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The Circle of Seven Stones: A Tale by James Fraser

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“ winter posy of pine, pomes, and holly.  All you need is some chocolate, and you’ll have yourself a traditional twentieth century Valentine’s Day,” said Claire.

“Ye think Bree will be pleased?” said Roger.

“What’s not to like?”  Claire packed all the little gifts into the basket and handed it to Roger.  “Do you need us to watch the children for you?”

“No.  Lizzy said she’d take care of them.  Besides,” Roger turned to smile at Jamie, “I’m sure ye’ll have yer own plans for the evening.”

Claire snorted, laughing a little too heartily at Roger’s assumption.  “Oh indeed.  I’m sure Jamie will regale me with some romantic tale or other of Saint Valentine and his bloody imprisonment.”

Jamie raised an affronted brow.  “You seem to like my stories well enough when I’m telling them, Sassenach.”

“Of course I do, darling,” she placated, patting his cheek.

“I can’t thank ye enough, Claire,” said Roger.  “Bringing a little of the twentieth century to Bree always makes her smile.”

“Let me know if you need anything else,” she said, walking Roger Mac to the door.

When Roger was gone, Jamie watched his wife tidy up what was left of her candles and perfumes, mumbling to herself about needing to check on the beehives in the morning.



“Ye dinna care to have a St. Valentine's romance like Roger and Bree, do ye?”

“If we were in the twentieth century, I’d most certainly expect it, but we’re not.  Besides you’ve never been much for celebrating a holiday—aside from Hogmanay—especially one as frivolous as Valentine’s Day.”

“John has spoken of this increasing St. Valentine’s Day foolishness in England...presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending notes.  Why must they wait for a celebration of a long dead saint to honor their beloved?”

“It’s just a tradition.  Like Hogmanay.  But instead of celebrating a new year, Valentine’s Day is a celebration between lovers.”

“Are there no’ better ways to celebrate love than wi’ trifling gifts?”

“There doesn’t need to be an exchange of gifts.  The most important thing is to ensure your love knows the depth of your affection.  You can do so with gifts, or acts of service, or affection.  Some even write sweet sonnets or pretty verses.”

Jamie scratched his beard, his mind racing with possibilities.

“I don’t need a Valentine’s Day celebration, Jamie.  As you said, you are quite apt to honor your beloved regularly, even on the most mundane of days.”

“And what if I should be the one to require a pretty verse from you, Sassenach?” he teased.

She scoffed, “Then you married the wrong woman.  I have no mind for creating rhymes.”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her in close, wrapping his arms around her.  His mouth hovered inches from hers, lips nearly touching.  “But is it no’ St. Valentine’s Day?  Doesna tradition require?”

She smiled sweetly and lifted on her toes to offer him a kiss.  “Alright then.  How about this: 

“That I did always love
I bring thee Proof
That till I loved
I never lived—Enough—

That I shall love alway—
I argue thee
That love is life—
And life hath Immortality—”

“’Tis lovely, mo ghraidh,” he laughed.  “Who wrote it?”

“How do you know I wasn’t inspired by your affections to come up with it myself?”

“Because I ken my wife, and I ken yer tongue is more prone to make poetry by licking my body than wi’ lyrics.”

As if to demonstrate his point, she licked his cheek, tongue rubbing against his three-day scruff.  He chuckled deep in his chest and kissed her thoroughly.

“Fine,” she admitted, “it was Emily Dickinson.  She’ll be born in America about fifty years from now.”

“’Twas beautiful.”  He kissed her again.  This time he spoke seriously, “Ye ken I love ye, mo ghraidh? And as yer poem says, I have no life without you.”

Her eyes grew tender, and she nodded softly.

“Have I ever told ye why it is I love ye?  Why I can say the words and mean it wi’ my whole heart?”

“You’ve shared a number of those reasons in our years together, but if you’ve come up with anything new, I’d be delighted to hear.  Some of the old reasons could also bear repeating now and again.”  

He nodded, considering.  “Perhaps I shall have another story for ye tonight, my Sassenach, to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.”  He placed a gentle kiss on her nose. 

“Another story?  More sperms?”

“No.  I’d be a fool to make light of a lovers’ special day to my own beloved.”

“Smart man.”  Her eyes were alight with anticipation.  “What do you have up your sleeve, James Fraser?”

“I mean to tell ye just what ye mean to me, mo chridhe.  I mean to tell ye...that I did always love...and that I will bring thee proof.

“Mmmm.  Perhaps I shouldn’t put my perfumes away just yet?  Shall I find one suitable for the occasion?” 

“No.  Come to bed after supper...just as you are.”