jenny had cooed as she tapped Faith on the nose. “I feel I must be as prideful over ye as I am wi’ my own bairns but there’s something freer about it that I didna expect.”

“It’s cause we can be pleased wi’ her when she’s good but dinna have to worry about scolding her when she misbehaves,” Ian decided offering Faith a wide grin of his own. “That’ll be yer mam and da’s responsibility.”

“But you’re not going to be any trouble at all, are you Faith?” Claire teased as she lifted Faith back out of Jenny’s arms so they could head upstairs to bed. “No trouble at all.”

“Aye, she spent most of her allotment of trouble as she made her way into the world, did ye not now,” he ran his finger along her cheek and watched the corner tick up into a small smile.

Jenny scoffed. “Ye think there’s a limit to how much trouble a wean can get themselves into? And what did you do, brother? Steal another lad’s share?”

Jamie rolled his eyes as he turned to follow Claire and Faith up to bed.

“I wouldna be surprised if ye told me ye’d snuck me yer share when I wasna looking,” he called back over his shoulder.

Claire was already seated by the fire nursing Faith when Jamie entered the room. He looked about the room with satisfaction as he began undressing for bed.

“What do ye think of it, a leannan?” he asked the babe as he took her from Claire when she was done nursing. Unburdened, Claire began her own nightly routine while Jamie burped Faith and then paced the room, rocking her till she fell asleep. “Ye’re home—at long last. Christ Sassenach, if ye’d told me when we reached the abbey that we’d be home at Lallybroch with a lass of our own, I’d have thought ye were daft.”

She smiled as she pulled back the bedclothes. “It felt like home before but now…”

Jamie shifted Faith from his shoulder to his arms. “Aye. It’ll always feel like home so long as we’re together.” Faith sighed in her sleep and Jamie reached up to brush one of her dark hairs away from her eyes then trailed the finger down her chubby cheek. The corner of her mouth twitched into a fleeting smile.

“Sassenach,” he whispered, carrying Faith to the bed. “Ye have to watch this.” He did it again and Faith smiled in her sleep once more. “She did it earlier downstairs but she was awake then, ye ken.”

Claire chuckled quietly.

“What?”

“She got that from you,” Claire told him. “You do the exact same thing when you sleep.”

“I do?”

“Yes. Jenny said you used to do it as a child—that she always took it to mean you were happy.” She leaned over and kissed his temple then rested her chin on his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “And you still do.”

“She’s happy, then, ye think?”

“Of course she is,” Claire asserted. “She’s home.”

Chapter Text

It started out sounding like “sa.”

She’d already babbled the endless strings of “mamamamama” and “dadadadada” that most children started with so both were willing to agree that she hadn’t officially said her first word yet, however sorely tempted they were to claim that her first word had been a recognition of themselves.

Then she’d started with the “sa.”

“Ye think she’s just practicing her S’s?” Jamie asked, confused as Faith sat on the floor looking back and forth between them repeating “sa” at increasingly shorter intervals and higher volumes, frustrated that they didn’t understand her.

“No, she’s clearly referring to something,” Claire insisted, reaching down and picking Faith up from the floor.

“Sa,” Faith practically screamed in Claire’s face.

“Yes, lamb,” she said calmly. “Sa.” That seemed to satisfy Faith for a moment—she reached for Claire’s ear and poked her finger inside until Claire took hold of the small hand and brought it to her lips for a kiss.

Soon the syllable had grown.

“Sna,” Jamie shook his head as Faith toddled about the room grabbing at things to show to them, apparently calling everything she found, “sna.”

“It’s still early,” Claire insisted. “She’s getting closer to calling you ‘Da.’”

“It doesna count,” Jamie decided. “She doesna say it just to me—she’s gone on that way at Ian too. She’s imitating wee Maggie in her words.”

“That’s exactly how she’s going to learn, you know.”

Faith was tugging at Claire’s skirt calling “sna” and trying to show Claire the hairbrush she’d pulled down from the dressing table. Claire lifted her from the floor and took the hairbrush away, reaching around to draw the bristles lightly through Faith’s growing hair. “Sna,” Faith said again.

“Aye, well… if her first word is goin’ to be ‘Da,’ I’d as soon she used it first to mean me,” Jamie said with minor annoyance.

“Snack?” Claire asked Faith. “Is that what you mean? You want Mama to get you a snack?”

Faith clapped her hands and repeated, “snack,” fervently.

When Claire handed her over to Jamie while she left to fetch some milk-soaked bread for Faith to try. The child began to fuss as soon as Claire left the room.

“Dinna fash—yer mam will be back in a moment,” he tried to soothe her. But Faith began to cry and reached for the door Claire had disappeared through, still saying, “snack.”

“I’m here, I’m here,” Claire called as she carried in the bowl. She set it down on the table and took Faith from Jamie, cuddling her close until the child stopped crying. “Come on, let’s give you your snack.”

But Faith turned her nose up at the food.

“But you said you wanted it?” Claire puzzled.

“Faith… where’s ‘snack’?” Jamie asked with narrowed eyes.

Faith pressed her cheek to Claire’s chest and said, “snack.”

A smile of understanding blossomed on Jamie’s face. “Snack, ye say. D’ye mean… Are ye tryin’ to say, Sassenach?” he asked.

Faith grinned—they finally understood. “Sasnack.”

Chapter Text

“Dinna look like that, Sassenach,” Jamie chided her. “And dinna stand too close, either. I dinna want ye getting whacked in the belly by chance.”

Claire crossed her arms over her chest, resting them on the protrusion of her late pregnancy.

“I didn’t say anything,” she pointed out.

“Ye ken ye dinna need to actually say anything,” he reminded her.

“Horsey!” Faith cried from where she was perched on Jamie’s shoulders, clutching his hair in her fists.

“Aye.” Jamie winced and reached up to loosen her hold. “I said ye’d get to ride a real horsey today and so ye shall but ye canna pull the horsey’s mane out at the roots like that—they dinna care for it.”

Ian led the placid mare from the stables.

“Aren’t you going to put a saddle on the horse,” Claire worried aloud.

“She willna sit in a saddle right anyhow, Sassenach, and the beast will be more comfortable wi’out it,” Jamie reassured her. “I’ll have a hold of her the whole time and Ian will have hold of the reins. We’re no goin’ far.”

Claire pressed her lips together to keep from saying anything more. She knew that Faith was safe with Jamie but with the child in her belly so active it put her in mind of how dangerous the outside world could be for them—she desperately wanted them to stay as safe as they were when she could protect them within her body.

The horse stamped as Faith clapped gleefully. Jamie lifted her from his shoulders and set her down on the horse’s bare back, adjusting her legs and placing her hands where it was best for her to hold.

“Now, Faith,” Jamie said slowly and with a serious note that she knew meant she had to pay attention. “Ye need to be quiet so as no to scare the horsey and he need to be gentle. Dinna kick her—see if ye can squeeze yer legs to her sides. Do ye understand?”

Faith nodded.

“Are ye ready then?” He asked with raised brows.

“Aye.” An excited smile lit her face.

Jamie nodded to Ian while keeping a firm hold on Faith’s leg. Ian began leading the horse up the lane—short plodding steps.

“Go, horsey, go,” Faith whispered to the horse.

Despite her anxiety, Claire could see the innocent joy on her daughter’s face and found herself smiling.

“Her name is Caoimhe,” he told her. “Can ye say that?”

“K…” But Faith couldn’t quite wrap her tongue around the Gáidhlig name. She shook her head.

“Tha’s all right,” Jamie reassured her. “Now hold tight—but no too tight. We’re goin’ to turn round and go back now.”

Ian maneuvered the horse around and led the way back. Jenny had come to join Claire watching with Kitty on her hip and Maggie clinging to her skirts.

As soon as Faith was back on the ground she ran to Claire.

“I did it, Mama!” she cried, flinging herself at Claire’s leg.

“Do you want a turn Maggie?” Jamie asked his niece. She took one look at the horse and pulled tighter against Jenny.

Chapter Text

“Mama, Mama,” Faith whined at Claire, pulling at her skirts.

“Just a minute,” Claire said, brushing Faith’s hands away. She reached over to readjust her breast for Brianna who’d been startled in the middle of nursing. As the infant latched properly again and began to drink deeply, Claire relaxed and turned to Faith. “What is it, lamb?”

“I want to sit,” she explained, trying to pull herself into Claire’s lap.

Claire gently blocked Faith’s way, casting a quick glance to Brianna. “Sweetheart, now’s not a good time. I need to feed your sister. When she’s down for her nap you can sit in my lap and I’ll tell you a story, how does that sound?”

Faith sighed dramatically and stared at her little sister, clutched to their mother’s chest and nursing hungrily—already so used to having Claire all to herself.

“How come ye dinna feed me like that?” Faith asked with a nod to Brianna.

Claire was startled but tried to answer seriously. “Well, you’re too old for it, for one thing—your tummy can handle food like your parritch but Brianna’s can’t. But you don’t really mind, do you? You’re growing to be such a big girl—you don’t want to go back to being a baby and wearing a clout again,” she appealed to Faith’s sense of pride.

Faith sighed again and wandered off to find someone to play with. It wasn’t enough that the baby got all of Mama and Da’s attention—she looked just like Da too, and everyone said so. She knew she looked like Mama but it was something everyone knew already and so they didn’t bother saying it anymore.

She found Maggie and Kitty and played with them for a while, waiting for Mama to come fetch her for that story—if she remembered. Eventually, Maggie and Kitty wanted to head back into the house for something to eat but as they passed through the hall, they noticed that Brianna was asleep in her cradle and left unattended.

“Let’s go wake her up,” Maggie said mischievously, creeping over to the slumbering baby.

“No,” Faith admonished her older cousin. “Ye’ll get yerself in trouble.”

Maggie shook her head. “If she cries we can run. Babies is always cryin’ for no reason.”

She reached out to pinch Brianna’s cheek but Faith stepped in front of her and shoved Maggie’s arm aside.

“I said, no,” she emphasized. “She’s no yers; she’s mine and ye’ll no wake her. Mama says she need her sleep.”

“There you are, Faith,” Mama said as she came into the room. “I thought you girls were still outside. Maggie, Kitty, your mother has something in the kitchen for you if you’re hungry. Bree is sleeping just now so I’m afraid you can’t play with her.”

Maggie and Kitty darted for the kitchen leaving Faith behind.

“Is everything all right, lamb?” Claire asked, bending to pick Faith up from the floor and rest her on her hip. “Are you still interested in that story?”

“Can ye teach it to me so I can tell it to Bree later when she wakes?”

Chapter Text

“Ye want to go hunting but ye dinna want to hunt? How exactly is that supposed to work?” Jamie asked Faith.

She had a satchel of sorts slung over her head and across her chest, resting against her thigh. She’d also donned a pair of young Jamie’s old breeks and boots and LuDeux—the frequently abbreviated name of Luke Deux, who was the offspring of the old terrier known simply as Luke—waited patiently at Faith’s side. Her hair was tied back at the base of her skull but her curls strongly resisted such restraint.

“Mama says she doesna ken all that Lallybroch has to offer as far as the plants go so I want to explore and bring some samples back for her—to see if she kens what they are and if they’re worth moving to the main herb garden,” Faith explained.

“An herbal hunt is it,” Jamie remarked, nodding as understanding dawned. “Aye, I’d as soon come with ye so ye dinna get lost. But not all the plants are ones ye’ll want to be touching, eh.”

“Mama gave me these,” she explained holding aloft an old pair of knitted gloves, “and she had Auntie Jenny help her sew pockets into the inside of the bag, see.”

Jamie peered in. “It would seem ye’ve had quite a bit of help from yer mother in planning this.”

“She said she would ha’ gone herself but that she promised ye she wouldna go far in her condition,” Faith confided.

Jamie refrained on making further comment about the matter in front of Faith.

“If ye’re ready to set out then, a leannan. Would ye care to take the lead or shall I have it?” he asked with a gesture of his arm allowing her to pass through the gate of the yard ahead of him.

Faith took the first step and headed for the woods. LuDeux quickly outpaced them eager to chase down and corner whatever it was they were looking for.

“Ye must have explored the woods hereabouts when ye were younger, Da,” Faith remarked as they pushed their way through the brush.

“A bit… wi’ Ian more than Jenny… and my older brother… before he died.”

“Uncle Willie, ye mean?”
“Aye, but we couldna go too far—I was but a wee thing, younger than Bree. But there is—or was—a cave no far from here. Yer grandda used it when he hunted.” Jamie chuckled. “I dinna ken if it’s still standing. The rocks could ha’ caved in long ago now.”

“Do ye remember where it is?”

“Perhaps,” Jamie admitted. “I dinna think ye’ll find much in the way of herbs for yer mam if we stray so far…”

“We’ll find something along the way,” Faith made excuses. “LuDeux!” she called to the terrier. He came bounding through the brush with a dead rabbit in his jaws.

“At the very least, it looks as though we’ll be able to bring yer mam something for supper.”

“How did ye manage to catch that?” Faith asked, handing the satchel to Jamie for the rabbit.

“Good boy,” Jamie told him, scratching behind his ears. “Come along then. The cave should be this way.”

Chapter Text

“I held you when ye were born,” Faith whispered to Brianna as they followed their father up the stairs to go see Mama and their new brother.

“Ye did?”

“Aye. And I was younger than ye are now. Besides, ye’ve seen Auntie Jenny after she had the twins and ye play wi’ young Ian all the time.” Faith couldn’t quite understand why Brianna appeared to be so nervous about the prospect of seeing little William.

“Aye, but tha’s different,” Brianna insisted. “They’re no ours, ye ken?”

Faith shrugged. “I do.”

“We dinna want to overwhelm them,” Jamie warned them though he knew they were old enough to know by now.

“Girls,” Claire called quietly to them from where she sat up in bed. She held her arms open to them and they scrambled up, Faith gingerly climbing over Claire’s legs to take a seat on her other side. “How have you been holding up?” Claire asked, wrapping an arm around each of them and pressing kissed to the crowns of their heads. “I’m sorry William here decided to take so long.”

“We’re just glad ye’re all right,” Faith said, curling into Claire’s side.

“Can we see him?” Brianna asked eagerly.

“Of course ye can,” Jamie told them bending to lift the small bundle from the cradle at the foot of the bed.

He had a shock of dark hair but no sign of it curling—yet. He slept soundly as Jamie handed him over for Claire to lay in her lap where both girls could see him.

“Is he supposed to peel like that?” Brianna whispered.

“Yes, he’s fine,” Claire assured her. “Lots of babies have their skin peel like that after they’re born. It’ll stop in a week or two.”

“Can I hold him? Faith said ye let her hold me when I was born.”

“I want to hold him too,” Faith added, trying not to sound like she was whining.

“Ye’ll both get a chance to hold him—and likely ye’ll get tired of holding him soon enough,” Jamie said. “Bree, ye can hold him first but ye must keep still.”

Claire passed William to Brianna who shot Faith a look with a hint of smugness as the transfer was made—Faith rolled her eyes and told herself it would be childish for her to let it bother her too much.

Brianna stared down at William who slept without moving or making much noise.

“He doesn’t do much, does he?” she remarked, the novelty wearing off.

Claire chuckled. “You didn’t either at that age.”

“My turn,” Faith declared, reaching for William. Brianna didn’t object so Claire shifted the baby over into Faith’s arms.

“Are ye gonna have more babies, Mama?” Brianna asked.

Claire’s brows shot up and she looked over to Jamie who had used a hand to cover his smile.

“We’ll uh… we’ll just have to see,” she told her younger daughter.

“The three of ye are more than yer mam and I ever thought to hope for,” Jamie told the girls. “We’ll take as many of ye as the Lord sends but if it’s naught but you three, we're more than content.”

Chapter Text

The rocking of the carriage put Faith to sleep and led Claire to sigh with relief.

“Are ye all right then, Sassenach?” Jamie asked, leaning over to check on his wife and daughter.

“Yes. We’re fine but it will be nice to get settled in properly. It was wonderful of Mother Hildegarde to let us stay so long but I’m very much looking forward to sleeping in our own bed.”

As the carriage pulled into the courtyard, the members of the household staff streamed from the door and into place on either side of the path to the house.

Jamie opened the door and helped Claire down as she rearranged the blankets swaddling Faith.

Fergus stepped forward with a small bouquet of flowers and presented them to Claire with a small flourish.

“Welcome back, milady… milord.”

Taking the flowers, Claire noted that they were lily-of-the-valley and looked to Jamie. He frowned at them as he took in their familiar appearance but didn’t seem to recognize them the way she did. If he did, he might have thought them an odd portent—the very flowers that had inadvertently poisoned young Tammas Baxter. But that wasn’t the flower’s underlying significance—sweetness and the return of happiness. As Faith stirred in her arms, Claire smiled. They had been enduring Paris so far; their attempts at manipulating the path of history had left them both miserable but with Faith growing stronger every day, their happiness had certainly returned with a vengeance.

“Thank you, Fergus,” she said with a small bow of her head.

“Allow me to put these in water for you, milady,” Suzette offered stepping forward, dropping a curtsey, and gesturing towards Fergus’ flowers even as she snuck a peek at Faith.

“Would you like to hold her?” Claire asked offering Suzette the baby instead of the flowers.

The maid’s eyes widened but she couldn’t suppress her smile of appreciation.

Oui, milady,” Suzette nodded as Claire placed Faith in the young woman’s arms. Though Suzette would probably have plenty of chances to hold the baby in the days and weeks ahead, the way Claire offered hadn’t been the off-hand way of a mistress to her servant, but as one friend to another.

While Suzette held the baby, Claire turned her attention to Magnus.

“Thank you,” she said to him, “for all that you did—accompanying me, helping to fetch milord to get me back into the carriage and helping him escape the gendarme… We owe you our lives.”

“No, milady,” Magnus shook his head and refused to meet her eye. “I did not do so much. It was only what anyone would have done.”

“But ye did do it,” Jamie added. “Ye’re a good man, Magnus. And we’re both forever in yer debt.”

Jamie bowed his head to the butler as Claire dropped a curtsey at his side. The butler was speechless and looked up the lines of his understaff to see the pride in their faces.

Magnus finally cleared his throat and managed to ask, “Is there anything milord and milady will be needing now you are home with the little one?”

Chapter Text

No matter how long Faith had been married and living away from them, it struck Claire anew whenever they turned the bend and saw the small cabin where her oldest daughter and son-in-law lived.

“I ken, Sassenach,” Jamie said as he directed the horses to the open yard. “Ye say the same thing every time we come to visit,” he chuckled. “I canna believe she’s so grown—a wife already. I thought I’d save ye the time of sayin’ it again by skipping to my usual response.”

Claire rolled her eyes as Jamie reached up to help her down.

“Oh, come now, Claire. Ye ken ye do it. Dinna be cross wi’ me for noticing,” he continued to chide her light-heartedly. “Most wives would be pleasantly surprised if their husbands paid such close attention to what they had to say.”

“Oh, you think so, do you?” His hands still circled her waist as she took a step closer to him and slid her hands from his biceps up around his neck. “And what would those other wives do to show their appreciation for such remarkable attention?”

Jamie’s brow rose playfully. “I can think of a few things that might be worthy… but I’ll settle for a kiss,” he told her.

“A kiss? Really—that’s all?” Claire sighed. “Well, I suppose I can spare—”

His lips stopped her words and in that moment she didn’t feel as though she had a full-grown daughter—it might have been her own wedding day all over again.

“Mam! Da! There ye—Oh, must ye do that in the yard for anyone passing by to see? Can ye no do that when ye’re in the barn wi’ the horses,” Faith remarked as she came out of the house to greet them.

Instinct told Claire something different about her daughter and the way she carried herself but as Jamie bent to hug her and Faith led them inside, Claire tucked her suspicions away to focus on their visit. Not for long, as it turned out. Walking into the house Claire spotted additional cues that added to those suspicions—plenty of ginger ready to be brewed into tea; a few sniffs suggesting the house had been aired out recently and fresh herbs and flowers brought in to chase away the musty smell the space usually had; and Faith whose talent with knitting and sewing was only a little less limited than her own had a large work bag by her chair in front of the fire.

Claire turned to Faith whose face quickly broke into a smile.

“Ye’ve guessed then,” Faith beamed. “I didna think it would take ye long.”

“You’re pregnant,” Claire said in a hushed voice, half questioning her conclusion.

Faith nodded. “I’m almost four months along now,” she told them.

“A grandchild?” Jamie was glancing between mother and daughter searching for the threads of the silent conversation they appeared to have had without him.

“Yer first. And what do ye think of it? Is it no wonderful?” Faith looked a little hesitant when it came to Jamie’s reaction.

He was genuinely speechless but the tears in his eyes were all the assurance Faith needed.

Chapter Text

Faith was teething so Jamie and Claire had been taking turns getting up with her at night and walking the hallway with her until she fell asleep again.

Claire quickly discovered that singing to her helped soothe her, even if she didn’t fall asleep again right away.

She didn’t remember many lullabies that her mother had sung to her in those too brief years they had together—but that she had sung to her was a very clear memory that had stayed with her.

There was one song that she was surprised she remembered so well. During the war the army had managed to secure and arrange film screenings for the troops and nurses, especially in the hospitals—even those near the front. They were a very welcome diversion, whatever their subject matter so no one had been upset when reels for children’s cartoons showed up in the mix.

She’d only paid half-attention to the film itself—elephants, a circus train, a tenacious mouse. It was an odd combination and she was over tired and over-worked. The lullaby caught her off guard by bringing tears to her eyes as the memory of losing her own mother knocked the breath from her lungs with its intensity.

And five years later, she found the lyrics of that lullaby were easier to recall than the words of the reels she’d danced to with Frank at their wedding or the words of the speeches broadcast over the radio at the end of the war.

Baby mine, don’t you cry.

Baby mine, dry your eyes.

Rest your head close to my heart,

Never to part, Baby of mine.”

“That’s lovely,” Jenny whispered as she shuffled quietly down the hall with Kitty in her arms nursing.

“Oh… thank you,” Claire whispered back. Faith had fallen asleep again so Claire shifted her up to her shoulder, rubbing circles into the child’s back. She gave off a surprising amount of heat when she slept and Claire could feel the sweat gathering where Faith’s cheek pressed to her shoulder, soaking into the thin fabric of her shift.

“I dinna recognize it,” Jenny commented. “Is it an English song?”

“I… I don’t know. I remember it from… well… it’s from a long time ago,” she said dismissively. Or rather, a long time to come.

“Ye sing it well. I never had much talent for singing myself but my mother… she was raised with a great many talents, ye ken. Jamie got a few though he says he’s lost his ear for music,” Jenny rambled, yawning as she shifted Kitty from one breast to the other. “Must have been the fighting—standing so close to guns blasting that way is like to make any person deaf with time.”

Claire bit her tongue—if Jamie wanted Jenny or Ian to know the truth of the blow to his head, he would tell them himself.

“Is there more to that song? I’d love to hear the rest,” Jenny requested.

Claire nodded and picked up where she left off.

“Little one when you play,

Pay no heed what they say…”