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It Was Always You

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July 2019

We married on a Sunday afternoon, one year from the day we were reunited. The weather was sunny, with a cool breeze across Loch Lomond as our closest friends and family gathered to watch the ceremony.

I watched from the window of my changing room as John and Hector took their seats, Hector bundled up in furs as if he were visiting Siberia in the dead of winter instead of Scotland in July. Gillian soon slid into her seat next to them. They’d all become well acquainted the night before, staying up much later than Jamie and me. Of course, we both knew that we’d be woken several times in the night by a hungry little girl.

Faith. The precious child named for the one thing that had kept our love alive all those years apart. She was outside just then, smiling in Jamie’s arms as he greeted our guests, showing her off to everyone. Her strawberry blonde curls were motionless in the breeze, so protected she was by Jamie’s large arms sheltering her.

His own curls were blowing everywhere, despite his attempts to keep them tame for the day. It was alright; I preferred them in their natural state — they were a reminder of the boy I’d first fallen in love with. That day, he was a sight to behold in his kilt and dress coat. I couldn't wait to get my hands on him.

Willie ran up to him, a miniature of his father also in a dress kilt. As they stood side by side, I could easily see the image of the man our son would one day become, like an aura around him.

He was so smart and sharp-witted. He'd adjusted to his new life with ease, making friends and excelling in his classes, as Jamie had always done. My house had indeed become messy and noisy over the past year as if his presence had breathed new life into it.

Phaedra joined the group outside, and then there was a soft knock on my door. "Come in."

Brianna entered and I stood to hug her. "You look beautiful, Mama. I'm so happy for you."

"Oh Bree, I love you so much." I smoothed her hair gently. "It was just the two of us against the world, and now look at us."

"Mama, please don't make me cry; I still need to get through pictures."

I let go of her and checked myself one more time in the mirror. There'd been no reason for the charade of a white dress, so I'd chosen instead a pale green sleeveless gown that was forgiving of my new curves and wobbly bits. I leaned in and checked my eyes — there was no way to fully cover up the dark circles of a newborn baby, but I'd done a fair enough job. I smoothed my hair back quickly and was satisfied.

"Let's go."

***

Jamie greeted me with a kiss when Bree and I joined him. Then we lined up and prepared ourselves to walk down the aisle as we'd practiced — first Willie, then Brianna and Phaedra, and finally Jamie and me. He held Faith in one arm while I looped my arm through his other. To hell with traditions; we were doing this our own way.

When we reached the front, Brianna took Faith from Jamie's arms and sat down in the front row with Willie and Phaedra. Jamie and I stood before the Reverend Wakefield and finally got the happy ending our love story had always deserved.

***

That night, when it was quiet and just the two of us, Jamie held me close to him. Moments like this were a rare commodity, and we never took them for granted.

"All my life, Claire," he whispered into the dark, "ye've been what's gotten me through. When my family fell apart, and my mother died, it was you who kept me sane. When I was in Brazil, the times when I was so hurt and scared and alone, I thought I was sure to die, it was you who kept me alive. When Willie was missing, it was you who saved him." His arms squeezed me tighter as he kissed me on the forehead. "It was you, Claire. It was always you."