Even though the flight from Boston to Ocracoke only lasted two hours, Claire took the opportunity to get a bit more rest. As the plane began to prepare for landing, Jamie leaned over and whispered in Claire's ear, "Tis time to wake up mo ghráidh, we are landin' on Ocracoke, I can see the stone circle from here."
Claire's eyes began to flutter as she woke and stretched. She groaned at her inability to stretch completely, the narrow airplane seat, limiting the space in which she had to extend her limbs. As her eyes opened, she looked over at Jamie, then followed the direction where his finger was pointing out of the small oval airplane window. She took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the bright light outside the plane. Then finally, her eyes settled on the circle of stones, atop a small mound of earth, surrounded by a group of trees near the beach. She gripped Jamie's hand and looked up at him with tears in her eyes, "We're almost there, Jamie, soon we will be back in your time and we can begin the rest of our lives."
Jamie brought their clasped hands up to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, "Aye, it willna be much longer."
Claire sighed in relief, "Once we get there, we will likely need to find a way back to the mainland, do you suppose there will be anyone traveling back and forth from the island in the 18th century?"
Jamie shrugged, "I dinna ken, but we will find a way, I will see to it."
Claire nodded and leaned her head on his shoulder as the plane's landing gear could be heard lowering from the belly of the plane. They touched down after another moment and the small plane bounced along the runway. Claire gripped her belly, praying the child wouldn't wake and cause more unbidden pressure on her already full bladder. She gripped Jamie's hand tightly with her other hand and he stroked the soft skin on the back of her hand with his thumb. After a few minutes, the plane slowed and eventually came to a stop, before turning and taxing back toward the small island airport. Finally, the plane came to a stop and the stewardess appeared at the front of the plane and began giving instruction to the passengers about disembarking. However, this time, Claire and Jamie would be allowed to get off the plane first due to Claire's condition. The flight crew appeared eager to have her out of their care.
Once their feet were on the ground, both Claire and Jamie took huge lungfuls of the fresh salty air of the island. They waited outside the plane for their bags and once they had them in hand, they made a beeline for the airport so that Claire could relieve herself before they made the short hike to where they had seen the circle of stones.
Once they reached the beach, Claire insisted on taking her shoes off and feeling the cool wet sand on her tired swollen feet. Jamie carried her shoes, as well as the few bags they had with them as they slowly strolled north toward their destination. Claire looked around and noticed that even in the 20th century, the island contained very little in the way of civilization. She worried that when they traveled back through the stones, that they would be isolated on the island, with no way of escaping.
Jamie could see and feel the tension in her body, so he squeezed her hand in reassurance, "We will find a way to North Carolina, even if I must build ye a boat wi' my own two hands. We willna be stranded, I gi' ye my word."
Claire took a deep breath and nodded, "Yes, I know that, but the baby will be here soon and that will make it even more difficult if this island is uninhabited in your time."
Jamie released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders to pull her closer to him, "I gi' ye my word that I will see our family safe, no matter the cost."
Claire nodded, a bit more at ease with his promise and the feeling of safety that she always found in his arms. "I know you will, Jamie, so let's get to the stones and travel back. I think I am beginning to hear the stones, they shouldn't be much further."
They walked for another ten or so minutes, following their instincts and the ever increasing sound of the buzzing stones. As the buzzing got louder, they turned away from the beach and entered the dense trees, coming out into a small clearing with a mound of earth in the center. They stopped as they entered the clearing and looked up toward the stones. Jamie swallowed past the lump in his throat, adjusted the straps of their bags on his shoulders, released his grip on Claire's shoulder, and took her hand in a tight grip. "Together, dinna let go of me, I canna lose ye after all we have been through to get here."
Claire tightened her own grip and they took a step forward in tandem, gradually making their way up the small incline. When they reached the top and outer most stones, they looked into one another's eyes, gave a brief nod, and took the last few steps toward the center traveling stone. Together their hands rose, as if by their own accord, and at the same moment, they both pressed their hands to the cold granite and disappeared from the 20th century.
Claire opened her eyes, her whole body aching with the need to vomit. She looked around, but she was entirely alone, she couldn't see Jamie or any of their belongings. She began to panic as she rolled to her side and ungracefully pushed herself onto all fours. Suddenly the urge to empty the contents of her stomach was more powerful than the need to find Jamie. She began wrenching, the sounds of her own discomfort overpowering even the sounds of the nature that surrounded her.
She didn't notice the hand that appeared on her back and began rubbing gentle circles to help calm her. She didn't notice the hand that pulled the hair back from her face or the soothing gáidhlig endearments of the man she loved, not until she rocked back on her heels and he enveloped her in his arms. "Are ye alright mo chridhe, is the bairn alright?"
Claire wiped her mouth and nodded, "Yes, we're both fine, it's just the effects of traveling through time."
Jamie nodded and stroked her hair, wrapping a curl around his finger and pulling it taut. "Take all the time ye need, we dinna need to rush now."
Claire took a deep breath, immediately noticing the freshness of the air she inhaled. She looked up into Jamie's eyes, worry painted on her glass face, "Do you think we made it, do you think we arrived in the right time?"
Jamie shrugged as he continued to soothingly stroke her hair, "I dinna ken, but I would say that we are no' any longer in yer time. The air is too fresh, the sounds are natural. I dinna hear the buzzing of electricity anymore and it just feels right again."
Claire nodded, completely understanding what he meant. The 18th century had given her a different feeling when she had first traveled back, something primal that she had never experienced in her own time, and somehow after they had touched the stones just a few moments ago, the feeling had returned.
Claire took a deep breath and gripped Jamie's shoulders, "Help me up, I think if we are going to find people, it will be back in the direction that we originally came from. I know we can survive here, even if we are the only people on the island, but I would rather find out now than to wait. If there is any chance that there are people here and we can get over to the mainland, I want to go as soon as possible."
"Aye, I agree wi' ye, there is no point in makin' it harder if we dinna have to. Let's walk back down the beach and see if perhaps we can find a ship or boat of some kind."