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brave the new world

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“Do you think we’re almost there?”

Jamie shifted the rifle from his left arm to his right arm, peering up at the thick pines. “I think so. See how the treeline slopes, then evens out?”

Claire nodded. “Why don’t you go ahead, then – I think I see some ginseng plants. Wonderful uses for medicine – and for tea.”

He smiled and kissed her forehead. She returned the smile and settled the fur wrap – a recent and thoughtful gift from Ian’s Mohawk hunting companions – a bit tighter around his shoulders.

“Don’t be too long, aye? I dinna want ye coming upon anything fierce in these woods. And it looks like a storm is coming.”

She smoothed the worried crease between his eyes with a gentle thumb. “I’ll be right behind you.”

He kissed her then – quick, but tender – and turned away, crunching the carpet of leaves as he disappeared eastward.

Claire backtracked a bit, eyes peeled for the telltale cluster of five leaves with red berries – ah. Perfect. She knelt, carefully pulled the five plants from the ground – shaking off the clumps of dirt, mindful of the long roots – wrapped them together in a rag, and set the bundle at the top of her basket.

Wind whispered through the pines; squirrels and chipmunks rustled in the leaf litter; somewhere high above, birds sang.

North Carolina was all at once familiar and foreign. Jamie felt that, too – out here in the wild, wild country. Untamed and raw and full of fierce beauty. Full of so many unknowns – animal, and natural, and political.

Claire rose, following the path Jamie had taken between two particularly mossy tree trunks.

Would they be able to establish a foothold here? Would they finally find peace here?

Jamie’s opinion on those subjects shifted by the day. In speaking to Ian and Fergus and Marsali, it was a given – of course they would be safe here. Jamie’s words went unquestioned.

Claire knew just how fragile life could be – especially with war coming. But this time – this war, she knew they would be on the winning side. And she – they – had years yet to plan.

All of a sudden the trees disappeared – and there was Jamie, hair dull beneath heavy grey clouds, looking at the land spread out like a painting below. A king beholding his kingdom.

He didn’t turn to watch her approach – just reached out one strong, weathered, battered, scarred, sure hand.

Claire set down her basket and took her rightful place by his side – taking his hand with her right hand. The hand with his ring.

It could have been hours that they stood there, silent, watching. Thinking of what was to come, and what had passed. Of the ten thousand decisions that had had to be made to bring them both here, together, on this day.


“We will make our home here, Claire.” His voice was hoarse; his eyes still watched an unknown point on the horizon.

“We will,” she affirmed.

“I will do whatever it takes. To give you the home ye have always deserved. To make this – this world a better one for our children.”

She swallowed, squeezing his hand so tight.

“Do you believe me when I say this?”

She couldn’t stand not looking at him – so tugged his hand, and softly turned him so that they could see each other’s eyes.

“I do.” Heart overflowing with love.

He set down the rifle and raised his free hand to cradle her face.

“I do,” he vowed.

“Always,” she breathed, and leaned forward to kiss him.