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Laochaire

Chapter Text

Laochaire


16 April, ????

Craigh Na Dun, Inverness, Scotland

It was terrifying - just as terrifying as it had been when I had travelled through the stones the first time. The screams… They were the worst. Who’s screams were they? Whom had they been? Were they travellers like me? Claimed by the stones, never to emerge? The screams, the buzzing, all of it was the fuel of nightmares, and I knew that I would never, ever escape these frightening sounds, no matter how-

“M-mee,” echoed a voice. Who was that? A… a child? “M-mee.” It was so muffled, so quiet, so far away… Was this child alone? Where was its mother? I had to reach that child. I just had to. Wherever it was… “M-mee!”

“Where are ye?” I called out to the voice. “I hear ye, where are ye?”

“Mammy!” It was so much clearer now - a child calling out to its mother. “Mammy! Mammy!”

“I hear ye,” I said to the voice of the child. “Wherever you are, I’m coming! Stay where ye are!”

“Mammy, wakey!” said the childlike voice. Wakey? As in… wake up? I opened my eyes, and an innocent, childlike face flooded my field vision, framed by a crown of sunlight. “Mammy!”

Chapter Text

3 January, 1744

Le Havre, France

“Ah, nothin’ like the stink of a fishing port,” said Cailean as he stepped off of the gangway. Jamie and I were close behind, Jamie rushing to get off of that boat as quickly as he possibly could. Brian was cradled in his arms while I held Archie, who had been very fussy. “So… This is France?”

“Only Le Havre,” said Jamie as he stepped off of the gangplank. He turned to face me and smiled, then reached a hand out to me to help me down. I accepted his hand and stepped off the gangway, then stood on my toes to kiss him.

“Mmm, I like ye better with a wee bit of stubble,” I told him, and he chuckled.

“Tha’s not the style fer men here in France,” he told me, then he kissed me again. “To new beginnings, aye?”

“Aye, indeed,” I said, and I kissed him a third time. “I thought ye would knock the crew off the gangway, ye were tryin’ te get off so quickly.”

“Aye, well… if I spent another minute on that rolling, creaking, leaking tub, ye may have had te bury me at sea,” said Jamie, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“There were times in the last few hours I thought I’d have te do that as an act of mercy,” I told him.

“France!” Murtagh suddenly exclaimed behind us, surprising us both. “Reeks of frogs, just as I remember it.”

“I think what ye’ll find ye smell is fish, and I doubt ye’ll find a single seaport in all the world that smells any different,” I told him.

“He’s just lookin’ fer an excuse te complain, as always, the grimey old grouch,” said Cailean, and Murtagh glared at him.

“Have ye ever even been te a port city, ye dolt?” Murtagh asked him.

“I wasnae raised on the Isle of Barra at all. Nope! I didnae spend my childhood on a boat fishing fer me supper,” said Cailean sarcastically, and Murtagh narrowed his eyes at him.

“No wonder ye smell no different from the frogs,” said Murtagh, and I stifled a snort. “I’ll go and arrange fer some rooms fer us somewhere. Somewhere away from all this stink .” With that said, he slinked off, Jamie, Cailean and I watching after him. Beth MacCraig then made her way down the gangplank.

“Ah, Beth, there ye are! Go with Murtagh there, he’s arrangin’ fer rooms,” I told her.

“Yes, Mistress. Should I take the lads?” Beth asked me, tucking her mousy brown hair beneath her cap.

“Probably wouldnae be a bad idea. I’ll come and join shortly,” I said, handing Archie to her. “Cailean can go with ye and bring Brian.”

“I am no ’ goin’ with that crabby old curmudgeon!” Cailean exclaimed. “Jamie’s already holdin’ him, and he actually likes the cranky old coot.”

“He’s no’ so bad,” Jamie told him. “He’s actually quite fond of ye.”

“Tha’s a funny joke, Jamie. Hilarious. I’m pishin’ meself with laughter,” said Cailean with full serious-toned sarcasm, and Jamie chuckled.

“I’ll go with him. Watch yer sister, dinnae let her get herself into trouble,” Jamie said, giving me a playful look. “We’ve had enough of that lately, aye?”

“Dinnae tempt me,” I told him. He bent down to kiss me. “Love ye.”

“Love ye, too,” he said, kissing me again. “Come, Miss MacCraig. We’ll go and catch up with our favourite old coot!” I heard Beth let out a girlish giggle and she and Jamie took our twin sons and followed Murtagh to wherever the hell he was headed.

“Guess we should stick around and wait,” Cailean said, watching after them, and then he looked at me. “How’re things? How’s he been?”

“He’ll be all right… He’s still struggling, of course, but he’s better than he was when we first rescued him,” I told him.

“And how are you? ” my brother asked me again, and I shrugged.

“I dinnae ken, really. I’m glad Jamie’s alive and I’m glad te be with him. I’m so tired, though, and always so sore. Ye dinnae ken how annoying it is te carry around two large milkbags on yer chest…” He stopped me by tapping me on the wrist. “What? What are ye on aboot?” I directed my attention to whatever it was he was looking at and found myself locking eyes with a middle-aged man with strawberry-blond curls - and a Fowlis of Barra tartan. His eyes were narrowed, and he was watching both Cailean and I with suspicion. “Who is that?”

“I dinnae ken,” Cailean replied. “An ancestor of some kind? I think he’s tryin’ te see… Oh, crap, he’s coming towards us.” I looked up and sure enough, the Clan Fowlis man was coming towards us.

“Look firm. Dinnae let him intimidate ye,” I told my brother. In this time, Clan Fowlis of Barra was renowned for being aggressive - or at least intimidating. It was the current Laird of Cìosamul who led attacks on English ships nearly thirty years before, so I didn’t know what to expect from this Fowlis clansman. He stopped when he was about four feet away from us, then glanced down at the Fowlis tartan that we both wore.

Feasgar math, a chàirdean, ” he said to us, bidding us a good afternoon.

Feasgar math, ” I said back to him. “Can we help ye, sir?”

“I happened te notice yer Fowlis of Barra tartans, but I couldnae place yer faces… I was wondering… How do I ken ye?” asked the clansman suspiciously, and I let out a quiet scoff.

“Ye could ask our names first, or introduce yerself,” I told him, and he narrowed his eyes at me. “Name’s Catrìona Fowlis Fraser, and this is my brother, Cailean.” The Fowlis clansman looked us both up and down.

“Fraser,” he said.

“Aye. What aboot you?” I asked him. The man held my gaze for a moment.

“Alasdair Fowlis,” he said. “Friend te the Laird of Cìosamul. Counsel , even.”

“Oh, counsel, good fer you,” I said, not allowing this man to intimidate me, and Cailean elbowed me in the side.

“What are ye doin’?” he hissed, and I held up a hand to stop him.

“I dinnae believe I’ve had the pleasure to meet a Catrìona or a Cailean Fowlis. Were ye brought up on Barra?” asked Alasdair Fowlis.

“Well, then it’s a pleasure te meet ye,” I said back.

“Aye, we did grow up on Barra. What of it?” Cailean asked, taking a page from my book and being as equally intimidating as Alasdair Fowlis.

“Who’s yer father? A Fowlis, I’m assuming,” said the clansman, recognising that stubborn, intimidating trait that was common to our bloodline.

“Aye, his name was Archie,” I said to the man. For a moment, it seemed that the hard wall that Alasdair Fowlis had up had gone transparent, and it seemed that he recognised the name, but then he steeled his face again and narrowed his eyes at me.

“Archie Fowlis. Son of Eairdsidh Ruadh?” he demanded.

“We never kent our grandsire,” Cailean said, which was the truth. “Archie is a common name, ye ken.”

“But not Archie Fowlis ,” said Alasdair Fowlis. “I dinnae ken who ye are, but I’ll be keeping my eye on ye.”

“Good luck with that,” I said. “My husband is a Fraser clansman. Laird of Broch Tuarach. If yer threatenin’ me, yer goin’ te regret it.”

“I’m not threatenin’ ye, Mistress Fraser,” said Alasdair Fowlis. “Good day to ye both.”

“And to you,” said Cailean. None of us bowed nor curtseyed to each other, and then Alasdair Fowlis left us. “We’d best tell Jamie aboot him. Keep him on alert. Maybe ye shouldnae have told him Da’s name.”

“It’s not like I’m lyin’ aboot who I am,” I told him. “Come on, let’s find the others.” Cailean and I picked up what we had to carry and made our way off the dock, but I couldn’t help but glanced over my shoulder to meet the amber eyes of Alasdair Fowlis, who was watching me like a hawk.


I was lying in bed nursing both Brian and Archie, naked from the waist up, when Jamie entered the room, smiling at the sight before him. He closed the door behind him, then slipped his coat off of his arms. “I cannae tell ye how much it warms my heart te see ye nursin’ my babes at yer breast,” he told me. He then removed his doublet and went to kick off his boots.

“Lucky you, gettin’ te watch. The pair of ‘em have a bite like an alligator and they dinnae even have teeth yet,” I told him, glancing down at my sons, who were each latched on firmly to a nipple.

“An alligator, aye?” said Jamie, setting his boots by the hearth. He next removed his breeks and draped them over a chair, then stood beside the bed in only his shirt, which fell to his knees. “Yer thrivin’ as a mother. I kent ye’d be excellent at it.”

“And what made ye so sure?” I asked him.

“Ye could take care of me. If ye could take care of me, ye could take care of a bairn no problem,” he replied, bending over to kiss me. Then he laid down on the bed beside me, settling in with his hands resting on his belly, the injured one on top. “Mmm, a bed… tha’ doesnae move. Luxury.” I let out a snort.

“Aye, a bit hard fer my tastes, but we’ve slept on worse, haven’t we?” I asked him. Jamie didn’t say anything other than a short noise of agreement, his eyes seeming to glance off someplace far off. “What is it, mo ghràidh ? Somethin’ on yer mind, I can tell.” He let out a sigh before answering me.

“Sometimes, I… I can still feel his touch,” said Jamie, referring to what Randall had done to him at Wentworth. “It’s like… he’s here , waitin’ te perform his next move.”

“He isnae here, Jamie, but I am,” I told him. “I always will be… I’ll no’ be goin’ away anytime soon, and certainly not back te the stones with Murtagh.” Jamie let out a noise of amusement.

“Aye, yer a hard one te get rid of,” he told me, and then he smiled and looked up at me. “Yer a stubborn woman.”

“Stubborn and firm, just like my husband,” I told him. His hand moved to my thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze, and then he sat up to watch our sons nursing. “I met someone today…”

“Aye? Who?” Jamie asked me, raising an eyebrow.

“An ancestor, I think. Of mine,” I told him. “It was a man wearing a Fowlis of Barra tartan and he approached Cailean and I.”

“Approached?” I nodded.

“He asked us if he kent us, then asked aboot where we came from and who our father was.”

“What’d ye tell him?”

“The truth, of course. I thought there must be many Archies out there in the world. Of course, not many Archie Fowlises , and the Archie Fowlis of this time is likely a sore spot fer the clan, considerin’ he was the heir… He seemed verra suspicious of us and told us he was going to keep an eye on us. Cailean said we should tell ye.”

“Aye, ye should. I’ll no’ have any man threatenin’ my wife and children,” Jamie told me. “What was the man’s name?”

“Alasdair Fowlis,” I answered, and Jamie pressed his lips together. “What? Do ye ken the name?”

“Aye, I’ve heard of it,” Jamie confessed. “He is the nephew of Eairdsidh Ruadh, he was kent fer plundering English ships. Arrested many times, but never killed fer his crimes and always got away with it. I was always told it was because he was a favourite of the Laird of Cìosamul. The story goes that when the Laird’s son disappeared, Alasdair Fowlis, who wasnae next in line fer the title, stepped up to worm his way into the Laird’s life, be closer to him as such. I believe he’s next in line fer the title now.”

“But he can’t be,” I said. “I ken the history of Fowlis of Barra, it was a passion of Da’s and he always loved te talk aboot it. On his timeline, the next in line to inherit the title was…” I froze as I recalled the next name on the list then slowly looked at Jamie. “…Cailean Fowlis.”

“Yer brother?” Jamie asked. “Does he ken?”

“I dinnae think so. He didnae care as much fer the family history as I did,” I told him. “The history books that were written fer this time said that Cailean Fowlis was the proclaimed grandson of Eairdsidh Ruadh and was a pardoned Jacobite when the Laird died and he took his place. Da told me once he named Cailean after that ancestor… Do ye think Cailean is named after himself? ” Jamie snorted, although I was more shocked than amused.

“Ye do ken what that means though, aye?” Jamie asked me, and I raised my brow. “It means Cailean fights fer the Jacobites.” My eyes widened a little.

“No, he… he wouldnae do that, he kens the result of Culloden,” I told him. “We all do, it’s what we’re taught in school…”

“That may be so, but if he’s a pardoned Jacobite, then ye ken well the meanin’ of that,” Jamie told me. I lowered my gaze, focusing on the checkered pattern of the quilt that we both laid on top of.

“So we need te change it,” I said suddenly, and then I looked back up at Jamie. “Not just because of Cailean… fer everyone. We agreed on the ship that we have te stop the rebellion.”

“I thought we agreed te discuss it,” Jamie replied. “If there’s goin’ te be a war against the English, do ye not think we should try te win it? If we win it, we’ll save lives, too.”

“But not as many of we dinnae stop it,” I told him. “Jamie, the Scots will rebel anyway in four hundred years. They’ll be fightin’ fer their freedom.”

“Aye, fer years, but if we win the Jacobite uprising, then ye may no’ have te fight a rebellion at all. Yer family may live.”

“My parents met in the rebellion. My father was a soldier and my mother was a nurse, she tended to him when he was injured in the Battle of Dunblane in 2099. Had they not met, I wouldnae be born, Jamie.”

“Aye, I guess changin’ the past may affect the future…”

“Guess? It most certainly will , Jamie.” I let out a sigh, then glanced down to find that Brian had detached from my breast and fallen asleep, but Archie was still suckling. “I do ken that the Scots do have several victories at first, but ye ken surely that the victors are the ones who get te write history. Most of what we ken even in my time was written by the English after Culloden and they didnae mention much aboot the battles. I ken one fer sure was at Prestonpans, though, but I dinnae ken much aboot the strategies.” I let out another sigh. “But what I do ken fer sure is tha’ both sides will eventually end up facing off on Culloden Moor and the Scottish army will be decimated.”

“Tha’s no’ much te go on,” said Jamie.

“But it all starts here in France with Bonnie Prince Charlie,” I replied. “We have te try at least, figure out where Charles gets his funding and disrupt it somehow. Infiltrate the Jacobite movement.”

“Ye sure have a high opinion of what a crippled highlander and an islander mother of two newborn babes can accomplish,” Jamie told me with amusement.

“Since when were ye no’ up fer a challenge, aye? Yer cousin lives in Paris, does he no’? He’s a Jacobite, isn’t he?”

“He is.”

“Maybe he can vouch fer us and start us on the path…” I paused when I looked up into his face. “What? What are ye thinkin’?”

“I’m thinkin’ this is no’ a verra honourable path yer settin’ us on, a nighean . It’s no’ just lyin’ to my cousin, it’s lyin’ te everyone who’s paths we cross.”

“But ye have te think aboot the stakes. Do ye not think them worth the cost?”

“Even if the cost is our souls?”

“Well, my soul is already damned enough as it is. I’m no’ sure how much more I could damn it,” I told him. “My ledger is blood red and leaks everra day.”

“If yer soul is damned, then so is mine,” said Jamie, and he smiled at me. “Here, I’ll take Brian and put him te bed.” He stood up and lifted Brian, who was fast asleep, into his arms and carried him to one of the two bassinets on the other side of the room, laying him down inside of it carefully. “There’s my wee laddie, aye… He’s so pale, ye can see right through him.”

“Aye, I ken,” I said. “We’d best keep him warm, or…”

“Or he may no’ survive the winter,” Jamie finished for me. I didn’t answer him, but agreed silently. Jamie tucked Brian up tightly and then returned to my side, sitting down on the bed to watch Archie nursing. Archie soon fell fast asleep, my nipple popping free from his mouth. Using my thumb, I wiped up the bits of milk from around his mouth and bent to kiss his forehead. “I still cannae believe our fortune… Two beautiful bairns, the perfect combination of the pair of us.” I smiled, and then looked up at Jamie.

“I wouldnae say ‘perfect combination’. They look like you except for they have my eye colour. Tha’s aboot all they have of me.”

“Not true,” said Jamie. “He has yer mouth.”

“My mouth?” I asked, looking down at Archie. “Aye, maybe a bit… He kind of resembles my father a wee bit, too. Ye look a bit like yer namesake, don’t ye, Archie?” I asked him. He made a small noise in my arms, and Jamie gave him his finger.

“Brian is so small compared to him,” Jamie said suddenly.

“I ken,” I said. “Archie looks healthy, even for a premature bairn, and Brian…” I glanced up at Brian’s cot, where he was fast asleep, his tiny chest rising and falling with each breath; it wasn’t nearly as smooth as Archie’s breathing. “He’s so unwell…”

“Will we lose him?”

“I hope not.” I looked down at Archie again, who had now fallen asleep. Jamie sat up and offered to take him, then carried him to his own cot and bundled him up nicely before joining me in bed again. I’d pulled my shift back up to cover myself and when Jamie sat down beside me, I curled up into his arms.

“I just had a thought,” Jamie muttered suddenly, his lips buried in my hair.

“Aye? Did it hurt te think?” I asked, teasing him, and he let out a quiet chuckle before continuing.

“It’s a thought that may hurt later on,” he said. “If we’re planning on changing the future, obviously we must tell Cailean. He kens what’s to happen and he kens what we should do… but what the hell are we going te tell Murtagh?”




Chapter Text

4 January, 1744

Le Havre, France

“So this is all ye’ll tell me?” Murtagh demanded of the three of us as we stood on the docks beside the water. “Ye ken this is treason. This cloth of lies we’re aboot te wrap ourselves in, like a plaid woven out of deception and guile…”

“We’ve told ye the reason fer our actions, mate. Te stop the Jacobite rebellion,” said Cailean. “I’m afraid that’s all we can tell ye.”

“It sounds te me like ye dinnae trust me,” said Murtagh, mostly to me, and he narrowed his eyes at me.

“It isnae that at all, Murtagh, I promise,” I told him. “It’s just that… er…”

“One day, I vow te tell ye the reason,” Jamie told him firmly. “When the time is right, I’ll tell ye everrathing that has happened and why, but fer now, ye must trust us. I have been assured that this rising is doomed te fail, so it must be stopped.”

“And the reason behind this certainty remains verra carefully hid, and yer hiding that from me ,” said Murtagh, eyeing Cailean and I curiously.

“Aye, that is so… but ye must trust us, Murtagh. Trust me . Someday, this shall all make sense,” said Jamie to his godfather. Murtagh appeared to give in, then carefully nodded.

“If it werenae fer that oath I made ye when ye were a lad, I’d box yer ears until ye told me why we’re committing such treason,” he told his godson. “Have ye gotten word te yer cousin, then?”

“Aye, I sent off a letter this morning. No word yet…” Jamie told him. He and Murtagh walked a bit further down the dock, leaving Cailean and I behind.

“I wonder when the ‘right time’ will be,” Cailean told me, watching the pair of them.

“Probably up to us, honestly,” I said back. “We’re the ones from the future, are we no’?”

“Aye, that we are,” said Cailean. His eyes scanned the crowd of people that were gathered near the fishing market, where fishermen were selling their catches. “There’s our ancestor again. What was his name again?”

“Alasdair Fowlis. Turns out, he’s Eairdsidh Ruadh’s nephew. Jamie said so,” I said, glancing up to meet the cautious eyes of the fair-haired Alasdair Fowlis, who was watching us from the market.

“Does the man no’ have anything better te do than watch us?” Cailean asked me.

“If we move onto Paris, he’ll have te find a new hobby,” I said, and we shared a small chuckle. “I’ll be going back te the lads, they’ll need te be fed soon. Keep me updated on Jamie and his cousin and come find me if he responds.”

“Aye, I will,” Cailean told me, and I left him standing there, Alasdair Fowlis’s eyes following me as I walked.


9 January, 1744

“What the hell is that ?” Jamie was showing me a very ostentatious-looking frock that was bright yellow with a floral pattern in the style of robe a-la française.

“This is what the noble women of France are wearin’, and ye are the wife of a Laird,” Jamie replied.

“So ye like ye remind me,” I told him. “Why are ye giving me this? Where did ye even get it?”

“We are meeting my cousin, Jared, today. Do ye no’ remember? Ye must look yer best,” Jamie told me. “Come, I’ll help ye get into this.”

“Ye will no’,” I said defiantly. “Ye want te see yer cousin te tell him ye want te join the Jacobite rebellion and ye want te project yer wife as some wealthy French bimbo who is a misgrievanced Lady of a Scottish estate? Are ye mad?”

“I just want us te look presentable-”

“We should look disgruntled,” I interrupted him. “We’ve been displaced because of the actions of the English. A young couple, parents te a set of newborn lads, who cannae return te their home because of the tyrannous actions of the King’s men. Appearing wealthy and put together will do naught fer our plea.” He let out a sigh and lowered the dress.

“Aye, I suppose I didnae think of that… Yer right,” he said, tossing the dress over a chair. “At least put yerself together as best as ye can. This is my cousin, I want us te look our best, but within our means.”

“And I will,” I told him. “Did ye really think I would allow myself te look like a slob in front of yer cousin?” I ended up wearing the same dress I wore when we had left Scotland for France with my hair pinned up as nearly as my Celtic curls would allow. We left the lads in the care of Beth and brought Cailean along to meet with Jamie’s cousin, Jared, who was a wine merchant in France.

“I admire yer patriotism fer sure, Jamie, lad, but I cannae help but wonder where this sudden change of heart emerged from,” Jared said to his cousin, and then he looked at Cailean. “You say yer a Jacobite, lad? But I thought Fowlis of Barra was vehemently against another rebellion?”

“I’m no’ my grandsire, sir, I cannae speak fer him, but I have good reason te support the Jacobite cause. My sister and I both,” Cailean told Jared.

“Our family was killed by English soldiers some eight years ago,” I chimed in. “Our mother and father, the rest of our younger brothers… I was fifteen, he was thirteen, and our remaining brothers were between the ages of thirteen and two.” Jared’s eyebrows raised.

“Two? As in, two years ?” he asked, and I nodded.

“Aye indeed. So ye see, we have no reason te support the English,” I told him.

“If the English killed yer father, then they killed the son of the Laird of Cìosamul. Why is the Laird not onboard with the cause?” Jared asked us, and Cailean and I exchanged a glance.

“They were estranged,” said Cailean.

“Truth te be told, we’re not even sure our grandsire kens of our father’s death. We had gone on the run, both of us, from the English, far from Barra,” I told him.

“I see,” said Jared, and then he looked at Jamie again. “And what aboot you , cousin?”

“My heart has ever been full of love fer my country, Jared,” Jamie told his cousin.

“Aye, that may be so, but ye miss my meaning. We have kent each other fer quite some time. Ye’ve lived in my house, dined at my table… ye’ve lifted more than one glass with me at establishments far too disreputable te speak of in front of yer fair bride…”

“Dinnae dash on my account, cousin. I am a sturdy woman,” I told him. 

“Aye,” Jared replied. “Nevertheless, in all of that time and in all of those interactions, I have never heard you once voice yer opinion on politics, Jamie.”

“I was a young lad then, inexperienced. I didnae understand fully what had been done te me,” Jamie told him.

“Te be kent as a Jacobite is a badge of honour here in France. We are supporters of the true faith against the heretic on the throne. But as we carry this badge of honour, we do have enemies as well. Enemies who would love te see us dance a jig on the gallows on the home soil. Only a few of us are called a brother te the cause, and they are the ones who possess the fires of righteousness burning in their hearts,” Jared told him, and then he looked at Cailean. “Mr. Fowlis, I see the fires burning in yer heart. I express sympathy at the loss of yer family.” He then looked at Jamie again. “Tell me now, cousin… What is the fire that burns within you?”

Jamie glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and I met his glance. “Show him,” I said, and Jamie turned to look at me. I nodded, signifying that it would be all right, and then Jamie turned around with his back to Jared and pulled his shirt off over his head, revealing the horrible scars on his back.

“Courtesy of the English army,” said Jamie, hearing Jared gasp at the sight, and then he turned to face his cousin. “Not te mention, my hand had been severely injured, and would have been crippled had my wife no’ fixed it. In addition to my injuries, I escaped unrelentless torture and have now displaced myself, my wife and my two newborn bains.”

“Newborn bairns?” Jared asked his cousin.

“Aye. Does any man need further reason te rise up against a king who would allow such atrocities te be committed in his name?” I asked Jared.

“No,” Jared muttered. “No, the… the cause can only be strengthened by yer sword. I’m sorry I doubted ye, brother, and I am terribly sorry fer the displacement of your wee bairns.”

“I thank ye,” said Jamie, pulling his shirt back on. I helped him to pull it down while he continued the conversation, cradling the injured hand in his other. “Will ye help us, then?”

“What is it that you would wish me to do?” Jared asked him.

“We wish te meet the Jacobite leaders face te face, hear their plans and how they mean te carry them out,” Jamie answered him, and Jared raised an eyebrow at this.

“And why should they wish te meet with ye? A wanted man with a price on his head, displaced with a young family, new te France with nothing to his name save the clothes on his back?” Jared asked him, and then he looked at Cailean. “And not te mention, a Fowlis of Barra with no physical connection to his clan.”

“I am the heir to Cìosamul,” Cailean answered him. “I am valuable te my grandsire. He may value my opinion.”

“I should think the Stuarts would value the support of Laird Broch Tuarach and the Fraser clan,” I chimed in.

“Aye,” said Jamie. “We do hope te return in the future.”

“I suppose those may be good reasons. Perhaps I will give it some thought, but in the meantime, Jamie, I have a proposal that I must ask you te consider.”

“Aye? I’m listening,” Jamie said to him.

“I’ve been delaying a trip te the Indies fer quite some time now - it’s three months across the Atlantic, some time there of course, and then three months back. As you can see, that will be nearly a year away from my business. Wine merchantry is a very competitive business, so I would need someone competent and trustworthy enough  to run the business in my absence,” Jared explained to him. “As I recall, you have a fine head for figures.”

“Aye, but I ken nothing aboot the wine business save fer drinkin’,” Jamie told him.

“Then it is fortunate, brother, that I have quite a palate in tune fer wine,” Cailean chimed in. I raised an eyebrow at him, which he returned.

“Is that so?” Jamie asked him, and then he turned his attention back to Jared. “Would my good brother be able te serve as my partner?”

“Aye, indeed he would. A fine taste fer wine is verra valuable in this business,” Jared told him. “As my business is based primarily in Paris, I would give ye use of my home in Paris, as well as a share of the profits, say… thirty percent?” Jamie’s lip curled up.

“Forty,” he said, “and yer help. Remember, I’m a new father te two wee bairns.” At this, Jared’s lip curled up in a manner similar to Jamie’s.

“Ye’ll do fine,” Jared told him. “I shall have a contract drafted up. Will you split the profits evenly?”

“I’ll take fifteen and Jamie will take twenty-five,” Cailean said quickly, and Jamie turned his head to look at him incredulously.

“Are ye mad, man?” he asked my brother.

“As ye’ve said, yer a new father te two wee bairns, and bonny bairns they are,” Cailean said, addressing Jared. “I, on the other hand, am unmarried and in much less need of funds.”

“Verra well,” said Jared. “I will have my lawyer draft up a contract and it shall be ready in due time. I shall like to leave for the Indies in February, as that shall give me ample time to avoid the winter storms, and plan te return in October. Until then, you will have full use of my home and my staff, and hopefully, you may find arrangements for your family. You say you wish to someday return to Scotland?”

“Hopefully soon. Jamie did send a petition te London in hopes of being granted a pardon,” I told Jared, and I heard Jamie clear his throat.

“Aye, aboot tha’…” he said, and I cocked an eyebrow. “The Duke of Sandringham didnae pass on the petition of complaint te London. It ended up straight in the hands of Randall himself.” My eyes widened and my stomach dropped only a little before the fires of fury began to overtake me.

“That conniving bastard ,” I hissed.

“Goodness,” said Jared, reminding me where I was.

“Forgive me,” I said, “but surely, ye can understand my feelings, Jared. I’ve been removed from my home, forced on the run with two small bairns I had te deliver while on the run, needless te say, I am furious that home and safety have been threatened by this man.”

“I see,” said Jared. “I shall return to Paris in aboot a week’s time, I do hope that you will join me there, cousin. I will do my best te arrange fer a meeting between you and the Jacobite leaders.”

“I thank ye, cousin, and I would be grateful,” Jamie told him. We were truly grateful indeed for the chance to have a safe and secure home and food in our bellies. Had it just been the two of us, we could have managed anything, but it wasn’t. We had two bairns that were relying on us, and one of them wasn’t well.


The following day, both Jamie and Cailean were summoned back to Jared’s warehouse to examine the wine stock, so that left Beth and me in the inn together with two screaming, colicky lads. “There must be something we can give them!” Beth was saying as she cradled a screaming Brian in her arms.

“There is, but I dinnae have much. I’d have te find an apothecary te replenish my stores,” I told her as I cradled a screaming Archie in my arms. “I ken of a tea my mother used te make fer the bairns of Barra, she called it a colic tea. Blessed Bride, what was in it…” I paused for a moment in thought, trying to recall the full list of herbs. “Chamomile fer calming, vervain fer abdominal upset… fennel fer inflammation, licorice fer… fer… ah, yes, indigestion, and… lemon balm, fer the stress. Yes, that was it.”

“Will that cure the ague?” asked young Beth.

“Aye, it should. Although it’s not an ague, it’s a simple upset of their wee tums. It happens a lot in bairns,” I told her, and I stood to put Archie down in his cot. “Are ye all right on yer own? I hate te leave ye with two colicky bairns.”

“I’ll be all right, ma’am. I thank ye, but if I ken yer out getting yer herbs te cure them, then I’ll be all right,” said Beth.

“Yer such a dear, I thank ye deeply, a leannan . I’ll be back as soon as I can,” I told her. I then pulled on my cloak and grabbed both my basket and coin purse, then left the inn in search of the apothecary. As I was walking down the dock, I soon found myself in the unwanted company of Alasdair Fowlis, who approached me yet again.

“Good day to ye, Mistress. I’ve had a thought-” he began, but I cut him off.

“I dinnae have time fer yer doubt in my name and family, sir. I’ve got two bairns screaming their wee heads off with stomach discomfort and I’m in search of the apothecary. If ye could direct me towards one if ye ken it, I would be grateful,” I told him shortly, seemingly taking him aback.

“Er… Rue Clemenceau,” said Alasdair Fowlis. “I can take ye there myself.”

“If yer goin’ te question me further, then I would prefer te be without yer company as I need te concentrate, but I thank ye fer yer help, Mr. Fowlis,” I told the man, hurrying off in the direction of Rue Clemenceau. Sure enough, the apothecary was there, and he was out of lemon balm, but did have lavender, which would suit the lads just fine. I paid for my purchase and went back on my way to the inn, finding my pathway blocked by a new crowd that had formed near the gangway of a ship. They were shouting obscenities in French and were clearly upset, so I squeezed my way through the crowd just in time to see a man being carried on a stretcher down the gangway, his skin appearing pocked and inflamed.

C’est la petite vérole! ” shouted one man in a panicked tone. It’s the smallpox. This declaration induced a cry of panic as people began to back away from not just one, but two men who were being carried down the gangway into a nearby warehouse.

Déplace-toi sur le côte! Je suis un guérisseur! ” I called as the crowd shoved into me. Move aside! I am a healer! “ Je suis un guérisseur! ” People began to clear a path for me to shove my way through and I raced to the warehouse, where the two men were being held. “I can help, I am a healer,” I said in French to the men who had accompanied the two ill sailors.

“We should call a doctor instead. What does a woman know of the pox?” said one of the men to another, and I rolled my eyes.

“More than you think,” I answered.

“Move, brutes! What is the meaning of this?” exclaimed a furious-sounding voice in French.

“Sir, you must stay back,” one of the other men answered him.

“I am the Comte Saint Germain and this is my ship!” said the angry voice behind me while I examined the two sailors. They had high fevers and several pus-filled blisters; it was obvious what their diagnosis was. I glanced up at another nearby man who was watching me.

“It is definitely smallpox,” I told him, and then I turned to the man who must have been the harbourmaster. “You must quarantine the city.”

Va au diable! ” said the Comte Saint Germain. “This woman clearly does not know what she is talking about.”

“Catrìona!” called a more familiar voice. “ Déplace-toi sir le côte! Catrìona!” The crowd was shoved aside and Jamie appeared with Cailean and, surprisingly, Alasdair Fowlis at his side.

“I told ye I saw her come this way,” said Alasdair Fowlis to Cailean.

“So it seems. Thank ye, a charaid, ” Cailean told him, essentially dismissing the man.

“No, stay back!” I told Jamie in English. “Trust me when I say that I cannae get this!”

“This woman is incorrect. Call in a doctor, he will tell you it is not so!” said the Comte Saint Germain in French, sending me a very dirty look.

“Even if it is so, Le Comte , the lady has spoken, and word has already spread. I am sorry, but you know what must be done,” the harbourmaster answered him, and the Comte sent a glare at me.

“You lying-” he began, but Jamie was quick to cut him off.

“Do not finish that sentence or you will find your tongue at your feet,” he threatened the man in French, who simply glared at him. “You will not speak to my wife that way.”

“Your wife has just cost me my shipment,” the Comte answered him. While they were bickering, I noticed that the man before me had just passed away, and felt anger surge through me at this Comte’s lack of care for his life and the lives of others.

“Better the cost of your shipment than the cost of innocent lives,” I said to him maliciously as I stood, and Jamie turned his head to look at me, as if to say ‘stop it right now’.

“Mark my words,” said the Comte. “You will regret this. Le Comte will not forget what has happened here today.”

“Speaking in third person, this must be a serious threat,” I said to him, my dagger-like gaze boring into his. “I have done nothing more than state the truth, and evidently, saved countless lives from your selfishness.” The Comte narrowed his eyes at me.

“You have made an enemy here today, woman,” said the Comte venomously.

“Another day, another enemy. And that is Madame Fraser to you,” I told him.

“Catrìona!” Jamie hissed at me, but I continued my dangerous glare at the Comte. “Come, there is nothing more fer us te do here.” Not taking my gaze off of the Comte, I let Jamie drag me away from the scene and towards the inn. “You need te learn te control yer mouth.”

“Are ye sayin’ I should have just let them spread smallpox to the rest of the town? The same town where yer newborn lads currently reside?” I demanded of him.

“Of course no’, but what ye didnae have te do was provoke the Comte Saint Germain, he is Jared’s competition, ye ken. Another wine merchant,” Jamie told me a bit more calmly.

“I’ve no trouble provoking a man who doesnae keep the health of others in mind,” I said to my husband. “So what if I’ve made another enemy? I dinnae care. One enemy fer the lives of countless people as well as the secured safety of my sons is worth the exchange.”

“Life is certainly never dull with you in it, mo nighean ruadh ,” Jamie said with clear amusement, but I wasn’t amused at all.

“I shall endeavour te be more dull, if that would suit ye better, then,” I told him, but he only chuckled.

“Nah,” he said. “I wouldnae change ye even if the world depended on it.” He then pulled me into his arms to kiss the top of my head. “Come, let’s get back te see our laddies.”

“What’ll they do te Saint Germain’s ship?” I asked him, hooking my hand into the crook of his arm as he led me back to the inn.

“Burn it,” Jamie told me. “They cannae risk sending infected cargo into the city. It’s the laws of France.”

“It’s too bad they dinnae ken how germs work,” I told him. “They could just leave it sitting fer a few weeks’ time and the virus will have died off on its own.”

“As ye’ve said, this time doesnae ken how these… wee beasties… work,” Jamie answered me.

“I cannae wait te go te Paris,” I told him. “Away from this, a constant risk of an illness coming in from another port… Our lads will be safe, there will be better medical care fer Brian, no Comte Saint Germain…”

“Oh, I’m certain this willnae be the last we see of him, mo nighean. We must keep our eyes on him. I dinnae trust him not te try te harm ye,” Jamie told me.

“Well, let him try,” I said, stopping us at the door of the inn and turning to him. “If Randall couldnae kill me, I doubt some stuck up French wine merchant could.” At this, Jamie chuckled, and he bent to kiss me.

“Aye, yer a strong lass indeed,” he said, and then he led me into the inn.


That night, the glow of the fire on the harbour lit up the room enough that we didn’t need many candles. Saint Germain’s ship was ablaze, his infected cargo up in flames like the fires of hell. It seemed like no matter where Jamie and I went, trouble always followed us. Hopefully, trouble stayed in Le Havre and kept well away from Paris.




Chapter Text

16 January, 1744

Jared’s Home, Paris, France

Jamie’s hand reached up to take mine and help me down the steps of the carriage and I glanced up at the grand house before us - it was beautiful. Built to emulate the rococo style of eighteenth century France, it was a newer home designed to display the height of French architectural style. The house appeared as if it were the city estate of a French noble, it was so elegant. Greeting us in front of the house were two rows of servants, all of whom Jared had hand-picked to serve him. As an openly-declared Jacobite, Jared needed people that he could trust to serve him, and he definitely had that among his people. “This here, Catrìona, is Suzette. She will serve as your lady’s maid,” Jared said, introducing me to a dark-haired girl who was easily older than myself. Suzette curtseyed to me.

Bonjour, Madame, ” said Suzette in greeting.

“Shall she serve your nanny as well or shall I be adding your nanny to my staff?” Jared asked Jamie.

“Miss MacCraig is under our care. We shall take care of her,” Jamie answered his cousin. Jamie and Jared walked inside of the home while Cailean climbed out of the carriage and was handed Brian by Beth, who then handed him to me, and then offered a hand to Beth to help her down from the carriage.

“Goodness,” Beth muttered once she saw the house, holding Archie tight against her chest. “It sure isnae Scotland anymore, is it?”

“Certainly not. No crofthouses here,” I replied. When we entered the home, the inside was just as ostentatiously French as the outside was, but still had a touch of the more toned-down English Georgian style. Jared gave us a tour of the home, and we were surprised to find both his office space and the master bedroom in a more Jacobean style than rococo.

“I like te be reminded of who it is I truly support,” Jared told us. “Many of these items are antique, older even than I.”

“Ye’d never ken it,” Cailean said. “This home is immaculate, Mr. Fraser.”

“I thank ye kindly, Mr. Fowlis,” said Jared. “I do hope that you will enjoy my humble estate, as you shall have the chance to enjoy it for longer. I must go to Italy before I travel to the Indies, and that will take some time. There is a new winery that wishes to become a business partner with me.”

“Italian wine, I believe, is better than French wine,” Jamie told his cousin.

“I’ll bet Italy will be beautiful. Whereabouts in Italy is this winery?” I asked Jared.

“Tuscany,” Jared answered. “Tuscany is famous for their wineries, so I am looking forward to meeting with this potential business partner. If a deal is made, Jamie, I shall write to you and will likely leave for the Indies from Italy. That will not be until the end of the month, so until then, I will do what I can to try and arrange a meeting between you and the Jacobite leaders.”

“Whatever ye can achieve, I’ll be grateful for,” Jamie told his cousin. Jared then bid us to get settled, while Cailean went to tour the rest of the home and Beth was being led to the nursery by the housekeeper, a Madame Lejeune.

“It’s verra big,” I said to Jamie, sitting down on the four-poster bed and glancing up at the vaulted ceiling of the room. “Much bigger than what we’re used to.”

“It’s the home of a wine merchant,” Jamie told me. “When ye’ve got wealth, ye must show it off. Tha’s how French culture is.”

“It doesnae change throughout all of history,” I told him, and then I laid down flat against the bed. Even the top of the four-poster bed had a painted ceiling.

“Ye dinnae like it?” I heard Jamie asked me.

“It’s no’ that,” I said. “It just… it isnae home.”

“Aye, I ken.” He was silent, and then I felt him sit down on the bed beside me, his hand resting on my knee. “We’ll have te get us both some new claithes. We cannae present as members of high society dressed in rags.”

“Our claithes arenae rags,” I told him. “I like the claithes I have.”

“I ken that, a nighean , but we’re here now. We’re no’ in Scotland anymore,” Jamie replied.

“Don’t I ken it,” I murmured, and then I let out a sigh. “At least the lads will be comfortable. They’ve warm beds and a roof over their heads… I cannae be more grateful.” Jamie appeared in my field of vision as he laid down beside me, both of us staring up at the painted ceiling of the bed.

“They willnae want fer anythin’,” he told me. He then turned his head to look at me, and sensing his gaze, I met his eyes. “You and the lads are safe, and fer that, I’m grateful.”

“And I’m glad yer safe, and away from that bastard and the end of a rope,” I told him.

“Well, we dinnae have te worry about that , now, do we? Randall’s dead, remember?” He took my hand in his and gave it a squeeze, then sat up a bit to kiss my cheek. “We’ll have te get the lads baptised, and I’ll have te write to Jenny, tell her we’re finally settled and the lads are safe. She’s thrilled, ye ken, that we’ve had them.”

“Is she?” I asked, and he nodded. “She’s been a mother and now she can be an aunt. She must have been jealous, seein’ yer face light up whenever ye were around yer nephew.”

“Or she’s laughin’ at me, she kens how I was as a lad and I expect thinks wee Archie and Brian will be no different,” he replied, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“If you were any trouble and our lads are the same, I swear I’ll send ye out on the sea on a raft so ye feel every wave,” I told him.

“Ye sure are cruel te me.” He rolled over onto his side and bent down to capture my lips with his, his hand trailing down my side. I buried my hands in his hair, pulling the ribbon from his hair and freeing his rich red curls.

“Mmm,” I said. “I’ve missed ye, Jamie… verra much.” My hands were framing his face as he hovered over me, one hand pushing a bit of hair out of his eyes and behind his ear. There was a nervous look in his eye, but he wouldn’t voice his feelings. I let out a sigh. “Perhaps I should check on the lads, see if they need feeding…” Jamie moved aside as I sat up and then stood.

“We should get ye a wet nurse. Women here dinnae feed their bairns themselves,” he told me

“Absolutely not,” I said. “I willnae rob myself of the bond between myself and my sons fer the sake of French society.”

“There’ll be talk,” Jamie warned me, and I scoffed.

“There’ll be talk anyway. I’m no’ a French lass, I’m Scottish. There arenae many women here who look or sound like me, so I’ll be the topic of gossip anyway. I dinnae care if they think me strange fer feeding my bairns with the milk that my body makes specifically fer them . I willnae have them suckling the breast of another woman bearing milk for a child that isnae them.”

“All right, I willnae argue with ye,” Jamie replied.

“It wouldnae be an argument ye would win,” I told him defiantly, and he stood from the bed.

“I’ve got te take a look at the books before Jared leaves, ask any questions I need answered… I’ll see ye fer supper,” Jamie told me. He approached me, then gently pressed his lips to my forehead. He sensed that I was a bit bothered by him not wanting me, but of course, I wouldn’t say anything. I stopped him before he left, then stood on my toes to kiss him.

“I love you,” I told him, and a small smile worked its way onto his lips.

“I love ye, too,” he said, and then he kissed me again. “Kiss the lads fer me, I’ll have te see them later.” He kissed me a third time, and then he was gone, leaving me with my arms wrapped firmly around my middle.


19 January, 1744

Jared left that morning bound for Italy, a journey that would likely take a couple of days by carriage, but once he left, Jamie would officially be taking over the wine business. Jamie had gone to the Paris warehouse, leaving Cailean and me alone for most of the day. We sat in a sitting room, Archie on Cailean’s lap and Brian resting quietly in my arms. He looked so pale today, and his little grey eyes wouldn’t open to look at me. “How is he?” Cailean asked me.

“I dinnae ken,” I answered honestly. Not wanting to talk about it, I changed the subject. “What’s Murtagh been up to? I’ve no’ seen him much.”

“Scoping out the city, I think,” Cailean answered. “It’s been a while since he’s been here, he said, so he wanted te get a lay of the land.”

“Tha’s like him, isnae it? I suppose if we’re te engage in shady business, we should have an eye on the streets,” I told my brother. “Jared hasnae made a connection fer Jamie yet, has he?” Cailean shook his head.

“There’s still time. I believe he doesnae leave Italy fer a few weeks,” Cailean answered.

“But if he leaves before he can make a connection…”

“We’ll figure it out, Cat. We always do, you and me,” Cailean told me with a smile, and then he looked down at Archie in his lap. “Besides, how could I be the best uncle ever if I didnae do whatever I can te make my nephews’ mam happy?” I smiled at the sight of Cailean holding Archie.

“Ye look good with a bairn,” I told him.

“Not nearly as good as you,” he replied. “Ye were meant the be a mam, and yer good at it.”

“I’ve scarcely been a mam fer a month,” I told him. “It’ll be a month, soon…” I glanced down at Brian, speaking to him. “Ye hear that, Brian? You and yer brother will be a month old on Tuesday.”

“It doesnae feel like it’s been a month,” Cailean told me. “So much has happened since then, it feels more like it’ll have been several.” We paused in silence for a moment. “How’s Jamie’s hand?”

“Healing nicely,” I said. “He willnae let me look at it, but I’ve seen it when he’s sleeping. I need te remove the stitches, but I dinnae ken if he’ll let me.”

“He will, if I’ve anything te say aboot it,” Cailean told me. He then stood, moving to the corridor to shout down it. “Beth! Beth, can ye come here?” Beth came when she was called, and Cailean handed her Archie. “I’d best go. I heard a rumour that the Bonnie Prince likes te hang out at local…” He glanced at Beth. “ …establishments… around this time. I wanted te go and scope them out, see if I can find him.”

“Where did ye hear this?” I asked him.

“When I was checking out the market, I heard a couple of men discussing it. I also heard a lass mention an apothecary, a Master… a Master Raymond. Maybe ye should check that out sometime,” he answered me.

“Doesnae seem like a bad idea,” I told him. “Just be careful, aye?”

“I’ll blend in perfectly. I’m a single man, am I no’?” Cailean asked me, giving me a wink. “I’ll likely return late. Tell Jamie where I’ve gone, if ye’d like.” I nodded, and then watched him leave, leaving Beth staring after him with a schoolgirl look in her eye.


CAILEAN POV

Cailean was at the seventh brothel of the night sitting at a table sipping from a glass of champagne. He was getting tired, but the women of this establishment certainly perked him back up. They were beautiful, charming and clearly the proper type of lasses for the gentlemanly type that frequented this place. What was it called again? Ah, yes, Maison Elise . He was supposed to be scoping out the patrons of the establishment, however, a very pretty young girl approached his table.

Bonsoir, Monsieur, ” she told him flirtatiously.

Bonsoir te you as well, ma belle desmoiselle, ” Cailean replied, setting down the glass of champagne as she took her seat on his lap.

“Are you seeking company this evening, sir?” asked the young girl in French.

“From you , absolutely,” Cailean replied back to her, wrapping his arms around the girl. Suddenly, a voice cleared behind him, and the young girl glanced up, her eyes widening, and she hopped off of Cailean’s lap.

Bonsoir, Votre Altesse, ” said the girl, curtsying to a man behind Cailean.

Votre Altesse? ” Cailean asked. Your highness? Cailean turned his head to see a young man with an upturned nose and a curled white wig with a queue dressed in a very elaborate-looking costume standing behind him. He picked up his glass of champagne again. “Can I help ye, mate?”

“Do excuse us, mademoiselle ,” the man said to the girl, who scurried off. The man spoke in a high-opinion-of-himself tone in an Italian accent. “I see from your attire that you are a Scot.”

“Aye, what’s it to ye?” Cailean asked the man, who seemed mildly offended by Cailean’s casual tone.

“I do beg your pardon, sir. I am Prince Charles Edward Stuart,” said the man, and Cailean immediately dropped his glass of champagne, which spilled all over him and then shattered on the ground, and jumped up from his seat.

“Yer Highness! Forgive me, we dinnae ken yer face in the highlands,” said Cailean, bending down in a bow. He accepted the hand of Prince Charles and kissed it respectfully. “I am Cailean Fowlis of Barra, Yer Highness.”

“Charmed, I am certain,” said the Prince, taking a seat at Cailean’s table. Cailean, too, sat down, thrilled to have finally been successful in locating the Prince. “Fowlis of Barra, did you say? You do not happen to be related to the Laird of Cìosamul, do you?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m his grandson,” Cailean told him. He grasped his own empty wine glass and then filched another from a nearby table, then offered to fill one for the Prince, who accepted.

“I have been attempting to reach out to your grandfather in hopes of gaining his support for my noble cause. I understand he was active in the uprising that my father led, some years ago,” the Prince said, accepting the glass of wine.

“Aye, my grandsire was attacking English ships that came near the Bàigh a’ Chaisteil, ” Cailean told him. “He was a young man, then, but now he is older and likely doesnae wish te risk his estate.”

“Some faith he must have in me,” said the Prince somewhat bitterly. “I do hope you are of a different opinion.” Here was his opportunity.

“I am for a free Scotland, as is my sister and her husband,” said Cailean. “My good brother is much grievanced by the English and has been wishing te seek yer audience. He has recently been displaced due to the English, him and my sister and their two newborn sons. He is the Laird of Broch Tuarach and cannae claim his title due to a price on his head fer a false accusation.”

“Laird of Broch Tuarach? I have heard that name. I received a request for a meeting from a relative of his who is a known Jacobite, but I was not sure if I should accept the request,” said the Prince.

“My good brother has a passion fer dethroning our good King Geordie,” Cailean told him. “With his grievances, he has developed a fiery desire te seek a free Scotland by any means necessary. He is in great support of yer cause. Ye ken, he was a mercenary here in France, some time ago.”

“Was he?” said the Prince, now intrigued.

“Aye, he was. With his military experience and with what he has te protect, ye willnae find a man with a greater passion fer rebellion.”

“So you advise me to seek his counsel, then?” asked the Prince. Well, shit, now Cailean had to really be careful.

“I advise ye te make his acquaintance,” Cailean told him. “My good brother, James Fraser, is a man ye want on yer side, and a good and loyal friend te have.”

“Is that so?” asked the Prince. “Hmm. I suppose then that I shall meet with the man, if he is so supportive of my father’s cause and claim to the throne.”

“Ye certainly willnae regret gaining his friendship,” said Cailean, raising his glass. The Prince did the same. “Te the rightful king and a free Scotland, and to a new friend. Slàinte mhath. ” Hook, line and sinker. Having successfully reeled in his catch, Cailean smiled over the glass of wine as the Prince did the same, both of them taking a sip of the wine.


Cailean was late in coming home and was glad to find Jamie sitting up in the study scribbling away at a letter. It was difficult for him to do so, with his hand, but he did the best he could. “ Oidhche mhath , a bhràthair ,” Cailean said, startling him a little. Jamie turned his head to see who had interrupted him, finding Cailean pouring two glasses of imported Scottish whisky and bringing them to the desk.

“Cailean,” said Jamie. “Where were ye tonight? Catrìona said ye were lookin’ fer the Prince.”

“I was, and I found him,” Cailean told him, handing him the glass. “And guess what? I’ve arranged a meetin’ fer ye both. Saturday next, the Prince will meet ye at Maison Elise. It’s a brothel, but it is the only place that the Prince will meet with anyone. Or rather, any man . I feel he would benefit greatly from an hour spent with the first person te successfully seize Berwick in seven hundred years, but he willnae listen te a woman.”

“Tha’s excellent,” Jamie said. “How did ye meet him?”

“He saw my kilt, then found out I’m a Fowlis of Barra. It pays te have a reputation as the most feared clan in the land,” said Cailean. “I’ll accompany ye to the meeting. He seems te like me, and I ken he’ll like ye, too. He told me about his lady friend, and when I got enough wine into him, he gave me her name.”

“Which is?” asked Jamie curiously as Cailean took a sip of the whisky.

“Madame Louise de La Tour d’Auvergne, Princesse of Guéméné,” said Cailean, and Jamie’s eyes widened.

“Aye? Wife of Jules de Rohan, Prince of Guéméné, is a customer of ours,” Jamie told him. “I’ll arrange te invite them te dinner. Perhaps Catrìona can make friends with Louise.”

“Prince Charles and Louise de La Tour. Jamie, my man, we are well on our way,” said Cailean, clinking his glass against Jamie’s.

“Indeed we are. Slàinte mhath, ” Jamie replied, and the pair of them downed the rest of their whisky.


19 January, 1744

Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris, Paris, France

It was generally common to baptise a child within three or four days after birth, however, given our circumstances, that could not be possible for us. Instead, we decided to have our children baptised three days after our arrival in Paris - close enough, isn’t it? Jamie and I each held one of the bairns - Brian in Jamie’s arms and Archie in mine - and we stood beside the basin while the present Archbishop of Paris, Archbishop Charles-Gaspard-Guillaume de Vintimille du Luc - a very large antique of a man - was giving a few words about the process of a baptism in French. When he was finished, he held out his arms to take Archie from me.

“What name do you give this child?” the Archbishop asked me in French.

“Er… Archie Brian James Fowlis Fraser,” I told the Archbishop.

“What is it that you ask of the church in the name of the Lord for Archie?” asked the Archbishop.

“Baptism,” I answered, as Jamie had me practice.

“You have asked to have your child baptised,” the Archbishop began. “In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility in training him in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”

“We do,” Jamie answered. The Archbishop then turned his attention to Cailean, whom we had decided would serve as godfather to Archie, while Murtagh would serve as godfather to Brian. Each would serve as the witness to the other’s baptism.

“Are you ready to help these parents in their duty as parents of the faith?” he asked Cailean.

“I do,” Cailean answered.

“Archie Brian James Fowlis Fraser, the Catholic community welcomes you with great joy. In its name, I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of his cross,” said the Archbishop, and then he crossed himself. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Jamie, Cailean, Murtagh and I all did the same. The Archbishop then handed Archie to Cailean and picked up a bible, flipping to a page and then reading two passages - first, Matthew 28: 18 - 20 : “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

“Amen,” repeated the congregation as well as myself, Jamie, Cailean and Murtagh. The next passage he read was Mark 1: 9 - 11 :

“At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased,” said the Archbishop. “My dear brothers and sisters, let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to look lovingly upon this child who is to be baptised, on his parents and godparents, and on all who are baptised.” He then looked at Cailean. “Do bring the child nearer.” Cailean stepped forward holding Archie in his arms. “By the mystery of your death and resurrection, bathe this child in light, give him the new life of baptism and welcome him into your holy Church.”

“Lord, hear our prayer,” everyone said in unison.

“Through baptism and confirmation, make him your faithful follower and a witness to your gospel,” said the Archbishop.

“Lord, hear our prayer,” everyone repeated again.

“Lead him by a holy life to the joys of God’s kingdom,” said the Archbishop, followed by another incantation by the congregation. “Make the lives of his parents and godparents examples of faith to inspire this child.” Lord, hear our prayer. “Keep his family always in your love.” Lord, hear our prayer. “Renew the grace of our baptism in each one of us.”

“Lord, hear our prayer.” There was a brief pause as the Archbishop began to switch gears to the next part of the baptism.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” said the Archbishop.

“Pray for us,” said the congregation.

“Saint John the Baptist.” Pray for us. “Saint Joseph.” Pray for us. “Saint Peter and Saint Paul.” Pray for us. “Saint Bride, the patron Saint of the mother.” Pray for us. “Saint Andrew, for whom this child shall be named for.” Pray for us. “All holy men and women.”

“Pray for us.” The next thing the Archbishop did was give this whole big long spiel about anointing before baptism with oils and the prayer of exorcism, things that I as a practicing Pagan didn’t quite understand, but I spoke when I was asked to, and gave no indication that though I was baptised of this faith, I did not follow it. Talk about sacrilegious.

“My dear brothers and sisters, we now ask God to give this child new life in abundance through water and the Holy Spirit,” said the Archbishop. I thought that finally, Archie would be baptised and we could get on with Brian’s baptism and get home, as my breasts were already starting to ache as they filled with milk, but then the Archbishop began to speak again. “Father, you give us grace…” I began to tune out.

While the Archbishop spoke again, I took the chance to admire the beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral. In my time, it was destroyed in the Third World War, so to see it in all its glory was something beautiful in its own sense. Every window was made of stained glass, including the grand rose window on the south end. The cathedral was absolutely beautiful, full of gothic medieval architecture. I’d heard stories about Notre Dame de Paris, but never had the chance to see how grand it truly was.

I felt Jamie suddenly elbow me and I glanced up at him, seeing his eyebrow raised, and then I turned my attention back to the Archbishop. “…we ask this through Christ our Lord.”

“Amen,” said the congregation.

“Dear parents and godparents,” said the Archbishop, now speaking to us. “You have come here to present this child for baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit, he is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.” I resisted the urge to roll my eyes - I felt no love from this God, given what I had gone through. “On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his heart.” I’m pretty sure that I’m the one who gave him life, I thought to myself. “If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus.” This was definitely sacrilegious “This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is to be baptised.” The Archbishop then turned to us to address us. “Do you reject Satan?”

“I do,” Jamie, Cailean and I said together. That part was at least true, I did reject Satan, because my faith held no Satan.

“And all his works?” asked the Archbishop.

“I do,” we said again.

“Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?”

“I do.”

“Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin?”

“I do.”

“Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?” Didn’t he ask us this question already? Blessed Bride, the Catholic Church was all about the drama factor, wasn’t it?

“I do,” we three repeated.

“Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?”

“I do,” said Cailean and Jamie, and then Jamie elbowed me. I cleared my throat.

“I do,” I said. I mean, it wasn’t a full lie. It isn’t that I didn’t believe in God, I just did not believe he was the deity who called to me, nor the deity that listened to me.

“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?”

“I do,” we three said. I would believe in his existence at one point in history, as I would believe in his crucifixion. I would believe that perhaps he was not fully dead when taken down from the cross and simply unconscious, then awoke - the medical training in me recalled that ‘reanimation’ could often be attributed to that in the days before more advanced practices like ensuring death before burial.

“Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?”

“I do,” the three of us said. I had the logic to know that there was something creating miracles to the people who have become canonised as saints. Again, it isn’t that I didn’t believe in God’s existence, I just believed that he wasn’t the deity I served. Servants can’t serve all deities, after all. I certainly wouldn’t expect Suzette to serve any of the other wealthy families on our street.

“This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord,” said the Archbishop.

“Amen,” we all said. The Archbishop then motioned for Cailean to come closer to the basin of water, then motioned for us to stand behind him.

“Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, it is your will that Archie Brian James Fowlis Fraser should be baptised in the faith of the Church, which we have all professed with you?” he asked us.

“It is,” said Jamie, who still held Brian in his arms. Brian fussed a little, and Jamie was quick to silence him by allowing Brian to suck on his little finger. The Archbishop then dipped his fingers into the water as Cailean bent forward a little, and the Archbishop touched Archie’s forehead with the water, sprinkling a few drops onto his head.

“I baptise thee, Andrew, in the name of the Father,” he said, and then he touched Archie’s chin, “and the Son,” he said, and then he tapped each of Archie’s cheeks with the water, “and of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray.” Everyone bowed their heads as Archie curiously touched the wet spots on his face. “God our Father, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, free this child of the faith from sin, give him a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcome him into your holy people. Anoint him with the chrism of salvation.” He then dipped his fingers into the water again and touched Archie’s head. “Archie Brian James Andrew Fowlis Fraser, son of James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser and Catrina Mary Alaba Brigid Fowlis Fraser. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of His body, sharing everlasting life.”

“Amen,” we all said. I had to ignore the archbishop’s butchering of my very Celtic name - at least he got the Anglican pronunciation of my first name correct, nevermind completely butchering my second and third names. When Jamie mentioned that the Archbishop would need my confirmation name, I’d almost forgotten that I was named for the Christian patron saint of midwives, scholars and the like. Jamie’s baptismal name was Alexander and he had adopted it into his full name - he’d said he was named for Saint Alexander, companion to Saint Epipodius, the patron saint of bachelors, victims of betrayal and victims of torture. The rest of the baptism was more of the Archbishop speaking words and having us all say ‘Amen’, and most of it was the Archbishop addressing Archie and speaking of God.

“By God’s gift,” the Archbishop said after what felt like another hour of prayers, songs, candle lighting and more ceremony, “through water and the Holy Spirit, we are reborn to everlasting life. In His goodness, may He continue to pour out His blessings upon these sons and daughters of His. May He make them always, wherever they may be, faithful members of His holy people. May He send his peace upon all who are gathered here, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He, he, he. Of course God was a man to the Catholic Church.

“Amen,” we all said.

“May Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless you,” said the Archbishop, speaking to Archie, who giggled at him.

“Amen,” we all said.

“You may return the child to his mother,” said the Archbishop. Thank the Lord, I thought to myself as Cailean handed Archie back to me. As I settled Archie back into my arms, I looked up to see the Archbishop taking Brian from Jamie’s arms.

“What name do you give this child?” the Archbishop asked him.

“Brian William Cailean Fowlis Fraser,” said Jamie. Goddamn it, I thought to myself. We had to sit through another of these?

Brian’s baptism was almost exactly the same as Archie’s, except the readings were slightly different. The Archbishop still read Matthew 28: 18 - 20 , but in addition to that, he also read Mark 10: 13 - 16: “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Brian was baptised as Brian William Cailean Nicholas Fowlis Fraser, named for Saint Nichols, the patron saint of sick children. We did not choose that for him.


After the baptism, and several baptisms after that, Jamie and I were gathering up our sons and preparing to leave when we were suddenly stopped by a couple, who were dressed quite ostentatiously, meaning they were of the upper class. “Bonjour, Madame Fraser!” said the high-pitched voice of a young woman. “It is such a great pleasure to finally meet you!”

“Oh, hello,” I said to her. “I dinnae believe I ken yer name…”

“Oh, silly me! You have never seen me!” said the young woman, who was fair-haired and quite plain-looking, but very cheerful. She must have been around seventeen or eighteen years of age, but definitely younger than me. “I am Marie Louise Henriette Jean de La Tour d’Auvergne, but you can call me Louise!”

“Oh! Of course!” I exclaimed. “Yes indeed, I have heard much aboot ye! Or rather, I have heard aboot ye through my husband.”

“And I much the same!” she said cheerfully, then she grasped the arm of her husband, who was also considerably younger than myself. “This is my husband, Jules de Rohan.”

“Prince of Guéméné, madame ,” said Jules, who took my offered hand and bent over it to kiss it. “I must say, you are quite a lovely woman. Your husband is very lucky.”

“I like te think I’m the lucky one,” I said playfully, glancing at Jamie.

“The baptism was magnifique! You have such beautiful sons! But with such a handsome father, it is no surprise,” said Louise, looking down at Archie in my arms. “Archie, is it? Is it short for the English ‘Archibald’?”

“Oh, no. It is simply the Anglican version of my grandfather’s name, the Gaelic Eairdsidh , which is pronounced the same,” I said. “It was also my father’s name.”

Magnifique! In France, we say ‘ Archambault ’! And the other, his name is…” she asked, trailing off as she tried to recall my son’s name.

“Brian,” Jamie chimed in. “He is named for my father, Brian Fraser.”

“A good French name,” said Jules.

“The Fraser clan does originate in France,” Jamie told him proudly, as he always sounded when he spoke of his clan. “We would verra much wish te have ye both fer dinner, perhaps later in the week, when an evening works best for ye both.”

“How about jeudi ? We have nothing for jeudi !” Louise exclaimed excitedly to her husband. Thursday, she meant.

“Thursday would be a fine day fer us if it will be fer you,” Jamie said to Jules, who nodded.

“Perhaps it shall be. We shall see you Thursday, then,” said Jules. “I look forward to our meeting on Tuesday.”

“As do I, my good brother insists the wines that my cousin will be sending from Italy are the best in the land,” Jamie told him.

“Catrina, perhaps you will come to my home for tea someday! We are only three houses down from you!” Louise told me.

“Catrìona, and I would be glad to,” I said with a smile.

“Cat-tree-uh-na… You can teach me to pronounce your lovely Scottish name properly!” Louise told me cheerfully, genuinely trying to pronounce my name. The Gaelic language certainly was a difficult language to master, but it was very distantly related to Latin-based language. After all, it is said that the Gaels once came from the coast of France. We bid the de Rohans goodbye, and just as we were about to leave the cathedral, a throat cleared behind us, and we turned to find a rather stout-looking man with an expensive-looking ensemble topped with a curled white powdered wig tied back in a queue.

“Ah, Your Highness, how wonderful to see you!” Cailean said, bowing over the hand of this stout man and kissing his offered hand.

“Cailean, my good friend,” said the man in an Italian accent.

“I am glad ye could come te the christening of my nephews,” Cailean told him, and then he turned to us. “Your Highness, this is my good brother, James Fraser, and his wife and my sister, Catrìona Fowlis Fraser. Jamie, Catrìona, this is His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”

Do mhòrachd! ” Jamie said with surprise, and then he, too, bent over the offered hand of the Prince and kissed his hand. “A pleasure te meet ye, Your Highness.”

“Cailean tells me you are a loyal supporter to my father’s cause,” said the prince.

“Indeed, I am,” said Jamie. “My wife and I, as well as our newborn sons, have been grievanced and displaced by the English and have become loyal supporters.”

“Excellent,” said the prince. “Indeed, not for the displacement of your sons. Mark me, their grievances will be avenged.” Charles then turned his attention to me, eyeing me cautiously. “What a lovely bride you have, James. She is, what my father would call, a beautiful Scottish dame. What is the name of that fierce warrior woman?”

Scàthach ,” I said. Scàthach was a mythical woman in ancient Scottish lore who was a warrior that trained the Irish hero, Cú Chulainn, who was a mythological demigod who is said to have been an incarnation of the Celtic god, Lugh.

“No, no… Ah, yes. Scota is the woman I am thinking of! An elegant queen, not a warrior!” Charles exclaimed.

“Scota,” I repeated with a bit of a tone of disbelief, and Jamie glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. Scota was a creation of the Middle Ages who was said to be the daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh named Cingris who married a Babylonian that travelled to Scotland after the collapse of the Tower of Babel. It is said that in travelling to Scotland, she brought with her the Stone of Scone or Destiny, which was the ancient stone used for the coronations of early medieval Scottish monarchs. The Stone of Destiny was stolen by King Edward I in 1296 and sat beneath the coronation throne after the Treaty of Union in 1707. It was returned to Scotland in 1996, only to be stolen again by King Edward IX in 2100 after the failed first rebellion. Scota is said to be the ancestor of the Gaels who came from Irish invaders who called themselves the Scotti (which was just a Latin form of the name ‘Gael’), but truly was a creation by a medieval lawyer by the name of Baldred Bisset to legitimise a Scottish claim to the throne (and prevent an English claim) after the death of Alexander III in 1286. Alexander III’s death led to a power vacuum in Scotland after the death of his heir, Margaret, Maid of Norway, in 1290 on her journey to Scotland. That led to thirteen claimants to the throne, including John Balliol and Robert Bruce, which led to King Edward I putting Balliol on the throne, the Scots rebelling, William Wallace fighting for independence (this was what we called the First Scottish War for Independence) and so on. In my time, we didn’t believe in Scota, but that could be because I was raised after the rebellion was put down and the books could have been rewritten to dispute this claim.

“Yes, Scota!” said Charles. “You are like Queen Scota.”

“How verra flattering,” I said. “Te be called a queen by a prince.”

“Catrìona even has the Gaelic word for Scotland in her name. Alba, ” Jamie chimed in, clearly sensing that I wasn’t thrilled about the comparison.

“How very charming,” said Charles. He then took my hand and bowed over it, kissing my fingers respectfully. “I look forward to more meetings with you in the future, Madame.

“And I you, do mhòrachd,” I said, curtsying to him as best as I could with Archie in one arm and my other hand being held by the prince.

“What does this word mean?” asked the prince, turning to Jamie and Cailean. “Dough vor-ahk?”

“It is the Gaelic word for ‘Your Highness’,” said Jamie.

“Ah, yes! The primitive language of my father’s subjects,” said the prince, and I had to steel my face from appearing offended at this Italian idiot calling my native language ‘primitive’. “I should very much look forward to hearing more of it in future meetings. Cailean has been meeting with me at Maison Elise . An establishment for… gentlemen.” He side-eyed me. “I do beg your forgiveness, madame. James, loyal supporter of my father’s cause, if you will join me there tomorrow night, I shall be glad to have your company. I know that I arranged for a meeting on Saturday, but mark me, I do wish to hear your opinion on the current affairs of my father’s land as soon as possible.”

“I would be glad to,” Jamie told him.

“Excellent,” said the prince. “I must go. I shall see you soon. Good day to you all, my friends, madame. ” Jamie and Cailean each kissed his hand, and then he bid us farewell.

“‘Primitive language’, aye?” I asked once he had disappeared.

“Try not te be too offended. The man doesnae ken anything of Scottish culture,” Cailean told me, and then he switched to Gaelic so we could not be understood. “His grandsire was banished from his land and his son raised in the Italian court. Ye ken history, the Bonnie Prince couldnae set foot on the land he is owed.”

“The land he’s owed?” I asked my brother, also in Gaelic. “If ye ask me, he’s owed nothin’. A man like that cannae ever learn what the hardships of our people are.”

“But we agreed te support him, so we can stop the rebellion. Do ye no’ remember that?” Jamie asked me, raising an eyebrow, and I let out a huff.

“I’m just glad it’s you dealing with him and no’ me. He’d lose his tongue the next time he insulted the people he is tryin’ te rule,” I replied firmly. “Can we just go home now? I’m burstin’ and the lads need te eat.”

“Not just them,” said Cailean. “I need te eat, too!”

“Then we’ll go home,” Jamie said, scanning behind him for Murtagh, who disappeared at some point.

“Dinnae fash, he’ll find his way home. He’ll sniff out our fancy French perfumes,” I told him, and Jamie chuckled.

“Aye, that he will,” he said, and the three of us, with our newly christened infants in tow, left the cathedral to climb into our carriage and ride on the bumpy cobblestone roads to the ostentatious palace we called a home. “If it helps, Catrìona, I think yer like Sgàthach.”

“Do ye?” I asked him.

“Aye, I do,” he told me. “ Mo bhean laochaire.” My warrior woman.




Chapter Text

20 January, 1744

Streets of Paris, France

I climbed down from the carriage and made my way up the stone staircase towards the shops. Everywhere around me were people dressed in all sorts of social classes, mostly middle class or servants doing their shopping, but a few upper class - like myself, evidently - were around as well. There were also a lot of lower class people stricken with poverty lining the streets and the staircase, some with children who were skinny with starvation, others that barely looked alive. It was maddening to think that in about fifty years’ time, the lower classes would revolt against the upper classes and the streets would fill with the blood of thousands.

I searched the signs of the shops for a Master Raymond’s apothecary, which Cailean had mentioned to me the other day, and came across it blending in with the shops. It would have been easy to miss, if you didn’t look directly for it. I made my way towards it and found myself in the midst of an avid conversation in French between a stout, frog-like man and-

Madame, ” said the Comte Saint Germain with a malicious look in his eye. He had been in conversation with this other man and had just turned and spotted me, his already frustrated brow knitting even more in anger.

Monsieur, ” I said back to him, returning his dagger-like gaze with my own.

“You are acquainted?” asked the stout man in French.

“Madame and I have met only once,” said the Comte, also in French, with a firm tone in his voice.

“I see,” said the other man. Without even saying goodbye, the Comte pushed past me and made his way down the street, my own eyes following him. “ Bonjour, Madame. May I be of assistance?” I heard the stout man say again, reminding me of where I was.

“Yes, indeed,” I said. “I am looking to purchase some herbs.”

“Then you have come to the right place, Madonna. Do come inside,” said the stout man, offering me his arm. He was much shorter than me, I being easily a foot taller than this man, and led me inside when I accepted it. “I am Master Raymond, owner of this fine shop.”

“It is a lovely shop,” I said upon entering. “We do not have such fine apothecaries in Scotland.”

“Scotland? I should have never guessed!” said Master Raymond in French, and then he switched over to English. “I shall make it easier for you, then! What is it that you seek today?”

“How verra kind of ye,” I said, also in English. “The basics fer certain. Fennel, verbena, lavender if ye’ve got it, a bit of licorice…”

“This is France, Madonna , we have lavender growing like weeds in our gardens,” said Master Raymond with amusement.

“Lavender seems to work wonders for my sons. One of them has a bit of trouble sleeping,” I said. “As does my husband. I was also searching fer a bit of Nepeta cataria as well, if ye have it.”

“There are not many herbs that I do not have, Madonna . If you name it, I carry it,” he said. “How old are your sons?”

“They will be a month old tomorrow,” I answered.

“Then congratulations are in order! As for your husband, is the problem the result of excessive eating, drinking, or perhaps a nervous disposition?”

“Nightmares, mostly,” I answered, thinking back to the night before when I awoke to Jamie thrashing in his sleep.

“I see,” said Master Raymond, thinking for a moment. “Ah, yes. Delphine! S’il vous plaît…” He disappeared for a moment and I took this time to scan some of the herbs and concoctions that Master Raymond had. I picked up a rather interesting bottle labelled ‘Crocodile Blood’ and popped it open, giving it a sniff. I crinkled my nose at the rather awful scent and recapped it.

“Have you an interest in the crocodile’s blood?” asked Master Raymond. “They say that the blood of a crocodile holds the key to sickness.”

“Does it?” I asked. “It doesnae just smell of blood. It smells of mustard and thyme in walnut oil as well. What an interesting combination.”

“Indeed it is. That nose of yours is not purely decorative, Madonna. It is a popular purchase for the upper class women for their families,” said Master Raymond, coming around to the other side of the counter, where the crocodile’s blood sat.

“If it’s so popular, ye must have many crocodiles in supply,” I said. “Unless it isnae crocodile’s blood…”

“So much cynicism in one so young,” said Master Raymond. “As a matter of fact, it is pig’s blood. Pig’s blood is much more readily available in the streets of Paris than crocodile’s blood. Fortunately, the ladies of the court are far more trusting and foolish than you, Madonna.

“I think ye’ll find that not many of the ladies of the French court ken the things that I do,” I told him. He smiled at me in an understanding manner, then seemed to recall something and pulled a small bottle out of his coat pocket.

“I have here Valeriana officinalis , combined with a touch of Humulus lupulus . Slip a bit of this into your husband’s evening tea and he should…” Master Raymond mimed falling asleep and snoring, and I couldn’t help but giggle.

“Hops and garden valerian, aye? Fer soothin’ the mind and promoting sleep,” I said as I accepted the bottle.

“Indeed, Madonna ! You have a fine knowledge of herbs. Are you a professional of some kind?” Master Raymond asked me with fascination.

“I suppose that would depend on what ye deem a ‘professional’. I’m a healer. My mother was as well, and she taught me many uses of herbs,” I told him.

“Ah, a healer! A very honourable occupation! Tell me, your name would not happen to be Catrina Fraser, would it?”

“Aye, it is. Well, Catrìona Fraser, it seems my Celtic name is a tongue twister fer the French,” I replied. “Are ye a mind reader as well?”

“Perhaps something of the kind,” said Master Raymond playfully. “Indeed not, but I do have an excellent memory for names and I heard yours recently in connection with a rather… dramatic arrival on our shores.” He paused for a moment and glanced around. “The Comte Saint Germain told me all about your part in the burning of his pox-infested ship, the Patagonia .”

“Ah, yes, that. I’ll be he did tell ye all aboot tha’,” I said somewhat bitterly, and Master Raymond surprised me by chuckling and I raised my brow.

“Good on you for that,” said Master Raymond with amusement.

“Are ye no’ friends with the Comte? I did see ye both speakin’ out the front there,” I said, now confused.

Au contraire, Madonna, we are certainly not friends. ‘Rivals’ would be a much better word to describe my relationship with Le Comte Saint Germain ,” Master Raymond explained.

“Is rival no’ just a pleasant term fer enemies?” I asked him.

“So it is, and since he is your enemy, too, you must, in point of fact, be my friend,” he answered me, and I couldn’t help but smile.

“Thank ye kindly. I really could use a friend,” I said to him. “One who is much more like-minded as me.”

“Then as my new friend, you must accept that mixture as a gift to you and your husband. As instructed, steep it in his tea before bed and he will instead keep you awake with his snoring!” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Thank ye verra much. I certainly shall, and perhaps have him sleep on the settee,” I said. Remembering that I came for other herbs for the lads as well, I quickly pulled out a list I had scribbled down onto a piece of parchment. “Now, fer two newborn lads…”


Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France

CAILEAN POV

Cailean watched as Jamie and Murtagh battled away with two swords, sitting beside Beth, who was holding a sleeping Brian, while Archie sat up on Cailean’s lap watching his father and uncle battle it out with swords. Beside him, he heard Beth scoff, and he turned his head to look at her. “Must men always solve their problems with a sword?” she asked him.

“No’ always. I always find the pen te be mightier than the sword,” Cailean replied, and he smiled when she turned her head to look at him and blushed.

“Well, tha’s verra noble, isnae it?” she asked him shyly.

“I like te think so. It also could be because I am no’ the best with a sword,” said Cailean, chuckling. “I’m better with my dirk and a pistol. Pistols are harder te aim, though, so te be a good shot with a pistol is a verra good skill.”

“You could win many duels with a skill like that,” Beth told him. Cailean was about to open his mouth to speak when the sound of a cry interrupted them and they both turned their heads to look at Jamie and Murtagh. Jamie was kneeling on the ground cradling his hand while Murtagh cackled with amusement.

“Yer a dead man, lad,” Murtagh told his godson, who growled at him as he brushed his red curls out of his eyes. “Yer left hand’s as weak as a kitten.”

“When ye get beaten fer bein’ cack-handed, ye lose the strength in it,” Jamie told him. He looked down at his still injured right hand, which was bundled up in a leather brace, and let out a sigh. “There’s no strength in stiff fingers.”

“What of the new swords?” Cailean called to them. “Do they satisfy ye?”

“It’s much lighter than I’m used te,” Jamie said back to him.

“I much prefer a Scottish blade,” Murtagh replied, and he grasped Jamie’s left hand and helped him to stand. Jamie nodded to him, then approached Cailean, who stood, and took Archie from him, kissing his red hair.

“Dinnae watch yer father be beaten by an auld man, laddie,” Jamie told his son, who reached for Jamie’s fingers.

“Yer a month into recovery fer a broken hand, man. Ye cannae blame yerself,” Cailean told his brother-in-law, who sighed.

“Aye, I ken. Yer sister did an excellent job, on my hand,” Jamie said, stretching out the injured hand to take a look at it.

“She can do better if ye’d let her take the stitches out,” Cailean told him, and Jamie sighed.

“She told ye, did she?” he asked, and Cailean nodded. “I dinnae like te fash over somethin’ so trivial. And she’s got the lads te fash over, she doesnae need me te add onto that.”

“She’s fashin’ because ye willnae let her finish her fash over ye. Once she’s assured yer hand has healed, she’ll leave ye be. Just let her take a look at it,” Cailean told him, and then he took Jamie’s sword from its scabbard. “Now, give me a shot at this auld coot!”

“Ye think ye can take me on?” Murtagh asked Cailean, getting into position as Cailean approached him.

“Aye, I ken I can!” Cailean replied, also getting into position, and then they fought. Cailean, of course, was not nearly as adept as Murtagh as fighting with a sword, but he still put up a good fight for Murtagh - better than Jamie, at least, but Jamie had an excuse. “All right, all right! Ye win!” Cailean exclaimed, giving up and tossing the sword on the ground.

“As I ought te,” said Murtagh. He then noticed that there was a crowd of people watching them, gawking at the sight. “Have ye never seen two men practicin’ the art of the sword, eh? Clear off!”

“Ye cannae blame them, I hear duelling is outlawed in France,” Cailean told him.

“Aye, it is,” said Jamie. “No doubt they think ye mean te run each other through.”

“Yet another wrong te mark against this misery of a country,” said Murtagh bitterly. “And the air! I’m out of breath after hardly an hour. Too many people, arses and armpits, with the stink reachin’ even indoors.”

“Scotland doesnae exactly smell like a lady’s boudoir either,” Cailean told him. “Ye’ve got cow shite in the highlands, dead fish in the islands and the stink of the English in the lowlands.”

“All animal smells. This city reeks of a chamber pot. Edinburgh doesnae even smell so bad,” Murtagh told him.

“You and I remember Auld Reeky verra differently,” Cailean told him, and he and Jamie chuckled as Murtagh sighed.

“Even so, but I still miss the scents. Don’t you lads?” he asked them.

“Aye, it pains me te admit so, but I even find myself longing for the company of Lard Bucket and Big Head,” Jamie said with amusement.

“By chance, ye dinnae mean Rupert and Angus, do ye?” Cailean asked him, and Jamie laughed.

“Aye, I do,” he said.

“Lard bucket,” said Murtagh with amusement. “Rupert would call it muscle. But wee Angus does sport a curiously large head.”

“I’m sure they miss yer sunny countenance as well,” said Cailean, patting Murtagh on the back. Murtagh couldn’t help but sigh again, the longing for Scotland clearly resting heavily on his shoulders.

“It willnae be forever,” Jamie assured him.

“No, but it’ll seem so,” Murtagh replied. “I thought we came here te prevent a rebellion, but instead we’re… wine merchants?”

“Hey, we are damn good wine merchants, thank ye verra much,” said Cailean in an attempt to be funny.

“Wine is fer drinkin’, not sellin’,” Murtagh replied.

“And how do ye think ye get the wine, ye gabbott?” Cailean asked him. Jamie couldn’t help but chuckle, but his tone resumed its serious manner.

“What would ye have me do instead?” Jamie asked him. “I’ve go’ two lads a wife te think of, ye ken.”

“If ye want te kill a snake, ye cut off its head,” Murtagh told him somewhat ominously.

“Ye mean, kill the prince?” Cailean asked, lowering his voice.

“Aye, I do,” Murtagh replied. “The prince is at the head of this rebellion. Kill him, and ye kill the rebellion.”

“I’m no assassin,” Jamie told him firmly. “And I’ll no’ do somethin’ so foolish at the risk of my wife and sons.”

“Good on ye, man,” Cailean told him. “Although, there are other men in Paris who would do so fer good coin…”

“And then what?” Jamie asked the two of them. “Ye forget he’s his father as well. Do ye propose we do away with James as well? And what of his brother?”

“His brother’s studying religion, he’ll end up in a religious life,” said Cailean, briefly recalling Henry Stuart’s history.

“Ye ken that fer certain, do ye?” Murtagh asked him, and Cailean remembered that Murtagh didn’t know he was from the future.

“So the rumours say. Charles seems te think so,” Cailean replied, saving himself.

Ist , both of ye,” Jamie told them. “Murtagh, is yer longing fer Scotland truly worth the murder of a prince and king? No, fer all we know, the death of his son would make James even more determined te seize the throne, and if ye go fer James, it might make his other son motivated te take the throne.”

“So we kill all three!” Murtagh hissed. “I speak of action and ye give me logic. Where will we get with that?”

“Well, we do have a meeting with the prince tonight,” Cailean chimed in. “Had ye stayed after the christening yesterday, ye would have met him, ye auld coot.”

“And what’ll that do?” Murtagh demanded of him.

“Only way te find out is te go,” Jamie replied.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

After dinner, I had gone to feed the lads and help Beth put them down, and once that was finished, I went into the study to compose a letter to Jenny. Jamie wrote to her frequently, but I wanted to send my own letters to my good sister and sat down to scribble away about how the lads were, what the house was like, the herbs, the clothes, Master Raymond….

“Ah, there ye are,” I heard Jamie’s voice say, and he startled me.

“Jamie!” I exclaimed as a bit of ink splattered from the jolting of the quill.

“Sorry,” he said, closing the distance between us and bending down to kiss my head and take the quill from me. “I’m te meet the prince tonight. I need ye te take this contraption off of my hand.”

“Te do that, I’d need te take the stitches out and examine it,” I told him. “Are ye goin’ te let me?”

“I’ve no choice in the matter, do I?”

“Not of ye want that off yer hand.” He let out a quick huff.

“Fine. Let’s do this quickly, Cailean and I must leave soon,” Jamie said rather abruptly.

“In our room, I’ve got all my things in there,” I said, standing up.

“Why can’t ye just fetch them and bring them back here?” Jamie asked me, mildly irritated.

“Because if I do that, then I’ll have gone te the room, gathered my things and come all the way back and have te set them up again when we could have just walked there the one time and sat down where they’re already set up. If ye’d like te waste more time, though, be my guest,” I told him, and he huffed again.

“All right, fine,” he told me, getting up and stalking out of the room.

“Pissy much?” I asked myself, following him. I sat him down at the small table we had by the fire and loosened the brace, then pulled it off of his hand. I first examined the skin of his hand before I went about cutting the stitches. Once his hand was free of stitches, which took about twenty minutes to get all of them, I bathed his hand in a bowl of warm salted water and then rubbed a salve over the skin. “It’ll likely be a wee bit inflamed fer a bit, and perhaps a bit sore, but otherwise, everything looks good. Ye’ve got good mobility and the tendons are stretching and bending as they should. Do ye feel anything when I do this?” I bent his middle finger and he sucked in his breath.

“It hurts a bit,” he said.

“It might, that joint was completely shattered and would have taken the bulk of the nanomeds te treat. But they did a verra good job, if we can even move that joint. I’ll be honest, I didnae ken if they would be able te heal the joint, but they did,” I told him, stretching the finger out again and squeezing his fingertip. “Can ye feel that?”

“Yes,” he said. I then picked up a sharp metal tool and gently touched the tip of it to his finger.

“How aboot that?”

“Yes. Catrìona, is this done? We cannae be late,” Jamie said to me irritably, and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself.

“Fine, yes, yer all right, just please dinnae try te do anything that might damage yer hand. Ye have te remember, it’s still healing. Please take care of it.”

“I will,” Jamie said. “I’m sorry I snapped at ye.” He sat up to press a kiss to my forehead. “Ye ken how important this is… I dinnae want te upset the prince.”

“Ye’ll do fine. Everything will be all right,” I told him with a smile. He returned it, and then he stood and bent over me to kiss me.

“I’ll be home late, ye dinnae have te wait fer me,” he said to me.

“I willnae be able te help it. I dinnae sleep when yer no’ by my side, and I cannae help but te worry fer ye,” I told him, holding his good hand in my own.

“Dinnae fash, mo nighean ruadh . I’ll be all right,” he said. He then bent to kiss me again, then gave my hand an affectionate squeeze before he was out the door.


Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Prince Charles was busy chatting away with a couple of young girls that worked at the brothel, who were flirting incessantly with him. It was like they were competing for the prince’s affection, but would not win. After the pair of them giggled rather annoyingly for the fifteenth time, Jamie cleared his throat.

“Excuse me, do mhòrachd… Yer Highness…” he began, but Charles laughed loudly at something one of the girls said.

“Yer Highness,” Cailean said a little louder, and Charles finally turned his attention to the two men before him.

“Yer Highness, if ye’ll indulge me fer a moment, I would verra much like te discuss the reason fer our having this meeting here tonight,” Jamie said to him.

“Do you have something more interesting to attend to this evening, James?” asked Charles rather annoyingly.

“What my good brother means te say, Yer Highness, is that early tomorrow morning, we have a meeting with a potential buyer fer a new wine we are te be selling through our business. Ye ken we are wine merchants, if ye’ll recall,” Cailean told him, considering he was already in the prince’s good graces.

“Yes, we have several of those meetings tomorrow,” said Jamie.

“I see,” said Charles, relaxing into his seat. “I was about to suggest that very same thing.” Of course ye were, Jamie thought to himself. They were interrupted yet again by Madame Elise herself climbing up onto a raised platform that she called a stage, raising her arms to draw the attention of the patrons.

“Gentlemen,” she said in French. “May I present… your wives! ” From behind the curtain, three girls dressed rather provocatively as a parody of what proper upper class women would wear entered the stage and began to ‘scold’ the men at the brothel. “Your wives are angry, you are spending so much away from home that she is just so bored! But never fear…” She paused for dramatic effect, then one of the girls wheeled a small table to the spot beside her. On that table was a tall object - or multiple objects - covered by a violet cloth, and Madame Elise grasped that cloth and pulled it off, revealing three phallic-shaped wooden objects of various sizes standing straight up. “With this, your wives will never be bored again, and you will hear no more of this. ” As if on cue, the girls began to ‘scold’ the men again. “Purchase one dildo today!”

“A dildo?” Cailean asked, his eyes wide, but then he snorted into laughter. Clearly, he knew what these ‘dildos’ were. Jamie would have to remember to ask him later. Jamie’s attention was drawn by the prince, who was also laughing with amusement.

“Look at their faces!” he said to Jamie in English. “James, Cailean, my friends, this is why I admire the French. They’re so wonderfully vulgar. They never allow their exquisite manners to interfere with their baser instincts.”

“They do seem te enjoy themselves in verra unique ways,” said Cailean, taking a sip of his wine to mask more laughter.

Very clever, indeed!” said Charles. “Mark me, if I had a wife, I would buy all three for variety! You must consider purchasing one for your wife, James.” Cailean snorted again and laughed, while Jamie’s face turned red as he realised what the objects were for.

“I… I dinnae think she would take kindly te that…” Jamie replied.

“If ye ask me,” said Murtagh, surprising Jamie a little - he was so quiet that Jamie had forgotten he was even there, “the French are a sorry bunch of sodomites that cannae please their women. Jamie has no problems there.”

Murtagh! ” Jamie hissed at him, causing Cailean to snort again. Charles, however, did not seem amused.

“Forgive me, but I do not recall asking for your opinion, nor do I recall inviting you to this evening,” Charles said to him tartly.

“Where he goes, I go,” Murtagh replied, referring to Jamie.

“Hmph,” said Charles, and then he turned his attention back to Jamie. “My good friend, Jared Fraser - and your good brother here, for that matter - claim that you are a man of substance, that you speak your true mind in all matters. Mark me, I hope that it is so. I do not wish to add another sycophant to my acquaintances. I have too many about me already.”

“I can assure ye, I am none of that sort,” Jamie told him.

“Excellent. Tell me, then, about what the current affairs are like in Scotland. Cailean tells me some things, but he is not a Laird as you are, James. Are your clans prepared to hear my call to arms, rise up against that heretical traitor that dares to sit upon my father’s throne?” Charles asked him, and Jamie started his response by taking a breath.

“The clans, ye ask of?” he asked, and Charles nodded.

“Cailean here tells me he has not been among clans in some time, but you have,” he told him.

“Aye, I have,” Jamie replied, and he took a sip of wine to wet his throat. He had to think of the best way possible to throw the prince off of his course to invade Scotland - or at least delay it. “Well, sire… the truth of it is…” This was going to be difficult news to tell. “The clans cannae agree on the colour of the sky, let alone put aside their auld grievances and band together te fight the English.” The prince’s brow raised - his eyebrows had been shaved, likely in some ridiculous Italian court fashion. “No, sire, they arenae ready te heed the call of the pipes, nor likely te be so fer many years.” For a moment, the prince was silent as he stared at Jamie with suspicion.

“I daresay,” he said after a moment, “if that is the truth, it is one I have yet to hear. And damnable defeatist talk is what it sounds like and very peculiar coming from a supposed Jacobite.”

“I assure ye, Yer Highness, that I hate the English as much as any man, as does my wife. Ye ken already that we have been grievanced and displaced by the English, myself and my wife and two bairns, but what ye dinnae ken is that I also carry the scars of two hundred lashes on my back. They remind me everraday of my hatred fer the English, when I feel the awkward way that my shirt falls onto my skin… when I feel my wife’s hands run along them in bed. I wouldnae give ye lies of the current affairs of Scotland. Ye asked fer the truth, and the truth is what I gave ye. Would ye rather I whisper honeyed words of reassurance into yer ear - words that would only lead you, your father, and all of Scotland to disaster?” Jamie told him, carefully watching the prince’s expressions. “God demands that a Catholic king sits on the English throne.”

“My father is that king,” said Charles firmly.

“I wish fer that as well,” Jamie told him.

“I’m glad to hear it,” said Charles.

“But Yer Highness,” Cailean said, jumping into the conversation. “Wishing has proven time and time again te be no match fer the muskets, the bows, the swords and the cannons of the English army.”

“As it did during the Fifteen,” Jamie chimed in.

“Well, I certainly will not repeat the mistakes of Lord Mar,” said Charles firmly and rather childishly. “He hesitated when victory was in his grasp.”

“Aye, above all else, a leader must be decisive,” Cailean told him.

“May I ask, Yer Highness,” said Murtagh suddenly, silencing both Jamie and Cailean, “have ye ever been to Scotland?” At this, Charles sat back in his chair, clearly outdone.

“I regret not having had the pleasure,” he replied somewhat meekly. “Having spent my early years in Italy, where my father was forced to seek sanctuary in his exile.”

“Then ken this,” Murtagh told him, as if he were scolding a child. “Scotland is a beautiful country. Its glens, its lochs, its mountains… all things we dream of when we are away from its borders. We are a people of the land, a simple people with no great love of outsiders.” He glanced at Cailean. “Even those who share our blood and our roots, but live among the islands or the lowlands.”

“Or the highlands, if yer an islander, as I am, or a lowlander,” Cailean told him, and then he turned his attention to the prince. “Aye, we will fight and even have fought each other more often than not. Do ye no’ ken Glencoe? It was the Campbells who attacked the MacDonalds fer no’ pledging allegiance to the English king in time.”

“That is true” Jamie said. “What yer askin’, Yer Highness, is a high cost fer many a Scottish man.”

“Ye ask us te shed our blood fer what? Putting a more sympathetic arse on the throne?” Murtagh chimed in.

“I wouldnae have worded it that way, but aye, that’s the truth of it,” said Cailean. “If you were asked te defend, say… the king of bloody Russia, would ye drop everrathing ye have te do it?”

“Certainly not,” said the prince.

“Then do ye think it cause enough fer a crofter or a cotter, who wasnae yet born of this world or may have been just a weeun when yer grandsire was removed from the throne, te exchange his scythe fer a blade, te leave his home, his crops, his wife and his bairns, and charge into a cannon’s blast?” Jamie asked him. Charles was silent as he digested the words that Jamie, Cailean and Murtagh were telling him, clearly unhappy with what he was being told.

“It seems ye have now heard the word of three loyal Scots, all of whom dinnae care fer the English but ken our land and our brothers,” Murtagh told him, breaking the silence.

“And what of God’s truth?” Charles asked suddenly, still arguing his point like an unhappy child. “For His is the only truth that matters, is it not? I tell you three all, that it is God’s will that I , Charles Stuart, unite the clans. It is God’s will that I be the beacon of light, for I am, by divine right , the outstretched hand of God.”

“We dinnae think that our cause willnae succeed, but we fear - and ken well - that it will no’ move verra far without money,” Cailean began, but Charles cut him off.

“Then money it shall have!” he said. He seemed to pause in thought for a moment, and then an idea crossed his features. “And to get it, we must win the support of the French Minister of Finance… a man by the name of Joseph Duvernay. As I am in this country unofficially, I cannot be received at Court.” Charles suddenly turned his determined, greedy, childish gaze to Jamie. “But you , my Lord Broch Too-rock… You can go in my place.”

Me ?” Jamie asked. “But sire…”

“I see that you have the heart of a true patriot, willing to risk my wrath in order to safeguard your countrymen, James, but I can think of no better man to help me in this time of need,” Charles told him.

“But we jus’ said-” Murtagh began, but Charles cut him off again.

“Go to the Court of Louis. Be my advocate for rebellion, for your Prince, for the rightful King, and for the God that sits in judgement of us all,” Charles said rather loudly, giving Jamie no chance to say no.

“Aye,” he said finally. “I will.”

Excellent. I knew you would come through for me, James,” said Charles proudly. “Now, I am in need of a woman, or perhaps two…”


Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

“I’m proud of ye, mo ghràidh, ” I told Jamie once he’d recounted the story of the evening to me. It was quite late when he returned, but I was still awake, and immediately got to work boiling him water for tea. “Ye spoke yer mind and ye still won a place at the Prince’s side. But I willnae refrain from callin’ him a daft blockhead.”

“Aye, blockhead indeed, and a dangerous one at tha’,” Jamie replied as he pulled off his breeks, his cotton shirt falling free to his knees. “He’ll get us all killed, if we dinnae stop him. I wouldnae trust the daft clotheid with Lallybroch’s vegetable patch, let alone all of Scotland!”

“Well, it was just one meeting,” I said as I pulled the kettle from the fire and poured it into two cups, one with a lavender and rosemary tea for myself and one with the mixture of the valerian and hops plant that Master Raymond had given me earlier. “Charles isnae ready te sail to Scotland anytime soon.” I stirred the teas, then picked them both up on their saucers and brought Jamie’s to him, which he took. “Ye’ll have plenty of time te open his ears and his eyes te sense.” Jamie made a noise as he took a small sip of his still hot tea.

“It’ll all be fer naught, I’m afraid. The man willnae listen to me nor anyone, only God, who doesnae seem te have the sense te stop him from doing something so foolish,” Jamie told me, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“And now ye see why I serve the Pagan gods and goddesses,” I said. “More deities, less of a power vacuum. But at least Charles has the sense te ken that wars cost money, and without funds, Charles is as helpless as a kitling. We’ll just have te hope that the Minister of Finance kens a bad investment when he sees one.”

“Aye, indeed,” said Jamie, sipping his tea again. “What is this? I dinnae ken if ye’ve made this blend fer me before.”

“Something te help ye sleep,” I told him. “Hopefully dreamlessly.”

“Not laudanum?” Jamie asked, slightly alarmed.

“No, something much more simple,” I replied. “Valerian and hops. It’ll soothe yer mind and hopefully keep any night terrors at bay.” I reached up to stroke a lock of his hair as he sipped his tea again, and he let out a sigh.

“How are the lads?” he asked suddenly.

“All right,” I replied, slightly taken off guard by this change in the conversation.

“And Brian? Is he well?”

“As well as he has been,” I answered. “His heart rate seems a little slow fer an infant.”

“Is that bad?”

“It can be.”

“Is there anything te be done?” I let out a sigh and shrugged.

“In this time, I dinnae ken. When I trained te be a field medic and a doctor, I didnae study bairns. The knowledge wouldnae be useful fer me on the battlefield.”

“What about that medicine ye gave me? Fer my hand? Can that no’ cure him?”

“The nanomeds? They cannae help Brian, I’m afraid. They’re meant te repair injuries, not… not somethin’ that was formed broken.”

“So there’s nothin’ we can do,” Jamie said, saying rather than asking. I didn’t answer that, as I didn’t want to admit that that was likely the truth.

“Come to bed, Jamie. It’s late, and we both have a busy day ahead of us,” I said. We both finished our tea, and then we silently climbed into bed, neither of us reaching for the other.




Chapter Text

24 January, 1744

Dearest Jenny, 

I hope you are well. I meant to compose this sooner, but you would not believe how busy we are here in Paris. Jamie is always meeting with potential customers for wine, and I’m always being invited to some social gathering or another - or tending to the lads. But you know how that is. I must say, being a mother is everything you told me it was and more. The two lads are perfect in every way, and they look just like Jamie. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome. I hope that someday, you shall meet them. Whether or not we will return to Scotland will always be up in the air, but of course, you, Ian and the bairns will always be welcome here.  

I wanted to thank you personally for the gift of the apostle spoons - they are most lovely, and Jamie is most glad to have his wooden snake from Willie again. Jamie says that the spoons are an heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. I can envision Archie someday using the spoon with his confirmation namesake to stir his tea. I only wish a better name was chosen for Brian - the Archbishop of Paris chose it for him without even asking us as they did for Archie. I suppose it is because they believed Brian was in need of a different sort of blessing. He is very sickly, but he is holding on. I’ve been giving him a mixture of herbs to help him - rosemary for blood circulation, as I often find his lips and fingernails have gone a bit blue; hawthorn to also help with his heart. Marshmallow leaf to help soothe his lungs in hopes of making breathing easier for him, and the smoke from a pipe of thorn apple to open his airways. All of these things seem to be helping him short term, but only that. 

I must wrap up this letter. I know that it’s terribly short, but Jamie has a letter going out and if I do not include this, I will not be able to send it until next week. I hope to see you soon, Jenny. 

Your beloved sister, 

Catrìona Fraser 


28 January, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

“Just a moment, Cailean,” I heard Jamie say to my brother, and then I heard his footsteps in the hall just outside the door before the door opened. I was sitting at the vanity brushing out my hair, something I didn’t like Suzette to do, and Jamie crossed the room to bend down and kiss my cheek. “We’ll be leaving shortly, and it could be yet another late night.” At this, I let out a huff.

“Does Charles no’ have anything better te do than keep ye from yer home and yer family?” I asked him.

“I fear that the prince has run out of patience with yer husband,” Jamie informed me. “Last night, he demanded I finally arrange that meeting he wanted with Minister Duverney, and he wants it subito . That’s Italian fer ‘right away’.”

“Oh, is it?” I asked. “Does the prince ken that it’s only been a week and things like arranging a meeting with the bloody Minister of Finance of France take time?”

“Ye ken royalty, mo ghràidh , they are used te things coming to them right away. I’ve informed Charles that I can only do what is in my immediate power. I may be a nobleman, but the Minister of Finance does not see just anyone on a whim. I’ve told the prince this, but he does not seem te care. He insists I make an appearance at Versailles.”

“Easier said than done,” I replied, running the brush through my hair.

“Louise is in the Court. Perhaps ye could convince her to invite us at tea today,” he told me, sitting down on the stool behind me and wrapping his arms around me. “I wish I had a moment with ye… but I must away.” Oh, did he now? It had been about a month now since he last touched me, and needless to say, I was getting a little frustrated. I was doing my best to be understanding, but I missed my husband and I missed his body. I missed the feeling of him inside me and the sound of his moans as I pushed him to the edge and back. He tightened his grip and hugged me tightly, then kissed my cheek and stood up again.

“Jamie,” I said, turning around to look at him and taking his hand. “I love you.” A soft smile grew on his lips.

“I love ye, too,” he said, and then he bent down to kiss me. “I shall see ye tonight. I have a government inspector coming to inspect the warehouse, I have more meetings with customers and potential customers, and then more blethering with that loon of a prince. I suppose stopping the rebellion is worth losing a bit of sleep.”

“Ye’ve lost a bit more than sleep, Jamie,” I told him, still holding his hand. I glanced down at it, running my fingers over the still healing scars.

“I’ll be all right,” he told me with a smile on his face. He kissed my forehead, and then bent to kiss my lips again. “Give Louise my best.” I nodded as he stood up straight, then he gave my hand one more affectionate squeeze and then he was out the door. Not long after, Beth poked her mousy brown head into the room after knocking on the door.

“Mistress, are ye sure ye want te bring the lads? They’re sleepin’ fine now,” she said to me, and I let out a sigh.

“Louise insists that she wants to see them, and I’d like you there with me, so they’ll have te come, too,” I said. “I’m sure she’ll have a place fer them te sleep.”

“If ye insist, Mistress,” said Beth, and then she curtsied and was on her way.


Louise’s House, Paris, France

“Oh, quels beaux bébés! You are lucky indeed to have such beautiful children!” Louise exclaimed as she admired Archie, who was lying on the settee beside his brother. Louise was dressed in a very ornate and elaborate rococo robe, her fair hair pulled back into a neat bun. She stood once she was finished and suddenly called out. “Mary! Petite chose timide , do come here at once! You must see Madame Fraser’s beautiful children!” From the doorway on the opposite side of the room emerged a very young-looking, short girl with mousy brown hair hair and her brow knitted in permanent fright. “Catrina, this is my dear friend, Mary. Her uncle is a man who does business with my husband.”

“A-a pleasure, Mistress,” said the young girl in an English accent.

“Mary, if you will fetch some fruit for Colette, I would be most grateful!” Louise said to her, turning on her heel and sitting down on a chaise lounge. “And do change into that robe I had left on your bed. Nothing under it! Aller! ” Mary curtsied to us and rushed out of the room. “Such annoying girl. I do regret my pledge to her uncle to chaperone her around Paris. Such a bother!”

“She seems kind,” said Beth, who was standing beside a large cage. Inside of the cage was a small brown monkey, who was reaching for Beth to give her a finger.

“It is a shame she has to be caged up,” Louise said with a dreamy sigh, looking at the cage with the monkey inside of it. “Colette is a cute little rascal, but she has a tendency to bite.” When she heard that, Beth quickly withdrew her finger and stepped away from the cage, causing Louise to laugh. “The bite of a man is desirable, but the bite of a monkey? Not so much.” Louise then picked up a small bell and gave it a ring, and a servant girl entered the room. “Marie, do bring Mademoiselle Beth and les bébés to the nursery. They will be much more comfortable there.”

Oui, Madame,” said the dark-haired girl, giving Louise a curtsy. “Come, mademoiselle.

“Here, let me help,” I said, picking up Brian while Beth picked up Archie and then setting Brian in her other arm. She gave me a quick handless curtsy and then followed Marie out.

“Tell me, Catrina, do you wish to have your hair waxed?” Louise asked me when we were alone.

“I beg yer pardon?” I asked, having only half heard her.

“Waxed! The hairs on your legs! Hairless legs and a hairless mount do make the men go mad with lust!” Louise told me. “Come, I have extra robe. You can use my room to change! Fleurette! Viens tout de suite!” Before I knew it, I had been changed into an elaborate emerald green robe made of silk, completely bare beneath, and I sat awaiting my turn to be rid of hair while watching Louise grunt and squeal, then playfully smack, as a man brushed hot wax onto her legs and ripped it off. “Mary! You fearful little child, stop hiding and come at once!” Meek little Mary emerged from behind the door dressed in a mustard-coloured robe, her arms wrapped tightly around her midsection. “Stop clutching yourself as if you were on display at a slave market!” She squealed again as the man pulled another strip of wax from her leg.

“B-but I’m as g-good as naked,” Mary said meekly, and Louise laughed.

“Must I drop my robe and show you what naked means?” she asked the young girl, who’s eyes widened as she rapidly shook her head.

“P-please don’t,” Mary said, her eyes quickly darting to the ground.

“Lift your head, child! Allow me to introduce this lovely Scottish woman, Lady Broch Tuarach, Catrina Fraser,” Louise told her, gesturing to me, and Mary curtsied nervously.

“M-Mary Hawkins, Madam,” she said shyly.

“Mary Hawkins? I feel as if I’ve heard that name somewhere,” I said curiously, and Mary’s eyebrows raised in surprise.

“I… I don’t believe we’ve m-met,” she said to me.

“Perhaps no’, hm… It’ll come te me somehow. What brings ye to Paris, Mary?” I asked the young girl.

“M-My Uncle Silas is here on business,” Mary replied.

“Mary is going to marry the Vicomte Marigny! A widower of means,” said Louise, squealing as another strip of wax was removed from her leg. Mary’s eyes widened even more and her jaw fell open as she looked at Louise with shock.

“I-I’m what?” she demanded of Louise.

“Oops! I have forgotten you did not know,” said Louise, and then she held up a hand to the man with the wax. “ Accorde moi un instant, ” she told him, and then she stood.

“I-I cannot marry a Frenchman!” Mary exclaimed.

“Oh, do hush! You will be wealthy beyond means! And why a girl so soon to be so wealthy cannot manage a smile is beyond me! Were I you, and I once was, I would be thrilled! ” Louise told her.

“The Vicomte Marigny?” I asked, trying to recall some of the faces of French society I had met in my short time here in Paris. “I may have seen him. The name, I believe, is familiar. I think he’s a customer of my husband. Is he the older gentleman with all the…”

“Warts? Oui ! But what are warts when you have so much wealth?” Louise asked, and then she sat back down on the chaise lounge, waving to the man with the wax to continue.

“And Mr. Silas Hawkins has arranged the marriage?” I asked, and Louise replied in an affirmative squeak.

“A most fortunate union, in spite of the difference in age,” said Louise. Mary had gone silent, and Louise giggled girlishly. “You will be grateful soon, when you see what wealth you will acquire!” I didn’t know what to say to Mary to make the situation better. My marriage had been arranged, but my husband at least was my age, and very handsome. He wasn’t wealthy, but that didn’t matter, and we’d already begun our relationship by sharing a few kisses here and there. Mary’s situation was much different from mine, and she was still so young. “Tell me, Catrina, how are you enjoying Paris? I hear it is nothing like Scotland!”

“Indeed no’,” I answered. “I grew up on the islands of Scotland, so bein’ in Paris so far from the sea is so… different. The smells are different, as is the pace.”

“Yes, indeed! I have been to la mer, the air is so delightfully salty! I do love the sea. You must miss it so,” she replied, letting out another squeal as the hair on her legs were ripped out by yet another strip of wax.

“Aye, I do. It’s so simple compared te Paris… I remember hearing aboot Versailles and wonderin’ what such riches looked like, as I’m certain it’s nothin’ like what I ken,” I said, trying to find a way to slip in Versailles.

Oui, Versailles is magnifique! Have you been to see it yet?” Louise asked me. This was my chance to score an invitation.

“I’ve no’ had the pleasure. My husband and I were hoping te make our debut in Court, if we could. We will be here fer some time, and we ken that Jamie’s cousin, who owns the wine business, is a member of Court,” I said.

“Ah, Monsieur Fraser is indeed. You must have your introduction! You will accompany me to Versailles, then! Le Roi Louis does love to have a ball on St. Valentine’s Day. You will accompany Mary and me,” said Louise. She squealed again with another wax strip and playfully smacked the man who was doing the wax.

“That would be verra wonderful! Thank ye kindly, Louise. Perhaps I could bring my husband as well?” I asked her.

“If you must, though you would have more fun without him,” said Louise, her eyebrows raised in a teasing manner. I’d almost forgotten how casual sex was here in France, and it wasn’t uncommon for married men and women to have affairs - I recalled suddenly that Louise was in the midst of an affair with Charles. “I shall make you an appointment with Madame Tabanou, she will make you a dress fit for a queen!”

“I think I should get dressed,” said Mary suddenly, standing to leave, and Louise stopped her with a loud noise.

“You will do no such thing!” she hissed at Mary. “Your legs are hairier than Colette’s, and no Frenchman will suffer to bed a monkey!”

“Y-you say such h-horrible things,” Mary said meekly, and she sat back down.

“Smile! You have made a new friend, and you have learned that you are to be one of the wealthiest women in Paris! Don’t worry, you will likely be a widow soon!” said Louise, and she squealed again as the last strip of wax came off of her leg.

C’est fini, ” said the man, and Louise let out a dramatic sigh of relief.

Je remercie le Seigneur! ” she exclaimed, and then she opened up her robe and spread her legs wide, revealing herself to both Mary and I. Mary’s eyes widened in shock, while my eyebrows raised slightly - I was no stranger to female genitalia, having practiced midwifery with my mother when I was young, and delivered a few bairns in my time in the eighteenth century. “But such incredulous faces! Has no one told you? In Paris, a hairless mount is de rigueur , and the men find it absolutely irresistible. ” The man began to spread the wax on the hairs on her mons pubis and she let out a relaxed sigh. “It’s so warm and so comforting when being put on, but so painful when it is pulled off. Such is life!” The man ripped off the strip of wax, and she let out a very loud scream.


Later that evening, as I waited for Jamie to return, I relaxed in my room with a warm wet cloth resting over my own pubic area - I had a rather thick bush, and it was so painful coming off, but the warmth of the wet cloth that I had dipped in hot saltwater was helping, and I let out a relaxed sigh. Suddenly, I heard voices echoing off the walls and I quickly removed the cloth and put it in the bowl and then dove into bed, climbing under the covers just as Jamie entered the room. I stretched and turned to look at him, smiling at him. “Sorry to wake ye, lass,” he said to me.

“Dinnae fash, I hardly ever sleep when yer no’ with me,” I told him, watching him as he undressed. “How was your day?”

“Busy, te say the least. Charles is dissatisfied with how slow things are going fer him. Please tell me ye managed to get us an invite to Versailles,” Jamie said as he pulled off his breeks, leaving him in just his shirt.

“That I did. There will be a ball on St. Valentine’s Day, and we will be accompanying Louise to Versailles and be introduced at Court,” I told him as he climbed onto the bed.

“Mmm, good,” he said to me, hovering over me and kissing my lips, and then he climbed under the covers. “I missed ye today. I hated leavin’ ye this morning.”

“Well, yer here now,” I said, taking his hand in mine. I kissed his knuckles, then brought his hand down beneath the blanket to rest it on my thigh. Taking the hint, he smiled and began to slide his hand upward, his fingers brushing against me. I let out a sigh, and he paused, his eyes wide.

“Catrìona, what have ye done to yerself?” he asked, surprise laced in his voice. “Yer honeypot… is bare. ” I couldn’t help but laugh. Honeypot? What a word for the female genitalia!

“I’m aware of that,” I said through giggles. “I was there when it happened, and I’ll tell ye now, I’ll certainly never forget it.” I raised one hand to cup his cheek and brought his face nearer to mine to kiss him, then brought my hand to his and dragged it down my legs. “I also did these.”

“How verra strange, te feel a woman’s legs be as bare as a newborn babe’s,” he said. “Aye, tha’s bad enough, but te rid yerself of such a lovely forest…”

“I thought ye might be intrigued. It’s different, and Louise said that a bare mount makes a man go mad with lust,” I told him.

“Different, indeed,” he said, running his hand over my legs, then met my eyes with curiosity laced in them. “What… what must it look like?”

“Why don’t ye have a look and see fer yerself,” I said to him. Clearly curious, he pulled the blanket down and lifted my shift, his eyes wide with newfound discovery as he examined my hairless appearance.

“Aye… It’s more complicated than it looks thatched over,” he said with amusement, and then he shifted so that his head was near my hips and bent his head to kiss my thigh, his fingers dancing over the newly smooth skin. “Verra smooth…”

“Do ye like it?” I asked him, my arousal thick in my voice.

“Yer a verra daring woman, mo nighean, ” he replied, pressing his lips to my thigh again and giving my skin small kisses as he worked his way up towards my source of heat. “I suppose that makes me a verra lucky man…” He lowered his lips to surround my point of pleasure and I arched my back, letting out a soft moan of pleasure as he worked his magic. He hadn’t kissed me there in months, and to feel his lips there again… and his tongue , oh God…

He broke the connection and crawled back up to me, pressing his lips to mine and allowing me to taste myself on them. He then sat over me, one of his hands moving south to grip his member in his hand to help himself harden up… but without success. He let out a frustrated grunt and tried again, and eventually, I just rested my hand on his to stop him.

“It’s all right,” I told him, although I couldn’t completely hide the hurt I felt at him going soft at the sight of me. He clearly saw this and his cheeks flushed with embarrassment, so I sat up and wrapped my arms around him, pressing my lips to his neck. “ Tha e ceart gu leòr ,” I whispered to him, repeating that it was all right. “Let’s just go to sleep. It has been a long day fer us both.” Jamie didn’t answer me, clearly ashamed, and I brought him down onto the bed, my arms wrapped firmly around him. I kissed his brow, but it was of no comfort. He was clearly humiliated, and my pride had been stung.


1 February, 1744

I awoke to snow on the windowsill - a fine way for Mother Earth to wish me a blessed Imbolc. It was chilly in the room and I got up, wrapped a robe firmly around myself and stood to stoke the fire, which had gone low. I stood and sighed, glancing back at the empty bed, and then went to the window to look out at the city. A fine start to my twenty-third year, I thought to myself. Alone, cold, and trapped in a city that felt more like a prison. A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts and a servant girl by the name of Evangeline entered, curtsying to me with a tray in her hands. “ Bonjour, Madame, ” she told me, her blonde capped head still bowed. She set down the tray of food on a table and stepped back. “There is a note from Monsieur Fraser.

Merci , Evangeline,” I told her. She curtsied again and left, closing the door behind her. I sat down at the table and picked up the folded note, lifting the flap to find a note scrawled in Jamie’s handwriting:

 

My love, 

I wanted to wish you a happy birthday in person, but I was called away, and I did not wish to wake you. You are so beautiful and peaceful when you sleep. It would not have felt right. I promise you that I will wish you a happy birthday properly when I return this evening. 

Your loving husband, 

Jamie 

 

I smiled at the kindness of the note. Jamie had been struggling so much with showing me affection since the incident with Randall, so to hear that he had plans for the evening warmed my heart. I spent the whole day floating on air, only to learn that Jamie would be late in coming home that night. Once I received that news, I buried myself in the nursery with the lads and spent my day with them, eventually falling asleep with Brian nuzzled against my chest on the settee. When I awoke, it was dawn, and I set Brian back in his cot and returned to my room, finding Jamie dressing for the day.

“Catrìona!” he said. “I’m sorry, I didnae want te disturb ye.”

“I wish ye had,” I said to him rather unhappily. “I’d have rathered that if it meant bein’ with ye.”

“I ken, lass. I’m verra sorry,” he said. “I must go, but perhaps we can try again tonight?”

“Hmph. Maybe,” I said, crossing my arms across my chest. He came to me from across the room and pressed his lips to my brow.

“Dinnae fash. I promise I’ll make it up to ye,” he said with a smile, and then he was gone again.

That was how we spent most of the time between my twenty-third birthday and preparing for Versailles. Besides the few appointments with Louise’s dress designer, Madame Tabanou, and tea with Louise and her friends a few times, everything for me just became so… domestic. I supposed that wasn’t a bad thing, considering the last eight years of my life had been nothing but chaos, but I wasn’t used to it. In addition to that, I was caring for two bairns who were six weeks old, one of which was clearly unwell and I couldn’t do anything for him except give him herbs… It was becoming stressful and frustrating, and Jamie wasn’t there to help me or to just be there.

Every night was the same, every day was the same. He was out with the prince, making friends and experiencing a life, while I was stuck at home being invited to parlours and teas being asked to participate in senseless gossip about Madame LaCroix’s string of lovers or rumours of Madame Garnier participating in the dark arts. None of the gossip was useful, and I envied Jamie for his ability to find purpose. Yes, I had a purpose as a mother to my sons, and I loved them very dearly, but the majority of the time, all they needed me for was feeding - Beth took care of the rest.

I couldn’t help but feel that I was all alone, invisible to the crowd that surrounded me.




Chapter Text

14 February, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

The dress that Madame Tabanou designed for me, with my help, arrived in a wooden crate that morning. We had breakfast, chatted in the parlour over tea with the lads in our laps, and then I left to change into my new dress, with the help of Suzette. When it was on after two hours, I admired my reflection in the mirror.

The dress was a rich royal blue, meant to really draw attention to my red hair, with silver accents. The front of the dress dipped down deep in a ‘V’ shape, the rounded edges of my breasts peeking out from underneath the cloth of the bodice. There were no patterns on the dress; it was a solid field of royal blue. I had two intentions with this dress: one was to draw attention to myself in hopes of getting whoever else may help Charles with his cause to make introductions, and the other was to draw Jamie’s attention to me. He still had not touched me since the day I’d had my pubic hairs waxed and I thought that if I dressed in a way that would make him want me, perhaps he would take me to bed.

As I descended the stairs, I saw Cailean and Jamie, both dressed in a fancy French rococo coat over their kilts deep in conversation. I heard footsteps from the hall and Murtagh, dressed as formal as a Scotsman could with his scraggly beard, appeared, and Cailean let out a snort. “Wow, I dinnae think I’ve ever seen ye look so civilised,” he said to Murtagh.

“Shut yer gab, ye dolt,” Murtagh told him.

“Ye ken, ye’ll probably be the only one at Court with a beard,” Jamie told his godfather.

“Ye expect me te shave fer a bunch of French fops?” Murtagh demanded.

“Well, if the intention is te draw attention to ourselves, we’re doing a damn good job of it,” Cailean said.

“Aye, tha’ we are,” said Jamie. “Ye could have at least washed yer knees, ye swine! Ye look like ye’ve been kneelin’ in mud!”

“I did!” Murtagh exclaimed, and Cailean snorted, then glanced in my direction, and his eyes widened.

“Holy…” he muttered, drawing Jamie and Murtagh’s attention to me. I smiled at the three of them, who were gaping at me like goldfish.

“I see we’re all ready te go,” I said to them.

“I- Yes, we… we are,” said Cailean, his cheeks red, and he glanced away from me. Jamie then climbed the stairs towards me, his eyes wide and scanning me up and down. Hungrily?

“Are ye… mad , woman?” he asked me, taking me off guard. I raised my eyebrow at him as he looked at my dress. “I can see everra inch of ye, right down te yer third rib.”

“No ye can’t,” I told him. “And besides, easy fer you te say when ye already have seen everra inch of me.” His cheeks flushed a little pink as he continued to examine my appearance, and then he lowered his voice.

“Christ, I can see right down te yer navel,” he told me, his gaze slightly scandalised. “Surely, ye dinnae mean te go out in public like this.”

“I most certainly do,” I told him rather incredulously. “I’ll have ye ken, I helped design this dress. Ye said ye wanted us te stick out. Am I no’?”

“I didnae mean like tha’ ,” he told me, eyeing how my breasts were peeking out from the crevice of the dress. “Christ, mo nighean… ” He lowered his voice even more and leaned into me. “First yer honeypot and now this…”

“Take the hint,” I told him equally quietly, then strode past him as I continued down the stairs. “Best be on our way,” I said in my normal tone. “We dinnae want te be late. We’re te ride with Louise.”

“Ye could at least cover up a bit,” Jamie said after me, his footsteps following me down the stairs, and I reached into the pocket of my panniers and pulled out a medium-sized fan that matched my dress, holding it above my head for him to see.

“Already thought of it,” I told him, not turning to look at him.

“Yer goin’ te need a bigger fan,” he said to me, and then the four of us were out the door.


Palace of Versailles, Paris, France

Louise was linked to my arm tightly like a link in a chain, giggling girlishly and waving her fan at various men and women. “ Bonjour, mes amies! Ta robe est magnifique, Elise! ” she was saying to a woman, who said something back to her that I couldn’t fully hear. “That is the most hideous dress I have ever seen,” she whispered to me once we’d passed, and then she giggled girlishly again. Louise was dressed in a pale turquoise dress with a pale pink floral rose pattern - it very much suited her girlish demeanor. “I have been in Court for such long time now! I am intimate with all the noble families, their genealogies, their allegiances… So if there is anyone you wish to meet…” Louise narrowed her eyes at me playfully, knowing full well that Jamie was close by and could see every look on her face.

“Er… I’ve heard Monsieur Duverney is an interesting gentleman. I wish te make his acquaintance,” I told her, glancing at Jamie, who was watching us closely.

“Yes, a man of rather gross sensibilities,” she said. “But fear not! If he is here, then I shall find him.” She glanced around for a moment, then drew my attention. “Do you see those golden curtains there?” I looked across the room to see a series of golden curtains against the far wall that were taller than necessary. In fact, this whole palace was taller than bloody necessary. It was built to display wealth and stocked with as much gold as you could imagine - and it reeked of an overwhelming scent of urine and shit. No wonder the French rebelled.

“Aye, I do. What are they?” I asked, wondering why she was telling me about them.

“Alcoves,” she told me. “When you meet Monsieur Duverney, it shall be a good place to meet… in private. ” She raised her eyebrows at me, and my eyes widened when I took her meaning. She let out a rather loud laugh. “Oh, mon amie , I tease you! You British are so tight! You must loosen up like the French!”

“Well, when in Rome,” I muttered, more to myself, and she scoffed.

“In Rome, they do not know how to celebrate,” Louise told me. “I shall go find your Monsieur Duverney. Shall I direct him to the alcove?” Her eyebrows were raised again.

“Ah, no… Wherever I am, tell him te look fer me,” I said.

“If you insist,” she said to me, and then she was gone. I watched as she disappeared into the crowd, and then was slightly startled by a firm hand on my arm and a voice whispering firmly into my ear.

“If I find ye anywhere near those alcoves, Eileanach, I’ll tan yer hide,” I heard Jamie threaten me, and I couldn’t help but scoff.

“Remember the last time ye said that to me?” I said to him. “Make true on that threat and ye’ll prove ye’ve learned nothing.”

“I didnae mean it that way,” he said to me. “I’m sorry. But do stay away from those alcoves. Nothing good can come from them.”

“Must I stay away even if yer sittin’ inside one?” I asked him. His cheeks flushed a little, and then he let go of my arm, clearing his throat uncomfortably.

Mon sauvage! C’est toi!” exclaimed a woman excitedly, and then she suddenly threw her arms around Jamie, shoving me aside. Jamie looked at me over her shoulder and must have noticed the shocked and incredulous look on my face. Don’t go in the alcove but hug lasses who call him ‘my savage’, hm? I watched as she kissed his cheeks and pulled back from the embrace to look at him, and the somewhat surprised look on his face faded into a smile.

“Annalise!” he said excitedly, recognising the lass.

“Annalise?” I asked, making it obvious that I was demanding to know who this lass was.

“I was so thrilled when I heard you had come to Paris, mon sauvage! ” this ‘Annalise’ said to him in French, and Jamie cleared his throat, catching the firm look on my face that demanded an explanation.

“Er… Catrìona, this is Annalise de Marillac,” Jamie said in French. “Annalise, this is my wife, Catrìona Fraser, and her brother, Cailean Fowlis.”

“Your wife! Merveilleux! I did hear you had come with a wife,” said Annalise, looking more at Jamie than at me, and then she turned her attention to me. “Charmed, I’m sure,” she said to me in English. “Let me congratulate you on having won such a strong, passionate man for a husband.”

“Passionate?” I asked her, cocking an eyebrow.

“Yes, indeed,” she said to me.

“Aye, I am quite fortunate te have won such a passionate man, aye?” I said, side-eyeing Jamie carefully. He clearly seemed uncomfortable with this interaction.

“Tell me, did he fight many duels to win your affection?” Annalise asked me, surprising me a little.

“Fight any duels ?” I asked her. “Is that common among Frenchmen?”

Tha seo miadhar, ” said Cailean, calling the situation awkward.

“As you know, duels are banned here in Paris, but the men still find places to do it,” Annalise explained to me.

“Hm,” I replied. “Actually, he won my heart without havin’ te draw his sword. At least, not on another man. Instead, it was pointed at me when we met.”

“How shocking!” said Annalise, her hand on her chest.

“That is… no’ the full way of it,” Jamie tried to butt in, but Annalise continued the conversation.

“When I knew him, he had quite the appetite for the blade,” she said. “Did you not, mon sauvage?

“Is he a savage because he’s a highlander?” I asked, not liking the term at all and having been called so dozens of times by the English both in my own time and in this time.

“Catrìona,” Jamie said to me, a little shocked at my attitude.

“Not at all!” said Annalise. “Only because of his duelling for my affection!”

“His duellin’ fer yer affection,” I repeated.

“It was one duel,” said Jamie quickly, interrupting again. “One small, verra insignificant duel. As I recall, I merely scratched my opponent.”

“Hmm,” I said, not even bothering to look at him.

“Ye ken, the ironic thing, actually… it’s quite funny, Annalise ended up marryin’ the lucky lad,” Jamie said again.

“How romantic,” I said sarcastically.

“He’s dead,” she replied rather nonchalantly and somewhat firmly. “Smallpox.”

“Sorry te hear,” I replied back to her. She smiled as a polite woman ought to, then she placed her hand on Jamie’s arm.

“Do you mind if I borrow your husband for a few minutes?” she said to me, clearly trying to poke the bear.

“I beg yer pardon?” I asked her, my eyebrows raised.

“Be at ease,” she said. “I can only bring him to the door of the King’s bedroom. The dressing of the King is a male-only affair. I shall bring your brother, too.”

“Take Cailean, I shall meet you there in a moment,” Jamie said to her, and Cailean took this as a chance to offer his arm to her.

“Come, ma belle dame ,” he said to her, leading her away.

“What was that aboot?” Jamie asked me when we were alone.

“A lass comes up to ye throwin’ her arms around ye, kissin’ yer cheek, callin’ ye ‘her savage’ and claimin’ ye fought duels fer her affection. Ye expect me te like that?” I asked him rather calmly.

“Ye dinnae have te be rude aboot it,” Jamie told me, clearly upset with me.

“I wasnae rude aboot it. Yer misinterpretin’ my Scottish demeanor,” I told him. “She didnae seem bothered by it.”

“She kens how te act like a proper lady in public,” Jamie replied, and at that, my jaw dropped and I stared at him incredulously, then steeled my expression.

“Watch what ye say to me,” I told him quietly. “Better go off and watch the King have his shit. Ye dinnae want te seem rude to Annalise.” Jamie narrowed his eyes a little at me.

“We arenae finished with this conversation,” he told me.

“Ye need two te have a conversation with, and one of us says she’s done,” I said. He didn’t respond to me verbally, but instead glared at me and then stalked off, following in the wake of Annalise and Cailean. Frustrated, I stalked off, finding myself stopped by a group of women that had been at Louise’s home for tea who were filled with senseless gossip.

“Ah, Madame Fraser! We must have your opinion!” one of the ladies, Estelle d’Artois said to me. “We were discussing words that are used to describe the male member.” My eyebrows raised a little, and the women giggled. “This here is Madame Isabella de Montcada from Spain. What is it you call the male member in Spain?”

Verga ,” said Isabella de Montcada, a small girl with a small face framed by dark hair, and the other ladies giggled.

“Tell us, Madame Fraser, what do English ladies call a male member?” Estelle d’Artois asked me.

“Well, firstly, I’m no’ English, I’m Scottish. I dinnae ken what the English call it. Probably a prick or even a ‘Peter’,” I told them.

“Prick?” said another of the ladies.

“Aye, prick. But in Scotland, we’ll use bigealas, cliospairneach, coileach, or, more simply, bod. I’ve also heard ‘tadger’ or ‘boaby’,” I said to them.

“Tadger?” said another of the ladies.

“Aye, like badger,” I replied, and they all giggled foolishly and annoyingly again.

“Goodness, what words,” said another of the ladies.

“But the English language simply is not as beautiful as French,” said Estelle in French, and then she turned to me. “No offence intended, my dear.”

“None taken. Half of those words werenae English, but Gaelic instead,” I said.

“Ah, yes, the savage language,” said another of the ladies, and I had to bite my lip to keep from lashing out. I’d pissed Jamie off once already tonight, I didn’t need to do it again. Suddenly, Louise joined us with two chalices of wine in her hand, handing one to me.

“There you are, mon amie! I was looking for you! I hear your husband has gone to witness the dressing of the King,” she said to me.

“Aye, he has,” I said, sipping the wine that I very badly needed. I noticed that she was staring at something with intense interest and I looked in the direction that she was looking, spotting Mary Hawkins deep in conversation with a young man. The pair of them looked like blushing teenagers - they were blushing teenagers, basically. Well, the man, maybe not… It was hard to gage how old he was, actually, but there was something oddly… familiar … about him…

“That wicked little minx,” said Louise. “She has found herself a lover even before the exchange of wedding vows. Perhaps I have misjudged her.”

“It’s hardly tha’, I’m sure,” I said. “They could be discussing somethin’ they take interest in.” I sipped from my wine again, then noticed that my hand was shaking enough to almost become noticeable. I cleared my throat. “If ye’ll excuse me, ladies, I, er… need te get some air. Excuses-moi… ” Finally excused, I rushed out of the ballroom as quickly as I could without drawing too much attention to myself. I was overwhelmed and stressed, the small argument with Jamie still haunting the back of my mind. What was going on with me? Was I having a bloody anxiety attack? That didn’t happen to me, not at all. I’m too stubborn to have one, that’s what I’ve always been told. Too stubborn to give up, too stubborn to appear weak, too stubborn to die… I took deep breaths in an attempt to catch my breath and held my hand to my chest as if forcing air into my lungs. Blessed Bride, where was Jamie? I needed him to hold me badly . If he were here, would he even do that? Clearly, he was upset with me. What if he was falling out of love with me because I was being difficult and unreasonable? No, he’d never do that… would he? He seemed to like the attention from Annalise, and she seemed to love the idea of taking both her and Cailean away from me. What if she didn’t take them to the King’s bedchamber? What if she’s with them right now in one of those damn alcoves-

“Lady Broch Two-rock,” I heard a voice behind me say, startling me into jumping as I wheeled around to see whoever it was that had disturbed my (well deserved) solitude. Standing before me was a stout man wearing a long grey curly wig and an elaborately ornate coat. He bowed to me, taking my shaking hand into his. “You are trembling. Fear not! I am here to answer your desires.”

“Eh-excuse me?” I asked him, still trying to process what the hell was happening.

“I am told you are desirous of the company of Monsieur Joseph Duverney,” said the man, lowering his lips to kiss my hand rather wetly. “Since I alone in all of France answer to that name, it is I you have been praying for.”

“Er… It… It is indeed an honour, sir. My husband-” I said, but Duverney interrupted me as he kissed up my forearm.

“There is no need to speak of husbands or wives, ma belle souris, ” said Duverney, and he dove down onto the ground to grasp my foot, pulling it out of its shoe. “Instead, let me worship… at your feet.” He pulled my foot to his lips to kiss it, and I tried to pull it from his grip, my heart racing and the blood pounding in my ears.

“Sir, ye are clearly mistaken! Monsieur! ” I exclaimed, pulling my foot free from his grasp.

“There is no need to play the coquette, mon chéri ,” said Duverney, clearly not taking the hint. “Let us take the brief few moments we have and find ecstasy… in each other’s embrace!” He flung himself at me and buried his lips into my neck to kiss it.

“Sir, stop that right this instant!” I exclaimed, trying to struggle out of his grip, but he must not have heard my words - or didn’t care.

“Come to me, my little mouse. Let me hear you squeak!” said Duverney. I thought I had pushed him off of me, but it turned out it was Jamie pulling him off of me and tossing him over the edge of this bridge - as I realised it was when I finally glanced around me - and a splash quickly followed.

“Jamie!” I exclaimed, running to him and then looking over the side of the bridge down at Duverney. “That… that was the Minister of Finance…”

“Monsieur Duverney?” he asked me, one of his hands firmly and protectively on my lower back.

“Aye, it was,” I said, looking up into his face. I then threw my arms around him and buried my face in his chest. I felt his arms wrap themselves tightly around me and his lips bury themselves in my hair. 

“Are ye all right? Are ye hurt?” he asked me, and I shook my head, not removing my face from his chest. I felt him let out a sigh. “Paris,” he said after a moment, and then he pulled back and placed his finger under my chin to meet my eyes. “I told ye that dress would bring us grief.” It was light-hearted, and after a moment, he gave me a soft smile.

“Actually what ye said was ‘ye could see everra inch of me, right down te my navel’,” I told him.

“And it’s still true. Cover up, will ye? Yer no’ supposed te show the rest of the world what’s mine and mine alone,” he told me, and then he tilted my head to lower his lips onto mine for a quick, chaste kiss. “Now, I suppose we should go and explain ourselves to Monsieur Duverney.”


“Please accept my most fervent apology for my beastly behaviour,” said Duverney by the fire as he attempted to dry his now ratty-looking wig. Jamie and I had helped him out of the manmade river running through Versailles and explained everything, how it was a misunderstanding, how Jamie had thought he was attacking me and how I was nothing but faithful to my husband. 

“Monsieur Duverney, my wife and I are happy te accept yer apology,” Jamie told him.

Merci, mes amies. Most sincerely. What can I say? I have grown too fond of the King’s ever-flowing champagne,” said Duverney, attempting to pat his ruined wig dry.

“I shall be glad te replace tha’,” Jamie told him, but Duverney waved him off.

“Nonsense! It is an easy fix,” he replied. “ Sacrebleu, if my wife had caught me attempting to make love to another woman… My beloved possesses a fiery temper.”

“I ken a thing or two aboot a wife possessin’ a fiery temper,” Jamie told me, glancing at me. In his eyes flashed a hint of amusement, likely at my jealousy earlier in the evening. “Madame Duverney need never ken.”

“God’s blessing on you both,” said Duverney gratefully. “Perhaps there is some way I can be of service? To repay your kindness, of course.”

“Yer friendship is service enough,” I chimed in.

“Then you shall have it, Madame. Tell me, Monsieur Fraser, do you, by chance, enjoy a game of chess?” Duverney asked, directing his question to Jamie.

“I’m told he’s a master,” I said, resting one of my hands on Jamie’s arm.

“Master? No’ at all,” said Jamie bashfully. “I have been kent te brood over a board or two from time to time, though.” The sound of a formal horn suddenly drew our attention and we looked to the grand entrance, where a man in a powdered wig was standing alone by the door.

“Ladies and gentlemen… the King,” he announced, and then he stepped aside as the door opened and in walked King Louis XV, graceful, charming, looking every bit the French rococo monarch that he was. Called Louis the Beloved and known for his modesty, he was a major patron for architecture and music. He would come to have several mistresses, the most famous being Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour, but he was said to be a beloved father to his many children. Behind the king was his entourage, and following directly behind him was a woman dressed in the largest dress in the Court with gold-trimmed frills, lots of lace, and-

“Good God,” I heard the voice of Cailean mutter behind me, and I turned to realise that he had joined Jamie and I. “Her nipples,” he said to us in Gaelic. “Are they…”

“Pierced?” I asked. Sure enough, they were. Dangling from her breasts were golden chains adorned with feathers attached to a small golden bar that travelled right through her nipples and circled them, drawing attention to them. Her breasts were fully exposed and it was evident that this dress was designed to draw attention to her. “And ye told me that I need te cover up,” I said quietly to Jamie.

“Aye, yer one step away from tha’,” Jamie told me playfully.

“That must be the Duchesse de Châteauroux,” Cailean muttered to Jamie and me. “Annalise was telling me aboot her, she’s the King’s mistress.”

“Where’s his wife?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Annalise didnae say, I would guess she would live here, though,” Cailean replied.

“She probably isnae here, if the King’s mistress is here,” Jamie chimed in, still speaking in Gaelic. As the entourage toured the room, groups of people bowed and curtsied to King Louis, who accepted them with civility. The entourage then approached us, and the King stopped to greet the Minister of France in French.

Seigneur Broch Tuarach ,” said the King to Jamie, who bowed to him.

“Your Royal Highness,” said Jamie in French.

“‘Parritch’, was it?” the King asked him.

“Yes, Your Majesty. I can assure you it will give you no trouble,” said Jamie politely, and the king nodded, then he turned his attention to me. “ Ma belle femme, ” he said to me as I curtsied before him. “You must be Lady Broch Tuarach.”

“I am, Your Majesty,” I replied to him.

“A most beautiful and charming woman indeed. Scotland, you are from?” he asked me in English.

“Yes, Your Majesty. I am from the isles of Scotland,” I answered.

“Lady Broch Tuarach is the sister of Monsieur Cailean Fowlis, Your Majesty,” said one member of the king’s entourage.

“A Fowlis of Barra. I have heard much of your family,” said the King. “You are like Venus herself with your beauty.”

“I thank ye, Your Majesty,” I replied politely.

Venez tous, ” said the King to his entourage, and the group then floated gracefully past us, our small group watching as they left.

Tha’s the King of France?” I heard Murtagh say behind us, startling all three of us.

“Christ, man! Where the hell did ye even come from?” Jamie exclaimed with surprise.

“Aye, what depth of hell did ye ascend from this time?” Cailean asked him, earning him a glare from Murtagh.

“Shut yer mouth, ye dolt,” he said to Cailean. He turned his attention back to the direction the king went, but something else caught his eye instead. “Judas.”

“What?” Cailean asked him, and I turned my gaze towards whatever it was that he had seen, and when I caught sight of it as well, I could feel my blood boiling. Murtagh shoved past us and through the crowd, the three of us following him as Murtagh reached for his dirk to draw with the intention of slicing the throat of the Duke of Sandringham, who appeared quite disturbed at Murtagh’s appearance.

“Ye’ll pay fer yer treachery!” Murtagh growled at him, and Jamie quickly intervened by getting between the two men and grasping Murtagh’s wrist.

“Are ye mad? Never draw yer weapon in the presence of the king. It is death!” Jamie hissed at him. First, Murtagh glared at Jamie, then turned his venomous gaze to Sandringham before resheathing his blade.

“Hmph,” said Murtagh. “ Falbh a’ gabhnail do ghnùis airson cac. ” Away and take your face for a shite.

“If that is an apology, and I do hope that it is, then I accept it with all good grace,” said Sandringham, and then he turned his attention to Jamie. “Jamie, dear boy, upon my word, I am delighted to see you looking so healthy. And ah, Mrs. Fraser.” He took notice of me beside Jamie. “What a joyful reunion.”

“Wish I could say the same,” I said venomously.

“Oh, you cut me to the quick! But I suppose I deserve it,” said the Duke. “Let me assure you, I had every intention of delivering that petition of complaint to the Court of Sessions, as I had planned to do, but it was that damned Randall! The brute insisted that I give it to him instead. I had no choice whatsoever.”

“I’ll bet ye didnae. I’ve heard Randall can be verra persuasive to ye,” I told him coldly.

“He claimed he would carry it on his journey but I did not expect him to read it,” said the Duke, and then he turned to Jamie. “Will you ever forgive me?”

“What’s done is done,” Jamie said amicably, and I whipped my head in his direction.

“What’s done is done?” I repeated. “This man cost us our home! Our sons’ home!”

“I did hear of your fortunate blessing. May I offer my congratulations?” the Duke asked us.

“I thank ye kindly,” said Jamie, raising one hand to my lower back and firmly pressing his palm against it.

“Now, what are you both doing here in France?” the Duke asked Jamie.

“Cannae stay in Scotland,” I said rather plainly, and Jamie quickly jumped in to shut me up.

“My cousin, Jared, has employed me,” he said to Sandringham.

“The wine merchant?” Sandringham asked, and Jamie confirmed. “What a serendipitous surprise! Tomorrow, I return to England, but I shall return shortly and when I do, I should be very interested to sample some of that rare Belle Rouge I understand he keeps in stock. I must have a case.”

“How much would ye pay fer it?” Cailean asked, drawing the Duke’s attention.

“I beg your pardon, but I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting,” said Sandringham, glancing between the two of us - evidently, he could tell we were related.

“Cailean Fowlis, your grace. I am Mrs. Fraser’s brother,” he said, and Sandringham raised his eyes.

“Brother,” he said. “Yes, I see the resemblance. So, you truly are a Fowlis of Barra, then.”

“I didnae lie to ye,” I told him. He raised his eyebrows at me, and then turned his attention back to Cailean and Jamie. “I would be willing to pay twenty percent over asking price for a case of Belle Rouge.”

“Sold,” said Cailean happily.

“On credit, no doubt,” Murtagh chimed in bitterly.

“Jamie, why don’t ye take Murtagh te entertain our new friend, Monsieur Duverney?” I asked my husband, my eyes locked on those of Sandringham’s, a firm look on my face.

“Is that such a good idea?” Jamie asked me quietly, raising an eyebrow.

“Go ahead, I’ll meet ye there in a bit,” Cailean told him in English, and then in Gaelic, “I’ll stay with her and make sure she doesnae chop his bollocks off.” Jamie nodded, then sent me one final look before going off with Murtagh in the direction we had left Duverney in.

“Monsieur Duverney?” Sandringham asked once Jamie and Murtagh were gone. “The Minister of Finance. I see you are already cultivating important people in high places. How very in keeping with your character.”

“As giving Jamie’s petition of complaint te Randall was with yers,” I told him venomously.

“Poor Jamie, he must be missing Scotland terribly . I suppose it is no longer a safe haven for either of you,” said the Duke, and Cailean scoffed.

“No thanks te you ,” Cailean told him. Sandringham narrowed his eyes at us both.

“How very alike you both are,” he said.

“That tends te be a common trait between siblings,” Cailean replied.

“Yes,” said the Duke.

“So,” Cailean told him, “here we are - on the same side, no less - all supporters of the Jacobite cause.”

“But of course, yer status as an English aristocrat certainly makes that a precarious belief te carry,” I chimed in.

“Time cannot dull the sharpness of your tongue, Madame Fraser,” said Sandringham firmly. We were interrupted by the sound of someone coughing - a man - and the coughing neared, emerging from the crowd in the form of a young man who looked like-

“Randall?” Cailean muttered, voicing my thoughts aloud. He recognised Randall’s face?

“Your Grace, er… the fireworks are due te begin in a moment,” said the young man who resembled Randall, but was just different enough for the both of us to obviously see that it wasn’t him. Randall was dead, after all, so this man couldn’t be him.

“Thank you, Alex. I shall be there shortly,” said Sandringham, dismissing the young man. Alex Randall. Hadn’t Randall mentioned him before to me? Alex Randall broke out into yet another coughing fit, and Sandringham recoiled from him.

“If you must cough on someone, do it on a servant! I’ll not have the Plague or the Pox on me!” Sandringham exclaimed, and then he turned to meet the rather perplexed faces of the Fowlis siblings. “I do beg your pardon, that was a bit harsh.”

“Just a bit,” I said, and then I looked at Alex Randall. He seemed pink in the face, if not a little pale, and he maybe looked a little tired, but otherwise wasn’t horribly unhealthy. “Are ye all right, sir?” I asked him.

“Oh, your pardon, Madam. Yes, I am all right. It’s chronic, I’m afraid - asthma,” said Alex Randall to me politely. Wow, so different from his asshole of a brother.

“A bit of althea officinalis may help soothe yer throat, and if it’s asthma that plagues ye, then smokin’ some dried datura stramonium will help . Ye may ken it as thorn apple,” I said to him.

“Yes, I have heard of it. I thank you kindly for the suggestions, madam,” said Alex Randall, bowing to me.

“Just a question. Did I see ye speakin’ to Mary Hawkins earlier?” I asked him, and suddenly, his cheeks burned a much brighter shade of pink.

“Oh… yes,” he answered. “A most enchanting girl. You know her?”

“Aye, I do, and that she is indeed,” I replied. Sandringham cleared his throat, directing our attention back to him.

“Forgive me, where are my manners? Mrs. Catherine Fraser and Mr. Cailean Fowlis, may I introduce my new secretary, Alexander Randall,” he said.

“I thought ye might be a Randall,” I said. “I can see it in yer face.”

“Yes, your ears certainly do not deceive you. The name is no coincidence. Alex is the younger brother of Captain Jonathan Randall, Esquire. Mrs. Fraser and your brother are well acquainted, Alex,” Sandringham explained as if the news weren’t obvious already.

“Well, I will have to tell Jonathan that I have met you,” said Alex politely. I raised my eyebrow at that and Cailean and I exchanged a glance; Had we heard him properly? He will have to tell Randall that he has met us? Can you even tell something to a dead man? Unless…

“What do ye mean, ‘tell’?” Cailean asked, his own thoughts evidently echoing mine, something that the pair of us did quite a bit.

“I dinnae understand, I… We’ve been led to believe that Captain Randall was, er… dead, ” I said.

“I certainly hope not. I received a letter from Scotland this morning that he had posted only a fortnight ago,” Alex told us amicably.

“Oh,” I replied, feeling a little lightheaded. The chaos that had invaded my mind before meeting Duverney was fighting to return, and I must have paled, for both Cailean and Alex were quick to check on me.

“Catrìona,” Cailean said to me, his hand around my arm supporting me.

“Can I be of assistance?” Alex asked me.

“I’m all right, it’s just… I suppose the rumour of his demise that my brother and I had heard was false,” I told them. What the hell would that mean for us now? With Randall alive, Jamie would want to seek justice, maybe even go back to Scotland and kill the man himself. He couldn’t know. Jamie knowing that Randall lived would put him, and our family, in danger.

“Jonathan did suffer wounds in the line of duty. They were not insignificant, but luckily, my brother’s constitution is much stronger than my own,” said Alex. “I’m sorry, did your brother refer to you by a different name?”

“It’s the same name, but in a different language. My name is Catrìona. ‘Catherine’ is a name that English gave me because they couldn’t pronounce my name, even though it isnae hard te pronounce,” I said, looking at Sandringham. He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the loud booming of the fireworks outside of Versailles.

“Oh! How lovely, but must they be so thunderous?”  Sandringham exclaimed, seemingly glad to have an excuse to end the conversation. “Alex, go and fetch my carriage…” Sandringham‘s voice trailed off as he and Alex disappeared into the crowd that was rushing to the windows to see the fireworks. Cailean and I stayed behind, neither of us finding interest in the spectacle outside.

“He cannae ken,” Cailean said suddenly, referring to Jamie.

“No,” I replied. No, he cannae.” I glanced in the direction of Jamie, who could be seen laughing along with Duverney about something, and Murtagh looked quite uncomfortable beside him. “How do ye ken what Randall looks like?” I asked my brother suddenly. “Ye didnae see him, did ye?”

“I saw him in passin’ at Wentworth, but I also have seen him before. He kens me as Colin Fowler,” Cailean told me. “I’ve clashed with him a few times.”

“So he has a vendetta against ye, too?” I asked, and he nodded. “Damn all Randalls,” I said quietly, watching as Jamie laughed beautifully. That smiling face wouldn’t last long as soon as he found out that Jack Randall lived.


15 February, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

It was well after midnight when we returned home. Dawn would break in a couple of hours, and it took longer than I would have hoped to get out of that damn dress. I would have gladly collapsed onto the bed and slept in it, I was so tired. Once I was free of it and in my shift, I sat before the mirror brushing out my red curls when the door opened and Jamie entered, carrying a fidgety Archie in his arms.

“This wee laddie was fashin’, and I didnae want him te wake his brother,” Jamie told me, looking down at his fussy son. “Shhh, ist, a leannan … Dinnae fash, a bhalaich.

“Ye look so perfect, carryin’ a bairn,” I said, admiring his reflection in the mirror. “It’s like ye were meant te have one in yer arms.”

“I always wanted te be a father. And now I am, and I find I dinnae want te put him down,” Jamie replied. A few moments of silence passed between Jamie and myself when suddenly, he cleared his throat awkwardly. “We need te discuss what happened at Versailles with Annalise.” At this, I let out a huff.

“Can we discuss it tomorrow? The bags beneath me eyes are so heavy, they’ll line my eyes up with the bottom of my nose,” I told him.

“It’ll just be a moment. Catrìona, ye were rude te her.”

“And yet, ye had no problem with the looks she was giving me,” I said to him.

“She was polite. Ye were clearly jealous.”

“Fer obvious reasons!” I stood up and turned to face him. “She threw herself all over ye and called ye a savage as a term of endearment! She kissed yer cheeks, she was just aboot crawlin’ all over ye, and all ye care aboot is how I reacted to tha’? No, ye liked her attention, didnae ye? Ye like it from her, but ye dinnae like it from me.”

“Are ye mad, woman?” he demanded from me, then he set Archie down on the bed. “She wasnae ‘crawlin’ all over me, and that name comes from the one time - one time - I duelled a man fer her affections!”

“And then she implied tha’ our relationship was less than whatever she could have had with ye had she chosen ye because ye didnae duel fer me heart!”

“Catrìona, yer bein’ ridiculous!”

I’m bein’ ridiculous?” Perhaps I was being a little ridiculous. I froze for a moment, then let out a sigh and sat back down on the stool. “I’m sorry… I didnae mean te be rude, it’s just… Ye dinnae seem te want me anymore, and when she came up to ye, and ye looked so happy te see her…”

“It doesnae mean I dinnae love ye, Catrìona,” Jamie told me. He crossed the room to me and knelt down in front of me, grasping my hands in his. “I ken I’ve been a bit…” He paused. “…and I’m sorry fer that. I do want ye, I swear that I do. Catrìona… After that conversation, I spoke with Cailean, and he said ye’ve been… different… since the lads were born.”

“Different? How?” He shrugged a little.

“He said… ye seem a bit more reckless, as if ye dinnae care what happens to ye, and that yer a lot more reserved than ye used te be. And I’ve noticed that, too.”

“Well, it’s nothin’. Cailean’s wrong aboot me, and so are you.” I pulled my hands from his and stood, moving to the bed and pulling back the covers.

“Ye have been different, though. Mo ghràidh … ye’d tell me if somethin’ was wrong, wouldnae ye?” I paused in my motions, then let out a tired sigh. How could I tell him about what was bothering me when he couldn’t even tell me what was bothering him? I knew it was Randall, for quite obvious reasons, but why that affected his attitude towards me, I couldn’t say, and he wouldn’t, either. It was obvious that there were tensions between us, and whatever he had going on, I couldn’t add what was bothering me on top of that. Now just wasn’t the time; we both needed to focus on putting an end to the uprising before it even began.

“I’m fine, Jamie,” I told him. “I’m tired. Can we go te bed, please?”

“All right,” said Jamie, and he then picked up Archie again and handed him off to a servant who had been hovering in the hall in case we needed help to return him to the nursery, then he climbed into the bed beside me. My back was to him, and I could feel him move toward me, hesitate, and then turn so that his back was facing mine. No, I wasn’t fine, and neither was everything around me. But how could I say that to him?




Chapter Text

24 February, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie brushed off his coat and shared a glance with his brother-in-law after they had descended from the carriage, the pair of them exchanging a knowing glance. “Prepared te hear the same spiel all over again?” Cailean asked him. Jamie didn’t know what a ‘spiel’ was, but if he had to guess, it must have something to do with how Charles was likely to repeat the same speech he’d been giving them every time they met. ‘When is your meeting with the Minister of Finance?’ ‘Have you even met him yet?’ ‘These plans are very important, James. Mark me, I need you to make haste!’ Jamie nodded to Cailean, who patted his good brother on the back before the pair of them entered the establishment.

As expected, Charles was seated at a round table surrounded by women and male friends with a glass of wine in his hand, but when he saw the two men enter and approach his table, he waved the ladies away. “James, Cailean, how wonderful to see you again,” said Charles in a manner that would suggest impatience.

“Good evenin’, Yer Highness,” Jamie said to him as he sat down at the table.

“Well? Have you scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Finance yet?” Charles asked him impertinently.

“As a matter of fact, we have,” Cailean chimed in.

“Excellent! When is it?” Charles demanded of them.

“On Saturday, we shall ride to Versailles and meet with Monsieur Duverney over a game of chess,” Jamie told him, and Charles’s excited expression faded quickly into one of annoyance.

“And why couldn’t this meeting be sooner?” he demanded.

“The Minister of Finance is a verra busy man, Yer Highness,” Cailean told him calmly. “Ye ken, Paris isnae the only city in France. He had te travel to Marseille early last week and will only be returning on Thursday.”

“And why can’t this meeting be on Thursday?” the Prince demanded with frustration.

“Because Marseille is a five days’ journey away, Yer Highness. The man will want te see his family, I’m certain,” Jamie told him. “The man will be less likely te work with me if I rush him.” At this, Charles let out a sigh and slumped back into his seat.

“I see your reasoning, James, and though this mission is of the utmost importance, I would have to agree,” he said with frustration. “Very well. I am glad at least that you have finally arranged a meeting with him, James. For that, we celebrate.” He raised his hands, and the ladies returned, this time crawling over all three of them.

Bonsoir, mademoiselles, ” Cailean told the girls, who giggled girlishly. One of the girls was trying to sit on Jamie’s lap, and he kept pushing her away, but the lass was quite impertinent.

Merci , but I am not interested,” Jamie told her in French, and she pouted. “I am married.”

“So are most of the men here, James,” said Charles, also in French.

“Come, your wife will never know,” said the girl, tugging on Jamie’s arm, and he pulled it free.

“I assure you, she will,” he said somewhat firmly, surprising her. Charles was staring at him, his brow raised curiously - after all, his eyebrows were shaved - and Jamie cleared his throat. “My wife, she… She is La Dame Blanche. ” The girl gasped and darted away from him. “If she finds I’ve been… indulging… Lord knows what she will do to me.”

La Dame Blanche? ” Charles asked. “I knew there was something odd about your wife!”

“What’s La Dame Blanche? ” Cailean whispered to Jamie, who seemed a bit bothered by Jamie calling his sister by that name.

“I’ll tell ye later,” Jamie whispered back. The girls left him alone after this revelation, and that was all that he could ask for. He would just have to pray to the Lord that word never got back to Catrìona - he was certain she would not take kindly to being called a ‘witch’, not after what happened at Cranesmuir.


29 February, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

I awoke to rustling, and when I opened my eyes and sought the source, my gaze landed on Jamie, who was putting on his belt. “Jamie?” I asked, and he stopped to look up at me. “What are ye doin’?”

“Go back to sleep, mo nighean ,” he told me with a smile.

“What are ye doin’?” I asked again.

“Off to the warehouses te inspect a new shipment that’s just arrived and then it'll be a mad dash off te Versailles,” he told me. “If I’m lucky, Duverney will agree te return te Paris with me te meet with the Prince.”

“If yer lucky? I thought that’s what we were avoidin’,” I told him.

“Charles is relentless. He’ll no’ give up until the man tells him te pish off himself,” Jamie replied as he pulled on his coat, and then he bent over the bed to kiss me, but I turned my head for him to miss. “Catrìona…”

“Ye promised ye’d come with me and the lads on a walk, Jamie,” I told him. “Are ye really goin’ back on yer word?”

“Was that today? I’m sorry, mo ghràidh , but ye ken how important this is-”

“And this isn’t?”

“I didnae say that.”

“But ye implied it.”

“There will be plenty of time for other walks, Catrìona.”

“But ye’ve barely spent any time with the lads, Jamie! All I wanted was fer ye to spend more time with yer sons, but yer too busy, aren’t ye?”

“Catrìona-”

“Just go.” I was final with my tone, having stood up to stand by the window with my back turned to him. I heard him let out a sigh.

“I love ye, Catrìona, and the lads,” he said, but I didn’t answer him. He seemed to linger for another few moments, and then his footsteps carried him out the door.


Versailles, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie couldn’t stop thinking about how upset his wife was with him. She didn’t even tell him she loved him before he left and wouldn’t answer him, which meant she was furious. That hurt him quite a bit. Here he was, working hard for her mission to put an end to some rebellion that she claims is coming, and she was upset with him for not being home enough. Did she have any idea how tiring it was to do Charles’s bidding? To deal with the man himself? 

Duverney tipped over his queen, declaring Jamie the winner of the chess game that the pair of them were playing. “The game is yours… again,” said Duverney with amusement. “You play very well.”

“I do my best,” said Jamie, shaking off any thoughts about Catrìona and the inevitable argument that was brewing. “But, if I may return te more pressing matters… When we first met a fortnight ago, ye offered te be of service if I ever needed ye.”

“You know, James, if you desire my help, it would not be a bad idea to lose a game once in a while,” said Duverney with amusement, and Jamie smiled.

“I respect ye too much te allow such a cheap victory,” Jamie answered him.

“Then I give you permission to respect me less,” said Duverney, returning the pieces to the board. Jamie glanced across the room at Cailean, who was scanning over the book titles in the many shelves. Feeling Jamie’s eyes on him, he turned, then nodded subtly and began to make his way to the table. “Now, how can I be of service?”

“Ye ken that there is a claim to the English throne, and no’ of the arse that sits on the throne now,” said Jamie as Cailean approached the table.

“Good game, lads?” Cailean asked, taking a seat at the table.

“Your good brother is very skilled at the game, Mr. Fowlis. I should like to see your skill sometime,” said Duverney, and then he turned back to Jamie. “Yes, yes, we all know about James and how his throne was usurped by the heretic from Hanover. What of it? Does his son wish to make another attempt to reclaim the throne?”

“Indeed he does,” Cailean chimed in.

“But he cannae do it without support,” Jamie told him, and Duverney let out a heavy sigh.

“I should have thought something like this would have been brought to my attention eventually,” he said. “I want to help your cause. I want the throne of England to be ruled by a Catholic, same as every other Catholic in all of the continent, but King Louis does not have the resources, considering the war with Austria and now England has depleted our resources… And he certainly has no desire to fund his cousin’s rebellion, especially not after the failed rebellion that James led some years ago.”

“In ‘15, yes,” said Cailean. “Tha’s why we want ye to tell Charles this yerself.” At this, Duverney’s brow raised.

“You mean to discourage Prince Charles from mounting your rebellion?” he asked in mild shock, and Jamie nodded.

“Aye. Scotland and our people cannae bear another failed rebellion. Our people are already poor and starved, and without the proper resources and finances te win, we dinnae think it wise to invade,” Jamie explained.

“Charles is eager te invade as soon as possible, and while the sentiment can be appreciated, he doesnae ken the true situation in Scotland,” Cailean told him.

“We arenae equipped te handle a rebellion, which is why we need ye te tell the Prince what ye’ve told us,” Jamie finished.

“I see,” said Duverney. “As Minister, I cannot speak officially to the emissary of a monarch not recognised by the King.”

“Of course, but if ye were te meet with Charles unofficially in a place that values discretion above all else, like, say… Maison Elise?” Cailean asked, and the expression of recognition crossed Duverney’s face.

“I see,” Duverney repeated. “I have not been there in months. My wife…”

“She need not know,” Jamie told him. “As my good brother said, discretion above all else.”

“Ye can simply tell her yer out playin’ chess with Jamie,” Cailean told him. “After all, are politics no’ like a giant game of chess?” Duverney nodded, then glanced down at the board in front of him.

“Very well,” said Duverney. “I will agree to meet with Charles, but it cannot be for some time. I’ve only just returned, and I am expected elsewhere.”

“The Prince will be delighted te have a meeting with ye. Just let us ken what day works best fer you,” Jamie told him, and then he rotated the board, switching the colours for the two players. “Another round, mon amie?


Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

I took breakfast in my room, as I was exhausted and frustrated and had no desire to be surrounded by people. As it turned out, I received several invites to dinner parties and salons for the following week, as one of the young maids, Francesca, informed me.

Merci, Francesca. I’ll respond to them later,” I informed her as I took a sip from my tea, my Fowlis tartan wrapped loosely around my shoulders.

“And I have found this, Madame, in the kitchen,” said Francesca, producing a pair of lace gloves that I had worn to the lads’ christening and commonly wore to Mass, of which I was forced to attend by Jamie. “I believe they are yours?” I glanced up at Francesca over my tea and let out a frustrated huff.

“I gave those to Suzette to mend. Where is she?” I asked Francesca.

“I do not know, Madame,” Francesca told me, and with a huff, I stood up, wrapping the tartan more tightly around myself, and crossed to Francesca to grasp the gloves from her.

“I’ll find her myself,” I said, but Francesca stopped me from exiting the room.

“Madame, you cannot leave this room dressed like that!” she said to me, a rather scandalised expression crossing her face.

“I dinnae care, Francesca,” I told her, but she was relentless, so I let out a huff and traded my worn, but personal tartan for a fancy, ornate robe that I didn’t need before exiting the room and searching the house for Suzette. “Suzette!” I called as I made my way into the servants’ quarters. “Suzette!” Suddenly, I heard giggling and moaning coming from behind a door - Suzette’s door, specifically. “Suzette! I thought I asked ye…” I said again with annoyance, pushing open the door and finding myself shocked by what I had seen. I wasn’t shocked by the action itself - I’d heard the moaning and giggling - but what did shock me was who Suzette was… copulating… with.

“Oh!” Suzette squeaked, quickly covering her bare breasts while bloody Murtagh stared at me from the bed, Suzette sitting on his thighs. “Did you need something, Milady?”

“It… it’s no’ important…” I said with a stutter, then quickly rushed out of the room and back to mine to hide. Even Murtagh had a faithful bed companion! How was he managing to get lucky while I was getting left hung to dry by my own husband?

Sometime later, I was attempting to stitch the torn gloves myself. I wasn’t overly skilled at stitching clothes, as it was nothing at all like stitching a wound on a human being. I heard a knock at the door, which startled me a little and sent the needle into the tip of my thumb. “ Magairlean… ” I muttered to myself as I stuck my thumb in my mouth to suck on the wound. “Come in!” The door opened and Murtagh entered, and I let out a huff. “Havin’ a grand time keepin’ Suzette from her duties, are ye?” I said to him bitterly.

“I won’t apologise fer spendin’ time with yer lady’s maid, if ye have a mind te reproach me,” Murtagh told me rather neutrally.

“What ye do with yer own time is yer own concern and I dinnae care what ye stick yer cock in, either, unless yer choice has somethin’ else te be doin’. It’s the middle of the day, Suzette is paid te do her job, ye ken!” I spat at him. “Have ye nothin’ else te be doin’?”

“As a matter of fact, I don’t,” Murtagh spat back at me.

“Well, neither do I!” I shouted, throwing the gloves down onto the settee. “But fer Bride’s sake, must ye take the servant I need most te yer bed? Put her at risk fer pregnancy?”

“Since when did you become such a priggish scold when it comes te frolicking between the sheets?” Murtagh demanded of me. “Or are the rumours true? That there is no frolicking between yer sheets anymore?”

“Ye can mind yer own bloody business and remember who runs this damn house!” I shouted, standing up. My face held firm, and Murtagh’s equally firm face began to soften.

“I’m sorry, lass,” he said after a moment of tense silence. “I shouldna have used that against ye.”

“And how would ye even ken what happens in my bedchamber?” I demanded of him, crossing my arms across my chest.

“Suzette and the other lassies claim they ken what does or doesnae happen in a lady’s bedchamber,” said Murtagh, and my eyes widened. “Ye ken gossip is a large part of a house like this, lass. If yer denyin’ the lad his marital rights-”

“I’m not denying him anything!” I snapped at him. “It’s him who won’t even touch me ! Who won’t even look at me! So dinnae dare blame me!” I turned on my heel and stalked to the window, looking out at the streets of Paris, and let out a sigh. “All this… I dinnae ken if it’s worth it anymore. I feel I’ve lost so much.”

“The lad’s been struggling after what that bastard did to him,” Murtagh told me.

“Ye think I dinnae ken that?” I demanded from him. “I tried te help him, te be understandin’, te be patient… I dinnae ken what te do.”

“Be more patient,” said Murtagh. “He’ll get better. With Randall dead-”

“But ye see, there’s the problem,” I interrupted him, my eyes cast downward to a servant walking down the street. “Randall isnae dead.”

“What?” Murtagh asked suddenly. “What do ye mean he isnae dead? I saw him lyin’ dead with my own eyes! He was bleedin’ on the stone floor of Wentworth Prison.”

“Apparently, he has made a miraculous recovery,” I said without emotion.

“How do ye ken fer sure?” Murtagh asked me.

“At Versailles, when I sent ye and Jamie te go and have wine with Duverney,” I began.

“A drunken frog, at his finest,” Murtagh growled at the mention of Duverney.

“I’m sure,” I said. “Anyway, I was speakin’ te Sandringham when his secretary came. His secretary turned out to be a man named Alex Randall, younger brother to Jack Randall. He claimed that his brother was recovered.”

“Recovered?” Murtagh asked.

“‘Injured in the line of duty’ was how he put it. He didnae specify that his brother had been nearly crushed te death by a herd of coos,” I said.

“Jesus wept,” Murtagh muttered. “Randall really is the Devil’s spawn.” He paused for a moment. “Ye… ye havenae told Jamie, have ye?”

“How could I?” I asked, turning to look at him. “Te ken his attacker is alive? He’s a stubborn fool, when it comes te protectin’ his honour! He’d probably run back to Scotland and get himself arrested or hanged whether he kills Randall or no’.”

“Ye ken the lad verra well,” said Murtagh proudly. “It’s best no’ te tell him.”

“Even if it means lying to him?” I asked. “On the day we were married, we made a vow te each other never te lie te the other.”

“It’s no’ lyin’, it’s witholdin’ information,” Murtagh told me.

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

“Look at it this way. Yer keepin’ this from him te save his life. If it keeps the lad from runnin’ off in a blind fury te meet his maker at the end of a rope, I’ll be keepin’ that secret with ye. Does yer brother ken?”

“Aye,” I answered. “Thank ye, Murtagh… and I’m sorry I shouted at ye fer lyin’ with Suzette. Although I wish ye’d no’ keep her from her duties.”

“Is she needed now?” he asked me.

“I suppose no’. I was goin’ te go fer a walk te clear my head a bit, but I can dress on my own,” I said to him.

“Good. Now, if ye dinnae mind, I have some business with her te finish,” said Murtagh, getting ready to leave the room.

“I suppose ye’ve never thought of birth control, have ye?” I asked him, stopping him.

“Control?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Nevermind, I’ll pick somethin’ up fer Suzette in my travels. I’ve been lookin’ fer an excuse te go to the apothecary again,” I said. Murtagh nodded curiously at me, and then he was gone, leaving me to dress on my own.


Master Raymond’s Apothecary, Paris, France

As I made my way to Raymond’s apothecary shop, I couldn’t stop my mind from buzzing about. I knew that Jamie was drastically affected by Randall’s actions, but a small part of me couldn’t stop thinking that he wouldn’t bed me because he didn’t want me anymore. I knew that wasn’t true, or at least hoped it wasn’t - but he was less affectionate with me than he had been before. He wasn’t using the damage that Randall did to him as an excuse to push me away, was he? Or was his being less affectionate my fault? As I came upon the apothecary, I had to shove those thoughts out of my mind, but they did not linger far. “Ah, Madonna! What a pleasure to see you again!” Raymond said cheerfully when he saw me enter his shop, and I couldn’t help but smile.

“Good afternoon, Master Raymond. Yer lookin’ mighty cheerful today,” I said to him.

“It is because I am seeing the face of a dear friend,” he said to me. “What is it I can do for you today?”

“I’m lookin’ fer somethin’ te prevent a pregnancy from happenin’,” I said to him, taking in the look on his face. “Not fer me, although even if it were, I wouldnae need it.” I couldn’t stop myself from blurting that out.

“I see,” said Master Raymond with mild concern. “Delphine, can you search for mugwort in the back?”

Oui, Monsieur, ” I heard Delphine say, and heard her footsteps disappear.

“Is there anything I can do to help you , Madonna?” Master Raymond asked me. “You appear quite troubled.”

“I suppose I am a bit… It’s just…” I said, and then I let out a sigh. “I feel so alone. My husband is never home, the lads are always crying aboot somethin’… I shouldna even be sayin’ this to ye but I dinnae have anyone else te turn to, but my husband willnae even touch me anymore.” I felt tears stinging my eyes, and before I could stop them, I burst into tears. “It feels like he doesnae want me anymore!”

“Oh, mon amie, I am certain that is not true!” said Master Raymond, handing me a handkerchief to wipe my eyes.

“I miss him, ye ken? He feels so far away from me, even when he’s lying beside me,” I said as I dabbed my eyes with the cloth.

“I can assure you, Madonna, that you are not the cause of what ails him,” said Master Raymond. “Your son, does he still have trouble with his breathing?” I nodded through my tears, finally regaining control of myself. “I think I have something for that. Wait right here, Madonna.” And then he was gone. In his absence, I got myself back under control, occasionally sniffling and needing to wipe my eyes dry. To distract myself, I began to scan the labels on the bottles, reciting to myself what they contained and what they were used for, when I came across one that surprised me a bit.

Aconitum napellus… ” I murmured as I read the label of the bottle.

“Monkshood,” said a voice behind me, startling me a little to the point of nearly dropping the bottle. “You must take care, Madame.”

“I ken this is poison,” I said as I examined the bottle in my hand. “I’m no’ aware of any medicinal uses fer monkshood.”

“Nor am I, Madonna,” said Master Raymond cheekily.

“Yet, ye sell it in yer shop?” I asked curiously.

“I have it in my shop. What I sell in my shop to my customers who, usually in a moment of passion, want to poison their enemies, is frangula purshiana.

“Bitter cascara,” I repeated, and he nodded.

Oui , Madonna. The effect is almost immediate. The stomach will seek to purge itself and… well, you get the idea,” he said to me.

“So it makes the enemy suffer visibly, but it doesnae kill them,” I said.

“Precisely! The poisoner attributes the recovery to the intervention of a priest or some sort of counter-spell. No one dies, and the customer is satisfied,” said Master Raymond proudly.

“So yer a canny businessman and a humanitarian, aye?” I asked.

“Indeed, Madonna! Now, if I may ask, who is the contraception for?” asked Master Raymond, and I noticed he had a small package in his hands.

“My lady’s maid,” I answered him.

“Oh! Usually, it is the other way around,” said Raymond with amusement. “The maid buys a preventative for her lady so the lady can maintain the pretence of fidelity.”

“Well, if things change between my husband and me, I may be back fer meself. Two lads under six months old, I’ll no’ have another fer at least a couple of years. Perhaps I’ll send my lady’s maid,” I said, as if to tease myself, but my face said otherwise.

“You are certainly a most unusual lady, Madonna, but that is a good thing,” said Master Raymond.

“I used te be, tha’s fer sure. I dinnae ken aboot now, though,” I said to him.

“Whatever do you mean, Madame?” asked Master Raymond curiously.

“Nothing too bothersome, I suppose. It’s a worry I never thought I’d have, though. Ever since I’ve come te Paris, my life has gotten more and more conventional. I’ve never lived a conventional life, and I suppose that I’ve…” I paused. People in Paris had it much worse than I did. They were starving, sick, homeless and on the streets, and here I was complaining about being bored. “No, it’s… its nothin’…”

“I do wonder, Madonna, if you have ever considered putting your medical talents to use?” asked Master Raymond, and I raised an eyebrow. “ L’Hôpital des Anges is always looking for help.”

L’Hôpital des Anges? ” I asked.

“A charity hospital that is near the cathedral. Notre Dame. The nuns who run it do their best, but they must rely on medical volunteers. Not all of them are as perceptive as you, or as in need of helping others,” Master Raymond explained to me. I paused in thought for a moment. A charity hospital in need of medical volunteers? That could give me a chance to do something meaningful to help people in need. It would be enough to keep my mind busy while Jamie was away, and I could have Beth bring the lads so I could take care of them, if need be. But would Jamie be okay with that? Who was I kidding? I didn’t need his permission. I didn’t give him permission to hang out at a damn brothel, so I didn’t need his permission to save lives in need of saving.


Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France

Beth pushed a small baby carriage that contained wee Brian, who was bundled up tight to keep from catching ill, while another servant pushed another baby carriage containing Archie, who was squirming around more and didn’t want to be as bundled up as his brother. We strolled along the paths of Jardin du Luxembourg , a beautiful garden outside of a beautiful home built for Marie de Medici, widow of King Henri IV and mother to the young King Louis XIII, in the early seventeenth century. Accompanying us were Mary Hawkins and Louise de Rohan, both of whom were thrilled to get out of the house. Mary seemed to be a bit tense, while Louise was happy to be out in nature. “The gardens are so beautiful even in this time of year,” Louise was saying to me. “ Les bébés even seem to be enjoying the weather.”

“The cooler air is good for Brian’s lungs,” I responded to her. “It helps te open them up a bit so he can breathe better.”

“Good for him, the poor boy,” said Louise, glancing over at Beth, who pushed the carriage that contained Brian. “He’s such a poorly thing. And the doctors say they can do nothing?”

“They would rather put him in the hands of God,” I said, somewhat bitterly.

“I shall propose the King’s physician look at him. Perhaps he will have something different to say,” said Louise. She then looked at Mary, who was clearly frightened about something. Beth had been trying to talk to her, but Mary was unresponsive. “Mary! Smile, won’t you? It is a beautiful day!”

“I can’t marry a Frenchman!” Mary suddenly exclaimed, causing all of us to freeze in our steps.

“Why?” asked Louise after a moment, a teasing expression on her face. “Is there something wrong with Frenchmen?”

“How they…” Mary began, and then she looked at me. “ Your husband must be so gentle… and k-kind… I know he d-does not trouble you in… that way…”

“In what way, Mary?” Beth asked patiently, encouraging her to speak. Beth, who was around Mary’s age, was a very good friend for Mary, always encouraging her to speak her mind and to speak more clearly. “Do ye mean…”

“Wh-what they do in… in b-bed,” said Mary meekly, and Louise cackled loudly, drawing the attention of other promenaders in the garden. “My maid said that a… a F-Frenchman’s th-thing… you know, they… they p-put it right between a lady’s legs!”

“Mary,” said Beth, trying to stop her before she said anything else to make Louise cackle wickedly at her.

“R-right up inside of her!” Mary continued, and Louise faked a shocked expression.

“No!” she said.

“Yes!” Mary exclaimed gullibly, and then she looked at me. Behind her, Beth gave me an apologetic look. “An Englishman, or even a S-Scot… Oh, I didn’t m-mean it that way, but a man like your husband… s-surely he’d never dream of… of f-forcing his wife to endure s-something like that…”

“How do you think Madame Fraser has come to have two beautiful babies, Mary?” Louise asked her sarcastically. “Where do you think babies come from?”

“Ye cannae blame her fer not knowing,” Beth told Louise in defence of Mary. “The English are so sheltered! Especially English ladies in the higher class.”

“Aye, it’s true,” I chimed in, looking at poor Mary’s bright red face. “Mary, a gràidh, I think we need te have a little talk…”

“Men don’t d-do things like that where I come from!” Mary snapped at Louise, who snorted with laughter.

“And where is that? The moon?” Louise asked her with amusement.

“Seaford! In Sussex!” Mary spat back at her. Sussex… Hearing Mary Hawkins say that suddenly jogged a memory I had…

“My great aunt in Sussex sent me this, she said it belonged to my great grandmother,” Tom told me as I sat down at my desk to study medical terms, and he pushed aside my textbook and set down a piece of paper with names scribbled on it in ink. It was old, but on the top was a year - 1945. 

“A family tree?” I asked, having seen the one my father had put together when I was a child. 

“Mhm,” said Tom. “This one goes back quite a few generations. See, here’s me and my asshole of a brother, then my father, Joshua Randall, born in 2069, my grandfather, Benjamin Randall, born in 2037, my great grandfather, Brian Randall, born in 2004, my great great grandfather Gary Randall, born in 1978, my great great great grandfather, John Randall, born in 1953, my great great great great grandfather, Franklin W. Randall, born in 1906 - this was his youngest child…” He went back and back and back until he reached Jonathan Wolverton Randall, born in 1705. “…who married Miss Mary Hawkins in 1746 and had a son, Denys.” 

“Mary Hawkins…” I muttered to myself quietly.

“Yes, ma’am?” said Mary herself, and I glanced up, drawn out of my flashback and finding myself again in the year 1744.

“What?” I asked, not having known I’d even spoken aloud.

“Y-you said my name, ma’am,” said Mary meekly.

“Oh,” I said, suddenly recalling. “Yes. Yes, I… I realised where I kent yer name from, only… only I realise now that it wasn’t you , it was… another Mary Hawkins…”

“There’s another of me?” asked Mary curiously.

“Well, yer name is quite common. Ye ken many Marys, I’m sure.”

“The name is so common indeed! I shall never give my children such common name!” Louise exclaimed. “Are we to stand here all day?” she asked impatiently, clearly wanting to move on from this topic that she deemed uninteresting. Oh, to be in a world of simple things… I thought I’d heard, a long time ago, that Louise de Rohan was beheaded in the French Revolution, or died of an illness shortly before. Louise very much reminded me of the stories of Marie Antoinette, and it made me sad to think of which end might be her fate.

“No, of course not,” I said to her, and as we began to walk, I hung back just a little behind the group. Mary Hawkins… Of course Randall had to be alive, because how else would Tom come to existence? Randall had to live to sire Tom’s direct ancestor, otherwise, Tom wouldn’t exist at all, and if he didn’t exist… would I even be here today?

“Mistress Fraser,” said a male voice, and I turned to find my eyes widening at the sight of bloody Alasdair Fowlis standing there in his Fowlis of Barra kilt, a young man who looked quite a bit like him beside him. “A pleasure te see ye again, Mistress Fraser.

“I thought I left ye behind in Le Havre,” I said, probably somewhat rudely, but I didn’t care.

“Mistress, should I stay behind?” I heard Beth ask me, and I didn’t turn to look at her as I answered her.

“Go on, Beth, it’s all right,” I said. I waited until I heard the wheels of the baby carriage roll away before speaking again. “What do ye want?”

“To learn more aboot yer father,” said Alasdair Fowlis, approaching me. “Mistress Fraser, may I introduce my son, Archie Fowlis?” The young lad behind him stepped forward, fair-haired like his father, and bowed to me.

“Mistress,” he said politely. He couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen, maybe fourteen.

“I named my son after my good friend and cousin, Archie Fowlis, son of Eairdsidh Ruadh Fowlis, Laird of Cìosamul,” said Alasdair Fowlis.

“I ken who the man is,” I said to him, and then I glanced at his son. “A pleasure te meet ye.”

“Ye say yer father was called Archie Fowlis. How old did ye say ye were?” Alasdair asked me.

“I didnae,” I replied.

“Ye look old enough te be his child… Ye ken he disappeared in 1725. He was eighteen years old,” said Alasdair. “Do ye ken where he went, then?”

“I grew up in Barra. My father was killed by the English,” I told him.

“Barra is a small island. We would have kent if a Fowlis family was killed by the English. Especially one so prominent,” said Alasdair suspiciously.

“Barra is bigger than ye think,” I told him. “Why don’t ye go and sniff around someone else and leave me be? I’m not botherin’ ye. I understand yer next in line te inherit the chiefdom of Clan Fowlis? Well, I’m no’ after disputin’ it.” For a moment, Alasdair Fowlis raised his eyebrow in surprise, then quickly steeled his expression.

“But you have a brother,” said Alasdair.

“And he isnae after it either,” I told him.

“Perhaps not now, but when my uncle dies, who’s te say yer brother willnae come and make a claim?” Alasdair asked me.

“Politics is all ye damn men care aboot,” I said.

“I’m suspicious of ye, Catrìona Fowlis Fraser. I’m no’ entirely sure ye are who ye say ye are,” said Alasdair suspiciously. “The dates dinnae add up.”

“Then stop seekin’ me out. If I’m botherin’ ye, it’s because yer makin’ me bother ye. Leave me be, leave my family be, and we willnae bother ye,” I said to him firmly. “If ye’ll excuse me, I’m going to rejoin my family. Maybe next time, try cornerin’ me when my husband is near and see what happens.” We exchanged a firm look, but there was something strange in Alasdair Fowlis’s eye. It seemed almost… familiar. Like he recognised something about me or saw something familiar to him. “Good day te ye, Mr. Fowlis, and you as well, Mr. Fowlis,” I said to the two of them, and then I was on my way, stuck wondering why Alasdair Fowlis was so stuck on me and my brother. I supposed if someone said they were the child of your closest friend who had gone missing, you’d be a little curious, but in my opinion, he was just being rude and obstinate. Well, hopefully, he wouldn’t bother me again, and I’d tell Jamie to be on the lookout for him.




Chapter Text

2 March, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

I woke up alone again and rolled over to find a perfectly made side of the bed beside me. Jamie hadn’t come home yet. He hadn’t come home yesterday, either, likely having stayed over wherever Charles was staying… or seeing a lass at Maison Elise. I got up and wrapped myself in another one of those ostentatious robes, not wanting to hear it from the servants, and went out to find Francesca exiting a guest room down the hall. That was strange, we had no one staying over, and Murtagh and Cailean didn’t have that room. “Francesca, what are you doing?” I asked the maid in French, who startled slightly.

“Oh! Bonjour, Madame! ” she said to me. “I am bringing Monsieur Fraser breakfast.”

“Breakfast? In there?” I asked.

Oui, Madame, ” said Francesca. Without another word, I pushed past her and threw open the door, finding Jamie getting dressed for the day with a tray of food on the table beside him. He startled when I threw open the door and turned to find the source of the disturbance.

“Christ, Catrìona! Ye gave me a fright!” he said rather nonchalantly, given the circumstances.

“What are ye doin’ in here?” I demanded, cutting immediately to the chase, and Jamie hesitated before speaking.

“I didnae want te wake ye,” he said to me.

“Bullshit, that never stopped ye before. What are ye doin’ in here?” I demanded of him.

“Staying in this room, fer now,” Jamie said honestly and a bit firmer. “I hope that is all right with you.”

“No, it isnae all right! I want ye with me! Why do ye want te stay in this room and not ours?” I asked him defensively, now terrified that my worries were coming true.

“Because ye keep pushin’ me away, Catrìona, and I dinnae want te be in yer way!” Jamie told me rather loudly, and I was quite taken aback by that.

“Me? Pushin’ you away? Yer the one pushin’ me away! Jamie, I miss ye! Terribly! I never see ye anymore and when I do, yer here fer a minute and then yer gone! Not te mention, I’ve no’ felt yer touch in well over a month!”

“I dinnae have time te argue with ye right now, Catrìona. I have to go,” Jamie said firmly, turning his back to me.

“Is that all ye have te say aboot this?” I asked him, and he didn’t answer me. I could feel my heart tearing into two as I realised my worst fears were coming true. He didn’t want me anymore. He probably had some mistress somewhere, maybe at Maison Elise or he went to her house. That’s why he was never here anymore. “Fine,” I said quietly. “Do what ye like.” With that said, I turned and I left what had become Jamie’s new room, forcing myself to hold back my tears until I was in the privacy of my own solitary room.


3 March, 1744

L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

After moping about for a day, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to give Jamie the satisfaction of knowing he broke me. I wasn’t going to sit around while he ran about with whoever the hell his mistress was, I was going to make myself useful. So I packed Beth, the lads and Murtagh into the carriage and we were on our way to L’Hôpital des Anges . When we arrived, Murtagh stepped down and glanced up at the building, which was a part of the cathedral itself.

This is what ye harried me out of bed fer this mornin’?” Murtagh asked me with disgust in his voice. There were sick men and women on the front steps, and the stench of illness wafting out from inside.

“Ye dinnae have te come inside. Ye can stay here with the carriage, keep an eye on the lads,” I said to him as I looked up at the hospital. It was a familiar stench, one I had smelled before on the battlefield. Some of the victims here, or so I’ve heard, were wounded that had come from the war with Austria.

“Jamie willnae like this,” Murtagh told me with a warning tone.

“I dinnae care what Jamie does and doesnae like,” I said bitterly, apparently surprising Murtagh a bit. He knew there were some tensions between us, but likely didn’t know how far they stretched. I nodded to him, then glanced back into the carriage at Beth, who was tending to the lads. “I won’t be long, unless I’m needed. Watch the lads fer me, will ye?” Murtagh didn’t say anything as I turned and climbed the steps, entering the building.

I was overcome by the stench of illness, but it wasn’t an unfamiliar scent to me. There were cots everywhere, set up similarly to the field hospital at the Battle of Bloody Bush, where there were hundreds of wounded Scots being tended to. I glanced around in search of one of the nuns to speak to when I felt a light touch on my arm, and I turned to find myself face to face with a young nun.

Bonjour, Madame. Can I be of some assistance?” asked the young nun in French.

“I’m searching for whoever is in charge,” I said, also in French. “I am a healer. I want to offer my services.”

“Then I shall bring you to Mother Hildegard,” said the young nun, and she led me between the cots of the sick, then stopped at an older nun bent over the cot of a young woman who seemed very pale and unwell. “Mother Hildegard.”

“Sister Angelique,” said the older nun, turning to face us, and then she noticed me. “And who is this?”

“Catrìona Fraser, Lady Broch Tuarach,” I answered. “I am a healer. I wish to offer my abilities.”

“A healer?” said Mother Hildegard with a tone of disbelief, glancing up and down at my appearance. “You do not look like a healer.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I replied. “I know a considerable amount of human anatomy, as well as various uses of herbs of all kinds.” She still appeared to doubt my word, so I removed the glove on one of my hands and held it up with the back of my hand facing her, then began to point to various bones in my wrist. “Scaphoid, lunate, trapezium, pisiform, and if you think all I know is the wrist, I can also point out the metacarpal bones, the distal and proximal phalanges…” Mother Hildegard held up a hand for me to stop.

“It is not often we have injuries of the hand. In the case of this young lady here, what ails her does not originate in the bones,” she told me. “Do you think you can identify her ailment?”

“Hmm,” I said, and then I got closer to examine her. She had a dark ring around her already pale neck, and she was very skinny, as if she had lost a lot of weight. I lifted her weakened hand and pinched the skin lightly on the back of her hand, finding it to stick up - normal hydrated skin was more elastic and should have snapped back into place. “What is your name?” I asked the young girl.

“M-Marie,” the young girl muttered weakly.

“Tell me, Marie, do you feel thirsty?” I asked, finding a full bowl of water beside her.

“All the time,” she answered me. “Even when I… I have drank more than my fill.”

“I see,” I said, reaching for her neck and feeling for swollen lymph nodes, finding some swollen glands near her mouth. I then moved down to her feet and lifted the blanket, removing her shoes to reveal her darkening toes. “Can you wiggle your toes for me?” She couldn’t. From my examination alone, I could conclude that this was some form of diabetes. A dark ring around the neck, excessive thirst and loss of circulation in the toes all were signs of diabetes, but the most certain test of all in this century was something that sounded worse than it actually was - tasting the urine. Urine, when it came out of the body, was completely sterile. I doubted there were any pathogens in the girl’s urine, but I still had to be wary. I lifted the pot of urine from the girl’s bedside - it was still warm, meaning it was fresh and likely not that contaminated, if at all. I dipped my finger into the deeply yellow liquid - another sign of dehydration - and touched it gently to my tongue. Sure enough, it was very sweet, which came from the excess sugars in the body that the kidneys couldn’t filter out. “It’s just what I thought,” I said, turning to look back up at Sister Angelique and Mother Hildegard. What was the old name for diabetes again? “Sugar sickness.”

“You are familiar with urinoscopy,” said Mother Hildegard. “Can you tell whether she will recover?”

“I’m afraid she won’t last the month,” I said quietly to Mother Hildegard, not wanting to upset young Marie.

“Hm. That is what Monsieur Parnelle said. Urinoscopy is uncommon for a woman. Perhaps we could use your skills after all,” said Mother Hildegard, and I smiled at her. She continued with her stern expression, but had clearly softened to me. “How are you with wounds?”

“I am from Scotland, Mother Hildegard. I’ve treated several wounds from small battles among highlanders as well as wounds on my own husband,” I said, deliberately leaving out the part about how I’d seen hundreds of wounds on hundreds of wounded soldiers in my own time.

“Excellent. We will need your help with the men coming from Austria. Help Sister Angelique with the young boy with Scrofula, and then go to the wounded soldiers at once. Sister Angelique will direct you,” said Mother Hildegard, and then she looked down at her feet, where I realised suddenly a small dog sat faithfully. “Come, Bouton,” she said to the dog, and then she and the small dog had moved onto the next patient.


Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie was sipping wine at yet another insufferable meeting with Prince Charles. Cailean, this time, had an errand to run involving the wine, so Jamie was left to deal with the bastard on his own. “Tell me, James,” Charles began to him, “has the Minister of Finance given you a day that he can meet with me?”

“I’m afraid no’, Yer Highness,” Jamie told him, setting down the wine glass. “Monsieur Duverney had to travel to Spain, as he is meeting with the Spanish Minister of Finance to discuss the war with Austria.”

“I have heard rumours that my cousin has seen fit to approve the Spanish crown’s request for a sizeable loan,” said Charles suspiciously calmly.

“Yes, many merchants, myself included, have started te consider takin’ their businesses out of the country te avoid the tax increases,” Jamie told him. “Wars can be verra expensive, both in gold and in blood.”

Exactly, James, which is why I would never approach my cousin with empty pockets or promises! So rest assured, as I have already secured the vast majority of funds for our cause!” said Charles gladly, and Jamie felt his stomach drop. Charles did what?  

“You… you have?” Jamie asked him, his eyes wide. This wasn’t part of the plan. Catrìona never mentioned anything about this. Was this a sign that the uprising was inevitable no matter what they did?

“Oh, yes,” said Charles. “Funds nearly sufficient to finance our entire campaign.”

“I see,” Jamie replied, taking a sip of wine to mask his discomfort. “Perhaps I have misunderstood yer position, Yer Highness. Do forgive my error.”

“I have been in secret negotiations with several wealthy and highly influential members of both the British and the Scottish aristocracy. Those who believe that my father is the rightful heir to the throne,” Charles told him. “Mark me, these patriots are willing to fund his return to glory, and have already pledged an amount to the cause nearly sufficient to accomplish that divine purpose.”

“And what of Monsieur Duverney?” Jamie asked him. “What of France?”

“I will speak with Monsieur Duverney in due course,” Charles told him. “Should my cousin support our cause, then I shall offer an alliance between our nations in the aftermath of victory.”

“An alliance between Britain and France? That would be… significant,” Jamie said, taking another sip of wine.

“It would change the world, James,” said Charles. “But only if France chooses to stand with the rightful king.” Suddenly, Charles glanced up over Jamie’s shoulder and smiled. “Ah, here is one of my supporters now!” Jamie glanced up, shocked to find none other than Alasdair Fowlis having entered the establishment and sitting down beside Jamie at the table.

“Good afternoon, Laird Broch Tuarach,” he said to Jamie rather nonchalantly.

“Mr. Fowlis,” said Jamie as politely as he could muster, unable to fully mask the shock on his face.

“My friend, James, is astonished!” said Charles proudly. “I cannot tell you how happy I am to see the look of shock and relief upon your face, James.”

“Those are… the verra words, Yer Highness,” Jamie said to him, settling back into his seat. Charles snapped his fingers at a young boy who was bringing a bottle of wine to a nearby table.

“Fill up three glasses, boy,” he said to the young boy, who obediently refilled Jamie’s and Charles’s glasses and filled a fresh one for Alasdair. “May I propose a toast to the rightful king and to his cause, for which we are the noble servants of.”

Slàinte mhath, ” said Alasdair, raising his glass along with the prince.

Slàinte mhath, ” said Jamie more quietly, also raising his glass, and then the three of them sipped. What was he to do now? With Charles in possession of the funds, this rebellion could start even earlier than Catrìona had predicted. He would have to rush home to her and ask her advice on what to do next, because he certainly didn’t know.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

Jamie came home in a hurry, barely even having time to remove his coat before he began to search the house for his wife. “Catrìona!” he called, but received no answer; she must not have heard him. “Catrìona!” He went up to her bedchamber, but there was no sign of her. He then went to the nursery in search of her, but she was not there, nor were Beth and the lads. Had she gone to Louise’s? He knew that often, when she went to visit with Madame de Rohan, she brought the lads. Suddenly, Francesca passed by the nursery in the hall, so Jamie quickly stopped her before she disappeared. “Francesca! Do you know where my wife has gone?” he asked her in French.

“She has not returned since she left with Monsieur Murtagh this afternoon, Milord,” said Francesca respectfully.

“With Murtagh?” Jamie repeated. “ Merci… ” If Catrìona had taken Murtagh with her, then surely, she wasn’t at Louise’s. Where the hell was she then, and why did she choose now of all times to just disappear without leaving word of where she had gone? Had she forgotten how important this mission they’d put themselves on was? Oh, she’d be hearing from him about this for sure. He had no choice but to wait for her, so he thought it best to try and clear his head a bit by looking over the finances for the wine business, only to find that his anger clouded his mind too much. Where the hell was she?


CATRÌONA POV

It was several hours later when I’d finally returned home, not having intended to stay so long but finding that my assistance was greatly needed to tend to the soldiers from Austria. Some had been badly wounded, while others only scratched or had a broken bone. Some didn’t survive, but many did, thanks to my efforts. My knowledge of battle wounds certainly helped, giving me purpose once more. Magnus, the footman, met me at the door to take mine and Beth’s coats from us. “Monsieur Fraser awaits you in his chamber,” said Magnus to me as he took my hat as well.

“Monsieur Fraser? He’s home?” I asked.

Oui, Madame, ” said Magnus.

“And in his chamber,” I said neutrally once I’d digested that part of his statement.

“Yes, Madame,” Magnus said again.

“Thank ye verra much, Magnus,” I said, and then I turned to Beth. “Take the lads up te the nursery, I’ll be in shortly.”

“Yes, Mistress,” said Beth, and the pair of us went our separate ways. I was still so excited by the day that I quickly brushed off the thought of Jamie in his separate chamber - nothing could ruin my good mood now, and it was improved by the fact that Jamie was actually home. I climbed the stairs, pulling off my gloves and tucking them into my pannier pockets, then came to the door of the bedchamber that Jamie had claimed for himself, taking a deep breath and knocking.

“Come in,” Jamie said from inside. He sounded firm, but to be honest, I was just glad he was home during the day - he hadn’t been home during the day in ages. I thought maybe he thought I was one of the servants, so when I pushed open the door and found him with his back to me hunched over a desk, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Jamie!” I exclaimed, entering the room. “I’m so glad yer home! I had the most wonderful day and I cannae wait te tell ye all aboot it!” I crossed the room to him and wrapped my arms around his neck, bending down to kiss his cheek, but he didn’t budge. “I lanced some boils, changed filthy dressin’s, helped tend te soldiers wounded in the war with Austria and even saw my first case of Scrofula! Ye ken, scrofula doesnae even exist in my time-”

“Where have ye been?” Jamie asked firmly, not turning to look at me. Detecting his firm tone, I let go of him and stood up, my hands on the back of his chair.

“I was at L’Hôpital des Anges ,” I replied. “Do ye ken it? It’s a charity hospital. They badly needed my help, and havin’ been a field medic in my time, my skills were highly useful-”

“And why were ye there?” Jamie asked, still not looking at me.

“They were in need of help. A few days ago, I went te the apothecary te replenish my herbs fer Brian and get somethin’ fer Suzette - ye ken she and Murtagh are shaggin’, aye?”

“Shaggin’?”

“Having sex,” I cleared up. “So I went te get her somethin’ te prevent pregnancy when Master Raymond told me about L’Hôpital. The nuns there rely heavily on volunteers with medical experience. I have medical experience, so I volunteered. The matron there, Mother Hildegard… She’s a true force of nature, tha’ one,” I said with a chuckle. “She was a musical prodigy in her youth, and the goddaughter of King Louis’s great-grandfather. She’ll no’ make it easy fer me. Ye ken women dinnae really do medicine in this time, but I think I gained her trust when I tasted the urine of this lass who was diabetic - er, had sugar sickness. In my time, it’s called diabetes-”

Tasted urine?” Jamie interrupted me.

“It’s one of the best ways te diagnose diabetes in this time without proper testing equipment and such. The urine will be sweet, and it’s from the excess sugars in the blood that the kidneys cannae filter out,” I explained. I saw his hands clench, and I could sense that something was wrong. “Is everrathing all right? What is it, Jamie?”

“Charles has informed me that he’s obtained funding from several significant prominent Englishmen and apparently Scots, too, with which te fund the rebellion, one of which was yer ancestor, Alasdair Fowlis,” he told me, and then he turned to look at me; his face was laced with fury. “And ye’d ken tha’ if ye were here.”

“If I were here? Jamie, I’ve no use here durin’ the day. I’ve finally found somethin’ that I love doin’ and that helps others. I thought ye’d be happy fer me.”

“Did ye now?” He stood from the desk, his posture indicating that an argument was about to ensue. “We have a sick child, Catrìona. Ye said it yerself, bairns are more susceptible te illness, Brian even more so. Ye could catch a filthy disease and pass it onto him. Have ye not thought of that?”

“I have, actually, which is why I dinnae work with patients who have diseases. I worked with those who have injuries,” I told him.

“What about this… diabetes? Is that no’ an illness?”

“Not a contagious one,” I replied. “Diabetes mellitus is developed over time, or ye can be born with the condition, but it’s no’ a pathogen that can be passed from person te person.”

“Why take the chance? How do ye ken any of those people dinnae have illnesses that are contagious?”

“It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt useful, Jamie. I need te feel a sense of accomplishment - of purpose.”

“Purpose? I thought our purpose in this godforsaken city was te stop the rebellion - the rebellion that I dinnae even ken fer sure is true.”

“Ye jus’ said Charles has secured funds fer it. How can ye doubt its existence? Unless yer doubtin’ me?

“I’m no’ doubtin’ ye. I asked ye fer the truth and I trust that what ye gave me was the truth.”

“So then why doubt it?” He was silent for a moment.

“Just tell me how lancing boils and tastin’ urine will help us te save Scotland?”

“It’s more than tha’,” I told him. “What would ye have me do, Jamie? Go te Maison Elise with ye? Speak te Charles, tell him his rebellion will be a bloody failure? Tell him I’m from the future and grew up livin’ with the consequences of his failed rebellion?”

“What I want ,” said Jamie, firmly and loudly, “is that when I come home with a problem, I can turn te my wife for help.” I stared at him rather incredulously for a moment. “Charles has secrets, and he willnae tell them to me, and I dinnae ken what te do aboot it.”

“Jamie, I’m sorry I wasnae here today, but in my defence, yer never here durin’ the day. How could I have expected ye te come home with a problem?”

“Ye could have been here.” I slightly narrowed my eyes at him.

Listen . I ken that this was all my idea. I ken that stoppin’ the rebellion, changin’ the future, all of it, was my idea. And I ken that tha’ all falls on you right now. I cannae help the fact that I was born a woman, nor can I help the fact that this century is bloody rigid as hell and believes a woman should only speak when spoken to. I am doin’ all that I can te help ye wherever I can.”

“So I believed,” Jamie told me firmly. “That’s why I came home lookin’ fer ye, but instead I find that ye’ve gone out indulgin’ yerself in poultices and potions.”

“There’s no indulgin’ involved! I was helping people, Jamie, and savin’ lives! And that’s good! It makes me feel good, it gives my day meanin’-”

“You are a mother. That should be enough te ‘give yer day meaning’. And what aboot me? When do I get te feel good? When do I get te find meanin’ in my day? I spend my days and nights wheedlin’ and flatterin’ a man so I can gain his secrets and undermine his cause.”

“Yer a father, is tha’ not enough te give yer day meaning? Yer fightin’ everraday te give yer sons a better future. I cannae do that like you can because of the restrictions that this bloody fucking society puts on me. If I thought fer a moment that I could swindle Charles meself, I would in a heartbeat, but I cannae, can I? So what the hell am I supposed te do?”

“Be here te support me-”

“I have been nothin’ but supportive of ye! Where’s yer support of me ? I gave birth te yer sons and the verra next day, I rescued yer arse from one of the most difficult prisons te escape from! I did tha’ on my own! Ye dinnae ken how painful childbirth is, do ye? Or what to does te yer body? But I set all of tha’ aside te save yer life so that our sons could grow up with their father! And fer what? Fer what did I do tha’ for? Apparently nothin’, because yer never home te even spend time with them, Jamie! Ye never see them!”

“Because I’m too busy trying to put a stop to your rebellion!”

My rebellion? It’s your people I’m tryin’ te save! Your men! Ye didnae have te agree. I’ve brought down plots before, and I’ve even orchestrated plots against the bloody English. Need I remind ye who successfully sieged Berwick?”

“How am I te ken tha’s even true?”

“Has Cailean told ye? Because if he hasnae, then he can easily! My point is, Jamie, that when we came here, homeless with two newborn lads, I didnae expect te be doin’ everrathing alone! Ye said my brother even noticed I was different after the birth. Well, maybe I am, because it was a traumatic experience te go through alone wonderin’ if ye were even alive! And now I’m still goin’ through it alone! I have te sit here and watch Brian die before my verra eyes, unable te do anythin’ te save him, all while yer off doin’ God kens what!”

“Ye ken exactly what I’m doin’!”

“Do I?” I spat back at him, pausing only for a moment. “Ye willnae touch me. Ye willnae even share my bed, nor my room. Ye dinnae look at me when we are near and I cannae even remember the last time ye kissed me. Ye spend all yer time at a damn brothel. How am I te ken what ye do and dinnae do there?”

“Are ye accusin’ me of somethin’?”

“All I’m sayin’ is ye’ve made it cleare ye dinnae want me, and yer constantly surrounded by women who want you .”

“Catrìona-”

“Ye do what ye like, but I’ll no’ be accused of not carin’ fer this cause. Ye dinnae ken what I’ve done, ye dinnae ken what I do everra day fer you, fer the lads, fer the cause, fer anythin’ . But ye willnae stop me from goin’ te the hospital. Yer makin’ yer differences, and I’m makin’ mine. If ye want te discuss what we should do aboot Charles then fine, but I’ll not speak te ye when yer bein’ an arse.” He opened his mouth to respond, but no words came out. I gave him only a moment, and then I turned on my heel and left. As I strode out of the room, I suddenly thought of something my Aunt Bonnie once told me when she noticed a young couple that was known for being in love constantly arguing in town:

How can there be love in a marriage when love has left the marriage bed? 


I was tucked up tightly in bed later that evening, unable to sleep, but finally finding myself drifting off. My mind was buzzing from the conversation I’d had with Jamie earlier. It had been several hours since then, and Jamie had not sought me out to speak to me. Well, I wouldn’t speak to him, either.

A loud banging on my door caused me to startle and my heart to race, and I sat up in bed staring at the door. “Mistress! Mistress, come at once!” came Beth’s panicked tone on the other side of the door. I grabbed my Fowlis tartan, which was draped over the settee that faced the fireplace, and threw it over my shoulders as I crossed to the door, throwing it open to find Beth in her shift and shawl, her mousy brown hair braided down her shoulder, looking pale and frightened. “It’s Brian! He’s no’ breathin’!”

I felt my heart leap up into my throat and I pushed past her, immediately running to the nursery to grab Brian from his cot. He was coughing and his lips were slightly blue, and I heard Beth at the door huffing and puffing. “Alert the servants,” I told her. “We need boiling water, a large sheet and a lot of chairs. It’s the croup!”

“Yes, Mistress. Shall I fetch Mr. Fraser?” Beth asked me as she caught her breath.

“Dinnae fash,” I said as I brought Brian to the middle of the room and laid him on the floor on his back. A flat surface would help to open up his airways a bit. “And bring me my medical kit!” Beth brought it to me quickly, then quickly ran to awaken the servants to start some boiling water. I burned some thorn apple in a pipe and made a tube out of paper, covering Brian’s face with one end and blowing the smoke into the other. The servants came with chairs and a large sheet, creating a tent that I quickly got Brian into, and shortly after, the first of the hot water came. “Beth! Open the window, and then go to Master Raymond’s apothecary, he lives above it. Tell him I desperately need somethin’ fer the lad’s lungs.”

“Yes, Mistress,” said Beth, and she quickly raced out of the nursery after opening the window while I closed up the tent and poured the hot water into a porcelain bowl. It began to steam up very quickly, but Brian was still struggling to breathe.

“Shh, shh, mo chuisle, mo ghille… Ye will be all right, a leannan,” I told him as he fussed. “Yer so warm, my lad…” He was indeed; he was feverish and clammy.

“Wha’s happenin’? Wha’s goin’ on?” I heard Jamie’s voice outside of the tent. Someone must have alerted him, or he heard the fuss from the servants. “Catrìona?”

“In here,” I called to him. The tent opened and Jamie poked his head in, dressed in a pair of breeks and his shirt with his hair tied back.

“What’s happenin’?” he demanded.

“Brian has the croup, he cannae breathe. Come inside and close the flap!” I told him, and he obeyed me, crawling inside and closing the tent tight and then settling beside me.

“Will he be all right?” he asked me sincerely.

“I dinnae ken,” I replied, wiping a bit of sweat from my brow. “I kent this might happen eventually, but I wasnae prepared… I’ve done all I can fer now, but one of the best things is te use steam. Francesca? Suzette?”

Oui , Madame?” Suzette responded.

“Can ye get me some salt? A lot of it, I need it fer the water,” I told her.

Oui , Madame,” she replied, and then her footsteps disappeared.

“What will the salt do?” Jamie asked me, his large hand covering mine as we jointly cradled Brian.

“It’ll help clear his airways. Saltwater works wonders fer a number of things. It helps wounds heal quickly, promotes healing not only in wounds but in things like breathing. It’s why when someone has asthma, it’s suggested they live by the shore,” I told him. “Comin’ from the islands, we use saltwater fer almost anythin’ medical.”

“Then I’m glad ye ken aboot it,” he said, his worried expression directed at Brian. “Why did ye no’ alert me sooner?”

“I’m sorry, I was focused on gettin’ his throat clear,” I told him, and then I glanced up at him. “Really, I am. I should have sent a servant te get ye.”

“It’s all right,” he replied. “I’m here now.”

“Aye, ye are,” I told him, and then I looked back down at Brian. Suzette soon returned with the salt and I mixed it into the boiling water, adding fresh hot water to the bowl and steaming up the tent some more. Brian coughed some more, so I leaned him up against my chest and patted his back to help him clear his throat. When Beth arrived with Eucalyptus leaves from Asia perhaps and hour or so later, I handed Brian to Jamie and cut them up, mixing them into another bowl of salted hot water and brought that into the tent. “I should have kent Master Raymond would have somethin’ like eucalyptus.”

“What’s tha’?” Jamie asked me, handing Brian back to me so I could examine him. His lips were, thankfully, beginning to pink back up, but he was still pale.

“A leaf, native to Australia and the Pacific. It’s verra good fer inflammation, which is what’s likely causin’ Brian’s airways te close up,” I replied. “His fever is still up… If we could get a cool cloth, maybe soaked in the snow, I could get his fever down.” Jamie put the order in with Suzette, who returned with it ten minutes later. When the coolness of the cloth touched Brian’s forehead, he began to cry. “Shh, shh…”

“He must be so uncomfortable,” Jamie said quietly.

“My mother used te sing a silly song te us, when we had the croup,” I told him. “It was aboot a knight who was wounded in a pub - not badly, he just cut his finger, and instead of dealin’ with it, they decided te jus’ bury him.”

“A song aboot a knight who gets cut and buried fer it?” Jamie asked me with a cocked eyebrow.

“It doesnae make much sense, especially not in English, but it was a silly song that always made us laugh.”

“Can ye sing it now? It might soothe him,” Jamie told me.

“Aye, it might,” I agreed, and cleared my throat.

 

“Latha bha ‘n ridire ag òl, 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

‘San taigh-òsd’, e fhèin s’ a bhean, 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug hò rò. 

 

‘San taigh-òsd’, e fhèin s’ a bhean, 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

Ridire gun ghèarr e mheur, 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug hò rò…” 

 

It helped a little. Brian finally stopped crying, but continued to fuss, and though his breathing still sounded laboured, it slowly cleared up, and he began to calm down.

 

“Ridire gun ghèarr e mheur, 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

Gus na rànaig e cnàimh glas; 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug hò rò. 

 

Gus na rànaig e cnàimh glas; 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

Dh’fhalbh an fhuil na’ struth gu lar, 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug hò rò…” 

 

I watched as Brian fell asleep in my arms, his small hands grasping one of my fingers in one hand and one of Jamie’s in the other. His breathing began to level out; the saltwater and eucalyptus steam was helping him.

“This isnae somethin’ from the hospital, is it?” Jamie asked me suddenly after a moment, and I had to steel my face and my voice; I didn’t want to wake Brian.

“‘No, it isn’t,” I told him firmly, but calmly. “Even if it was, it wouldnae have acted so quickly.”

“Do ye see now why it’s better if ye dinnae go? What if ye do bring somethin’ home to him?” Jamie asked again, and I took a deep breath. He had to ruin a nice family moment we were having, didn’t he? All because he just had to be right and refused to admit when he was wrong.

“I won’t,” I told him.

“But ye might-”

“Get out,” I said firmly, and he froze, not saying another word. I then turned to look at him, my steeled eyes firm and, clearly, very angry. “Ye heard me. I said get out.”

“He’s my son, too,” Jamie began.

“Get out ,” I hissed at him. He locked eyes with me for a moment, seeing very clearly that I wouldn’t budge.

“All right,” he said, and then he slowly and gently withdrew his hand from Brian’s. “All right…” I watched as he made his way out of the tent, and as he paused to give me one final, and evidently hurt, look, he crawled out of the tent, leaving me alone with Brian fast asleep in my arms.




Chapter Text

4 March, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie had gone to Maison Elise on his own after Catrìona banished him from the nursery. He wasn’t seeking comfort, even though she was convinced he was and he was tempted to spite her, but simply didn’t want to be alone. Physically. He knew he was more than alone in this crowded room. There were girls crawling all over men, who had snuck away from their homes in the middle of the night to come to Maison Elise, and even a couple of girls trying to crawl all over Jamie.

“I do not care if your wife is La Dame Blanche, ” one of them was saying to him in French. “Come to bed, Monsieur. You need it.”

“I’m not interested,” said Jamie without emotion. The girls would try again another couple of times before they gave up entirely, leaving Jamie to sulk on his own at his table.

So. Charles had already secured funding for his rebellion. Who had he secured this funding from? All he said was ‘prominent Englishmen’, and he already knew that one of Charles’s supporters was Alasdair Fowlis. A sneaky man, that one. How did he manage to secure funding to give to Charles for his rebellion? Did his uncle, the Laird of Cìosamul, know his nephew was planning on funding a Jacobite uprising? Jamie let out a sigh as he took a sip of his wine, and then a slight movement caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Glancing up, Jamie noticed a young boy - the same one Charles had ordered to fill their wine glasses earlier in the day - lurking behind a drunk patron at one of the tables. He watched as the boy sneakily, and expertly, picked the patron’s pocket unnoticed, and then suddenly had an idea. A pickpocket could work wonders in stealing private letters from Charles…

Jamie watched as the young boy glanced around the room and then began to make his way to the back door. When Jamie was sure he couldn’t see him, he got up to follow the young lad. He followed him down a hall, and when the lad suddenly broke out into a run out the back door, Jamie, too, followed him at a quick pace. This young lad was fast, another good trait for a pickpocket, but Jamie was still faster. He finally caught up to the joy, grasping him from behind and lifting him up off his feet. “Let go of me, you filthy English bastard!” the lad shouted at him in French. So he must have seen Jamie a few times to suspect that he was English.

“First of all,” Jamie said, grunting as the lad struggled against him, “I’m a filthy Scottish bastard.”

“Take me to the police and I will find your wife!” the young lad snapped at him in English, surprising Jamie a bit.

“Ye speak English,” he observed.

“And when I find your wife, I will tell her you rut with whores!” shouted the young lad, and Jamie couldn’t help but chuckle as he set the young lad down onto a large crate, holding him down firmly.

“No police,” he said,” and my wife wouldnae believe ye, but I’ll bet Madame Elise wouldnae be happy te learn one of her servants is a thief.” Suddenly, the boy’s fierce face softened into one of worry.

“No, no! Please do not tell Madame Elise! Please, she will kill me if she thinks I steal from her customers!” the boy cried.

“No’ a forgivin’ kind, is she?” Jamie asked him, loosening his grip on the lad.

“I do not do it every night. Only- only when we are very busy and the gentlemen are very drunk,” the lad defended himself.

“I’m no’ interested in yer methods, lad. I’m only interested in you,” he told the lad, who widened his eyes.

“Hey, I… I’m no whore,” he said with a concerned tone, and Jamie cocked an eyebrow.

“Not like that, he said. “Is that common here?”

Oui , sometimes… Sometimes, Madame Elise will have a patron who will pay extra…” Jamie held up a hand to stop the lad, who was visibly uncomfortable.

“Ye dinnae have te explain. No, ye wee fool, I want te offer ye a job, away from this and away from Madame Elise’s patrons,” he proposed to the lad, who sat up with interest.

“A job? Doing what?” the lad asked him.

“Exactly what ye’ve been doin’,” Jamie told him. “As fer what ye’ve stolen…” He picked up the lad again and turned him upside down to turn out his pockets, resulting in a few frustrated yelps from the lad, and then sat him back down. “Ye can keep all of this…” Suddenly, one of the objects caught his eye, and he bent down to pick up a small wooden hand-carved snake that, sure enough, had ‘Sawney’ carved into the back of it. His snake? He checked his pockets - it wasn’t there. He’d been so busy and distracted that he hadn't even noticed it was missing. “Ye wee bastard… That’s my snake!”

“How much do you pay?” the lad asked him.

“A warm bed, a meal and a roof over yer head. Let’s go, laddie,” Jamie told him, pulling on the lad’s arm. He quickly bent down to collect his stash before following Jamie down the street. “What’s yer name?”

“Claudel, Milord,” said the lad.

“Claudel?” Jamie asked curiously.

Oui. It is not very manly. I hear you Scottish men have very manly names,” said Claudel, and Jamie chuckled.

“Tha’ we do,” he said. “My name is James Fraser, Laird Broch Tuarach. I have a wife called Catrìona, who ye will refer to as yer lady, and two sons, Brian and Archie. If ye want a more manly Scottish name, we can give ye one.”

“That would be wonderful!” said young Claudel.

“How aboot… Fergus?” Jamie asked him, and the young lad’s face brightened up.

Oui! I like it very much! Merci , Milord!” said the lad, now called Fergus.

“Then Fergus it is,” said Jamie.


CATRÌONA POV

I was sound asleep when a bit of clattering woke me up. I had slept in the nursery on the floor beside the cots in case Brian had a flare up or Archie developed the croup. I sat up and stretched, then stood up to peer into the cots to check on Brian. He was sound asleep, breathing easily and pink as a berry. I smiled at his sleeping form, then found myself disturbed by yet another clattering from downstairs, so I pulled on my tartan and went downstairs to investigate. Following the sound to the dining room, I entered to find a young lad sitting at the head of the table, a greasy chicken leg in his hand.

“Who the hell are you ?” I demanded, thinking he was a thief who had broken in. He was slightly startled when he looked up at me. “What are ye doin’ here?” The young lad got up and approached me, then mimed as if he were touching… breasts?

“You have such lovely voluptuous breasts,” he said in French, and my eyes widened. Did this child just tell me I had nice breasts?

“Ye said the same thing te Suzette!” I heard Murtagh exclaim, and then realised he had been lingering in the corner.

“Well, that doesnae make me feel verra special,” I replied, suspecting that something was up if Murtagh wasn’t kicking the lad out of the house.

“The ladies are always very generous at Maison Elise when I give them compliments,” the lad defended himself. Maison Elise? This child hung out at a brothel?

“So was Suzette. She gave him the chicken leg,” said Murtagh as the lad happily bit into the chicken leg in question.

“This is all fascinatin’ but I still dinnae ken who ye are,” I said, and the young lad’s eyes widened.

“You are Scottish like Milord! You must be Milady! Forgive me, Milady,” said the lad, bowing to me, and then he looked at Murtagh, speaking in French. “She does not look like a lady.”

“If you aren’t careful, you’ll find your ears boxed in,” I told him in French, surprising him.

“Take him up te the servants’ quarters, Murtagh,” I heard Jamie’s voice say, surprising me a little. “Suzette is preparin’ a bath and has some nightclothes fer him.”

“Goodnight, Milady,” said the young lad, bowing to me, and then he bounded out of the room after Murtagh, chicken leg in hand.

“And watch yer pòcachadh !” Jamie called after Murtagh, who gave him a grunt in response. Watch his pockets? What on earth did Jamie bring into our house? I stood there still with my arms wrapped firmly around my midsection holding the tartan close while Jamie awkwardly stood there, and then he picked his head up to look at me. “Ye look like ye’ve somethin’ te say.”

“More or less wonderin’ why a child is tellin’ me I have nice breests and why yer tellin’ Murtagh te watch his pockets around him,” I replied calmly.

“He’s a pickpocket. His name’s Fergus,” Jamie explained. “Well, Claudel, actually, but we both decided it’s no’ verra manly, and he likes Fergus.”

“A pickpocket?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Does everra house in Paris have a resident pickpocket?”

“I hired him as part of my plan,” Jamie replied. “We need information that I cannae get directly from the prince. Information that comes in the form of letters from his father or other potential financiers, and most importantly, from these Englishmen the prince claims have pledged him funds, if they exist.”

“So wee Fergus steals the letters…”

“And we copy them and he returns them before they’ve even been missed,” Jamie finished for me.

“Hm. Tha’s no’ a bad plan, actually, barring he doesnae get caught,” I told him.

“Thank ye. Fergus assures me he is a professional,” said Jamie. Another somewhat awkward moment of silence passed between us. “How’s Brian?”

“Better. He’s breathin’ better now,” I answered.

“I… I’m sorry fer what I said when ye were treatin’ him… It wasnae an opportune time, and ye were stressed, and I should have just kept my mouth shut,” Jamie said suddenly.

“Aye, ye should have, but I thank ye fer the apology,” I told him. He nodded, then glanced down at his feet.

“Goodnight, then,” he told me, and then he turned and left the dining room, leaving me standing by myself.


8 March, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

That was the last of Jamie’s apologies for quite some time. The second time I went to L’Hôpital des Anges a couple of days later, Jamie started another argument with me about bringing home diseases, which infuriated me that he was still on about it. “Nevermind the fact that any one of us could bring home a bloody disease from the streets of Paris, or Maison Elise!” I spat back at him. Cailean tried his best to mediate between the two of us, but was failing rather miserably. Jamie and I just could not stop disagreeing on this topic, and there was nothing Cailean could do to ease that.

Cailean, Murtagh and Jamie were hard at work copying letters and deciphering them for the rest of the time. All of them were coded, and some were more simple than others. Once Cailean had copied the letters, Fergus was sent to return the letter before it was missed, and they had a very good system going. Murtagh and Jamie would decipher while Cailean copied letter after letter, and Ferrgus would return the letter. I would have offered to help, but I was not on speaking terms with Jamie after that second argument, nor did I even want to be in the same room as him. However, if Murtagh or Cailean (more likely Cailean) were to ask for my help, I would not hesitate to offer it. In one particular case, Cailean called for me as I was passing the study one day to translate a letter in Welsh. Wales, in our time, was Scotland’s ally, so it helped for us to know Welsh to communicate with them.

“Ye ken, my Welsh was never good,” Cailean told me as he handed me the letter, which I read carefully.

“Then it’s a good thing I ken the language well,” I said, mindful of Murtagh’s presence.

“Ye speak Welsh?” Murtagh asked with surprise.

“Catrìona’s gifted in languages. She kens Gaelic, Irish, Welsh and French, in addition to English,” Cailean told him.

“I know a wee bit of Spanish, too,” I said as I looked at the letter. “Hmm… Rwy’n falch o ddweud fy mod yn dymuno rhoi’r arian angenrheidiol i chi…” 

“What the hell kind of a barbaric tongue is that?” Murtagh demanded when he heard me reading the letter to myself.

“Ye heard them, ye dolt. It’s Welsh,” Jamie told him.

“It’s one of the great Celtic languages, and is in the same family as Gaelic,” I told Murtagh as I sat down at the desk that Jamie had vacated so I could write the translation.

“That nonsense cannae possibly be related te Gaelic,” said Murtagh stubbornly.

“Who’s it from?” Cailean asked me, looking over my shoulder as I finished reading over the letter a second time.

“A Welsh Lord, Sir Watkins Williams-Wynn,” I answered. “He’s speakin’ of how he’s supported James fer years and is pledgin’ five thousand pounds te help aid in Charles’s cause, but only if he’s backed by the French,” I said. “I’ll still translate it, but tha’s the gist of it.” I wrote the English translation of Sir Watkins Williams-Wynn’s letter on a separate piece of parchment. Once I had translated it into English, I corrected the grammar, then handed it back to Cailean. “I’ll be off te L’Hôpital , a horde of wounded just arrived from Austria and I’m needed.”

“Why are the wounded bein’ brought te Paris?” Cailean asked me.

“They’re treated on the battlefield, but space is limited, so anyone badly wounded and cannae fight is sent back te Paris fer treatment te make room fer wounded who can get back into the field,” I explained. “If ye need me, ye ken where I am.” I didn’t glance at Jamie, but I could feel his eyes on me as I strode out of the room.


JAMIE POV

Jamie was reading over one of the letters, making an attempt at decoding it. It seemed to be from King James himself to his son, but it was a new code that he was unfamiliar with and needed to work out thoroughly. Cailean was at the desk, scribbling away as he transcribed another letter. “Got another here from King James,” he’d said after a moment. “His handwriting, fer sure. He signed it ‘Francis’.”

“One of his given names,” Jamie told him. “Fergus had better return soon. These letters must be returned before they’re missed.” Cailean was looking at the pile of letters that he’d finished transcribing.

“This seal has been removed at least three times before I removed it myself,” he said to the two men in the room, standing to bring the copied letters to Jamie.

“We’re no’ the only ones interested in the Stuart correspondence,” said Jamie, looking over the letters. “Everrathing is in code, but at least they’re simple.”

“Aye, and mostly aboot family gossip and the like,” said Cailean, bringing Murtagh a couple of letters. Murtagh was staring at one of the letters with an incredulous look on his face. “What’d ye find? More Welsh?”

“What the devil is this?” he asked as Cailean bent over to look at the letter.

“Tha’s music, ye dolt,” Cailean replied, and Murtagh glared at him.

“I ken music when I see it. The question is, what’s it doing in a letter?” he replied.

“I was tryin’ te puzzle that one out myself earlier,” Jamie said, knowing exactly which letter they were talking about. Cailean took the letter from Murtagh to get a better look at it.

“‘A Song of the Country’. The lyrics arnae in English,” he said.

“No, they’re in German,” Jamie answered him. “They’re aboot a bonny day in a meadow.”

“Another code?” Murtagh chimed in.

“It might no’ be. Perhaps some German friend of Charles decided te send him some music te enjoy,” Cailean chimed in.

“But the letter comes from England,” Jamie told him.

“Germans live in England, although… this doesnae make much sense…” Cailean said as he examined the notes, and then he brought it to a large harpsichord in the corner of the room, sitting down on the stool and set the music up on the stand. He began to press down on the keys that matched the notes, and sure enough, the music sounded a bit rough to the ears. “It’s like the writer cannae decide what key te put the song in. If I understood German and classical music better, it might help, but I’ve no’ read music like this in years, and when I did, it wasnae anythin’ so complicated as this.”

“A code in music,” said Murtagh after listening to Cailean. “Where are we going te find someone like tha’?”

“I can think of someone,” Cailean said, and then he looked at Jamie. “Ye’ll no’ like the idea I’m sure, but I can go. Catrìona was tellin’ me aboot this Mother Hildegard at L’Hôpital, she’s a classically trained musician who speaks German.” Jamie paused for a moment, suddenly recalling Catrìona saying something very similar to him after coming home from L’Höpital : ‘She was a musical prodigy in her youth’. 

“No,” Jamie said suddenly, looking up at Cailean, who cocked an eyebrow. “I meant no, I’ll no’ send ye in my place. I need te go. I would look cowardly te yer sister if I sent ye instead.”

“So long as ye’ll no’ try te force her te leave when ye get there,” Cailean told him with a mild warning in his voice.

“Even if I wanted to, no force on Earth could budge that woman if she doesnae want te,” Jamie replied. “You two continue decodin’ the letters, I’ll be back soon.” With that said, he stood, leaving Cailean and Murtagh to put their heads together over the dozens of letters they still had to decode.


L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

I was hard at work with Mother Hildegard over the body of a wounded soldier from Austria, puzzling over the fact that this man still had a fever and we could not figure out why. “The skin of the wound is pink, good granulation… No bad smells or dark streaks near the site of the injury,” I was saying to Mother Hildegard.

“But his urine is dark and he is very warm,” Mother Hildegard replied, feeling the man’s forehead.

“Perhaps there’s a secondary infection of some type?” I asked her. “He was wounded by a wagon that was hit by a cannonball, it’s possible he sustained an injury we cannae see as well.” I raised the man’s shirt and palpated the abdomen. “No abdominal tenderness, that rules out cystitis or appendicitis…”

“Bouton,” said Mother Hildegard, summoning the attention of her small dog. I had seen Bouton a couple of times sniff out the source of an infection. I didn’t know how he did it, but he had a magical nose for sure. Bouton climbed onto the man’s chest and sniffed around his mouth and nose, then whined. “No, you are right, it is not that,” Mother Hildegard told him. “Try again.” Bouton sniffed at the arms of the man, then moved further down to his legs, suddenly stopping at an injury on his inner thigh and barking at it.

“Tha’s almost healed, there’s no indication of infection,” I said, palpating the site - sure enough, I felt an abnormal lump, and the man hissed in pain as I felt around the wound. I squeezed the area around the wound and a bit of pus came out.

“A pocket of putrefaction,” said Mother Hildegard. “Shall I send for Monsieur Forez?”

“No, I can handle it. I’ll need a small scalpel, some alcohol and a sterile cloth, please,” I said to one of the nearby nuns, who did as I asked. Mother Hildegard, meanwhile, moved onto another patient while I tended to this one. I cut the wound open again to wash out the wound and rid it of pus, and when I was finished, bandaged it as well as I could. “What I wouldnae give fer a bit of iodine,” I muttered quietly to myself.

“Iodine?” said a familiar male voice, and I lifted my head to meet Jamie’s eyes standing in front of me.

“Jamie?” I asked. “What are ye doin’ here? Are ye hurt?”

“No, but I, er… need help. Musically speakin’,” he said to me awkwardly. “Ye did say Mother Hildegard kens music. I was hopin’…” The cry of a young nun behind me started us both and I whipped around to find a patient had fallen onto the floor, the nun alarmed at his sudden fall. I quickly raced over to the man’s side and knelt down beside him, feeling for a pulse in his throat - there was none. He must have gone into cardiac arrest, which meant that I still had time to save him.

“I’m goin’ te show you lot how we save drowning victims in the isles,” I told the young nun and another that had joined us, positioning myself over the man to perform CPR. CPR wasn’t used or even known about in this time, and likely would have been seen as an interference with the work of God. But I didn’t believe in God, so I did what I could to at least try and save the man.

“What is she doing?” I heard a whisper in French behind me. It took several exhausting minutes, but soon enough, the man began to breathe again and had a weak, but steady pulse.

Sacrebleu! ” exclaimed another man nearby. “She has brought him back from the dead!”

“She really is La Dame Blanche,” said another. La Dame Blanche?

“What is this?” Mother Hildegard asked, appearing beside me. “This man, he lives?”

“He does,” I answered her.

“It is a miracle,” said the young nun who had been with the man when he fell.

“Help him back onto his cot,” Mother Hildegard ordered the young nun, and the two of them helped the man back up and onto his cot. Meanwhile, I stood and stepped out of the way, feeling Jamie’s presence beside me.

“Tha’ was incredible,” he said to me with awe in his voice. “Ye brought tha’ man back from death!”

“No’ the first time for me,” I said to him. I watched as Mother Hildegard examined the man, determining him stable, and then crossed over to me.

“You have performed a miracle,” she said to me.

“It was nothin’, truly,” I replied, my cheeks flushing a bit pink. “Er… Mother Hildegard, this is my husband, James Fraser, Lord Broch Tuarach.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Lord Broch Tuarach. You have a very gifted wife,” Mother Hildegard said to him.

“Thank you kindly, Mother,” Jamie said to her in French.

“What is it I can do for you, Monsieur ?” asked Sister Hildegard in English.

“Er… My wife here tells me yer good with music,” Jamie began, pulling a piece of parchment out of his coat. Mother Hildegard led us to her office, where a clavichord could be found, and asked for the piece of paper, examining it closely. “My wife’s brother, Mr. Cailean Fowlis, says that there’s something odd about this.”

“Odd?” I asked curiously, peering over Mother Hildegard’s shoulder. Sure enough, it did look a little strange, and Mother Hildegard took the parchment, set it up on the stand on an aging clavichord and sat down to play the notes, which sounded very… strange, to say the least.

“This is a little strange,” said Mother Hildegard, and then she paused to look at us. “Can you assure me that what you are doing is neither illegal nor dangerous?” I had to stop my eyes from widening a bit. How could she have known?

“Er… I can assure ye, Mother Hildegard, that if my husband is askin’ fer help, then it’s fer a good reason,” I told her, glancing at Jamie out of the side of my eye.

“I see,” said Mother Hildegard, and then she sat down to play some more notes. “That is the basic melody, and then it repeats itself in variations. I believe I have seen some things reminiscent of this…”

“Reminiscent? Ye mean similar?” Jamie asked her.

“Yes… An old friend of mine, Herr Bach, has done something very similar to this,” Mother Hildegard replied as she examined the notes, and my eyes widened.

“Herr Bach? Ye mean… Johann Sebastian Bach?” I asked, recognising the name almost immediately, and Mother Hildegard chuckled.

“I am surprised you have heard of him,” she told me, and my cheeks turned a little pink as I remembered where I was. “He sends me things, now and again. He calls them ‘inventions’, and though they are quite clever, but I’m afraid the music is not the sort to endure.”

“Clever, but no heart,” Jamie replied. Mother Hildegard continued to examine the notes, then played a much more coherent melody that sounded similar to the one on the parchment.

“This music is a clumsy version of Goldberg Variationen ,” she said.

“The Goldberg Variations,” said Jamie, translating, but I could have easily guessed.

“You see here, your mysterious composer has repeated the same melody as Herr Bach,” said Mother Hildegard, playing the original melody of Bach’s tune. “Almost,” she said as she played the broken melody of the second tune. “But it appears that he has changed the key each variation.”

“The key? And tha’s unusual?” Jamie asked, glancing at me.

“Rapid key changes in such a short piece must be,” I chimed in. 

“Five key changes in such a short piece, some for no reason whatsoever,” said Mother Hildegard.

“No musical reason, at least,” I said. Mother Hildegard stood and removed the parchment from the stand, then handed it back to Jamie.

“Whoever wrote this seems to have a diabolical sense of humour,” Mother Hildegard told him.

“Yes indeed,” Jamie said, and then he looked at me. “I need to get this back and try to translate it as quickly as possible,” he told me in Gaelic.

“I’d be glad to come. I can read music a little but Cailean has always been better,” I replied, also in Gaelic.

“Ye can… stay here if ye like,” Jamie told me in English. “Mother Hildegard is right… Ye have a gift.” I was a bit surprised by this, but I gave him a slight smile.

“I… need te be gettin’ back te the lads anyway. It’s gettin’ near time te feed them, but… thank ye,” I said to Jamie, and then I glanced at Mother Hildegard. “Thank ye verra much fer yer help, we are verra appreciative.”

“I am glad I could be of assistance,” said Mother Hildegard. We both wished her a good day, and then Jamie and I both left L’Hôpital together. Jamie offered a hand to me to help me into the carriage, which I accepted, and then he followed me inside, closing the door behind him. He pulled out the parchment again and handed it to me to look over with this new piece of knowledge.

“So, the key is the key… Key change here… Two flats. Key change there… three sharps,” I said, observing the notes carefully.

“I dinnae ken what any of that means, but I’m sure Charles does,” Jamie replied. “He’s a simple man, I doubt he would have decided this himself, and if he does, then it’ll have te be easy. Maybe… the two flats means everra second letter at the start of that section, and three sharps means take everra third letter?”

“Guess we’ll have te see when we get back home. It could be everra third letter, or it could be in the opposite direction,” I told him. “Think it’ll be in English or German?”

“That I dinnae ken,” Jamie replied, and then he looked up at me. “This is good. If we didnae have yer connection to Mother Hildegard… we may not have ever figured this one out.”

“Perhaps I was meant te volunteer at L’Hôpital fer more than one reason,” said, my eyes still on the parchment, but I looked up to meet Jamie’s when I felt his eyes on me.

“Yeah,” he said. “Ye were.” We arrived at Jared’s home quickly and as soon as we did, Jamie and Cailean got to work decoding the letter while I went to tend to the lads. Once I was finished, I joined them, holding Brian in my arms while Cailean held Archie on his lap. It took a couple of hours to work through it all, but eventually, Jamie finished scribbling and stood, holding up the parchment.

“Does it make sense?” Cailean asked, looking up from entertaining Archie with the feather of a quill. 

“Aye, it does,” Jamie said, smiling as he read the parchment. “‘I have successfully concluded negotiations with our three partners, all of whom are willing te contribute to our cause’.”

Three partners?” I asked with surprise.

“So the English conspirators are real,” Cailean chimed in.

“And they’re guaranteein’ forty thousand pounds will be available te Charles,” Jamie said as he read the rest of the letter.

“Forty thousand pounds. Holy hell,” said Cailean.

“It’s a sizeable amount, no doubt aboot tha’, but forty thousand pounds isnae enough te fund a war, is it?” I asked the group.

“No, it isnae,” said Jamie in agreement.

“So Charles lied?” Cailean asked him, but Jamie shook his head.

“I dinnae think so,” he replied. “Exaggerated, maybe, and Duverney, when they speak, will be smart enough te ken a certain amount in a business such as this.”

“Forty-thousand pounds… That could be enough te convince the King that the Jacobites have a chance,” I chimed in.

‘“I’ll be back in Paris at the month’s end, and am eager te finally meet ye face te face to solidify our agreement’,” said Jamie, finishing the letter. “And then it’s signed ‘S’…” ‘Tomorrow, I return to England, but I shall return shortly, and when I do, I should be very interested to sample some of that rare Belle Rouge I understand he keeps in stock.’ 

“Sandringham,” I muttered quietly, and the three men in the room glanced up at me.

“What’s tha’?” Jamie asked me, raising an eyebrow.

“Sandringham,” I repeated a bit louder. “It’s him, I’m sure of it.”

“The slimy wee bastard,” Murtagh hissed from the corner.

“The Duke has had secret dealings with Dougal Mackenzie fer years. Geillis Duncan told me, when she told me she was pregnant with his bairn,” I told them, and Jamie seemed very interested in this.

“Did he now?” he asked me. “Dougal is a verra committed Jacobite.”

“And the Duke has been verra careful never te explicitly state his opinions te me,” I said.

“So he’s playin’ both sides against the middle,” said Cailean. “He’ll be hedgin’ his bets both for and against the Stuart rebellion.”

“Power-hungry bastard. If he shows support fer both sides, the losing side need never ken he betrayed them,” I said bitterly.

“Perhaps we can meet with Sandringham and convince him this is a bad investment,” Jamie said suddenly. “Ye ken what this means, don’t ye? We’ve figured it out!”

“I dinnae think tryin’ te convince a power-hungry man te-” Cailean began, but Jamie cut him off, already on his way to the whisky decanter.

“This is cause fer celebration!” he said excitedly as he collected four glasses. Murtagh quickly joined Cailean and I and spoke in a very hushed whisper.

“If Jamie sits down with Sandringham and his secretary, ye ken what’ll happen,” he told us both.

“He’ll find out aboot Randall,” I said quietly, realising just what that could mean for Jamie. It meant he could easily run off to Scotland to kill Randall himself, and possibly be arrested and hanged.

“Ye need te tell him, and soon,” Murtagh told us.

“I could go and speak te Sandringham alone,” Cailean chimed in, but I shook my head.

“He’ll no’ let ye go alone, not when he kens he already has Sandringham’s good opinion of him,” I told my brother, and the three of us broke apart as Jamie returned with four glasses stacked in one another, pouring whisky into all three of them and passing them out. I handed Brian to Murtagh, who seemed a bit baffled to find himself holding a child, and Cailean and I both stood up.

“We’ve somethin’ te celebrate today. A new milestone in our mission, a new achievement made,” Jamie said, raising his glass, and the three of us did the same, masking our somewhat awkward expressions. “I cannae tell ye how good it feels te make progress after fightin’ feathers fer so long. We still have problems te solve, but we will, in due time. A toast te…” He paused for a moment, and then glanced at me. “…te Mother Hildegard, without whom our enemies would still be unkent te us. And to my wife, wonderful mother of my two sons, who is always there when I need her.” He smiled at me, causing my cheeks to burn pink, and then he looked at Cailean. “Te my good brother, who is damn good at decodin’ messages, and te my godfather, without whom I dinnae ken if I would be alive.” Murtagh and Cailean each nodded to him. “ Slàinte mhath.

Slàinte mhath, ” the three of us repeated, and we took a sip of our whisky. After he downed his whisky, Jamie pulled me into his arms and hugged me tightly, taking me off guard, but I couldn’t help but feel thrilled that he was holding me in his arms again. He kissed my cheek, then pulled back from the embrace to smile at me, then frowned when he saw my strained expression.

“What is it, mo ghràidh? Ye look concerned,” he asked. He was so happy, I couldn’t tell him about Randall… Not now, at least. I would wait for another time; this was the first time he’d held me in what felt like months, and I wasn’t prepared for him to stop.

“Oh, nothin’, it’s just… I cannae help but be concerned aboot Sandringham. He’s a dangerous snake and I dinnae trust him,” I said, ignoring the narrowed eyes from Murtagh.

“Och, na gabh dragh, mo ghràidh. Dinnae fash, everrathing will be all right now,” he told me, raising a hand to cup my cheek. I nodded, then forced a smile and covered his hand with mine.

“I just love seein’ ye so happy,” I told him.

“Ye have yerself te thank fer that,” he said to me, and after seeming to hesitate for a moment, perhaps wondering if it would be all right, he placed his hand beneath my chin and lifted my head to meet his lips, kissing me for the first time in ages. Oh, it was wonderful… I had almost forgotten how wonderful his kisses felt.

No, I couldn’t ruin this moment between us by telling him about Randall. That would have to wait for another day.


After bringing the lads to Beth to put to bed, I went to my bedchamber to change out of my dress and I to my shift, wrapping my tartan around me and sitting in front of the vanity to brush out my red curls. I heard a knock at the door, and thinking it was Beth or a servant, I said, “Come in.” In the reflection of the mirror, I watched as the door opened, and was a little surprised to see Jamie entering my bedchamber. “Jamie!” I quickly turned, grasping the brush tightly in my hand and spinning on the stool to face him.

“I, er… owe ye an apology fer gettin’ upset with ye fer goin te L’Hôpital… Not just because of this development in our cause, but… but because ye belong there,” he told me. “Yer a healer, and ye should be helpin’ te save lives, I just cannae help but be worried fer ye.”

“Ye dinnae need te fash, Jamie. I’m vaccinated against most illnesses and have natural immunity te others that are common today,” I told him.

“I ken that, it’s just… hard te believe…”

“I understand. Ye cannae see viruses or germs, nor can ye see how my immune cells protect me,” I replied, and then I set the brush down on the vanity.

“How… How’s Brian? I’m sorry I’ve no’ been around much fer him, either… Truth is, I’m scared te death of losin’ him,” Jamie admitted.

“Oh, Jamie…” I stood and crossed the room to him, stopping in front of him. “He’s… no’ well. He seems te be gettin’ worse with everra day, and now that it’s getting warmer, his allergies are startin’ te affect him. I wish that I had a better answer fer ye but I dinnae… but ye should spend as much time with him as ye can. We dinnae ken how much time he has left.”

“Yer right, we dinnae ken… I promise I’ll do my best te be home with ye and the lads more often, participate in helpin’ te care fer them,” Jamie told me. “I do love them, more than anythin’ in the world… I didnae ken how much I could love somethin’ until those two beautiful bairns came inte my life.” He smiled at the thought of his sons, and then he met my eyes. “And I love you, too. I’m sorry if I’ve no’ shown it.”

“Jamie… I love ye, too,” I said, smiling at him. He’d not told me he loved me in so long, and to hear the words uttered from his lips… I wanted to hold him so badly, but clearly, he still had something else to say.

“And I promise I’ve no’ been seein’ other women. I just… it’s hard, Catrìona… dealin’ with what Randall did te me,” he told me, his eyes cast away. He could never look me in the eye when he spoke about Randall.

“I understand, Jamie. I’ve been there, too,” I told him.

“When Randall raped ye, ye didnae turn me away,” he said bitterly, more out of shame than anything.

“Because I’d been raped before, and I wasnae goin’ te let Randall take control of me like those other bastards had… But everyone’s different, Jamie. I’m here fer ye. Take all the time ye need, I’m no’ goin’ anywhere,” I told him, raising my hand to rest on his arm. He pulled me into his arms and hugged me tightly, holding me firmly against his chest and burying his face in my shoulder. “ M’eudail, yer only a man, ye cannae be expected te be perfect…” After a moment, I pulled back from the embrace and met his eyes, running one hand through his red curls. “Come te bed… Ye look like ye havenae slept in weeks.” At this, he smiled just a little.

“I dinnae think I have,” he replied. He took my hand in his and raised it to his lips, then let me lead him to my - our - bed, lying down beside me and allowing me to wrap my arms around him and hold him tightly. No, nothing was perfect, and I could still sense Randall between us in our bed - especially after finding out he was alive - but Jamie and I were on the mend. He slept peacefully in my arms, and I fought sleep so I could hold him and watch him, safe and secure in my arms, far away from bloody Black Jack Randall.




Chapter Text

3 April, 1744

Versailles, Paris, France

Things were all right, for a while. Jamie had moved back into our bedchamber and we slowly worked on repairing the rift that had come between us. Twice, I woke up to him touching me, but when I tried to return the favour, he wouldn’t let me. Another time, I awoke to his head between my legs, teasing me with his tongue and making me groan and growl his name through gritted teeth. He still wasn’t interested in the same being done to him, but the fact that he was reaching out to me on his own was enough for me. Baby steps were needed in his recovery - for a man as proud as Jamie Fraser, it could take quite a while for him to recover his pride. At least he stopped pushing me away, and he always kissed me before he left.

He promised he would be around more, and at first, he held true to his promise, until he slowly started being absent from the house for longer and longer periods during the day. When I brought it up to him, he told me that Charles was demanding his attention more and more each day. “I’m sorry, mo ghràidh. Really, I am, but ye ken how important this is,” he’d said to me, taking note of my irritated expression.

“Can’t ye tell him ye’d rather be home with yer family then out running aboot with prostitutes?” I demanded from the bed, my knees pulled up against my chest.

“Charles doesnae think like that, mo gráidh . Ye ken tha’,” he said. “Why don’t ye come te Versailles with me when I meet Duverney fer chess tomorrow? Ye can bring the lads.”

“I’ll no’ have them anywhere near that actual shithole of a place,” I said. “Ye ken the royal family just shits and pishes wherever they please?”

“Then you come with me,” said Jamie kindly, sitting down on the bed beside me and leaning over to kiss my cheek. “Will ye come?”

“I’d rather ye spend time with yer sons, Jamie,” I said, taking the bait but still putting up a fight.

“When we return, we’ll spend every second of the rest of the day with them. I promise ye,” Jamie replied. “Please?” I let out a sigh, giving into him.

“All right, fine,” I told him. “But fer tha’, ye owe me.” He chuckled, then pulled my legs out and pushed me back down onto the bed.

“I think I can pay my dues,” he said, subtly pulling the hem of my shift up to expose me. “I’m glad te see yer hair come back. Fer Christ’s sake, dinnae ever rid yerself of such a lovely bush ever again!”

“I’ll be glad te spare meself the pain,” I told him with amusement.

The following day, we rode in the carriage together, my ungloved hand held tightly in his as the carriage bumped over the cobblestone streets of the city. I kept my eyes out the window, a nasty feeling beginning to burn inside of me. I didn’t know what was coming, nor when it would, but whenever something bad was going to happen, I could always sense it.


“What are the names of your sons again, Madame Fraser?” Duverney had asked me. I was standing behind Jamie, my hand resting on his shoulder, while Jamie played Duverney in chess.

“Archie and Brian,” I answered Duverney. “Archie was named fer my father and Brian fer Jamie’s.”

“How very… Scottish,” said Duverney.

“Brian, I believe, is a French name,” said Jamie.

“The lads are also named fer Jamie, fer Jamie’s brother, William, and my brother, Cailean,” I told Duverney. “Verra Scottish indeed, considerin’ we’re all from Scotland.”

“Dalhousie would have been a good name,” Jamie suddenly chimed in as he moved his pawn to claim another of Duverney’s.

“Dal…hoosie?” asked Duverney, and I couldn’t help but scoff.

“Dalhousie? Like after Dalhousie Castle?” I asked him incredulously.

“It sounds like a sneeze!” Duverney exclaimed as he examined the board for his next move.

“It’s a braw name!” Jamie defended his decision. “A braw name fer a braw lad!”

“It’s a lowland name,” I told him, and then I looked at Duverney. “Jamie is a highlander and I am from the islands. The lowlands are famous fer bein’ more supportive of the English. I’d never give my lad a lowlander name.” I gave Jamie’s shoulder a squeeze, and he scoffed.

“Is Fowlis no’ a lowland name?” Jamie asked me, raising an eyebrow at me.

“See, there’s where yer wrong,” I told him. “Fowlis originates from the name ‘Foulzie’, it is in the parish of King Edward in Aberdeen. There is an English branch of the family in Yorkshire, but they spell their name differently, like Foulis - like ‘foul’ English supporters, if ye will. There were some in Ireland, too, but then ye have the branch that agreed te aid Donald of Islay in his claim fer the Earldom of Ross in the fifteenth century.”

“How fascinating! Do tell me more, Madame Fraser!” said Duverney, excited to have a chance to distract Jamie from the chess game so he could try and plot his win.

“Well, Robert Stewart was a younger son of the Scottish King Robert II who ruled until the year 1390. Bein’ a younger son, unless his elder brothers died without issue, he would never hold the throne of Scotland, so he had te find some way te keep power. He did have some as the regent of the young King James I, but tha’s never enough, is it? He’d taken control of the Earldom of Ross as guardian of his niece, but Donald of Islay, Lord of the Isles, also had a claim, havin’ married Robert Stewart’s niece’s aunt, I believe. He invaded with intention of claimin’ Ross fer himself, but then the Earl of Mar - not the same as Lord Mar who participated in the ‘15, this one was called Alexander Stewart and wasnae related te Robert Stewart - heard of this and tried te stop him. Donald wasnae doin’ well so he sought help from none other than my ancestor, Aonghas Mhòr mac Fowlis, who was kent fer his brutality in war. His ancestors had fought alongside Scottish nationals against King Edward I, so Donald of Islay wanted his help. But true te his highlander nature, Aonghas wanted somethin’ in return fer helpin’ Donald of Islay - he wanted the Isle of Barra, which was under MacDonald ownership. Donald of Islay agreed, and in 1411, went te battle at Aberdeen in what was called the Battle of Harlaw. There wasnae an official victor, per say, but Donald of Islay eventually lost and was forced te surrender, but the Fowlises didnae care because they had been granted the Isle of Barra and thus, there are Fowlises in the isles. So ye see, the Fowlises are not lowlanders, we were born highlanders and migrated te the isles.”

“Fascinating! It is no wonder the Fowlis family is so feared! They are a fierce kind!” Duverney exclaimed.

“Tha’ they are,” I said. “But we’ve been livin’ in the isles fer centuries now, so all of our highlander blood is in the distant past, and we are now islanders.”

“I do know something of the Fowlis family. I am acquainted with a man by the name…” Duverney began, trailing off as he tried to recall the name. “I have seen the man recently, but I do not recall his name…”

“Alasdair Fowlis?” I asked.

“Ah! Oui! That is indeed the man! Is he related?” Duverney asked me.

“Somehow, but I dinnae ken how. I suppose he’s my second cousin, as he is the nephew of my grandsire, the Laird of Cìosamul,” I told him. “I am the daughter of Archie Fowlis.” Again, not a lie - that was my father’s name. Not my fault another existed in this time and had disappeared.

“I did hear something of the man. He disappeared, did he not? Leaving this Lord of kissy-mool without an heir…” I heard Duverney say, but my mind was distracted by something else catching my eye. Entering the room, holding his head high and mighty with his nose stuck way up into the air, was the Comte Saint Germain. His eyes swept the room as if he were scoping out his prey when they landed on me. His eyes narrowed, but I kept my face steeled. Jamie and Duverney resumed their game, and I made my way to a servant that was carrying flutes of champagne on a silver tray. I accepted one from the servant, who then disappeared, and turned my attention back to Saint Germain. His features hadn’t changed and he watched me carefully, so I raised my glass to him and took a sip from the champagne. I turned to exit the library with intentions to make my way to the gardens for a bit of fresh air, but I didn’t get too far when my stomach started gurgling. I could feel a burning pressure in my throat and I began to cough, my throat seemingly closing as I struggled to breathe through all the gagging and coughing.

“Catrìona!” I heard Jamie’s voice call, and before I could collapse onto my knees, I felt his hands grasping my arm. I reached for my throat and struggled to clear it, and the edges of my vision became fuzzy.


I woke up sometime later dressed in my shift and lying in a large bed. I gasped for air and flailed my arms out, trying to sit up so I could vomit over the side of the bed. “Catrìona! Get something! Quickly!” I heard Jamie’s voice shout, and then a bucket was shoved into my hands for me to vomit into. I felt a gurgling in my bowels and a very uncomfortable pressure, which only told me one thing.

“Get out! Jamie, get out! Quickly!” I shouted, crawling from the bed with the bucket in tow.

“Catrìona!” Jamie cried.

“Get out of here before I fucking shit all over you!” I hissed at him in Gaelic. He seemed to take the hint, and thankfully, he and the servants left me to my own rather disgusting devices. When I finally stopped expressing horrid, foul-smelling liquids from both ends sometime in the middle of the night, I sent for a servant to help me clean myself up a bit before I would allow Jamie back into the room. When he appeared, he was horribly pale and clearly worried sick, but extremely thrilled to see that I was still alive.

“How are ye feeling?” he asked me, his hand resting on my forehead and brushing back my hair. “Yer warm… and yer moist.”

“Bit of a fever, but I’ll be fine,” I told him tiredly. “I’ve sent fer some Marshmallow leaf tea, that should help. I’ve no’ had an episode in some time now.”

“I’m glad te hear,” he told me, giving me a gentle smile. “Christ, Catrìona, ye had me worried sick… What happened? Ye didnae catch somethin’ from the hospital, did ye?” I shook my head.

“No, I felt fine all day,” I replied. A servant knocked on the door and entered with the marshmallow leaf tea, then left us alone. I took a sip from the tea as Jamie settled on the bed beside me, wiping the sweat off of my forehead with a cool wet cloth. “The symptoms had such a quick onset, almost like…” I paused, staring at the fire across the room. Jamie seemed to know the exact direction of my thoughts.

“Like poison,” he said bitterly.

“Aye,” I answered. “But I dinnae wish te hurl accusations-”

“I saw Saint Germain,” Jamie told me. “Everyone else was concerned, but he seemed pleased that ye were sufferin’. It had te have been him, and if it was, I’ll make him suffer.”

“I suppose it’s possible he could have, I dinnae ken, bribed a servant te slip some into my champagne,” I replied tiredly. “But I’m alive, so whatever it was, wasnae deadly.”

“Or ye got lucky.” At this I shook my head, suddenly recalling a conversation I’d had with Master Raymond at the apothecary. ‘The effect is almost immediate. The stomach will seek to purge itself…’ ‘So it makes the enemy suffer visibly, but it doesnae kill them.’ ‘Precisely! No one dies, and the customer is satisfied…’ 

Frangula purshiana ,” I said, a feeling of betrayal stabbing me in the gut.

“What’s that?” I heard Jamie ask me.

“Bitter cascara,” I replied, somewhat bitterly.

“Wha’s that?”

“A herb that has a tendency te cause the stomach te purge itself. Quite horrible te suffer from, but no’ deadly. And I ken someone who sells it disguised as a poison.”

“Who?” At this, I shook my head.

“I’ll deal with it. Just help me get dressed so I can get home te the lads, they’ll need me. I’m positively burstin’,” I told him, crawling out of bed. I stumbled a little, and Jamie was quick to grasp me and lead me back to the bed.

“Absolutely not, yer te stay until ye recover,” he said firmly, sitting me back down onto the bed.

“All I need is water and maybe some plain bread and I’ll be fine,” I told him, but my stubborn husband wasn’t budging.

“Sorry, Catrìona, but I’ll no’ have it. The king has been kind enough te let ye stay until yer recovered.”

“And I’ll be recovered after rehydratin’ with water and eatin’ somethin’ small.”

“Yer pale, ye need te rest, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“I’m pale because I’m dehydrated, Jamie. Just get me some water and I’ll be fine!”

“Just give me until the mornin’, Catrìona. I’ll give ye water and whatever ye ask fer, but just stay until the mornin’,” he said to me, seemingly begging me to just give in to him. Jamie never begged me for anything, so I let out a sigh and settled back into the bed.

“Fine. Water, bread, and a bit of broth will do me good,” I told him. “And a small basin and a cup.”

“Fer what?” Jamie asked me, cocking an eyebrow.

“Well, my breasts are burstin’ with milk, and though it’s a shame te waste it, if I cannae give it to my sons, then I’ll have te rid meself of it te spare me a bit of pain,” I told him bluntly. His eyes widened a bit, but he nodded, sending a servant to fetch everything that I requested. “Jamie,” I said sometime later. “If it was Saint Germain… ye cannae do anythin’ te him.”

“And why no’? I’ll defend ye no matter what I have te do, duelling banned in Paris be damned,” Jamie told me, not firmly but definitely with passion.

“And tha’s so honourable and I’ll love ye fer it everra day of me life, but Jamie… if ye get involved with a scandal, Charles will distance himself from ye,” I told him. “That, and we don’t have proof.”

“But ye said-”

“Staring at me and possessing a lack of empathy isnae proof, mo chridhe ,” I told him, and he let out a frustrated huff.

“When all this is over, if it was him and I find out aboot it, I swear I’ll come back and kill the man myself,” Jamie told me. “Get some sleep, if ye can. It’ll be dawn soon, and ye’ve hardly slept a wink.” He bent down to kiss my forehead, then pulled the blanket up to my chin. “I’ll be here, right by yer side.”

“Where ye belong,” I told him. He gave me a subtle smile, then bent his head to kiss my lips, then snuggled up right beside me.


5 April, 1744

Master Raymond’s Apothecary, Paris, France

I promised Jamie I’d rest the day we returned from Versailles, but only on the condition that he stayed home with me and the lads, which he agreed to, much to the dismay of the prince, according to Cailean. The following day, after Jamie and Cailean had left for the warehouse, I dressed and made my way to Master Raymond’s shop, eager to have a conversation with him about the ‘poison’ he sold in his shop. As I opened the door, the bell rang above my head and Master Raymond himself, who was behind the counter accepting payment from another customer, lifted his head to greet me.

“Ah, Madonna! Just a moment, I will be right there,” he said to me as he finished up with this customer. “This, Mademoiselle, should help your mother with her headaches,” he said to the young girl in French.

Merci, Monsieur,” she said back to him, accepting the wrapped package. As she passed me on her way out, she curtsied to me, then went through the door.

“So, Madonna, what is it I can do for you today?” Master Raymond asked me cheerfully.

“Two nights ago, I was violently ill,” I informed him. “Vomiting, nausea… evacuation of the bowels. Not te mention, severe hydration.”

“Are you well, Madonna? Do you need a bit of mentha piperita or zingiber officinale ?” asked Master Raymond, surprised at my admission and offering me peppermint and ginger.

“No, what I need is te ken if ye sold bitter cascara te anyone, namely… Le Comte Saint German? ” I asked him to “All of my symptoms were brought on verra suddenly after one sip of champagne - a glass of champagne that appeared before me shortly after the appearance of Saint Germain himself at Versailles, who was watching me verra closely.”

“Bitter cascara to Saint Germain? Oh, Madonna,” said Master Raymond, clearly in a bit of shock. “I… I have only sold it once in the last several months, to a servant I did not recognise. I suppose it is possible she could have been working for Monsieur Le Comte but I swear, I did not know!” For a moment, he paused in thought. “Come with me, Madonna.”

“And where are we going?” I asked him suspiciously as he turned.

“To a safe place,” he said. Intrigued, I followed him to his hearth, and with the removal of a box from the shelf, a hand crank was revealed hiding behind it. Master Raymond cranked it, opening the brick wall behind the hearth, then replaced the box and stepped through it, beckoning me to follow. I ducked my head and stepped through, dragging my skirt through the ashes, standing as Raymond closed the wall with a similar hand crank on the other side.

The room I had entered was filled with the skulls of various animals, reptiles, and even humans. I was surprised by this collection of skulls, some of them appearing to be ancient. “What… what is this?” On a shelf built into the wall, I saw an altar had been made, featuring an image of… “Is that… Brigid?”

“Goddess of the hearth, of fertility, of medicine… Oui , Madame, it is,” Master Raymond confirmed. “You are familiar with Pagan deities?”

“I’m a Pagan meself,” I told him. “Celtic Paganism, specifically.”

“Then surely, you shall understand the need for this room,” said Master Raymond. “The gendarmes pass by with prying eyes, and the king is not enamoured of the mystical art, nor of deities not worshipped by the Catholic faith. We must be wary not to invoke his ire.”

“No, of course no’,” I agreed, admiring the room, which was filled with symbols that I didn’t recognise. “But ye dinnae just practice Celtic paganism, do ye?”

“Your eyes are sharp, Madonna,” he told me, picking up a skull from a table on the other side of the room and turning to show me. “A very old and rare species,” he said. “Such beasts are no more. I find that I am fascinated by things that are… not of this time.” There was a strange look in his eye, and I raised an eyebrow curiously. “Is something else on your mind?” He placed the skull back on its stand.

“No, of course not. Well, er… I suppose there’s always somethin’ on my mind,” I said. “My son, Brian, he… He doesnae have the greatest health. I worry fer him. And Archie, too. They were both born early.”

“Let us see if we can take a peek into their future,” said Raymond, picking up a small velvet sack and giving it a shake in both of his hands. “These bones shall give us an answer. They are sheeps’ knuckles. Bring your question to mind, and they shall have the answers.” He opened the small velvet sack, then spilled the bones onto the table, surprising me a little. They clattered all over the table in various positions, and I stared at them as if they would tell me what it was I was looking for, but to me, they only looked like, well… bones on a table.

“I… I am no’ familiar with… bone reading,” I said somewhat shyly.

“I would not expect you to be, Madonna. Fortune telling is a difficult trade,” he told me. “Hmm… It appears that the bones are unclear… The fate of your sons is not visible to me, but I can see that at least one of them will always be with you, never to leave your side. Tell me, is there a… Thomas… in your life?” At the mention of Tom’s name, I felt my stomach drop, my eyes widening immensely as I looked up at Raymond.

“Yes, he… he’s an old friend… But what does he have te do with my sons?” I asked curiously.

“The bones do not say, but this old friend of yours will, in some way, be in your son’s life,” said Master Raymond. Before I could ask what he meant, he swiped the bones up with one hand and dispensed them back into the little velvet sack, then approached a cabinet that had a lot of the unfamiliar symbols, unlocking it with a large key that he produced from around his neck. He opened it and removed a large stone on a black string, holding it flat on his palm. “The symbols on that cabinet are a spell to ward off those who know the mystical arts. It is a protective spell, harmful only to those familiar with it. But this , Madonna, is for you.”

“It’s beautiful… What is it?” I asked, accepting the stone and holding it in my palm to admire it.

“A stone for protection,” answered Master Raymond. “It will change colour in the presence of poison.”

“So this… magic stone… will keep me safe?” I asked. It looked like a bit of quartz, but it was light as a feather.

“Some might call it magic, others might call it nature,” said Master Raymond. “I certainly do charge more for it when I do, but for you, Madonna, there is no charge. A gift, if you will.”

“Blessed Bride,” I said, more to myself. “I cannae thank ye enough, Master Raymond.”

“You are a friend, Madonna, and I do prefer to keep my friends safe,” said Raymond kindly. I looked down at the stone in my hands once more. A magic stone meant to detect poison… Let Saint Germain try to harm me now.


I returned home and gave my gloves and hat to a servant at the door, who informed me that Jamie wanted to see me in the study. I made my way to the study, surprised to hear the sound of childlike giggling inside, and when I pushed open the door, I found Jamie holding Archie, bouncing him on his lap. Beth was also in the room with Brian, but he was fast asleep - something he did a lot of lately. When I entered the room smiling at the sight before me, Jamie looked up at me, his happy expression fading just a little. “Where were ye?” he asked me.

“At Master Raymond’s. I kent he sold bitter cascara in his shop and I wanted te see if he might have sold some te-”

“Ye should have let me handle it, Catrìona, and stayed home in bed. Ye were violently ill not even two days ago,” he told me, not firmly but definitely scolding.

“Jamie, I’m fine now. It wasnae that big of a deal,” I told him.

“Ye were poisoned, Catrìona. Ye need te be restin,” he told me.

“It wasnae actual poison, Jamie. It was a herb,” I spat back.

“Are herbs no’ used as poison?”

“Jamie! I ken what herbs are poisonous and what ones arenae, and I ken verra well the effects of bitter cascara, now firsthand. Bodies are far more resilient than ye think. I am fine.

“But-”

“Which of us is the healer, Jamie? Do you ken anythin’ aboot herbs?” Jamie was silent for a moment, and then he sighed.

“I’m sorry, I just worry aboot ye. Ye arenae one te rest. Ye should have been restin’ after havin’ the lads,” he told me sincerely.

“And if I had, ye wouldnae be here holdin’ yer son on yer lap,” I told him, approaching my husband and son, who looked identical to each other, and bending down to kiss Archie’s red curls, and then kissing Jamie’s matching red curls. “Where we are now… if I had te do it all over again, I would. There’s nothin’ ye can say or do that would make me say otherwise.” I bent to kiss him.

“Will ye at least rest a little?” he asked me.

“As much as I need to,” I told him. “So, how are things with Duverney? Does Charles still want te meet with him?”

“He does, and I ken Sandringham has never directly met him, too,” Jamie told me. “I’m certain that once Charles does speak te Duverney and proposes this alliance between England and France, the king will be intrigued.”

“It’s a fantasy, and Charles kens tha’ well, I’m sure,” I said, leaning against the desk behind me.

“Maybe, but it’s a temptin’ prize. And if Charles secures the funds from Sandringham, then the king may join him as well,” said Jamie. “What if… we host a dinner? Invite the Duke, the prince, Duverney, even Alasdair Fowlis, start a conversation aboot politics. I’m sure the Duke will want te take measure of the prince and decide if he’s the man worth stakin’ his fortune and his life on.”

“If Charles managed te convince Alasdair Fowlis te back him after Clan Fowlis has explicitly stated they’ll no’ participate in a Jacobite uprisin’, then Charles may be convincin’ when he has a mind te be,” I told him. 

“Then we need te stage the occasion te undercut Charles and lead him te make a mistake in front of the Duke. Expose himself fer the delusional popinjay that he is,” said Jamie. It hit me suddenly that if Sandringham and Jamie were to be under the same roof, then it was likely that the Duke would mention Randall, and at the thought, my face fell. “Do ye think I’m mistaken?” Jamie asked me, seeing my face.

“Huh? Oh, no, no’ at all. It’s a good plan, if we can think of somethin’ te upset Charles enough,” I told him.

“Yer face disagrees with yer words,” Jamie replied, chuckling gently.

“No, no, it’s no’ that at all. It’s just…” I began, struggling with how to begin. I had to be the one to tell Jamie, and I had to tell Jamie right now. I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be to inform him about Randall’s survival. “Beth, could ye take the lads and give us a minute?” I asked, looking at the young girl on the settee.

“Of course, Mistress,” she said, standing and settling Brian in one arm.

“Dinnae fash aboot Archie, I’ve got him,” Jamie said, tightening his grip a little on his son.

“Certainly, my Laird,” said Beth, and she curtsied to us both and left.

“This must be serious if ye want te speak in private,” Jamie said a little playfully, giving Archie his finger to suck on.

“Once ye hear it, I think ye’ll agree,” I said. “Just… promise me that if ye get angry, ye’ll give me Archie.” At this, his face fell.

“This must be verra serious,” he said. “What is it?”

“Well,” I began, and then I sighed. It was better to just rip off the damn bandage and get it over with than to wait. “It… it’s Randall, Jamie. He’s alive.” I saw Jamie’s expression change quite quickly, but it didn’t appear to be angry - not yet. “When we went te Versailles in February, I met his brother, Alex. Alex Randall works fer Sandringham and he said that Randall was ‘injured in the line of duty’, but… he’s verra much alive.”

“This… ye… Ye’ve known since February and… and ye didnae tell me?” Jamie asked me, his emotions confusing me quite a bit.

“Both Murtagh and Cailean agreed with me that it wouldnae be wise te tell ye. We didnae want ye te go after him,” I told him.

“This is… wonderful news,” Jamie said suddenly, and then he let out a hearty chuckle. I raised an eyebrow; wonderful news? “But ye didnae have te wait so long te tell me!”

“I… I… wasnae expectin’ this reaction,” I told him as he stood, and he tossed Archie playfully in the air, catching the giggling infant and kissing his cheeks.

“Ye hear tha’, my lad? Daddy can finally get revenge fer what was done te him!” Jamie exclaimed excitedly, hugging Archie tightly to his chest.

“What? Jamie!” I exclaimed, standing up from the desk.

“Don’t ye see, mo nighean? This has plagued me fer months, and you as well! Do ye think I dinnae see it?  I thought that Black Jack Randall died and I missed it, kennin’ I’d never look in his face and see the blood drainin’ from his body, watch him breathe his last…”

“Jamie, ye cannae go back te Scotland!” I exclaimed again.

“No, I’m no’ foolish enough te give the hangman a second chance at me,” he said, holding Archie and kissing his head. “Nor do I intend te abandon our task here, but ye’ve given me somethin’ te hold onto, somethin’ te look forward to…” He looked down at Archie and smiled into his sweet little face, his grey eyes watching his father with fascination. “…and that is a gift. Another gift, in addition to the two gifts ye’ve given me already.” He then turned his attention to me, then approached me and placed his hand on the back of my head, drawing my face closer to his to kiss me. “Thank ye, truly.”

“I’m jus’… glad yer happy,” I said, smiling at him. “And glad ye’ll no’ do anythin’ brash. I’m all fer killin’ Randall, but no’ at the cost of you.” I took his face in my hands and kissed him again. Come, why don’t we take the lads fer a stroll? It’s cooler today, and it’ll help Brian’s breathin’.”

“Sounds perfect,” he told me affectionately, and he kissed me a third time. “ Tiugainn, mo chuisle, let us go and fetch yer brother!” he said to Archie, who giggled in response, and I watched as Jamie left the room with Archie. I was glad he wasn’t going to run off and kill Randall right away, but I was still worried. Sometimes, what Jamie said was quite different from what he actually did .




Chapter Text

23 April, 1744

Louise’s House, Paris, France

I was summoned to Louise’s by a messenger in the late morning and informed that Louise needed to see me urgently. A little concerned, I quickly dressed and made my way downstairs. “Magnus!” I called, and the footman appeared in the foyer. “Can ye tell my husband that I am at Madame de Rohan’s home if I am no’ back by the time he returns?”

Oui, Madame, ” said Magnus. “Shall I prepare the carriage?”

“No, she’s three hooses down, I’ll walk. I could use the fresh air,” I told him, and then I was out the door. Jamie had gone to pay a visit to Duverney and his chess games at Versailles, as the man had recently returned from Marseilles. He had been out of town, so we had not planned to send out the invites to our dinner until he returned. Evidently, Alasdair Fowlis was also indisposed, but was rumoured to return by early May. Jamie and I discussed that that would likely be the best time to host our planned dinner.

When I arrived at Louise’s, I was led to the parlour, where Mary Hawkins could be found admiring a wooden clock. I had seen a clock similar to it before - I believe it was called a cuckoo clock? “Oh! H-hello, Mrs. Fraser,” said Mary when she noticed me, curtsying to me. “Is Miss MacCraig with you?”

“Brian isnae feelin’ well and he always does better when his brother is around him so I left her and the lads at home. Plus, Louise told me te come urgently. Do ye ken where she is?” I asked, but Mary shook her head.

“I h-haven’t seen her all morning,” said Mary. “I’ve b-been admiring this thing. Isn’t it amazing?”

“Is it a clock?” I asked. I could see the minute hand at two minutes until twelve, and Mary seemed to be anticipating something as the second hand ticked away.

“Oh, j-just wait, Mrs. Fraser! It is f-fascinating!” she said excitedly. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at her fascination with the clock. She was so naive, innocent and childlike… Most girls in this century were, when they were married off to form alliances for the family. Royalty, nobility, sometimes even a peasant, it didn’t matter. If the parents of a daughter could benefit from her marriage, they would take advantage of it. I was startled when the cuckoo clock began to ding and whistle at us, and Mary giggled girlishly with excitement while Colette, Louise’s little monkey, screeched with surprise.

“Do you like my new toy?” Louise’s voice interrupted, causing Mary to gasp.

“It’s a lovely clock, Louise,” I said.

“Oh, yes, i-it is m-m-marvellous,” said Mary through her stutters.

“Are ye all right?” I whispered to Louise as she approached me. “Ye said it was urgent.” She nodded subtly, then turned to look at Mary.

“Mary, would you be a dear and feed Colette? There is fruit in the kitchen. And do not put your fingers in the cage,” she said to Mary.

“Oh! Uh-um… Yes, Madame Louise,” said Mary, and she curtsied to us both before leaving the room, Colette chattering away in her cage.

“That monkey… She bites everyone but me,” said Louise.

“She admires ye,” I said, glancing at Colette in the cage, and then I looked back at her. “Are ye all right, Louise? Yer message worried me.”

“Ah, yes, that…” Louise began, turning around to float over to the settee and sit down. “The reason I have summoned you here, mon amie… The situation is rather… delicate.” She paused for a moment as I sat down in a chair across from the settee. “I am with child.” My eyes widened just a little before I corrected my expression.

“I… suppose congratulations are in order, then,” I said.

“I am afraid not,” she said. “My husband and I have not been intimate in months. The baby is not his,” she told me with shame in her voice. “You know about these things… Will you help me?”

“Aboot havin’ a bairn? Well, yes, I do, and I do ken, too, that men arenae as clever as ye think when it comes te women’s affairs-”

“I do not mean that,” she told me. “I want to… m’en débarraser. ” To get rid of it.

“I… I see,” I said, swallowing what felt like a very large pill. “Erm… Are… Are ye sure, Louise? Riddin’ yerself of a bairn can be verra dangerous.”

“I am sure. It was not an easy decision to make, but I have made it. How shall we go about it?”

“Well… I suppose I can make a concoction of barberry leaves and black hellebore. I’ll have it made into a tonic.”

“Black hellebore? The very name sounds evil,” said Louise, her hand on her chest.

“That’s because it’s practically poison,” I told her, and she seemed to pale a little. “Our bodies are verra durable. Often, te kill the wee thing, ye risk the possibility of… killing the mother, too.”

“But what other choice do I have?” Louise asked me, a bit of desperation leaking through her tone, and I sighed.

“Remember what I said aboot men bein’ clueless aboot women’s bodies?” I asked. “What’ll happen if yer husband finds out aboot yer pregnancy?”

“If he learns it is not his, he will have the marriage annulled! It is one thing to enjoy an affair de coeur , but a pregnancy out of wedlock… Jules could have me arrested for adultery, or even sent to a convent if he learns of le petit bébé!

“Then he willnae find out,” I told her. “How far along would ye say ye are? How many courses have ye missed?”

“Only the one, but I watch it very carefully,” Louise told me.

“Then there ye have it. Bairns could come early, it happens all of the time. My own lads came two months early. Ye could persuade yer husband that the bairn is his,” I informed her, and she seemed scandalised.

“You mean, sleep with my husband?” she asked me.

“I can imagine sleepin’ with one’s husband can be verra difficult,” I said with polite sarcasm, but it went over Louise’s head.

“But my lover would be furious! ” she exclaimed.

“He’s no’ the one who’s pregnant, is he?” I asked her. “Look, Louise… I ken the situation yer in. Yer early enough in this pregnancy that a low dose of black hellebore may do ye jus’ fine, but this isnae aboot what Jules wants, or what Ch… yer lover… wants… It is aboot what you want, and what sacrifices that you are willing te make. It is verra possible that ye may be fine, or ye may lose yer life or become verra ill fer some time. Or, ye sacrifice yer lover fer the sake of raisin’ a bairn that ye clearly dinnae want te rid yerself of. The choice is yers. No’ Jules’s, no’ yer lover’s, yours. I will only help ye with this if it’s what you want. Do ye understand me?” Meekly, Louise nodded.

“Yes… But how will I raise a child with a man who is not the father?” she asked me.

“Hundreds of women do it everra day, ye’d do just fine. Men can be quite oblivious, and he may jus’ be thrilled te have a child,” I told her. “But in the end, what matters most is that the child is brought up with love.” Louise looked down at her lap, then brought one hand up to rest on her abdomen. Though she wore a large ornate dress, I knew that her pregnancy was still unnoticeable, but a mother could feel the bairn growing beneath her palm whether the bump was visible or not.

“I shall have to think about it,” Louise told me.

“When ye make yer decision, I’ll be here, no matter which ye make,” I told her kindly, grasping both of her hands in mine. She appeared worried, but she still smiled. It was evident that she was glad to have a friend in her time of need. I couldn’t help but wonder how many friends Louise had - genuine friends - and then realised that she likely didn’t have any, except for myself and Colette and…

Charles. Charles would be invited to the dinner, and we had plenty of room to invite the de Rohans. Oh, God, was I seriously thinking about this now ? It could help to save thousands… It could be exactly what we needed to derail Charles. Maybe. I’d have to speak to Jamie about it, but blessed Bride, did I feel awful for the thought.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

I had returned to hear that Jamie had not come home, so I spent the remainder of the day with the lads. Archie was awake and quite playful, while Brian seemed very docile and uninterested in everything around him. He didn’t giggle and laugh like other babies his age did, nor did he explore the world he lived in - instead, he mostly slept, and simply tolerated his surroundings.

That night, I was already settled into bed when I heard the door open, and shortly after, Jamie appeared in my field of vision with a smile on his face. “Good evenin’, my beautiful wife,” he told me, bending over me to kiss me. “And how was the rest of yer day since we last met?”

“No’ too bad. I learned somethin’ verra interestin’ today,” I said, stretching my arms as he climbed off of me to remove his boots and breeks. “I take it that you had a good day?”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” he said, undoing his breeks and pulling them down around his ankles.

“Aye? Are ye goin’ te tell me or are ye goin’ te make me wait?” I asked him, rolling back onto my back while he climbed on top of me.

“Oh, ye willnae have te wait long tonight, mo nighean ruadh, ” Jamie told me, bending down to kiss me again. He briefly broke the kiss to sit up and pull his shirt off over his head, but then a dark mark on his upper thigh suddenly caught my attention. It was round, dark and appeared to be fresh.

“What the hell is that?” I demanded, letting go of him and running my fingers over the bruise. I could feel slight indentations that were small… and felt like teeth marks. “Is this a bite mark?”

“Aye, well, er… She did get a wee bit carried away,” Jamie told me, dropping his shirt again to cover it up.

She? ” I demanded. “Ye dinnae mean that brunette lass with the large breasts that Fergus always talks aboot? The one who bites everraone in the establishment?”

“No, it was a different lass entirely,” Jamie said, sparking the furious flame inside of me.

“What, and that makes it better?” I demanded. “Ye’d better have a damn good explanation, James Fraser, as te why yer lettin’ other women bite yer legs!”

“It’s a verra simple explanation, actually,” Jamie began. “I dinnae suppose ye would ken the meanin’ of the term ‘ soixante-neuf’ ?” At this, my jaw dropped open and I shoved him off of me aggressively, getting up off of the bed and grabbing my tartan to wrap around myself.

“I ken exactly what ‘sixty-nine’ means!” I snapped at him.

“The lass was rather insistent aboot it, although she may have been fine with just the six - the nine could go hang,” Jamie said, sitting back up.

“She was so insistent that ye just had te accommodate her, didnae ye?” I snapped at him.

“I didnae accommodate her, Catrìona. Ye have te believe me, mo gràidh, nothin’ happened!”

“So ye got that bite defendin’ yer virtue, aye?”

“Well, I didnae say I wasnae tempted,” he said, standing up. I was so furious with him that I could do nothing but speak calmly, venom laced in my voice and fire in my eyes.

“Ye arenae helpin’ yer case. Idir! ” I hissed at him.

“Yes, Catrìona, I was filled with lust, but tha’s a good thing!”

“A good thing?”

“Yes! Christ, I dinnae think I’m explainin’ this properly…”

“Then figure it out, damn it!” I snapped at him rather loudly, startling him, and then I spoke more calmly, but with poison in my tone. “So far, all ye’ve ‘explained’ te me is that while ye’ve hardly touched me in months, tonight ye were driven mad passion by some… some…” I hated using the word ‘whore’ to describe a sex worker, so I settled for something different. “…fer some bitch who ye’ve probably seen more than yer own damn wife!”

“Yes! I-I mean no! No, Catrìona, tha’s no’ what I meant,” Jamie exclaimed, trying to recollect his thoughts. “But bein’ driven mad with lust, tha’s the good thing!”

“Is it now?” I spat at him. “I cannae remember the last time ye were ‘driven mad with lust’ by me, tha’s fer damn sure, and it’s no’ fer lack of tryin’ on my part!”

“I started te feel like a man again!” Jamie snapped back at me. Was he getting angry with me? “I’ve tried fer so long te find a way back to ye, te no’ see that bastard, Randall’s face everra time I take ye in my arms!”

“As if tha’s an excuse fer seeking the attention-”

“Catrìona, let me explain-”

“-of another woman!

“I ken it sounds bad! I ken it does! But if ye’d just listen to me-”

“No! I’m done listenin’ te this excuse!” I snapped at him, my voice cracking just a little.

You told me that Randall was alive! And now I can be the one te end his life! Ye ken, it lifted somethin’ from my heart! I began te feel I could stir up those feelin’s again inside myself, so I could feel that way again with my wife!”

“So he had te stir yerself up with a loose woman before ye could bear te bed me?” I demanded from him.

“No, tha’s no’ what I was — Look, Catrìona, ye ken I’ve been strugglin’ fer a long time…”

“Struggling? Struggling? Do ye ken what I’ve been strugglin’ with?” I demanded from him, cutting him off. “I’ve been tryin’ te be patient and understandin’ - I have been patient and understandin’ - only te be turned away and be accused of bein’ the one turnin’ you out! All the while, I’ve been raisin’ our sons all on my own, dealin’ with Brian’s illness all on my own-”

“I am here!”

Where? Yer here, ye say? Where the hell have ye been then because I sure as hell havenae seen ye around!” He paused, but it was evident that he was angry, and that only made me angrier. “Ye’ve no’ been here! Ye’ve been at Versailles with Duverney playin’ yer stupid chess games, ye’ve been at Maison Elise with bloody Charles Stuart and apparently this big-breasted brunette bitch- ” He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off. “I dinnae care if it was her or some other bitch! Ye’ve been everrawhere but here , with yer wife and yer sons! Do ye no’ ken how traumatisin’ it was te me te birth our sons by myself, not kennin’ if ye were alive or dead? Do ye not ken how frightenin’ it was wonderin’ if ye’d find the will te live after Wentworth, wonderin’ if I’d be left on my own, in a time I didnae ken, raisin’ two lads all on my own? Or do ye jus’ no’ care? Because all ye care about is yerself, your needs and desires, your wishes. Ye’ve never spoken te me aboot it, no’ once. Never asked fer my help, and dinnae dare say that I’ve no’ been here fer you, because I have, everra step of the way, waitin’ fer ye te bloody open up te me, and ye won’t!

“I am with ye and I always have been! But ye dinnae ken what it’s been like fer me since Wentworth!” Jamie spat back at me.

“Dinnae ken what it’s like? I’ve been raped by Randall, too, in case ye forgot, and not te mention how I was raped by a group of lads when I was bloody fifteen years old! Dinnae dare tell me I dinnae ken what it’s like te have that innocence stripped from ye!”

“Ye’ve said it yerself, I’m a proud man, and te have somethin’ like this happen-”

“And I’m a proud woman, damn it! I’m a goddamn bloody Fowlis of Barra, my family has been kent fer their pride fer centuries!”

“But ye dinnae understand-”

“Then make me understand if ye dinnae think I do, ye goddamn selfish bastard!” I spat at him, fighting off tears in my eyes, but my own gaze bored into his.

“There was this place inside of me, a place that I think everraone has, even you! A place they keep te themselves, a fortress, even… Where the most private part of ye lives,” he began, much more calmly than before. “Maybe it’s yer soul, the bit that makes ye yerself and no’ anyone else. And after Wentworth, it was like… my fortress was blown te hell. The thing that once lived there was suddenly exposed, out in the open, without shelter… And tha’s where I’ve been ever since, Catrìona. Naked… alone… tryin’ te hide under a blade of grass.”

“And ye think I’ve never been there? Ye think tha’s never happened te me? Tha’s why ye think I dinnae understand?”

“Catrìona-”

“I ken what happened te ye was awful and traumatising. I ken that well because I’ve been there meself, and ye keep forgettin’ that I’m no’ some dainty, sheltered lass who grew up with everrathin’ given te her on a silver platter! I’m no’ innocent, I’m no’ naive. I’ve seen the world fer what it is, I’ve had my fortress blown te hell dozens of times, and everra time I start te build it up again, somethin’ comes along te undo all of my progress. And tonight, the person who blew my hard work te bits was you, ” I told him firmly, but calmly. “Ye need te stop thinkin’ only of yerself, Jamie. Yer no’ alone, but no matter how many times I tell ye tha’, ye act like I’ve never said it, that I’m no’ here fer ye, that yer strugglin’ all on yer own with no one te help ye, as if tha’s exactly where ye want te be. Last November, before ye left fer Broch Mordha, ye promised me ye’d return, but ye never did. My husband isnae here, and I’m done bein’ treated like I’m not here, either.” I paused for a moment to give Jamie a chance to respond, but he was silent. He was evidently processing my words and couldn’t say a thing. “Enjoy the bed te yerself because it’s all yers. I’ll be findin’ someplace else te sleep.”

I gave him one final glance, and then I turned on my heel and strode out of the room. I wandered the house until I found myself in a sunroom on the lower floor in the back, far away from any prying eyes or ears, and buried my face in my tartan and began to cry.


JAMIE POV

She was right; he was being selfish. He was pushing her away. Tonight, she had made him realise that she really was there all along, knowing exactly what it was that he was going through, and that hurt him even more. To know that she knew what it felt like to have that fortress blown apart… and to know that he was the cause of one of the times her fortress collapsed… It broke his heart that she had to suffer the pain of feeling exposed and naked, unable to run from the pain of the world, and it shattered those broken pieces to know that he was one of those things that made her feel that way.

He didn’t bother going to bed. Instead, he sat on the edge of the bed after she had left him and buried his face in his hands, wanting to cry but feeling like he didn’t deserve to. He’d hurt her badly; why hadn’t he just let her help him? He was so proud, and he felt that she shouldn’t have to be the one to fix him up and put him back together, but was that not the job of a wife? Was that not the job of a husband? All this time, she’d been falling apart, but she was so strong that she had been catching the pieces of herself as they fell and putting them back on as best as she could, but soon, her foundation would fail, if it hadn’t already. When her foundation fell, would she be strong enough to rebuild?

Yes, of course she would be. She was Catrìona Fowlis Fraser, the strongest, boldest, bravest woman that he ever had the privilege to know, and he, James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser, was the man who was fortunate enough to be her husband. She chose him, she loved him… and he betrayed her. Abandoned her. Allowed her to fall apart and leave her to pick up the pieces on her own. God, how could he be so blind? Poor Catrìona… He had to find her. He had to apologise to her, tell her he loved her, take her in his arms and show her exactly how much he loved her. He’d taken her for granted, left her to love and raise his sons - the children that he impregnated her with - on her own, and he wasn’t going to do that anymore.

Not even bothering to put his breeks back on, he ran out of the room, checking first the empty guest rooms, disturbing Cailean to ask if Catrìona had gone into his room (which she hadn’t) and then searching each of the rooms - dozens of them, far too many rooms. Did a house really need this many rooms? He worked his way from floor to floor, eventually ending up on the bottom floor and checking the dining room, parlour, even the closets, until he finally stumbled upon her sleeping form in the sunroom. She seemed to be fast asleep, but she looked so beautiful bathed in moonlight and the shadows of raindrops like tears down her cheeks. Her tartan was wrapped loosely around her and her legs were tucked up beneath her, her beautiful red curls, neutralised a little by the blue of the moonlight to appear more brown, framed her face like an angel. Christ, she was so beautiful… His beautiful warrior, his laochaire bòidheachd… 

He approached her quietly, holding his breath, and bent down over her, brushing a curl out of her face. She stirred slightly, and he bent to press his lips against the beautiful, pure, soft skin of her forehead. He felt her stir again, and when he looked down into her face, he found her beautiful storm grey eyes open and watching him. “Catrìona… mo chridhe… Tha mi gaol ort… I love ye verra much,” he whispered to her. She didn’t respond, but was listening intently. “You were right… I was selfish. Ye ken exactly what I’m goin’ through, and I denied that because I thought ye shouldnae have had te ken… It wasnae fair of me te deny what ye’ve seen and experienced. I’m sorry… So verra sorry.” She reached up a hand to rest on his cheek, her thumb running over the prickly stubble of his cheek. “Can ye forgive me?” Without saying a word, she sat up, then took his face in her hands and pressed her lips firmly to his.

“Forgiven,” she whispered to him, and then she kissed him again, pulling him down to lie on top of her. He crawled on top of her and straddled her hips, pushing the tartan off of her shoulders and cradling her head in his hands. “Come find me, Jamie,” she whispered to him again. She was welcoming him home, and he was glad to be there. He kissed her again, passionately, then reached beneath him to pull her shift up and over her head, tossing it aside. He cupped one of her breasts in his hand - firm, round, beautiful, a life source for his sons - and bent to kiss her neck. She pushed him up just a little and tugged at his shirt, hinting that she wanted it off of him. “I need ye naked,” she said, teasing him a little with a phrase he’d said to her a dozen times. He smiled, then pulled the shirt off over his head, sitting up so she could run her hands over his chest. She groaned at the sight of him, stiff and firm, ready to be sheathed within her, and wrapped her hand firmly around him. When she began to move her hand, Jamie let out a moan, his hands gripping her shoulders as she moved her hand, and then he stopped her when he couldn’t take it anymore. Raising an eyebrow, she seemed confused, but then he lowered himself down on top of her, lined himself up with her entrance and pushed in. She let out a cry as he entered her, then fiercely gripped his shoulders as he began to move within her. “Jamie… Jamie…”

“I love ye, mo ghràidh ,” he told her. “God, I love ye so much.”

“Jamie… my love,” she moaned, holding him tightly to her as he moved. They groaned, grunted and moaned together, hands roaming, squeezing, holding and loving. Jamie could feel himself nearing the edge, the pressure and the heat building up within him.

“I’m nearly there,” he muttered to his wife. “Come with me…”

“I will,” she told him, pushing him closer to the edge. With hands locked tightly above their heads, they went over the edge together, crying out, then slowly relaxed from the high together. Catrìona wrapped her arms tightly around him, her hand buried in his hair and stroking his curls. She kissed his face gently. “I love ye, Jamie… So much.”

“I love ye, too,” he told her, gently pressing his lips to hers. He rolled off of her, then pulled her to his chest and held her. “Remember I told ye how I felt lost? Exposed, naked… Tryin’ te hide under a blade of grass? I think tha’… perhaps ye’ve built me a lean-to.” She smiled at him. “And a roof… te keep out the rain.”

“I feel that, too,” she told him, resting her hand over his heart. He placed his hand over hers, holding it.

“I’m verra sorry I shut ye out… I promise I’ll never do it again,” he whispered to her. “And I’m sorry aboot the bite… I should have come te ye.”

“It’s all right,” she told him. He brought her hand to his lips to kiss it, then suddenly trained his ears to a slight sound he thought he heard echoing off the walls throughout the house.

“What is tha’?” he asked. “Is it… the bairns?”

“Could be one of the lads cryin’. They might need te be fed,” said Catrìona. She sat up, then bent down to kiss him. “Meet me in our room. I’ll go and check on them, care fer ‘em if I have te, then I’ll meet ye back in there.” He nodded, then she bent to kiss him again, standing to pull her tartan around her shoulders and leaving the sunroom to tend to their sons. She was such a wonderful mother, and a perfect wife. Thinking of her made Jamie’s heart swell. Everything was going to be all right now. They were together again in full, and nothing could ever tear them apart again.


CATRÌONA POV

Beth had been awoken by the lads and was holding Archie, who was screaming his wee head off, and I gladly accepted him to feed him. Once Archie was fed, Beth handed Brian to me for feeding and burped Archie, then placed him back in his cot and rocked him until he was fast asleep. Brian, on the other hand, fell asleep at my breast before he was finished, so I placed him back in his cot and kissed my wee lads’ red curls. I thanked Beth for her care, then wrapped my tartan even more firmly around me and made my way towards mine and Jamie’s bedchamber. As I walked down the hall with a candle in hand, I heard a quiet rat-a-tat-a-tat on the window behind me. I stopped, then turned to find a cloaked figure at the window tapping on the window. “What the hell…” He wasn’t trying to break in, he was trying to get my attention, so I put down the candle and went to the window to unlock it and allow the cloaked figure inside. He collapsed onto the floor, moaning with misery while I closed the window and knelt down beside him, pulling the hood off of his head to reveal… “Charles? Er… Yer Highness?”

“Madame Fraser, I am so glad it is you!” he said to me, sitting up and grasping my hand. “I was unsure if I had the right house!”

“Pardon my tone, but what the hell were ye doin’ on my roof?” I asked him, cocking an eyebrow.

“I am told you have quite a tongue, but given the circumstances, it is quite all right,” said Charles. “I do not usually arrive so, without ceremony or at such an unsocial hour, but I had found myself in a rather embarrassing position at the home of a friend and was forced to flee. Unable to use the front door, I departed out of the window and onto a roof.”

“Must be quite an experience fer a prince,” I said.

“Indeed,” Charles replied. “I had a rare time, dodging chimneys, slipping on wet slates, until it occurred to me that the house of your dear husband, James, was down the row.”

“I see,” I said. “Are ye hurt? I see yer nursin’ yer hand a bit here.”

“Indeed, I have suffered a ghastly and painful injury,” said Charles, producing his hand from his cloak and showing me the cut on his hand. “You shall have a look at it, and I will need a whisky, too.” I raised my eyebrows just a little; demanding, wasn’t he? I was about to open my mouth to respond when the door to the nursery opened and Beth, clad in her cap, shift and shawl, entered the hallway.

“Is everrathing all right, Mistress? I heard a noise,” she said, and then stopped when she saw Charles on the floor and me kneeling beside him.

“Yes, if ye could fetch my husband and bring him to the study, tha’s where we’ll be going,” I said, standing and assisting Charles to stand as well. “Forgive me, Yer Highness. This is Miss Beth MacCraig, she is our… nanny.”

“Charmed indeed,” said Charles to Beth.

“Beth, this is His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Stuart,” I said to Beth, who’s eyes widened.

“Oh! A-A pleasure te meet ye, Yer Highness!” Beth exclaimed. Suddenly, I remembered how I was dressed, and I cleared my throat.

“Er, actually, Beth, why don’t ye take the prince te the study and I’ll fetch Jamie meself,” I said. “She’ll get ye that whisky. I need te… fetch my medicine bag.”

“Indeed,” said the prince, taking note of my appearance. I let Beth lead Charles to the study while I went to the bedchamber, glad that I did not send Beth to fetch Jamie, as he was lying on the bed fully nude and exposed.

“What took ye so long?” he asked me when I closed the door behind me.

“Get dressed, we have rather unexpected company,” I told him. “The bloody prince appeared on our roof and is askin’ fer ye.”

“The prince? Ye mean, Charles?” Jamie asked me.

“No, I mean the Dauphin. Yes, I mean Charles! He’s in the study waitin’ on us both and we’re both naked te the core,” I exclaimed, throwing off my tartan and digging around in the drawers of the dresser searching for a clean shift - I’d left the other one in the sunroom. I found one and pulled it on while Jamie pulled on his shirt and the breeks he’d abandoned earlier, then I pulled on one of those silly fancy French robes before grasping my medicine bag.

“What the hell is he even doin’ here at this hour?” Jamie asked me.

“I dinnae ken, but I’m sure he’ll tell ye,” I told Jamie as we left our bedchamber and entered the study.

“James!” Charles exclaimed from a seat in front of the fire. “I am so glad to see your face, my friend!”

“Yer Highness! I didnae expect ye,” said Jamie, taking the prince’s offered hand and kissing it.

“Indeed, I did not mean to come at such an hour, but as I explained to your wife, I ran into trouble at a friend’s and had to come straight away,” Charles explained.

“He was on the roof in the bloody rain, got himself injured,” I said, sitting down on a stool beside the chair and taking Charles’s hand to examine it. “What did ye cut it on? It’s small and shouldna require sutures, but I will have te disinfect it so it doesnae get infected.”

“No cut, Madame - a bite!” exclaimed the prince.

“A bite?” asked Jamie.

“Aye, an epidemic around here, it seems,” I said as I cleaned out the wound with a bit of alcohol. The prince stifled a groan of pain as I cleaned it out. “What was it that bit ye?”

“Her pet!” Charles exclaimed, looking at Jamie.

“Her?” Jamie asked him.

“Yes! It bites everyone but her! Ill-tempered, flea-ridden beast,” Charles said.

“A monkey?” I asked, pausing from my work.

“Yes. A foul thing, it is,” Charles told Jamie. “Your brother, is he here?”

“Asleep, but yes,” said Jamie. “This friend… Was she yer lover?”

“She swore she loved me countless times,” said Charles with bitterness. “Then tonight, she spurns me without warning. We were quarrelling when her husband arrived home early.”

“I can imagine that would have put her in quite an awkward situation,” I said sarcastically, but Charles ignored me.

“God is forever testing me,” he said as I wrapped his hand. “Placing obstacles in my path, and I have overcome every one of them! I shall overcome this, too. I will not be deterred. Mark me, James, I will win her back!”

“I’m sure ye will, Yer Highness,” Jamie said to him. I finished wrapping the hand and tied the bandage firmly around Charles’s wrist.

“There, all done,” I said. “Try not te get but by any more monkeys, will ye?”

“Can we offer ye hospitality?” Jamie asked Charles. “We have a spare room we would be glad te offer ye.”

“No, no, I must return to my quarters,” said Charles. “I thank you kindly for welcoming me into your home.”

“My house will always be at yer service, Yer Highness,” Jamie told him politely.

“But it’s rainin’, and ye’ve just had a nasty injury,” I said to the prince. “Personally, I would feel much better if ye stayed so I can check it in the mornin’, make sure it hasnae become infected-”

“Do you question your prince?” Charles asked me, clearly irritated by my comment.

“What?” I asked, taken aback.

“My wife means well, Yer Highness. She is a healer and is only concerned aboot yer well-being,” Jamie stepped in. “I shall have our carriage prepared fer ye. Catrìona.” He gave me a look as if to say ‘come with me’, and with a slight huff, I followed him into the hall.

“If that becomes infected-” I began, but Jamie cut me off.

“Then he’ll have someone te look at it,” Jamie told me. “Ye cannae go against the prince’s wishes like tha’, Catrìona. I ken ye mean well, and ye’ve done well by the prince, but it’s out of yer hands now.” I let out a frustrated huff.

“Bloody misogynistic prick,” I said bitterly, and Jamie chuckled and pressed his lips to my forehead. “Meet me in the parlour downstairs, I’ll be in shortly. Let me rid our home of the prince first, all right?” I nodded, then did as I was told while Jamie went to speak to one of the servants about readying the carriage.


Jamie entered the parlour sometime later with two crystal glasses full of whisky, handing me one and sitting beside me on the settee by the fire. “So he was with Louise,” he asked me, and I nodded.

“We kent they were together. He told Cailean tha’ months ago,” I told him. “It makes sense. They’re both dreamers, they both live in a fantasy world… They’re perfect for each other.” I sipped my whisky, then recalled something I wanted to tell Jamie earlier on this seemingly never ending night. “I wanted te tell ye earlier… Louise is pregnant.”

“Good fer her, and de Rohan,” said Jamie in response.

“But see, tha’s the thing. It’s no’ de Rohan’s child, it’s Charles’s,” I told him, and his eyes seemed to widen. “She wants te keep it, pass it off as de Rohan’s bairn. I feel terrible thinking this… but I think we should invite them te dinner.”

“It’s no a bad idea, as terrible as it sounds,” Jamie replied, setting his whisky down on a table beside the settee. “We use their affair te our advantage.”

“Use her pregnancy te derail Charles. It certainly will, he seems te love her, and she him,” I said.

“Use his broken heart te break his bank,” Jamie replied.

“Does this make us bad people?” I asked him.

“Nah,” Jamie replied, pulling me into his arms and holding me against his chest. “The way I see it, we’re doin’ a bad thing fer a good reason.”

“Is tha’ no’ what bad people say?” I asked him, looking up at him.

“Savin’ thousands, or savin’ one idiot’s heart,” he replied, brushing a piece of hair out of my face. “It doesnae compare. God will understand on judgement day.” He pressed his lips to my forehead. “Nevermind Charles. I dinnae want te discuss him anymore, only you. Ye ken we’ve been married a year now.”

“A year last Friday,” I replied.

“I believe we were in the middle of somethin’,” he muttered quietly to me, burying his lips in my hair.

“What, here?” I asked him, looking around the room.

“Why no’? Before, we were in the sunroom,” he told me, lifting me off of him and lying me down onto the settee. “I’ve go’ a lot of lost time te make up for, and I dinnae want te waste another minute.” I couldn’t help but giggle at this, and he took my hand in his and kissed my fingers. “Will ye have me here?”

“I’ll have ye wherever ye want me,” I told him. He smiled at me, then kissed my hand once more before moving down to kiss my thighs. My Jamie was home, and he wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.




Chapter Text

27 April, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

“I’m sure Charles will be glad fer the opportunity te meet Duverney and Sandringham,” Cailean was telling Jamie as they exited the carriage outside of Maison Elise. “When is this dinner again?”

“Friday,” Jamie reminded him.

“Yer birthday? What a way te celebrate turnin’ twenty-three,” Cailean told him, and Jamie chuckled.

“Aye, Catrìona said it might be a good reason te give fer this dinner,” Jamie replied.

“It’s an excellent reason. Men tend te be more relaxed at a dinner of leisure rather than one of politics,” said Cailean. “So we’ll tell the prince it’s fer yer birthday. I’m sure he’d be glad te come fer that alone, even better that Duverney and Sandringham will be there.”

“Sounds like a good plan,” Jamie replied. The two men entered Maison Elise, then were greeted cheerfully by Charles when they arrived at the table.

“James! Cailean! How wonderful to see you both again,” Charles said when they arrived at the table.

“Laird Broch Tuarach,” said the voice of Alasdair Fowlis, and Jamie realised that he was seated at the table.

“Mr. Fowlis,” said Jamie, shaking the man’s outstretched hand. “Glad te find ye both at the same table. My wife and I would like te extend an invite to ye both this Friday evenin’ fer dinner.”

“Is that so? What is the occasion?” Charles asked, lifting a glass of wine and sipping from it.

“My birthday,” Jamie said. “My wife wanted te host a dinner in celebration.”

“Jamie will be three and twenty this Friday,” Cailean chimed in.

“I would be glad te attend,” said Alasdair. “Might I bring my son along?”

“Certainly, we have plenty of room at our table,” Jamie answered the fair-haired man. “Yer Highness? Might we be blessed with yer appearance?”

“For my friend on such a special occasion, I would be glad to,” Charles told him. “What other guests will be in attendance, if I might be so bold?”

“My wife invited a friend of hers, but I dinnae remember the name,” Jamie lied. “But in attendance will be the Duke of Sandringham, who is an acquaintance of many years, and Monsieur Duverney and their families.”

“The Duke of Sandringham and Monsieur Duverney?” asked Charles with interest. “You certainly have the most interesting of friends, James. I very much look forward to this dinner now.”

“And we shall be glad te have ye,” said Jamie. Good, the prince was coming, as was Alasdair Fowlis. Pretty much everyone in attendance was invited due to their connection to Charles, and due to this dinner, those connections may or may not be severed, if things go to plan.


1 May, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

Jamie awoke on his birthday to a bit of a show beneath the blankets, which I was glad to give him. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him moaning and gripping the sheets and shifting beneath the blankets. Right when I could feel him about to fall over the edge, he grabbed me under the arms and pulled me out from under the blanket, pushing me down onto the bed and pinning my shoulders against it. “Ye cannae possibly think I want te finish in yer mouth first thing in the mornin’,” he told me, kissing me passionately and pushing himself into me. I let him ride me all the way to the edge, taking me with him as we came together.

“Happy birthday, mo ghràidh ,” I whispered to him, holding his face in my hands.

“What an excellent way te wake up,” he told me. He then rolled onto his back, stretching his arms and flexing his hand - the one that had been injured. “And we have a long day ahead of us.”

“I ken,” I said. “A long evenin’ , rather. Christ, I dinnae want te entertain all these bloody fools.”

“Neither do I, but it is a necessary evil,” Jamie replied. A knock at the door disturbed the moment between us, and I quickly sat up to adjust my shift and the blanket as Suzette entered.

“Oh! Excuse me, Milady,” she said when she realised that Jamie was clearly nude beneath the blanket in bed beside me. “I have a message for you, Milady, from L’Hôpital des Anges.

“What is it?” I asked her.

“There was an explosion at the Royal Armory. They require your assistance,” Suzette replied.

“Blessed Bride,” I said. “Er… Tell them I shall be there shortly.”

Oui, Milady,” said Suzette, and she curtsied and left the room.

“Catrìona, the dinner is tonight,” Jamie reminded me when we were alone again.

“I ken, mo chridhe, but Madame Vionnet never even lets me near the kitchens and I’d rather be somewhere I’m needed. You need te be at the warehouses fer the inspection, and I’ll no’ sit around here bein’ useless when I’m clearly needed elsewhere,” I told him, resting my hand on his cheek and kissing him. “I’ll be back before sunset, I promise.” Jamie let out a sigh.

“All right,” he said. “But take Murtagh with ye, and Fergus, too. They’ll have ye home in time te dress fer dinner.”

“Sounds good te me,” I said. “Best get dressed then, both of us.” Before I left the room, I made sure to give Jamie a deep and passionate kiss, one that almost led us to repeat that morning’s rendezvous, but duty called, and I had to go. “I love ye, my Jamie, and I’ll see ye soon.” I kissed him again, my arms wrapped firmly around his neck.

“I love ye, too, mo nighean ruadh ,” Jamie told me, kissing me again. “Come back early enough and we may fit in another…” I gave him a playful shove, then kissed him one final time before I was finally on my way. When I got in the carriage, I instructed the driver to stop at Louise’s so I could pick up Mary, who once expressed interest in the past in wanting to help where she could.

“We’ll need all the help we can get. The worst of the injuries have come te the hospital,” I told her when we were on our way.

“I hope ye dinnae expect me te go in there,” Murtagh told me firmly.

“We could use yer help, but I suppose someone should watch Fergus,” I said.

“You will let les métis stay with me?” young Fergus asked me, and I couldn’t help but snort.

“What did ye call me, ye wee shite?” Murtagh demanded of Fergus.

“Fight it out when yer waitin’ fer us te come out,” I told the two of them when I realised that Mary was quite nervous in the carriage with the two of them. “Dinnae fash, Mary. I’ll no’ let them tear each other’s throats out in here.”

“G-Good,” Mary stuttered.

“Is yer uncle coming te dinner tonight?” I asked her, attempting to distract her, and she nodded. “Good, we’re verra glad. I look forward te meetin’ him.”

“H-He s-still wants me t-to marry that Frenchman,” Mary said.

“Well, maybe we can persuade him te change his mind,” I said to her. We arrived at the hospital and I was quick to descend from the carriage, Mary in tow, and lifted my skirts so I wouldn’t trip as I rushed into L’Hôpital . “Mother Hildegard,” I said when I saw her over the body of a patient. “What’s the status?”

“Quite bad,” Mother Hildegard told me. “It is good that you are here. We need you today.”

“I’m glad te be here,” I told her. “Tell me where te start, then.”


After several hours of work, I took a moment to step outside and take a deep breath. It dawned on me suddenly that it was Beltane, and I hadn’t given any prayers to the gods and goddesses. Given the circumstances, I closed my eyes and muttered quietly in Gaelic:

 

“Goddess Brigid, 

I ask for your healing hands to guide mine. 

Bathe me in your healing light, 

So that I may bathe others who suffer in pain in mine. 

Lend me your magic so that I may bring peace 

To those who fall ill to sickness or injury. 

Blessed be.” 

 

“Blessed what?” Murtagh asked me, also in Gaelic, and I let out a sigh.

“Ye shouldnae be listenin’ te people in private prayer,” I told him in English.

“Then dinnae speak yer private prayer in public,” he replied. “We need te get goin’ or we’ll be late.”

“Another hour. More and more people are bein’ brought in and they need all the help they can get,” I told him.

“But I promised Milord-” Fergus, who stood nearby, said.

“I know, a leannan, ” I told him. “We’ll hurry as best as we can.” I glanced up to see Mary also taking a breather, standing alone against the wall of the hospital. She glanced up at me and smiled, then looked away again.

“It is a shame Mademoiselle Hawkins is so sad,” Fergus said.

“Sad? Tha’ hen was smilin’ ear te ear!” Murtagh told him.

“Did you really not see hat she had been crying?” Fergus asked the middle-aged man.

“Cryin’? I saw no cryin’,” Murtagh told him.

“That is why you will die with la veuve poignet, ” Fergus told him, and I couldn’t help but snort and chuckle.

“The hell does tha’ even mean?” Murtagh demanded.

“Blessed Bride, Murtagh, how are ye survivin’ in Paris with no’ a word of French?” I asked him. “He said ye’ll die alone with yer hand.”

Bratach beagan!” Murtagh hissed at the laughing boy, smacking him on the back of his head, then snatched his own sgian dubh from the little filch’s hands. “Give me that!” I couldn’t help but chuckle, then glanced at Mary again.

“Puir lass,” I said. “She’s engaged te the Vicomte, but she’s in love with another.”

“In love?” Murtagh asked me. “But the lad jus’ said she was sad!”

“When yer heart is broken, ye tend te be sad,” I replied. “Ye’d ken tha’ if ye had one.” He sent me a glare, and I chuckled gently. “It’s quite obvious, actually. I saw her smitten with a lad at Versailles, some time ago, and Beth informed me that Mary’s heart belongs to another.”

“Hmph,” said Murtagh.

“It is true,” said Fergus. “In spite of the crying, she is wearing her heart on her sleeve. And there is a spring in her step, and her speech, which does not flow, runs like a sparkling stream when she thinks of him.”

“One,” said Murtagh, holding up a finger. “I dinnae care.”

“Then dinnae ask,” I said, but Murtagh ignored me.

Two, ” he said, “a man doesnae concern himself with the affairs of women.”

“Tha’ so?” I asked.

“Hmph,” Murtagh grunted. “Suzette, the lady’s maid… is she in love with anyone?”

“Men dinnae concern themselves with the affairs of women,” I repeated with amusement.

Oui , with any man who walks past her door,” said Fergus with a childlike laugh.

“Nevvamind, ye wee smout,” Murtagh spat at him.

“Right, there’s too much testosterone out here. I’m goin’ back in,” I said to them, shaking my head and going back inside. I went back in time to find one of the volunteer physicians, Monsieur Forez, tending to a patient with a serious compound fracture. He took a pin, then instructed the nuns to turn his injured leg to the side, then gently tapped the pin into the back of the knee with a hammer until the man on the table stopped thrashing and moaning.

“Do you feel this?” Monsieur Forez asked the man in French, who confirmed in the negative. “Good.”

“Tha’s incredible,” I said. “Pressure on the peroneal nerve?”

“Assuming that is the nerve you speak of that runs behind le genou , then oui . If you are fortunate enough to pierce it directly, it numbs the sensation in the lower extremity,” Monsieur Forez explained to me.

“Clever, I replied.

“Come, we must work quickly,” he told me. “Hold the foot steady. Mhm.” I held the man’s foot while Forez pressed down on the bone, which made quite a few loud cracking sounds, then the bone was back in place.

“Ye should check the wound fer bone fragments. With a wound like tha’, there might be a few,” I said, picking up a pair of tweezers and removing a couple of bone chips from the wound.

“A good find,” said Monsieur Forez, and then he handed me a small jar with an ivory-coloured substance inside. “Put this on him, the ointment will ease the pain of the burns.” I nodded and scooped out a bit of the greasy substance and began to rub it on the man’s burns as Mary appeared by my side, then helped by rubbing on more ointment.

“This stuff looks like it’ll work wonders,” I said. “What is it?”

“Hangman’s grease,” said Monsieur Forez, and I glanced up at him. “Rendered fat from hanged criminals.”

“I- Oh,” I said. “I see…”

“F-f-fat?” Mary stuttered breathlessly, stepping away from the patient and staring down at her greased hands.

“Madame Fraser,” I heard Mother Hildegard call, beckoning me to her.

“Just a moment te wash my hands,” I said to her, then nodded to Monsieur Forez before going to a bucket of alcohol to disinfect my hands, something I insisted on. I was to help Mother Hildegard with a shoulder relocation, something I had no trouble with. “Where would Monsieur Forez get hangman’s grease from?” I asked her quietly.

“When Monsieur Forez is not with us, he serves as His Royal Majesty’s royal executioner,” Mother Hildegard explained.

“Peculiar calling,” I commented as I helped to examine some burns.

“We take what God sends us. Still, the bulk of our physicians are better than nothing,” said Mother Hildegard, and then she raised her eyes to meet mine. “ You are better than nothing.”

“Thank ye kindly. Truly,” I said gratefully, then turned my attention back to the patient, examining his burns. “Thankfully, these burns arenae so bad. He might do well with a debridement, though it looks rather barbaric.”

“Debridement?” asked Mother Hildegard.

“Yes, we’ll do an incision into the burns and cut and scrape it away, exposin’ the dermis and applyin’ some of Monsieur Forez’s grease,” I explained. “Be’er te rid him of the skin tha’s already dead, no?” Though unsure about the procedure, Mother Hildegard agreed, and I taught her how to debride a second degree burn.

“Madame Fraser, there is a girl here for you,” came Sister Ascelina, one of the other nuns at the hospital.

“Mary?” I asked, and Sister Ascelina shook her head, then gestured to the girl who stood behind her. “Beth? Is everrathing all right?”

“Yes, Mistress. I came because Mr. Fraser was worried, ye hadnae come back yet,” Beth told me. “He said ye said ye’d be back before sunset.” I glanced out the windows and saw the fading light, realising that sunset was in the midst of happening.

“Ah, right,” I said. “Just a wee bit longer and I’ll be right there, lass. These men are verra hurt.”

“Can I help?” Beth asked me. “Perhaps it will be faster.” I glanced briefly at Mother Hildegard, who nodded.

“Aye, we could use all the help we can get,” I said to Beth, beckoning her to follow me.


It was dark when I finally left L’Hôpital, and Mary, Beth and Murtagh were surrounding the carriage clearly focused on something. “Wha’s goin’ on?” I asked.

“It’s the carriage. The axle broke and the wheels willnae turn,” said Murtagh. “I sent the wee bawbag ahead te tell Jamie we’ll be late, although we already are. ” I narrowed my eyes at him, then glanced at the broken axle of the carriage, which hung beneath it.

“Blessed Bride… And today, of all days,” I said. “What’ll we do, then? I promised Jamie I’d be home te greet our guests and now, we’ll never make it.” I paused for a moment as I examined the damage done to the carriage. “Nevermind how this even happened te a carriage that didnae move all day… We’ll have te walk.”

“Is tha’ wise?” Murtagh asked me.

“Can ye think of a better plan?” I asked, and that shut him up. “Come on, then. Best we get moving quickly. The sooner we leave, the sooner we get there.” We were walking for quite a bit, Murtagh trailing quite a distance ahead of Beth and Mary and I not too far behind Mary.

“So,” I heard Beth say, her arm locked with Mary’s. “Care te tell me aboot this lad of yers?”

“Oh! Well… Like I-I told you before, I… I find him most intriguing,” Mary began to tell her, and I smiled to myself. I could feel the warmth of the redness of her cheeks from here in her girlish giggles. “We’ve been c-corresponding for weeks now… in secret.”

“Really?” Beth exclaimed, and Mary shushed her. The two girls giggled quietly, and I saw Murtagh up ahead glance back at them over his shoulder before turning forward again. “Do tell me more! Dinnae keep me waiting!”

“All right,” Mary said, still giggling. “He’s handsome, intelligent, and his letters are of such eloquence. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him.”

I’m nearly fallin’ fer the lad! This story makes me heart flichter!” Beth told her.

“Flichter? Whatever does that mean?”

“Makes me heart flutter,” Beth replied. “Come, tell me. Have ye had a coorie with the lad?”

“Beth MacCraig!” I said behind them, surprising the two girls into a giggle fit. I squeezed my way in between the two of them, taking each of their arms in mine. “I’ll no’ deny I was listenin’. Now, hen, tell us more,” I told Mary. “What’s the lad’s name? Although I think I may already ken…”

“I… I think you might,” Mary said meekly in response.

“Well, dinnae haud yer weesht. Tell me! Who’s the lucky lad?” Beth asked her, and Mary blushed even more.

“Oh, I shouldn’t even be saying this!” she said, and then she lowered her voice, even though we were alone on the street, save for Murtagh, who turned a corner down an alley that led to the street Jared’s house was on. “His name is Randall.”

Alexander Randall,” I said.

“Mistress!” Mary hissed, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes, fine…”

“How’d ye meet him?” Beth asked her.

“I dropped my handkerchief and he picked it up,” Mary answered.

“Deliberately?” asked Beth.

“Well, of course, deliberately. Do ye ken how many times I’ve dropped somethin’ in front of my husband te get his attention?” I said, intentionally teasing Mary, and Beth and I shared a laugh.

“It was romantic! Not… that! ” Mary exclaimed. “It was at Versailles in February. When Mistress Fraser wore that blue dress.”

“Ah, yes, tha’ dress,” I said, recalling the night. We rounded the corner to the alley, which was actually quite dark. “I recall seein’ ye speak te Alex Randall, tha’s how I ken-” Glancing up as we walked, I suddenly saw a limp form lying on the ground - Murtagh! “Murtagh!” I exclaimed, letting go of the two girls and running to him, but I was grabbed around the waist and lifted off of my feet. “What the hell- Get off of me or ye’ll regret it, ye dirty bastard!”

“Help! Help!” I heard one of the girls scream, while the other simply let out a high-pitched yelp. I heard the voices of men speaking very quick French, but I was so focused on Mary and Beth that I didn’t stop to listen to them.

“Beth! Mary!” I called to them, feeling myself shoved against a wall.

Soyez silencieux! ” shouted the man who had grabbed me. I heard one of the girls screaming again and the other fought off her attacker.

“A virgin! I have a virgin!” I heard one of the men shout in French.

“You leave her alone! ” I hissed at the men, struggling to get my feet free so I could kick the bastard’s bollocks right off.

“And another here!” shouted another man in French.

“Don’t ye touch me! I’ll kill ye, I swear I will!” I heard Beth’s brogue shout back at the man.

“No! No, please! Leave them alone!” I cried out, and I heard Mary’s high pitched screams and cries. Reaching into the pocket of my pannier, I grasped my hand around my sgian dubh , but the man who was restraining me suddenly gasped.

La Dame Blanche! ” he cried, letting me go. “It is La Dame Blanche! ” That particular man ran off, as did a couple of others, including Beth’s attacker, but Mary’s attacker was in the midst of raping her before my very eyes. I grabbed the man by his queue and yanked him backwards and off of her. While Beth ran to Mary’s side, I pulled my sgian dubh out and slashed the man’s hand as he fled, leaving a nasty mark that would scar considerably, and watched as he ran off.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Where the hell was Catrìona? Fergus had arrived some time ago to tell Jamie that there was an issue with the carriage, and Jamie was about to grab a horse and go to L’Hôpital himself when Magnus appeared in the parlour, where Fergus had informed Jamie of the news.

“Monsieur Fraser, guests have arrived,” Magnus said, bowing to Jamie, who let out a huff.

“Och, of course,” he muttered. “Do what ye must, I shall come te the foyer in a moment.” Magnus agreed and left, and Jamie turned to Fergus. “Go and tell Cailean te get the other carriage te fetch them.”

Oui, Milord,” said wee Fergus, who ran off to do as he was told.

“As quickly as ye can!” Jamie called after him, and then he quickly adjusted his waistcoat and checked his hair in a silver plate before going to the foyer to accept his guests. He arrived just in time as Magnus opened the door to admit the first of the guests - the Duke of Sandringham.

“His Grace, the Honourable Clarence Marylebone, the third Duke of Sandringham,” Magnus announced.

“Welcome, Yer Grace,” Jamie said to Sandringham, who greeted Jamie cheerfully.

“Jamie! How wonderful to see you, and on your birthday, nonetheless!” said Sandringham. “And where is your lovely wife?”

“My wife is… indisposed at the moment, with the lads. Ye ken one of our sons is ill and she has had te… run out te the apothecary fer an emergency,” Jamie explained poorly.

“I see,” said the Duke, clearly not buying it. The door opened again to admit another young man, this one looking remarkably familiar.

“May I introduce my secretary, Mr. Alex Randall,” said Sandringham, and Jamie realised exactly why this man looked so familiar; he had to resist the urge to punch the man in the bollocks.

“Mr. Randall,” said Jamie politely, bowing to Alex, who politely bowed back.

“Pleased to meet you, Lord Broch Tuarach,” Alex told him kindly. “I am told that you and your wife are acquainted with my brother.”

“Indeed,” said Jamie.

“Hmm, run along now, Alex, and go and assist the servants,” Sandringham told his secretary dismissively.

“Yes, Your Grace, and I shall dine with the butler,” said Alex. He bowed again to Jamie and Sandringham, then disappeared.

“Come, Yer Grace, te the parlour fer a fine glass of my cousin’s wine,” Jamie told the Duke, who was pleased to receive the offer of wine. Magnus entered the parlour shortly to announce the arrival of another guest.

“Mr. Silas Hawkins,” Magnus announced as a stout man entered the parlour.

“Mr. Hawkins,” said Jamie politely. “Verra pleased te meet ye. Welcome te my home. Ye must be the uncle of Miss Mary Hawkins? My wife is verra fond of the lass.”

“Yes, my niece does spend too much time engaging in social activity,” said Silas mildly bitterly.

“Aye,” said Jamie, unsure of what to say. “Come, have a glass of my cousin’s finest wine, imported from Italy.” Magnus entered the room again. Christ, was everyone arriving at once? Where was Catrìona, and why did Jamie have to deal with this on his own?

“Charles Gaspard de Bernard, Vicomte de Marigny,” Magnus announced as an older man entered the room.

“Lord Broch Tuarach, may I introduce my niece’s fiancé, the Vicomte de Marigny?” Silas Hawkins said as the Vicomte entered the room.

“Verra pleased te meet ye, Yer Grace,” Jamie said, bowing to the Vicomte de Marigny, who refused to bow back.

Enchanté, ” the older man answered snobbishly. Perhaps fifteen minutes later, Magnus entered again to announce another arrival.

Monsieur Joseph Pâris Duverney et Madame Élisabeth Duverney, ” Magnus announced as Duverney and his wife, a lovely woman significantly younger than Duverney, entered the parlour.

“Monsieur Duverney,” Jamie said, greeting the man as he entered.

“Lord Brock Two-rock!” Duverney exclaimed cheerfully. “My wife, Élisabeth.”

“A pleasure, Madame, ” said Jamie, accepting her hand and kissing it.

Monsieur Jean Ribes et Madame Anne-Marie Ribes,” Magnus announced, drawing Jamie’s attention from the Duverneys.

“Do excuse me, Monsieur, Madame, ” Jamie said as he went to greet his new guests.

Monsieur et Madame Leclaire, ” Magnus said again, announcing the next guest. Christ, who else was on the guest list? Sometime later, Magnus’s voice interrupted the lull of the guests by loudly clearing his throat. “His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”

Le prince? ” one of the women exclaimed in a whisper as Jamie crossed the room to accept Charles’s outstretched hand.

“Yer Highness,” he said, kissing Charles’s fingers. “Welcome te my home.”

“High hopes, James,” said Charles exclusively to Jamie, taking note of all the attention on him. “Mark me, tonight could be a turning point for us.”

“Aye, I believe it will be,” Jamie replied quietly, and then he led Charles to the group that contained both Sandringham and Duverney. “Yer Royal Highness, may I present the Honourable Clarence Marylebone, third Duke of Sandringham, and Monsieur Duverney, Minister of Finance? Yer Grace, Monsieur, may I present His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart?”

Bonjour, Your Royal Highness,” Duverney said to Charles.

“Such a delight to finally meet you,” said Sandringham. “I have heard such grand praise of you!”

“The feeling is quite mutual, Your Grace,” Charles replied to Sandringham.

Monsieur Christophe Bessette et Lady Claire Bessette, ” Magnus’s voice announced. Christ, there were more? 


CATRÌONA POV

“Mary!” I called as I ran to Mary once the man had run off. “Mary! Are ye all right?” Poor Mary was in tears, clinging tightly to Beth as she cried.

“The bloody bastard took her maidenhead,” Beth told me.

“Poor lass,” I said, rubbing Mary’s back gently. “We need te get her back te the house so I can examine her. Are ye hurt, Beth?”

“No, he didnae get me,” Beth told me.

“Bleedin’ Christ!” I heard a male voice exclaim behind me, and I turned to find the fair-haired form of Alasdair Fowlis and his son hovering over Murtagh.

“Mr. Fowlis?” I said, drawing his attention to me.

“Lady Broch Tuarach,” he said, abandoning Murtagh’s side and rushing to mine. “Are ye all right? What’s happened?”

“Kind of ye te play the knight in shinin’ armour,” I said sarcastically. “We were attacked by masked men. Did ye happen te see them flee? Which direction they went?”

“No, we’ve only just happened upon ye all,” Alasdair told me, looking at Mary. “The wee lass… was she…” I didn’t have to answer him verbally, as the look in my eyes was enough. “Come, we must get ye back te yer home-”

“Catrìona!” I heard Cailean’s voice call, and I glanced up to see him running from the direction of our street. “What’s happened? Are ye hurt?”

“I’m fine!” I hissed. “It isnae me ye bloody wee gabbots should be concerned aboot!”

“Gabbots?” Alasdair asked with surprise.

“What happened?” Cailean asked again.

“They were attacked, by… masked men, ye said?” Alasdair asked, and I nodded.

“Aye, masked men. They spoke rather… eloquently. Not like ye’d expect bandits te speak,” I said.

“Or dress,” Beth chimed in. “One was wearin’ a fine coat embroidered with golden thread.”

“Come, your husband will want to hear of this, Mistress Fraser,” Alasdair said again, ushering us into his open carriage, where his son had already helped the now awake Murtagh, who had quite a large goose egg forming on his forehead.

“Murtagh,” I said as I accepted Alasdair’s hand to help me into the carriage. “Are ye all right? Ye gave me quite a fright!”

Na gabh dragh, ” he told me, holding his head as he looked at the horribly frightened and sobbing Mary, who was quivering in Beth’s arms. “The lass… she…” I nodded quietly. “The bastards.”

“Dinnae fash aboot them now. They’re gone,” I said, and then turned to Cailean. “Run ahead and alert Jamie.”

“Aye,” said Cailean, and he ran off as Alasdair climbed back up into the driver’s seat of the carriage.


JAMIE POV

Général D’Arbanville, ” Magnus announced another guest.

“General, pleased ye could come,” Jamie said to the man, whom he hardly knew other than the few wine deals he had struck with the man.

“I have been looking forward to it,” said the General, who was making a beeline for the wine glasses. Jamie was about to follow him when Magnus announced the arrival of another guest.

Le Marquis de Rohan et Madame Louise de la Tour Marquise de Rohan, ” Magnus announced as Louise and Jules de Rohan entered the parlour.

“Madame, Monsieur,” Jamie said kindly, greeting the pair of them. “I am verra glad te have ye both here tonight.”

“It is special occasion!” Louise said excitedly. “I hear it is ton anniversarie.

“Aye, I am three and twenty today,” said Jamie shyly, but kindly. “Come, I have a verra important guest I should like te introduce ye both to.” Jamie led the de Rohans to where Charles was standing, his eyes as wide as dinner plates at the sight of Louise, who pretended not to know him. “Allow me te introduce ye to His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”

“A pleasure, Your Royal Highness,” said Jules obliviously, bowing to Charles, who was staring at Louise with anger in his eyes.

“Indeed,” Charles replied sharply, then he changed his tone as he spoke to Jules. “A rare jewel, you have brought.” Out of the corner of his eye, Jamie saw movement in the doorframe, and when Jamie turned his attention to it, he saw Cailean, who looked alarmed, waving to him and beckoning him to follow.

“Excuse me a moment,” Jamie said to the group, approaching Cailean and ducking into the hall, speaking in a hushed whisper. “What is it? What’s happened?”

“Come see fer yerself,” Cailean told him, leading Jamie outside onto the street as Alasdair Fowlis’s open carriage pulled up to the house, containing his wife, Beth, Miss Hawkins and Murtagh.

“Catrìona!” Jamie exclaimed with alarm, assisting her down and grasping her face in his hands as he examined a bruise forming on her forehead. “What the hell happened?”

“We were attacked,” she explained, pulling her face from his hands and turning to look at the sobbing form of young Miss Hawkins.

“Four brigands,” Murtagh explained as he assisted Beth and Miss Hawkins down from the carriage. “I did try te fight them off.”

“They knocked him unconscious,” Catrìona said as she pulled herself from Jamie’s arms to speak to Beth. “Take her upstairs te the spare room.”

“Yes, Mistress,” said Beth. “I’ll take her through the back.”

“Thank ye, Beth,” Catrìona told her as the two young lassies disappeared.

“I found them in an alley no’ far from here,” Alasdair said as he climbed down from the carriage.

“Thank ye fer seein’ my wife home safely,” Jamie told him.

“We were all assaulted, but poor Mary… She was raped,” Catrìona said, reappearing at Jamie’s side.

“Good God,” Cailean muttered.

“Let’s just get inside, I need te tend te her,” Catrìona said, shoving past all the men and approaching the back door, where Beth had brought Miss Hawkins.

“I’ll help with entertainin’, you go help her,” Cailean told Jamie, then he turned to Alasdair and young Archie, Alasdair’s son. “ Tiugainn, I’ll introduce ye myself. The Prince is already here.”

“I’ve been lookin’ forward te introducin’ him to my son,” said Alasdair, and then he turned to Jamie. “If ye need anythin’, I’d be glad te help.”

“Thank ye kindly,” Jamie told him, watching as the men went inside. Murtagh hung back, seemingly ashamed. “What is it, ye dolt?”

“It’s my fault,” Murtagh said back to him.

“Judgin’ by the second head yer growin’ out of yer first, I’ll say it wasnae,” Jamie replied. “ Thig a-steach , Catrìona will want te look at tha’, I’m sure.”


CATRÌONA POV

I climbed the back staircase, which was reserved for the servants, to get to the second floor, where Beth had taken Mary, and grabbed my medical bag from mine and Jamie’s bedchamber before going to Mary. Mary was still in tears, so I made her a quick cup of tea laced with laudanum to calm her. “She’s hurt, poor lass, but she’ll be all right,” I told Beth, who was clearly worried sick. A knock sounded at the door, which Beth went to answer while I cleaned up a wound on Mary’s head.

“Mary!” said a male voice, and I turned my head to see Alex Randall enter the room. “Is she all right? What’s happened?”

“We were attacked in the street,” I answered him. “Mary was… She was raped.”

“Good God,” said Alex with shock.

“She’ll be all right. I need te get dressed, I’ve a dinner te host. Can ye both stay with her? She’ll be glad te have ye,” I said, addressing both Alex and Beth.

“Of course,” Beth said.

“She’ll need plenty of quiet and rest,” I informed the two of them.

“I’ll not leave her side,” said Alex.

“If she wakes up, give her some water or tea, and a wee bit of the laudanum. No’ too much, or she might have visions,” I told them. Another knock at the door sounded, and then Jamie poked his head into the room.

“Everrathing all right?” he asked.

“Yes, everrathing is fine,” I said, and then I turned back to Alex and Beth. “I’ll leave her in yer hands, then.” I nodded to them both, then headed towards the door and went out into the corridor.

“Dinner isnae served, we can still cancel and send everyone home,” Jamie told me as he followed me to our bedchamber.

“No need fer that. There’s too much at stake tonight, but we should alert the authorities aboot Mary,” I told him.

“We cannae do tha’, Miss Hawkins’s uncle and fiancé are here. If they learn she’s been violated, her reputation will be ruined,” Jamie told me as we entered our bedchamber.

“Suzette, can ye help me dress?” I called, hearing her ‘ Oui , Milady’ in response. “Times never change, do they? Whether it’s 1744 or 2131, if a lass is raped, it’s her fault.”

“I ken it isnae right, but no man will take her if it’s kent she’s a maiden no more,” said Jamie.

“You took me,” I said.

“Not all men will be so proud, but many are,” Jamie replied.

“‘Not all men’. That argument is timeless,” I said somewhat bitterly as Suzette appeared with the dress I was supposed to wear for tonight.

“Are ye sure ye arenae hurt?” Jamie asked me as I slipped out of the dress I was wearing and into the new one.

“I’m fine, Jamie. Ye ken I can handle my own,” I replied, standing up as Suzette quickly laced my dress for me.

“I ken, but that doesnae mean I dinnae worry aboot ye,” he replied. “I’ve go’ this, Suzette. Just get the hair pins.”

Oui , Milord,” said Suzette, doing as she was told as Jamie took over lacing me up.

“Did ye recognise any of them?” he asked me, but I shook my head.

“No, they wore masks, and they were already gone by the time Alasdair Fowlis arrived,” I told him.

“I’d lay odds that black-hearted bastard, Saint Germain, was behind this,” said Jamie, helping me tuck my stomacher into my laces. Another knock at the door and it was pushed open to reveal Cailean.

“Jamie!” he said, realising that Jamie was with me. “How is she?”

“Able te speak fer herself, thanks,” I told my brother as he entered the room.

“I meant Miss Hawkins. You I ken are fine, yer tougher than any man I ken,” he told me.

“She’ll be all right. She needs a doctor, for certain,” I said as Jamie started to undo my hair from the updo it was in as Suzette returned.

“She’s got a damn good one right here,” Cailean told me, and then he turned to Jamie. “Jamie, we’ve got some rather unwelcome guests. Or rather, guest, as Comtesse Saint Germain is a verra polite lady.”

“Comtesse Saint Germain?” Jamie asked. “Is Saint Germain here?” Cailean nodded. “I’ve a mind te go out there and cut his head off.”

“Do ye think he did this?” Cailean asked him.

“I dinnae ken,” Jamie replied. “Why is he here? We didnae invite him.”

“The Duke did,” Cailean told him. “He said it should be easy te place two more settings at the table.” At this, Suzette scoffed.

“Easy for him to say,” she said, and I couldn’t help but snort.

“Tha’ indeed, that bloody self-righteous bastard,” I said. “Either way, no one is gettin’ their head cut off tonight. Ye both should go, I’ll be down as soon as I can.”

“I’ll let the guests ken yer here,” Jamie told me. He bent down to kiss my cheek. “Cover up that bruise on yer head, too. We dinnae want te alarm anyone.” With one more kiss, he was gone, leaving Suzette and I alone. She helped me finish my hair and cover the bruise, and before I went downstairs, I put on the protective stone that Master Raymond had given me. With Saint Germain here, Lord knew what could happen. I descended the stairs and met Magnus at the front, who bowed to me and led me to the parlour to announce me.

Mesdames et messieurs, ta grâce, Voltre Altesse, ” Magnus began, but then Jamie took over, grasping my hand and nodding to Magnus.

“May I present my wife, Catrìona Fraser, Lady Broch Tuarach,” Jamie said, announcing me to the room.

“It’s so wonderful te see ye all,” I said to the room. “My sincerest apologies fer my delay, ye must all be famished.” Dinner was announced shortly after and everyone began to head to the dining room, but Louise held me back in the parlour just for a moment.

“I’ve told him,” she said to me quietly. “I convinced him that it happened on a drunken night. The baby is his. He was mad with joy.”

“Excellent! See? I told ye men arenae as clever as they think,” I told her, linking arms with her as we went into the dining room.

“We are fortunate,” said Jamie sometime later as dinner was served, “to have His Royal Highness with us from Italy.”

“What a resplendent country,” Sandringham said from his seat beside Charles. I had occasion to visit last year. My one disappointment was my trip to the Vatican. I had wished to meet Pope Benedict, but he was too busy to see me.”

“What is it that popes do anyway?” said Duverney cheerfully. “Does anyone know?”

“I imagine being leader of the Catholic Church keeps him rather occupied,” said Charles, who’s eyes were constantly on Louise, who sat across from him.

“Indeed,” said Sandringham. “Have you met him?”

“On several occasions,” Charles answered snobbishly. “He has been exceedingly generous to my family, as have the past four popes.”

“I just wanted to ascertain whether the pope is as witty as they say,” said Sandringham. “The man is celebrated across Rome for his bon mots.

“I hear ye’ve been kent fer tellin’ a joke or two, Yer Grace,” Alasdair Fowlis said to him from near Jamie’s end of the table. “Perhaps ye’d humour us?”

“Oh, well, I really don’t… Well, I suppose I have just the one,” said Sandringham, and he cleared his throat, turning to Lady Bessette, who sat on his other side. “What did the dwarf say when asked for five shillings? ‘Apologies, I’m a trifle short’.” The ladies at the table erupted into giggles while the men chuckled. All but Saint Germain, that is. He was also seated near Jamie, and he was staring rather maliciously at me.

“Yer Highness,” Cailean said when the laughter died down. “Perhaps we should enlighten His Grace with some of yer plans.”

God’s plans? Mark me, Cailean, His are the only plans that matter,” Charles replied to him. “It is His plan that I, as His emissary, unite the clans of Scotland and restore a Catholic to the English throne.”

“Unitin’ the clans of Scotland,” I repeated. “Easier said than done. I spent some time with Clan Mackenzie and they were always fightin’ with Clan Grant.”

“And I stayed with Clan Grant fer some time,” Cailean chimed in. “I could say the same, but with Clan Mackenzie.” The Scots at the table couldn’t stifle their chuckles, but Charles clearly was irritated with this totally true observation.

“Must we talk politics?” Louise said, diffusing the tension. “I believe this day is Monsieur Fraser’s day of birth?”

“It is, Madame de Rohan,” Jamie replied politely.

“Then we must celebrate! No talk of politics, it is so dreary. What of the opera? Has anyone attended Lully’s Acis et Galatée ?” Louise asked.

“Of course we all have!” exclaimed Madame Ribes. “My husband and I found it breathtaking.

“As did my husband and I,” said Lady Bessette. “Are you married, Your Grace?”

“It is a wonderment, but I have not yet found a woman who will put up with me,” Sandringham replied.

“Women are indeed fickle creatures,” said Duverney, his hand covering his wife’s on the table. “Are you not, ma belle agneau? ” Madame Duverney gave him a forced smile, but did not reply.

“Jamie did manage to find himself a worthy one, so it is possible,” Sandringham said, referring to me.

“I do believe,” Saint Germain said rather coldly in French, “that the combination of their respective beauties will result in a child of… unfathomable pulchritude.”

Merci, ” I said to Saint Germain, locking eyes with him. “Take one look at my sons and you will see that Le Comte speaks the truth.”

“Speaking of children,” said Cailean, sensing a perfect opportunity for our plan to begin. “I understand tha’ congratulations are in order fer Madame and the Marquis.”

“Oh?” Louise said, looking at me and raising an eyebrow.

“Ye’ll have te forgive my sister, Madame de Rohan. We are verra close and we gossip like old women,” Cailean said to her. “I apologise, I thought tha’ it was open news.”

“Well… We have not… formally announced it yet,” said Louise nervously, looking everywhere but at Charles, who was clearly quickly becoming unhinged. “We are… looking forward to the arrival of a little one.”

Are you indeed?” Charles said firmly and bitterly.

“Indeed, an heir! It is the most incredible news, is it not?” said Jules obliviously, clearly thrilled with the prospect of fatherhood.

“Well, then,” said Charles, surprising myself, Cailean and Jamie by composing himself. “I am to congratulate you… Madame de Rohan. I wish you and the Marquis all the happiness in the world.” Jamie and I exchanged a glance, both of us thinking the same thing - the plan didn’t work.

“Thank you, Your Royal Highness,” said Louise, not looking Charles in the eye.

Santé !” said Duverney cheerfully, raising his glass.

Santé !” said the rest of the table.

“How remarkably similar the word is te our Gaelic word, ‘ slàinte’ ,” Alasdair Fowlis observed. “It carries the same meanin’.”

“I have heard that Gaelic does stem from the ancient Gaulish language,” I said. “The ancient Gaels did come from the coast of France, migrated te Ireland who eventually carried the language te the Scottish coasts. Have ye heard of the kingdom of Dalriata?”

“I studied that in a book,” said young Archie, who was easily twelve or thirteen years old. “Grandsire lent it te me from his personal library.”

“Yes, yer grandsire does have a passion fer history,” said Alasdair to his son, and then he turned to address the table. “My son’s grandsire and my father passed some twenty years ago, but my uncle does adore all of his great nieces and nephews. So much so that they all refer te him as their grandsire.”

“And yer father was the Laird of Cìosamul’s brother?” Cailean asked Alasdair.

“Aye,” Alasdair replied. “I am… yer father’s cousin. We were verra close, Archie Fowlis and I. And I to yer Aunt Maisie, as well.”

“Maisie? What sort of name is that?” asked Lady Bessette.

“My dear cousin’s name,” said Alasdair somewhat sharply. “And she has three beautiful children, one of which was named after Yer Royal Highness.”

“Is that so? I am flattered,” said Charles, still staring at Louise.

“And he’s a fine lad. Eighteen, strong, an excellent fisher-” I was quite intrigued to hear about these other ancestors I didn’t know I had when Charles suddenly cut him off.

“Of course, the world is not always a happy place,” he said very suddenly, silencing the table. “It is quite unpredictable, really. One day, you are happy, and the next… porca miseria.

“Er… Yer pardon, Yer Highness, but I am in the dark as te yer meanin’,” Alasdair said to him, thinking they were still speaking of Maisie’s son.

“Yes,” said Charles, staring at Louise, who was silently urging him to shut the hell up. “I believe you are a man ‘in the dark’ indeed.” I took a sip from my wine, exchanging a look with my brother and husband. The fun was about to begin.

“That is a beautiful stone you wear around your neck, Madame,” said the Comte loudly to me, interrupting the evident squabble that was brewing. Damn it, you bloody bastard, I thought to myself as I set down my glass on the table.

“Oh, it’s just a bauble,” I said. A scream suddenly echoed through the halls, surprising the guests at the table, followed by a crash in the parlour.

“Mary!” a muffled cry said from the parlour, and Silas Hawkins stood.

“Mary?” he demanded, then looked at me as I stood up quickly.

“Do excuse me,” I said, lifting my skirts and quickly rushing into the parlour, finding Alex on top of Mary trying to restrain her while she panicked as Beth standing near the servants’ stairs that led into the parlour.

“I did try ye give her the laudanum, I swear! She ran off soon as she saw Alex!” Beth exclaimed to me with worry.

“Get off of me! Get off !” Mary cried.

“Mary, please! I’m not trying to hurt you!” Alex cried. Footsteps echoed off the walls of the hall and Silas Hawkins, followed by the Vicomte de Marigny, Jamie and a few other men, ran into the parlour as Mary freed herself from Alex’s grasp.

“Mary?” Silas said once he saw his niece, who was still battered from the attack in the alley, standing in the middle of the room in her shift, and then he trained his attention on Alex, narrowing his eyes. “ You! You have ruined my niece!”

“That is my fiancée!” the Vicomte exclaimed loudly in French.

“Mary, go back upstairs with Beth,” I said, pushing Beth towards her, who took the hint and calmly took Mary’s arm to lead her back upstairs.

“I’ll not let this bastard get away with this!” Silas Hawkins exclaimed, pulling out his sword and stepping towards Alex.

“Mr. Hawkins!” I exclaimed.

“I was so looking forward to dessert but I suppose it is getting rather late,” I heard Sandringham say, but I was too focused on the fight and destruction that was occurring in my parlour to pay them any heed.

“Stop this! Stop this right now!” I shouted as Cailean jumped in to try and step in front of Alex.

“Out of my way! He ruined my niece!” Silas snapped at Cailean, who refused to budge. Alasdair and Jamie also jumped in to try and stop Silas Hawkins, who turned his sword on the two of them.

“There is no reason te be uncivil!” Jamie snapped at the man.

“Come, Your Highness, you should not be subjected to such intemperance, ” I heard what I thought was Saint Germain say to Charles. “Let us depart.”

“No!” I exclaimed, but the fight breaking out in the parlour was too loud for them to hear me.

“I regret leaving my friends, James and Cailean, with these ruffians,” said Charles, but he ended up leaving with Saint Germain anyway. The fighting continued, and as I shouted to try and break it up, a pounding sounded at the door, revealing French guards who must have been summoned by the noise. They broke up the fight and arrested everyone involved, including Jamie and Cailean, dragging all of them away and leaving me with a rather large mess, a torn up parlour, a ruined dinner and a poor, damaged lass upstairs.


2 May, 1744

I was wide awake on the settee in the parlour, having gone to fetch Archie and carrying him downstairs. He had been woken by the fraucus, while Brian slept like a stone, and I stayed in the parlour with both Fergus and Young Archie, who had been left at my home when his father was arrested. “If yer tired, a leannan, ye can stay in my bedchamber. I certainly willnae be there tonight,” I told Archie, but he shook his head.

“I’m all right, Mistress,” he said meekly.

“Can I get ye somethin’ te drink? Ye must be verra worried aboot yer father,” I said, but he shook his head. The three of us sat in silence for a while, with my Archie making the occasional gurgling sound common to an infant. Alasdair’s Archie was watching me carefully, then cleared his throat.

“My father says that yer brother looks like his cousin, and the man I’m named fer. He said ye say yer his daughter. Is it true?” the lad asked me.

“Archie Fowlis is my father, aye,” I said without having to lie to the lad.

“My father misses him verra much,” Young Archie said. “He says they were verra close.”

“I was close te my cousins, too. The daughters of my mother’s brother,” I said. “I can imagine how hard it must have been fer him when my father… disappeared.” Young Archie nodded. “Does he… does he ken anything aboot it?”

“Just tha’ it happened in Uibhist a Tuath, ” said the lad. North Uist. It occurred to me then that there was a stone circle on North Uist - Pobull Fhinn. If Cailean and I were able to travel through the stones… No, that’s ridiculous. But was it not ridiculous that Cailean and I had done that very thing? “Ye’ve a handsome lad,” Young Archie said suddenly. “What’s his name?”

“Archie,” I said. “After his grandsire. Archie Brian James Fowlis Fraser.”

“Tha’s a good name,” Young Archie said. “Mine is Archie Calum Alasdair MacNeil Fowlis.”

“Let me guess, named fer yer father, yer grandsire, and… yer mother’s maiden name?” I asked, and Young Archie nodded. “Wha’s yer mother’s name?”

“Orla,” said Young Archie. “Are you named fer yer mother, too?”

“Sort of,” I replied. “My full name is Catrìona Mairead Alba Muirreach Fowlis Fraser.”

“There’s a lot of Muirreachs at home on Barra. My Aunt Moire is a Muirreach. She married my Uncle Fionnlagh… She has a brother, who has a verra pretty daughter named Thora. She sings beautifully .”

“Oh, does she now?” I said, raising my eyebrows, and Young Archie blushed.

“Are ye… Are ye named fer Granny Mairead?” Young Archie asked, quickly changing the subject.

“Tha’s what my father said,” I replied. “He said I was named fer my grandmother, fer Scotland and fer my Mam’s maiden name. Her name was Eilidh Muirreach, but she wasnae from Barra. Her father was, but he met my grandmother and ran off te Orkney with her. My… my parents met when my… grandsire came back te Barra.” That was kind of true. My grandfather was actually from Barra, and he did run off to Orkney with my Norwegian grandmother. Just… not in this century.

“Is that where Uncle Archie went when he disappeared?” Young Archie asked me.

“No, love,” I said. “No, I… I was raised on Barra. My… my parents both and… four of my five brothers were all…”

“Killed by the English. I ken, Da told me,” said Young Archie. I nodded gently, then let out a sigh.

“Why don’t… Why don’t ye tell me aboot yer family a bit? Do ye have any other cousins? Does yer father have any other siblings?” I asked.

“Oh, yes!” Young Archie said. “He has one brother - tha’s my Uncle Fionnlagh - and a sister, my Aunt Beathag. Uncle Fionnlagh had my cousin Fionnlagh, who we call Fionn, and my cousin Mary. They’re both verra young. And my Aunt Beathag and Uncle Raibbie had my cousins, Uilleam and Iagan. They’re MacDonalds and they don’t live on Barra, they live on Eriskay.”

“MacDonalds on MacDonald land, makes sense,” I said, teasing the lad a little. “Yer father said my Aunt Maisie had three children. What are their names?”

“Oh, Aunt Maisie? She married Uncle Peadar - he’s a MacBean who was a sailor that came from… Inverness, I think? Or near it. I dinnae ken. But they have three children, Cousin Beitiris who looks just like Aunt Maisie, Cousin Seàrlas and Cousin Liùsaidh,” said Young Archie. “Cousin Liùsaidh is verra pretty, too, but not as pretty as Thora.” At this, I chuckled lightly.

“Is tha’ so?” I asked him, and he nodded.

“Ye said ye had other brothers? What were their names? What were they like?” Young Archie asked me, and I couldn’t help but let out a sigh.

“We were all verra young when it happened… I was fifteen, Cailean was thirteen… Cailean had a twin brother named Calum, whom I presume was named after yer grandsire. I also had a brother named Alasdair. Da said he named him after his cousin, and it’s nice te meet my brother’s namesake. After Alasdair came Uilleam, and I’m no’ sure who he’s named after, and my youngest brother was Iain, named fer me grandsire. Iain would have been a little younger than you,” I told him.

“I think Da mentioned a friend he used te have named Uilleam,” said Young Archie, who stifled a yawn. “Da also had an aunt named Sorcha who died last year, she had Da’s cousins, Hamish and Ealasaid, and they had my other cousins, Hamish, Donald and Beth. They’re nice, too, but I dinnae see them a lot. Aunt Sorcha married a MacDonald and moved te Skye. They came fer the gatherin’ a few years ago, before Aunt Sorcha died.” He tried to stifle another yawn, then couldn’t help but stretch.

“Tired now, are we?” I asked him, and he nodded. I glanced over at Fergus, who sat on my other side and was already fast asleep on the settee beside me. On my lap, my Archie laid against my chest and slept peacefully. “Go ahead and lay yer head down, I’m sure yer father will be here soon. He did nothin’ wrong, so they’ll no’ hold him long.”

“What aboot Cousin Jamie? And Cousin Cailean?” asked Young Archie. It touched my heart a little that this young lad thought of me as his cousin, and therefore Jamie as well, and I reached up a hand to brush a gingery blonde strand of hair from his face.

“They’ll be all right, too,” I said. We sat that way for several hours, the lads all sleeping peacefully and I dozing here and there, always waking up at the slightest sound. The hours ticked away, reminding me that Jamie and Cailean weren’t there and were probably being held up in some stone cell. It worried me, even though I knew they were both innocent. They had to be released, but poor Alex… He was innocent, too, but he was the one caught in a rather compromising position with Mary. Would he be arrested? Would he be sent to the Bastille?

Sometime later, as I was drifting off into sleep as dawn began to break, I heard footsteps in the hall, and I lifted my head to see Cailean, Jamie and Alasdair Fowlis enter the room. “Have ye sat up all night, then?” Jamie asked me, approaching me quietly, so as not to disturb the lads, and I nodded.

“These two fell asleep hours ago and I didnae want te disturb them,” I said, and then I glanced up at Alasdair. “Yer lad’s verra kind, and he was worried sick aboot ye.”

“Thank ye fer carin’ fer him,” Alasdair said, then bent down to gently shake his son’s shoulder. “Come on, lad, it’s time te go.” Young Archie stirred and opened his pale blue eyes, stretching and yawning as he woke.

“Da?” he muttered sleepily, and Alasdair stood and lifted his sleepy son into his arms, still able to carry the lad, even though he was nearly full grown.

“I’ll get ye back home,” he said, and then he nodded to Jamie. “I’ll see ye soon, man. Thank ye fer vouchin’ fer me.”

“Of course. Yer family,” Jamie told him, gently touching his shoulder.

“Goodnight to ye both,” Alasdair said, and then he nodded to Cailean as well before leaving the room.

“Suppose I’ll take this laddie te bed,” said Cailean, bending down to pick up a sleeping Fergus. “Come on, lad.”

“Ye did well, guardin’ yer mistress,” Jamie said, ruffling the sleepy Fergus’s hair, earning a small and sleepy groan, and Cailean left the room carrying Fergus. “Why don’t I take this wee lad te bed and you summon Suzette te help ye get out of that dress?”

“Sounds good te me,” I said, allowing Jamie to take his sleeping son from my arms. He kissed Archie’s bright red curls and then helped me to stand, then I kissed Jamie’s shoulder before he left to carry Archie to the nursery. Once I was undressed and in my shift, wrapped tightly in my Fowlis tartan, I heard Jamie open the door and let out a tired sigh.

“Duverney arrived and ordered the Captain of the Guard te release us at once, but he could only vouch fer myself and Cailean. I had te vouch fer Silas Hawkins and Alasdair, and we were let go,” he told me.

“It’s fortunate te have friends in high places,” I said, combing out my hair with my fingers as I sat on the bed.

“Aye, it does,” he said. “Have ye checked on Murtagh?”

“Sent him te bed with some hot tea and a cool compress. He’ll be fine, once the swelling goes down. Maybe a bit of concussion, but that’ll remedy itself soon,” I told him.

“And what aboot you? Are you all right?”

“Fine, now that yer home,” I told him with a smile. “What aboot Alex? He’s innocent, ye ken. He wasnae even there.”

“I ken,” Jamie replied. “Silas claims he saw Alex attack his niece, so his release will… require word from the lass herself.”

“He came te Mary’s aid. He and Mary care fer each other deeply. He’s certainly no’ his brother. Can’t the Duke vouch fer him?”

“Sandringham will let Alex rot before liftin’ a finger te help the lad. His secretary’s been publicly disgraced, and he’s already sent a dispatch te the Bastille releasin’ Alex from his service.”

“The selfish bastard,” I said bitterly. “Hopefully, he’ll see Charles fer the imbecile that he is. That’ll at least be somethin’ gone right tonight.”

“Oh, I think he does,” Jamie told me. “I dinnae ken if ye were watchin’ him, but I was, and I believe that the Duke sees Charles fer the bad investment that he is.”

“Unfortunately, I believe Charles left with Saint Germain. I cannae be certain, but I thought I heard them speakin’ durin’ the fight,” I said with a heavy sigh. “No good can come from that pairing.”

“When Murtagh is better, I’ll send him te follow Saint Germain, see if there’s anythin’ amiss. And if Saint German is responsible fer the attack… we’ll find out,” said Jamie. “Can ye remember any more aboot it?”

“I was more focused on everraone else rather than what was happenin’ te me,” I said. “I do recall they spoke French like aristocrats and wore fine clothes and shoes. Beth said the man who was attacking her wore a coat with gold embroidery.”

“How did ye escape?”

“It’s sort of silly, actually. They mistook me fer some… mystical being called La Dame Blanche. I asked Fergus earlier and he said it was some sort of sorceress nonsense.”

La Dame Blanche? ” Jamie repeated, the term looking familiar to him.

“Have ye heard of it?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Aye, I have,” he said. “Er… Some time ago, I was at Maison Elise and… Charles was pushin’ more trollops into my lap. I didnae want te appear unmanly te him, so I… might have mentioned tha’… I was married te La Dame Blanche. ” At this, I changed my expression to one of incredulity.

“So callin’ yer wife a witch was yer best idea?” I asked. “After everrathing that happened at Cranesmuir, ye thought callin’ me a witch was a good idea?”

“There was a fair amount of drinkin’ involved,” said Jamie bashfully.

“Well, how many people heard ye?” I demanded, standing up.

“Only a few, but given the circumstances, I guess it was a good bit of gossip te share,” he told me. “Which means… These assailants must be customers at Maison Elise… Aye… And if we find them, they may lead us te Saint Germain! Heaven help the bastard if he’s responsible fer this.” I relaxed a little, then let out a sigh.

“Heaven help us ,” I said. “It’s been a long night fer us all…”

“Aye, and all I want,” said Jamie, approaching me and pulling me into his arms, turning me around and kissing my cheek, “is fer you te lie in my arms.” I couldn’t help but smile as I placed my hands over his.

La Dame Blanche, ” I muttered to myself, and he chuckled as he kissed my cheek. “Ye owe me fer tha’.”

“And I will pay my dues gladly,” said Jamie, releasing me and picking me up in his arms, carrying me to the bed and laying me down on it. “My beautiful wife… my White Lady… Ye’ve cast yer spell over me and made me yer servant. Allow me te serve ye well…” He crawled on top of me and began to kiss my neck, setting the mood for a very passionate morning.

The day was effective in achieving what we had originally sought to achieve, but we now had new obstacles in our path. Who were these assailants? What connection would form between Saint Germain and Charles? What would that connection lead to? We now had a new mystery to solve, and a new obstacle to overcome.




Chapter Text

4 May, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

I left Jamie in the study reading a letter that had come from Jared, which mentioned the affairs of his estate in the Indies, while I went to check on Beth. According to Suzette, Beth hadn’t come down for breakfast and was concerned about her, so I made a point to pay her a visit in her quarters after breakfast. I knocked on the door and received no answer, so I slowly opened the door and poked my head in. “Beth? Beth, a ghràidh , are ye here?” I called. I didn’t hear a spoken response, but beneath her blankets, I saw movement, and then Beth poked her small head out from under them.

“Do ye need somethin’, Mistress?” she asked sleepily. The poor thing was so pale and her eyes looked sunken.

“Are ye all right? Suzette says ye didnae come down fer breakfast,” I said, approaching her and reaching down to lay a hand on her forehead; she was hot to the touch. “Blessed Bride, yer burnin’ up.”

“I wasnae verra hungry, Mistress,” she said back to me.

“I can imagine,” I said. “I’m goin’ te send a bit of broth up and some tea. Yer te stay in bed, do ye hear me?”

“But what aboot the lads?” she asked me.

“Dinnae fash, I’ll care fer ‘em. Yer clearly no’ well and ye need te rest,” I told her.

“How’s Mary? Have ye seen her?” Beth asked me sleepily as I brushed her sweat-soaked hair back.

“Not yet, a ghràidh, but I was plannin’ on payin’ her a visit this afternoon. I’ll let her ken ye asked after her, and I’ll come and tell ye how she is after,” I told her, and she nodded.

“Thank ye, Mistress,” she said to me.

“Of course. You rest, now. I’m goin’ te tell the other servants yer unwell and te check on ye,” I told her, standing and leaving the poor girl to her own devices. She must have picked something up from L’Hôpital, maybe, but that could possibly mean that Mary or I had been exposed as well. I’d have to keep away from the lads, Brian especially, until I knew for sure that I wasn’t sick.

Later in the day, after Jamie and Cailean had left for the day, I went to the house that the Hawkins were renting to pay Mary a visit. It was her aunt that saw me, insisting that Mary wasn’t allowed guests, according to her husband, but I informed her that I was simply there to examine her medically and was allowed up. I knocked on Mary’s door and opened it, finding Mary herself sitting on the bed wiping tears from her sobs. She looked up when she saw me, smiled, and jumped up to run to me and throw her arms around me. “Mistress Fraser! Uncle Silas allowed you in?” she asked me with surprise.

“No, he doesnae ken I’m here. I saw yer aunt and told her I’m here te examine ye, make sure yer well,” I informed her. “Beth was askin’ after ye, wanted te ken if ye were all right. How are ye, Mary?”

“N-Not great,” said Mary meekly. “Uncle Silas… h-he won’t l-let me out of the house. And h-he’s insisting I-I leave Paris once I-I recover.”

“Tha’ sounds horrible, a leannan. I wish there was somethin’ I could do te help,” I told her, and she nodded meekly.

“I-I was g-glad to hear your husband and b-brother were released,” Mary told me.

“Yes, it was verra good,” I said. “And… aboot Alex…”

“Can I do anything?” asked Mary, perking up.

“Ye can write a letter stating what had happened and explain how he wasnae the one who attacked ye,” I told her.

“Oh! Good! I’ve already d-done that!” Mary exclaimed happily, going to her desk to open a drawer and pull out a sealed letter, then she handed it to me. “Can you b-bring this to the B-Bastille?”

“I’ll deliver it at once,” I told her, accepting the letter.

“Alex is such a good man,” Mary said dreamily. “He has a kind heart… Y-You already know of my fondness of him.”

“Indeed I do,” I said with a kind smile. “Now, how are ye? How are ye feelin’? Anythin’ hurt?” Mary shook her head.

“I f-feel ashamed… L-Like I’m a d-different person, now,” she told me sadly. “Like I… I’ll n-never be the same.”

“I ken how tha’ feels. I’ve had it happen te me, too,” I told her. “But what’s happened isnae yer fault. Ye’ve done nothin’ wrong, and ye’ve nothin’ te feel ashamed fer. How aboot physically? How is everrathing… down there?” I worded my questions carefully in fear of upsetting her.

“It… it hurt a l-little… and I-I bled a bit… but it’s s-stopped now.”

“Tha’s pretty normal. I brought ye some herbs te help, yer te brew them in hot water. Some can be consumed, some can be applied topically or added to a bath. Ye might notice some… changes… in yer body. It isnae uncommon fer them te happen once ye’ve… aye.”

“Am I… Am I g-going to have a baby?”

“Oh, no, a leannan, ” I said to her, brushing a piece of hair out of her face as if she were my own daughter. “No, I… I dinnae believe he… finished. I think I pulled him off of ye quick enough.” At this, Mary nodded, her eyes cast to the ground in shame.

“I’m grateful f-for all you’ve done for m-me, Mistress Fraser,” she said to me, and then she looked up at me. “At least… at least th-they can’t f-force me to marry the V-Vicomte… Uncle Silas s-says he’d n-never take a soiled bride.”

“Well, good riddance. A lass shouldnae have te take a soiled groom,” I said to her. “Tha’, and yer too pretty and sweet fer such a man. My husband said he possessed the most entitled attitude he’s ever seen.” At this, Mary giggled.

“I just know that Alex will come to me, when he’s freed. W-We’re hoping to be married,” she told me, and I had to pause and think for a second. Tom had said that Black Jack Randall had married Mary Hawkins, which meant that Mary couldn’t marry Alex. And if she did, that would mean that Tom would never be born… “Mistress Fraser?” I heard Mary ask, drawing my attention again. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine, I just… thought I heard somethin’,” I said, and then I stood. “I should go before yer uncle kens I’m here. I’ll… deliver this letter fer ye.”

“Thank you kindly, Mistress Fraser. I’m glad to have you as a friend,” said Mary kindly.

As I left, I contemplated the letter in my pocket. I couldn’t condemn Alex to a life of prison, but I also couldn’t allow Mary to marry him. If I did, Tom would never be born, and there was no telling how that might screw up the timeline. It was Tom who even convinced me to go to Inverness in the first place, after all. So what could I do? Christ, what have I gotten myself into?


6 May, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie and Cailean were, yet again, on their way to see Charles, but Cailean seemed immensely distracted, constantly pulling out a pocket watch to check the time and unable to focus on the conversation he and Jamie were having. “Are ye all right?” Jamie asked him, startling Cailean a little.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I just… have somewhere te be soon. I just hope the prince doesnae take too long te talk,” Cailean told him.

“Somewhere te be? And where’s tha’?” Jamie asked him, raising an eyebrow, and Cailean blushed a little and let out a chuckle.

“Well, I… hope ye willnae wring my throat… And fer God’s sake, dinnae tell my sister or she will wring my throat… but I’ve been seein’ Madame Gauloise fer some time now,” Cailean told him honestly, surprising Jamie quite a bit.

“Annalise?” he asked his brother, who nodded. “Fer how long?”

“Since February, when we met,” Cailean answered him. “I ken she’s a past lover fer ye, but yer married te my sister, she’s widowed…”

“I’m glad fer ye,” Jamie said, interrupting him. “And fer her. I trust ye, I ken yer a good man. If ye make her happy, then I’m glad of it.”

“Really?” Jamie nodded.

“I’ll no’ tell Catrìona. She may have a different opinion than I do,” Jamie told him as the carriage came to a stop. “Let’s get this meetin’ over with so ye can go and meet Annalise.” The two of them climbed down from the carriage to enter Maison Elise, finding Charles with a rather busty girl on his lap indulging in her… gifts. He had yet to notice the two of them, so Jamie cleared his throat to draw Charles’s attention.

“James! Cailean! My good friends,” said Charles. “Off, now, my dear, but I shall see you soon,” he said to the girl, who slid off of his lap and disappeared.

“How are ye, Yer Highness?” Cailean asked as he and Jamie sat down at the table.

“Excellent!” Charles exclaimed happily. “The female haze that once clouded my mind has been lifted. I have excellent news that I must share with you!”

“We’d be glad te hear it,” said Jamie, accepting a glass of wine from a servant.

“The house’s finest bottle of Burgundy, for the occasion,” Charles said as the servant filled Cailean’s glass next. Once the servant was gone, Charles raised his glass, Cailean and Jamie doing the same, and took a sip from it.

“Is, er… this te do with yer investors?” Jamie asked, somewhat hopefully, and Charles made a sour face.

“Oh, make no mention of those traitorous scoundrels. They have shown their true colours. Even Alasdair Fowlis has backed down!” Charles exclaimed.

“Well, Yer Highness, my cousin had a pretty large fine te pay after what happened at the dinner,” Cailean told him. “Even though Monsieur Duverney vouched fer us that it was all in error, we still had te pay. He’s a son te feed, after all.”

“Hmph,” said Charles, sipping his wine again. “What if I were to tell you that we were about to come into possession of ten thousand pounds?”

“Sterling?” Jamie asked him, and Charles smiled. “Er… I’d say this is what we were waitin’ fer…”

“Excellent! I have dispatched a letter to my father informing him of our good fortune!” Charles said happily.

“That’ll likely be intercepted several times,” Cailean muttered to Jamie in Gaelic.

“What was that?” Charles asked him.

“He said a phrase of good fortune,” said Jamie as Cailean took a sip from his glass. “It doesnae translate well into English.”

“Indeed,” said Charles, but then he brushed it off. “Mark me, my friends, the King has led a dolorous life full of misfortune, and now I stand poised to lay at his feet the world’s most treasured gift… the throne of Great Britain.”

“Tha’s excellent news indeed,” Cailean chimed in. “But who is it tha’ offers such a prize?”

“The Comte Saint Germain,” said Charles proudly, and Jamie and Cailean exchanged a glance. Catrìona had said that the prince had left the dinner with Saint Germain, and they should have known it would lead to such a deal. 

“The Comte?” Jamie asked. “What stake does he have in the claim fer the English throne?”

“Business,” Charles replied. “We agreed that if he helped to fund a rebellion, I would grant him a monopoly on wine selling in London.”

“I see,” said Jamie. “And what is his plan fer providin’ such funds?”

“He wishes to buy a large shipment of Portuguese Madeira. However, the Comte is short of funds and in desperate need of a business partner. He informs me that a woman was the cause of his lack of funds, but he would not say who.”

“Surprisin’,” said Cailean.

“A business partner, aye?” Jamie asked, already knowing what Charles was going to ask of him. “And what does the Comte require?”

“I have secured a loan, with the help of Monsieur Duverney, thanks to you, James, to provide half of the funds to buy the shipment. Once we sell the wine, we shall earn ourselves a rich profit,” Charles explained.

“But that isnae enough te fund an army, Yer Highness,” said Cailean. “It is a great amount of money, sure, but that willnae provide all tha’ we need.”

“But it should be enough te begin securin’ ships and weapons,” Jamie said to him, giving him a look suggesting that he had a plan for manipulating this latest obstacle.

“That is correct, James! And fighting men, too, for our holy cause. Trained fighting men, rather than those… farmers you mentioned,” Charles said dismissively.

“Those farmers are the backbone of yer rebellion,” Cailean reminded him as he sipped his wine, but Charles waved him off.

“Certainly! And though Monsieur Duverney has agreed to help me secure a loan, he is not convinced that it will be enough to convince my cousin. Once Monsieur Duverney hears what we are to accomplish, he shall have proof for my cousin that it is a worthy investment,” Charles told the two men, referring to King Louis as his cousin. “And with French money, we will unite the clans, and I will lead you all to the gates of London and to glory!”

“Good news, indeed,” said Jamie.

“Yer Highness, as my sister said at dinner, unitin’ the clans is easier said than done. Ye’ll have te convince them with more than money te get them te sit in the same room, let alone ride behind ye as an army,” Cailean told him.

“Then I am glad to have the support of two loyal clansmen,” Charles said to them. “I am counting on you both to speak on my behalf to the clan leaders to unite them under my cause.”

“Of course,” said Jamie. “As fer yer plan, I am assumin’ ye wish fer us te partner up with Saint Germain? Given that we are currently runnin’ my cousin’s business.”

“Excellent observational skills, James! Yes, I would so appreciate a partnership between the two of you,” Charles told him.

“I cannae deny that the idea of a partnership with Saint Germain does leave me uneasy,” Jamie told him.

“I am aware of his damnable reputation, James,” Charles told him.

“Ye’ve heard he dwells in heretical circles,” Cailean chimed in. “Demonic rituals and all tha’.”

“Rumour and innuendo,” said Charles firmly. “I pay no more attention to that than I do to the rumours about your wife, James. La Dame Blanche , is it?” At this, Cailean narrowed his eyes.

“My sister doesnae engage in heretical witchcraft,” Cailean told him with a warning in his tone. Jamie’s eyebrows raised slightly, but he quickly corrected his expression before Charles could notice - he’d have to ask if Cailean knew about her Paganism later.

“Rumour and innuendo, no?” said Charles snidely, sipping his wine. “The Comte is no lover of my cause, but he is a man of business, and men of business generally keep true to their word. I have arranged for your business to sell the wine that Saint Germain brings from Portugal.”

“Ye have?” Jamie asked him with surprise, not expecting the arrangement to have already been made.

“Who better to secure the buyer and keep an eye on Saint Germain than you ?” Charles asked him.

“Er… When are we te expect this shipment?” Jamie asked him after a moment.

“Oh, do not plague me with workmen’s concerns,” said Charles, waving him off. “I have arranged for you to meet with Saint Germain in Maison Elise to discuss particulars. Tomorrow evening, if you will.”

“Tomorrow evenin’?” Jamie asked, but Charles ignored him, seemingly refusing to listen as he was known to do. He simply raised his wine glass in a toast.

“To the glorious day when the rightful king sits upon the British throne once more,” he said. Cailean and Jamie exchanged a quick glance.


On the carriage ride home, Cailean was sitting relatively quietly, still checking his pocket watch. “Ye could have taken the carriage. I wouldnae have minded walkin’ home,” Jamie told him, but Cailean shook his head.

“No, I’ve heard rumours of attacks on men like us by bandits. I’ll no’ let ye put yerself at risk, Catrìona would never forgive me,” Cailean told him.

“Speakin’ of yer sister, what do ye think of this whole… La Dame Blanche thing?” Jamie asked his good brother.

“Yer the one who started it,” Cailean reminded him. “Is tha’ not some sort of witch? My sister isnae a witch, ye ken.”

“Aye, I ken that well,” Jamie replied. “She’s told me, though, that yer mother was somethin’ like a white lady.”

“In our time, healthcare was no’ available te most people on Barra. It just wasnae feasible and no one could afford it. Mam became a herbalist. She was a nurse before tha’ and put out of work by the economy, so she started her own herbal remedies practice because herbs were more affordable than medicine. That doesnae make her a ‘white lady’. Catrìona was probably just tryin’ te explain it in terms ye’d understand.”

“So do ye no’ ken she practises Paganism?”

“I ken aboot it. Catrìona always wanted te be like Mam. She was Pagan, Da was Catholic. The rest of us practised Catholicism, but she and Mam were just… different. From the rest of us. I dinnae stop her because I ken she wants te be close te Mam.”

“And ye ken ye cannae stop her no matter what,” Jamie reminded him, and Cailean let out a heavy sigh.

“Aye, tha’ too. She’s a stubborn woman, tha’s fer certain,” Cailean replied. “I’ll hop out here, Annalise’s home isnae far.” Cailean called to the footman to stop the carriage and he hopped out, turning to face Jamie before departing. “See what my sister has te say aboot what Charles is plannin’. I’ll bet ye she’ll have a plan already brewin’ in case somethin’ like this happened.” With that said, he closed the door of the carriage, then went on his merry way to warm Annalise’s bed.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

I was in the nursery with the lads when Jamie entered the room, a rather solemn look on his face. I couldn’t help but cock my eyebrow, trying to ignore the pain from Archie pulling on my hair. “Why the long face?” I asked him, and he let out a sigh, sitting down on the floor beside me and taking Brian into his lap.

“Charles has made an arrangement with Saint Germain,” he told me. “He’s makin’ me meet him tomorrow evenin’.”

“What’s the arrangement?” I asked, skipping the obvious ‘oh, shit’.

“He’s te ship wine from Portugal and I’m te receive it and find a buyer,” Jamie replied.

“Portugal, aye?” I asked, and Jamie nodded. “Didnae Jared say tha’ Saint Germain’s ship, the Patagonia , the one that burned when we were at Le Havre, came from Portugal?”

“Aye,” Jamie said, raising an eyebrow. “What are ye thinkin’?”

“I’m thinkin’ tha’ Portugal is seein’ a smallpox outbreak,” I told him.

“I dinnae even ken if the shipment is comin’ from the same port. I’m sure I’m te find out tomorrow, but… I dinnae ken. We’ll come up with somethin’ when I ken fer sure,” Jamie replied, looking down at his son in his lap. “He seems pale. Paler than usual. Miss MacCraig hasnae been around him, has she?”

“No, she’s still unwell. She said she was feeling a bit better, but no’ enough te come near the lads,” I told him. “Brian’s no’ been exposed. I think this is just… him.”

“Ye dinnae think he’s nearin’ his time, do ye?” Jamie asked, now meeting my eyes with worry swimming in them, and I let out a sigh.

“I dinnae ken. It’s hard te say,” I answered. “I’m doin’ all I can fer him, but… I fear I’m just delayin’ the inevitable.”

“I hope that isnae the case,” Jamie replied, his eyes on his son. It was such a sweet sight, Jamie cradling his small son in his arms, protecting him from everything outside that could bring him harm. But Jamie couldn’t protect Brian from whatever it was that was happening inside of him. Only time could tell what was to come, but exactly how much time did we have left?


7 May, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie agreed to meet Saint Germain alone, thinking it better for the man to meet only one of them. Cailean had offered to meet Saint Germain so Jamie didn’t have to, but Jamie refused, insisting he wanted to be the one to meet with him. What he wanted to do was look the bastard in the eye and dare him to threaten his wife again. He wanted to threaten him back, but he also knew that he couldn’t ruin this for Charles before it had even started. No, a plan still needed to be formulated, but first, he needed to hear what it was Saint Germain had to say. He was already seated at the table when the man in question arrived, silently sitting down at the table across from Jamie.

“Lord Broch Tuarach,” said Saint Germain menacingly.

Le Comte ,” Jamie replied to him. “Allow me to start out with this,” Jamie told him in French. “I do not wish to be joined in business together, nor do I wish to sit in your presence longer than is needed, so let’s just get on with it, shall we?” Saint Germain gave him a subtle, but wicked smirk, then sat up straight as a servant poured wine into his glass.

“Certainly,” said Saint Germain, also in French. “I shall be purchasing fifty cases of Madeira wine. It shall be shipped to my warehouse in Sesimbra before it will depart on my ship, the Scalamandre , on the first of June.”

“June? I am surprised His Royal Highness is willing to wait as long,” Jamie told him. He didn’t touch his wine, so long as it was poured in the presence of Saint Germain, who eyed it suspiciously before meeting Jamie’s eyes again.

“He does not have a choice,” Saint Germain said with venom in his tone. “The ship will arrive in Le Havre either on the fifth or the sixth, depending on the weather. In the meantime, you will secure a buyer.” Jamie could hear Catrìona’s voice in his head saying, ‘Oh, I will, now, will I?’ Jamie nodded.

“And when shall we be in contact?” he asked the man.

“Contact me when, and only when, you have found a buyer,” Saint Germain told him.

“Gladly,” Jamie told him.

“And you will keep your wife far away from my ship when it arrives,” Saint Germain told him firmly. “I have a very long memory.” Jamie almost snorted when he heard his wife’s voice in his head say, ‘What, so you can bring another infested smallpox plague ship into port?’ Instead, he narrowed his eyes at the man briefly.

“Since you have brought up my wife,” Jamie told him, leaning in a bit closer to this snake-like man. “Allow me to make this very clear. Someone attempted to poison my wife, then attacked her in the street and raped her friend.” He saw the brows of the Comte shift slightly, possibly in recognition. “My memory is as long as yours. When I find the man responsible, he’ll die a very slow and painful death.” Saint Germain said nothing, and Jamie sat back in his chair. “Very well, I shall secure a buyer and contact you when I have one. Good day to you.” He stood and was very glad to get out of there, needing to rush home to update Catrìona on the latest news.

“If this is successful and Charles gets his hand on tha’ money, secure other investors and Bride kens what else, I have no doubt he’ll sail fer Scotland straight away,” she said to him in the study when he’d informed her. “We cannae let them succeed. We have te find a way te intercept it. Ye said the ship leaves Portugal on the sixth of June, aye?”

“Aye, Sesimbra,” Jamie confirmed for her.

“Then we have a month te make plans,” she said, her mind buried deep in thought. “Right… I’ve heard rumours at L’Hôpital tha’ Portuguese ports are still seein’ a lot of smallpox infections.”

“Maybe he’ll do us a favour and bring in another infected ship,” Jamie told her, pouring the pair of them each a glass of whisky and handing her one.

“Huh,” she said, thinking for a moment. “Aye, he might…”

“Oh, I was only jokin’.”

“I wasnae,” she said, turning to look at him. “We cannae guarantee he brings another infected sailor onboard - he might be screenin’ them now, after what happened in Le Havre, but once the ship is at sea…”

“What are ye thinkin’?” Jamie asked her. “Ye dinnae have smallpox bottled up amongst yer potions, do ye?”

“Not the actual disease, but yer clever wife kens quite a few herbs that can mimic the symptoms,” Catrìona replied. “Nettles can cause red boils, as can the flowers of wild parsnip. And I ken where te find some, too. At Jardin du Luxembourg , there’s a patch of ‘em, but it doesnae take effect fer a few days, which will be perfect fer what we’re doin’. Bitter cascara will give us the vomiting, diarrhoea and fever needed te mimic the disease… as will lobelia, if I can find some. Master Raymond might have some.”

“Are ye suggestin’ we get on tha’ ship and fake smallpox?” Jamie asked, and she nodded.

“Aye, I am. Well, no’ we - I was thinkin’ someone Saint Germain might no’ have seen before. Like Murtagh.”

“Murtagh? I suppose he’d be willin’ te do it, but he may no’ agree with it at first,” Jamie replied to his clearly very eager wife.

“If he still wishes te help us, I’m sure he will, and you and Fergus should go te Le Havre, maybe rub the clothes of some of the dockworkers with the parsley or nettles,” Catrìona replied. “I’ll have te go te Master Raymond’s, see if he has any bitter cascara or lobelia, even wild parsnip flowers.”

“Dinnae forget, we’re expected at Versailles’ stables tomorrow. I’m te help the Duke with the purchase of a team of horses,” Jamie reminded her, and she let out a frustrated grunt.

“Ye owe that man nothin’. He didnae even try te help ye when ye were in the Bastille!” she said bitterly.

“No, but I dinnae wish te be the subject of his disfavour either,” Jamie told her, standing from his seat and approaching her.

“Then we’ll test out the herbs on him,” she said to him, and he chuckled.

“I dinnae think that would help much, either,” Jamie told her, wrapping his arms firmly around her. “Mmm, my pestilence-bringin’ wife.”

“I’ll bet tha’s not somethin’ ye had in mind when ye married me, is it?” she asked, and he chuckled and gave her a light kiss.

“Not in the slightest,” he said with amusement. “Ye sure do make my life interestin’.”

“Good, ye’ll never live a boring, unconventional life,” Catrìona replied, kissing him again. “Do ye have anythin’ else te do today?”

“Not that I can think of,” Jamie replied, taking her hint and tightening his grip on her. His hand slid down to her buttocks and gave them a gentle squeeze, and her cheeks flushed a similar colour to her bright red hair. “But I suppose I can think of one thing I’d like te be doin’…”

“Me, is it?” she asked, and he let out a laugh, then bent down to slip his arm behind her knees and picked her up.

“You, for certain,” he said, and then he carried her out of the study, bound for the comforting warmth of their bed.




Chapter Text

8 May, 1744

Versailles, Paris, France

“I do miss the scent of a stable,” Jamie said as we crossed the lawn of the stables at Versailles, the scent of straw and manure suffocating our nostrils.

“Tha’ makes one of us,” Cailean said with amusement. I, on the other hand, kept quiet as I held onto Jamie’s arm. The scent was making me quite nauseous, for some strange reason. My period must have been close, as I sometimes got nauseous in the days leading up to it. The last time I’d had it was late March, but my cycle was always irregular, so it was no surprise that when I stopped using contraceptives, my period went haywire. I had to rely on subtle signs like nausea to tell when it was coming.

“Jamie! My good lad!” I heard Sandringham’s voice behind us, and the three of us turned around to face him. “Ah, your glowing bride, and your kind brother. How wonderful to see you both.”

“Good day te ye, Yer Grace,” Cailean told him.

“My dear, your beauty is ravishing, as usual,” the Duke said to me, and I nodded subtly, suddenly raising my hand to my mouth.

“I… I think I may be ill,” I said. “Nothin’ contagious and nothin’ out of the ordinary, but the scents are makin’ me quite nauseous.”

“Are ye sure yer all right?” Jamie asked me, a worrisome look on his face, and I nodded.

“Just my courses,” I answered him in Gaelic.

“Ah, you’ve not had them in some time. I was starting to think…” Jamie replied, also in Gaelic, and I shook my head.

“No, no. I always get a bit of an upset stomach around this time. Na gabh dragh , I’ll be fine,” I replied, giving him a comforting smile, and then I turned my attention back to all three of the men, speaking in English again. “If you gentlemen will excuse me, I think I’ll go fer a walk in the gardens, away from these smells.”

“I’ll come with ye,” Cailean said, and the two of us left Jamie and the Duke to their devices.


JAMIE POV

Jamie went from horse to horse, examining them from the thickness of their manes to the strength of their hindquarters. He came across one mare who was a rich mahogany colour with soft hair and a beautiful mane, and he reached out a hand to allow her to sniff him. “What a bonny lass ye are,” he said to the horse, and then he turned to the Duke. “Fair, strong back, straight-legged and sound at the hip. No’ only will she make a good horse te have, but she’ll be an excellent breeder. She’ll make strong foals, so long as ye’ve got a strong stallion te pair with her.”

“I am counting on you to help me find one for her,” the Duke said in response, admiring Jamie as he worked. “I’ll take her,” he said to the groom who was tending the mare. The Duke’s new secretary stopped to make conversation with the groom, likely to make the purchase, as Jamie and the Duke moved onto the next one.

“This laddie is dull in the eye and his legs arenae so strong,” Jamie said as he admired the next one, then moved on.

“I was very displeased to hear of your legal woes, especially after such a lovely dinner,” the Duke said to him. “The Bastille… Perish the thought!”

“I wasnae at the Bastille fer long, but I did have te pay a considerable fine fer fightin’ in public,” Jamie replied. “Other poor devils had been there fer decades.”

“Ah, well. Life can be harsh,” said the Duke, who likely never knew a harsh day in his life. “It may be some consolation to your wife to know that your dinner party was not entirely wasted,” Sandringham said, and Jamie couldn’t help but cock his eyebrow. “Oh, come now, Jamie. I know exactly what that dinner party was for. It achieved what you desired, and allowed me to take the measure of your price.”

“I see,” said Jamie. “And what was yer assessment?”

“My considered opinion? He’s an utter ass, no better than his father. His cause will be lost before it can be found, if he chooses to pursue it,” Sandringham told him.

“I’m sorry te hear yer opinion of the prince is such,” Jamie replied, not looking at Sandringham.

“I imagine you are, especially since you seem to have pledged yourself to his service,” said Sandringham, stopping the two of them in their tracks. “There are better men for the job, Jamie.” Jamie didn’t answer him, but instead turned to look at the horses again.

“They claim they’re three-year-olds, but… This lass has seen a fair few seasons more,” Jamie said after a moment, examining the teeth of a brown mare.

“Your knowledge astounds me, but I wonder that someone who is such a good judge of horseflesh is such a poor judge of men,” Sandringham said, continuing the conversation that Jamie had tried to end.

“I see the prince fer what he is,” Jamie told him, not turning his attention from the mare as he continued to examine her. “However, his father is the true king. That I ken fer certain.”

“Nobly said,” said Sandringham.

“Ah, now there is a fine stallion,” said Jamie, leaving the mare to approach a strong-looking black stallion.


CATRÌONA POV

Cailean and I walked in silence for a bit towards the gardens, the scents of the stables thankfully fading away the farther we got. My nausea did not subside, but it did become more bearable. “Are ye sure yer all right?” Cailean asked me after a moment.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“That conversation aboot yer courses… Do ye think ye might be…”

“No,” I said, interrupting him. “No, I’ve been takin’ herbs te help prevent tha’ since Jamie and I… Blessed Bride, why am I discussin’ my bedroom habits with my brother?” At this, Cailean laughed.

“Just want te make sure yer all right,” Cailean said. A throat cleared behind us and the two of us turned to find the fair-haired Alasdair Fowlis standing behind us. “Oh, good day te ye, Mr. Fowlis,” Cailean said to him politely. Our exchanges with Alasdair Fowlis since the dinner had been a lot more cordial, as it was evident some form of a bond was forming between us - familial?

“Good day te ye both. I’m glad te have found ye,” he said to us. “I was hopin’ te have a conversation with ye.”

“Oh? Aboot what?” I asked him.

“Yer father,” Alasdair told us. “I believe what ye’ve told me te be the truth, that ye grew up on Barra, that yer father was killed by the English. I ken, too, that Cailean here looks remarkably similar te my cousin, and ye both have the Fowlis eyes… and the personality traits.”

“We’ve got tha’ Fowlis fire, do we?” Cailean said with a light chuckle. “Da always said it was a common trait te all Fowlises of Barra.”

“Indeed it is,” said Alasdair. “Ye also say somethin’ tha’ I’ve only ever heard members of my immediate family say… Ye called us both ‘gabbots’, Catrìona, when yer brother and I were concerned aboot yer well-being after the attack.”

“Aye? Where are ye goin’ with this?” I asked him, raising an eyebrow in confusion.

“My father told me that he, my aunt and my uncle invented the word when they were children,” Alasdair said. “They used it among their families as well, and my cousins, siblings and I all grew up using the word. I would find it strange if ye werenae related te us, but kent the word.”

“Aye, our father used te say it all the time,” Cailean told him.

“What I dinnae understand is why yer bringin’ this up te us, Alasdair,” I said suddenly. “Do ye ken somethin’ aboot our father’s disappearance?”

“You tell me,” Alasdair replied. “Ye would have had te have been born after he disappeared, yet yer ages put ye at bein’ born before.” At this, Cailean and I both exchanged a glance. Did Alasdair Fowlis know we weren’t from this time? We’d never explicitly said that we were the children of Archie Fowlis, son of the Laird of Cìosamul - at least, I hadn’t - so how would Alasdair Fowlis even know? “Yer expressions speak volumes,” he said after a moment. “Are ye familiar with a place kent as Pobull Fhinn?”

“Pobull Fhinn?” I asked, and I opened my mouth to speak again when I was suddenly interrupted by a shrill squeal.

Mon sauvage!” Annalise de Marillac exclaimed, attaching herself to Cailean’s arm and kissing both of his cheeks. “I am thrilled to find you here! Oh!” She stopped when she saw me. “ Bonjour , Lady Broch Tuarach! You are looking very well!”

“Thank ye kindly,” I said, masking my bitterness as I gave Cailean a look. “Ye look… verra well yerself.”

“I thank you very much,” she told me. “Come, I shall join you for your walk in the gardens!”

“I believe I should go and search for my wife. She has joined me from Scotland,” said Alasdair. He bowed to us all, then left, leaving us wondering what the hell it was he wanted to discuss with us.

“You ladies go ahead, I want te go and check in with Jamie, find out how much longer he intends te help Sandringham,” Cailean said. He kissed Annalise’s hand and then gave me one final look before he quickly disappeared. Clever bastard, running off before I could question why the hell Annalise was hanging off of him like Louise’s monkey in her cage. Annalise and I went for a walk, and I was silent while I listened to Annalise comment on the elaborate, ornate beauty of the garden and of Versailles.

“Tell me, you have lived in Scotland,” Annalise said after a moment. “Compared to Paris, do you find life to be simpler?”

“In some ways,” I answered. “We dinnae spend elaborate amounts of money decoratin’ our homes with gold-embellished things. We dinnae have a use fer it. But Scotland can be quite complicated, too. We’re no’ savages, fer one. The politics and manipulations among the clans can rival what goes on at Versailles easily.”

“Fascinating,” said Annalise. “James was never a man for such intrigues…”

“I beg yer pardon?” I asked her, stopping in my tracks.

“Not in the days of our past, of course! He was direct, honest, simple,” Annalise replied.

“Jamie isnae a simple man,” I told her, narrowing my eyes. “And neither is my brother, if tha’s where yer goin’ with this.”

“Indeed not! James is not simple today, that is for certain,” said Annalise. “Now, he is a man of politics, of business… Just like all of the others.”

“He’s still Jamie, and I doubt he will ever lose sight of who he truly is. He certainly hasnae yet.”

“When I knew him, he was impulsive and headstrong.” At this, I couldn’t help but scoff.

“He still is. Ye dinnae ken him at all if ye think he’s lost any of those attributes,” I said with a bit of annoyance in my tone.

“I knew him when he was a boy, you know him as a man. Do not take my words as if they are barbs. I admire James, but he has found happiness with you. You are well suited for him,” Annalise said, glancing forward as if to start walking again. “Oh, but there is a rather dashing man over there staring at us. He seems quite taken with you.”

“I’d hope not-” I began to say as I followed Annalise’s gaze, and I froze, my heart beginning to pound as I locked eyes with someone who made my skin crawl and my blood boil cold. Approaching us, wearing the red jacket of the English dragoons, was Captain Black Jack Randall himself, looking perfectly healthy and alive as ever. As he approached, I kept my gaze on him, the venom of hatred swimming in my eyes, an equal dislike in his.

“Madam Fraser,” he said to me, bowing slightly, but grimacing a little. I didn’t answer him, and Annalise glanced between us.

“You are acquainted?” Annalise asked us.

“Yes, we are,” I said, steeling my expression. “How are ye, Captain Randall?” I asked him. “It seems yer in a bit of discomfort.”

“I met with an accident some time ago,” Randall said, his eyes locked on mine.

“Oh, I did hear. Somethin’ aboot… sheep?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Cattle, actually,” said Randall. “The type of cattle that you would be familiar with, being a highlander, Madam Fraser.”

“I’m no’ a highlander. I'm from the islands. Ye’ll ken im a Fowlis of Barra?” I asked the man.

“Yes, I do recall,” he told me firmly.

“Hmph,” I said. “If ye both will excuse me, I am… feeling a wee bit unwell.”

“I will call for your husband,” Annalise said.

“Oh, no, it’s all right,” I began to say, but Annalise was already gone. 

“Jamie? He’s here?” Randall asked me as I turned back to look at him. “Where?”

“None of yer concern. Ye should be more worried about me bein’ here,” I told him. “How’s yer skull? I understand ye took a nasty hit from a hammer.”

“You would know, wouldn’t you?” Randall asked me. “Where is Jamie?”

“Hopin’ te cut yer throat, so ye’d best scram before he sees ye,” I spat back.

“That would be a lethal mistake,” Randall informed me. “Drawing a sword in the presence of the king is a crime punishable by death.”

“He wanted te be dead after what ye did te him,” I hissed.

“The fates are toying with us,” Randall told me with amusement. “We are set on diverging paths, and yet, they always seem to converge in the most unlikely of places.”

“I can only guess why yer here. Yer brother was dismissed from the service of the Duke, so yer here te offer yer bum te earn his service back,” I said. “I’m here because you are responsible fer the loss of my home.”

“Surely, someone like yourself can appreciate the sublime preposterousness of a universe that would guide us to a meeting at the French court,” Randall said to me.

“Not really,” I replied, trying to push past him, but he grabbed my wrist. “Let go of me , ye bastard,” I hissed through gritted teeth.

“I do not think you will want to leave when the king has only just arrived,” said Randall, and I turned to see that we were indeed joined by King Louis himself and his entourage.

“Lady Broch Tuarach,” said the king in French. “Your beauty continues to baffle me. I am glad to set my eyes on you once more.”

“I thank you, Your Highness,” I said, curtsying to him. “Er… May I introduce Captain Jonathan Randall, Esquire, Captain of His Majesty’s Eighth Dragoons.”

“Dragoons? What ever is a dragoon?” asked a member of the King’s entourage in French.

“A light cavalryman in battle who may also dismount as an infantryman,” Randall explained in French, still in his bow to the king, and the entourage laughed until the king held out a hand to stop them.

“You will forgive the rudeness of these children, Captain,” the king told Randall, switching to English. “The French language is not easily mastered by the English.”

“I took no offence, sire,” Randall informed him, clasping his hands behind his back.

“Oh, but perhaps the King has offended you, Madame Fraser?” the King asked me.

“Indeed no’, Yer Majesty. I am not English,” I said politely.

“The King admires your uniform, Captain. It is so… seldomly seen at this court,” the King said to Randall. “Such bold colours as befit the brave soldiers of your sovereign.”

“They say that red hides the blood, Your Majesty,” one of the members of the king’s entourage said, leading the rest to chuckle until the king stopped them again.

“A pity that your countrymen are usually too busy slaughtering each other to exchange such pleasantries,” said the king to Randall - or both of us - and ignoring his entourage.

“Speaking as a soldier of many years, Your Majesty, I must say that I find war preferable to politics,” Randall replied.

“And speakin’ as a healer, I find both te be abhorrent. They both cause an unnecessary end te many lives, war especially,” I chimed in, causing Randall to send me a glare.

“At least in war, you know your enemies,” Randall told me firmly.

“Hmm, the King finds some truth in what you say,” the King said to us both. “War indeed does cause such unnecessary death. Politics lead to war, and war leads to death.” The King then turned his attention to Randall, who turned his attention back to the king from me. “However, we do hope that your affection for carnage does not ultimately prove fatal for you.” The entourage chuckled again, and the king allowed them until their chuckles fizzled out. “You and the Captain are friends, Madame Fraser?”

“We are acquainted,” I answered, subconsciously placing my hand on my stomach as a wave of nausea took over me. I could smell a whiff of manure, so the wind must have been carrying the scent.

“Hmm, does that not present difficulty with your husband? He is, after all, a great Scottish warrior, and you a fine Scottish lady, and both great supporters of my cousin’s rightful claim to the British throne,” the King asked me.

“We ken each other. Tha’s aboot the extent of our acquaintanceship,” I answered.

“Oh, but perhaps you have not met Lord Broch Tuarach!” the king exclaimed, gesturing over our shoulders, and I could hear approaching footsteps and suddenly, Jamie appeared in my field of vision between myself and Randall.

“Captain Randall and I have met many times, Yer Majesty,” Jamie said, bowing to the king. I took his arm into mine to pull him a little closer to me, holding on tightly to his arm; he placed his hand over mine and gave it a firm squeeze. “Are ye well, Captain?”

“Very well, sir. I thank you,” Randall replied.

“I heard you had an unfortunate encounter with… sheep, was it?” I stifled a snort with a subtle cough into my handkerchief, having had the same thought.

Cattle , actually,” said Randall, reacting to my cough.

“Ah, but now you are quite recovered, I see,” Jamie said to him.

“Mostly,” Randall replied. “I still have difficulty getting out of bed on cold mornings.”

“I understand the weather shall be warm in Paris all week,” Jamie told him.

“You need to have no concern for my health then,” said Randall in a strained effort to be polite.

“Delighted te hear,” said Jamie, giving my hand another squeeze. “Tell us, Captain. What brings ye here te Paris?”

“I am, in fact, here on an errand of mercy to aid my brother,” Randall said, and then he turned his attention to the king. “Your Majesty, until recently, my brother was in the employ of the Duke of Sandringham. I have come here to ask His Grace to reconsider his position.”

“How noble of ye,” I chimed in, earning another squeeze of my hand from Jamie.

“Perhaps you should beg,” said the King.

“Beg, Your Majesty?” Randall asked the King, who gave him a small smirk.

“Yes. On your knees,” said the King. “To ask such a favour of the Duke would not be possible. To beg , however, that is a different matter.” Randall stared at him rather dumbfounded as the King’s smirk grew. “On your knees.” Randall’s eyes darted to the entourage, who were sharing the King’s smirk, and must have realised that he was being told by the King to get onto his knees. Slowly, he sunk down onto his knees, and the King and the entourage began to laugh. “Not now. You English are so… literal. The King gives you leave to rise. It would be a shame to stain such pretty britches.”

“Of-Of course,” said Randall awkwardly as the entourage laughed, standing back up, his face the same colour as his coat. The King, still with amusement dancing in his eyes, then looked to myself and Jamie.

“You may retire as well, Lord Broch Tuarach, as may your lovely Lady,” the King said to us, and Jamie and I, respectively, bowed and curtsied to him, and Jamie glanced at Randall one final time before leading me away from him.

“Are ye really unwell, mo nighean ? Annalise said ye werenae feelin’ well still,” Jamie said to me quietly as he led me away.

“Just a bit. I could use a bit of a lie down or maybe some ginger,” I said, my hand resting on my clearly very unhappy stomach.

“Could ye wait just a moment?” Jamie asked me, stopping us in our tracks and I glanced up at him with my brow raised.

“Aye, I can… Why? Jamie, what are ye-” I began to say, but he cut me off by kissing my forehead and letting me go to retrace his steps back to Randall. I saw them exchange a few words, then the two men bowed to each other and Jamie approached me, a slight smile on his face. “Jamie, what’ve ye done?”

“I challenged him te a duel, and he accepted,” Jamie told me. “Come, mo ghràidh , I’ll take ye back te the carriage so ye can head back home. I still have dealin’s with the Duke.”

“Jamie!” I snapped at him, pulling my arm from his grasp. “What do ye think yer doin’? Are ye mad?”

“He said he owed me a death, and I want te give him his,” Jamie replied. “ Tiugainn , ye said ye werenae feelin’ well, and I need te find yer brother.”

“I’m no’ goin’ anywhere! Go back there and call off that duel!” I hissed at him, pulling my arm from his again.

“I’ll no’ do that,” he told me somewhat firmly. “Fine, if ye willnae return te the carriage with me, ye can find yer own way. Have ye any idea where yer brother went?” Irritably, I rolled my eyes and shoved past him, making sure to nearly knock him off of his feet as I pushed past him. After a moment, I paused and turned back around.

“Be home fer dinner,” I said to him firmly, and then I turned and continued on my own path to the carriage.


Master Raymond’s Apothecary, Paris, France

On the way home, I decided to stop at Master Raymond’s to ask about some of the herbs, or at least put an order in so he could get them in time for the ship’s arrival. “What can I do for you today, Madonna? I must say, you are positively glowing on this fine day,” he said to me, possibly sensing the tense mood I possessed.

“Thank ye kindly, Master Raymond,” I said. “Have ye go’ any lobelia, by chance?”

“Lobelia? That is not an herb native to these parts, Madonna,” Master Raymond said to me. “What uses do you have for it?”

“Oh, it’s verra good fer asthma, but only in small doses,” I said, masking my tense mood as best as I could. “Or in higher doses, but no’ too high, it is good fer clearin’ the bowels or the stomach. Sort of like bitter cascara, only less intense.”

“Fascinating, I would never have guessed! I may have some in stock. Anything else, Madonna?” Master Raymond asked me.

“Do ye have any wild parsnip flowers?” I asked him, and at this, he raised an eyebrow.

“Are they not poisonous?” he asked me.

“They can be used fer nausea, which has been persistent fer me,” I said. Partially true, but that was mainly the root and parts of the leaves.

“Those I do not carry, Madonna, but I have seen some in gardens,” said Master Raymond. “Might I suggest ginger instead?”

“I’ve used so much of it, I am startin’ te dislike the flavour,” I lied with a subtle chuckle.

“I see,” said Master Raymond. “Tell you what, Madonna. I will find your lobelia, and if I do not have it, I will fetch some for you. I will also find you some wild parsnip flowers, if you do promise me you will be careful.”

“Scout’s honour,” I said, causing him to raise an eyebrow again. “Er… I promise.” With the herbs secured for the near future, I made my way back home, prepared for the argument that was likely to brew. When I climbed into the carriage, I paused for a moment in thought, then spoke to the driver before giving my orders of where I wanted to go. “Can ye take me te the Bastille?”

Jamie wouldn’t put a stop to his duel, so I would have to be the one to do it for him.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

“I’ll arrange the particulars with his second,” I heard Murtagh’s voice carry up the corridor and into the study, where I was seated at a desk composing a letter to Jenny. The footsteps approached and the door was pushed open, allowing Murtagh, Cailean and Jamie to all enter the study, disturbing my peace.

“As the challenged, Randall will select the weapons,” Cailean was saying, going over to the whisky and pouring three glasses. Evidently, the three of them did not even know I was there.

“Aye, and what if it’s pistols?” Jamie asked him, accepting the glass from Cailean.

“He’ll no’ take pistols!” Murtagh said with a chuckle.

“Aye, true. It’s too quick, too far apart. He’ll want te look me in the eye,” said Jamie, clearly pleased with himself.

“But dinnae err in judgin’ the man’s skills, Jamie. Ye ken the man isnae Captain of the dragoons fer nothin’,” Cailean warned him, sipping from his whisky.

“Dinnae fash, brother! I’ll no’ make tha’ mistake!” Jamie said proudly. “This duel will be the most important duel of my life. I’ll make no mistakes that may result in Randall-”

“There willnae be a duel,” I interrupted them, nonchalantly dipping my quill into the inkpot and scribbling more words onto my paper.

“What was tha’?” Murtagh asked me, but my eyes did not raise to them.

“Randall is locked away in the Bastille,” I told them calmly.

“On what charge?” asked Jamie irritably, approaching me by a few steps.

“I swore an accusation against him,” I said, not taking my attention from the letter I was composing. “Said it was him who attacked us in the alley.”

“Christ, woman, what have ye done?” Murtagh demanded angrily, but Cailean stopped him. I could sense Jamie’s heated gaze on me and knew that sooner or later, I’d have to meet his eyes. “Have ye lost yer mind? Swearin’ a false charge?”

“Randall wasnae even in Paris the night of the attacks,” Cailean told me.

“And when they figure that out, they’ll release him and I’ll say I may have been mistaken. It was dark, I was bein’ attacked, simple mistake,” I explained.

“Murtagh, Cailean, if ye dinnae mind, I would like a word alone with my wife,” Jamie said firmly. I didn’t see them, as I had yet to lift my head from my letter, but I heard them leave the room, closing the door behind them. Jamie was silent for a moment, but I could feel him watching me and heard his footsteps approach.

“How could ye do such a thing?” he demanded of me, but I didn’t answer him. Suddenly, he grabbed the letter and the quill from my hands, ripping them from my fingers and tossing them aside, forcing me to look at him.

“Oi! I was writin’ tha’, ye arse!” I snapped at him.

“Answer me! How could ye do such a thing, Catrìona? When ye ken I’ve been waitin’ fer this moment fer months?” he demanded from me.

“Te get enough time fer ye te listen te me, ye impulsive arse!” I snapped back, standing up and drawing my face nearer to his. “Ye cannae go through with this! Have ye no’ thought of yer family? If ye get caught duelling, ye’ll be lucky te be imprisoned if yer no’ dead! I’ll no’ risk that, not after everrathing we’ve been through. Yer a father, fer Christ’s sake!”

“Catrìona, I appreciate yer concern, truly, but there are places in this city where the gens d’armes arenae present,” Jamie tried to explain to me, now much calmer. “I willnae get caught. Murtagh and Cailean will help me see te tha’.”

“No. I cannae allow ye te risk anythin’. Whether or not the gen d’armes patrol the area or no’, there’s always a risk, and that risk is too great,” I told him, still firmly but much calmer as well.

“Ye gave me a gift, Catrìona, when ye told me that Randall was still alive. That gift was kennin’ I’d be the one te end tha’ bastard’s life. Now I want te claim that gift, and yer tellin’ me I cannae have it?”

“Not yet. Just listen te me, Jamie, fer five minutes, and pull yer damned ego out of yer arse!” He clenched his jaw, but went silent so I could speak. “Ye cannae kill Randall-”

“There is no reason-”

“Because of Tom!” Jamie paused for a moment, seemingly slightly stunned into silence.

“T-Tom?” he asked me. “Ye mean a man ye havenae even spoken of in months? A man who ye left in favour of me?”

“I didnae choose te leave him.”

“But ye did choose not te go back.”

“Fer Christ’s sake, Jamie. If ye kill Randall now, ye’ll kill Tom, too! He willnae be born.”

“What do ye mean?”

“I told ye before, Tom is a descendant of Randall,” I said. “Tom once showed me his family tree that went all the way back te this time, and on that tree, married te Jonathan Wolverton Randall, was Mary Hawkins. Together, they have a child that willnae be born until 1746. Tha’s two years from now. That child ends up becomin’ Tom’s ancestor. If ye kill Randall before tha’ child is born, ye’ll kill Tom, too, and he willnae exist. He must exist. He’s part of the future-”

“I thought we were here te change the future,” said Jamie firmly.

“Change the future, not fuck it up more than we already have,” I hissed back. “Tom is innocent in this. He has no qualms with anyone of Scottish descent, he did no harm te any Scottish man, woman or child. He gave up everrathin’ he kent te help the Scots fight a war against the English. Will ye truly kill an innocent man?”

“Innocent?”

“He’s committed no crime against either of us, nor has he committed any crimes against humanity.”

“And fer tha’, Jack Randall should live.” At this, Jamie scoffed, and he turned and stepped away from me, his back facing me. “I can stand a lot. More than most. I’ve proven as much. But must I bear everraone’s weakness?”

“Are ye callin’ Tom my weakness?”

“Yer askin’ me no’ te kill a man who deserves it te spare a man I’ll never ken. A man who’s bedded you,” Jamie replied firmly, his fists tightening at his sides. “May I no’ have my own weaknesses?”

“I bear your weaknesses. I’ve carried them on my back, same as my own, same as tha’ of my sons, of Mary, of Beth, of Cailean, of so many people that ye dinnae even ken! I carried an entire army on my back when I had te lead the Battle of Bloody Bush and the Siege of Berwick! And ye want te tell me ye bear my weaknesses?”

“Ye dinnae understand!” Jamie snapped at me, and I couldn’t help but let out a loud ‘ha’.

“Don’t I? We’re back te tha’ argument again, are we? Blessed Bride, yer so bloody selfish! All I’m askin’ is ye delay killin’ him! Do ye no’ think I want the bastard as dead as you do? Because I do! I sure as hell do, after what he did te the man I love more than anythin’ else in this world! I want te slaughter the man who took the home from our children, I want te cut off each and everra one of his toes with a wire and wear them as a necklace while I hang, draw, and quarter that fucking heartless bastard, and even that is a punishment too good fer him! But I willnae sacrifice the future until I can ken it is safe.” Jamie was silent as I spoke, his sky blue eyes locked on mine, fury from his heart burning in his eyes. “Delay it. Kill him when the time is right.”

“No,” Jamie told firmly. “ No. Ye have yer choice. It is either him - yer precious Tom - or me. I cannae live while Randall lives.” He pulled out his dirk and approached me, turning it so that the hilt was facing me. “If ye willnae allow me te kill Randall, then kill me now yerself.”

“Yer bein’ ridiculous,” I said, smacking his dirk out of his hand. “Yer bein’ a bloody child ! A tantrum-throwin’ child who’s mad he’s been told no! I gave ye a good reason no’ te kill Randall and ye cannae accept it. Fer Christ’s sake, Jamie, just give him a year! Just one year. Randall’s child will hopefully be conceived by then, and after that, I swear to ye that I will help ye kill that man myself. You owe me that much, James Fraser.”

“Owe ye, do I?” he demanded from me.

“Aye, ye do. I’ve saved yer life not once, but twice. Ye owe me a life, and I choose fer that life te be Tom’s,” I told him firmly.

“Hmph. I see. And now ye claim yer debt,” said Jamie resentfully.

“It seems I cannae make ye see reason any other way, so I must speak yer language,” I replied, equally bitterly.

“Only you would stop me from takin’ vengeance on the man who made me play his whore, the man tha’ lived in my nightmares, haunted our bed… Who nearly drove me te take my own life.”

“And ye overcame tha’ because ye chose to.”

“I’m a man of honour,” said Jamie firmly, but clearly very angrily. “I pay my debts. So tell me now, is tha’ what yer askin’ of me? Te pay ye with the life of Black Jack Randall?”

“I’m askin’ ye te pay me with the life of Tom Randall through the life of Black Jack Randall,” I told him.

“It is the same,” said Jamie. He picked up his dirk again from the ground and brought it to his lips to kiss it, then pointed it in my direction. “A year. Not a day more.” He slipped the blade back into its sheath.

“Thank ye,” I said quietly. I reached out a hand to touch him, but he slapped it away, surprising me and eliciting a small squeak of surprise from me, but I believe the look of utter hatred in his eyes took me off guard even more.

“Dinnae touch me,” he hissed, and then he turned on his heel to storm out of the study.

“I’m holdin’ ye to yer word, because if ye kill Randall before the proper time… then ye may lose the lads… and me.” That stopped him his tracks. “I dinnae ken fer sure… When I came through the stones, I was fightin’ in the Second Battle of Culloden. I wouldnae have even gone te Inverness if Tom hadnae told me to. Who kens what would have happened te me if Tom had never existed? But I do ken one thing… Without Tom, I wouldnae be here. Would ye really risk losin’ the family ye’ve made? Would that no’ be just another victory over ye that Randall holds? Ye kill him, but lose yer family, too?” He didn’t answer me. Instead, he stood there silently for several moments before he quietly left the study, closing the door behind him.


9 May, 1744

Jamie didn’t come to bed that night, or at least not my bed. I didn’t sleep, and when I saw the sun of dawn peeking through the windows, I got up, wrapped myself in my tartan and went down to the dining room to await breakfast. Suzette was surprised to see me, but she got me breakfast quickly, and I ate quietly and slowly, until I heard voices in the corridor.

“Randall’s been released from prison,” I heard Murtagh’s voice say. “I’ll meet with his second this afternoon, set the terms fer the duel.” He must have been speaking to Jamie, who didn’t answer him. “Two days from now at dawn, aye?” Still no answer. “Dinnae fash, lad! Magnus assures me tha’ the woods west of the city are safe. The gen d’armes dinnae patrol there.” Still no answer. “Lad?”

“Aye,” I heard Jamie finally utter.

“Ye need te concentrate. I’ll fetch the broadswords, we’ll meet in the courtyard te hone yer skills-”

“I can’t,” I heard Jamie interrupt him.

“Well, before supper then! Rather no’ wait until tomorrow! Ye need te work tha’ bad hand-”

“I’m no’ duellin’ Randall,” Jamie told him, this time from the doorframe leading into the dining room. “I’ve already sent word withdrawin’ the challenge.”

“Ye’ve done what?” Murtagh demanded, and then I saw his eyes fall on me. “Do you have somethin’ te do with this?”

“It’s complicated,” Jamie told him.

“I ken I’m a simple man, but strive fer an explanation,” Murtagh spat back.

“I just cannae. Trust tha’ I’ve a sound reason,” Jamie told him, entering the dining room and sitting down at the table quite far from me.

“Yer mind changes like a woman in flux!” Murtagh exclaimed. “Like tha’ woman in particular!” I made a face at him and resumed drinking my tea.

“Dinnae blame her, this is my decision,” Jamie told him. “Give us a minute, Murtagh. I need te speak te my wife.” That surprised me a little, and I raised an eyebrow at him. Murtagh let out a gruff huff, then stormed out of the dining room.

“Ye want te speak te me now, aye?” I asked, setting down my teacup.

“I’m sorry fer how I spoke to ye last night. Ye’ve a genuine reason fer bein’ concerned fer Tom, and I shouldnae have judged ye fer it,” he told me, surprising me yet again.

“Oh,” I said, unsure of how to answer. “Er… I’m… sorry too, fer… seemin’ like I didnae care fer what ye’ve gone through. I ken it’s a lot, I’ve gone through it, too. I should have been more sympathetic.”

“It’s all right,” said Jamie, and then he stood up and approached me, sitting down in the seat beside me and taking my hand. “I’ve been thinkin’… Ye said I owed ye a life because ye saved mine, aye?”

“Aye,” I said.

“Well, I’ve saved yers as well, at least as often,” he said to me. “Seems te me we’re even.”

“Are ye serious? ” I snapped, pulling my hand away from him.

“I dinnae give ye Randall’s life fer payment, and I owe Tom nothin’. As I said te ye yesterday, ye had free choice between us and ye chose me, and the fact that ye did shouldnae entitle him te any particular consideration.”

“Blessed Bride, Jamie,” I said angrily, standing up and turning to leave.

“Wait!” Jamie said loudly, stopping me in my tracks. “Ye asked me once te help ye understand, so I will.” I turned to face him again, but didn’t approach him. “What Randall did te me was worse than death. What lies between me and him can only be settled when one of us is dead.”

“Ye think I dinnae understand that?” I demanded from him. “So why are ye no’ duellin’ him still?”

“Because of Charles Stuart,” Jamie replied. “He’s a canny, slippery man, and I dinnae trust him one bit. There’s a light in his eye tha’ can fool good men te believe he’s God’s chosen one, destined te make the dream of a Stuart restoration te the throne a reality. We have thwarted him all we can, Catrìona… but I fear tha’ we may still find ourselves starin’ into the abyss that awaits us at the bottom of Culloden Moor.” He stood after this and approached me quietly, then took my hands in his and brought them to his lips. “And if anything should happen te me…”

“Dinnae talk like that,” I said.

“Then I want there te be a place fer ye, and the lads. Someone te care fer ye… A man that loves ye when I cannae do it myself,” he continued.

“Jamie-” I freed one hand to place it on his face as he continued to speak.

“Now it is my turn te ask ye fer a promise. Promise me tha’… if the time should come… ye’ll go back through the stones. Back te Tom.” The tone in his voice brought tears to my eyes, as did the look of love that he held for me in his.

“How could I?” I whispered to him.

“Promise me, Catrìona,” he said, practically begging, and I nodded.

“All right,” I said. “ Tha mi a’ ghealltainn .” I promise. He bent forward to kiss my forehead, then bent his head to meet my lips.

“I spare Randall’s life fer tha’… and fer you, and the lads. I cannae risk losin’ either of ye. I willnae risk it,” he told me, and then he pulled me into his arms to hold me tightly.

“I love ye, Jamie. I wouldnae ask such a thing of ye unless I had a damn good reason fer it,” I told him as I held onto him tightly.

“I ken tha’, mo ghràidh, ” he told me, burying his lips in my hair. He held me for a few moments more before he broke the embrace and pulled back from me. “In order te keep my promise, I have te ask somethin’ of ye. Sandringham invited us te a luncheon at his rented estate tomorrow morning. Randall will likely be in attendance, which means I cannae attend. I cannae be in the same room with the man, but I cannae risk the relationship we have with the Duke. Will ye… will ye go without me?”

“Te a luncheon with the Duke? Are ye mad? I dinnae even want te go with ye, let alone without ye,” I said back to him.

“Please, Catrìona. Ye can take Cailean with ye.”

“And what will I say when he asks where ye’ve gone? Tha’ yer sick?”

“Aye, that’ll do fine. Tell him I’m unwell and feverish, he’ll understand,” Jamie told me. I let out a groan, then pulled him back to me to hug him again.

“Fine, but only because I love ye,” I said. “And ye owe me fer tha’.”

“I think I can give ye somethin’ worth yer time,” Jamie told me with a light chuckle, kissing the top of my head.


10 May, 1744

Sandringham’s Estate, Paris, France

“Bastard, makin’ me go te this bloody thing,” I said bitterly in the carriage on the way to Sandringham’s estate, which was situated just outside of the city in the countryside.

“I’m sure he appreciates it, kennin’ Randall will be there,” Cailean told me. I glanced up at him, noticing that this was the first he’d spoken since he got into the carriage.

“So,” I said after a moment. “Annalise.” Cailean let out a sigh.

“I ken ye dinnae like her,” he began, but I interrupted him.

“Dinnae like her? I dinnae care what ye do in yer spare time, but I’ll no’ deny I’m no’ fond of the lass,” I said to him.

“So yer no’ mad at me fer datin’ her?” Cailean asked me.

“No, but I’m annoyed ye didnae tell me! Why does everraone leave me te find things out on my own?” I asked. I looked out the window of the carriage then took notice of the large estate that began to appear. “Blessed Bride, look at that place.”

“Lots of places te hide from Sandringham and Randall,” Cailean replied.

“Good,” I said, sitting back against the seat of the carriage. “Cailean… What did ye think of what Alasdair Fowlis was sayin’ the other day? At Versailles?”

“I dinnae ken, he didnae finish. I didnae give him much thought,” my brother replied.

“One track mind, ye have,” I said. “The last thing he asked was if we kent of Pobull Fhinn. Have ye heard of it?” Cailean shrugged.

“No’ sure. A place, I’m guessin’? Or a man?” I shook my head.

“No… it’s a stone circle in North Uist,” I said. “The closest one te Barra.”

“A stone circle?” Cailean asked me, and I nodded.

“He… he commented on how our ages put us as bein’ born before Archie Fowlis disappeared, then asked aboot it.”

“I’m sure it’s nothin’.”

“Truly? Da said his parents died a long time ago, and he always spoke of relatives we had but never met.”

“There was a war, Catrìona. They may have all died.”

“But our home was built in this century. The home we grew up in. Da said the Fowlises had lived in it fer generations. So… where’s all the photographs?” Cailean paused for a moment, his expression changing slightly. “Photographs, in our time, are primarily digital… If any of those people Da named existed - in our time - would they really have absolutely zero photographs? Think aboot it, Cailean. What’s the oldest photo we have of Da?”

“I…”

“What school did he go to? He was eighteen when he joined the rebellion, would have graduated two years before. If his family was raised on Barra in tha’ same hoose we grew up in… wouldnae the teachers at our school have kent of him?”

“This… Catrìona… Are ye sayin’ ye think Da travelled from this time te ours?”

“No, but I’m sayin’ it’s a possibility,” I replied.

“But why would he come te our time? Te stay? Fight in a war he had no reason te fight in, raise a family there? Why no’ go back in his time as soon as he realised the dangers?”

“I dinnae ken,” I said with a sigh. “Somethin’ tells me tha’ Alasdair Fowlis has the answers te those questions.” The carriage came to a stop, drawing both of our attention back to the task at hand, and the door opened to reveal a groom that we didn’t recognise.

Monsieur, Madame, ” said the groom, stepping aside to allow Cailean to climb down and then assisting me down. Cailean nodded to him, then offered his arm to me as we walked up the steps of the large and elaborate estate.

“Why dinnae grooms offer men a hand down? Maybe I want a hand down,” Cailean said with amusement, resulting in a chuckle from me.

“The downside of livin’ in a time where women were thought of as weak,” I answered him. The grand doors of the estate opened to admit us and a footman led the way to the parlour, where we were introduced to Sandringham.

Monsieur Cailean Fowlis et Madame Fraser, Dame Broch Tuarach, ” the footman announced.

“Madam Fraser! How delightful to see you again,” said Sandringham, emerging from the crowd to approach us and take my hand, kissing it. “And where is your husband?”

“He woke up with a fever this mornin’,” I said.

“What a shame! It is a shame to not see him, but your lovely presence will do just fine,” Sandringham was saying. I happened to glance over his shoulders, locking eyes with the malicious look of Jack Randall, who appeared a little fatigued - a night in the Bastille could do that to a man. “Do come along, we have many fine and delicate wines for your tastes.”

The luncheon wasn’t overly eventful. Cailean and I stuck close to each other, occasionally chatting, bringing each other snacks and drinks and keeping to the corners, keeping ourselves away from both Sandringham and Randall. Neither of us were really in the mood for engaging with them and were glad to stay in the corners. It was outside in the gardens when things got interesting. Cailean was trying out a game of croquet with other men while I sat with the other ladies. I nibbled some plain tea biscuits, as I still had some residual nausea, as I watched him bat that little ball around through hoops. I wanted badly to make some sort of snarky comment, but I knew that wasn’t allowed.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of rather aggressive coughing, and I turned and, to my surprise, saw Alex Randall having collapsed, his elder brother running to his side. This drew the attention of the other women and some of the men on the green, so I jumped up and ran over to Alex. “All right, all right, just lie down a bit with yer head back so we can get tha’ airway open,” I said to him, helping him lie flat on his back. I nudged his chin to help him readjust his head to open up his airway a little. “Right, we need te get him inside. I doubt hay fever will do him any favours,” I said to Jack Randall, who was clearly alarmed by the sudden collapse of his brother. I stood up and motioned to my own brother, who was standing with his bloody croquet mallet rather dumbfounded, and he dropped the mallet and ran over to help Jack Randall and I get Alex inside.

“You can bring him in here, Madame et Messieurs, ” a servant told us. “ Le Duc has stated he does not wish to disturb his guests.”

“Of course he bloody doesnae,” I hissed. “Go and fetch my medical bag from the Fraser carriage, please. And hurry!”

“There ye are, mate, nice and comfortable,” I heard Cailean say as he and Randall laid Alex on one of the beds.

“Prop him up, it might help with the breathin’,” I said as Alex continued to cough. The poor lad coughed so hard, he fell unconscious, alarming his brother even more. “He’s all right, no’ enough oxygen reached his brain and he fainted.”

“I beg your pardon?” Randall asked me, alarmed by my use of words.

“Nevermind, just go and ask a servant te fetch hot water, I need it te steep some mullein tea,” I said. “There ye are, Alex, yer all right,” I said as Alex regained consciousness.

“I’ll not be leaving his side,” Randall snapped at me.

“Will someone go and fetch a servant te bring us hot water?” I demanded.

“I’ll go,” Cailean said, getting up and leaving the room.

“Who was that? Your lover?” Randall asked me, and I wanted to snort with laughter, but was too focused on Alex.

“My brother,” I answered. The other servant returned with my medical bag finally and I opened it up, pulling out vial after vial of herbs, searching for my thorn apple and mullein vials. “Have ye got a pipe?” I asked Randall, who didn’t respond right away as he watched me dig through my bag. I lifted up my head to meet his panicked gaze. “Oi! Pipe?”

“N-No,” said Randall with confusion.

“I will fetch pipe,” I heard the servant say. 

“Is he all right? What happened? Save him!” Randall demanded of me, and I quickly stopped what I was doing, lifted my left hand and backhanded him across the cheek, startling the man and leaving a mark on his face.

“Calm down ,” I told him firmly. “Alex willnae do well with ye panickin’ and screamin’. He’ll be fine, he’s simply had an asthma attack. Nothin’ that cannae be treated with a bit of thorn apple and mullein.”

“A bit… of… what…” Alex puffed out.

“Thorn apple and mullein. Once I’ve a pipe and hot water fer tea, I’ll burn the thorn apple in the pipe fer ye te breathe in the smoke and I’ll steep the mullein in water fer tea. I use thorn apple smoke on me own lad fer his lungs,” I explained.

“You’ve a child?” Randall asked me. “ Jamie’s child?”

“No, he’s the Duke of Sandringham’s lad. Of course he’s Jamie’s child, as is his brother,” I said back to him. “Twins they are, born a wee bit early. One’s healthy and hearty as a clam, the other isnae doin’ well.”

“I… am s… sorry to… hear,” Alex puffed as the servant returned with a pipe.

Une pipe, ” said the servant, handing me the filthy, tobacco-caked pipe. I gave it a rather disgusted expression and pulled out one of many handkerchiefs I carried in my bag.

“Dare I ask who this pipe belongs te?” I asked.

Oui , it is Vicomte de Marigny,” said the servant, and I stifled a gag.

“Ergh! Tha’s pure clatty,” I said, pulling out a bottle of pure alcohol that I had in my bag. Soaking the handkerchief, I scraped out the bits of tobacco before pouring the alcohol over the entire pipe.

“What on earth are you doing?” Randall asked me.

“Disinfectin’,” I answered. “I’ll no’ pass on an illness te yer brother through this boggin’ thing.” Once the pipe was acceptably clean and safely dried, I filled the pipe with dried thorn apple leaves and lit the leaves from a candle, starting the pipe and then holding it for Alex to take a puff of. “Tha’s it, deep breath in, hold it fer a second, hold it, hold it… and let it out nice and slow. Perfect… Deep breath in again, hold it… let it out and we’ll take another puff.” Randall watched me while I administered the smoke to his brother. “There we are, yer already lookin’ better, Alex. Yer lips are pinkin’ up nicely and yer no’ so pale.”

“You’re… a very good… healer, Madam,” Alex said, still a little breathless.

“A very good healer, indeed,” said Randall somewhat suspiciously. “I did hear a rumour about you. Something about… La Dame Blanche ?”

“Come now, J… Jonny… Leave her… be,” Alex said to his brother. A servant finally entered carrying a tea pot full of hot water and I prepared mullein tea for Alex, handing it to him to hold while I continued administering the thorn apple.

“Where’s my brother?” I asked the servant.

Monsieur was stop by Le Duc to speak,” said the servant.

“Probably te find out what’s happenin’ here,” I said. I helped Alex finish up the pipe, then prepared another ready to be burned and smoked later. I also steeped some mullein in the tea pot itself so he would have an entire tea pot of mullein tea. “Tha’ should do fer now. Ye’d best get some rest, Alex. Asthma attacks tend te take a lot of energy out of ye.”

“Yes, Madam,” Alex replied as I packed my medical bag.

“Tha’ pipe there is packed and ready, ye just need te light it if he gets bad again. Ye can find thorn apple - or jimsonweed - at any apothecary, same with mullein. Ye may want te invest in a pipe fer yer brother,” I told Randall once I had finished, and I took notice that he was giving me an odd look. “What?”

“I just find it strange that, given our past, you were so quick to aid my brother,” Randall told me. I glanced over at Alex and noticed that he was already fast asleep before I turned my attention back to Randall.

“Yer brother isnae you, and I’ll tend te anyone who collapses like that,” I answered him. Randall stood quickly, startling me a little and causing me to take a step back.

“I am certain Jamie would not be thrilled to learn you were alone in a room with me,” said Randall, and I glanced around me to find that the servants, too, had left.

“If yer smart, ye’ll no’ try anythin’. I had a hard time convincin’ him te not cut yer throat. Try anythin’ and I’ll have te do it te spare him from it,” I warned him.

“I had no intention of touching you, Madam Fraser,” Randall told me, and I nodded.

“Good, best ye keep it that way,” I said. “As I said, thorn apple in a pipe, mullein in tea. Steep it fer four minutes at least and give it to him. Add a bit of rosemary te reduce inflammation.”

“You use such big words,” said Randall.

“My mother was a herbalist. She taught me a lot of them,” I answered. “Right, best be off. Give Alex my best when he wakes.” I kept my eyes on Randall’s for a moment, but he didn’t speak, so I turned and left without a word.

I returned home to another illness - evidently, Beth had relapsed and was feverish again. All I could do was give her herbs that might help her and leave her to rest, and then I went to find Jamie, who was in the study. “How was the luncheon?” he asked me when I entered.

“Eventful,” I replied, entering the study, dropping my medical bag on the desk and crawling onto his lap, wrapping my arms tightly around his neck as he held me. “Randall was there, as was Alex. Alex had an asthma attack, so I had te help him.”

“Ye had te?” Jamie repeated.

“Of course I did. I wasnae goin’ te let him die. Cailean will tell ye the same. Randall was worried sick aboot his brother. Could be a weakness te consider later,” I informed him. “Gave Alex some mullein and thorn apple, then left him in Randall’s care. I slapped Randall, too, when he was panickin’ te calm him down. He was annoyin’ me and distractin’ me while I was tryin’ te work.”

“Ye werenae alone with him, were ye?” I shook my head.

“Alex was there, as were the servants,” I answered. “I dinnae want te think of it anymore, I’m pure done in. Can ye take me te bed and lie down with me, please?” Jamie let out a quiet chuckle.

“Of course I will, mo ghràidh . I owe ye, after all. Today can be all aboot you,” said my wonderful and loving husband, standing with me in his arms and adjusting me so I sat more comfortably. He kissed my head, then carried me off to bed.




Chapter Text

16 May, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

Beth was in and out of illness, sometimes getting better and able to leave the house for a bit of air, but she was tired relatively consistently. The longer her illness went on, the more worried I became, and I forced her to wear a cloth mask over her face to keep from infecting anyone, as I did as well when I went in to examine her. Palpating her abdomen, I could feel that her spleen and liver were both a little enlarged, but didn’t seem to be causing her pain, and she had visibly swollen lymph nodes in her throat. It was hard to tell exactly what illness it was that she had, but I suspected it was some sort of Epstein-Barr virus, possibly glandular fever. Unfortunately, there was nothing much I could do for her except to treat her with herbs that would reduce inflammation, could boost the immune system, or were thought to have antiviral properties in my time, and prescribe plenty of rest to prevent splenic rupture. If her spleen ruptured, there was nothing that I could do, and she would die.

Another culprit could be typhoid, as early on in her illness, she had developed a rash, but it has faded. Once, it started to come back, but I rubbed a salve on her chest to try and stave it off, thankfully successfully. She did have some vomiting and a bit of constipation as well, which hinted that she may have had typhoid instead of Epstein-Barr, but either way, there was no diagnosis for either disease in this time. Both illnesses were identified in the late nineteenth century and refined in the twentieth, and there was no treatment save rest and herbs for either illness.

After examining Beth for the day, I returned to a spare room I had set aside for washing up after being exposed so that I wouldn’t infect anyone else with the illness. I bathed in hot water, then wiped myself down with alcohol to ensure sterilisation before leaving the room. Once I was clean, I went to check on the lads, whom I expected to be watched by the nanny we had hired to take over for Beth while she recovered, but was surprised to find Jamie in the room holding Brian in his arms. “Everrathing all right?” I asked him, taking note of his worried expression.

“He doesnae look well. Worse than usual,” Jamie told me. Poor Brian, indeed, was paler than usual, a little warm, coughing uncontrollably and was wheezing just a little. I took him into my arms to examine his mouth and lips, finding that he was dehydrated despite being fed not all that long ago.

“I see what ye mean,” I said. “I was asked te go te L’Hôpital this mornin’, so I can take him te be examined by another set of eyes. I dinnae ken if they’ll be able te shed any more light than I have, but at least I can say I tried.”

“We’re goin’ te lose him… aren’t we?” Jamie asked me. When he asked the question, his tone became increasingly less worried and more certain over time. It was obvious that Brian was past the point of no return, and it was only a matter of time now. Had he lived in the twenty-first century, he would have been able to be treated, but we weren’t in the twenty-first century. Brian’s lengthy illness was the only reason I regretted not going through the stones when Jamie brought me to Craigh Na Dun last September, but at that point, I hadn’t even known I was expecting more than one baby. I let out a sigh, gently brushing back a thinning gingery curl on Brian’s wee head.

“I think so,” I said with a hopeless tone. “I’ll get him ready te go. Do ye have te see Charles today?”

“I’ll send word that my son is ill and cannae go,” Jamie told me. “I’ll stay here, wait fer ye te return with an answer.”

“Ye dinnae have te do that. Waitin’ will only drive ye mad,” I said to him.

“Dinnae fash, mo nighean , I have plenty of work findin’ a buyer fer Saint Germain’s wine,” he told me, a playful look in his eye.

“Remind me that we need te discuss the plan with Murtagh. If he’s te meet the ship in Portugal and secure passage, he needs te leave soon,” I said.

“I’ll speak te him,” Jamie told me, bending down to kiss my cheek, and then he bent even lower to kiss Brian’s pale head. “Take care, mo ghille . Yer Mam will take care of ye.” His mother would do her best to take care of him, but she was almost certain that that just wasn’t possible at this point.


L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

When I arrived at the hospital, there was a volunteer who offered to examine him for me, so while I allowed the new nanny to wait for him, I went to see where I could be useful. If I didn’t do something while I waited for Brian’s examination, I would go mad with worry, so I sought out Mother Hildegard, but she was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I saw Monsieur Forez on the far side of the hospital, and though he gave me the creeps a bit, I approached him to see what it was he was working on. As I approached, I saw that, unfortunately, the patient he was working on had passed away, and Monsieur Forez had a jug of a very pungent fume - embalming fluid. “ Bonjour, Monsieur Forez, ” I said, announcing my presence, and Monsieur Forez’s beady eyes raised to look at me.

Bonjour, Madame Fraser, ” he said to me, and then spoke in English. “I wonder if you would be so kind as to help me prepare this man for burial?”

“Certainly,” I said, watching carefully as Monsieur Forez demonstrated how to embalm the body. One thing I never thought I’d be doing was embalming a dead body, but it was fascinating to learn.

“Excellent. I shall watch you first, and then I must depart,” said Monsieur Forez, moving aside so I could take over.

“Goin’ somewhere, are ye?” I asked, attempting to make conversation.

“I have been summoned by His Majesty to perform my usual duties,” Monsieur Forez replied.

“Ah, I see,” I said. “I meant te ask what draws an executioner to a hospital.”

“Taking the life of a criminal is not as rewarding as saving the life of an upstanding citizen,” Monsieur Forez replied, directing me to the femoral artery.

“Fair enough,” I said. “What crime is this man bein’ executed fer?”

“It is said to be several persons,” said Monsieur Forez, moving to the other side of the body and glancing up to meet my eyes. “Practitioners of the dark arts, and all those who are associated with them.” His tone sounded like a warning, so I stopped what I was doing and raised my eyes to his.

“Aye,” I said. “When is this te happen?”

“Hard to say. Once they are gathered, I suppose,” Monsieur Forez replied. “I thought, perhaps, they should be hanged. It is a reasonable punishment for the act, but the King’s pleasure is to have them drawn and quartered, so I must be at the ready, hmm?”

“Drawn and quartered,” I repeated, glancing down at the intact dead body below me.

“Many a great Scottish warrior met such a fate, I am told,” said Monsieur Forez. “Any family?”

“Possibly. I dinnae ken fer sure,” I said. “I wouldnae say ‘pleasure’ would be the word that comes te mind, though. The King’s pleasure, or inhumanity?” Monsieur Forez chuckled gently.

“Make no mistake, Madame Fraser, to choke a man to his death at the end of a rope, anyone can do this. But to properly execute the sentence of drawing and quartering… That requires great skill,” said Monsieur Forez.

“I imagine so,” I replied. “Certainly an excellent knowledge of anatomy, of which ye certainly have. How each of the bones in the limbs articulate, what tendons and muscles attach te each bone. How to dislocate each joint te make fer a clean cut… I imagine ye ken quite a bit aboot tha’.”

“You are exquisitely observant,” answered Monsieur Forez. “First, the man - or woman - must be hanged, but with judgement, so that the neck is not broken. As death approaches, you must… cut into the chest cavity, reach in and grasp the still beating heart.”

“I imagine ye must figure out a way te cut the superior vena cava, aorta, pulmonary and coronary arteries at the right moment,” I told him, indicating that I would not be threatened by his talk of execution.

“Indeed,” said Monsieur Forez with pride. “You, too, are knowledgeable in anatomy. Yes, that is the main difficulty. Severing of the large vessels must be done quickly so that the organ may be pulled forth while still beating.”

“Te please the crowd, I’m sure, but then yer victim is dead,” I said to him.

“Yes, the rest is mere butchery. Once the life is extinct, there is not much need for particular skill. As you said, to disarticulate the limbs is next, making for a clean removal,” said Monsieur Forez. “I am surprised I have not made you pale with this tedious conversation, but you do appear a little green.”

“No fault of yers, I’ve been experiencin’ a bit of nausea lately,” I explained. I had been spotting a bit of blood for quite some time now, which was no surprise. I had been very stressed, which likely impacted how my period would come. The nausea had been quite persistent, and frankly, it was getting annoying.

“Perhaps you should pay a visit to our friend, Master Raymond,” said Monsieur Forez, raising his pencil-thin eyebrows. I realised then that it wasn’t me that he was threatening - in fact, he wasn’t threatening at all - he was warning me. The look in his eyes said all that went unspoken between us: ‘Warn him. Tell him to flee.’ I nodded subtly, then glanced back down at the body before us.

“Perhaps,” I said. “When Monsieur Lafayette has finished examinin’ my son. We should finish with this puir lad.” Apparently, I had earned the respect, and friendship, of the mysterious Monsieur Forez, and for that, I was grateful. It certainly helped having the King’s executioner on your side.


Master Raymond’s Apothecary, Paris, France

As soon as Brian was finished being examined, I bundled him up tightly and brought him with me as I rushed to Master Raymond’s. “So what’s the diagnosis?” I asked Monsieur Lafayette, who seemed rather dismissive.

“Failure to thrive,” he replied in French. ‘Failure to thrive’ was a common phrase for ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with your child’.

“‘Failure to thrive’? That is not a diagnosis, that is giving up!” I spat at him. “Call yerself an expert on infants and dinnae ken anythin’ aboot them,” I said in English, seemingly confusing Monsieur Lafayette, but I didn’t care, I needed to get to Master Raymond, and thankfully did so quickly. With Brian nestled tightly in my arms, I pushed through the door, setting off the bell, and Master Raymond popped up from behind the counter. “Ah, Madonna! I did not expect to see you today! I do have those herbs that you requested-”

“I thank ye kindly, but there is no time,” I said. “Ye need te leave the city at once.”

“Whatever for?” Master Raymond asked me, then taking notice of the bundle in my arms. “And who is this? One of your sons?”

“Yes, this is Brian,” I said, patting the sleeping Brian’s head lightly. “Ye need te leave because the King is goin’ on a crusade te weed out practitioners of the dark arts from Paris, and ye ken ye have a reputation.”

“Yes, yes. This has happened before. It is no concern! King Louis’s great grandfather, Louis XIV, did much the same decades ago! Plucking heretics from the city, as one might say, ‘weeding the garden’.” said Master Raymond dismissively. “‘Twas a veiled manifestation of his piety. Soon afterwards, they were all freed, a mere renunciation of Satan as penance. Now come, I have your package prepared-”

“I’m afraid this time now is different,” I said. “It seems tha’ the King is out fer blood this time rather than a few rounds of the Hail Mary. I understand ye ken Monsieur Forez. He was warnin’ me, confidin’ that he’s preparin’ fer multiple executions. He didnae even mention anythin’ aboot imprisonment. Yer in danger, Master Raymond, and as yer friend, I’ve come te warn ye.”

“If it is as you say, Madonna, then you should not have come here! You have put yourself at grave risk, but I am deeply touched by your concern for my welfare,” said Master Raymond. He gathered up a package and approached me, placing it into my hands and lightly touching Brian’s head, giving me a friendly smile. “Take this. I shall heed your warning and flee the city at once.”

“I’m glad te hear it,” I said. “I can disguise my comin’ here easily by sayin’ I’ve come fer herbs fer my sick lad. There are many who already ken I do. Be well, won’t ye?”

“Do not worry, Madonna. No matter how often one removes the weeds, they have a habit of reappearing,” said Master Raymond with amusement, covering my hand that held the packages with his. “We shall meet again, Madonna, in this life or another.”

“I do hope so,” I said. I gave him as friendly a smile as I could muster, though it was hard to completely mask my concern. I had come to care deeply for Master Raymond as a friend, and now I would be losing him, losing the only like-minded person I had ever had the privilege to meet in this time. I wished him luck one final time, and with both my son and the package of herbs needed to recreate smallpox in hand, I left, hoping to find the apothecary empty soon.


18 May, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

“Why the hell are we tryin’ te fake smallpox?” Murtagh demanded as I crushed up the wild parsnip flowers into a mortar.

“Because the financiers are waitin’ te see if the prince’s wine venture is successful,” Jamie said. Fergus was standing nearby watching me very carefully, then tried to stick his hand into the mortar to touch the powder, which I smacked away.

A-mach leis, ” I snapped, surprising him a little. “Do ye want te have burns on yer fingers?” Fergus meekly shook his head and stepped away from the mortar as I finished grinding it up.

“So we have te fake smallpox?” Murtagh asked as I poured the powder into a small vial.

“If the wine venture works, Charles’s financiers will be linin’ up te lend money te the Jacobite cause,” I said. “ That is where the smallpox comes in. Remember when Saint Germain’s ship came in carrying the disease and it had te be burned upon discovery?”

“We’ll get the harbour master at Le Havre te destroy Saint Germain’s ship and inventory,” Jamie continued. “Charles will lose his wine and investment…”

“And he’ll go runnin’ back te Rome with his tail between his legs,” I finished.

Or , we can slit the Italian fop’s throat and be done with it,” said Murtagh bitterly.

“I thought we’ve been over this. Killin’ Charles Stuart will make him a martyr and bring a spark te the rebellion we’re tryin’ te avoid,” I said, turning around and crossing my arms across my chest. “Now, te go over what we have. Fergus, are ye payin’ attention?” Wee Fergus was looking at the powders in the viles that I had made up.

Oui, Milady!” he said, snapping back up to attention.

“Right. The lobelia tincture is a high dose and will cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but no’ high enough te kill, so dinnae fash. Take a wee sip of it. There’s a small bit of bitter cascara in there te set off stomach pains and mimic the internal symptoms of smallpox. As fer the pox themselves…” I picked up the vial of wild parsley powder. “This here is wild parsley, it is quite poisonous. Ye’ll no’ ingest it, ye’ll apply it topically. I’ll turn it into a salve fer ye te rub on yer chest, neck, arms and face so it’ll mimic the visible symptoms of the disease, but ye must apply it before ye board the ship. It’ll take a few days fer the boils te show and when they do, tha’s when ye’ll take the lobelia and bitter cascara tincture.”

“How quickly will it work?” asked Cailean, who was leaning against the window watching me.

“Hard te say. We’ll need te test it out,” I said, glancing at Jamie. He nodded subtly, then took the very small cup of lobelia and bitter cascara tincture, lifting it slightly in the air.

Slàinte mhath, ” he said, tipping it back and swallowing it.

“I’ve also got a bit of crushed nettle powder. I’ll make a salve of tha’, too, and that should cause a bit of a rash, if ye notice the redness from the wild parsnips isnae enough,” I said.

“I dinnae feel anythin,” Jamie said childishly.

“Ye will in a minute,” I said, standing by, and as if on cue, Jamie suddenly doubled over with a groan. “And there it is. Quick onset.”

“We should try and get some of it into the wines. We can crack some open, cannae sell damaged product, and the men will likely no’ let it go to waste,” Cailean chimed in.

“Clever, but it’ll have te be put in verra shortly before the ship arrives in Le Havre, so ye should be there by the fifth,” I said as Jamie loudly moaned. “We’ll be in fer an interestin’ night.”

A dhia, ” Jamie growled, jumping up and running out of the room.

“Tha’s goin’ te happen te me ?” Murtagh exclaimed as he watched his godson flee from the room.

“Aye, it will,” I said.

“Why cannae this clotheid go?” Murtagh demanded, referring to Cailean.

“Because people actually like me,” Cailean replied, and I stifled a snort.

“Well, people ken Cailean’s face more than yers, Murtagh. His presence will be missed, yers willnae,” I said. “There are equal cons te the pros of bein’ a shadow. I’ll have te add some rose madder te the tincture that we add to the wine. It should be added on both the ship and at port te imply infection. The rose madder will produce blood in the urine, and I believe tha’s all the symptoms we can mimic safely,” I added.

“And fer my next trick, I give you… smallpox,” Cailean said with amusement.

“Masquerade and games,” said Murtagh bitterly. “What’s next? A rousin’ game of charades?”

“You know, the ladies at Maison Elise’s, they play charades without any clothes for the clients,” said a giggling Fergus, and Murtagh glared at him.

Ist , ye wee bawbag,” Murtagh growled at him, and he turned on his heel and stormed out of the room.

“What did I say?” Fergus asked, genuinely curious.

“Dinnae fash, a ghille , he’s simply pissed because he’s the guinea pig,” Cailean told him.

“What is this kind of pig?” asked Fergus. I let out a heavy sigh.

“He’s quite upset… I dinnae blame him. He doesnae understand our reasonin’ fer preventin’ a rebellion he thinks would free Scotland,” I said, and then I looked at Cailean. “I think we have te tell him.”

“Well, I sure as hell dinnae want te be the one te give him that news!” Cailean exclaimed.

“I’ll make Jamie some marshmallow leaf and ginger tea and see aboot askin’ him te explain,” I said, and then I looked at Fergus. “Dinnae touch a thing , or ye’ll be joinin’ Murtagh on that ship.” Fergus’s eyes widened and he nodded quickly, and I left the two of them alone in the study while I went to fetch herbs for Jamie.


19 May, 1744

Jamie, unfortunately, was still feeling unwell, so I left him with a kiss on his forehead and a steaming cup of marshmallow leaf tea and went in search of Murtagh. He was in the study looking over some more letters that Fergus had stolen recently when I found him, and I cleared my throat to draw his attention. “Mind if we have a chat?” I asked him, and he raised an eyebrow at me. “Ye’ve been askin’ questions that no one’s givin’ ye answers te. I thought it time te give ye some.”

“I’m listenin’,” said Murtagh, setting the letter down and crossing his arms across his chest.

“Not here. This news… isnae fer delicate ears,” I said. “The courtyard?”

“Hmph,” Murtagh replied, and he stood and followed me down to the courtyard, which led out to where the horses were kept. I paused in thought to try and gather them together, but everything I thought of just sounded ridiculous, so I let out a sigh and decided to just rip the bandage off.

“Right,” I began. “So… We’re doin’ this because we want te stop the rebellion tha’s te come. Ye ken that already.”

“Aye,” said Murtagh.

“And I’m guessin’ one of yer questions is… how we ken that rebellion is comin’,” I said. “The answer’s quite simple, actually, but givin’ it… It’ll sound mad.”

“More mad than what ye’ve been sayin’ all these months?” Murtagh asked me. “Get on with it, lass!”

“Ye want a rushed answer? Fine, I’ll give it to ye, quick and simple. I ken there’s a rebellion comin’ because… because I’m from a time where the rebellion has already happened,” I said, and Murtagh’s steel expression seemed frozen as he processed what I’d said. “Actually, I… I’m from a time where… the rebellion - the ‘45, as we call it - happened… four hundred years in the past. And we want te stop it because thousands of Scots will suffer, die, or both, even years after the uprisin’.” At this, Murtagh’s eyes widened and his eyebrows raised. “It all started when I was fightin’ in my own rebellion. In my time, Scotland has rebelled against England and is fightin’ fer freedom. I’m a medic on the battlefield, which is where I get all of my medical knowledge from. When we met… I had only just gone through the stones.”

“S-stones?” Murtagh squeaked out, and I nodded. “Ye mean…”

“Craigh Na Dun, aye,” I answered. “I was fightin’ in the Second Battle of Culloden, in the year… 2138. Emphasis on ‘second’ - the first was in the sixteenth of April, 1746.”

“2138,” Murtagh repeated.

“Yes. I was the same age in my time as I am now. Well, when I came through… I was twenty-two. I was born in 2116, not… 1721,” I told him. Murtagh was silent after that, staring at me as if I had a second head growing out of my neck. “I ken it sounds mad, but it’s the truth. Cailean, too, comes from the future. He travelled two years before me, also on accident. Jamie kens, too, and he’s verra supportive still. He… he didnae think ye would understand, it is a bit of a strange thing te hear-” Suddenly, he held a hand up to stop me, but his eyes wouldn’t meet mine.

“I… need a minute,” he said, and I nodded, watching as he turned and went back into the house. I let out a sigh - I should have just left it alone. I should have let Jamie explain, or I should have listened to him when he said that Murtagh wouldn’t understand. I sat down on the stone steps of the courtyard, burying my head in my knees. Blessed Bride, this was giving me such a headache!

Some time later, perhaps an hour or so, I heard the sound of footsteps and rustling paper, and when I looked up, I was surprised to see Murtagh standing up behind me holding a piece of parchment. He then sat down on the steps beside me, revealing that the paper had the dates 2116, 2117, 2118, and so on until 2138 scrawled in Murtagh’s messy handwriting. “So,” he said. “Ye… Ye lived through all these years that have yet te come.”

“Yup,” I answered.

“Four hundred years into the future,” said Murtagh.

“Four hundred years,” I repeated. I then looked at his parchment and pointed to the year 2116. “I was born this year, on the first of February. Nearly twenty years before that, there was what we call the First Scottish Rebellion, also called the Scottish War of 2098. My father fought in it. He was a commandin’ officer, led the Battle of Dunblane, defended Stirling… That war ended in the year 2100 as an English victory under King Edward IX - aye, always an Edward. Da was imprisoned, as all Scottish rebels were, but was released in 2115. My mother was a nurse - a healer, if ye will - who tended to him when he was wounded at Dunblane. She remained loyal te him fer all those years, and they married as soon as he was released, and I came along nine months later.”

“A rebellion,” Murtagh repeated, looking at the paper, and I pointed to the year 2118.

“Cailean was born in this year,” I said, and then I pointed to the year 2131. “This… This was the year the English killed my family. All but me and Cailean. It was the same year we joined the rebellion… I was fifteen, Cailean was thirteen. We had no place te go but the rebellion. They were killed by Jack Randall’s descendant, Richard Randall.” I pointed to the year 2135. “This was the year I led the Battle of Bloody Bush near the borders. Our commandin’ officers were killed or wounded, and we had no one else. I bein’ a field medic had an advantage that others didnae have by bein’ constantly connected te the commandin’ officer, so I kent their plans. But when they died… it was up te me, and I dinnae ken how even te this day, but I led us te victory.” I pointed to the year 2136. “This was the year I led a successful Siege of Berwick.”

“Ye seized Berwick?” Murtagh asked me, and I nodded.

“Indeed I did. First time it’s been done since the fifteenth century. There had been another attempt in the first rebellion, but it didnae succeed. I was promoted te Captain. I was a commandin’ officer, also a medic trainin’ te be a doctor,” I explained.

“A commandin’ officer,” Murtagh repeated. “No wonder yer so bossy.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Perhaps a bit,” I said.

“So. Ye ken what happens te the Jacobites,” Murtagh continued.

“Yes,” I replied. “I ken when the rising begins, and I ken how it ends as well.”

“And it doesnae end well,” said Murtagh, judging the outcome from the expression on my face, and I shook my head. “Ye ken the dates… When things will happen, when people will die.”

“Not aboot you, or Jamie, or any of us, really. I have a vague idea of what Cailean might be doin’, but I dinnae ken fer sure,” I said.

“Wait,” said Murtagh. “This means the Laird of Cìosamul isnae yer grandsire?”

“Funny ye mention that, but that is a whole different can of worms I dinnae want te open right now,” I said, and Murtagh raised an eyebrow.

“This explains so many of the strange things ye say,” he said. “I dinnae ken if I would want te bear the burden of kennin’ what’s te come.” At this, I let out a sigh.

“I dinnae, either,” I said to him.

“Does this mean yer a witch?” Murtagh asked suddenly, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Goodness, no! I’m no more a witch than you are! I just sort of… fell through time, the way one might fall through a doorway,” I said.

“Ye could have trusted me with this information since the beginnin’,” said Murtagh, and I let out a scoff.

“My first impression of ye was that ye didnae like conversation and ye hated everrathing and everraone around ye,” I said to him. “But I’m glad I can trust ye.”

“Now I’ve somethin’ else te hold over yer brother’s head,” said Murtagh, and I laughed again.

“Oh, I’m glad of it,” I said. Telling Murtagh was much easier than I thought it would be. I’d have to ask Jamie what on Earth he was so worried about later.


2 June, 1744

Murtagh had been gone for nearly two weeks now, having gone to Portugal to secure passage onto Saint Germain’s ship. It should have left already with him on it, which meant that Jamie and Fergus needed to go to Le Havre to prepare for the ship’s arrival. Jamie was in the nursery saying goodbye to the lads while I was helping Fergus get situated on his horse. Jamie joined us shortly, giving his own horse a pat. “Remember,” I said. “Tincture in the wine, parsley powder in their coats. Dinnae let Fergus touch the powder.”

“I willnae,” Jamie told me, pulling me into his arms and ducking his head so he could kiss me.

“Be careful,” I told him, one of my hands brushing a red curl out of his face, and he gave me a gentle smile.

“I will,” he replied.

“Ye always say that. Mean it this time, won’t ye?” I asked, and then I looked at Fergus. “And you , make sure he doesnae get into any trouble.”

“I will, Milady,” said Fergus to me.

“Take care of each other,” I said to the both of them. I kissed Jamie one more time, then stepped back to allow him to climb up into his horse.

“We should be back in two days. Cailean kens what te tell Charles, so ye dinnae have te worry aboot him,” Jamie said. He bent down from the horse to kiss me one final time. “I love ye, mo nighean . Take care of the lads.”

“I will. I love ye, too,” I said. I stepped back again, then watched as both Fergus and Jamie rode off. I prayed to whoever was listening that this plan worked, because if it backfired, who knew what could happen?


4 June, 1744

It was a hot day, or at least it felt hot. I was sweating constantly and hay fever was running rampant. I was haunted by the foul, choking feeling of a post-nasal drip that wouldn’t clear for anything and my throat was a little sore, but it was only allergies, after all. Jamie was due back at any moment and I didn’t want to sound all congested and nasty when he did, but that meant clearing my sinuses every five minutes and going through a handkerchief every half hour.

I heard voices in the courtyard, and I was quick to rush outside to greet the source. “Jamie!” I exclaimed as the man himself leapt down from his horse and caught me as I launched myself into his arms. “I missed ye so much!”

“I missed ye, too, mo ghràidh ,” he said through chuckles, setting me back down on my feet and kissing my forehead. Suddenly, his smile faded and he eyed me curiously, then raised a hand to touch my face. “Christ, woman, yer as hot as the fires of Hell.”

“Thank ye verra much,” I said, confusing him even more. “It’s just a bit warm, but I’ll be fine.”

“Out of doors, it isnae as warm as ye think. Come inside, I want ye tucked into bed,” he told me, taking me by the arm and leading me back inside.

“Jamie, I’m fine,” I told him. “I could just be havin’ a hormonal fluctuation.”

“I dinnae ken what that means, but I cannae help but te be concerned. Ye spend yer days at a hospital fer the sick and wounded only te come home te tend to a sick lass,” Jamie replied as we got to our bedchamber. “Come, out of this dress.”

“If ye wanted te take me te bed, ye could’ve asked,” I said, teasing him, but he evidently wasn’t in a teasing mood as he pulled at the laces that kept my dress closed.

“I’ll always want te take ye te bed, but not while yer boilin’ with fever,” he said as he freed me from the constraints of the dress.

“I dinnae think it’s a fever, and if it is, it’s mild. Probably hay fever,” I told him.

“As ye say, rest is best,” Jamie replied as he started on the laces of my corset.

“How’d everrathing go?” I asked him, watching him undo the laces.

“I didnae linger te find out,” he replied. “The ship willnae arrive fer a few days yet.”

“Hopefully, everrathing with Murtagh is goin’ accordin’ te the plan. Charles cannae get his hands on that money,” I told him, watching as he stripped me of everything but my shift.

“Dinnae fash, mo nighean ruadh , if anyone can deliver pestilence and disease, it’s us,” he said with a smile, bending his head to kiss my forehead, and then he picked me up and carried me to bed.

“Will ye stay? Ye dinnae have anythin’ te do, do ye?” I asked him, my arms still wrapped firmly around his neck as he laid me on the bed.

“I should go over the finances, but I’m tired as an auld dog,” he replied, yawning as he spoke.

“Then come here and let me hold ye,” I told him, pulling him a little closer to me and lying down with him in my arms. I brushed my fingers through his curls, taking in the features of his face. He was tired, a little pale, and still the handsomest man I’d ever known. “How is it that ye can still look so good despite bein’ so tired? Ye catch me when I’m tired and I look like Medusa.” He chuckled at this.

“Ye look like Venus, mo ghràidh , my beautiful goddess of love,” he told me, wrapping his arms around me to hold me. “Or Scàthach, my fierce Scottish warrior woman. Mo bhean laochaire.

“Dinnae make me laugh. Ye ken I look like a dearg-due in the mornings,” I said, and he laughed instead at my reference to an Irish vampire-like female demon - the name ‘dearg-due’ was a literal translation of ‘red bloodsucker’.

“Then ye look like the most beautiful dearg-due I’ve ever seen,” Jamie told me. He snuggled into my shoulder and soon, he was fast asleep. I stroked his hair for some time, unable to sleep and filled with worry of what would happen if the plan failed. It couldn’t fail, or thousands would lose their lives.


8 June, 1744

Maison Elise, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie and Cailean were on their way to yet another meeting with Charles, but this time, they were summoned with a message that the meeting was urgent. Jamie was hesitant to leave Catrìona, as she still seemed a bit feverish (although she was in denial) but she insisted that she felt perfectly fine and didn’t need to be watched, so Jamie agreed to go with Cailean to find out what it was that Charles wanted. “It’s probably te do with the ship,” Cailean said to him in Gaelic. “Where’s Murtagh gone to? Will we see him?”

“If all went te plan, he managed te salvage some crates of wine and is havin’ them sold in Belgium,” Jamie answered, also in Gaelic.

“Smart, and a good way te make a bit of extra cash,” Cailean replied. The pair of them entered Maison Elise, finding themselves face to face with a pouting, very down-in-the-dumps, as Cailean would put it, Charles. He seemed drunk already, more so than usual, and most definitely pouting like a child.

“Finally, you’re here. I have been anxiously waiting,” Charles said to them with some irritation.

“Aye, we came as soon as we received yer message,” Jamie told him.

“Aye, straight away,” Cailean replied, the two of them sitting down. “How may we be of service, Yer Highness?”

“There has been a catastrophe in Le Havre at the Comte’s warehouse,” said Charles bitterly. “A mysterious illness, which no one has been able to diagnose as of yet.”

“An illness? Is it contagious?” Cailean asked, masking concern - he knew exactly what mysterious illness was plaguing the Comte’s sailors.

“One should not speculate as to the contagion of this malady,” Charles snapped.

“What aboot the harbour master? Can he be paid off?” Jamie asked, trying to feign concern. “Is tha’ not how ye normally solve these sorts of things?”

“There is no use. The Comte’s ship has already been burned, and all of the wine with it,” Charles told him. “It is like someone is interfering with God’s plan!” Jamie and Cailean exchanged a glance. “They always remain one step ahead of us! What can we do to get one step ahead of them ?”

“I ken how ye feel, and I’m sorry te hear of this,” said Jamie as sympathetically as he could manage. “Perhaps another venture-”

“There are no funds for another venture, James! I gave everything I had and I counted on the Comte, but it seems that that was a mistake,” Charles whined.

“I cannae say I’m surprised. This isnae the first time the Comte has brought an illness te French shores on one of his ships,” Cailean chimed in.

“All the sacrifices I have made, lowering myself to a commoner, begging for money, have amounted to naught ,” Charles exclaimed, as if Cailean hadn't spoken. “Where will the House of Stuart stand if our cause fails?”

“Yer Highness, dinnae lose hope yet,” Jamie said in an attempt to console the prince, who simply ignored him to wallow in his own sorrows.

“I will be forced to return home to Rome, where even the Pope’s goodwill for my father begins to run dry. Or worse… Mark me, I will take my own life if I am forced to live in God-forsaken Poland ,” Charles moaned. “Oh, James, Cailean… What am I to do?”

“We shall figure it out in due time,” Cailean told him, standing and moving to sit beside the prince and give his shoulder a comforting squeeze. “Dinnae give up yet, Yer Highness. We will find a way. Our cause isnae dead yet. It’s best if ye go home and rest fer now… Jamie and I will put our heads together and try to find another solution.”

“You are both such wonderful friends,” Charles said to them both, clearly unstable and very drunk. “I am honoured to call you both my friend.”

“As are we, Yer Highness,” said Jamie. “Come, we’ve a carriage outside. We’ll take ye home. As my wife would say, rest is the best cure fer an ailment of the heart.” With one on either side of the prince, they helped him to stand, then led the drunken fool to their carriage to bring the man home.


9 June, 1744

L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

“Catrina! I am glad to have caught you!” I heard Louise’s voice say as I climbed down from the carriage outside of L’Hôpital des Anges, and I glanced up at her with my eyebrow raised.

“Louise?” I asked as she approached, a servant trailing behind her. “What are ye doin’ here?”

“I am to travel to my estate in the country soon and I did wish to invite you and les bébés , if you will come,” she told me.

“And ye came all the way here te tell me?” I asked her.

“And I did wish to see what it is that draws you here. I cannot help but to be curious,” said Louise, looking around at the surroundings of L’Hôpital . “I do not understand how it does not distress you.”

“What distresses me is how this city treats its underprivileged and poor,” I answered her. “Ye see what it’s like when ye walk through the streets. There are staggerin’ numbers of them.” I let out a sigh as I turned my attention to a spot on the stairs outside of the hospital. “Just yesterday, when I arrived… I saw, lying there, a woman lying dead with her deceased child in her arms. It was horrible…”

“Indeed it is,” said Louise, eyeing the spot I referred to and pressing her hand to her somewhat bulging stomach. “I have seen many similar sights. Last week, I was with Elise and she said to me, gen d’armes should remove them to less desirable parts of the city’.”

“How kind,” I said. “I’d ask if ye wanted te come in and help, but in yer condition, it’s best not to,” I told her. “Can I offer ye my carriage? I’m badly needed today, there’s a sort of epidemic going through the city.”

“My carriage is not far, but I thank you,” said Louise. “Do consider coming to my estate. It will do you nice to get out of this city.”

“I’ll think aboot it,” I said, holding her hands in mine and giving her a smile. I watched as she returned to the carriage in question, then turned to face the hospital. I felt a small, but sharp pain, almost like a pinprick, in my side and pressed my hand to it, masking the pain as I addressed Fergus. “Dinnae get into any trouble, ye hear me? If ye do, I’ll box yer ears in.”

Oui , Madame,” said Fergus, his eyes widening a little, and I ruffled his hair.

“Dinnae fash, I’m only fillin’ in fer Murtagh,” I told him. “But I am serious aboot ye stayin’ out of trouble. If I find yer up te somethin’, I’ll make ye come inside te clean champer pots.”


The pain in my side continued to worsen, but it wasn’t crippling. When I went to relieve myself later in the day, I took a sterile bandage and wrapped it around my midsection to put pressure on the pain, which helped a little, but soon, even that wasn’t enough. I felt warm, too, but it was summer so I chalked it up to that. When I was bent over a patient, I had to steady myself to keep from falling, and then felt a hand grasp my upper arm.

“You must come sit, Madame,” Mother Hildegard told me.

“Just a few more patients and I’ll be out of yer hair, er… wimple,” I said, but Mother Hildegard seemed in no mood for jokes.

“If you do not want to become a patient yourself, you will come rest. You are pale and you feel warm,” said Mother Hildegard, pulling me away from the bedside of the patient. Glancing down, she noticed that a small puddle of blood seemed to have appeared beneath my skirts where I was standing and she looked down. “You are bleeding, my dear.”

“My courses have always been a bit abnormal. Now I’ve a reason fer a bit of a pain I’ve had all day. Happens sometimes, perfectly normal,” I said as I viewed the blood spot, but what I didn’t say to Mother Hildegard was that the blood was a little more than I could expect with my normal courses. “Aye, nothin’ te fash over…”

“The hour is late, and you are unwell. You will stay tonight,” Mother Hildegard told me as she got me onto a chair.

“Oh, no, I couldn’t! My husband will be worried and my sons need me,” I told her, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

“It was not a suggestion,” she said. “I will send word to your husband with your young servant boy. Soeur Angelique! Amener Madame Fraser dans la chambre d’amis… ” Her voice trailed off as she went in search of Fergus, and Sister Angelique approached me to take me to the spare bedchamber, as Mother Hildegard had ordered her to do.

Venez avec moi, Madame Fraser, ” Sister Angelique said to me, leading me to the spare chamber they had in the convent.

“My husband will worry,” I said in French, glancing back at the front doors.

“We will worry if we do not see to you,” said Sister Angelique, and I let out a sigh.

“All right,” I replied.


Jared’s House, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie returned from the warehouse to young Fergus sitting on the marble steps in the foyer, who then jumped up when Jamie entered. “Good evening, Milord!” said Fergus animatedly.

“Fergus,” said Jamie, a little confused. “Where is Milady?”

“She is staying the night at l’hôpital, ” said Fergus, which alarmed Jamie. “Oh, no, no, Milord! The hour was late and the Mother thought it best if Milady remains, so not to travel the streets at night. I allowed it.”

“I see,” said Jamie. “It was verra good of me te put her in yer capable hands. Are ye hungry?”

“Always, Milord,” said Fergus.

“The lad has been fed three times, Monsieur ,” said the voice of the new nanny coming down the stairs, who was taking over for Beth. Last he heard, Beth was starting to feel better, but Catrìona still thought it best to keep her away from the lads. In this nanny’s arms, Archie squirmed and whined, wanting to get down.

“Nothin’ wrong with feedin’ the lad. Give him here,” Jamie said to her, holding his hands out for Archie, and the nanny handed him to him. “Keep Brian company, Catrìona says he’s verra susceptible te croup.”

“Yes, Milord,” said the nanny, disappearing again. Jamie kissed Archie’s gingery curls and he giggled, glad to be in his father’s arms instead of the nanny’s.

“When will Murtagh be home, Milord?” Fergus asked Jamie.

“He’s gone te Belgium, so it could be some time. Couple of months, maybe. At least one,” Jamie replied, leading Fergus to the dining room while holding Archie in his arms.

“I will miss his happy face,” said Fergus, and Jamie chuckled.

“It’s best he’s no’ seen around these parts fer some time,” Jamie told him. “Suzette!”

“Milady says ‘out of sight, out of mind’,” said Fergus, and Jamie raised an eyebrow.

“Huh. I’ve never heard her say tha’ before,” Jamie replied, sitting down with Archie on his lap as Suzette entered. “Can we get dinner?”

“Yes, Milord,” said Suzette, curtsying and leaving.

“She says it to me every day,” said Fergus. “Monsieur Cailean is with his lady.”

“I assumed so,” said Jamie. He looked down at Archie, who was entrenched by the buttons on Jamie’s coat, and couldn’t shake a general feeling of unsettlement. Something didn’t feel right… Something was going to happen. He didn’t know why he felt that way, or how to stop it, but he knew that soon - very soon - something bad was going to happen. Would Charles find new investors? Would Catrìona fall ill? Would Brian…




Chapter Text

10 June, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

Jamie was awoken by the sound of knocking at the door. Confused, and glancing out the window to find that it was still dark, Jamie got up and pulled his shirt on over his head to answer the door. “Suzette?” he asked. “What are ye doin’ up at this ungodly hour?”

“It is the prince, Milord. He has gotten himself into some trouble at the salon. It seems that he has run up a substantial debt and refuses to pay. Madame Elise has threatened to call for the gen d’armes unless restitution is made immediately,” Suzette explained to him, and he let out a heavy sigh, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

“Of course,” he said. “Is the messenger still here?” Suzette nodded. “Tell them te get word te Madame Elise that I’ll be on my way soon.”

Oui , Milord,” said Suzette, and then she was gone. Jamie let out another heavy sigh.

“No peace fer the wicked,” he said as he went to get dressed. As he went downstairs, he was surprised to find Cailean and Fergus still awake and in the parlour playing a game of chess.

Maidainn mhath, a bhràthair,” Cailean told him. “Do ye need company te Maison Elise?”

“No, I’d rather ye here fer when yer sister returns. I’ll handle Charles,” Jamie answered.

“Shall I go as proxy, Milord?” Fergus asked him.

“No, best go myself. We dinnae need the gen d’armes makin’ inquiries into our business affairs… today of all days,” Jamie told him.

“Then I shall come with you to guard your right,” said Fergus, standing up from the table.

“And leave me te play chess all on my own?” Cailean asked, teasing the young lad.

“You are not good anyway,” Fergus told him, and Jamie chuckled lightly.

“Aye, get this wee bawbag out of my sight,” Cailean told Jamie playfully.

“Go and put a coat on, lad,” Jamie told Fergus, who ran off, and then he turned to Cailean. “What are ye doin’ up so late, anyway?”

“It’s only half past three, dawn will be soon,” Cailean told him. “I cannae believe how early the sunrise is in this century. I never kent the sun rose at four in the mornin’.”

“What time does it rise in yer time?” asked Jamie, rather perplexed by this observation.

“Nearly six,” Cailean answered him. “And the sun sets at nearly ten.”

“How verra strange,” Jamie said.

“Astronomy is weird,” Cailean answered just as Fergus came running back in. “Off ye two go, then. I’ll hold down the fort.”


CAILEAN POV

Cailean eventually moved to the study and found himself reading a new book titled ‘Fables of the Female Sex’ - one can imagine why Cailean was drawn to the title. He carried it to the nursery, where his two nephews could be found gurgling and kicking the air - or rather, Archie did, as Brian was fast asleep. Picking up Archie, Cailean sat down with the book in hand and let out a heavy sigh, then opened it to Fable II. “Right, lad. Let’s read a story, aye? ‘The Panther, The Horse, and Other Beasts’,” he read. “‘The man who seeks te win the fair, So custom says must truth forbear; Must fawn and flatter, cringe and lie, And raise the goddess te the sky; Fer truth is hateful to her ear, A rudeness which she cannot bear— A rudeness? — Yes — I speak my thoughts, Fer truth upbraids her with her faults.’”

“Aah,” little Archie babbled, reaching for a brown curl on his uncle’s head, and Cailean chuckled and gave the lad a kiss on his head.

“Ye like it so far, do ye? Is yer Uncle a good storyteller?” Cailean asked his nephew, and then he cleared his throat to read the next section. “‘How wretched, Chloe, then am I, Who love you, and yet, cannae lie; And still, te make ye less my friend, I strive yer errors to amend! But shall the senseless fop impart The softest passion te yer-‘” The sound of an angry voice suddenly echoed through the halls, drawing both Cailean and Archie’s attention to the door. “What the hell…” Setting the book aside, Cailean stood with Archie in his arms to investigate, exiting the nursery just as Jamie came onto the second landing - he looked furious. “Jamie! What is it, man?” Cailean asked him, approaching the steaming man.

“I need te go somewhere,” Jamie told him, looking at Archie in Cailean’s arms. He took his son, then held him tightly and kissed the young lad’s face. “I love ye, mo ghille . Never forget how much yer Da loves ye.”

“What are ye on aboot?” Cailean asked him as Jamie handed Archie back to him and went into his bedchamber.

“I dinnae have time te explain. Go te  L’Hôpital and get yer sister. Tell her I love her,” Jamie said as he reached under the bed for his sword and pistol.

“Tell her yerself, mate!” Cailean told him as Jamie stood and went to the desk to scribble something onto a piece of paper.

“There is no time,” Jamie told him, and then he turned to face his brother. “If somethin’ happens, take care of my sister.” Cailean then realised that this was clearly something very serious, and instead of being stopped, Jamie just needed assurance that his loved ones would be cared for.

“I will,” Cailean told him. As Jamie was on his way out, Cailean stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “God be with ye, brother.” Jamie nodded to him, and then he was gone.


L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

CATRÌONA POV

I was examined and asked how I felt, but wanting to get home and see my sons and my husband, I lied and said I felt well enough to go home. I was informed that my carriage was waiting for me outside, and I was surprised to see that it was Cailean who came to fetch me instead of Jamie. “Not that I’m no’ glad ye see ye, but where’s Jamie?” I asked him.

“He had somethin’ te do. I dinnae ken what, he didnae say, but he told me te tell ye he loves ye,” Cailean replied. That cryptic message confused me a little, but I was sure he’d explain when he got home. I let Cailean help me into the carriage, ignoring the pain in my abdomen that had gotten significantly worse, and we rode home. When we arrived, Cailean helped me down and took me by the arm to lead me into the house, where Magnus greeted us.

Bonjour, Madame, ” he said to me, taking both of our coats and hats.

“Good mornin’ to ye, Magnus,” I said. Suzette suddenly came into the foyer from the kitchen and seemed surprised by our appearance.

“Oh! Good morning, Milady! Forgive me, I did not know you would be home so soon,” Suzette told me. “Do you wish a bath? Perhaps something to eat?”

“No, just a lie down with my lads would be nice,” I said. I was about to go up the stairs, but then another one of the servants came to me and curtsied, then handed me a piece of folded parchment.

“From Milord, Madame ,” she said, bowing her head.

“Oh, all right,” I said, taking the parchment and unfolding it. All it had were four cryptic words: ‘ I’m sorry. I must. - J ’ I was very confused by this message, and I looked up at Cailean. “Ye said he had te go somewhere… Did someone summon him?”

“Sort of. A servant from Maison Elise came and said that Charles was in trouble and needed his help. He went, and came back sometime later lookin’ like the vengeance of God sayin’ he needed te go somewhere and didnae have time te explain,” Cailean told me.

“Oh! This is what I heard from Marie!” Suzette exclaimed. “Marie was at the market this morning and she heard a master telling his wife everything! There was a loud sound, and then an English soldier came hurtling out of the doorway, smashing into the walls. Then, as Monsieur Cailean says, Milord appeared looking like the vengeance of God! It is just as Marie conveyed it.”

“An English soldier,” I said, and then the cryptic message made sense: ‘ I’m sorry. I must. ’ “Randall…”

“Randall?” Cailean asked me.

“He’s duelling Randall! That bastard promised!” I exclaimed, and then I grabbed my brother by the front of his shirt, startling him - it helped that we were nearly the same height, with Cailean, a mere six feet, only two inches taller than me. “Where did he say he was duelling Randall? Where?

“At the woods, I think!” Cailean exclaimed, and I let him go and went in search for my coat. “Ye cannae go! Ye’ve only just gotten out of hospital!”

“Magnus, the carriage. I’m goin’ te Bois de Boulogne ,” I said to Magnus, who glanced at Cailean briefly.

“No ye are not! I promised Jamie I’d take care of ye, and I will!” Cailean exclaimed, and I turned on him, my eyes likely glowing like the fires of Hell themselves, judging by Cailean’s expression.

“You cannae stop me,” I hissed at him venomously. I opened my mouth to say something more when I suddenly heard the sound of a scream from upstairs, all of us turning our attention to the source. Suddenly, Beth came running down the stairs in her shift carrying a limp bundle in her arms - Brian.

“Mistress! Mistress, oh, Mistress! He isnae breathing!” Beth cried, alarming me. I ran to her side to look at Brian, finding that he was breathing, but extremely faintly and his nose, lips and fingers were turning purple.

“We have te get him te hospital,” I said. “Quickly!” I grabbed Brian from Beth’s arms and turned to run for the door, only to suddenly feel very faint. The edges of my vision began to darken and I stumbled. The last thing I heard and saw was my brother running to me, calling my name.


Time Unknown

It was still dark, but suddenly, I could hear the faint sound of… beeping? It… it sounded like a… a heart monitor? Slowly, I opened my eyes, finding myself blinded by a very bright light. Weakly, I raised my arm to block it out, and suddenly, the intensity was turned down. “Is that better, fy ffrind ?” I heard a voice say - in Welsh? Wasn’t I in Paris? My eyes adjusted to the new light - light I wasn’t used to seeing - and finally landed on the cheerfully green eyes and fair hair of a very lovely, friendly, familiar face that I hadn’t seen in some time.

“M-Maidie?” I asked in a hushed whisper, and the girl smiled at me. Maidie Mackenzie, a young nurse who I worked alongside of in the field hospital at the Battle of Pitlochry in the summer of 2137. It was how we met, and we got very close after that. Maidie was a young girl from Wales, born to a Welsh mother and a Scottish father. Her parents joined the rebellion, same as mine did, but managed to avoid imprisonment by going back to Wales. However, when the second rebellion came, they were hunted down and executed, leaving just Maidie and her younger brother, who died in an earlier battle. “Wh-Where am I…”

“In hospital,” said Maidie in her sweet Welsh accent. “You’ve been in a coma for some time.”

“No, that… Tha’s impossible,” I said. “Where’s Jamie?”

“Jamie?” asked Maidie. “I don’t know anything about a Jamie.” I heard the sound of approaching footsteps and saw a familiar face dressed in a white doctor’s coat and a white cap. “Dr. Hildegard! Catrìona has just woken up.”

“I am glad to see it,” said this Dr. Hildegard in a French accent. “Did you tell her yet?”

“No, I wanted to wait until she woke up a little more,” Maidie replied.

“Tell me what…” I asked weakly, looking around the room. Another face soon joined the crowd - another doctor, Dr. Forez.

“Glad to see that you are awake, Captain Fowlis,” said Dr. Forez, a Tim Burton-looking man with beady eyes and pencil-thin eyebrows. “You gave us quite a scare.”

“I… I don’t… understand…” I said. Another nurse came in, dressed somewhat similarly to Dr. Hildegard but in white scrubs instead.

“Nurse Angelique, if you will bring us another bag of saline, and put in an order for a bit of soup. I think Captain Fowlis would appreciate it very much,” Dr. Hildegard told this nurse, who nodded and disappeared.

“I… I don’t understand. Where is Jamie? Where’s Cailean? Where’s my sons? I demanded from these people, all of whom looked vaguely familiar.

“Cailean? Catrìona, he’s been missing for two and a half years,” Maidie told me.

“She must have been dreaming,” Dr. Hildegard said, writing something on her tablet.

“There’s no Jamie, either. Would you like me to fetch Tom? He’s been worried sick about you, Catrìona,” Maidie told me.

“That would be wise, thank you, Nurse Mackenzie,” said Dr. Hildegard, and Maidie left.

“She must be informed,” Dr. Forez said to Dr. Hildegard, who nodded.

“I agree, Dr. Forez,” Dr. Hildegard said. “Captain Fowlis… Catrìona… You have been in a coma for a little over a year.”

“What?” I said. I’d been in a coma? Since… since Culloden? So the stones weren’t real? Jamie wasn’t real? Archie… and Brian… Beth, Murtagh, everyone I’d met, spoken to, formed a relationship with… that never happened? “No… My… My sons…”

“You were pregnant, Catrìona, but… I’m afraid you have had a miscarriage,” said Dr. Hildegard. Pregnant? How the hell could I be pregnant if I’d been in a coma for the last year? And why weren’t these doctors alarmed by it? “The pregnancy was ectopic, and there has been a complication. We will have to remove it via a laparoscopic procedure.” They hadn’t done it yet?

“How… How can I be pregnant?” I asked. Suddenly, a new face appeared in my field of vision - Tom. He looked just like Jack Randall - who I must have been hallucinating.

“Cat! Oh, my God, Cat!” he exclaimed, rushing to my bedside, and I recoiled from him as soon as he came near.

“Get away, dinnae touch me!” I said with alarm, and Maidie placed a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s all right, just back up a little bit,” she told him.

“Cat, it’s me! I know it’s been a while, but I’m here, and I love you,” Tom told me, but I kept my distance from him.

“Stay away from me! Stay away!” I shouted.

“She needs some midazolam, and quickly,” Dr. Forez said to Maidie, who nodded and went to get it from a cart.

“Dinnae dare!” I exclaimed as Maidie connected it to my IV and pushed the plunger. “No! No, don’t ye dare! Where’s my son? Where is he? Where’s Brian? Where… Brian…” My vision clouded again, and then I was unconscious.


The next time I awoke, it was dark. Very dark - no electric lights, no beeping or glow of heart monitors, nothing. Just silence and darkness. The hospital bed beneath me felt different. The sheets weren’t as soft and the blankets were heavy. Where on Earth had those doctors put me? Alarmed, I opened my eyes and found that I was actually not in a hospital in the twenty-second century, but instead in L’Hôpital des Anges . Thank Christ… I was so scared that everything I’d done, everyone I’d loved, weren’t real… Sister Angelique appeared in my field of vision with a glass of water, setting it on a table beside me.

“You,” I said, recognising her from what must have been a fever dream. “My son? Where is he? Where’s Brian?”

Chére, Madame. Do not trouble yourself,” said Sister Angelique. “You must save your strength.”

“I dinnae care aboot my strength. Where is my son?” I demanded from her.

“You must have some water,” said Sister Angelique, picking up the glass to try and give me some, but I smacked it out of her hand, the glass smashing on the floor.

“I dinnae want any water, I want my son! Where is he? ” I demanded. The look on Sister Angelique’s face should have been enough to give me an answer, but I still wasn’t prepared for the words that she spoke next.

“He… He has joined the angels,” Sister Angelique said, and it felt as if my heart had stopped. Brian was dead. His time had come to an end and he had passed away. I failed him as a mother. I couldn’t save my son. But what if she was lying to me to get me to calm and quiet down? What if Brian was really alive?

“No,” I said. “No, it isnae possible.”

“I am afraid that it is the truth,” said Sister Angelique. “He failed to thrive.”

“‘Failure te thrive’ isnae a diagnosis! I want my son. Bring me my son! Bring him te me!” I shouted.

Madame, you must calm down!” Sister Angelique said. “ Aider! Aider!

“Bring me my son! I want my son!” I shouted, thrashing in the bed until suddenly, I was held down by multiple hands. My mouth was forced open, and though I tried to fight it, something - laudanum, by the taste - was poured into my mouth. They continued to hold me down until I yet again slipped into unconsciousness.


I awoke again to the sound of the heart monitor beeping, and when I opened my eyes, I was blinded yet again by the electric lights. Maidie was sitting at the foot of my bed again, a comforting smile on her face, and behind her was a man dressed in black - a priest? “ Bore da , Catrìona. This is Father Laurentin,” she said to me, introducing the man behind her. “You haven’t been improving… I don’t want to scare you, but your fever is very high and… We’ve done just about everything we can… Tom summoned him, said he wants to prepare your soul.”

“Tom kens I’m not Catholic,” I said quietly.

“Even more reason, then,” said Maidie again.

“I need my husband. I need Jamie,” I told her.

“I’m sorry, Catrìona, but as I’ve told you before, there is no Jamie. There never was,” Maidie replied calmly.

“Then… then my sins are all I have left,” I said. “I dinnae wish te be resolved of them.”

“Catrìona…”

“Just leave me be,” I said, turning my head away from them both.

“All right,” said Maidie after a sigh, and she led Father Laurentin out of the room. To myself silently, I began to cry, letting the tears fall freely down my cheeks and onto my pillow. There was no Jamie, no Brian, no Archie, no Cailean… Only faces I didn’t recognise, faces I had known a long time ago… Faces that didn’t know.


The next time I awoke, it was dark again, and the rough heavy linens had returned. I heard rustling by the foot of the bed, and when I opened my eyes, candlelight being all I could see by, I saw a shadow against the wall. “J-Jamie?” I called weakly, and the figure appeared in the candlelight, revealing that it was not Jamie, but… Master Raymond.

“Shh, hush, Madonna. If they find me here, I am finished,” said Master Raymond. I couldn’t see what he was doing, as I’d closed my eyes again, but I felt his hands on the bare skin of my abdomen, then felt a tiny pinch. “Tell me what you see, Madonna.”

“I am no Madonna,” I replied. “I lost my son. I failed him as his mother.”

“I did not call you Madonna because of your children, my dear. Everyone has a colour about them. Yours is a pale blue, like the Virgin’s cloak. Like my own,” said Master Raymond. “Tell me, now. What do you see?”

“Wings…” I answered weakly. “Blue wings…”

“You see, blue is the colour of healing,” Master Raymond told me. “Give yourself up to them. Allow them to carry away your pain. Say the name of the red one.”

“Jamie… Jamie!” I called. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I believe that I had some sort of sense of it. Suddenly, I was in an operating room, the bright electric lights shining down on me. In my mouth was an intubation tube, ensuring that I breathed during the procedure. At my feet, Master Raymond - Dr. Raymond - was using the equipment common to a laparoscopic procedure.

“There is infection. She will need a good course of antibiotics,” I heard Dr. Raymond say to the nurse - Maidie.

“I’ll make sure it gets down,” Maidie replied.

“And there it is,” I heard Dr. Raymond say. “Poor thing… She will have to lose this Fallopian tube. The foetus has completely destroyed it.”

“Poor thing,” I heard Maidie say. My eyes closed again, and when they opened, I was back in L’Hôpital, Raymond working diligently behind my linen blankets.

“Ye shouldnae have come,” I told him. “It’s too dangerous…”

“You were right about the King. He wants blood now, but these are things you do for your friends,” Master Raymond told me. “I must go.”

“Will I ever see ye again?” I asked him.

“As I told you before, we will see each other again,” he said to me. “Be well, Madonna.” And then he was gone, and I was alone once more.


Sometime later, I don’t know when - I didn’t even know the date - a visitor came to my side and held my hand in hers. I glanced over, expecting to see Maidie again, but instead, it was Louise. “Louise,” I said weakly.

“Hello, mon amie ,” she said to me.

“Jamie, where… Where is he?” I asked her.

“Unable to come,” she replied sadly. “He was arrested for duelling with an English captain and is being detained in the Bastille.”

“Fer how long?” I asked her.

“It is hard to say. Duelling is a serious offence. I am afraid Monsieur Fraser will remain in prison at the King’s pleasure,” Louise told me. “Had he killed his opponent, the punishment would be much worse.”

“He… He’s no’ dead?” I asked, referring to Randall, and Louise nodded.

“As I’ve heard, he is badly wounded, but he was sent to England to recover,” Louise replied. So. Randall lived - the cat with nine lives. If Randall lived, so did Tom, but at what cost had all this come? “This is fortunate, no?”

“It is,” I said. “But he betrayed me. Revenge mattered te him more than me… more than his family… And now, his son is dead, and so is another child I didnae ken I was havin’.” I placed my hand over my now empty womb. “All I asked fer was a year, and he couldnae give me that. He may as well have run his sword through me.”

“They say that God says we must revel in mercy,” Louise told me, covering my hand with hers.

“Tread sins underfoot and hurl iniquities into the sea,” Mother Hildegard said as she came to examine me.

“I’m no’ sure there’s a sea deep enough,” I answered. 

I laid in that bed for weeks. Cailean and Fergus both tried their best to encourage me to return home, but I just couldn’t. It was Jamie’s home, and Brian’s, too, but both of them were, in some form, dead to me, and I couldn’t go. On the second of July, Cailean finally brought Archie, who was glad to see me, but I couldn’t look at him, either. I’d lost his brother, and he looked just like him. “Cat… This is yer son, who still lives. Hold him,” he said.

“I cannae,” I answered, my back turned to them both.

“Then come home, at least. Lyin’ here will be no good fer ye,” Cailean told me.

“I dinnae want te,” I said.

“Well, ye’ve no choice in the matter. I’ve done all I can te convince ye te come home on yer own but ye won’t, so yer comin’ home with me right now,” he said to me. I didn’t reply, but the nuns helped me to dress and got me up to get into the carriage. Fergus was there, as was Beth, and they both looked so solemn on the ride home. When we returned, I ignored everyone who spoke to me and went straight to my bedchamber, crawling into bed and not coming out.

Louise came to visit me again, but there was nothing she could do to convince me to come out of bed. Cailean tried to bring Archie in, but he got the same reaction from me as he did at L’Hôpital . I just couldn’t look him in the eye. “She should come to my estate,” I heard her say to Cailean.

“I think we will. I’ll talk te her,” Cailean replied.


4 July, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

CAILEAN POV

Catrìona finally moved from the bed to the study, but only for a change of scenery. She was confined to the couch and refused to change out of her shift, wrapping her tartan firmly around her. Cailean was worried sick about her, but no matter what he did, he just couldn’t reach her. A few weeks before, he had hired a wet nurse to care for and feed Archie, who seemed to be in a bit of a funk himself. Cailean, being a twin who had lost his brother as well, knew exactly how Archie was feeling. Despite being an infant, Archie knew that his brother was gone.

Cailean was in the parlour, wanting to leave his sister alone, when Magnus entered to announce the arrival of a guest. “Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Monsieur ,” said Magnus, surprising Cailean. Cailean stood as Charles entered the room.

“Yer Highness,” Cailean said with surprise. “What are ye doin’ here?”

“I wished to offer my condolences to Madame Fraser,” said Charles.

“Tha’s verra kind… She… She isnae really seein’ anyone presently,” Cailean replied. “Er… Suzette? Will ye go and ask Catrìona if she’ll receive a guest?”

Oui, Monsieur, ” said Suzette, disappearing upstairs.

“How is she? And James as well?” Charles asked him.

“Jamie is in the Bastille. Unfortunately, there is nothin’ we can say or do te get him out. I’ve been tryin’ te think of somethin’, but I’m comin’ up blank,” Cailean explained. “As fer my sister… She’s lost her son. Brian was aboot six months old, and she’s been takin’ it real hard.”

“I can only imagine,” said Charles. Suzette returned shortly to inform them that Catrìona would receive a visitor, and Cailean brought the prince up to the study.

“Now, Yer Highness, as I said, she’s takin’ the loss of her son verra hard. She may not be fully dressed, but she’s decent, and she may look rather ill,” Cailean warned him, and then the two of them entered the study. “Cat? His Royal Highness is here te offer his condolences.” Catrìona was on the couch bundled up in her tartan. She didn’t move, nor did she acknowledge the intrusion.

“Madame Fraser,” said Charles, entering the room and approaching her. “I wish to offer my most sincere condolences for the loss of your son.” Catrìona didn’t respond to him, nor did she even look at him.

“Catrìona, did ye hear the prince?” Cailean asked his sister. She was silent for another moment before speaking quietly.

“Thank ye, that’s verra kind of ye,” she said, still not looking at him.

“I do hope you are doing well,” said Charles. Catrìona didn’t respond to that and continued to remain motionless on the couch. Feeling awkward, Charles stood and turned to address Cailean. “May we converse in private?”

“Aye, we’ll go te my quarters,” Cailean said. He allowed room for the prince to exit the study, then he looked back at his sister, who still hadn’t moved, before closing the door behind him.


CATRÌONA POV

It seemed like I couldn’t be left alone. Everyone was checking up on me - Cailean, the bloody prince, Suzette, Beth, other servants, even the new wet nurse that Cailean hired when I was in hospital. Frankly, I just wanted to be left alone, but a knock on the door later that evening indicated that that wouldn’t be happening. The door opened and Cailean stuck his head in. “Cat, Alasdair Fowlis is here. He says he has somethin’ verra important te say te us,” Cailean told me.

“If it’s more condolences, I dinnae want te hear it,” I said back, not moving an inch.

“While I do offer my most sincere condolences, a leannan, ye’ll be glad te hear that that is not the reason fer my visit,” I heard Alasdair say. For the first time all day, I turned my head a little to see the two of them standing in the doorframe, and then subtly nodded.

“All right,” I said. They entered the study, Cailean closing the door behind him, and the two of them sat down. Cailean sat on the couch near my feet, while Alasdair sat in a chair beside the fire.

“This… This may be hard te hear, but I have been givin’ it some thought and I believe ye both deserve te hear the truth… That is, if ye are who ye say ye are,” Alasdair told us. “My cousin, Archie Fowlis, disappeared in 1725, when he was eighteen years old. Ye ken that already. But that wasnae the first time he disappeared… The first time was actually three years earlier, when he was fifteen… and I was there te witness it.” This piqued my interest and I turned my head a little more to look at him.

“Ye witnessed it?” Cailean asked him.

“Yes,” Alasdair replied. “We went te North Uist. Fer what, I forget now as it was so long ago… But when we got there, we heard some local lads speakin’ aboot the stone circle, Pobull Fhinn. Archie and I were young lads who wanted te prove ourselves te these lads, so we went. They told us we had te touch the largest stone te prove that we were tough and manly. Everraone did, including me… but when Archie touched it, he… disappeared. Right before our verra eyes.” Now completely interested, I sat up.

“He… He went through the stones,” I said.

“Aye,” said Alasdair.

“But he returned,” I said again, and Alasdair nodded.

“Aye, in early October of that year. It was around May Day when he disappeared,” he told us.

“Did… Did he say what happened?” Cailean asked.

“He did,” said Alasdair. “None of us believed him at the time, but… he said he went te the year… 2095.” Cailean and I looked at each other, our eyes wide, and then looked back at Alasdair. “He said that Scotland was at ends with England and there was talk of rebellion. He wanted us all te try and go through the stones te help them, but we all thought he was mad. I remember his sister, Maisie, callin’ him a rambling gabbot. After a while, he dropped it, but he was never the same, and then in April of ‘25, he left Cìosamul, leavin’ behind a note that said ‘I must help them’. We never saw him again.” Alasdair paused for a moment, then looked back up at us. “I ken that you, Cailean, look identical to him, and you , Catrìona, have his eyes and his strength. Yer a natural leader, just like he was.”

“And ye… Ye think we’re from that time?” Cailean asked him.

“It’d make sense, wouldn’t it?” Alasdair asked us. “He says he went te 2095. You two come of out of nothin’ claimin’ te be the children of Archie Fowlis, growin’ up on Barra. Is that where he went? Barra?” Both Cailean and I were silent. What if he was baiting us? We exchanged another glance, and then Cailean let out a heavy sigh and turned his attention back to Alasdair.

“He fought in the rebellion in 2098,” he said, and I whipped my head in his direction.

“Are ye mad?” I demanded of him.

“We can trust him, Cat,” Cailean told me, and then he let out another sigh again. “Archie Fowlis was a commandin’ officer in the Scottish rebel army from 2098 te 2100. Nothin’ exists of him before that date, and he used te tell us aboot his family, claimin’ they died a long time ago.” He then looked at me again. “Cat made that observation, actually.” I cast my eyes down, then looked at Alasdair again, who had wide eyes.

“Aye… We’re from that time,” I said. “I was born in 2116, Cailean in 2118. He… He met a… healer, durin’ the rebellion. Married her after the war, then had us. He was imprisoned fer fifteen years in between.”

“I… I see… Aye, tha’… certainly would account fer… the strangeness of the two of ye,” Alasdair said. “So… He did live.”

“Fer a time,” I said. “I told ye he and our brothers died at the hands of the English. Unfortunately, that is true. They were killed in 2131.” Alasdair nodded, then seemed to trace the pattern in the carpet with his eyes.

“I thought somethin’ like that might be possible… So then ye really are the grandchildren of my uncle,” Alasdair told us. “He… He’d be glad te ken ye.”

“Would he truly believe who we are?” Cailean asked the man who we now could confirm was indeed our direct relative.

“He kens aboot what happened, kens the truth. I’ve told him everrathing. He’ll believe ye,” said Alasdair. He stood and then cleared his throat. “I’m te return back te Scotland. I’ve no purpose here in France anymore.”

“Before ye go,” I said, standing up from the couch. “Wait here, just a moment.” He nodded, and I left the room to dig through my medical bag, pulling out the identification case that contained the photograph of my father. I carried it back to the study, then handed the photograph to Alasdair, who’s eyes widened when he saw it. “Is that him? Archie Fowlis?” Alasdair seemed frozen for a moment, but then he nodded.

“Aye… Aye, tha’s him…” he said quietly, a little choked up.

“That’s our father in the rebellion,” I said, and I looked up at Cailean. “We… We’re not alone, after all.”

“No, we arenae,” said Cailean, smiling at me. Alasdair handed me the photograph back, then took my hand in his and held it tightly.

“If either of ye need anything, send word and I will be there. Ye have a home in my home, and ye’ll always be welcome at Cìosamul. I hope ye’ll come, someday. Yer… Yer grandparents will want te ken ye,” said Alasdair.

“We’d be glad te,” said Cailean. Alasdair let go of my hand and then bid us one final goodbye before he left the room, leaving both Cailean and I staring after him. “So Da’s a traveller… He must be where we got it from.”

“No wonder we never kent anything aboot him before the rebellion,” I said. This news was starting to make me a little dizzy - it was quite overwhelming to have everything you knew, or thought you knew, pulled from right under your feet only to find the rug you were standing on covered an old stone floor. “I… I think I need te lie down…”

“Um, before ye go,” Cailean said, standing up. “I… I spoke te Fergus. He… had a night terror last night. I was up late, wanderin’ the halls when I heard him. He was sayin’ things like ‘Stop. Dinnae touch me’ and the like… I woke him up te check on him and he seemed verra frightened, and at first, wouldnae tell me what happened, but then he said tha’… Tha’ it wasnae just a dream. He said that he went te Maison Elise with Jamie, didnae listen, as usual, when Jamie told him te stay put, and went te check the rooms fer things te steal when he came into an open room. He said he came across a lavender-scented perfume and wanted te give it to ye, but then he was… was stopped by an Englishman.” At this, I turned to face him, eager to hear the rest of this story. “This Englishman - Randall - raped him, Catrìona, and Jamie found them and stopped him.”

“Christ,” I said, needing to sit down in the chair that Alasdair had just vacated.

“Jamie challenged him te a duel after findin’ him attacking Fergus. He blames himself fer Jamie gettin’ arrested,” Cailean told me. “Dinnae tell him I told he, but I just couldnae have ye continue te blame Jamie fer what’s happened.” I wasn’t entirely sure that I heard him, but I knew then that no matter what, this meant that I had to get Jamie out of prison. Randall raped a child, and Jamie stopped him. He shouldn’t have duelled Randall, , but I could only imagine the rage that he must have felt knowing that Randall had attacked Fergus, whom we both had come to love like our own child. “Cat?”

“I need te go,” I said, standing back up and leaving the study.

“What? Go where? Cat!” Cailean called, following me.

“Te L’Hôpital. Mother Hildegard kens the King. I… I need te seek an audience with him,” I said. “Just stay here, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“I’m goin’ with ye,” he told me. “Just get dressed and I’ll get the carriage ready.” I watched as he rushed off downstairs, then quickly went into my bedchamber to change.


L’Hôpital des Anges, Paris, France

Cailean and I both entered L’Hôpital together, Cailean assisting me by giving me his arm to hold onto. Mother Hildegard happened to be near the front door and was surprised to see me, but approached us. “Madame Fraser, you are unwell?” Mother Hildegard asked me with concern.

“No, but I do wish te speak with ye,” I said. “Privately, if we can. Cailean, wait by the carriage.”

“Are ye sure?” he asked, and I nodded. “All right. I’ll be outside.” I watched as he left, and then Mother Hildegard led me to her study.

“What is it that I can do for you, my dear?” Mother Hildegard asked me, annoyingly compassionate. I was so sick of being spoken to like a fragile package, but I pushed that aside. Snapping at Mother Hildegard would do nothing but upset us both.

“Ye mentioned that ye were the goddaughter te the old Sun King,” I said calmly, but a bit brashly. “I need te ask fer ye te use yer connections and help me get a private audience with the King.”

“A private audience with the King?” Mother Hildegard asked me with surprise.

“Aye,” I said. “Surely, ye have somethin’ still, maybe… an entrée or ken someone who does.”

“It is possible,” said Mother Hildegard. “What is the reason?”

“I wish te petition fer my husband’s release from the Bastille,” I said, earning a knowledgeable smile from Mother Hildegard.

“Ah, ma chère , you have found a deep enough sea,” she told me, and I glanced down at the ground, feeling the heat of a faint blush in my cheeks.

“I… I’ve learned the reason he broke his promise te me…” I muttered, and then I looked back up at her. “I was angry. Still am, a bit, but… he was Brian’s father… still is Archie’s father.”

“I see. His Majesty is a mercurial man. There is a price to such requests,” said Mother Hildegard.

“I ken what they are. If it comes te sacrificin’ my virtue, Mother, well, I’ll add it te the list of things I’ve already lost here in Paris. Not te mention, my virtue was lost long ago, at no fault of my own,” I told her.

“Very well. I shall see what I can do. I shall send word if I am successful,” said Mother Hildegard in the best supportive tone she could manage.

Four days later, I received a letter from Mother Hildegard stating that the King would grant me a private audience on that upcoming Saturday at noon. I breathed a deep sigh of relief, as well as concern - Jamie would be free, but at a cost that he might not accept.


11 July, 1744

Versailles, Paris, France

At half past eleven, I arrived at Versailles dressed in a forest green dress. It was plain, but regal-looking, as I wanted to be seen as a respectable woman who did not regularly warm the beds of other lovers as opposed to a free-loving, frivolous woman. I put on the best perfume that I had, one I wore when I wanted to attract Jamie’s attention, and had my hair done in a simple Georgian style as opposed to rococo, and around my neck, I wore the poison-detecting stone that Master Raymond had given me. I was led through Versailles by a servant, who brought me to the King’s chambers. I was instructed to wait outside, and then was led in by the servant. “Madame Catherine Fraser, Lady Broch Tuarach,” said the servant, pronouncing my name incorrectly. I curtsied to the King, who was dressed in an ornate robe, and stayed in that position until the servant was dismissed.

“Lady Broch Tuarach,” said the King. “The King believes that your name is not Catherine.”

“It is not, Yer Highness. I gave my correct name of ‘Catrìona’, but am no stranger to mispronunciations,” I answered him.

“Your Scottish names can be quite a tongue twister,” said the King. “Now, tell me, what is it that I may do for you, Madame Fraser?”

“My husband is in the Bastille fer duelling, and I wish te petition fer his release,” I answered.

“Then your husband has broken a royal decree,” said the King.

“I understand that, but he was provoked. His opponent was found te be rapin’ one of our servants - a child servant - and he could not allow his opponent te go unpunished. As ye ken, he is a Scot, as am I, and we are most fierce where questions of our honour are concerned. Had I not been ill, I cannae say I would not have injured the man myself,” I told him.

“I see,” said the King. “I hear you most certainly have a reputation for being fierce.” He approached me, then reached for my right hand, running his thumb over the silver ring on my finger. “Is this his ring?”

“It is,” I answered.

“There is often gossip of women of your class seeking lovers. Many do, but you do not,” said the King. “Your loyalty is most… noteworthy.”

“I do love my husband… dearly. I dinnae find myself unsatisfied in our marriage, nor do I desire to seek the comfort of another,” I answered.

“Hmm. I am inclined towards mercy, ma chère Madame , but… the law is the law,” said the King, releasing my hand and turning to walk in the other direction. He was silent for a moment, and I waited to see what His Majesty’s pleasure would be. He was called Louis the Beloved, but he was an absolute monarch - he could choose to have Jamie released, kept in prison, or killed with just a word, and he could do whatever he liked with me. “Tell me… If I were to grant your request to free your husband, would you be inclined to grant me a small favour in return?”

“I would, of course, be inclined te give ye whatever ye asked of me, Yer Majesty. I am at yer complete disposal,” I said to him.

Très bien, ” he said, and then turned to face me again. “ Très bien, Madame. Come.” He motioned to me to come towards him, which I did, and he gently touched my face with his fingertips. “So pale… I see why they call you La Dame Blanche. ” I raised my eyebrows slightly, and the King then led me into a separate room attached to his bedchamber, surprising me even more. I followed him cautiously, finding myself in a dark room with astronomical symbols, stars, planets and more painted on the floor, ceiling and pillars.

“Blessed Bride,” I muttered under my breath, admiring the night sky on the ceiling. “This room… It’s verra beautiful.”

“I am glad you find it so,” said the King. “The King asks that you give us the benefit of your skill.” He waved to a guard on the opposite side of the room, who opened the doors he was guarding. Coming into the room were three faces I did not expect to see at all - Monsieur Forez, Master Raymond, and the Comte Saint Germain. With the presence of Monsieur Forez, who was the King’s personal executioner, I could only assume one thing - someone in this room was going to die.

“I… I see,” I said, my eyes a little wide.

Maître Raymond et Comte Saint Germain , we have no quarrel with the proper search for wisdom, but while much good may be found, so, too, may evil be discovered,” said the King, addressing the two men before me. “And the search for wisdom may be perverted into the desire for power and wealth for one’s own depraved and immoral purposes.”

“Blessed Bride,” I murmured to myself, and the King turned his attention to me.

“I beseech you, use your talents, Madame Fraser. Look into their souls and if there is darkness within, they will be handed over to Monsieur Forez and put to death,” said the King. I glanced between the King and the two men on the other side of the room - Raymond wouldn’t look me in the eye, while Saint Germain wouldn’t look away from my eyes, a small smirk forming on his face.

“It would be an honour te assist Yer Majesty in this task,” I said, narrowing my eyes at the Comte. I approached the two of them, staring into the eyes of both of them. The King wanted a show, so I would give him a show. “In these eyes, I sense darkness,” I said as I looked into the eyes of Master Raymond. “But only the darkness that lives in the souls of all men and all women…” I turned to look at the King. “…even in the soul of a king, for without darkness, there can be no light.” I faced the two men again, directing my attention to Master Raymond. “And without light, there can only be darkness. But I sense in yer eyes that there is light te be seen. A wisp… of pale blue. The colour of healing.” Master Raymond met my eyes, a slight smile spreading across his lips. I then turned my attention to Saint Germain, who was glaring at me as I ‘examined’ him. “Ah, but behind your eyes, I see a shadow. I see an image… of bitter cascara. Ah, there is not one shadow, but two … A word is forming… Tell me, le Comte , are you familiar with the words ‘Les Disciples’?”

“I know nothing of these ‘Les Disciples’ that you speak of,” said Saint Germain bitterly.

“But how strange, fer I see them in connection with you. They are a group of masked men, generally of our class, who seek the maidenhead of a virgin to achieve access to a special elite… club,” I told him. “Are you certain ye dinnae ken it?”

“This woman is lying, sire,” said Saint Germain to the King. “This woman is a liar and a witch. This woman has been known to drink poison and survive.”

“‘This woman’. Am I, now?” I asked him. “Ye ken, it takes a lot te kill a White Lady. We are chosen specifically by God to do good in the world.” Well, if God decided I was going to hell already, a little bit of lying wouldn’t hurt.

“Tell us, le Comte, how you come to this knowledge,” said the King curiously.

“Because I gave her the poison myself,” said Saint Germain, confirming the suspicion I had had all along. “She tried to ruin my livelihood. She had my ship destroyed with her false condemnations.”

“There was nothing ‘false’ about my diagnosis of those men, who verra clearly had smallpox,” I said to him, which seemed to surprise the King.

“You have brought smallpox into my country,” said the King, now staring at Saint Germain with suspicion.

“There was no smallpox on my ship until she arrived. She is a witch!” Saint Germain exclaimed. “And she does not deny it.”

“Indeed, I do not. As I have said, I am a White Lady - La Dame Blanche. She is a White Witch, who practices white magic - healing magic. I was born with my gift, as was my mother before me, and I have healed many a man,” I said, turning to the King again. “Do ask Mother Hildegard, and she will tell ye herself. I have performed miracles, saving men from the brink of death at L’Hôpital des Anges .”

“I have indeed heard of such a rumour,” said the King, and then he looked at Saint Germain again. “Madame Fraser is not on trial here.”

“As a practitioner of the white arts, I do not wish to condemn anyone to death, but I cannot deny that I see a darkness in your soul,” I said to Saint Germain, who narrowed his eyes at me.

“All men have darkness in their souls, as you have said, but if I am to cleanse this city, then I must make an example,” said the King.

“Perhaps we can aid in your decision,” said Saint Germain, his malicious eyes on mine. “The Bible claims that a true believer can handle serpents and they will not harm him, for they are the servants of God.” I was certain that Saint Germain could see the slight worry in my eye - with my luck, this would be God’s chance to reveal that I was Pagan and was not a servant to God.

“Or, perhaps, Yer Majesty, I might suggest another test,” I said. “As Monsieur Saint Germain claims, I did drink his poison and survive. It is due to my true faith, so let him drink mine , and we shall see what happens. Let them both drink it. With yer permission?” The King seemed intrigued.

“Very well, the King shall allow it,” said the King. Having stored it some time ago, I had hidden a very small vial of the bitter cascara and lobelia tincture in the stone, in case I desired revenge on the Comte. Here was my chance - it would make both men ill, but would kill neither of them, and perhaps, pleased with the show, the King would be appeased and free them both. No blood on my hands, and both men go free. I removed the tincture from the stone and accepted a full chalice of wine from another servant, pouring the tincture into the wine and holding up the chalice.

“This potion shall give ye yer answers, Yer Majesty,” I said, making sure the chalice was visible to all. “As I said, all men have darkness in their souls, but this potion will reveal the darkest of those souls. We may have one death, or we may have two… But I must ask one thing - if both men survive, they will be set free.” I turned my attention to the King, who seemed very intrigued.

“We shall see if it pleases the King,” the King answered. Nodding to him, I brought the chalice first to Master Raymond, who was closest to me. I placed the chalice in his hands and he accepted it, ducking his head beneath his cloak. He took one sip, and after a moment, he doubled over and began to cough, indicating that he had been affected by the bitter cascara, and the King watched with eagerness, but Master Raymond did not die. He returned the chalice to my hands, and suddenly, I noticed that the white stone that hung from my neck turned a vicious-looking black - poison.

I hadn’t seen Master Raymond add anything to the wine - no one had. It was an amazing feat of sleight of hand, so incredible that I was stunned into silence as I turned slowly to Saint Germain, who had seen the stone around my neck turn black. Inside of this chalice that I carried in my hands was death, and Saint Germain knew that. He accepted the chalice, his malicious eyes on mine. “Tchin tchin,” he said, taking a sip from the goblet. For just a moment, he was fine, but then like Master Raymond, he began to cough and double over, then fell to his knees, falling dead at my feet. I was alarmed, stepping back to avoid the red, blood-like puddle of wine that had spilled from the glass.

“It is done,” said the King. “Release Maître Raymond at once.” I looked up at Master Raymond as he was led from the room by Monsieur Forez and he gave me a wink, then disappeared from the room completely. Still stunned, I slowly turned to face the King, whom I found I was now alone with in the room.

“Ye… Ye will honour my request, Yer Majesty?” I asked him.

Oui, but first, there is still the matter of payment,” said the King, and then he regally held out a hand to me. “Come , ma chère .” A little nervously, I swallowed my pride and nodded, accepting his hand and being led out of the mystical room and back into the brightness of the King’s bedchamber. He led me to the bed, where I sat. “Lie back, ma chère. ” Without saying a word, I lay down on my back, focusing on the painted ceiling of the lavish and elaborate bedchamber. As the King climbed on top of me, I locked eyes with a red-haired, blue-eyes cherub. Forgive me, I thought to myself. It was over so quickly that I barely realised it had even begun. I felt violated, but believed that I felt more sorry for the pathetic excuse for sex that I had just received from the King of bloody France. He stood back up and buttoned his breeks, then stood with his back to me. “I will issue a pardon for your husband and arrange one with the English crown, should you wish to return to Scotland. But he must leave France by the end of August.”

“Thank ye, Yer Highness. I am verra grateful for yer generosity,” I said as I stood. I adjusted my skirts one final time, then glanced back at the King, who was still turned away from me. On the table by a very ornate-looking settee was a bowl of Spanish oranges, and I took one, holding it firmly in my hand, as I was shown out of the room by the same servant who led me there.




Chapter Text

14 July, 1744

Jared’s House, Paris, France

JAMIE POV

The door opened slowly as he pushed it open, feeling a stranger in the place that he had called home for the last six months. It was quiet, as if the house had not been lived in for some time. There was no sound of the servants moving about the house, nor the smell of food cooking, nor anything, really. It was like time had just stopped, and Jamie was the only one in the world who could still move.

A quiet rustle came from the parlour, and Jamie, a scraggly beard growing from his face and his hair in desperate need of a cut, went to find the source. Hoping to find Catrìona, Jamie was mildly disappointed to find Cailean sitting in the parlour holding a book, which he set down when Jamie entered. “Jamie,” he said. “How are ye, man?”

“Where’s Catrìona?” Jamie asked him, needing to see his wife to apologise. He was sure she hated him - why wouldn’t she? He broke his promise to her. He wondered if an apology would even be enough, and if she would even forgive him.

“At Louise’s estate. I sent her there a couple of days ago, along with Beth, Fergus, and Bernadette - ah, new wet nurse,” Cailean replied.

“She didnae want a wet nurse,” Jamie told him.

“She’s no’ been well,” Cailean told him.

“And… What aboot the lads?” asked Jamie, wondering why the house was so cryptic - and come to think of it, why a black ribbon crossed the door.

“Archie’s with her,” said Cailean.

“And… and Brian?” Cailean was silent for a moment.

“He… I’m sorry, Jamie, but… he passed away.” Suddenly, Jamie’s heart felt as if it had stopped and his blood began to run ice cold. Brian… was dead? He was gone… and Catrìona had to deal with his loss all by herself, all because Jamie had to duel Randall. Brian was gone, and Jamie didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

“No,” he muttered. “It cannae be…”

“I’m sorry, Jamie,” Cailean said, getting up to help Jamie sit down in a chair.

“My son,” Jamie muttered, more to himself than anyone else, as tears began to run down his cheeks. “I… I have te go te her… Right, now, I-I need te be with her. I should have been here all along!”

“I’ll not say different. Aye, ye should have, but ye can be with her now. Let’s get ye cleaned up and I’ll take ye to Louise’s estate myself,” Cailean told him. He was about to help Jamie up when the man burst into tears, mourning the loss of his deceased infant son and muttering Gaelic words and phrases that were hardly intelligible. “Come on, Jamie. Ye need each other right now, both of ye.” After a bit more coaxing, Cailean finally convinced Jamie to get up and helped him up the stairs.


Château de La Tour d’Auvergne, Château-Thierry, France

CATRÌONA POV

It was raining, but I didn’t care. If anything, the dreary, grey skies matched my current mood. I was frustrated after a conversation I’d had with Louise. I wasn’t upset with her , but more or less upset with the fact that her servants and friends who were staying at her estate seemed to forget that I was mourning the loss of my child - children . Louise informed me that there was gossip exacerbated by the fact that I was commonly known as La Dame Blanche and she suggested that I perhaps ought to consider attending mass to reduce the gossip, and that just made me so angry. “I dinnae care if there is gossip! I’ll not be forced te seek solace or comfort from the man or being that just took my child from me!” I had snapped at her.

“But Catrina, they only wish to make sure your soul is safe so you can one day join your-”

“I dinnae care,” I said firmly, cutting her off. “I’ll no’ be told what te do by a bunch of gossiping besoms.” I had stormed away after that, not wanting to hear another word or another argument, and had gone outside. There was the scent of rain in the air and in the distance, I could hear thunder, but I did not heed the sky’s warning. I stood on the grassy field a good distance from the gazebo in the garden, my arms crossed across my chest and my face turned to the sky. “Rhiannon,” I said quietly. “Why have ye taken him? Was I not enough? Was I not worthy of him? Will ye take Archie from me, too?” The only answer I received was a rolling boom of thunder, followed shortly by the first few drops of what became a heavy rain. As the raindrops hit my face, I began to cry. I never liked to cry - it showed weakness, in my opinion, and I was anything but weak. But in the rain, my teardrops could be mistaken for the rain, and no one could see you crying in the rain.

For a while, I felt so alone, until I could sense a pair of eyes on me. I was afraid to turn to face whoever it was that was disturbing my peace in fear of having to acknowledge them, but eventually, I composed myself and turned, freezing in fear. Standing some distance away, not too far, but not too close, either, was Jamie. He was as soaked through as I was, his red hair glued to his forehead by the rain. I couldn’t see his face too clearly through the heavy rain, but he appeared mournful - Cailean must have told him about Brian. Most of me wanted to run to him, embrace him, be engulfed in his warm and loving arms, safe from all things that could cause me pain, but a small part of me couldn’t face him. I had lost two of his children, and I was ashamed - and still angry with him for what he did. For a while, we simply stood there staring at each other, and when he took one step to move towards me, I backed away.

“Catrìona,” he called, and that was enough to get me to turn on my heel and bolt for the garden. “Catrìona! Wait!” Jamie called again, but I ignored him as I ran for the garden. I climbed up the stairs to the gazebo, only to find that there was only one exit, and when I turned to bolt back down the stairs, I found that the exit was blocked by Jamie. “Catrìona, please,” he said, still standing in the rain at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t respond, but instead turned my back and leaned against the railing of the gazebo that was opposite of the entrance. I heard his footsteps on the stairs, but he stopped once he was under the roof of the gazebo. “Will ye… Will ye let me give ye comfort?” he asked quietly and calmly. For a moment, I didn’t respond.

“I dinnae want yer comfort,” I replied quietly. Jamie was silent for a moment before clearing his throat.

“I tried te keep my promise… but Randall…”

“I ken what happened. Cailean told me.”

“Then ye see how I couldnae let Randall go unpunished fer what he did te the wee lad?”

“I asked ye not to!” I snapped then, still not turning to face him. “Ye promised me ye’d spare him fer a year.” I stood up fully then and turned slowly to face him, my eyes furious, his mournful and sunken. “Ye promised me, and ye betrayed that promise. Ye werenae here when yer family needed ye most! And now, Brian is dead . And I’ve been all alone.”

“I’m here now,” Jamie told me.

“But ye werenae when it mattered ,” I said firmly.

“And what aboot Fergus? What aboot what he experienced?” Jamie demanded, a little angrily.

“Fergus blamed himself fer you gettin’ arrested, ye damn selfish arse! He’s been devastated fer weeks!” I snapped back. Jamie was silent for a moment as he looked into my face.

“Do ye hate me fer it?” he asked quietly, taking me a little off guard.

“I did,” I said. “I did hate ye. I felt so alone. Our child was dead, and I…” I paused for a moment, closing my eyes. “I was pregnant, Jamie.” I opened my eyes again to see that his expression had changed. “And I lost it.”

“Wh- Why did ye no’ tell me?” Jamie asked me.

“It was too soon te even ken until it was too late,” I replied. “I was ill fer so long… I didnae even get te say goodbye te Brian. When I awoke, he was already gone, and I was so overwhelmed because ye had gone off te duel Randall that I fainted and miscarried. So yes, I did hate ye… but no’ because of Randall… it was my fault.”

“What?” Jamie asked me, now confused by the direction that I was taking this conversation. “How can ye say that?”

“It was I who asked the impossible of ye… I put Tom before our family. I was the one who panicked when I’d heard ye’d gone off…”

“But… Tom is yer family, too.”

“But he’s no’ here, and now… neither is our son, nor the child we never had the chance te ken,” I replied, unable to meet his eyes as I felt tears begin to sting my eyes again. “It’s not yer fault… Not even Randall’s, this time…” My voice cracked as I spoke next. “…it’s mine.”

“Catrìona,” Jamie said, reaching for me, but I pulled myself away from him.

“Dinnae touch me!” I exclaimed, turning again towards the railing. For several minutes, it felt, I was silent again as I watched the rain fall over the flowers of the garden, the flowers dancing with each drop that ricocheted off their petals. “I asked fer yer forgiveness once… Ye said there was nothin’ te forgive.”

“I forgave ye long before that day,” I heard Jamie say to me calmly, the sound of his footsteps indicating that he had stepped closer to me. “Fer that… and anything else ye could ever do.”

“Could ye, then?” I asked, bracing myself against the railing. “I slept with the King. It was the worst sexual experience of me life, but I still slept with him.” Jamie didn’t respond immediately.

“Te buy my freedom,” he answered. “Ye did it te save my life… just like I gave myself te Randall te save you.” I saw his hands rest on the railing beside me, but I didn’t look at him. Instead, I watched a hummingbird battle the raindrops as it tried to feed off of a flower.

“How can we ever be the same,” I whispered quietly.

“We cannae be,” Jamie told me. “The weight of what has happened here… It is too great fer any one of us te bear alone. The only way we can live with it, Catrìona, is te carry it… Together.” I finally gained the courage to glance up at him, finding his eyes trained on me.

“Are… Are ye sure ye want te do tha’?” I asked him meekly.

“Blood of my blood and bone of my bone,” he told me, turning fully to face me, and he covered my hands on the railing with his. “I give ye my soul until our life shall be done.” He paused for a moment, looking at our hands, and then steeled his expression to one that was more firm. “It is not done.” Glancing down at our hands, I nodded solemnly. “We lost our child… children … And by the grace of God, we may be given another. But we still have Archie, and he’s wantin’ fer his mother.” I closed my eyes in shame, feeling the tears well up at my eyes again, and then felt one of Jamie’s hands wipe them from my eyes and push my chin up to look at him. “We will make it through this… but we must do it together. Do ye agree?” I nodded.

“Aye. I agree,” I said quietly.

“Then let me take ye inside, before ye fall ill,” he told me. I nodded again, then freed my face from his hand and buried my face in his chest, wrapping my arms around him tightly and sobbing into his already soaked shirt. Jamie’s arms wrapped tightly around me, holding me close, keeping me warm and safe. “Shhh, mo chridhe… ” he whispered to me, pressing his lips softly to my head. “It will be all right.” He held me for a few more minutes before finally picking me up, and though it was still raining, he carried me out of the gazebo and back to the house, seeming to dodge raindrops with every step.


20 July, 1744

JAMIE POV

Things for Catrìona were not easy in the following few days, and Jamie could see that clearly. She spent a lot of her time going for walks around the grounds, sitting in the study with a book in her lap staring out the window, or wherever she found a hiding spot. She wasn’t exactly distancing herself from Jamie, but he felt miles away from her even when they were pressed up tight against each other. It was hot, so they slept naked together, but she never reached out to touch him, and he didn’t feel as if he could reach out to her. Jamie wasn’t even sure if she’d been to see Archie in all the time he had been there. Jamie was with Archie as much as he could be, but he couldn’t deny that it was hard. Every time he looked at Archie, he could see Brian’s face - they were identical, after all - and he could tell that Archie knew something was amiss. He knew his brother wasn’t there anymore, and he wasn’t the lively young lad he used to be.

On one particular day, Jamie was sitting on the porch holding Brian when both Bernadette and Beth approached him on the porch. “It is time to feed le petit garçon ,” Bernadette had told him as he sat with Archie on his lap. Jamie nodded, then allowed Bernadette to take him. Beth watched as Bernadette left the porch with Archie and then awkwardly glanced at Jamie, ultimately deciding to sit down beside him.

“Mistress hasnae been te see him,” Beth said to him. She was looking much better, clearly now over her illness, but she had lost a lot of weight and still looked a little pale.

“I suspected as much,” Jamie said to her. “I think she blames herself.”

“She most definitely does, my Laird,” said Beth. “When it happened… She was so scairt. He wasnae breathin’, he’d gone… the colour of forget-me-nots. And when Mr. Fowlis came home that day… said he’d passed… I could feel the Mistress’s pain and longin’ fer him in my heart.”

“Yer a kind and carin’ lass, Miss MacCraig. I’ve no doubt, too, that ye loved the lad dearly,” Jamie told her, and she nodded.

“Aye, I had a special place in me heart fer wee Brian. Archie, too. I positively adore him. I just… I just wish the Mistress would seek comfort in Archie. I ken he looks like Brian, but it isnae fair te Archie. He’s not his brother. He shouldnae be blamed fer that,” said Beth, looking out at the gardens.

“Aye, yer right,” said Jamie. “I need te find Cailean. Do ye ken where he is?”

“I saw him and Madame de Rohan playin’ chess in the study,” said Beth.

“Thank ye, truly,” said Jamie, and he went off in search of Cailean. He heard Louise’s giggle before he saw the pair of them, but they were sitting at the chessboard with Cailean telling Louise an entertaining story.

“…and I said to ‘em, ‘Ye cannae launch a cannon while yer pished drunk. What the hell are ye thinkin’?’ They didnae care and did it anyway, and lo and behold, Timothy blew his damn hand off!” Cailean was saying, and Louise giggled girlishly behind her fan.

“What fools! Did he live?” Louise asked, clearly enthralled by the story.

“Aye, he did, although he needed a hand with everrathing fer the rest of his life,” said Cailean, and Louise erupted into a fit of giggles again. Jamie cleared his throat, drawing their attention.

“Cailean, can I speak with ye a moment?” Jamie asked him.

“Aye, of course,” said Cailean, standing. “Madame, I shall return shortly.” Cailean followed Jamie as the pair of them stepped outside into the garden, Jamie letting out a heavy sigh as he stopped and turned to face Cailean.

“Yer sister, she… she willnae touch Archie, nor even look at him. I dinnae ken if she’s even been te see him,” Jamie said to him.

“I ken she’s takin’ it hard… Of course, tha’s no excuse fer takin’ that out on Archie. He doesnae deserve it,” Cailean replied. “Do ye want me te talk te her?”

“Will it make a difference?” Jamie asked, and Cailean shrugged, sitting down on a fountain.

“She has te come on her own. We can talk te her all we like, but if she doesnae want te listen, then we cannae force her te do anythin’,” he said. Jamie sat down beside him, looking down at his hands in his lap as he sat in silence for several moments.

“Yer a twin,” Jamie said suddenly. “Ye lost yer brother. Does he ken?”

“Archie?” Cailean asked, and Jamie nodded. “Aye, I think he does. When yer a twin… ye shared a womb with someone. Grew into a human alongside them. Shared yer mother’s heartbeat with them. It’s an unbreakable bond that ye always feel. I was much older than Archie when I lost my twin brother - thirteen. Archie’s only six months, but dinnae underestimate that bond.”

“If that bond is so strong… why do ye never speak of him? Yer brother?” Jamie asked. He could see Cailean pause in thought, then give a very heavy sigh.

“Because it hurts,” he answered. “Calum and me, we were verra close. Did everrathing together. Te lose him… It was like havin’ a piece of my heart ripped out of my chest. Like the man who killed him was holdin’ half of my still beatin’ heart when he killed my brother.”

“Richard Randall,” Jamie said.

“Aye,” Cailean replied. “Calum hardly had the chance te grow. He died before he could live his life. I try te live my life fer us both, as if we were one person. Sometimes, it felt like we were . The two of us, we were inseparable. We used te play pranks on our parents, people of the town, our younger brothers - never Cat because she’d put crabs in our beds if we messed with her.” He and Jamie shared a chuckle. “Calum got bit on his bollocks once by a crab she’d put in his bed. Mam was so pished at her, but it taught us a verra valuable lesson. Eventually, we recruited her on our side. No more crabs in our beds after that.”

“Sounds like my relationship with my sister,” said Jamie with a soft smile.

“The point of it all is… Even though Calum has died, and even though speakin’ of him hurts, I never forgot him, and I never will. I have memories te keep him close te me,” Cailean told him.

“But Archie willnae have that. He’s too young te have any memories of his brother,” said Jamie, his smile fading.

“Maybe, but he’ll always sense that somethin’ is missin’. That missing piece of him will always be there, like a chip in a teacup, but he’ll be whole, and he’ll have you, Cat, and myself as well, te keep Brian’s memory alive,” Cailean replied. He placed a hand on Jamie’s back and gave it a light pat. “She’ll come around. She just… needs time. I remember I couldnae look at myself in the mirror fer a while because everra time I did, it was like I was seein’ Calum again. It only got better when I started gettin’ older. Calum didn’t get that chance, so when I look in the mirror, I ken it isnae him. But at least I have an idea of what he would have looked like, had he lived.” Jamie nodded subtly, then gave Cailean a subtle smile.

“I’m glad Archie has ye fer an uncle. Ye ken him well,” Jamie replied.

“I’ll no’ be goin’ anywhere, either,” Cailean replied. “Oh, did Cat tell ye yet? A few days after she came back from hospital, Alasdair Fowlis paid us a visit… He said our Da was a traveller, like us.”

“So… Does tha’ mean the Archie Fowlis of this time - the son of the Laird of Cìosamul - actually is yer father?” Jamie asked him.

“Aye, it does. We told Alasdair, too, where we’re from. Cat showed him the photograph she has of our father and Alasdair confirmed that tha’ was him,” Cailean replied.

“So that means yer the heir te Cìosamul,” Jamie told him.

“Somethin’ like that. But so is my cousin, Seàrlas. I dinnae ken what he’s like. If I show my face and threaten his inheritance, who kens what he’ll do te me,” Cailean replied, and then he let out a sigh and stood. “Best get back te my game. If ye need help with my sister, I’ll gladly speak te her with ye, but ye ken how she is. I dinnae think she’ll listen te me.” Jamie nodded, and Cailean took his leave. He was right, Jamie did know how Catrìona was - stubborn, hot-headed, unwilling to budge when she didn’t want to… and so was he. When he was in her position, what did she do?

“Shut up. Dinnae open yer mouth, and dinnae argue with me. Get yer stubborn arse onto that hoorse right this minute and dinnae say another word!” 

“Well, tough shit. Ye’ve go’ two lads that need their father, and a wife who will seriously consider shovin’ a pitchfork up yer arse if ye say such a ridiculous thing as ‘I cannae be yer husband’ again.” 

“You tell me right now why my husband and the father of my sons wants te kill himself. Ye tell me right now why the man I’ve come te love and admire greatly has suddenly decided he’s too cowardly te bounce back from a horrendous experience that doesnae even define him in the slightest…” 

When Jamie needed her the most, she was there to put him in his place. She was there to slap him when he was being ridiculous and stand him right back up again. When he needed a blow, she delivered it, and when he needed a reminder that he was being foolish and stubborn, she did not hesitate to give it to him. He needed that reminder fairly often, and though she often needed it as well, she almost never heeded his reminders as he did hers. Well, she would heed it this time. She had a talent for making him listen to her, so he would have to take a page from her book and make her listen to him.


Catrìona had dinner in their bedchamber while Jamie dined with Cailean and the de Rohans, but he remained silent as he formulated his plan. Catrìona would listen to him. He would give her no chance to run away and ignore him. The time for her stubbornness to overpower her reasoning was over - her son needed her. Once dinner was finished, Jamie went up to their shared bedchamber, finding one of the servants in the room with her helping her to get ready for bed. “Will ye excuse us, please?” Jamie asked the servant, who seemed a bit confused, but nodded and left. Catrìona sat silently at the vanity, looking at her reflection in the mirror. “Look at ye,” Jamie said once they were alone. “Look at what ye’ve become.”

“I dinnae ken what yer talkin’ aboot,” she told him quietly.

“Ye ken damn well what I’m talkin’ aboot, Catrìona Fraser!” Jamie snapped. Usually, Catrìona would put up her defences and prepare to fight him off when he raised his tone with her, but this time, she just sat there and took it. “Catrìona, what are ye doin’? I ken we’ve lost our son, but yer makin’ our living son suffer fer that!”

“Ye dinnae ken what it is bein’ a mother,” she told him, not moving.

“No, but I do ken what it’s like bein’ a father, and I also ken what it’s like bein’ a son te a mother who has lost her child,” Jamie replied sternly. “Willie died a year before my mother did. She was devastated fer a long time, wouldnae come out of her room. I was a child, and I didnae ken why my mother suddenly stopped lovin’ me.”

“She didnae stop lovin’ ye, she was mournin’ her child,” Catrìona replied.

“I ken that now, as an adult. But as a child , it felt like my mother didnae love me anymore. She wouldnae see me, wouldnae hold me any longer. She didnae treat Jenny like that, so te me, it felt like she blamed me fer Willie’s death. It was actually because Willie and I looked verra similar,” Jamie told her. “Archie needs his mother, Catrìona. I was seven years old when I lost my brother, but Archie is a bairn. He doesnae yet have the ability te reason.”

“I cannae look at him!” Catrìona snapped, turning around to face him. “Everratime I look at him, I see Brian! And everratime I see him, I think aboot how I am the reason his brother is no longer here!”

“Ye are not the reason Brian is dead!” Jamie snapped back. “Brian died because of somethin’ that we cannae control! As ye said when he still lived, there was nothin’ that could have been done.”

“Had I gone back through the stones, like ye tried te tell me twice te do, Brian would have lived,” she said. “I selfishly chose te stay because I didnae want te be without you . And now my son is dead.

“Archie is yer child, too. Ye still have a living child who needs his mother. He’s lost his brother and he kens it, and he cries fer ye hopin’ that the only other person in the world who was connected te him willnae even touch him,” Jamie told her sharply, and Catrìona turned to face the vanity again, seeming to notice her reflection. She wrapped her arms insecurely around her midsection, seeming to meet her own eyes in the mirror.

“I cannae… I just cannae,” she whispered, and then she turned to push past Jamie and leave the room.

“Ye cannae run away forever, Catrìona,” Jamie told her as she left. “Ye have te face this someday.” She was gone, and he wasn’t entirely sure that she had heard him. Both of them were awfully stubborn, but unlike Catrìona, Jamie was a bit more open to reasoning than she was. Once she had made up her mind, she stuck with it, and it was hard to get her to change her mind. Would she ever see reason again? Would Archie ever see his mother again, be held by her… be loved by her?


23 July, 1744

CATRÌONA POV

I was sitting in the sunroom of Louise’s house when I heard footsteps approach me, and I let out a heavy huff. I hadn’t seen anyone besides a couple of servants in a few days, but from hearing gossip, I knew that they had been tasked to keep an eye out for me. Jamie was constantly looking for me the last few days, but my presence was basically spectre-like, as servants always told him where I was, but when he arrived, I had already left. This time, however, a servant must have seen me and I hadn’t heard them and managed to inform him of my whereabouts before I could flee.

“I want te be left alone,” I told him in a warning tone.

“I do not believe that is what you truly want,” said a French-accented woman, and I realised that it wasn’t Jamie, but instead, it was Louise.

“I think it is,” I told her, not looking at her as I continued to stare out the window.

“I have brought your son,” said Louise, and I didn’t respond. “He is very handsome. You are very lucky. I hope that my child will be as handsome as he is.”

“I’m sure it will be,” I told her neutrally. She didn’t respond, but I did hear her approach me. 

Mon amie… This is your child. You love him, I know you do. He needs you,” Louise tried to tell me, but I refused to respond, keeping myself pressed up against the window with my arms wrapped tightly around my knees. “Hold him.”

“No,” I said.

“Catrina-”

“I cannae, and fer God’s sake, it’s Catrìona ,” I hissed. I tried to get up to escape, but Louise took the chance to shove Archie at me and let go of him. Alarmed, I quickly grasped him tightly so that he wouldn’t fall, and looked up at Louise to find her backing away quickly.

“He is your son, mon amie. Cherish him!” she said, and then she quickly ran out of the room before I could stop her. Panicking, I was holding Archie very tightly in my arms, causing him to fuss just a little. I didn’t want to look at him, couldn’t… but then I did, and his sweet little grey eyes were looking back up at me. He looked so much like Jamie… and like Brian. He reached his little hand up and gently touched my face, then babbled at me and giggled. He’d grown so much in the last seven months since he was born…

I heard more footsteps, but I paid them no heed as I looked down into the eyes of my son, his tiny little hand reaching to grasp my red curls that matched the ones on his head. “Yer holdin’ him,” I heard Jamie’s voice say. His voice seemed to break my trance, and suddenly, my panic returned. I quickly ran to Jamie to hand Archie off to him. “Catrìona, it’s fine! Hold him!” Jamie said as he tried to push me away, but ultimately, I shoved Archie at his chest and let go, knowing that Jamie wouldn’t let him fall, then pushed off of him and ran off.

I could see it in his eyes that he desired his brother. How could I look Archie in the eye? I was the one responsible for Brian’s death. I didn’t care what Jamie said, I was his mother. I was to be held accountable, especially when there were things that I could have done to save him, but didn’t. No longer feeling safe in the house, I ran outside to hide out in the garden, hoping that I would be left alone.


Later that evening, Beth found me and managed to coax me back inside, promising that she wouldn’t try to make me hold Archie or even talk to me about him. She brought me up to mine and Jamie’s bedchamber, which I hadn’t been occupying, and prepared a warm bath for me with lavender oils and rose petals, then left me on my own. I climbed into the warm bath, relishing in the delightful heat that seeped into my skin and soothed my muscles. I was at peace, and it was quiet - too quiet. Somehow, I didn’t hear Jamie approach me from behind, and I startled when I saw that he was there holding Archie, who was naked, in his arms. “Catrìona-”

“Jamie, please ,” I begged him, but Jamie shook his head.

“Ye have te get through this. I will not let ye ignore yer son,” he told me firmly. “I ken yer scairt… I ken ye blame yerself, and no amount of tellin’ ye is goin’ te change yer mind or how ye feel, but ye love Archie. I ken that because ye didnae drop him when Louise put him in yer arms. Please, just hold him… He needs ye, Catrìona.” I stared up frightfully at Jamie, but I could see in his eyes that he was determined. And, though I was terrified… I couldn’t deny that I missed Archie. He was right, I did love Archie more than anything in the world.

“But… what if he doesnae love me anymore?” I asked meekly.

“Are ye mad, woman? That’ll never happen. He doesnae blame ye fer Brian’s death, Catrìona… but ye cannae blame him fer lookin’ like his brother, either,” Jamie replied. “ Seo , hold him.” He bent down to bring Archie to my level, and though I was hesitant, I could feel a strong urge to take him into my arms and protect him from the world. I nodded subtly, then accepted my son as Jamie set him carefully into my arms. I was still in the bath, so I lowered him ever so slightly so that his legs and lower body were in the warm water, keeping him pressed tightly against my chest. Archie was looking up at me and he gave me a sweet little toothless grin, then again reached for my face.

Mo chuisle,” I muttered quietly. “ Mo ghille … I am… so sorry, Archie…” I brought him up a little so I could kiss his little forehead. “Oh, my puir wee lad… Can ye ever forgive me?”

“Of course he will. Yer his mother,” Jamie told me, one of his hands on my bare back. I smiled down at Archie, who whined just a little. “Ah, I told Bernadette she didnae have te worry aboot feedin’ him tonight,” Jamie told me.

“Why would ye do that? He needs te eat,” I said as I cradled my son in my arms, bouncing him a little to soothe him.

“So you could feed him,” Jamie replied. “He doesnae need the milk of another bairn, he needs his mother’s.”

“I… I dinnae even ken if I can, still,” I replied.

“Just try,” Jamie told me, placing one hand under Archie’s back to encourage me to hold him to my breast. A bit nervously, I lifted him a little, taking the breast that was closest to him and drawing it nearer to his mouth. Taking the hint, Archie latched on, and almost immediately, I could feel the milk flowing from inside of me and into him - it was instinctual for us both. I couldn’t help but smile, then felt Jamie’s thumb on my face as he wiped a tear from my eye that I hadn’t even realised had fallen.

“Get in here,” I told him, shifting forward to make room for him behind me. Taking the hint, I heard Jamie take off his clothes and then climb into the tub behind me. He offset the water much more, so much so that it nearly spilled over, but I didn’t care. He leaned back against the wall of the tub and I leaned back against him, Jamie’s arms wrapping around both myself and Archie, cradling us both.

“Everrathing will be all right,” Jamie whispered to me, brushing a piece of my hair aside and kissing my cheek. I turned my head so I could look at him, smiling for what felt like the first time in weeks.

“Jamie… I love you,” I told him, and then it was his turn to smile.

“I love ye, too. My strong, stubborn lass,” he said, and then he bent forward to press his lips to mine and kiss me.

“I want te go home,” I told him once we had broken our kiss. “Back te Scotland, te Lallybroch. I want te raise Archie there.”

“Then we’ll go,” Jamie told me. “But first… I want te visit Brian, one last time. Do ye… Do ye ken where he’s buried?”

“In the cemetery near Notre Dame and the hospital,” I answered as I looked down at Archie again, who had fallen asleep in my arms. “I want te take Archie… te say goodbye te his brother.”


26 July, 1744

Holy Innocents’ Cemetery, Paris, France

Jamie, Cailean, Beth and I all wore black and we wrapped Archie in a Jamie’s Fraser tartan. On my head, I wore a black veil that fell down my back, but did not cover my face, while both Jamie and Cailean had tied their hair back with a black ribbon. Cailean and Beth were the first to pay their respects while Jamie stood with his arm wrapped around me, Archie cradled safely in my arms. “I wish he could have been buried in Scotland,” I said to Jamie as I looked around the cemetery. “In a few years, everyone here will be dug up and buried in the bloody catacombs.”

“All of them?” Jamie asked me weakly, and I nodded. Jamie looked down at his feet. “Damn them,” he muttered. We watched as Beth and Cailean both stood, then stepped aside so that we could say our final goodbyes to Brian. We knelt down, then removed Archie from the tartan and sat him down on the ground next to the small stone that marked Brian’s grave. Archie reached out with his little hand and gently touched the words on the stone. It read:

 

BRIAN FRASER

1743 - 1744

IL VOLE HAUT AVEC LES ANGES. 

 

“He flies high with the angels,” I read. “This is a grave fer a French lad. He’s Scottish.”

“I thought of that,” Jamie said, reaching into his coat pocket, and he pulled out a small silver spoon - one of the apostle spoons that Jenny had sent us shortly after the lads were born and we were settled in Paris. “Saint Andrew.” He dug with his fingers a little underneath the stone and placed the apostle spoon with the tiny silver figure of Saint Andrew at the top of it into the hole he had made. “If we must bury ye here in France, mac mo ghràidh , then let’s leave a bit of Scotland with ye.” He covered the spoon with the dirt, then bent down over the grave to kiss the ground where his son lay. With one of my hands on Archie’s back to support him, I placed one hand on the grass, over my infant son.

Tha gaol againn ort, ar gille gaolach Mo mùirnean, ” I muttered quietly. We love you, our beloved lad. Little Archie shifted onto his knees to crawl onto the little stone, his little grey eyes trained on the stone beneath his little palms.

“He kens tha’s his brother,” Jamie said quietly.

“Aye,” I replied. “He does.”


29 July, 1744

Le Havre, Paris, France

“Are ye sure ye want te stay, man?” Jamie asked him. “I can send Murtagh te come and stay with ye. He’s te meet us in Edinburgh.”

“Dinnae fash, I’ll be fine,” Cailean replied. “Someone has te watch the business until yer cousin returns.” Beth and I stood side by side as we watched Jamie and Cailean say their goodbyes to each other, Archie nestled peacefully in Beth’s arms. Once Jamie had finished, Beth approached him and Cailean playfully ruffled her hair.

“Ye take care, a minnean ,” he said to her.

“I’m no’ a kid, I’m seventeen years old,” she told him.

“And I’m twenty-one, tha’s a kid te me,” said Cailean with a chuckle, and then he bent down to Archie’s level and ruffled his curls. “Ye behave fer yer Mam and Da, mo ghille ruadh . Yer favourite Uncle Cailean will see ye soon.” He kissed Archie’s head as the lad giggled, and then Beth stepped aside so that I could embrace my brother.

“I swear te Christ, if I find ye’ve gotten yerself in trouble or worse, killed, I’ll come and kill ye myself,” I told him, and he chuckled warmly.

“Dinnae fash, mo phuithar. I’ll see ye soon, aye? Promise I’ll keep myself intact,” he said to me, pulling back from the embrace to flash one of his familiar and loving smiles.

“We’ve no’ been separated since ye returned te me last October,” I said to him. “I’ll miss ye, Cailean… Verra much.”

“I’ll miss ye, too,” he told me, embracing me again and kissing my head. “I ken yer in good hands, and I’ll be back in Scotland before ye ken it and ye’ll be dreamin’ of the days I was far away from ye in Paris.” I laughed gently, then pulled away from him and wiped my eyes.

“Be safe, and fer God’s sake, dinnae get anyone pregnant,” I said, smacking his arm as he laughed.

“I’ll do my best,” he said to me. He stayed on the docks to wave goodbye to us as we stood on the ship, Jamie raising Archie’s little hand to wave goodbye to his uncle. We’d see him soon, but after so long being without him, I couldn’t help but be afraid of being separated from him again. I felt Jamie’s hand rest on my lower back give me a firm squeeze, reminding me that he was there and I had nothing to worry about. We stayed by the railing of the ship until the coastline disappeared, and then went to our quarters to rest Jamie’s poor unsettled stomach for the rest of the five hour journey to Scotland.


Blackness Bay, Edinburgh, Scotland

When I finally set foot on Scottish soil again, I wanted to bend down and kiss the ground, but of course, that wasn’t socially acceptable. Like Murtagh’s observation from months ago, it still reeked of fish, as a port would, but it was a different smell - a Scottish smell. “Murtagh!” I heard Jamie exclaim, and glanced up as Jamie embraced his godfather. “ Ciamar a tha thu?

Sgoinneil , now that yer home, lad,” Murtagh told him, breaking the embrace. He then glanced at me, giving me an awkward nod as I made my way to stand beside Jamie. “I’m verra sorry, lass. Brian was a wonderful lad.”

“Thank ye,” I said, and though it wasn’t often I did this, I embraced Murtagh tightly, seeming to surprise him. Shortly after, Beth appeared with Archie in arms, and Murtagh was thrilled to take the young lad into his arms and playfully tossed him in the air, earning a joyful giggle from him.

“Ye’ve grown so big, laddie,” said Murtagh cheerfully, in a way I felt I’d never seen him before. “And ye’ve brought this wee bawbag with ye?” he demanded when he saw Fergus appear at my side.

“Did you miss me, vieille foulque malodorante ?” Fergus asked him, and I snorted with laughter at Fergus calling Murtagh a ‘smelly old coot’.

“Not a chance,” said Murtagh, ruffling the young lad’s hair.

“We told Fergus he must come with us. He’s family now, and we couldnae leave him behind in Paris,” I said as I wrapped an arm around Fergus and pulled him closer to me in an embrace.

“And that he is. Come, let us get away from that leaking tub,” said Jamie, placing an arm on my back and leading our small group away from the docks. “Is the carriage ready?”

“It is. We’re prepared te leave straight away, although it isnae far fer us,” said Murtagh.

“I’m excited te see Lallybroch,” Beth told me excitedly, and I placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Oh, a leannan … I’m afraid yer not te come with us. Ye’ve been so ill, and yer mother misses ye terribly, accordin’ te her letters,” I told her.

“But what aboot Archie?” Beth asked me.

“We’ll do fine. Jamie’s sister has a servant that can help if we need it,” I told her. “I’m sure ye miss yer family.”

“Aye, I do,” said Beth. “I miss my little brothers terribly. My Pa died when I was a lass, and Mam remarried and had three young lads - Robert, James and Willie. They’re all under twelve and I miss them verra much.”

“Then ye’ll be glad te see them. I do hope ye’ll keep in touch,” I said to her.

“I will, and I hope ye’ll write te me and tell me all aboot Archie as he grows,” Beth told me, then looked down at the young lad in her arms. “I’ll miss him terribly, too.”

“And he’ll miss ye, too. I ken he will. I promise I’ll write aboot him, and when he’s auld enough, he’ll write to ye, too,” I said. Beth nodded, then handed Archie to Jamie so she could embrace me tightly.

“Thank ye verra much fer yer care of me,” she said. “I learned a lot from ye, and I’ll never forget this time.”

“Neither will I,” I said with a fond smile.

“Let’s go, lass, or we’ll lose daylight,” Murtagh growled, and we all shared a laugh.

“We’ll meet again someday,” I said to her. She nodded again, then looked at Jamie.

“Goodbye, Mr. Fraser, and thank ye fer everrathing,” she said to him.

“It is me who should be thankin’ you ,” Jamie said to her. “Be well, lass, and god be with ye.” We watched as she and Murtagh disappeared into the crowd, heading towards a carriage that would take them to Beth’s family home in Bonnyrigg not far from Edinburgh.

“I’ll sure miss her,” I said. “She was like the sister I never had.”

“As will I. She’s a verra fine young lass and will make a fine wife someday,” Jamie replied. “Come, we’ll stay at an inn, and tomorrow, we’ll start our journey te another beloved sister of ours.” I nodded and smiled, excited to see Jenny again for the first time in nearly a year. With Jamie’s arm wrapped firmly around my shoulders, and Archie held protectively in Jamie’s arm, we took our first steps towards our new life together, excited for the path before us.




Chapter Text

30 July, 1744

The Highlands, Scotland

It was raining, as per usual in the highlands. I was seated by a small creek cradling a crying Archie in my arms while Jamie took Fergus out into the woods to teach him to hunt. “Shh, shh, mo chuisle, tha e ceart gu leòr ,” I said to him, but it just wasn’t enough. “I know, lamb, ye miss yer brother. I miss mine, too. I ken what it’s like te lose my brothers, too.” Poor Archie wouldn’t stop crying for anything, so I bent down and kissed his little head. “Tell ye what. I’ve a song te sing ye, but ye cannae sing it fer a few years yet. Or maybe so, if we’ve stopped the rebellion. This song is aboot two brothers who fought in the uprising. One of ‘em, the aulder, was captured and is te be hanged, while the other escaped. This is the song he sang when he said goodbye te his brother.” I cleared my throat.

 

“By yon bonny banks and by yon bonny braes, 

Where the sun shines bright on Loch Laomainn, 

Where me and my true love were ever wont te gae, 

On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Laomainn…” 

 

I had to raise my voice a little to sing over Archie’s crying, but as he heard my voice, he began to calm down a little.

 

“O, ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road, 

And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye, 

But me and my true love will never meet again, 

On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Laomainn…” 

 

I smiled down at my sweet silver-eyed son, who stopped his crying and looked up at me curiously. I allowed him to grasp my finger as I rocked him slowly in my arms and continued to sing.

 

“‘Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen, 

On the steep, steep, side of Beinn Laomainn, 

Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view, 

And the moon comin’ out in the glaoming… 

 

O, ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road, 

And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye, 

But me and my true love will never meet again, 

On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Laomainn…” 

 

I smiled as Archie’s little eyes closed, and he dozed off in my arms, sleeping as deeply as bairns did. I bent to kiss his forehead, shielding him from the light rain that pelted us. I had wrapped him up warmly in my Fowlis tartan, though it was summer, but he seemed comfortable, and it was the best I could do, in regards to clothing him. He’d used the last of his cloth diapers, and though I had washed them, I needed them to dry, which was impossible in the rain, so they were beneath a tree resting on the grass.

“The lad’s scared all the game away with his cryin’,” I heard Jamie said as he and Fergus stomped noisily back into camp.

“Well, hush up, or he’ll start cryin’ again,” I said, adjusting the tartan to cover Archie’s face a little better.

“That was a nice song ye were singin’,” he said, bending down to kiss my head. “Keep an eye on Fergus, he’s prone te wanderin’ off,” he said with a glance at Fergus, who pretended he didn’t hear Jamie. “I need te have a shit.”

“Downwind, won’t ye? And far away from here,” I said as I turned my attention to him.

“I’ll shit where I damn well please,” Jamie said affectionately, bending down to kiss me, and then he was off. I shook my head and chuckled quietly to myself, then glanced down again at the sleeping infant in my arms.

Looking at Archie was still so hard, but I was grateful to still have him. I had a child to love and to hold, to cherish and protect, to raise to be a wonderful man. Christ, don’t think so far ahead, he’s only seven months old… He was so beautiful, so perfect. I wanted to hold him in my arms forever and never put him down, but the bigger he got, the more wiggly and mobile he got, so I knew that the days of carrying him bundled up in my tartan were nearing their end. “Ye’ll love yer home, weeun. Yer Da grew up there, and he’s wanted so badly te raise his family there. I cannae wait fer ye te meet yer Aunt Jenny,” I told him, but he was out cold, unable to hear me in dreamland. “Sleep now,” I muttered quietly to him, gently brushing my fingers through his red curls. “No one can harm ye when ye sleep.”


1 August, 1744

Lallybroch, The Highlands, Scotland

The four of us rode on three horses, Fergus on the smallest, Jamie on the largest, and I on the mare with Archie strapped to my chest using my tartan. Jamie had helped me fashion a sort of sling to hold him with - it kept him close to my chest, and it made feeding him on the journey much easier. Archie was suckling my breast when we came over the hill and saw the top of Lallybroch appear in the distance. We stopped our horses, Jamie and I side by side and Fergus behind us, and Jamie and I both felt our breath catch at the sight.

“Do ye see that, Fergus?” Jamie asked the young lad behind us?

“You mean the rock with windows?” Fergus asked, earning a playful glare from Jamie.

“Lallybroch isnae a rock, it is our home - your home, now, too, laddie,” Jamie told him.

“I’ve never been more relieved te see it,” I said with a soft smile. “After everrathing we’ve been through… Te be home, in Scotland, surrounded by family… I couldnae ask fer anything better.”

“I cannae wait te show the lad around,” Jamie said, reaching over to reveal Archie’s little face, his grey eyes showing that he was in a trance as he suckled. Jamie chuckled warmly at the sight, then covered him up again.

“It’s a shame we cannae bring Brian here,” I said with melancholy, staring off into the distant mountains behind Lallybroch. “Te be buried among family… But no. He’s buried among strangers, nearly a thousand miles away from home.”

“I wish we could bring him home, too,” Jamie replied. “ Tiugainn . Let’s go home.” He replaced his melancholy expression with a much happier one, then urged his horse forward and towards Lallybroch. Fergus followed, and I lingered behind just for a moment, holding Archie securely in one arm and wiping his mouth with the tartan.

“Are ye ready, mo ghille ?” I asked him. He stared up at me with his little grey eyes and made a noise, reaching up to grab at my nose, so I smiled at him. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Urging my horse forward, I followed behind Jamie and Fergus, arriving just in time for Jamie to slide off of his horse and assist me down. We stood in the courtyard of Lallybroch and glanced up at the door, where the Fraser crest was visible just above it. Suddenly, the door opened, and emerging from the door was none other than Jenny Fraser Murray, carrying a basket of used linens for washing and shouting over her shoulder.

“Ye jus’ wait until yer Da gets back and we’ll see if ye think it’s so funny then!” she was shouting over her shoulder, and when she turned back to face forward, she froze, dropping the basket at her feet. “Jamie!” she cried.

“Jenny!” Jamie said excitedly, leaving my side to approach his sister. Jenny met him halfway and threw her arms around her brother, who towered a good foot over her and embraced her tightly.

“We didnae expect ye fer another day or so!” Jenny exclaimed with excitement, pulling back from the embrace, and then she turned to look at me, her friendly smile widening. “Catrìona!”

“Jenny,” I said, reaching out with one arm to embrace her as she pulled me into a tight hug. Between us, unhappy about being squeezed, Archie whined, surprising Jenny a little bit as she pulled back from the embrace.

“Oh!” she squeaked as I pulled the now fussing Archie out of the sling. “What a sweet, handsome lad!” She held out her hands for him and I handed him right over to his aunt, and right away, Archie’s fussy attitude quieted to one of curiosity. “Oh, he looks so much like ye, Jamie! Except he has yer eyes, Catrìona.”

“They’re slanted like Jamie’s, but he does have the Fowlis eyes,” I said.

“I never thought I’d be an aunt,” said Jenny excitedly as she held her nephew. “I never thought I’d see a bairn of Jamie’s! Or at least a legitimate one.”

“I am not our grandsire,” Jamie told her sternly, and Jenny let out a laugh.

“Never said ye were,” she said. “Hello… Archie, is it? I’m so sorry te hear aboot wee Brian. Jamie told me all aboot it when he wrote te me aboot yer comin’ home.” I nodded slightly, not really wanting to talk about Brian, and then felt a small presence at my side.

“Jenny, this wee laddie here is Fergus. We met in Paris, and we fell in love with that wee cheeky face,” I said, playfully pinching Fergus’s cheek.

“Well, hello, there, Fergus. I’m Jamie’s sister, Jenny,” Jenny said to him.

Bonjour, Madame ,” said Fergus, and he opened his mouth to say something else until I gave him a small tug on the ear.

“Watch what ye say,” I muttered to him, and he shut his mouth.

“Well, we have plenty of room in the nursery fer both of these lovely lads. Come inside, why don’t ye? Rabbie’s just brought the first batch of potatoes,” Jenny told us, leading our little caravan into the house with Archie tucked comfortably in her arms. “Mrs. Cook! The Laird and Lady have returned!”

“How verra grand!” Mrs. Cook’s voice came from the kitchen, and she greeted us cheerfully. She adored Archie from the get-go and offered to take him upstairs to put him down in the nursery, and though I was hesitant at first, I reluctantly agreed, but I had to cling to Jamie’s arm to keep from following her.

“Ian and I had another bairn. We called her Katherine - Kitty, for short,” Jenny told us.

“Three now? Ye’ve go’ full hands,” Jamie teased his sister, and she was about to retaliate when young Rabbie ran in, followed by Young Jamie, carrying a basket of dirty, earthy potatoes.

“Auntie Cat! Uncle Jamie!” Young Jamie exclaimed when he saw us, running to us both and attaching himself to our legs.

“Hello, wee laddie!” Jamie exclaimed when he saw his nephew, picking him up and kissing his little face.

“Look, Mrs. Murray, look! There’s so many!” Rabbie exclaimed excitedly as he dumped the potatoes onto the table.

“Goodness!” Jenny exclaimed, not having expected Rabbie to dump them onto the table.

“They’re so big!” Rabbie exclaimed. “Look, Mrs. Fraser!”

“My goodness, Rabbie, they sure are,” I said as I joined him at the table to look at the potatoes.

“Can we eat them tonight?” asked Rabbie as Young Jamie suddenly poked his head up over the side of the table, the older Jamie joining me by my side and sitting on the surface of the table.

“I dinnae see why not,” I said as Jamie picked up one of the potatoes and examined it.

“A grand potato, if I ever saw one,” said Jamie.

“Ye’ve never seen one! Not in Fraser land. Not ‘til now,” Jenny told him. “Ye we’re right tellin’ us te plant them, Catrìona. ‘Tis a fine crop!”

“I dinnae see how ye’d ever grind them fer parritch,” said Jamie as he continued to look at the potato.

“Ye dinnae grind them. Ye boil them, mash ‘em up with salt and butter, maybe milk as well, and make a good mash,” I told him, and he raised his eyebrow at me.

“I didnae ken ye could cook, Eileanach ,” Jamie told me.

“I dinnae ken if I can cook, but I can certainly boil a potato,” I said as I picked up the potato and turned to Young Jamie and Rabbie. “Do ye ken the Gaelic word fer this?” They shook their heads. “ Buntàta .”

Buntàta ,” Rabbie repeated.

Buntàta? ” Jenny asked.

“Aye, nothin’ better than buntàta ri ìm , or sùgh buntàta ,” I told them.

“Then we’ll have a feast! Come on, lads, help me wash all the dirt off of these things,” Jenny said as she collected the potatoes back into the basket, then she and the lads left, leaving Jamie and I by ourselves. He pulled me closer to him, standing now between his knees as he held me around my lower back.

“Ye look at peace here,” he told me suddenly.

“I am,” I replied, my hands resting on his shoulders. “I’m tired, though… I dinnae want Archie te sleep in the nursery. I want te keep him with us, if… if tha’s all right with you.”

“Fer a bit, I suppose. I cannae blame ye fer bein’ worried aboot him, but I’ll not let ye coddle the lad, or he’ll never grow into a man,” Jamie told me.

“That willnae be fer some time,” I said, and then I let out a sigh. “I do love it here… but a part of me was hopin’ we could live on our own. Just the four of us. You, me, Fergus and Archie.”

“Perhaps someday, we will, but this is our home. I am Laird of this estate, and you are my Lady. This is where we belong,” Jamie told me. “Dinnae fash, mo nighean . Everrathing will be all right.” He gave me a smile, then leaned forward to kiss me. I knew the days following what had happened in Paris were going to be hard, so all I could do was hope that, with time, I would recover.


Autumn - Winter, 1744

For the next year or so, things for our little family felt almost normal. Fergus made friends with Rabbie and the pair of them were always up to something, and Young Jamie, who was nearing five, badly wanted to be a part of everything that they did whether they wanted him or not. Cailean returned in October, and with his return, my family finally felt as complete as it was likely to get. Little Maggie turned one in November, and then Archie’s first birthday was next - and Brian’s, a day he never saw.

On Samhain, I lit a candle specifically for Brian, leaving a small little toy that he had been given in Paris beside it. It was the closest I had felt to my lost son since before he’d passed, and Jamie was very supportive of it.

Speaking of Jamie, for a bit, we didn’t really touch each other, but perhaps in mid-August, when he was out on the fields with Ian, I suddenly felt an urge for him - I needed him - so I told Jenny to tell him I was lying in bed with a headache. When he’d returned and came to check on me, I pulled him into the bed beside me, crawling on top of him and tugging at his clothes. “Ye dinnae have a headache at all, do ye?” he asked me.

“Nope,” I said, burying my lips in his neck. I was in my shift, so he was quick to pull it up, expose my lower half and fondle my buttocks as I sucked on his neck, earning a soft moan from him.

“Christ, I want ye so bad,” he said to me. “I’ve wanted ye so bad fer so long…” He flipped us over so that I was now lying on my back and untied the laces of my shift, pulling it down my shoulders and attaching his lips to my nipple. With my hand in his hair, gripping his red curls firmly, I pulled at his shirt until he got the hint to remove it, then undid the belt of his kilt and tossed it aside.

“Take me,” I said. “Take me right now .” And he did. With one thrust, he was inside me, and though it caused a bit of pain, I didn’t care because I was already so aroused and in desperate need of him. To hold him in my arms again, to have him inside me again… I vowed to never push him away like that again.

In the eighteenth century, birthdays weren’t really celebrated - mentioned, maybe, but not celebrated. For Archie’s first birthday on the twenty-first of December, however, we did hold a little celebration, both for his life and for the life that Brian could have had. Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but find myself needing moments by myself, sometimes to cry, sometimes because I just wanted to be alone. For one instance, I was outside, the snowflakes signifying the first day of winter falling into my hair and onto my cloak. I sat on the steps outside of the front door intending to be alone, but when the door opened, I realised that I wouldn’t be.

“What are ye doin’ out here?” Jenny asked me as she stood over me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just… hard. Brian would have been one year old today, but he didnae get that chance.”

“I dinnae ken the pain of losin’ a bairn, and I hope that I never do… but I can only imagine how much yer hurtin’,” Jenny told me, sitting down on the steps beside me. “He kens ye love him. Mam always said that a bairn in God’s hands can feel his mother’s love even in Heaven. She said tha’s how strong a mother’s love is.”

“I wish I had my mother,” I told her. “She died when I was fifteen, same as my father, and mine and Cailean’s younger brothers. I dinnae ken how I’m managin’ te get through this without her.”

“She kens ye have Jamie, and she kens he’s takin’ the best care of ye,” Jenny told me, and I couldn’t help but smile.

“He is. He’s doin’ a damn good job of carin’ fer me and fer Archie. I hope yer Mam kens what a good man he’s become,” I said.

“She kens,” Jenny replied.

Hogmanay came, marking the end of 1744 and the start of 1745. We had our own little cèilidh to celebrate the struggles of 1744 that we had overcome, hoping for a better year in 1745. Cailean and I provided a bit of music, as did some other local musicians, and there was a lot of dancing, laughter, joy and overall happiness. Even I couldn’t keep from the joyful laughter that infected the place like a warm and happy plague. Soon, it came time for the girls to peel their oranges and toss them over their shoulders to see what letter the first name of their soulmate started with, depending on how the peel landed, and there was an overall chatter of it a letter was a J or a C, if it was a W or an M… It was such a happy day.

As the celebrations began to wind down, I took Jamie by the hand and dragged him outside into the snow, pushing him up against the side of the house to kiss him. “Mmm, I’ve been waitin’ fer that all day,” I told him, and he chuckled.

“Ye could have told me ye wanted te come out fer a kiss,” Jamie told me, kissing me again. He kissed me deeply, one hand snaking its way around my waist, the other caressing my cheek, while my arms wrapped tightly around his neck and held him close to me. When he broke the kiss, he pressed his forehead against mine, the pair of us simply enjoying the moment. “I love you.”

“I love ye, too,” I told him. “I love ye so much, Jamie… Everrathing we’ve been through, no matter how bad it has been, I wouldnae change anything fer the world. What we’ve been through has made us stronger, brought us closer… Solidified the fact that you are my soulmate. I dinnae think words exist fer me te properly describe how much I love ye.”

“‘It lies not in our power te love or hate, Fer will in us is overruled by fate’,” Jamie began to say, seeming to recite a poem. “‘When two are stripped, long ere the course begin, We wish tha’ one should love, the other win’.” He pushed against me to leave the wall, then picked me up, carrying me to a snow-capped barrel and sitting me on the top of it.

“Tha’s cold!” I squeaked when my bum felt the wet coldness of the snow seeping through my dress, but Jamie only smiled.

“‘And one especially do we affect Of two gold ingots, like in each respect’,” Jamie continued, drawing closer to me. “The reason no man kens; let it suffice’.” He began to pull up my skirts, setting them to fall on either side of his hips like a waterfall. “‘What we behold is censured by our eyes…’” With his eyes still on mine, he lifted his kilt, taking his member in his hand and lining it up with my entrance. “‘Where both deliberate, the love is slight…’” He entered me slowly, resulting in a small moan of pleasure from me, then drew nearer to me, his breath tickling the sensitive skin of my ear. “‘Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?’”

“Oh, Jamie,” I moaned breathlessly as he moved within me, one hand firmly in his hair, the other wrapped tightly around him, holding him to me. “Jamie… My Jamie…” He didn’t say anything except for the occasional grunt and groan, and when he came inside of me, the warmth of his fluids flooding me until I could feel the cold no more, I let out a soft sigh. For what felt like an eternity, we stayed that way, him still inside me and I holding him to my chest, his soft red curls tickling my nose.

“Ye dinnae need words te tell me ye love me,” he said to me softly. “Though it is nice.” He kissed the side of my face, then my ear.

“If ye dinnae need words, then what was that poem ye were recitin’?” I asked him, teasing him.

“Christopher Marlowe, not me,” Jamie replied, pulling away to look at me. “‘Who Ever Loved That Loved Not At First Sight’. A personal favourite of mine.”

“I think it’ll be mine as well,” I said. “I do have another, by an American poet who isnae even alive yet. His work doesnae exist yet, willnae fer another hundred years or so, but that doesnae change its power. ‘But our love, it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we, Of many far wiser than we— And neither the angels in Heaven above Nor the demons down under the sea Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee’.”

“Tha’s verra lovely,” Jamie told me. “Who was the poet?”

“Edgar Allen Poe,” I replied.

“He sounds a verra romantic man.”

“Somethin’ like tha’,” I said. “Then there’s also ‘Sonnet 43’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was my mother’s favourite, and she recited it as her wedding vows te my father. ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee te the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight Fer the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everraday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive fer Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put te use In my auld griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints — I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears of all my life — and, if God choose, I shall love thee better after death.” Jamie smiled and bent forward to kiss me.

“I like that one a lot. Is this Mistress Browning alive in this time?” he asked me.

“No, like Mr. Poe, she also willnae come fer another century,” I told him. “What do ye think of this one? ‘Let my love grow stronger, Like the waves of the sea when the heavy winds Of a storm do push them to shore. Let my love grow taller, Like the swells of the ocean waves When the moon carries the tide. Let my love be vast, Like the vast depths of the sea, Deep and unknown, With lots te explore, For my love fer you is like the sea, And I do, indeed, love the sea.’.”

“I like that one a lot, too,” Jamie told me, kissing me again. “Who wrote that one?”

“Me, just now,” I told him, and he chuckled.

“Oh, did ye now?” he said. “I’ve no talent fer poetry, but I do hope ye ken that my love fer yer runs as deep as the sea.” He kissed me again, holding me tighter against his chest. He leaned me back just a bit and I tilted my head to give him better access to my neck. Suddenly, inside, we could hear the cheering and celebrations of the guests and our family ringing in the new year, and I pulled back from the embrace to take Jamie’s face in my hands.

 

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

And never brought te mind? 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

And auld lang syne?” 


Winter - Spring, 1745

By mid-January, Archie was taking his first steps. We discovered this when Cailean, Jamie and I were both in the study reading over some letters we received from France, from Louise telling us all about the birth of her son, Henri, to Charles moaning about yet another misadventure with women, to teasing Cailean about a private letter from Annalise, to letters about the wine business from Jared. Suddenly, we all heard a little shuffling noise and a small grunt, and when we looked up, we were shocked to see Archie leaning against the doorframe standing on both feet.

“Archie!” I exclaimed. “Are ye walkin’? Come here, a leannan! ” I knelt down and held out my arms to him, and with one adorable little giggle, Archie let go of the doorframe and wobbled over to me, collapsing into my arms. I lifted him up and kissed his little face while Cailean and Jamie gave a small cheer for the lad.

“Look at that, mac mo pheathar ! Yer growin’ up fast! Before ye ken it, he’ll be a man before yer verra eyes,” Cailean said excitedly as Jamie stood to take Archie into his arms and toss his giggling son into the air.

“I’m proud of ye, mo ghille , but slow yer growin’ down!” Jamie exclaimed playfully, holding his formerly infant, now toddler son tightly in his arms.

My twenty-fourth birthday passed, as did Cailean’s twenty-second. One of the lasses from Broch Mordha came and brought him a gift - a cloak she had made for him, and he was very touched to have received it. I, on the other hand, received a very passionate lovemaking session from my absolutely wonderful husband. “Makin’ up fer last year,” he said as he took me for a second round.

The end of March saw Archie trying to say his first words as he toddled over to me while Jenny was trying to teach me how to knit. “Ma! Up!” he exclaimed, raising his little arms up to me.

“Tha’s right! I am yer Ma, my wee laddie!” I exclaimed, picking him up as he requested and holding him on my lap. I kissed his sweet little cheek as he giggled and grabbed at Jenny’s offered hand.

“Look at ye, growin’ so fast!” she said to her nephew, who was loving all the attention. I heard footsteps in the corridor and suddenly, Jamie and Ian appeared in the doorframe seeming concerned.

“We heard screamin’. Is everrathing all right?” Ian asked us, and Jenny and I couldn’t help but exchange a laugh. I stood up with Archie, who was growing so big, resting on my hip and brought him to Jamie.

“Who’s this, my lamb?” I asked, pointing to Jamie, and Archie mimicked me by pointing at his father.

“Da!” he exclaimed, surprising Jamie. “Da! Da! Up!” He bounced in my arms and reached for his father, who took him with pride and kissed his face.

Tha mi cho uasal à thu, mo chuisle! ” he said to his son, saying that he was proud of him.

“Da!” Archie said again, learning that every time he said one of our names, he earned attention, affection and excitement, three of his favourite things from us - minus snacks, of course.

“I think tha’ earns him a cranachan, aye?” I asked. “I asked Mrs. Cook te make a few this mornin’. Had a cravin’ fer ‘em.” A cranachan was a Scottish dessert, almost like a parfait made from layers of whipped cream, strawberries, raspberries, oats and honey, and it was a favourite among the Fraser-Murray household. I had introduced the recipe to them when we were here in October of ‘43 and they absolutely fell in love with it, and needless to say, it was Archie’s favourite dessert. He clapped his hands excitedly when he heard me say the word.

In early April, Cailean and I received a letter from Alasdair Fraser asking how we were and announcing the birth of his son, Friseal Cailean James MacNeil Fowlis, and we couldn’t be more excited, nor touched. We told him as much, explaining how thrilled we were with him accepting us into his family, and also couldn’t help but ask after our grandsire, who we still hadn’t heard from. I supposed Alasdair thought it best not to mention us to him and let us decide if we wanted to come to Barra or not. “Someday, maybe,” Cailean said when I made the observation. “If we put a stop te the rebellion and things stay safe, I think I’d like te go and meet him.”

“Me, too,” I said. “He’ll probably want te make ye his heir. Ye are the son of his heir.” Cailean let out a sigh. “Ye ken… Da showed me the family tree once, and told me the history of Cìosamul Castle… The 8th Laird of Cìosamul was named Cailean Fowlis.”

“Aye, I ken. Da said he named me after him. It cannae be me, it’s already set in stone,” Cailean replied.

“Are ye sure aboot that?” I asked him. “I dinnae ken ever hearin’ Alasdair or his son say anythin’ aboot another Cailean Fowlis.”

“I dinnae ken, but I’m no’ fit te be Laird. I like bein’ free te do as I please, go where I wish. Not havin’ the weight of the world on my shoulders,” Cailean replied as he looked down again at the letter.

“Yer young now. That may change when ye get older,” I said, but he shook his head.

“Not if I can help it,” he told me, clearly set in his mind. If there was one thing Cailean and I had in common, it was our typical Fowlis stubbornness. Once we’d made up our minds, they were set in stone, and there would be no changing them. Not unless some outside influence took a chisel and changed it themselves, as Jamie had done for me. “Besides, I think our cousin is next in line. I thought it was Alasdair, but I think he was sayin’ tha’ te intimidate us when he didnae ken us. I also thought Aunt Maisie only had daughters?”

“I thought so, too,” I replied. “Perhaps it was a misprint or Da couldnae read the handwritin’. He was gone by the time Aunt Maisie had her children, judgin’ by their ages.”

In mid-April, I was outside doing the washing with Young Jamie, Maggie, who was only a month or so older than Archie, Archie, Fergus and Rabbie sitting around either helping me or watching me. It was a warm day, and they were all entranced by me washing the linens on the washing board. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. “Ye ken,” I said to them. “In some parts of the Highlands, and the islands as well - tha’s where I come from - they sing songs when they’re doin’ the washin’ or the waulkin’.”

“They waulk in Broch Mordha!” Young Jamie exclaimed.

“That they do! So ye’ve heard the songs?” I asked him.

“Uh-huh! Da takes me sometimes and I see all the ladies with the wool,” said Young Jamie.

“What is this ‘waulking’? It is like marche à pied , no?” Fergus asked in his little French accent.

“No, ye frog! It’s when women set the dye in the wool! They do it in wee!” Rabbie told him.

“We dinnae have te resort te name-callin’, Rabbie MacNab,” I told him sternly.

“What is ‘wee’?” Fergus asked me with confusion, ignoring Rabbie.

“Urine,” I said, and couldn’t help but chuckle at the look on his face. “Dinnae fash, I’ll no’ wash yer linens in urine. But anyway, back te what I was sayin’. So, some of ye have heard a waulkin’ song, but have ye heard a Hebridean waulkin’ song?” They shook their little heads, curls bouncing all about, and I started going into the same song I once sung to Brian when he suffered from the croup:

 

“Latha bha n’ Ridire ag òl, 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

‘San taigh-òsd’, e fhèin s’ a bhean, 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug ho ro. 

 

‘San taigh-òsd’, e fhèin s’ a bhean, 

Hò rò hùg a hùg o, 

Ridire gun gheàrr e mheur, 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug ho ro.” 

 

“That’s a silly song!” Young Jamie exclaimed.

“It is! Why don’t ye all sing along with me, aye?” I said, and then I continued.

 

“Ridire gun gheàrr e mheur, 

Hò rò, hùg a hùg o 

Gus na rànaig e 'n cnàimh glas; 

Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug ho ro.” 

 

“Are ye ready? Come on, a chlann !” I said as I picked up the song again.

“Gus na rànaig e 'n cnàimh glas…

“Hò rò, hùg a hùg o ,” sang Young Jamie and Rabbie, and Maggie stared at them with wide eyes.

“Dh'fhalbh an fhuil 'na struth gu làr…

“Hùg a bhi a, seinn tug ho ro, ” sang the lads.

Sgoinneil! ” I said, and noticed suddenly how Young Jamie’s and Maggie’s faces suddenly brightened up and they jumped up and ran past me - or rather, Young Jamie ran and Maggie toddled - and I turned to see that Ian and my Jamie had returned from the fields. Ian held his arms out for his children and embraced them, Jamie looking on with amusement. “Archie, look! There’s yer Da!” I said to my son, who was more interested in a bug that was crawling on the ground than his own father. I couldn’t help but chuckle, so I picked him up and set him on my hip, turning to find Jamie approaching me. “There ye are! I missed ye, mo chridhe ,” I said, embracing him one-armed and accepting a kiss.

“I missed ye, too,” he said, and then he ruffled Archie’s hair. “Feasgar math, mo ghille ruadh ! And how’s my wee laddie, aye?”

“Da!” said Archie, finally interested in his father as Jamie took him from my arms and gave his little rounded cheek a quick kiss. I loved seeing the two of them together - father and son, nearly identical, save for Archie’s grey eyes and Jamie’s blue ones. Jamie was such a devoted father, and he clearly loved his son more than anything in the world.

Later that same evening, after we had gone to kiss Archie goodnight - as he got bigger, we had no choice but to move him back into the nursery - Jamie and I were getting ready for bed when suddenly, he cleared his throat. “I dinnae want te make assumptions, but… I ken tha’… the last time I made this… observation, I was correct,” he said.

“Aye? And wha’s tha’?” I asked him curiously.

“Well, er… Yer, erm… courses , they… I havenae seen them in some time,” he told me awkwardly, and I raised my eyebrow.

“No?” I said, realising that I hadn’t seen them in some time, either. “When… When do ye last remember seein’ ‘em?”

“Before Hogmanay, I think… December,” he replied, surprising me a little.

That long?” I asked, and he nodded. “I… I didnae even notice, I… Blessed Bride…” I suddenly rested my hand on my abdomen, feeling that it was a little tighter, then stood up, ripped off my shift and stood naked in front of the mirror, turning to my side to see that I indeed did have a small bump. “Blessed Bride…” I could see Jamie’s reflection in the mirror and his eyes were wide, then watched as he approached me and placed his hand on my abdomen. “That… Tha’ means I’m… four months…”

“Another bairn,” said Jamie with pride, and then he smiled at me. “We’ve another bairn comin’ along!”

“A bit of a surprise, if I dinnae say so myself,” I said with amusement, looking down at my belly. “Ye snuck up on us, did ye no’, weeun?” Jamie let out a laugh, then pulled me into his arms and kissed my head.

“Archie’ll have a wee brother or sister soon te protect,” he said, and then he pulled back to look down again at my belly, getting down onto his knees to kiss it. “I never had a younger sibling… I was the youngest.”

“I had many, they’re a pain in the arse,” I said with amusement. “Actually, ye do. Cailean’s yer brother, no?”

“Aye, I suppose he is, and yer right. He is a pain in the arse,” said Jamie with a chuckle. He paused suddenly, running over one of the many scars that peppered my body. “I dinnae remember seein’ this…”

“Seein’ what?” I asked, looking at the scar in question. “What, that? Tha’s huge! How have ye no’ seen it?”

“In my defense, I’m no’ lookin’ at yer belly when yer naked,” he told me, and I playfully shoved him. “I did when ye were pregnant with the lads! But I didnae see this one before.”

“It’s a bit new,” I said. “I… I think it was when I miscarried. Master Raymond came when I wasnae gettin’ better. I didnae see and I was awful delirious, so he must have cut it out.” I paused for a moment. “I had strange dreams… I was back in my time, in hospital. Hospitals then arenae like they are now… Bright lights, machines tha’ monitor vital signs… I saw a friend of mine. Maidie Mackenzie. She’s a nurse I met at the Battle of Pitlochry, the year before I disappeared. I’d gone te serve as a medic and she was there, too. A Welsh lass whose parents fought in the first rebellion.”

“Aye?” Jamie asked me.

“It was verra strange. I saw Mother Hildegard dressed like a doctor in my time, and Monsieur Forez, too - he’s King Louis’s royal executioner - and Master Raymond, and… and Tom. They… In the dream, they said I’d had an ectopic pregnancy - tha’ means the foetus is growin’ outside of my womb - and it had te be removed surgically. Perhaps tha’s what Master Raymond was doin’,” I said, and then I froze. “But… how would he even ken how? They dinnae ken what an ectopic pregnancy is in this time?”

“I cannae say,” Jamie told me, and then he kissed my belly, and the bairn growing within me, and stood, pushing me to walk backwards to the windowsill. “What I can say is tha’ I want te lavish ye… I want te taste ye, please ye…” He picked me up and sat me down on the windowsill, bending to kiss me. “Lean back and relax,” he whispered to me. I did as he was told, moaning in ecstasy when I felt his tongue brush my folds.

Everyone in the family was thrilled to hear that Jamie and I were expecting again and Jenny was already throwing family names at me. “Fer a girl, we have Ellen, Jocasta, Janet - dinnae give me tha’ look, it’s no’ just me, I’m named fer me aunt - Anne as well…” she was saying. She was so excited that Jamie and I were sharing this experience with her, and she told me in private that she badly wanted to return the favour of my being such a big part of her pregnancy with Maggie by being a big part of mine. A week later, however, that dream was crushed, as I awoke to pains and lying in a puddle of my own blood. When Jamie returned, he found me sitting over a chamber pot with my face buried in my hands, Jenny rubbing my back in a comforting manner.

“Maybe Archie doesnae need te be a big brother now,” I’d said to Jamie that night as he held me. “He seems te enjoy bein’ the first love in our lives…”

“Someday soon, he will be,” Jamie replied, giving me a gentle kiss on my shoulder. “And he’ll be the best big brother a lad or lass could ask for.” It took some time for me to recover from this second miscarriage, and I added a second unnamed child to the list of children I’d lost. Well, it wasn’t unnamed … Privately, to myself, I had named both of the bairns I’d lost. I called the first one Thomas, believing him to be a boy - named after Tom, yes, but I never revealed that I’d given him a name - and I called this second one Eilidh, after my mother. Those were the names that I referred to when I prayed to Rhiannon for their protection, along with Brian, in the afterlife.


8 June, 1745

I was helping Jenny with the washing again in the yard, the pair of us washing the linens while the children played and chased each other. Rabbie, Fergus and Young Jamie were each on each other’s heels playing pirate while Maggie jostled around a little doll and Archie chased insects around in the dirt. I couldn’t help but chuckle softly to myself watching my young red-haired lad run around chasing butterflies with a stick. Jamie came down the front steps carrying a notebook in his hand - the ledger for the last Quarter Day - when he nearly stepped in Jenny’s washing bucket. “Oi!” she snapped, smacking his leg and surprising him. “Watch where yer goin’, ye clotheid! Ye nearly overturned my washin’!”

“Sorry!” Jamie exclaimed with surprise, dodging a second swing from his sister.

“Careful, or she’ll be rubbin’ you against that washboard,” I said as I wrung out a shirt and hung it to dry on the line. “Archie!” I called when I saw him approaching the well. “Dinnae go near that! I’ll no’ have ye in the drink like Fergus was las’ week!” I said, giving Fergus a look, and his young cheeks flushed pink.

“Come here, lad!” Jamie called to his son, and little Archie toddled over to his father carrying his little stick, thrilled to be picked up by his father. Watching the two of them, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh, which Jenny noticed.

“Are ye all right? Ye look done in, Catrìona,” she said to me, noticing my expression.

“Fine, it’s just… Two days from now marks a year since Brian’s death… I could be watchin’ the two of ‘em givin’ Jamie a run fer his money, but instead… Instead it’s only Archie chasin’ insects, tryin’ te eat earthworms and wanderin’ too close te the well, while Brian is buried underground in some distant land, nowhere near his loved ones or his home,” I explained.

“Puir lad,” said Jenny. “He’d be glad te see his brother thrivin’, I’m sure. Glad te see his Mam doin’ well and his Da happy.” I couldn’t help but smile and nodded.

“I’m sure he is,” I said. Young Jamie again called out to his father, who appeared in the entrance to the yard, and now Archie wiggled in his father’s arms wanting to follow Young Jamie - as he liked to do whatever it was that Young Jamie did - and Jamie followed him.

“Ian,” he said. “How’s the land?”

“Hot,” Ian replied, wiping a bit of sweat from his forehead. “I could use a bit of water, maybe a dram of whisky.”

“Wipe yer feet and take off yer filthy boots before ye tramp all over my rug,” Jenny told him firmly, and Ian couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Come along, lads. Ye can help me scrub my boots clean,” Ian said to his son and his nephew, who seemed quite partial to the idea. “I ran into Hector on the way up.”

“Got the post from him, aye?” Jenny asked as Ian approached the front steps, sitting down to take off his single boot and wipe the bottom of his wooden leg, and he pulled some parcels and letters from his bag.

“Aye, I did,” he said. “Catrìona, this one’s fer you.” He handed me the largest parcel, which was quite heavy. “Cailean has one, too. Wherever he is.”

“With Miss MacBrady, I’m sure,” Jamie said with a chuckle, and Ian set that letter aside.

“Bill fer the seed… Jenny, this one’s from yer Aunt Jocasta,” Ian said, handing her the letter from Jocasta Cameron, Jenny and Jamie’s aunt.

“Good, we havenae heard from her in a while,” said Jenny, stuffing the letter into her corset. “What aboot the ploughshare? Did ye get tha’ fixed yet?”

“Smitty says it cannae be fixed, it’s broken straight through. Cannae be reforged, either,” Ian replied.

“I’ll have a look at it before we get a new one,” Jamie said.

“Ah, here’s a letter fer you, Jamie,” Ian said, handing Jamie one of the letters. “We’ll have te hand-till until we get a new one, Jenny.”

“Wonderful,” Jenny replied sarcastically.

“Oh, this is from Louise,” I said as I opened the package, finding three French novels and another book of poetry. “She says her son is doin’ well, he’s the jewel of his father’s eye.”

“Good fer her,” Jenny answered, returning to the washing. I glanced up at Jamie, noticing that his face had gone sour as he read the letter he received.

“What is it, mo chridhe? ” I asked him. “Who’s it from?”

“Charles,” Jamie replied, not looking at me. “It’s not a letter specifically te me , but…” He cleared his throat. “It… It’s a declaration. It declares the Stuart’s divine right te the throne of Britain, supported by the chiefs of the Highland clans, signed by those plegdin’ loyalty te Charles Stuart.” I got up then and approached him, looking down at the letter in question.

“McKinnon, Oliphant, MacDonald of Glencoe…” I read, and then I froze when my eyes fell on one particular signature. “James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser… Jesus bloody Christ, he’s forged yer signature! And Cailean’s, too!”

“Aye, he has,” said Jamie. “This was published, distributed… The names on this document are traitors te the Crown.”


25 July, 1745

Jamie had to be very careful, laying low whenever English soldiers were spotted in the area. We talked about leaving, maybe going to Ireland or the colonies, even to my family on Barra, but Jamie was too concerned about Jenny, Ian and the bairns, as well as the tenants. He didn’t want to leave them at the mercy of the English butchers, and frankly, I couldn’t blame him.

“Charles has landed in Scotland. Eriskay. He’s gatherin’ an army,” Jamie told me urgently when he and Cailean found me and Archie in the herb garden.

“Yer kidding,” I said.

“Nope, landed two days ago,” Cailean chimed in.

“So it’s all comin’ te pass… The risin’, Culloden, the clearances…” I said, and I glanced around at the familiar calm of Lallybroch. “All of this…”

“So it seems,” Jamie replied. I tightened my grip on Archie, who fussed a little.

“We cannae stay,” I said. “Before when it was just the document, it could have been easy te say that yer signature had been forged, but now… With Charles in Scotland, that declaration becomes an attack on the English crown, and yer name on that document brands ye as a traitor. Jamie, they’ll hang ye if they catch ye!”

“Do ye think I dinnae ken tha’?” he asked me, and I stood and approached him.

“We ken what’ll happen if the Jacobites lose,” Cailean observed. “But… What if they win?”

“They don’t, Cailean. Ye ken tha’ well. It’s the verdict of history,” I told him.

“Have ye given up tryin’ te change the future, a nighean ?” Jamie asked me.

“After Paris, wouldn’t you ?” I asked him.

“Aye, Paris was a disaster fer certain, but the future can be changed. Ye’ve proven tha’, both of ye,” Jamie told us. “I live because of Cailean’s actions in our days at the borders. An outbreak of smallpox was prevented in Paris because of ye, and Louise de Rohan has born Charles Stuart’s son because of ye.”

“Are ye sayin’ ye want te fight fer Charles?” I asked him.

“Fight fer our family, and fer all of Scotland,” Jamie replied. “I cannae see any other way. Can you?”

“No,” Cailean answered honestly, and I let out a sigh.

“No, I cannae either,” I said. “They say the definition of insanity is doin’ somethin’ over and over again and expectin’ a different result. We’ve tried thwartin’ Charles several times, and failed each time.”

“I dinnae ken who ‘they’ are, but I’ll wager they’ve no’ travelled through time, aye?” Jamie chimed in, and then he looked at Cailean. “Are ye with me, brother?”

“Until the end,” Cailean told him after a moment. “We’re in this now.” And so we were. We’d failed to stop Charles and the uprising, failed to prevent thousands of lives being needlessly lost. I started to wonder if Murtagh’s reasoning for killing him had something to it, but of course, there was always the possibility of being in the same boat we were in now no matter what. I held Archie close to me, fear gripping my heart. I could lose Jamie, I could lose Cailean… I could lose everything I had fought so hard to keep, and frankly, that scared the shit out of me.




Chapter Text

26 July, 1745

Lallybroch, The Highlands, Scotland

There was no time to waste, we had to leave. With Charles on Scottish soil, it was only a matter of time before the English came to Lallybroch looking for Jamie and Cailean, so we had to leave to meet Charles at his camp, which was outside of—

“Prestonpans. It’s maybe a week’s journey by foot, maybe more, which we will be with yer men. We’ll have te go at their pace,” Cailean was telling Jamie.

“Tha’s in the lowlands, aye?” Jamie asked him.

“Sor’ of,” Cailean replied.

“It’s west of Edinburgh,” I replied.

“Will tha’ give ye time te go te Beauly?” Cailean asked Jamie.

“We dinnae have a choice. I’ll only spare thirty of my own men,” Jamie told him.

“They’re in the study,” I heard Jenny’s voice say, and a series of footsteps drew our attention to the door as Murtagh stood in the doorframe.

“Look wha’ the cat dragged in!” Cailean exclaimed, and Murtagh sent him a glare. “Ah, I missed that filthy look on yer face.”

“Ye have a list of names, Jamie?” Murtagh asked, ignoring Cailean completely.

“Workin’ on it,” he said as he scribbled some names on a list.

“What if ye added Daniel Wallace and Duncan MacLennan? They’re both able-bodied and sure,” I said.

“Aye, good thinkin’, mo nighean, ” Jamie replied as he scribbled the names onto the list. “Murtagh, I’ll need ye te bring the men te Kingussie with Cailean. Catrìona and I will go te Beauly, meet ye at Kingussie in two weeks and we’ll go together te meet Clan Chattan at Crieff before marchin’ on te Prestonpans.”

“What’ll we be doin’ in Beauly, exactly?” I asked him curiously as Jenny came into the study with a hot pot of tea and teacups.

“Charles has enlisted me te ask fer men and support from our kinsman, Lord Simon Fraser of Lovat,” Jamie told me, and Jenny seemed to freeze in place.

“Yer goin’ te see Lord Lovat? And ask him fer a favour? Are ye mad , Jamie?” she said with exasperation.

“Ask him te help preserve his country,” Jamie said as he went to the mantle of the fireplace, where a decanter of whisky was sitting. “And help restore the rightful king te the throne.”

“He does have a history of supportin’ the Jacobites, ye ken, lass,” Murtagh told her, but Jenny seemed to ignore him and acted as if Jamie had said that.

“Oh, aye, and the English and anyone else that will help him line his pockets and claim the title of Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat,” she said, her hands on her hips disapprovingly.

“A position he is entitled to and has held fer over twenty years - nearly as long as ye’ve been alive if not more, mind you,” Jamie told her as he poured himself a dram of whisky, and Jenny stormed over to him.

“Yer defendin’ the auld buzzard now? Father must be birlin’ in his grave!” she exclaimed as Jamie downed his glass of whisky.

“Who’s Lord Lovat to ye?” I asked in an attempt to diffuse the tension between the two siblings.

“Our grandsire,” both Jamie and Jenny said at the same time, surprising me a little. We studied Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat, in school, but I never would have thought the Fraser clan chief nicknamed the Auld Fox would have been Jamie’s grandsire.

“Who we’ve laid on but once in our lives, when he came te visit just after our mother died,” Jenny said in a scolding tone, turning to Jamie.

“Beats us. Cat and I have never seen our grandsire,” Cailean told them, but they ignored him.

“Da threw him out before he could cross the threshold,” Jamie reminded her. “We were verra young, only… Eight and ten?”

“Why’d he do that?” I couldn’t help but ask, taking the seat that Jamie had just vacated.

“He tried te have our mother kidnapped and taken te the Monarch Isles in order te prevent our father from marryin’ her,” Jamie replied.

“There was some bad blood between Lovat and the Mackenzies,” Murtagh explained.

“Sounds a bit of a mess. I’m sure Charles is unaware of this situation?” I asked Jamie.

“I didnae mention it,” Jamie replied, picking up the decanter to pour himself another glass of whisky, but Jenny grabbed it from him.

“‘Tis not only degradin’ fer ye te crawl te that man fer help, it’s a fool’s errand!” she snapped. “The auld fox does nothin’ tha’s not in his best interest, and never without a price.”

“No, what would be foolish , Janet, would be te let pride stand in the way of doin’ whatever I can te save Lallybroch, Scotland, my family, and everrathing we hold dear,” Jamie hissed, snatching the decanter back from her.

“Oh, Janet, now, am I?” Jenny asked him in a mocking tone.

“All right, enough , both of ye,” I said.

“We leave fer Beaufort Castle tomorrow mornin’,” Jamie told Jenny as he poured another glass of whisky, downed it, and stormed out of the study.


That evening, as I finished packing away a few things in a small trunk not only for myself, but for Archie as well, Jamie entered the room, something clearly on his mind. “Have ye got anythin’ te pack away, mo ghràidh ? This’ll fit yer things as well as mine and Archie’s,” I said to him as he eyed me curiously.

“No, I’m travellin’ light,” he replied. “What are ye doin’, packin’ all of tha’?”

“We’ll be gone fer months, and if this all ends at Culloden, tha’ means we’ll be out fer the winter,” I said. “It’s no’ just an extra dress and shift fer me, it’s also a tent, some extra pots and pans, tankards, anythin’ we could use while travellin’. And it is light.”

“It doesnae look it,” Jamie said as he eyed the small trunk curiously. “Set tha’ aside fer a second, I… I need te discuss somethin’ with ye.”

“Oh? And wha’s that?” I asked, standing back up and sitting down on the bed to look at him. He was silent for a moment, seemingly finding whatever it was he had to say difficult. “Jamie?”

“I… I havenae been completely honest with ye… aboot my family,” he said, and I raised my eyebrow.

“What, have ye got a secret brother or somethin’?” I asked, teasing him, but he evidently took this news as very serious.

“No, it’s… it’s my father,” Jamie replied. “He was a bastard. Acknowledged by his father, Lord Lovat, but a bastard nonetheless.”

“Oh,” I said, truly not bothered in the slightest. “And yer grandmother?”

“Lord Lovat’s kitchen maid,” Jamie replied. “I should’ve told ye before we wed. I’m sorry. It was cowardly of me.” He turned away from me, his head drooping down in shame.

“Jamie,” I said, standing up and approaching him. “Ye must ken that yer father’s parentage makes no difference te me.” He picked up his head to look at me and I drew him in for a kiss.

“Well, it should,” he said, meeting my eyes.

“Well, it doesnae,” I replied. “Come on, let’s go to bed, aye? We’ve an early start tomorrow.” He nodded, then I took his hand and led him to bed.


Later that same evening, I awoke to find that Jamie had left the bed at some point in the middle of the night. A little surprised, I stood and wrapped myself up in my Fowlis tartan, then left the room in search of him. I heard a low voice coming from the parlour, so I quietly crept my way over to the banister and looked down over the side to see Jamie on the couch holding Archie on his lap and speaking to him in Gaelic.

“…want to do all that I can to protect you and your mother, keep you both safe,” he was saying to Archie, who didn’t seem to really be paying attention. “If I cannot protect you, then I am not worthy of being your father. I was not worthy of being your brother’s father. I want to do right by you.” I smiled as I watched the pair of them, a father holding his son on his lap, Archie watching the flames of the fire, Jamie with his eyes trained on his son.

“The lad couldnae sleep,” Jenny said quietly beside me, startling me. “Neither could Jamie. He thought he could keep him company so he didnae wake the others. And he’s tryin’ te get back on my good side.”

“Oh? And did it work?” I asked quietly, and Jenny chuckled lightly.

“It’s a start,” she said as the two of us looked down at Jamie again. Archie had now slipped down from his lap and was sitting on the rug, Jamie watching him proudly. “Ye can talk te a weeun in a way ye cannae talk te anyone else. Ye can pour yer heart out te them without choosin’ yer words or holdin’ anything back.”

“Aye, I ken. I’ve had a few words with the lads myself,” I said. “I used te stay up all hours of the night holdin’ Brian, makin’ sure he was still breathin’. I’d speak te him fer hours, sing te him… And that’ll be the memories that stay with me. He was too young fer anythin’ else, and too sick.”

“It’s the way we talk te them before they’re born,” Jenny told me. “It’s a comfort te the soul.” We paused for a moment, watching Jamie mutter quietly to his son. He was sitting on the floor now and Archie had toddled over to him, leaning against his chest while Jamie hugged him, kissed his sweet little curls and whispered into his ear. “The man has te wait until the child’s born, and then they might hold their bairn and feel all the things that might be and all the things that might never be…”

“And weep, no’ kennin’ which will come te pass,” I finished. We stood in silence for several moments as we watched the sweet moment between a father and his son.

“I’d like Jamie te take Ian,” Jenny said suddenly after a moment.

“Jenny…”

“I ken his limitations. He’s good on a horse. I just… I need a man who kens he’s a man. Sometimes, I think Ian fergets tha’ because of his leg.”

“I dinnae think that’s true,” I said. “And besides, Jamie would never allow Ian te come. No’ because of his leg, but because he’d want Ian te take care of ye and the bairns, and te protect Lallybroch.”

“Will ye ask him?” Jenny asked. “Please, at least just ask him.”

“They’ve already discussed it,” I told her. “Ian agrees with Jamie.” Jenny let out a heavy sigh.

“Stubborn men,” she said. “Both of ‘em. Ian has always guarded Jamie’s right and now Jamie expects him te stay behind?”

“Ian is guarding his right. He’s guardin’ Jamie’s right te a living family and a home that isnae burned te the ground by the English,” I told her. “There’s more than one kind of ‘right’ at stake.”


27 July, 1745

As we were packing to leave, Ian and Jenny came to bid us farewell. Jamie and Cailean loaded up the small trunk, which was relatively light, onto the mule’s back while I said my goodbyes to the brother and sister I had come to love as if they were blood. “Take care of yer Fraser,” Ian told me with a chuckle, and I couldn’t help but share it. He gave Archie’s hair a light ruffle. “ Both of them.”

“Aye, and you yers,” I said, smiling at Jenny. I held Archie in my arms, who was fast asleep on my shoulder. Hopefully, he would stay that way for some time, or the journey to Beaufort Castle might be a bit rough. Once the mule was packed, Jamie and Cailean joined us to say their goodbyes, and Jenny grasped Jamie’s hand and placed a rosary bead into his hands.

“Here, take this. It brought Ian back te me from France,” she said to him.

“Ye gave Ian a token when we went te France and no’ me?” Jamie asked his sister, feigning offence. “And him no’ even yer betrothed at the time. I’m yer brother!”

“Dinnae make me regret givin’ it to ye now,” Jenny warned him, and then she pulled her brother into a tight hug. “If ye dinnae come back, brother, I’ll never forgive ye.”

“‘Never’ is a long time,” Jamie said, teasing her, and he kissed her dark hair. Jenny then broke the hug with her brother and turned to me, pulling me into her tight embrace.

“And you , sister… Bring him home te me. Keep him in one piece,” she said.

“I’ll do my best,” I replied as I hugged her back. While we were distracted, Fergus took the chance to slip past us at some point and saddle up the small horse he’d ridden on to Lallybroch the year before, but not without escaping Cailean’s notice.

“Oi! Ye wee bawbag! Where do you think yer goin’?” Cailean asked him.

“With Milord!” Fergus exclaimed.

“Ye willnae! Yer too young te fight, laddie,” Jamie said, approaching Fergus and holding out a hand for the reins of the horse, but Fergus wouldn’t hand them over.

“You are taking Archie,” Fergus told him.

“Archie needs me still, and I’ll no’ be fightin’ on the battlefield. I’ll be behind the lines providin’ medical care,” I told him.

“Come, laddie. Ye’ll bide here with us,” Ian called to him.

“Ye can help Rabbie in the stables until we return,” Cailean told him, but Fergus was resistant.

“No. I belong with Milord and Milady,” Fergus told him, and then he looked at me. “Is that not what you told me, Milady? That I will always have a home with you?”

“Well, yes, but fer a time, we willnae have a home, either. We’ll be out in the highlands travellin’,” I told him, shifting Archie just a little with hopes of not waking him.

“He’s right,” Jamie said to me. “His place isnae here without us nor in France on his own.” Jamie glanced up at the gates as Murtagh appeared, the men that Jamie had selected from among his tenants behind him. “Excellent timing! Murtagh, bring Fergus with ye when ye leave fer Kingussie.”

“I’ll do what ?” Murtagh asked him. “The wee bawbag?”

“At least tha’s somethin’ Cailean and Murtagh agree on,” I said to Jenny quietly, sharing a chuckle with her.

“Aye, the wee bawbag,” Jamie repeated. “He’ll be safest with you, fer now, but he’s coming with us.” Murtagh sent a glare at Fergus, who stuck his tongue out at him.

“If I havenae killed him first,” Murtagh replied.

“Jamie, are ye sure aboot this?” I asked him.

“Dinnae fash, mo nighean . We’ll keep him well away from battle. Besides, someone will need te keep Archie occupied while yer tendin’ te the wounded,” Jamie replied, covering my hand on his arm with his, and then he looked at Fergus. “The outcome is in yer hands, laddie. A good soldier must learn te obey his commandin’ officer, as well as his general.”

“Tha’ means listen te Murtagh and I, ye wee shite,” Cailean said, ruffling Fergus’s brown curls, and then he picked up the short lad and set him on top of his horse. “Best we be off te beat sunset.”

“Be careful,” I said, closing the distance between the two of us and hugging my brother. “Same threat goes te you, only I’ll be less kind aboot it. The last time we went into battle together, I didnae see ye fer two years.”

“Dinnae fash, mo phuithar , I’ll keep myself intact,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “And I promise I’ll stay away from stone circles,” he whispered to me. He then climbed up on top of his horse and nodded to Jamie. “See ye in Kingussie.” He gave his horse a soft kick, urging it forward, and then we watched as he, Murtagh, Fergus and the rest of the Lallybroch men departed.

“Take care of each other, and of my nephew,” Jenny said, watching as Jamie took Archie from me so I could climb onto the horse and accepted him back. “And watch out fer my grandsire.”

“I’ll do my best. If I can outsmart Randall a few times, I think I’ll be able te keep the Fox off of my back,” I said, adjusting Archie to sit a bit more comfortably. By this point, he’d woken up, but rested sleepily against my chest as he sucked his thumb. I brushed my fingers through his curls and bent forward to kiss his head, then looked to my husband, who was on his horse and ready to go. We nodded to each other, and then we, too, were off, destined for Beaufort Castle.


4 August, 1745

Beaufort Castle, Beauly, Scotland

“Lord Lovat was loyal te both King James and the Hanoverians,” Jamie was explaining as we sat beneath a tree. We had paused just before entering Beaufort Castle when Archie started fussing, so I hopped off of my horse and sat down to feed him. “He was the younger son of my great grandsire, Thomas Fraser, 10th Lord Lovat, but his aulder brother died of wounds in the Battle of Killiecrankie.”

“Killiecrankie,” I repeated. “Aye, I ken all aboot tha’.” Killiecrankie was one of a series of battles in the first Jacobite uprising in 1689 after King James II and VII was sent into exile for his Catholic beliefs.

“Aye, tha’ battle made my grandsire heir te the seat of Lord Lovat,” Jamie replied. “He saw Clan Mackenzie as a threat te his inheritance.”

“Ah, tha’ must be the feud between the clans,” I replied.

“Aye, it is,” said Jamie. “He went te Edinburgh te recruit an army of, accordin’ te my father, three hundred men in the service of King William III and Queen Mary II. Then there was Clan Murray of Atholl wantin’ te marry one of their own te the heir of Lord Saltoun, another Fraser lordship. My grandsire kidnapped the heir and threatened te hang him if he didnae agree te not marry the lass. Murray of Atholl then said he was comittin’ an act of violence against the Crown or rebellion, and Lovat forcefully married his first wife and the mother of the lass, Amelia Murray.”

“Blessed Bride. Sounds like a romantic soul,” I couldn’t help but say, and Jamie chuckled.

“The Murrays were enraged and Lovat acted like it was… as yer brother would say, a ‘prank’. They separated and he married twice after tha’ without even divorcin’ her.”

“An arse and a polygamist.”

“Aye, then there was some violence, and my grandsire and his father ended up in Skye, with the MacLeods and Thomas Fraser died there with a price on his head. The auld buzzard managed te get a pardon the followin’ year but got outlawed again fer no’ answerin’ charges brought on by the Murrays fer the rape and abduction of Amelia. Then the daughter of the 9th Lord Lovat, Hugh Fraser - a cousin, I think, of my grandsire  - married one of the Mackenzies, which made tha’ Mackenzie a Fraser. They lived in Castle Dounie - which is Beaufort Castle - and Lovat left Britain fer the Stuarts’ court in France.”

“And there’s another cause fer the dislike of the Mackenzies. But what aboot yer Da?” I asked him.

“He was already born and livin’ at Beaufort Castle but no one kent he was the illegitimate son of Simon Fraser,” Jamie answered. “At one point, he was tryin’ te wheedle his way into the good graces of King James and visited Scotland te report back aboot Jacobite sympathies, but failed to and was imprisoned fer a number of years. Before and during the ‘15, Fraser clansmen were tryin’ te bring him back. Clan Mackenzie declared support fer the Stuarts…”

“And I’ll bet that connivin’ auld dickhead declared support of the new regime,” I said, and Jamie chuckled.

“Tha’ he did,” he replied. “He got a full pardon and claimed his title as the 11th Lord Lovat. He forcibly married another lass, too - his current wife, whom he married two years ago.”

“Sounds like a nice guy,” I said sarcastically, earning a chuckle from Jamie, who then peeked at Archie, who was still suckling my breast.

“The lad can eat,” he said with amusement. “He’ll grow up big and strong.”

“We can hope. I am concerned because he was born two months early, but he didnae seem te have any complications,” I said as I ran my fingers through Archie’s hair. I grimaced slightly when I felt his little teeth bite down on my nipple. “Easy, my lamb. Ye’ve got sharp wee teeth!” Jamie chuckled.

“It warms my heart te see ye feed my bairn from yer breest,” he said to me, and I gave him a gentle smile.

“I certainly wouldnae want anyone else’s bairn at my breest,” I replied. When he finally let go after a few more minutes, I wiped his face clean and readjusted my dress to cover my breast - much to Jamie’s disappointment - and then we were back on our way. When we’d arrived, we were informed that Lord Lovat was occupied and were told to wait in the parlour.

“No surprise,” Jamie muttered bitterly.

“Perhaps he’s seein’ someone,” I replied. We waited for probably two hours, Archie fussing every so often - once, I had to leave to change his nappy - and eventually resorted to sitting down until we heard footsteps. “Perhaps I should have freshened up a bit when I went te change Archie,” I muttered to Jamie as I glanced at my reflection in a reflective silver clock.

“Dinnae fash, mo ghràidh , ye look verra bonny,” Jamie told me as he brushed a red curl out of my face. “Although, ye’ve got a few tassel heads in yer hair…”

“Leave them,” a booming, but familiar voice said as Jamie tried to pick one out, surprising us both. What surprised us even more was who the voice belonged to. “They suit her,” said Colum Mackenzie, still looking exactly as I had last seen him with his bowed legs, although he looked perhaps thinner and a bit paler.

“Colum!” Jamie exclaimed with surprise.

“Long time, no see,” I said, adjusting Archie on my hip.

“I see ye’ve been blessed with a lad,” said Colum when he noticed Archie, who quickly turned his head away from his great uncle.

“Our son, Archie,” Jamie replied. “What are ye doin’ here?”

“I’m here te discuss a response te the rebellion with Lord Lovat, as I assume you are,” Colum replied.

“War makes strange bedfellows,” Jamie told him.

“I arrived this morning. I saw ye enter through the courtyard window,” Colum said to us after a moment.

“And ye were meetin’ with Lord Lovat fer the last two hours?” I asked him.

“Not quite, Lady Broch Tuarach,” said Colum, somewhat spitefully. “I’m pleased te see that yer well.”

“Ye’ll have te pardon me fer findin’ that hard te believe,” I told him, and he raised an eyebrow at me. “The with trial. In Cranesmuir. Do ye no’ recall?”

“Ah, aye. Ye seem te be implyin’ that ye believe me te have somethin’ te do with your involvement in that,” Colum replied curiously. “It is my impression that ye were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Tha’ would be convenient, wouldnae it?” I asked him. “I suppose I would say I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, thanks te a message from yer kitchen maid, Laoghaire Mackenzie, who just happened te ken the exact time and place of the arrest.”

“Laoghaire?” Jamie asked, and I recalled that I hadn’t told him about Laoghaire’s involvement in my being arrested for witchcraft.

“Later,” I told him.

“Aye, Miss Mackenzie. It was a gross overstepping of her place, for which I had her beaten,” Colum told me.

“And tha’s supposed te make me feel better?” I asked him. “Beatin’ a lass?”

“I would have gladly had her thrown out of Leoch, but her grandmother persuaded me that she could keep the girl check,” Colum replied, leaning heavily on his staff.

“Is Dougal with ye?” Jamie asked, changing the tide of the conversation.

“It became clear te me that it was best fer the clan that my brother remain at his own estate,” said Colum.

“I can imagine he’d want te lead Clan Mackenzie in fightin’ fer King James, but… you’ve other feelings, dinnae ye?” I asked him.

“I’ve forgotten how curiously intuitive yer mind is, lass,” Colum told me. A servant then entered the room, bowing to all three of us.

“Lord Lovat will see you now, Laird Broch Tuarach,” said the servant.

“If ye’ll excuse us, Colum,” Jamie said to his uncle, who stepped aside as Jamie led me past him and followed the servant to Lord Lovat’s study. Jamie and I exchanged a quick glance, and I adjusted Archie one final time on my hip before the pair of us entered the study. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, was seated at his desk looking as much like a frog as he did a fox. He set eyes on his grandson first, then his attention shifted to me, his eyes clearly resting on my Fowlis of Barra tartan.

“So I see the rumours are true,” said Lord Lovat. “The grandson of Lord Simon Fraser of Lovat has bound himself te a Fowlis of Barra. What a darin’ man ye are, and a damned fool, just like his father.”

“How verra polite,” I said without thinking, causing Jamie to glance quickly at me with alarm in his eyes.

“She speaks with fire! How very true to Fowlis of Barra,” said Lord Lovat.

“Have ye qualms with my family?” I asked him.

“With the Laird of Cìosamul, aye,” Lord Lovat answered, standing up to approach the pair of us. “A man who ignored my call for help when I needed it. And there I was, a fool fer thinkin’ us allies.”

“My grandsire or his father?” I asked.

“Eairdsidh Ruadh Fowlis,” answered Lord Lovat. “He was new te the Lairdship, and I expected him te honour the friendship between Clan Fraser of Lovat and Clan Fowlis of Barra, but he did not .”

“Cannae blame him. My grandsire kens hoorse shite when he smells it,” I said.

“Catrìona!” Jamie hissed, but Lord Lovat simply smirked with amusement.

“Perhaps ye arenae a fool after all, mac mo mhic ,” Lord Lovat said to Jamie. “Still, I wouldnae expect a boy to have more sense choosing a wife than the bastard who made him.”

“Yer one te-” I began to say, but Jamie cut me off by speaking over me.

“At least I had no need te take a wife by means of trickery,” he said to Lord Lovat, who cackled in response.

“No’ as serious as yer father. Good,” Lord Lovat said, sitting down. “And what is that thing ?”

“This ‘thing’ is yer great grandson, ye daft piece of shite,” I snapped, tightening my grip on Archie, but Lord Lovat only smirked at me.

“Enough breath wasted on a woman. Leave us, it is time to talk politics with my grandson and my rival,” said Lord Lovat, waving away a hand to dismiss me. “Richards, fetch The Mackenzie.” Jamie gave me a look that warned me not to challenge Lovat anymore, and with a bitter glare sent towards Lovat, I stalked out of his study. I went straight up to the room that we were given to stay in, and upon entering, I was shocked to see another familiar face that I never expected to see here.

“Laoghaire?” I exclaimed, evidently surprising the young girl, who was adjusting our bedsheets.

“Mistress Fraser,” she said, no malice in her eyes, which made me suspicious. “Did the Laird not tell ye I’d come with him?”

“Er… no,” I said, holding Archie even closer to my chest.

“My grandmother sent me along te do his washin’ and help out wherever I’m needed,” Laoghaire replied, seemingly almost friendly. “I’m glad te find ye here.”

“Why?” I asked her with suspicion.

“I wanted tell ye… I’ve changed,” she said, surprising me a little. “I am sorry beyond measure fer the horrible wrong I did to ye, and te yer bairn. Is that Jamie’s son?”

“What would lead ye te think any different?” I asked, unsure if this was simply masked hostility or genuine sincerity.

“Oh, nothin’, Mistress. He does look so much like Jamie,” she said, trying to approach, but I pulled him away. “I suppose I deserve that. My grandmother has made me see I cannae be right with God until I make amends fer the pain my evil actions have caused.”

“God?” I asked her incredulously. “Ye speak of God ?” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them again. “Look, Laoghaire. I never wanted ye te be beaten fer what ye’ve done. I’m no’ a vengeful woman, though I would feel no remorse if a pyre was ever lighted beneath yer feet. But if ye want te get right with God, ye’ll have te find another way. Ye put not only my life at risk, but that of my child, and fer that, I cannae fergive ye.”

“I… I understand, Mistress,” said Laoghaire, bending her head in shame. “Would ye… Would ye perhaps speak te Jamie fer me? I wish te apologise fer my actions te him, too.”

“I think ye’ll find he’s even less fergivin’ than I am,” I said, and then I stepped aside to clear the doorway. “On ye get, and dinnae come back here. Tell the servants we’d rather take a dirty bed than yer hands on them.”

“Yes, Mistress,” said Laoghaire, and she curtsied to me one final time before disappearing into the corridor.


“Aye, yer right. Ye are more fergivin’ than I am,” Jamie said to me when we were cleaning up before dinner. “I wouldnae have given the brazen besom the time of day.”

“I didnae have a choice, really. She cornered me in my own room,” I said as I pulled on fresh stockings.

“Ye didnae tell me she was responsible fer ye gettin’ tried as a witch,” Jamie replied, and I let out a sigh.

“It doesnae matter now, does it? It was two years ago,” I told him.

“Ye dinnae hold grudges?” he asked, sitting down beside me on the bed.

“On people like her? Nah. On people like Randall and maybe yer grandsire? Now yer talkin’ aboot an entirely different entity,” I told him. “So, dinner. Will I be allowed te join ye tonight?”

“Oh, aye. My grandsire’s no’ opposed te a bit of decoration at the dinner table, so long as that decoration doesnae speak,” he answered, and I scoffed.

“He’ll be in fer a surprise if he insults you or Archie one more bloody time,” I told him, standing up. Together, we went down to dinner, with Lord Lovat at the head of the table and his son, Young Simon, Master of Lovat, sitting by his side. Compared to his father, he was very young, so his most recent wife must have been of childbearing age.

“Everra man here kens tha’ te most English, all Highlanders, no matter their allegiance, are the same… savage dogs meant te be put down than let live,” Jamie was saying, evidently still trying to convince his grandfather to join the side of the rebellion.

“And after three uprisings, the British army will be more motivated te put us down fer good,” Colum responded back.

“So we must do what it takes te save our clans, our country, our verra way of life! We must band together under the true king, King James,” Jamie said, directing his reasoning to Lord Lovat. “We must fight, and we must win.”

“We’re verra fortunate te have such a close confidant of the prince among us. Isn’t that so, Lovat?” Colum asked Lord Lovat, who seemed to be enjoying the bickering.

“We’re lucky te have someone te give their view from inside of this holy rebellion,” Jamie said back to him.

“Aye, but I dinnae ken how holy it is,” said Lord Lovat with amusement.

“Tell us, Nephew. How much support have the French agreed te give?” Colum asked Jamie.

“The French have already supported us, Uncle, by engagin’ the English army in Flanders, reducin’ the amount of troops remaining here at home,” Jamie replied. I had to fight back an impatient huff - I so badly wanted to put all of them in their place, but I didn’t want to embarrass Jamie, either. “The prince is certain tha’ the French will want te press the advantage and send men and artillery te support the Jacobites.”

“Ah, so the French havenae committed yet te Prince Charles?” Colum observed.

“Always an unreliable ally, the French,” Lovat chimed in, reminding me very annoyingly of Sandringham.

“We’ll welcome the French support when it comes, but we dinnae need it. The Jacobite army is already a thousand men strong in Crieff. The Stewarts, the Camerons, the smaller clans of Clan Chattan, all of them are waitin’ fer us te march on Prestonpans, where the MacDonalds, the Grants and more are waitin’. And more are joinin’ everra day,” Jamie told him firmly.

“Meanwhile, the English army remains on the continent lickin’ their wounds,” I chimed in, silencing the whole room. “God forbid a woman have a voice,” I said irritably.

“Catrìona,” Jamie told me with a warning tone.

“Hmph,” I said, not looking at Lord Lovat, who seemed a little pissed off that I’d spoken out.

“I… I heard the English have offered thirty thousand pounds fer the capture of Prince Charles,” Young Simon suddenly said, drawing the attention off of me and back to him.

“Meaning what?” Colum asked the young lad.

“Meanin’ the English see Prince Charles as a real threat,” Jamie told him, and then he looked back at Young Simon. “Will ye join us then, cousin?”

“Perhaps the British know, as the rest of us do, how many cullions there are amongst the Campbells and the Camerons - men that would sell their own grandmothers fer half that amount,” Lord Lovat chimed in with his bitter, nasty tone. “For thirty thousand pounds, the British could end this rebellion before it even starts, a fair sight less than it would cost them to wage a war.”

“I… I hadn’t considered that…” Young Simon murmured meekly.

“Then shut yer mouth, ye measly-mouthed wee smout, and dinnae speak again until ye’ve considered what yer about te say,” Lord Lovat snapped at his son, and then he poked his finger in my direction. “And you dinnae speak at all.” A female servant came to the table to pour wine into Colum’s now empty goblet. “More wine here, my lovely, and a glass of milk for my boy.” There was a chuckle among some of Lovat’s men that were dining with us, one of them giving me a really nasty look. What sort of people came to live on Lovat’s land?


Later on that evening, we were back in our bedchamber. I was feeding Archie again while Jamie was undressing for the night. “Thanks fer lettin’ yer ratchet piece of hoorse shite grandsire speak te me like that,” I said to my husband, who paused as he undressed.

“I told ye he wouldnae like ye speakin’,” Jamie replied.

“Ye defend me from anyone else who speaks te me like that, but not yer own bloody grandsire?” I demanded of him.

“‘Anyone else’ is not a clan chief, Catrìona. I need te be on my grandsire’s good side te get his support, and I need yer help with that. Just do as I say, and we’ll be out of here as soon as we can,” he replied, resuming undressing himself.

“‘Just do as I say’,” I mimicked. “It might no’ matter anyway, Colum verra much was tryin’ te use ye te convince him not te join the rebellion.”

“I ken. The first Jacobite rebellions failed and Colum will never support another. He’s a verra clever man. He wants Lovat’s clan te stay neutral with the Mackenzies. He kens the smaller clans will follow and the rebellion will collapse before it even gets started.”

“And he doesnae trust Colum, does he?” 

“No’ a bit,” Jamie replied, pulling off his breeks and tossing them aside.

“Tha’s somethin’ we have in common,” I muttered quietly, brushing a curl out of Archie’s face. Jamie sat on the bed beside me, smiling down at his young son as he suckled my breast.

“Usin’ me is an effective strategy. I’ll have te speak te Lovat alone,” he said. He took my shoulders and pulled me back against his chest, holding me against him while I held Archie in my arms.

“It’s a pity his son is so spineless,” I said, accepting a kiss from him on my cheek. “I believe he could influence his father’s decision if he chose te show support fer our side but Lovat has nothin’ but contempt fer the lad.”

“Lovat’s just tryin’ te toughen him up, make him a viable successor te lead Clan Fraser of Lovat,” Jamie replied, brushing my hair behind my ear so he could kiss my face.

“He had the perfect chance te say no tonight te us, but he didnae,” I said. “I think he wants somethin’ in exchange.”

“Most likely,” Jamie said. “But nevermind aboot him tonight. I dinnae care a bit fer the auld buzzard, but you …” He let one hand slide down into my shift, pulling it down off of my shoulder and exposing my other breast.

“Jamie, I’ve got Archie,” I said.

“He’s seen yer breests many times!” Jamie exclaimed, cupping my breast with his hand.

“Aye, and he uses them fer food. Ye use them fer stress balls,” I told him, confusing him.

“Stress balls?” he asked me, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Can I at least finish feedin’ him? Once I’ve done and put him te bed, ye can fondle them all ye like,” I told him.

“It’s no’ just yer breests I want te fondle,” he replied, letting his hand fall even lower to hint to me exactly what part of me he wanted to fondle. I hoped Archie would finish eating quickly.


5 August, 1745

JAMIE POV

Speaking to his grandsire was not something Jamie was looking forward to, but nonetheless, it was necessary. Leaving Catrìona with Archie in their bedchamber, Jamie went to Lovat’s study, demanding to be seen - and was admitted, surprisingly. “My grandson,” said Lord Lovat, seeming to fake pride, but Jamie wasn’t falling for that. “Ah, I’ll wager yer father painted a black portrait of my character.”

“He didnae say much aboot ye at all,” Jamie replied honestly. “History does all the paintin’ fer ye.”

“Did your wife tell you to say that?” asked Lovat menacingly. “I hear she’s quite the handful, and you arenae skilled at controlling her.”

“My wife is a Fowlis of Barra. There is no controllin’ them,” Jamie replied.

“Hmph,” said Lovat. “Yer father chose that Mackenzie whore over me.”

“I’ll ask ye te keep a civil tongue when ye speak of my mother,” Jamie snapped at the man.

“Over me, his father , twice!” Lovat snapped back, as if he hadn’t even heard Jamie speak. “Yer a father, lad. How would you feel if yer son married the daughter of yer sworn enemy? Of, oh, who was it? Ah, yes. Randall. ” Jamie could feel a fire beginning in his gut to boil his blood, but he had to smother that flame quickly. ‘Dinnae let that bastard get te ye’ he heard Catrìona say inside of his head. “The first time was when I told him not te marry her.”

“And yer kidnappin’ failed,” Jamie reminded him.

“And the second time, when she was dead and buried,” Lovat finished. “I was willing te forgive him. I would have even made him my successor, despite him bein’ a bastard, but he chose her memory and that place… Lallybroch … over me.” He paused as he stared maliciously at his grandson. “Is it true?”

“Is what true?” Jamie asked him.

“That ye’ve no’ pledged yer fealty te Colum Mackenzie?” Lovat asked, and Jamie’s eyebrows raised. Ah, so the old bastard was after something.

“Tha’s what yer after, then? My fealty te you in exchange fer sendin’ aid te Prince Charles?” Jamie asked him, and Lovat cackled.

“To be honest, I am more interested in what goes with it,” Lovat confessed.

“My estate? What need have ye of Lallybroch? The tenants’ rent would make no difference te this place, no’ te mention it is quite out of the way,” Jamie observed, but that seemed to annoy Lovat.

“What I do with that damnable place would be no concern of yers,” Lovat snapped at him. “I’m yer grandsire and head of yer clan, after all. I demand my dues.” ‘Dinnae let him bully ye,’ Catrìona’s voice inside of Jamie’s head said.

“If I wouldnae give my pledge te Colum, who I ken te be kin, then what sort of fool would I be te give it to and auld twister tha’ may or may no’ be my blood?” Jamie asked him, and Lovat cackled yet again.

“Christ, laddie! Implyin’ yer grandmother’s a whore te keep what ye want? Did yer wife teach ye that one?” Lovat asked through his cackles.

“She didnae, actually, but I ken ye made free with yer housemaids, and perhaps others did, too,” Jamie replied. “And besides, I pledged fealty te my wife.” Lovat cackled again.

“Oh, yer my kin, all right. Losin’ yer head te a damn woman! But still being so spitefully clever. Would that my son had half yer mettle…” Lovat said as his laughter died down.

“I’ll give ye the same pledge I gave Colum - my help and goodwill, my obedience te yer word, so long as my feet rest on Lovat soil,” Jamie told him as calmly as he could muster, but he really wanted to strangle the beast to death.

“Did ye not hear me, lad? It’s yer father’s precious estate I’m after!” Lovat exclaimed. “If ye’ll no’ give me Lallybroch in exchange fer men fer the Bonny Prince, how about this? Lallybroch fer yer wife’s honour?” Lovat cackled again at his own joke, but Jamie stood calmly, amused at the foolishness of the Auld Fox.

“Go ahead. Try te ravish my wife. Ye ken where she comes from. I’ll send in the maid te sweep up yer remains when she’s finished,” Jamie said with pride, but Lovat only cackled - annoyingly - yet again.

“Not I , laddie. I would never stick my cock in the cunny of a Fowlis of Barra, though I’ve taken pleasure with worse. Yer grandmother comes te mind,” said Lovat rather evilly. Jamie had never met his grandmother, but hearing Lovat speak so cruelly of her made him want to stab him through the eye with his dirk. “There are, however, many men in Beaufort Castle who’d be of mind te put yer foul, traitorous wench te the only use she’s good for. Ye cannae guard her day and night.”

“Grandsire, allow me to tell ye how we met,” Jamie replied. “It was in Inverness. I was returnin’ from France when we’d run into an English brigade. My wife was in those same woods, and when we ran into each other… she had an arrow pointed at my throat.” At this, Lovat seemed to actually raise his eyebrows. “Ye see, my wife is an excellent shot with a bow. She claims she can count the number of times she’s missed on one hand.”

“Because she can only count that high, ye daft lovesick fool,” Lovat spat back, but Jamie only chuckled.

“My point is, I dinnae need te worry fer her. My wife’s a rare woman - a wise woman… A ban-draoidh ,” Jamie told him, and this seemed to alarm Lovat.

“A witch ? What the hell are ye doin’, bringin’ a witch into my home?” Lovat demanded.

“My wife stays with me. I advise ye no’ to upset her. The man that takes her in unholy embrace will have his privates blasted like a frost bitten apple and his soul will burn forever in Hell. Just ask Jack Randall,” Jamie told him.


CATRÌONA POV

“Ye told him that I’m a witch ? Have ye learned nothin’ from all the shit that accusation has earned us?” I demanded when he told me about his conversation with his grandsire.

“Actually, people thinkin’ yer a witch has proved awfully beneficial, I’d say,” Jamie replied. “The masked men didnae rape ye because they thought they’d be cursed. The king of France even used yer skill. My grandsire has a great respect fer the supernatural, and by respect, I mean scairt. But ye should take care the next few days if I’m no’ here.”

“Ye’d better not leave me here alone with that slimy auld bastard, nor yer son! If ye leave this castle, Archie and I leave with ye,” I said definitively.

“Still, be mindful of yer surroundin’s, mo nighean . I cannae be by yer side at all hours of the day.”

“Are ye fergettin’ I’m a skilled commandin’ officer in my time?”

“But we arenae in yer time. I did tell him ye were good with a bow, but I dinnae ken if that frightened him enough,” Jamie replied.

“He truly is a damn brute isnae he?” I asked, glancing over at the side room that was attached to our bedchamber, where Archie was currently napping.

“Aye, a brute that may soon own my ancestral home,” Jamie replied with concern.

“Ye cannae seriously be considerin’ givin’ him Lallybroch?” I asked him.

“The prince will hardly put much stock in my abilities te lead men or wage war if I cannae even persuade my own grandsire te support our cause, will he?” Jamie replied, and he let out a heavy sigh. “I dinnae ken what else I’m supposed te do.” It was my turn to sigh, because as soon as Jamie mentioned giving up Lallybroch, an idea had sprung to mind, and it involved the spineless Young Simon and a bargain I didn’t exactly want to make.

“I have an idea,” I said, causing him to turn and look at me curiously. “Just a thought, and I dinnae like it one bit, but… an idea nonetheless.”


I made my way to the courtyard, where the servants were doing the washing. I went over the plan in my head carefully - offer the bargain, be direct, leave no room for interpretation. I could do this, even if a part of me wanted to throttle the lass. As I crossed the courtyard, I acquired my target in sight - Laoghaire was bent over a washing bin scrubbing a white shirt clean. As I got closer, I realised that it was one of Jamie’s shirts; I could tell by a subtle blood stain by the collar. I watched as she let out a sigh, then picked up the shirt, wrung it out, and… gave it a sniff? I cleared my throat, startling Laoghaire and causing her to turn. “Is tha’ Jamie’s shirt?” I asked her, causing alarm in her eyes.

“I wasnae doin’ anything with it!” she said defensively.

“I didnae say ye did,” I told her, casually taking the shirt from her and examining it. “A fightin’ man always has bloodstains on his shirt, aye?” She nodded quickly, watching as I hung the shirt to dry. “I’ve a proposition fer ye - a bargain, if ye will.” This made her raise an eyebrow.

“Aye?” she asked.

“Aye,” I replied. “Ye want Jamie te forgive ye, no?”

“I do! I asked God fer forgiveness and thought that my crossin’ paths with ye both was His way of offerin’ tha’, but when Jamie passed me in the hall, he… he didnae even see me,” Laoghaire told me, clearly bothered by this fact.

“It’s as I said, he isnae as quickly te forgive as I am, but… I may be able te persuade him.” At this, her eyebrows rose and she immediately perked up.

“Ye can?” she asked.

“Aye, in return fer somethin’,” I said. “I’ll have ye ken, I dinnae like this one bit, but it’s been made clear I’ve no other choice but te do this.” That suddenly made her suspicious.

“What are ye askin’ of me?”

“We need Lord Lovat te send his men and weapons te fight fer Prince Charles, but he’s bein’ a stubborn arse,” I began, and at this, Laoghaire’s eyes widened.

“I’ll no’ do that! Are ye mad?” Laoghaire exclaimed.

Ist , ye besom! Calm down! Ye didnae let me finish!” I told her. “I’m not askin’ ye te give up yer maidenhead te bloody Lord Lovat! I’d never ask that of me worst enemy! However, Jamie and I believe tha’ if his son, Simon, stood up te him and agreed te support Jamie, Lord Lovat might agree.”

“Aye? And what’s that te do with me?” Laoghaire asked me.

“Young Simon, from what I’ve heard from the giggling servants, is infatuated with ye,” I said, and that seemed to alarm her again. “Ye dinnae have te give up yer maidenhead. There’s more a woman can offer than her body te a man. Her mind, fer one, a heart, even… approval. Recognition of a heroic act. If ye could use Young Simon’s infatuation with ye te persuade him, I’ll ask Jamie te forgive ye.”

“Ye promise?” she asked me.

“Aye, I promise, but I cannae guarantee that he will, Laoghaire. I’ve no control over his mind, whether ye believe that or not,” I told her. She agreed, and later that day, we put the plan in action. I asked Young Simon if he could accompany me to the chapel with Archie under the guise of the pair of us wanting to say a prayer for Brian, which earned his immediate sympathy, and conveniently met Laoghaire on the way. I took Archie for a ‘private moment’ in the chapel while Laoghaire engaged Young Simon, but was surprised to find that I was actually not alone. “Oh! Forgive me, I didnae ken this chapel was occupied,” I said to the dark-haired, olive-skinned woman, who was startled when I entered.

“Oh, I dinnae mind,” the woman told me meekly.

“My name’s Catrìona Fraser, and this is my son, Archie,” I said to her.

“Maisri,” she replied, glancing at me curiously. “They say you are a ban-draoidh .”

“So they do,” I replied.

“Is it true?”

“Yer wonderin’ what I’m doin’ in a church, aye? I get tha’ a lot,” I said with a subtle chuckle.

“I receive the same. Lord Lovat’s tenants dinnae like someone like me in the house of God,” said Maisri, and this sparked my curiosity.

“Someone like you?” I asked.

“I am a seer,” she replied. “This is the only place where my mind goes quiet.”

“I suppose I feel that way, too, sometimes,” I said back to her, sitting down in one of the pews with Archie on my lap, but he wiggled free to crawl under one of the pews. “But I’m no’ a seer, of course.”

“No… but ye do ken,” said Maisri suddenly. “Ye ken what is te come.” I was silent as I stared at her, wondering how she could have known, then supposed that, perhaps, she really was a seer.

“Lord Lovat has a thing fer the supernatural. Have ye seen him?” I asked her curiously.

“Oh aye, his Lordship isnae an easy master,” Maisri replied, glancing down to watch Archie giggle and run between the pews. “He asks what I see and beats me when I tell him things that displease him.”

“Oh? Do these things always always come te pass?” I asked her.

“Mostly, aye, though they can be changed through actions,” Maisri answered. “When I still lived in the village, I saw Lachlan Gibbons’s daughter’s man wrapped in seaweed with eels stirrin’ beneath his shirt. I told him what I’d seen, and he went straight te the lad’s boat and stove a hole in it. Lord, there was a stramash… But when the storm came the next week, three men were drowned, but that lad was safe at home, still mendin’ his boat.”

“Tha’s fascinating,” I told her. “If ye dinnae mind me askin’… What have ye seen of Lord Lovat?” At this question, she seemed mildly alarmed. “Oh, dinnae fash, I’ll no’ utter a word te him. He willnae even give the chance.”

“Well… He was s-standin’ there afore the fire in his study, but it was daylight. There was a man stood behind him, tall as a tree - almost like you , but it was surely a man - and his face was covered in black. And across his Lordship’s face, there fell the shadow of an ax,” Maisri explained, and I nodded, knowing exactly what it was she was speaking of. “You ken of what I speak?”

“Er… Somethin’ like tha’,” I said somewhat nervously. I knew that Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, was beheaded at the Tower of London after Culloden.

“Mistress Fraser, are ye there?” I heard Laoghaire’s voice, and this seemed to stop Archie in his tracks, his little head staring curiously at the door.

“Just a moment, Laoghaire,” I called, and then I turned back to Maisri. “Sometimes, it’s best te let history run its course,” I told her, and then I turned and picked up Archie, heading to the chapel door and exiting to find Laoghaire outside of it alone. “Where’s Master Lovat?”

“Ran off like a feart wee mouse,” said Laoghaire. “I flattered him, told him how much I admired a man who made decisions and thought fer himself. I even gave him a keek down the front of my dress.”

“And I thought ye werenae aboot sex,” I said. “No wonder he ran off, he’s the kind of lad who’s frightened of a pair of breests.”

“I’ll thank ye not te judge me,” Laoghaire said firmly.

“I’m no’ judgin’ ye. As a woman meself, I’ve found that usin’ the assets we’re given has helped me in a number of situations. Use them te yer advantage,” I told her as we began to head back to the castle.

“Does this mean ye willnae speak te Jamie fer me?” the foolish thing asked me.

“Ye held up yer end of the bargain. We cannae control Young Simon, no more than I can control Jamie. I’ll speak te him, but remember that I cannae force him te change his mind,” I reminded her. The pair of us parted in the courtyard, Laoghaire going inside and I wondering where I might find Jamie - the stables, of course. Where else? Shifting Archie on my hip, I went to the stables, and sure enough, Jamie was there, sitting down in the straw. He looked up when he saw me, and I let Archie down to run to his father.

Halò, mo ghille ruadh ,” he said to his son, who crawled onto his lap to hug him.

“Da!” Archie exclaimed, grabbing at a piece of straw in his hair.

“Do ye ken what tha’ is, laddie?” Jamie asked his son. “It’s straw . Can ye say tha’ fer yer Da? Straw .”

“Staw!” little Archie squeaked, and Jamie chuckled.

“Close enough,” he said.

“I thought I’d find ye here,” I said as I sat down beside him, leaning my head on his shoulder as he shifted his arm to wrap it around me.

“More and more these days, I think I’d prefer te be a beast than a man,” he replied, kissing the top of my head.

“No luck with Colum?” I asked. His part of the plan was to try and speak to Colum, and Jamie let out a sigh.

“He told me not te trade my home fer a war I cannae win, told me I’ve always been headstrong, but never reckless with the lives of others, thinks we’ll be left alone if the rebellion is allowed te… fizzle out, as ye say… And I promised him I’d do what I must te save the things that he and I both hold dear,” he told me.

“He didnae budge?” I asked, and he shook his head.

“What aboot Young Simon?” he asked me.

“Laoghaire let him look down her dress and he fled,” I said, and that made Jamie laugh.

“She hasnae changed, as she says. Must I still speak te her?” he asked.

“I told her yer forgiveness wasnae a guarantee, only that I’d speak te ye,” I answered.

“Good,” Jamie replied as Archie waved the piece of straw in his face. “Aye, connlach ,” he told Archie, pushing the piece of straw away from his eyes.

“I spoke te a seer,” I told him suddenly. “She saw Lord Lovat’s death at the mercy of an ax.”

“A traitor’s death?” Jamie asked, and I nodded. “She didnae mention if the executioner was in the employ of Geordie or James?”

“Well, history says the executioner was Geordie’s,” I told him. “As fer now, well… Truth te be told, I’m no’ convinced that there’s anythin’ we can do te change the outcome.” Jamie let out another sigh, then fended off another incoming attack from Archie and his piece of straw.

“I promised Colum I’d do what I had te do te save the Highlanders, and if tha’ means givin’ up Lallybroch…”

No ,” I said firmly. “No, Jamie. It’s too much. We’ll go with the men from Lallybroch and tell Charles te go and kiss up te Lovat himself.”

“I cannae go te the prince a failure, Catrìona. It seems that I cannae get the men from Lovat without givin’ him my land, so unless ye plan on declarin’ yerself a visitor from the future and describin’ what’ll come if we dinnae fight and win, then I dinnae see much choice,” he told me.

“Maybe I dinnae have te declare myself a visitor from the future, but there is somethin’ else I can do,” I said, suddenly getting another idea.

“Aye?” asked Jamie, and I got up onto my knees and leaned forward to kiss him on the lips.

“Tomorrow, Lovat decides, aye? Well, I’ll have my plan in motion by then,” I told him, pulling myself to stand.

“Do ye plan on includin’ me in on this?” Jamie asked, setting Archie on the ground so he, too, could stand.

“Nope. I need ye as surprised as everraone else,” I told him. Grasping the front of his shirt, I pulled him towards me to kiss him again, and then I was off. I needed to figure out how to make a pair of gloves spontaneously catch fire.


6 August, 1745

JAMIE POV

“I have had my secretary prepare a neutrality pact between the Frasers of Lovat and the Mackenzies of Leoch,” Jamie’s grandsire announced to the room, which was full of men, including Jamie, Colum, Young Simon and even Catrìona, who stood faithfully by his side. He wanted to hold her hand for support, but she refused to let him, leading Jamie to wonder what on Earth she was planning. “I have also had him prepare a deed of sasine for Lallybroch estate, assigning the property to me .” Lovat then looked at Jamie, who took his cue and approached Lord Lovat. “Sign it, and ye’ll have yer men fer King James. Don’t sigh it, and I’ll agree te neutrality with Mackenzie. Which will it be?” Jamie didn’t give him a direct answer, but instead, stood over the two documents before him. A small part of him was tempted to grab the neutrality pact, tear it up and toss it in the fire…

“Ye’ll let this boy decide the fate of Clan Lovat? He’s not even yer recognised heir!” Colum exclaimed from the side of the room.

“I have made my decision,” Lovat told him firmly, and then he looked at Jamie. “This boy is but an obstacle in my way. What will it be, obstacle ?”

“Dinnae be a fool, Jamie,” Colum said again as Jamie picked up the quill.

“I do this te ensure the future of my family and my people,” Jamie said. Any time now, Catrìona… 

“Stop,” her voice came from the back of the room, causing everyone to freeze in place and turn their attention to her.

“Be quiet, you foolish woman,” Lovat hissed at her.

“I think ye’ll find that demandin’ my silence has rarely worked in the past,” I told him. “Ye ken what yer doin’, aye? It’s the same thing my ancestor did te Donald, Lord of the Isles, in 1411 when he fought fer the Earldom of Ross in the Battle of Harlaw. Clan Fowlis owned Barra whether he won or no’, and yer doin’ just the same.”

“I said be quiet ,” Lovat hissed at her.

“Catrìona,” Jamie said as she approached the center of the room.

“We have tried te reason with ye. Have tried te convince ye without bringin’ ye alarm, but now, ye’ve left me no choice,” she said. Suddenly, she pulled a long stick from inside of her sleeve and held it up for all to see. “I bring ye a flame of truth. This flame will answer any question ye have, though I advise ye te wait fer my vision te appear.”

“Catrìona!” Jamie called again.

“Leave her be,” Lovat hissed at him, clearly entranced by whatever show Catrìona was putting on.

“Dinnae give me orders aboot my own wife!” Jamie snapped, running to Catrìona’s side as she did some strange movement and collapsed onto the ground.

“Oh, Cerridwen! Goddess of the dark prophetic powers! I beg thee to show me a vision of what is yet to come! Morrígan, goddess of war and of fate, speak to me of doom that is to come! I beseech thee, show me the way!” Catrìona cried out, reaching up to the heavens and reciting something in, if Jamie could guess, Welsh.

“What do ye see?” Lovat demanded, and Catrìona collapsed then, seemingly unconscious. Jamie knelt over her to see if she was all right, and she opened one eye to reassure him before closing it again. “What did she see? Wake her!”

“I can’t!” Jamie exclaimed, playing along with his wife’s charade. “I cannae wake her when she is like this. She is havin’ her vision. They come te her in dreams.” It seemed that Catrìona wanted to put Lovat on edge, for she spent several minutes in an ‘unconscious’ state before finally stirring.

“She awakens! Force her te tell me what she sees!” Lovat snapped.

“Do ye no’ see this fer the pretence that it is?” Colum shouted at him. “She was tried fer witchcraft by those that dinnae understand the difference between black magic and the power of the auld ones!”

“It is not often that she has these visions. Ye simply didnae see when she had one,” Jamie told his uncle as Catrìona ‘woke’. “It nearly scared the breeks off o’ me the first time I saw this.”

“And ye didnae have her tried fer witchcraft, aye?” Colum asked his nephew suspiciously.

“I love my wife verra much. I would never be the one te send her te the pyre,” Jamie replied, helping his wife to sit back up. “Are ye all right, mo ghràidh ?”

“What did you see, witch?” Lovat demanded of her.

“Patience is a virtue that ye dinnae have, though I certainly wouldnae call ye a virtuous man,” Catrìona replied, faking fatigue. “Help me te stand.” Jamie helped her to stand, avoiding her hands as she closed her fists, and Catrìona pulled out her stick again. “I saw you - Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat - standin’ in bright sunlight. Behind ye stood a man cloaked in black… and the shadow of an ax crossed yer face.” There were a few gasps from the room, and Lovat’s eyes were wide with fear. “Now… I shall light this stick, and with this stick, I will hold fire in my hand. You will ask yer question pertainin’ te yer fate… and Cerridwen will provide the answer.” She crossed the room to a lit candle and stuck the end of her stick into it, producing a small flame, then she returned to the center of the room. “Choose yer fate. If yer chosen path leads te success, the flame will turn blue. But if yer chosen path leads te failure… the flame will turn red.” She met Lovat’s eyes, a malicious look in them. “Now, choose yer fate, Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat.”

“I choose Lallybroch in exchange fer men, and if I cannae have it, I will declare neutrality,” Lovat told her firmly.

“You stand still and firm as stone. The mountain doesnae bow down te the wind, and so, yer fate is chosen. Cerridwen, hear my prayers, answer my call. What will be the fate of Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat’s chosen path?” Catrìona said. Jamie watched as she slowly lowered the flame into her outstretched hand, and along with everyone else in the room, gasped with surprise, mixed with fright and terror, when suddenly, a flame erupted in Catrìona’s flame - a flame as bright red as the very hair on her head. “And so Cerridwen has spoken… The shadow of the ax shall cross yer face as the hour of yer death approaches.”

“Who’s man? Who’s executioner?” Lovat demanded. “King James or King George?”

“Cerridwen didnae say when I consulted with her. Ah, but yes… there were… roses… white roses,” Catrìona replied.

“The symbol of the Jacobites!” one of Lovat’s men shouted.

“Witch! I’ll cut out yer tongue!” Lord Lovat exclaimed, and all of a sudden, Young Simon leapt onto Lovat’s desk.

Stop! ” he shouted at the top of his lungs.

“How dare ye thwart me, boy?” Lovat demanded from his son.

“You and Mackenzie are fearful auld men, and yer wrong!” Young Simon shouted at his father, and then he looked at Jamie. “And my cousin is right! It is our duty te stand up fer our country and our kinsmen.” He then turned to face his father, who seemed shocked that Young Simon was saying such things. “I will fight fer King James… and I’ll fight te change the sorceress’s vision, even if ye willnae.”

“How very bold of ye,” said Lovat calmly, then he faced Jamie. “But my decision hasnae been changed. The Frasers of Lovat will stand with the Mackenzies of Leoch and will remain neutral in the war.”

“Get me some water te put this flame out, please,” Catrìona whispered to Jamie, who fetched her the glass and doused the flames.

“I wish ye luck, my boy,” said Lord Lovat to Young Simon with amusement. “Come, Mackenzie, let us drink te our newly formed alliance.” Definitely disappointed, Young Simon climbed down from the desk and approached his cousin.

“I’m sorry I couldnae convince him,” Young Simon said.

“Dinnae fash, lad. Ye did well. I’m proud te be yer kinsman,” Jamie told his cousin. “I’ll be proud te fight by yer side. We’ll wait fer ye outside of the gate, I fear I need te get my wife out of this place.”

“I dinnae blame ye,” said Young Simon, glancing somewhat nervously at Catrìona. “Thank ye, Mistress. I only wish my father would have seen reason.”

“You do, and yer the future of this clan,” She told him. The two of them quickly dashed up to our bedchamber to collect their things and their son and were out of doors before they were even noticed.

“What the hell was that?” Jamie asked his wife as they packed up the horses.

“A wee magic show,” she replied. “I kent what he was goin’ te say, so I made a plan te word everrathing te work out in my favour. What I’d have done had he changed his mind, though… Anyway, I had an auld torch I had on me when I came through the stones. The lithium batteries were long dead - er, these wee tubes with a metal in them that creates electricity - so I broke it open and used the lithium te create the red flame. Lithium, when lit, creates a red flame.”

“How’d ye manage te hold it?” Jamie asked her, helping her up onto the horse and then handing her Archie.

“A magician never reveals her secrets,” she told him teasingly, bending down to kiss him. He then climbed on his own horse, and the two of them left Beaufort Castle and set up camp not too far in the woods.


7 August, 1745

CATRÌONA POV

The pair of us had left Beaufort Castle with Young Simon and a small number of men, mostly lads around Young Simon’s age, that had pledged their loyalty to the young Master of Lovat. “So we go te the prince empty-handed, but at least we saved Lallybroch,” Jamie said to me quietly.

“Thank Christ fer that,” I told him, kissing the top of Archie’s head as he slept peacefully against my chest. “Archie willnae lose his home.”

“And he’ll one day be the Laird of Broch Tuarach himself,” Jamie said proudly as he glanced at his sleeping son.

“He truly is a handsome lad,” said Young Simon to his cousin. “He looks verra much like ye, Jamie.”

“Yer father cannae say he’s not Jamie’s son, tha’s fer sure,” I said with a chuckle.

“Oi!” we heard one of the men behind us say, and Jamie, Young Simon and I all turned to see what it was the man was shouting about, finding an army of bedraggled Scots flying the flag of… of Fraser of Lovat?

“Is tha’…” I began to say.

“My father’s men!” Young Simon exclaimed. Jamie and I exchanged a glance as Young Simon went to meet the army, and Jamie and I followed shortly behind. Upon our arrival, we were shocked to see Lord Lovat himself leading the men. “Father?”

“Dinnae sit there gaping at me, ye glaiket sumph!” Lord Lovat said to his son gruffly, then waved to the men behind him. “Go see te yer men!” Taking the hint, Young Simon kicked off to see to the men, leaving Jamie and I behind with Lord Lovat.

“Changed yer mind, did ye?” Jamie asked his grandsire.

“No, but turnin’ that one into a soldier will be a greater feat than beatin’ the British!” Lovat exclaimed with a cackle. “What visions have ye fer me now, witch?”

“Nothing at present, but it doesnae take a seer te ken what yer doin’,” I told him. “Now it’ll seem tha’ ye’ve sent yer son te fight fer the Jacobites and if they win, ye’ll be credited with support, but if they lose, yer neutrality pact with Clan Mackenzie will protect ye from the English, aye?”

“A wise woman ye are indeed,” said Lovat. “They cannae execute me fer treason now!”

“What will ye say aboot yer son fightin’ fer the Jacobites, Grandsire?” Jamie asked him.

“He’s his own man, that one,” Lovat replied. “Ye saw it yerself last night. Persuaded others te follow.” He then looked at me. “I thank ye, sorceress, and thank yer gods fer me, too. I couldnae have got it all without ye.”

“But ye havenae got Lallybroch,” I reminded him.

“Not yet, aye! And take care of my great grandson. I never thought I’d live te see the day my great grandson walked this Earth,” said Lovat, and he turned his horse to leave.

“Hopefully he doesnae stick around long enough fer his great great grandson,” I said once he was out of earshot.

“Please tell me I’m nothin’ like him, Eileanach ,” Jamie said to me as he watched his grandsire ride away.

“Sorry te say I’ve seen a similarly devious turn of mind, in Paris,” I teased him, and he glanced at me out of the side of his eye.

“I may have te rethink our agreement not te lie te each other,” he said, earning a laugh from me.

“Well, what are we waitin’ fer? We’ve got te be in Kingussie by the end of the week, aye?” I asked.

“Tha’ we do,” Jamie replied, and then he turned his horse to face the men and his cousin - who actually was his uncle biologically - and raised his fist in the air. “ Caisteal Dhuni!”




Chapter Text

15 August, 1745

The Highlands, Scotland

As we travelled further away from Beaufort Castle, the numbers of our men dwindled. There were many who weren’t exactly thrilled with being ordered to go and fight in a war when they would rather have been home tending to their farms and with their families, and those were the ones that disappeared first. We did try to send Young Simon to go and convince them to return by promising land, and for some, it did work, but for others… Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough for them to fight for.

“A part of me thinks yer grandsire planned it that way,” I said to Jamie as we made camp. “The only ones desertin’ are those brought by Lovat.”

“Wouldnae surprise me,” Jamie replied. “What I do ken fer sure is Lovat kept his best men in Beauly, so we’ll have our work cut out fer us.”

“Are ye plannin’ on trainin’ them?” I asked. “They’re farmers. They’ll no’ stand a chance if they run in terror at the sound of the first gunshot.”

“Wouldnae be a bad idea te maybe stop in Kingussie fer a while and get a couple weeks’ trainin’ in,” Jamie replied. “Maybe ye could teach them archery.”

“What, me? Ye think they’ll listen te me?”

“They might, if ye scare ‘em badly enough,” Jamie replied with amusement.

“Suppose we’ll have te see how many we even have left,” I replied, sitting down on the log beside him and letting out a sigh. “Christ, I didnae ken how similar this time was te my own when it comes te war. At the start of the rebellion, almost no one was skilled enough fer fightin’, myself included. I was all right with a bow, but no’ amazin’. Not as good as I am now, and I’d never picked up a sword or a dirk in all my life. And then my family was killed and with them, my way of life, and… I got turned into a warrior.”

“Ye had a reason te fight. These men… Their reasons arenae as strong as yers,” Jamie told me.

“If only they kent what was comin’, what will likely happen te their land and their families… They’d fight then,” I said, and then I let out a sigh. “We never find the reason te fight until it’s too late… Until we’ve lost somethin’ that cannae be replaced. Then we’re not fightin’ te preserve what we have, we’re fightin’ te protect what someday will be.” I glanced over at Archie, who was fast asleep in a little nest made from my tartan. “We fight fer him… Fer Young Jamie, Maggie, Kitty… Fer all the children of this generation, hopin’ that they may never ken what it was like te be treated as subhuman by the English.”

“We fight fer us, too. Mostly fer him, aye, but we’re also fightin’ te preserve what we have. I ken I’m fightin’ te keep ye safe,” Jamie told me.

“It’s great tha’ ye ken tha,” I said, and then I looked out over the camp at the other men, “but they dinnae ken that. They dinnae ken they’re fightin’ te preserve Highland culture.”


16 August, 1745

Kingussie, The Highlands, Scotland

After nearly a full day of travelling, we finally arrived at Kingussie, where the small camp set up by the men from Lallybroch stood, plus the camp from Clan Chattan. Emerging from a tent, Cailean called out to Murtagh and the two of them met us at the front. “Murtagh!” Jamie exclaimed happily while Cailean came to my side to take Archie for me.

“Hello, mo ghille ! Did ye miss yer uncle?” he said to Archie, who simply giggled and clapped his little hands together.

“Pardon me if I forego the wee jig that I had planned in honour of yer arrival,” Murtagh told us mildly bitterly. “I wouldae been gey pleased te foot it out five days ago.”

“Aye, it took us longer te come through Corrieyairack than I had ferseen. Lots of English, and a lot of cattle. Made me long fer the days of raidin’ cattle,” Jamie said, exchanging a glance with Cailean.

“Damn, and I missed that?” Cailean asked, earning a playful shove from me.

“The last thing ye need is cattle te raid,” I told him. We then turned to look at the men we’d brought from Beauly, who were a bit worse for wear, but still with us.

“I didnae think ye could talk that auld bastard out of a loaf of bread, let alone men,” Murtagh said with amusement.

“Ye can thank Catrìona fer scarin’ the breeks off of him by holdin’ fire in her hand,” Jamie replied, causing Murtagh and Cailean both to stare at me wide-eyed.

“Even in our time, I dinnae ken how ye’d do that,” Cailean told me.

“Magic,” I replied, then turned my attention back to the men. “It sure would take a load of magic te whip this lot into shape.”

“Aye, they’re no’ much te look at, but we’ll figure it out,” Jamie chimed in. “Lovat kept his best men in Beauly.”

“Selfish prick,” Murtagh replied.

“Tha’s the understatement of the century,” I said with sarcasm. “Ye’ll need te keep watch. Maybe the lads Young Simon recruited would be good.”

“Aye, some thirty-odd tried te desert as we approached Kingussie,” Jamie said.

“We’ll employ Cailean te scare the shit out of them,” I said. “The heir te the Laird of Cìosamul may strike the fear of God into them.”

“I think you’d be a better choice, Catrìona. They’ve heard of yer fiery show and already are scairt of ye. And bein’ a Fowlis of Barra doesnae help tha’ much,” Jamie told me, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Wee Simon’s gone back te fetch a few.”

“The Younger’s with us?” Murtagh asked with surprise.

“Aye, though no’ with his father’s blessin’. Lovat remains neutral,” Jamie told him.

Tha’s the weasel I ken,” Murtagh replied.

“Suppose I’ll go and greet the men,” Cailean said, handing Archie back to me.

Tiugainn , Catrìona. I’d like te set up the tent fer you and Archie,” Jamie told me suddenly, taking my upper arm and leading Archie and I away.

“Why the rush?” I asked him curiously, noticing his cheeks were a little pink.

“Er… My bollocks itch,” he said, stopping me in my tracks.

“I beg yer pardon?” I asked him. “Yer bollocks itch?”

Ist ! Do ye want the entire army te hear?” Jamie hissed at me, and I let out a laugh.

“Nits in yer crotch, aye? Well, let’s get that tent up and I’ll take care of it,” I told him, teasing him, and he let out a low growl before turning back around.

“Milord! Milady!” a childish French accent came from behind us, and just as I turned, Fergus crashed right into me, nearly knocking me off of my feet.

“Fergus!” I exclaimed. “Easy, a leannan ! I’ll recover fine from a fall, but Archie may no’ forgive ye.”

“Oi, lad!” we heard Murtagh call, and I could see Jamie visibly huff in exasperation. “Come and help me wi’ collectin’ wood!”

“Please help me, Milady. It is horrible with Murtagh! He is forcing me to mend his socks and fetch his meals!” poor Fergus exclaimed, causing me to glance up at Murtagh.

“I’m just tryin’ te educate the lad on the finer points of travellin’ in the highlands,” Murtagh defended himself, and I couldn’t help but shake my head and chuckle.

“Why don’t ye take Archie with ye? I’m sure he’d love te go fer a tramp in the woods,” I said, handing Archie off to Fergus, who had become a very good and protective big brother to Archie.

“Come, laddie,” Murtagh said again, and Fergus gave us one last look begging us to save him from Murtagh’s grasp before following him with Archie in his arms.

“Right, come along, magairlean brothach ,” I said to my husband, who sent me a glare as we went to claim our campsite.


Once we’d had our tent up, I confined Jamie to the tent, instructing him to keep his bollocks from touching any of the sheets and blankets and taking his shirt, kilt and breeks to boil. I entered the tent after checking on his clothes to find him sitting naked on the grass scratching his balls. “Jamie! I told ye no’ te scratch!” I scolded him. “And dinnae touch yer hair, either, or ye’ll lose that, too.” I took his hands and doused them in whisky from my flask, then set them aside.

“What do ye mean, lose my hair?” he asked me right as I pulled an old cut-throat razor out of my medical bag, and his eyes widened. “What the hell are ye doin’ with that?”

“Best way te get nits out is te shave yer hair,” I told him.

“No! Ye are not gettin’ near my balls with that!” Jamie cried like a child.

“Jamie, I’m verra skilled with sharp objects. Dinnae fash, I’ll make sure yer balls and yer cock stay intact, but I’ll no’ have ye in my bed until that infested hair is gone,” I told him firmly. That seemed to be enough to get him to calm down enough to stop recoiling from me.

“But men dinnae shave their bushes. I’ll be made a fool,” he whined.

“Ye’ll look a greater fool fer scratchin’ yer balls all day,” I told him. “Dinnae fash, mo chridhe, speakin’ from experience, it’ll grow back fast.”


“Men,” Jamie said sometime later in his clean kilt and his hairless balls beneath it. “We’re te stay and rest fer two days. Remember what it is we are doin’ here. We are fightin’ fer our land, fer our people, fer our families, fer our way of life… Everrathin’ we hold dear te us. In two days’ time, we’ll leave here te meet Clan Chattan at Crieff. Dinnae try te desert again, or ye’ll have my wife te deal with.” He glanced at me as I stood nearby and the men seemed to shudder just a little at the sight of me. The Lallybroch men knew I was harmless, but the Lovat men feared me after my charade with the fire. Once the group broke up to return to their camps, Jamie approached me, a somewhat uncomfortable look on his face. “My bollocks are cold.”

“Oh, ist , ye wee baby,” I said, smacking him playfully on his arm. “I told ye once we’d finished, I’d let ye do whatever it is ye want with me.”

“Aye, that offer is still on the table, is it?” he asked me, his hands snaking around my waist.

“I promised, didnae I? I do tend te keep my promises,” I told him, giving him a kiss, and together, we stole away to our tent.


20 August, 1745

Crieff, The Highlands, Scotland 

As the Frasers of Lovat and Broch Tuarach marched on Crieff, we were faced with the ever-pending attack from English soldiers. Once, we were met with a warning by an English sergeant, who dismissed us by mocking the men that marched with us. Other than that incident, we met with little resistance. We arrived at Crieff on the twentieth of August, and Jamie, Cailean and myself rode ahead to be greeted by one of the leaders of Clan Chattan, Seàrlas MacBean, who represented Clan MacBean. “Ye concerned us, Fraser,” MacBean said to Jamie as we arrived. I couldn’t help but wonder if this Seàrlas MacBean was the same one that I was a direct cousin of, but given the fact that he was a middle-aged man, I doubted it. “We thought ye’d backed out.”

“Never!” Jamie replied as he climbed down his horse to greet MacBean. “We met with some resistance a couple of times, but otherwise, no trouble.” He held out a hand for me to approach. “This is my wife, Catrìona Fraser.”

“A pleasure, Mistress,” said MacBean, eyeing my tartan. “Fowlis of Barra, are ye?”

“My brother and I both,” I said as I referred to Cailean, who nodded at MacBean from his horse.

“Cailean Fowlis, sir,” Cailean introduced himself.

“I’m pleased te meet ye. Yer the ones everraone says are the children of Eairdsidh à Sealladh, aye?” MacBean asked us, referring to my father as ‘Archie the Vanished’.

“Tha’ we are,” Cailean replied.

“My brother married yer aunt,” said MacBean, confirming my suspicions that this man was somehow related to my cousin.

“Ah, so I’d thought! I understand I’ve a cousin also called Seàrlas,” I said, then found myself surprised as we were joined by a very tall man with dark brown hair.

“Captain, there is correspondence from the prince,” said this behemoth of a man in a deep booming voice.

“Thank ye, Major. I’ll be there in a moment. Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, might I introduce Major Gillies Mòr MacBean?” MacBean said to us as even Jamie glanced upwards at the very tall man.

“Pleased te make yer acquaintance,” he said, bowing to us both.

“I’ll bet ye get a lot of comments about yer tall height, aye?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“No more than you likely do, Mistress. Ye are verra tall fer a woman,” said Gillies MacBean.

“Touché,” I replied.

“So,” Jamie said, changing the tide of the conversation. “We’ve a need te train these men. We cannae bring them te the prince as farmers.”

“Aye, I ken. My men arenae equipped for battle at all,” MacBean replied. “I see ye’ve managed te convince the Auld Fox te send some men.”

“The worse of his men, but aye,” Jamie agreed. “They’re in need of discipline, and I have hope tha’ we can spend a few weeks trainin’ ‘em before we march on te Prestonpans.”

“A wonderful idea. I should like to discuss plans with ye. Fer now, I must see what his Royal Highness has sent te me,” said MacBean. The two MacBeans - the leader and the absolute mammoth of a man - left us.

“Suppose we should dismiss the men te camp,” said Cailean, and he turned to return to the men.

“Have ye a plan fer trainin’?” I asked my husband.

“Train them te hold a sword would be a start,” he replied.

“Aye, we had te go through that trainin’ too, no’ that I’m big enough te hold a sword,” I told him. “In my time, much like they do after Culloden, the English took all our weapons away, the ones we used against them in the first rebellion. They left the ones in the museums thinkin’ we couldnae use them, then set up a blockade when the second rebellion started so we couldnae rely on our allies. Swords from museums and the like were all we had.”

“Hm,” Jamie replied. “Is that why yer so skilled with a bow?”

“Partially. I’m good at hand-te-hand combat as well, ye ken from personal experience,” I reminded him.

“I think ye should train the men in archery,” he replied, ignoring the statement.

“Aye, ye said that before. Ye still think it’s a good idea?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“We may no’ stand any chance otherwise,” he told me. Given the fact that the English eventually learned that Scots, during a highland charge, raised their sword-bearing arm, revealing a place to be penetrated by bayonets, having archers in our army didn’t seem like a bad idea. Getting those men to be willing to learn from a woman, however… That was a challenge that sounded quite fun to me.


21 August, 1745

“Perhaps I can have a word with the other ladies, get them te make more bannocks,” I was saying to Jamie as we crossed the camp together. “They’ll need them, if they’re trainin’ as intensely as ye say.”

“A sound plan,” Jamie replied. “I want ye te start trainin’ them in archery in a few days.”

“I need te train the ladies in nursin’, too. Archers will be useful on a battlefield, but nurses are the ones who will help us maintain our numbers,” I told him.

“Aye, I agree,” Jamie said, stopping and turning to face me. “The battle tha’s upcomin’… When did ye say it was?”

“The twenty-first of September,” I told him quietly.

“Then we have four weeks exactly te whip these men into shape, not te mention we’re expected by the prince te be there by the fifteenth, accordin’ te MacBean,” he replied.

“So three weeks,” I said. “We can do it, Jamie. We’ve done the impossible before, we’ll do it again.”

“I hope yer right,” he told me, then he bent to kiss me. “I dinnae ken where I’d be if I didnae have ye by my side.”

I was about to reply, but found myself interrupted by a loud, shrill whistle and a gruff voice calling, “Mistress Catrìona!” Jamie and I both turned our attention to the source of the noise to find two familiar and cheerful faces approaching us.

“Blessed Bride! Now, there’s a face I didnae ken if I’d ever see again!” I exclaimed as Angus Mhor and Rupert Mackenzie approached us.

“Mistress, I washed my mouth out with whisky in preparation fer a big buss from you!” Angus told me cheerfully as I approached him to embrace him. I went to kiss his cheek instead, but he turned his head in time to catch my lips.

“Och!” I exclaimed, giving him a shove off of me. “I see some things never change.”

“It’s been long ower, Catrìona,” said Rupert cheerfully as I approached him for a hug.

“Aye, it has, Rupert. It has,” I said, hearing Jamie greet Angus behind me.

“How are those wee laddies?” Rupert asked, noticing how my face fell just a little. “Oh… I’m sorry, lass.”

“We… we lost one of them last June… But Archie is still verra healthy. He’s with my brother, cannae get enough of him,” I told him. “So… Where’s Willie?”

“Oh, the lad went and got himself married!” Angus exclaimed.

“To an Irish lass,” Rupert continued. “Sailed off te America with the bride’s family.”

“Aye, we’ll no’ mention that traitorous bastard’s name!” Angus exclaimed, resulting in a laugh from myself and Jamie.

“Ye ken, marriage could do ye all some good,” another familiarly gruff voice said - Dougal. “Have ye no welcome fer yer beloved uncle?” he asked Jamie.

“Dougal!” Jamie said, leaving our group to approach his uncle and embrace him.

“Ye look well, lad. Despite the misfortunes ye’ve suffered. I heard about the wee laddie,” Dougal told him, and Jamie gave a subtle nod.

“Aye… I’ve never felt more fit,” he said to his uncle.

“And Lady Broch Tuarach,” said Dougal next to me. “A vision of true loveliness. Last I saw ye, yer belly was swollen te the size of a pumpkin.”

“Had the lads not long after our last meeting,” I told him, allowing him to take my hand and plant a polite kiss on it. “It wouldnae be the Jacobite uprisin’ without ye, Dougal.”

“I should like te meet my great nephew,” he said to me.

“So, has Colum changed his mind, then?” Jamie asked, interrupting the moment. “Will Clan Mackenzie join the cause?”

“My brother’s mind is his own. It is no concern of mine,” Dougal replied. “We’re here te pledge our hearts and swords te the glorious cause. I’d have joined the Prince’s forces in Prestonpans had I not heard my own nephew was leading Clan Fraser te him.”

“Just the three of ye?” Jamie asked, acknowledging the three Mackenzie clansmen who were alone with no others.

“Ye didnae question their strength in numbers when they stormed Wentworth Prison in the verra teeth of over two hundred redcoats,” Dougal told his nephew. “Or should I say, yer wife didnae question?”

“It was four hundred, actually,” Rupert chimed in.

“More likely five hundred,” said Angus, who lived to exaggerate everything.

“When I heard ye’d joined the Jacobite cause, I was so proud,” said Dougal, ignoring his men. “It was as if my own son was takin’ his first steps as a man. Now, I ken we’ve had our differences in the past, but I’ve been waitin’ fer the day we would fight together on the same side. It’s our time… Fer glory and fer Scotland.” Jamie smiled at his uncle, seemingly touched by the sentiment, but I couldn’t help but smell a rotting fish.

“Then I welcome yer heart,” Jamie told him. “And yer swords! And yer skills as Highland warriors. Yer sorely needed, all of ye. My men are in desperate need of trainin’, and Seàrlas MacBean, who’s leadin’ the MacBean division of Clan Chattan, agrees that his men are in need of it as well.”

“Should be simple enough. Where’s the rest of Chattan?” Dougal asked, noticing that the camp was smaller than he would have expected for all the smaller clans that made up Clan Chattan to be represented.

“Gone on te Prestonpans. Only MacBean stayed behind te wait fer us,” Jamie told him.

“Ah, te be expected of a clan made up of other clans,” Dougal replied. “Well. Yer men have showed their worth just by joinin’.” At this, I snorted.

“Most of them, save fer the Lallybroch men and some loyal friends of the young Master Lovat have joined. The others were forced by the Auld Fox,” I said to him. “We’ve had trouble keepin’ them.”

“Lovat’s son is here?” Dougal asked. “Either way, their hearts are larger and stronger than ten redcoats.”

“Maybe so fer some, but they’re no’ ready fer combat,” Jamie told his uncle.

“We’ll have plenty of time te teach them that on the march te Prestonpns,” Dougal told him.

“That would be great, if they actually marched,” I said. “They walk, stroll, and caper aboot. There is no marchin’ involved. They’re no disciplined. These men are farmers, no’ soldiers.”

“Aye, and we cannae deliver them te the prince in such a condition,” Jamie told Dougal. “They’ll need te learn not only how te march, but how te fight before they join the prince’s army. These men are cotters, tacksmen and smiths.”

“Closest thing most of ‘em has held te a weapon was a pitchfork. Most of them have never seen combat, let alone a fight. Maybe a bar fight or two in their day, but nothin’ more,” I told him. “This here is good land te train upon.”

“What do you ken aboot good land te train upon?” Dougal asked me.

“More than you , evidently,” I said.

“Catrìona is verra skilled with a bow. I’ve seen it myself. She’ll be trainin’ the men in archery,” Jamie told his uncle. Dougal seemed unsettled about the idea of staying to train, having been eager to join the prince at Prestonpans.

“Yer mind’s set, then?” he asked his nephew.

“Aye, ‘tis. Catrìona’s brother is workin’ out drills fer the men te follow in the comin’ days. We’ll make a fine group of Highland soldiers. There’s no time te waste,” Jamie told his uncle.

In the days that followed, we began to drill the men. I certainly won’t say it was easy, but it was mildly entertaining to watch Murtagh try to whip the men into shape. “James Fraser and Cailean Fowlis taught me these drills themselves, and believe me, I’m goin’ te teach them te you, and yer goin’ te learn them,” Murtagh said to one group of Fraser men. Beside him, Cailean stood with a pìob-mhòr , or great Highland bagpipe, blowing air into it, producing the continuous squeal that Murtagh had to shout over. “Now! When ye hear this, yer te form two lines directly next te each other!” He then looked at Cailean, who took his cue to play a ceol mor , a form of music meant for marching, for great tunes, for telling the story of history through music, and other formal settings. “Put yer toes there! Line. Get in line!” He entered into the lines and gave one of the men a shove. “Get in line! Kincaid, move yer arse! Gluais do ghiortag!

“Is Murtagh makin’ headway?” Jamie’s voice beside me suddenly said, and I accepted a kiss on my cheek from him as I watched Murtagh.

“No’ really,” I said. “He’s a bit harsh, do ye no’ think?”

“Do ye think the enemy’s goin’ fouter away waitin’ fer ye te gather?” Murtagh demanded of them harshly.

“And when do we get proper weapons?” one of the men, who was holding a tree branch with leaves still attached to the end of it, asked him.

“First, ye get yer arse into line and learn where te stand. Then ye’ll learn how te move,” Murtagh answered him. One of the men seemed to chuckle when another whispered something to him, and Murtagh sent him a filthy look. “What are you laughin’ at, ye bastard?”

“Can’t ye go and, I dinnae ken… talk to ‘em?” I asked Jamie, looking up at him and realising he had Archie in his arms.

“Suppose I can,” Jamie replied. “ Seo , take the lad.” I took Archie from him and kissed his face, settling him on my hip while Jamie climbed down the hill to reach the men, who were still chucking at Murtagh. “Foolishness and games,” Jamie said when he arrived at the group, who instantly stopped laughing upon his arrival. “That’s what yer thinkin’, aye? No reason te strut and ponce aboot like the redcoats.” That earned him a couple of chuckles. “We’re Scotsmen, aye? Brave, strong, with God on our side… So why should we waste time with all this shite?”

“Aye!” one of the men from the group said.

“Aye, I was like that once. I had those verra same thoughts, wonderin’ why I had te learn te march te the tune of a pipe or a whistle… Then the man te my left was mowed down by a stray musketball.” That seemed to stop the laughter. “In France, I became a soldier. I saw firsthand what a modern, well-trained army can do, and how they survive. It’s a pretty sight, aye. Seein’ all the soldiers marchin’ together, meetin’ on opposite sides of a gorge or a field. Their neat rows and columns, music playin’, banners wavin’… Then they fire the first volley. First, ye see the flash of metal in the sun. Then, together as one, the entire first line of men raise their muskets, aim, and let loose. The musket balls come tearin’ across the field like a sheet of metal rain, cuttin’ down men left and right - men ye trained with, camped with… All without mercy. The sound of gunfire is like rolling thunder across the hills, and by the time the last of it fades, the second volley is already on its way. I realised, then, tha’ it takes more than courage te beat an army like that. It’ll take discipline and a well-trained soldier. An army of well-trained soldiers. So if ye have the discipline te stand together, march together, fight together… then by God, I ken we’ll win together.”

It was a noble speech, and Jamie was very gifted at speaking. I stood proudly and watched as he addressed his men, the perfect choice to be a leader. Perhaps things could be different. Perhaps we could actually win this war…

But those were only false hopes brought on by a moment of pride.


25 August, 1744

Several days after training began, Jamie asked me to teach the men archery. Cailean had worked on carving out ten bows and a handful of arrows for the men to practice with until they could learn to make their own. The ten men we had selected to be archers - the skinniest or stoutest men of the Fraser clan - were standing by the targets that Cailean and I had made awaiting instructions as I arrived. “Mornin’, lads,” I said to them.

“We dinnae need any bannocks, thank ye kindly, Mistress,” one of the men said to me.

“What makes ye think I’m bringin’ ye bannocks?” I said to them, my hands on my hips. “Do ye ken somethin’ I don’t?”

“Then what are ye doin’ here, lass? Cannae ye see we’re busy?” another of the men said to me gruffly.

“The hell do ye think? I’m here te train ye in archery,” I said. For a moment, the men stared at me in silence, then broke out into a cackling laughter.

“Train us ? In archery?” the gruff one said.

“Yer verra funny, lass! I see why the Laird likes ye,” said another, this one from Lallybroch.

“Funny, am I?” I said. I then reached behind me to draw my folded bow from its pouch and snapped it open, then pushed through their group to line myself up at the first of the targets. I drew one arrow, loaded my bow, drew it and fired, hitting the target right in the center.

“She got lucky!” one of the men shouted.

“Did I?” I asked, and then I moved to the second target, firing an arrow right into the center of it. “And if tha’s not enough, I can do it blindfolded.” I lined myself up with the third target, then pulled out one of the bandages I kept on my person in case of injuries in training, then tied it around my eyes. I loaded my bow, aimed, and fired, and the surprised murmurs around me indicated that I had hit the target a third time.

“This is horse shite!” I heard one of the men shout, and I removed the blindfold to get a good look at whoever it was who had commented. He was standing beneath a tree in the shade, the trunk of the tree directly behind him.

“Ye’ve got until I aim my bow te apologise fer tha’,” I told him.

“Apologise? Ha! Yer a woman, and I’ll no’ be wastin’ my time bein’ told what te do by a- AGH!” He let out a cry of shock as my arrow sailed through the air and stuck into the tree mere centimeters from the top of his head, piercing his cap and pinning it to the tree. While the other men stared in terror, I simply stuck my bow into the ground and leaned against it.

“Anyone else have anythin’ te say?” I asked them.

“Er… No, M-Mistress,” the first man that had spoken to me said.

“Good,” I replied, going to the rack where other bows were located, picking one up and tossing it to him. “You first, then. Line up at the first target. If ye split my arrow, ye can go back te yer tent.” The first man stood where I had at the first target, then clumsily loaded his bow, drew it, aimed it, and fired… striking the wooden post that the target was fastened to. “Well, at least ye stuck it in wood.”

“Is your husband really allowing this?” one man, who evidently still felt the need to challenge me, said.

“He suggested it,” I replied. “Now, one of the important things with archery is te keep yer hands steady. Chase yer arrow, see where ye hit and counteract it in yer aim. Ye hit above the target, so ye must aim lower. Line yer eye up with the wee hole. Our line of sight is the best we have, so ye have te get good at it. If ye have puir eyesight, ye’ll make a terrible archer. Now, watch me carefully. Watch my form, see where I place my feet, watch my shoulders and how I hold the bow.”

“Tha’s easy when yer a sight fer sore eyes, lassie!” said one of the men, and a few others chuckled stupidly. Ignoring the remark, I positioned myself, loaded, aimed, and fired, sending my arrow to split the arrow on the post that the first man had fired. Lowering my bow, I turned to face the men.

“It takes skill te hit the target. It takes great skill te hit the center of the target. But te split an arrow, especially one that isnae even in the center of the target, let alone on the target itself… tha’ takes mastery,” I told them. “Dinnae question me again, or I willnae hesitate te fire one of these into yer bollocks.” I didn’t receive another vile comment for the entirety of their training. I would have liked to think it was because they respected me, but a more realistic explanation would be the respect they held for their bollocks and the fear of them actually being pierced by an arrow.


29 August, 1744

The men began to train with guns for the first time. They learned how to march well and stand in formation, so now the next thing was learning to use their weapons, which both Jamie and Cailean felt needed the most time to ensure the men wouldn’t harm either themselves or others. Jamie, this time, was instructing the men with Murtagh faithfully by his side, while I took a brief pause in my duties to watch. “Place the rod back into the pipe,” he was saying to the men.

“Keep a wide stance, these auld things have a huge kickback.”

I looked around, wondering where the hell that new voice was coming from, but saw no one around me. Shaking it off, I looked back at Jamie, an excellent teacher for his men. “Keep it in the crick of yer shoulder. Aye, tha’s good… Wait fer my command, MacLennan!” he was saying.

“Check yer range. These arenae exactly the most accurate weapons, but the English took away everrathing that was, so we’ll have te make do.”

“The hell?” I said out loud, looking around me again. I thought, for a moment, that I was hearing the voice of Commander Alexa MacLeod… She had a strong, firm, commandeering voice. I had never met anyone better fit to be a commander than Alexa MacLeod. We didn’t get along very well at first, but we came to have a mutual respect for each other later on, even almost liked each other.

“Yer no’ bad, Fowlis,” she’d said to me after observing the archery division. “Ye look like ye’ve actually shot one of these before.”

“I have,” I told her. “My father taught me when I was young.”

“Yer father was Captain Fowlis, aye? In the first rebellion?”

“Aye.”

“Well… Perhaps it’s no’ such a bad thing we have ye with us now.”

I rubbed my eyes, wondering if sleep deprivation was making me hear things. I looked up again at my husband, an eighteenth century Scottish highlander adorned in a wool jacket and a great kilt, his scabbard by his side carrying his sword. The highlanders of my time fought in uniforms, although they wore their kilts over them. “On my count. Ready? Aon, dà, trì…

“Fire!” The whole line of us fired our weapons. She had been right - the kickback of these things was harsh. The old gun had kicked back and caught me in the chin, and MacLeod shook her head. “Ye’ll not get verra far if ye cannae wield a weapon, Fowlis.”

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing I’ll no’ be fightin’. I’ve been recruited te medical trainin’,” I told her.

“Good, I’ll no’ have te worry aboot ye holdin’ us back,” she told me. As she walked past me, I glanced at my brother, who stood beside me with his own weapon in hand.

“Cat?” he’d asked me. “Cat? Are ye all right?”

“Huh?” Suddenly, I was back in 1745, my brother actually standing beside me, and lightly shook my head. “Oh… Aye, I’m fine,” I said. “Just… Just thinkin’ aboot how little has changed when it comes te war.”

“Oh, I ken,” Cailean replied. “I was thinkin’ that, too. All this trainin’… Cannae believe we’re even usin’ the same guns. I wonder if any of the muskets we used in our time saw action here.”

“Hard te say,” I answered, and I let out a sigh. “Lookin’ at them all… Ross, Kincaid, MacLennan… Bein’ trained and turned into soldiers. I think of us, those frightened young kids who lost everrathin’, forced te put up a brave front.”

“Ye were the brave one, Cat. Hell, ye still are ,” Cailean told me. “But ye had te be. Ye had a little brother te care for, who looked up te ye… Who still looks up te ye.”

“I dinnae ken how ye can. I fought so hard te stop this war from comin’ and I failed. And now that it’s here, I’m not sure I’m ready te go te war again,” I told him.

“Ye dinnae have to,” Cailean replied.

“Yes I do,” I said. “They need me. Jamie needs me. The women who will nurse these men when they’re injured… I cannae just go back home and pretend this isnae happenin’. No’ when there’s people I ken and love who could be here dyin’.”

“I understand,” Cailean told me. “Jamie‘s verra proud of what ye’ve accomplished. Neither of us think we’d be here if it werenae fer you.”

“Well, I appreciate that,” I said with a smile. Suddenly, we were both startled by the sound of screaming, and when we looked up, found a mud-caked and shirtless Dougal, Angus, Rupert, and a couple of the more aggressive Fraser of Lovat men charging down the hill towards the men Jamie was training wielding their swords. The men scattered and screamed as they ran away from the rather terrifying sight, and I watched as Jamie stood aside with a furious expression on his face. Dougal and his men were laughing hysterically at the frightened men that fled.

“Tha’s how ye beat the redcoats, men! With a Highland charge!” Dougal exclaimed with his sword in the air. “Ye take them by surprise and put terror in their hearts!”

“Get back in line!” Murtagh shouted at the men, recollecting the frightened men.

“Was only the five of us! Aye, imagine a thousand of us, screamin’, descendin’ on the pretty redcoats all lined up in a row!” Dougal shouted.

“Dougal!” Jamie exclaimed, approaching him as Dougal continued his speech.

“They’ll run like chickens!” Dougal exclaimed.

“Ye’d need surprise fer a charge te work, and I doubt we’ll be tha’ lucky,” Jamie told him. “Dismissed, all of ye! Dougal, a word.”

“He looks pished,” Cailean said as Jamie pulled Dougal aside to have a quiet chat with him. “Cannae blame him. Dougal’s a conceited, narcissistic arse. Cannae stand him.”

“Did I ever tell ye he was tryin’ te get me te marry him when Jamie was imprisoned?” I asked him, and this made him cock an eyebrow.

“Ye didnae. Does Jamie ken?”

“I never had the chance te tell him,” I replied. “Perhaps I should.”

“Aye, ye should! His uncle made a pass at his wife when he was still livin’!” Cailean replied. We glanced back at Jamie and Dougal. Dougal seemed quite upset with the conversation, but Jamie was holding firm. The conversation ended and Jamie glanced up at the two of us, then made his way towards us. “Trouble?”

“He says he kens best because he was teachin’ men te fight while I was suckin’ my mother’s tit,” Jamie replied, and Cailean snorted.

“What an arse,” he replied. “I ken he’s yer uncle, Jamie, but ye need te watch him carefully. He’s the kind of man te step on yer toes.”

“Bloody conceited bastard,” I said as I looked down at the Mackenzie men.

“Right, well, I’m supposed te meet with MacBean te plan more trainin’. I’ll catch ye both in a bit,” Cailean said. He gave Jamie’s shoulder a pat, then exchanged a glance with me before leaving.

“Are ye all right?” Jamie asked me suddenly. “Ye’ve been awfully quite the last few days.”

“Just rememberin’ my own trainin’,” I told him. “Doesnae matter that there were four hundred years between yer trainin’ and mine. It’s all the same.” I let out a sigh. “When ye were in Wentworth… Dougal was the one who told me ye were there. He… He kept tryin’ te say ye were a dead man, kept callin’ me a widow. Then he… He said tha’ he would marry me. Claimed it was because ye would want me te be kept safe, but he and I both kent well it was because he wanted Lallybroch.”

“Why did ye no’ tell me?” Jamie asked.

“It slipped my mind. At the time, I was so focused on you and gettin’ ye safe, then I had the lads… In Paris, I was so focused on Brian, I’d forgotten completely, and only remembered just now,” I said. “I told him tha’… Tha’ if ye were dead, then I would marry him. But ye werenae dead, so it doesnae matter.”

“It matters to me,” he told me. “He tried te take my wife and my land.”

“And didnae succeed,” I said. “I wouldnae have married him anyway. If ye were dead… I’d have fled. Hoped te never see him again. But ye werenae, and that’s all that matters.” He wasn’t looking at me, but instead was standing there seething at his uncle, so I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his cheek. “Yer bollocks still cold?”

“They’re itchin’ again,” he answered me. “Seems shavin’ ‘em was fer nothin’.”

“It’s just the hair growin’ back in,” I told him. “If ye’d like, I can make ye a salve, rub it on…”

“I’d much rather ye do somethin’ else,” he said, looking at me with a fresh hunger in his eyes. Fuelled by subtle jealousy, he reached for me and grabbed my arse firmly, then held me tightly against his chest and kissed me. “You are mine ,” he said firmly, his voice laced with lust. “Seems I’ll have te remind my uncle of that.”


1 September, 1745

I was in the barn, where we had set up a makeshift hospital for me to train the wives of Clan MacBean - as I was the only woman among the Fraser men - in medicine when I heard the door open behind me. Thinking it was Jamie coming to fetch me for supper, I turned to find myself meeting Dougal’s eyes instead. “What do ye want?” I asked him. “If ye’ve come te me te speak te Jamie, I’ll no’ hear ye.”

“Not fer me,” Dougal said. “Fer him.”

“Since when is anythin’ ye do fer anyone else but yerself?” I asked him, turning back around to continue rolling bandages.

“He’s struggling. He needs help. But ye ken Jamie, he’s too proud te ask,” Dougal replied.

“He doesnae need help. He kens what he’s doin’, and trust me, it has nothin’ te do with the fact that ye were trainin’ men while he was nursin’ from his mother’s teat,” I hissed at him.

“I can help him, Catrìona, and he’d realise that if he’d let me. That’s why I need ye te speak te him,” Dougal replied as if I hadn’t spoken, and I couldn’t help but scoff.

“I told ye, he doesnae need help, especially not yers” I said. “And why would I help you ? Ye’ve stepped on his toes more than once in his life. Ye think everraone needs yer help.”

“I think he would benefit from my help, and I think he would listen if he kent aboot our agreement tha’ we made at Glen Rowan Cross, but I’ll wager ye never told him aboot tha’, did ye?” Dougal asked me, and this time, I did turn to face him.

“Aye, he does. I share everrathing with my husband. We have no secrets from each other. He kens aboot yer offer, and he kens why I made the choice that I did,” I said firmly. “But that agreeent is off. My husband is alive, no thanks te you.”

“He took no issue with ye sayin’ so?” Dougal asked me.

“None,” I lied, but he’d never know. I kept my expression firm and my eyes trained on him. Jamie took great issue with it, so much so that he felt the need to stake his claim and take me where I was currently standing in the barn. I had to fight back the thought to keep myself from blushing as my hand brushed over the surface of the table, where the remnants of his issue with Dougal could likely be seen beneath a blacklight. He hadn’t just taken me properly, he’d gotten down on his knees and- Not the time, Catrìona , I told myself.

“Then he’s a better man than me,” Dougal said calmly.

“Truer words have never been spoken. Jamie certainly would never seek comfort from the fiscal’s wife,” I reminded him, crossing my arms.

“I see that ye still bear a grudge,” Dougal told me.

“She died because of what ye’ve done,” I replied firmly.

“Geillis Duncan wanted me as much as I did her. We were happy.”

“And where did that get ye both?” I asked him, causing him to freeze in silence. “Let me make one thing clear, Dougal Mackenzie. If I ever thought of ye, then I might have held a grudge fer all of the things ye’ve done te me, but I don’t.”

“And why is that?”

“Because yer no’ worth the thought it takes te hold a grudge,” I told him. “Ye have an affliction. Ye have an inability te be selfless because ye suffer from narcissism. If ye dinnae ken what that is, then allow me te explain. The term comes from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a man - a beautiful man - who fell in love with his own reflection. He loved it so much, he couldnae pull himself away, and he died of physical starvation, but he wasnae starved of his own face.” He stared at me without emotion. “Yer ego and yer self-gratification drive yer desires. Ye had an affair with Geillis Duncan because ye kent she supported the Jacobites and was willin’ te steal money from her husband fer ye. Yer a Jacobite because ye want King James on the throne but no’ fer Scotland. Fer yer own selfishness . Ye want the king te reward ye with a title of yer own, or strip the title of Chief of Clan Mackenzie from yer brother and give it te you.”

“Ye’d best be verra careful with yer words, lass,” Dougal told me with a warning tone.

“Or what? What’ll ye do with me? Ye ken, my brother never liked ye. He told me so himself, said he got a bad feelin’ aboot ye when ye first met.”

“Curious he could sense such a thing. But he is related te a ban-draoidh .”

“He is my mother’s son, as I am her daughter,” I told him. “Back te my point. Stop tryin’ te convince everraone of yer patriotism. It’s pathetic. I’m no’ so sure ye’ll grasp the meanin’ of this, either, but I dinnae care. Go fuck yerself.”

“Catrìona Fraser. What a rare woman ye are. Strong, bold… Everrathing like yer Grandsire. I kent him, ye ken. Durin’ the ‘15, my father had no interest in fightin’ the English, but I did, so I went off te the isles, where they were fightin’ off the English warships that came. Yer grandsire was a fierce warrior on the sea, like the vikings he likely descends from. I didnae ken if ye were tellin’ the truth when ye said ye were the child of his son, but now… Now, I see it. Ye truly are the granddaughter of Eairdsidh Ruadh,” Dougal told me with amusement. “Perhaps yer right aboot me. I do love my reflection, but make no mistake… I love Scotland more, and I did love Geillis Duncan. And like her, I will give everrathing I have and ever will have, includin’ my life, te see a Stuart on the throne.” For a moment, we stared at each other in silence. “I see yer a fierce woman. An excellent match fer Jamie. Ye ken, it was I who proposed ye marry when I heard rumours of the two of ye. I was the one who informed my brother, who forced yer marriage. I hope someday, ye’ll thank me.”

Without saying another word, he turned and left, leaving me standing in the candlelight staring furiously after him. Entitled arse… He may have helped force our marriage, but he had no hand in the love that Jamie and I held for each other.


7 September, 1745

Murtagh, Jamie, Cailean and I all sat around the fire late at night. I was seated on the ground beside Jamie’s knee, Archie lying at his feet and resting his head on my lap sucking his wee thumb. I brushed my fingers through his soft red curls as he slept, glancing up at Jamie when I felt his hand on my upper back and smiled at him.

“So this battle… ye say it’s at Prestonpans?” Murtagh suddenly asked. Cailean glanced around to make sure everyone was out of earshot, then cleared his throat.

“Aye, the twenty-first. Two weeks,” he replied.

“Do we win?” Murtagh asked him.

“It’s a Scottish victory, aye. How we win, though, we cannae say. In our time, it was four hundred years in the past, and unfortunately, all that exists is a verra small number of contemporary accounts from Scots and mostly, an English rewrite of their loss,” Cailean answered him.

“It’s a swampy gorge, we ken tha’ much,” I chimed in. “There was a pathway that was found, accordin’ te one contemporary account, but no mention of where it was.”

“Ye dinnae ken the tactics of battle?” Murtagh asked us.

“We took them by surprise startin’ the attack at dawn. They were still asleep,” I answered him, looking down at Archie. We heard the sound of footsteps and instantly silenced as Fergus appeared from the dark.

“The men are talking about their whores,” Fergus told us.

“Well, I hope ye didnae tell them aboot the whores ye kent in Paris,” Jamie told him, teasing him.

“I did, Milord! They did not believe me!” Fergus exclaimed, causing Cailean to snort.

“Good! They shouldnae be hearin’ aboot whores from a ten-year-old,” I said. More footsteps, very numerous in volume, sounded again, and alarmed, Jamie held up his hand to silence us all.

“Catrìona, take Archie and Fergus te the tent,” he told me, and I quickly scooped up Archie and stood, giving Fergus a shove in the direction of the tent.

“No, Milady, I want to help!” Fergus told me.

Ist , ye’ll do no such thing. Come with me,” I told him.

“Easy, lass. No need te fuss,” came Dougal’s voice, stopping me in my tracks.

“Dougal?” Cailean said with surprise as Dougal stepped into the light of the fire, Angus and Rupert behind him.

“I’ve a pack of new recruits,” he said as the men in question came into view. “Ten of them, all willin’ te join the cause of the Bonnie Prince.”

“How do ten men just walk into the camp without so much as a challenge from the sentries?” Jamie demanded of his uncle, clearly irritated about having his toes stepped on again by his uncle.

“I just smiled and waved and they let me pass. They kent it was me,” Dougal told him.

“Murtagh, who was on watch?” Jamie asked without looking at him.

“Ross and Kincaid,” Murtagh answered him.

“Bring them te me,” Jamie told him. “And post new guards in their place.”

“Aye,” said Murtagh, and then he stopped by Fergus. “Come, laddie.” Together, the two of them disappeared into the dark.

“Jamie, did ye no’ hear? I’ve brought volunteers fer our noble cause,” Dougal told him.

“Volunteers?” Cailean asked, looking at the faces of the men. “They dinnae look like they’re here out of the goodness of their hearts.”

“Here of yer own free will, are ye?” Jamie asked the men, who seemed to be cowering. “Prepared te bleed? Prepared te leave yer families and yer homes fer months, maybe years? Maybe forever? This isnae a war where ye’ll risk no more than yer lives in battle. This is treason. If we fail, then all those who support the Stuarts are likely te end up on a scaffold.”

“They’re true Scots,” Dougal told him. “Everra man prepared te fight and die fer their king.”

“Let them speak fer themselves then,” Cailean told him.

“I much prefer these men fight and live fer their king,” Jamie told him, and then he looked at the men again. “I am James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser. I command this army. If ye dinnae wish te be here, then it is my order that ye leave now and return te yer homes. None will think less of ye and no harm will follow.” Without hesitation, the ten men left, proving that they had been brought here by force. “The rest of ye are dismissed.”

“The rest of us, he says,” Angus muttered as he and Rupert passed through our campsite. I stopped Rupert and met his eyes firmly.

“Learn who yer commander is. Sort out yer loyalties,” I told him. He didn’t answer me, and the two of them disappeared.

“I thought ye agreed te follow my orders,” Jamie told him firmly.

“When did ye order me not te recruit new men?” Dougal asked him. “We must conscript as we travel. We need everra able-bodied man in Scotland if we’re te win this war.”

“I’ll not reave another man’s clan,” Jamie told him firmly. “I’ll no’ force a man te risk dyin’ fer somethin’ he doesnae believe in.”

“We can make them believe,” Dougal said, but I cut him off.

“No, we cannae!” I snapped at him, silencing him as the three men looked at me. “Ye cannae force a man te put his heart into somethin’ he doesnae feel. Ye cannae force a love of a prince who’s never set foot in Scotland before now. Ye cannae force a love of a king who was already exiled when many of the men ye want te fight by the time they were even born.”

“She’s right,” Jamie told him. “Half of Lovat’s men already deserted at the first opportunity.”

“A man that fights fer his own beliefs is worth ten that are forced te fight fer someone else’s,” Cailean said.

“What fine words,” Dougal said to Cailean, and then he looked at Jamie again. “Ye ken, all I hear is talk and talk and more talk, but no action. Ye speak of fightin’ and talk of makin’ soldiers, but where’s the experience and the action?”

“These men arenae ready fer action. They need more trainin’,” Jamie answered him.

“Oh, and what a braw job yer doin’ of that. I just led ten armed men into yer camp,” Dougal told him.

“And ye think you could do better? Terrorisin’ the men who’ve never seen combat? Never looked down the barrel of a gun?” Cailean snapped at him. “Yer a conceited bastard who craves nothin’ but violence!”

“Cailean! Yer no’ helpin’!” I snapped at my brother.

“You watch yer mouth, boy!” Dougal snapped back at him.

“Cailean is an officer in my army! You will respect him as yer superior!” Jamie shouted at Dougal, startling him a little bit. “Ye willnae lead ten armed men into my camp again.”

“What’s te prevent it?” Dougal asked him, clearly still challenging him.

You will. You and yer men are now in charge of sentry duty fer the entire encampment. And that is an order ,” Jamie told him firmly. Dougal stared at him for a moment in silence.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll order my men te their stations.”

“Good,” Jamie told him. The two of them stared each other down for a moment, and then Dougal stalked off.

“Go on, move!” Murtagh’s voice exclaimed, and he, Fergus, Ross and Kincaid appeared in the fire light.

“Ross, Kincaid,” Jamie said as the two men were shoved forward. “Ye put the entire encampment in jeopardy.”

“But we need more men, my Laird!” Kincaid said to him. Kincaid and Ross were Lallybroch men.

“As I said te my uncle, we willnae reave men from other clans,” Jamie told them. “Yer te be punished fer yer carelessness in the morning. Until then, yer relieved of yer duty and are under arrest. Murtagh? Post a guard over them fer the night.”

“I’ll do it myself,” Murtagh told him. The following morning, Ross and Kincaid stood before the rest of the army, both Fraser and MacBean, as Jamie addressed the army.

“We cannae abide carelessness,” he was saying. “It could cost us our lives, and the lives of the women in our clans that we have a duty te protect. Ross and Kincaid were neglect in their duties, allowin’ ten strangers into the camp last night, and fer that, will receive six lashes apiece. Murtagh.”

I couldn’t stand by and watch, nor did I want Archie to see, so I turned quickly and made my way to the barn. It wasn’t far enough to avoid hearing the crack of Murtagh’s belt as it made contact with their skin.


13 September, 1745

We were packing up our things again, as it was time to leave for Prestonpans. Charles expected us in two days’ time, which would be ideal for marching. Prestonpans meant the first major battle of the uprising, which meant that we were destined to meet the end of this journey at Culloden. Archie sat in the grass and played with a small stick, digging into the dirt with it, while I folded linens and dumped out the forgotten coffee from that morning. I heard a throat clear and looked up to see Jamie standing near the remnants of the fire.

“Are ye ready te go?” he asked me.

“Nearly,” I replied, and let out a heavy sigh. “Do ye think the men are prepared?”

“As best as they can be. We’ve nearly a week until this battle ye speak of,” Jamie replied. “What aboot the women?”

“I’ve done what I can. Now I’ll be relyin’ on them te help me train the women of the other clans,” I said. “Do ye ken all who’s there?”

“MacDonald of Glencoe, the rest of Clan Chattan… Soon, us,” he told me. “Last I heard, Cameron was on their way.”

“Led by Jenny Cameron,” I said with a smile, causing Jamie to cock his brow. “Aye, ye heard that right. She’s the eldest daughter of Hugh Cameron of Lochiel, and she’ll be leadin’ her father’s men te join the prince’s army.”

“A strong woman,” he said, and then he let out another heavy sigh. “I dinnae want ye involved in this.”

“Aye? Too bad, I’m here, and I’m no’ leavin’ ye te deal with this alone,” I said as I stood.

“Archie shouldna be here,” Jamie told me. “We should have left him with Jenny.”

“Maybe, but… He’s a tough lad. He’ll be safe. We’ll keep him safe,” I said. “Best we get on our way. We dinnae want te be late meetin’ our Bonnie Prince.”


JAMIE POV

The armies had stopped for the night and were camped somewhere near Crockett Burn, a small river in the middle of the highlands. Jamie was taking a small moment of peace to relieve himself in the woods when suddenly, he felt himself being grabbed from behind. He let out a loud grunt as he fought whoever it was that was attacking him, feeling the sharp pain of a blade touching his neck, then gained the upper hand and grabbed the arm of his attacker. He twisted the man’s arm, hearing an audible crack to match the loud cry of the attacker and shoved him up against a tree.

“Jamie!” came Cailean’s voice, and he, Murtagh, and a few other men appeared in the woods with a lighted torch, revealing the face of the young lad that had attacked Jamie.

“Yer just a bairn!” Jamie exclaimed.

“I’m sixteen!” cried the young lad in an English accent.

“Sixteen or sixty, ye just made a verra credible attempt te cut my throat,” Jamie told him firmly, holding his grip.

“Who are ye, laddie? Why are ye creepin’ around at night?” Cailean asked him as Murtagh went to search the pockets of the lad, pulling out a letter.

“This is addressed te General Cope. Tha’s an English officer. He’s a spy!” Murtagh exclaimed.

“I’m no spy!” the lad squeaked. “I saw the light of your fires and when I came to investigate, I recognised Red Jamie!” The young lad then looked up at the crowd of men who had appeared, addressing Cailean. “And you are Black Collin!”

“Black Collin? Do ye no’ ken Scottish names? Get it right, tha’s Black Cailean ,” Cailean told him.

“You both are unprincipled and traitorous rebels!” the young lad snapped at them.

“I dinnae think yer in a position fer insultin’ us, laddie,” Jamie told him.

“Not a spy, but conveyin’ with an English officer,” Murtagh observed.

“Who do ye march with?” Jamie asked him, but the lad didn’t answer him, so Jamie pushed on his arm and caused him to cry out. “Oh, is yer arm broken? I thought I heard somethin’ snap!” He pushed the lad’s arm again, causing him to scream.

“I’m prepared to die!” the lad exclaimed.

“I’d that so?” Jamie asked him, pulling him off of the tree and holding his dirk to the lad’s throat. “Well, I’m no’ prepared te kill ye just yet. Who do ye march with? I want their number and direction of travel!” Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Catrìona appear among the crowd, probably drawn by the lad’s screams.

“There’s nothing you can do that will make me talk!” the lad shouted back at Jamie. Catrìona seemed to push her way through the crowd. “Scottish barbarian!”

“Leave him alone, you sadist!” Catrìona shouted at him in her false English accent as she approached them, causing Jamie to raise an eyebrow at her. The expression on her face was firm and fierce, which was so unlike any expression she’d usually show him. That woman was a genius. “I resisted your advances earlier, but if you let the boy go free, then… then I’ll surrender myself to you, you… pig .”

“Pig?” asked Jamie, playing along with her ruse, and then he shoved the young lad at a couple of the men, who grasped him as Jamie approached his wife. “Ye may be indifferent te yer own welfare, but perhaps ye’ll have some concern fer this English lady’s honour!” He grabbed Catrìona by the wrist and pulled her into his embrace.

“No! Let her go!” the young lad cried out.

“Or maybe I could ravish her,” Jamie said next, shoving Catrìona up against a tree. “Right before yer verra eyes…” Catrìona let out a cry as Jamie bent down to bite her neck. “And then, I will give her to my men te do with her what they will!” He forced a kiss on her, earning a firm look from her and a knee in his bollocks. “Ooph! Ye Sassenach wench…” Jamie gave her a look as if to say ‘watch it’, but her firm look stayed.

“All right! Release the lady and I will tell you whatever you wish!” the young lad exclaimed.

“Good,” Jamie said, handing Catrìona off to her brother, who feigned grasping her harshly. “Hold her, until the boy answers my questions.” He then looked at the young lad. “Start with yer name.”

“My name is William Grey, second son of the Viscount Melton,” the young lad, Grey, answered him.

“And whose troops are ye with?” Jamie asked him. “How many?”

“Two hundred infantry, travelling to Dunbar to join General Cope’s army,” Grey told him. “And I’ll warn you, we have heavy armament.”

“Do ye?” Jamie said with interest. “How heavy?”

“Sixteen carriage-mounted cannons, mortars and muskets, and a company of thirty cavalry,” said Grey.

“Much obliged fer the warnin’,” Jamie told him. “And where are these men ye speak of presently?”

“Encamped some three miles west,” Grey replied. “Now release the lady!”

“Ye heard her, Cailean. Release yer sister,” Jamie said without turning around, and Grey’s eyes widened as Catrìona came to stand by Jamie’s side, holding onto his arm as Jamie turned his head to kiss her cheek. “Thank ye kindly, my beautiful wife.”

“Your wife? ” Grey exclaimed.

“Aye, his wife, and before ye go, I’ll have a look at that arm, give it a good bind,” she replied in her normal accent, surprising Grey even more.

“You’re Scottish? ” Grey asked.

“Take this lad in the direction he says the camp lies. If the information he gave us proves true, tie him te a tree one mile from the camp so his friends will find him tomorrow,” Jamie ordered.

“And if it isnae?” Murtagh asked.

“Then cut his throat,” Jamie replied. He then bent a little so that he was face to face with the young Grey, who stared at him bitterly. “I give ye yer life. I hope ye use it well, and I thank ye fer so gallantly protectin’ my wife’s honour.”

“I owe you my life. I should greatly prefer not to, but since you have forced the gift upon me, I must regard it as a debt of honour. I should hope to discharge that debt in the future, and once it is discharged, I will kill you,” young Grey said to Jamie fiercely, and Jamie chuckled.

“Then I hope, sir, that we dinnae meet again,” he replied.

“A Grey does not forget an obligation, sir ,” young Grey spat at him, and then he looked at Catrìona. “And shame on you, you Scottish whore!”

“Get him out of here before I break the lad’s other arm,” Jamie said, standing up fully and turning on his heel, dragging Catrìona away with him.

“What aboot his arm?” she asked him.

“The lad insulted ye, I’ll no’ let yet set his arm,” Jamie told her firmly. The pair of them went back to the camp, followed by Cailean and a few of the other men. “Cailean, bring all the men te me, includin’ whoever was on watch.”

“Aye,” Cailean said, and then he was gone.

“I could have set his arm in two minutes,” Catrìona said once they were alone.

“And whoever their physician is can do the same,” Jamie replied. She didn’t say anything again, only stood off to the side as the men approached Jamie, including Dougal. “Dougal. Who was on watch?”

“My men,” Dougal answered.

“Yer men let that lad get through the lines,” Jamie told him, and then he addressed the rest of the men. “We cannae continue with this carelessness, not from anyone! That includes me.”

“You?” Cailean asked him.

“Aye, me,” Jamie replied. “It was our unshielded fires that drew the lad to us. Murtagh isnae here te give punishments…” He pulled his belt off and handed it to Cailean, who stood there in shock, not accepting the belt. “If ye’ll oblige me.” Glancing at his sister, who seemed flabbergasted by the exchange, Cailean accepted the belt, and Jamie removed his shirt to bear his scarred back. “Six lashes fer our unshielded fires… and a dozen more fer my carelessness.”

He bore every hit with the belt with strength, not flinching even in the slightest. When Cailean was finished, Jamie turned to the crowd to find that his wife was nowhere to be found. “Right,” he said, pulling on his shirt again. “Give the same punishment te Dougal’s men, and then we will take care of those English troops Master Grey so kindly warned us aboot.”

“What are ye thinkin’?” Cailean asked him, still visibly shaken by the punishment as he handed Jamie’s belt back to him.

“Slip into their camp, see what sort of trouble we can make,” he answered his brother.

“A braw idea,” Dougal chimed in as Jamie restored his belt.

“Not you,” Jamie told him. “Yer te stay here. Sentry duty. We’ve a camp te protect.” At this, Dougal scoffed.

“So I’m te stay behind like some wretched-”

“Like some wretched soldier who’s been given an order by his commander, aye,” Jamie told him firmly. “Tha’s exactly what ye’ll do, and ye’ll also be the one te punish yer men fer their carelessness.”

“Aye,” said Dougal, biting his tongue. “Then tha’s what I’ll do. Good luck to ye.”


CATRÌONA POV

I was jolted awake by the door of the barn slamming open, jumping ever so slightly and disturbing poor Archie, who was slumbering peacefully beside me. “Awake, are ye?” Jamie’s voice boomed from the doorway as Archie whined.

“I am now,” I hissed at him. “Shh, shh, my lamb, it’s all right. It’s only yer Da,” I said to Archie as I soothed him.

“I’m sorry, my wee laddie,” Jamie said as he came into the room, kicking the door closed behind him and handing Archie a metal ring with metal objects attached to them.

“The hell?” I said as Archie picked up the ring and jingled it.

“Loud!” he exclaimed as his father chuckled, sitting on the hay bed beside us.

“What are these?” I asked him.

“Cotter pins,” Jamie told me, leaning in closer to me. “Trophies of war .” He pressed his lips to mine, then pulled away, startling me a little - he had black soot smeared all over his face.

“Blessed Bride, Jamie!” I exclaimed.

“Dinnae fash, it’s only ash,” he said to me. “Didnae have time te wash.” He kissed me again, then bent down to kiss the top of Archie’s head.

“Da da!” Archie said as he showed his father the pins.

“Aye, I see!” Jamie exclaimed cheerfully, accepting an embrace from his son.

“Where’ve ye been?” I asked. “How’s yer back?”

“Nae bother,” he said. “I can handle a thrashin’ or two. We went on a commando raid.” He smiled at me playfully and leaned in to kiss my cheek. “Commando raid… Tha’s the right word?”

“It is. Do ye mean te say ye went te the English camp?” I asked him.

“Aye,” Jamie replied as he tightened his embrace on his son.

“Did ye go alone?” I asked him again.

“Nah,” said Jamie, accepting the cotter pins from Archie. “I couldnae leave my men out of all the fun, could I? We had a verra profitable night. These cotter pins came from the cannon carriages. We couldnae take the cannons, but these pins held the wheels together. Without them, they’ll no’ go far.”

“Can’t they fashion another pin from somethin’ else?” I asked him as Archie reached for the pins again.

“Aye, they could, but a hell of a lot of good it’ll do if they cannae find wheels te put them in,” he replied, giving me a sly smile. “We burned the wheels fer warmth.”

“Of course ye did,” I said, lying back down. Jamie stood up and set Archie back down on the hay bed beside me with the pins in his hands.

“Our success tonight was because of yer wit and yer selflessness, mo ghràidh . It led the lad te confess his camp’s location. Ye’ve saved lives tonight, because a hell of a lot of good sixteen gallopers will do General Cope stuck out in the woods,” he told me, and I couldn’t help but chuckle as he bent down te kiss me. “It’s best ye get dressed. We need te be out soon, before the English camp awakens.”

“Ye hear that, Archie? No more sleep fer us,” I said to my son, who let out a cheer.

“No bed!” he said, resulting in a chuckle from both Jamie and I.

“I’d best be off te get the men ready. We’ll arrive at Prestonpans tomorrow,” Jamie said, and he bent te kiss me, then ruffled Archie’s hair, stood, and left the pair of us in our hay bed in the barn.


14 September, 1745

Prestonpans, Scotland

We marched through dawn and into the day, marching for hours with the occasional tune of the pipes or a hum, even a soft song sung by the men to pass the time. I rode beside Jamie with Archie in front of me, fast asleep for his mid-morning nap, while Cailean rode behind us beside the men. For a time, all we heard was the marching of the men, the hooves of the horses and the clanking and clattering of belts, weapons, various items, and more.

 

“Thug hò-ò, laithill hò,

Thug o-hò-ò, an aill libh,

Thug hò-ò, lathaill hò,

Seinn o-hò-ò, an aill libh,

 

Och ‘sa mhaduinn ‘s mi dusgadh,

‘S mòr mo shunnd’ mo cheol-gaire,

O’ na chuala mi ‘m Prionnsa,

Thighinn do dhuthaich Chlann Ra’ill…”

 

I glanced at Jamie, then turned my horse around to see Cailean singing and the men drawing their attention to him, then nodded to him so he’d ride off to the side. “What are ye doin’? Tha’ song’s no’ been written yet!” I hissed at him quietly.

“No, but it will be soon,” Cailean replied. “I’m no’ concerned. What does it matter now, anyway? History has proved that no matter how much we meddle with time, it’ll meddle back, showin’ us that things like this were meant te happen anyway.” I couldn’t help but let out a sigh.

“It does, doesnae it?” I asked him. “Fine, do as ye like. Suppose we’d best find ways te enjoy whatever of this life we have left.” With that said, I rejoined Jamie’s side, Cailean leading the men in a rendition of ‘Song to the Prince’ as we rode. Finally, we came to the hill that lay before Prestonpans. Jamie ordered his men to stop as we looked down at the very large encampment of Scottish Jacobite soldiers.

“Dougal Mackenzie,” Jamie called, and within moments, Dougal appeared at his other side. “Do the honour. Ride ahead and announce our presence te His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”

“As ye say,” said Dougal, nodding to his nephew before leading his horse down the hill and into the Jacobite camp. Jamie and I glanced at each other, my grip tightening on Archie in front of me.

“No turnin’ back now,” I said, turning my attention back to the camp.

“I’d say no’,” Jamie said to me. “ Je suis prest.”

Deiseil le cridhe is làmh ,” I replied. Ready with heart and hand, the Clan Fowlis of Barra motto.

Chapter Text

3 July, 2135

Bloody Bush Road, The Borders, Scotland

“You there! Give me a hand!”

“Agh! It hurts! It hurts!”

“Pass me that scalpel, I’ve got a right side pneumothorax.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Transfer on my count. One, two, three!”

The young lad who came into the hospital tent was moved from a gurney to the bed while I quickly examined him. I bent over him, lifted his eyelids and shined a small light into his eyes.

“The left pupil is blown. I need a CT of his head,” I called to the assisting nurse, who brought the small portable machine over and hung it from the pole that hovered over the bed. I put a lead apron over the lad and stepped back while the nurse took the imaging, then looked at the screen above the bed. “Right, he’s got increasin’ pressure in the left parietal lobe from a nasty bleed, I need te do a burr hole te relieve the pressure. Fetch me the drill.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said the nurse, placing the drill in my hand. I positioned it on the skull just above the parietal lobe and drilled a hole in the young lad’s skull.

“I need gauze! Quickly! He’s bleedin’ profusely.” The nurse rushed over with a bit of gauze and covered the burr hole, mopping up the blood and stopping the bleeding. “Great job, Nurse MacTavish. He’ll need te be transferred te Hawick, there’s nothin’ more we can do here. Can ye arrange tha’?”

“Yes, Ms. Fowlis,” said the nurse as I pulled off my gloves and left the trauma room.

“Ms. Fowlis! I’ve got a severed carotid in four! I need an extra hand!” I heard the voice of another medic-in-training, Mr. Lewes, call to me.

“I’ve got it, Ms. Fowlis,” said another nurse, rushing to help Mr. Lewes.

“Goddamn,” I muttered to myself, wiping a bit of sweat off of my forehead, unknowingly smearing a bit of blood. Suddenly, I went deaf as I was thrown off of my feet, landing in a muddy, blood-soaked puddle and covering the back of my neck protectively. I felt the heat of an explosion pass over me, and only when the ringing stopped did I lift my head and look over my shoulder. Behind me, the entire hospital tent was up in flames, and so was everyone else who was in it. Nurse MacTavish, Mr. Lewes, the patient with the burr hole… All of them, reduced to ashes. I would have been ashes if I had gone to help Mr. Lewes. “Blessed Bride…” I muttered to myself. The English had bombed the hospital tent, leaving us with no resources, no medicine, no medics - save for me - and no place for our wounded.

“Is anyone there? Hello?” I heard my communication watch suddenly sputter. “Hello? Hello? Does anyone copy?”

“Aye,” I said into my watch as I watched the flames eat away at the remnants of the tent. “Aye, I… I copy…”

“This is Lieutenant Douglas, I see smoke in the direction of the hospital. What’s happened? Over,” came the voice of Lieutenant Douglas.

“It… it’s gone,” was all I could say. “The hospital, it… it’s gone…”


16 September, 1745

Prestonpans, Scotland

I sat before the corpse of a Scottish highlander, left to rot as the snowflakes fell softly, burying him beneath a thin blanket of white. He was young, easily as young as sixteen, maybe as old as twenty - barely a chance to live. I didn’t know his name or his clan; he’d been stripped of his tartan, his genitals cut off and pinned to the tree nearby. The highlander had likely run afoul of a redcoat patrol, and they showed him no mercy. Gently, I laid my palm onto the ground, bowing my head. “Ye will be avenged,” I whispered quietly. “Ye willnae be forgotten.”

How many more lives would I see extinguished by war? Too many. One was already too many.


CAILEAN POV

“There, sir,” came the Irish accent of Quartermaster John O’Sullivan. His chubby, sausage fingers were pointing to the other side of the swamp, where General Cope’s army was camping, waiting for the Scots to attack. “Right there is your enemy.” Prince Charles sat with O’Sullivan standing above him staring down bitterly at the map.

“Yet we do nothing but sit here twiddling our thumbs,” Charles said bitterly.

“And what would ye have the Lord General do, John?” Cailean asked him, earning a sharp look from O’Sullivan. “Pardon. Quartermaster O’Sullivan.” Cailean hadn’t been an officer in the Scottish rebellion, but he’d been training to be one. Both he and Catrìona had jointly led the Battle of Bloody Bush, but it was primarily her thinking that led them to victory. 

“Attack, damn it!” hissed Charles with frustration.

“Pardon me, Your Highness, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why General Murray insists that we dilly-dally!” O’Sullivan said with equal frustration, leading to Lord General George Murray earning a scowl from the prince.

“I rushed my army here te ensure our possession of the high ground, and now ye wish us te abandon such a strong defensive position and attack the enemy in force? Across a swamp ?” Murray demanded.

“Indeed I do, sir!” O’Sullivan spat back. Jamie and Cailean exchanged a glance, wanting to roll their eyes at these two old coots squabbling like chickens.

“Time, sir! Time is of the essence!” Murray said to the prince, who let out a bored sigh.

“We must not tarry, Your Majesty. We must strike, and strike hard!” O’Sullivan spat back.

“May I remind the Quartermaster, that any attacking force will have te cross here ,” Jamie interrupted, pointing to the bog that separated the two armies on the map, “through Tranent Meadows. Though ‘meadow’ is a kind term fer the bog, as Lord General Murray has stated, that lies between us and the English.”

“Since when did a Scotsman shy away from a bit of mud, aye? Especially when there’s an enemy waiting for him on the other side!” O’Sullivan exclaimed.

“A bog is a wee bit more than mud, Quartermaster,” Cailean told him. “Since when does an Irish-born officer dismiss the dangers of a boggy ground te an infantry attack?”

“Well, thank God. A sane voice at last!” Murray exclaimed.

“Can ye imagine, Yer Highness? Yer army wallowin’ helplessly while under a witherin’ volley from the English Brown Bess musket?” Cailean asked the prince, bending down to his level.

“That weapon alone can strike from fifty yards, at least, and can be accurate fer up te a hundred,” Murray chimed in.

“Cavalry could prove useful to our needs,” said O’Sullivan.

“And how is a horse any different than a man? Sure, they’ve smaller feet, but if the bog is deep, they’ll no’ get through,” Cailean argued back calmly.

“Best te test the ground, then. Report on our enemy position,” Jamie chimed in.

“A braw squad of dragoons could mean the difference between victory or defeat,” Cailean told the prince.

“Let us not speak of defeat or cavalry we do not have!” the prince snapped, giving a side-eyed glance to O’Sullivan.

“And as for the Lord General, may I remind him that he would be remaining behind the lines and therefore, need not be concerned about English marksmanship?” O’Sullivan spat at Murray.

“Damn my liver! What are ye implyin’?” Murray shouted back at him.

“I imply nothing, sir! I am merely grateful that we are dependent on our brave warriors who are not afraid to face shot or shell to pursue a glorious victory for our prince and our king!” O’Sullivan snapped back.

“I am more concerned aboot allowin’ those brave warriors te become sitting ducks in the muck!” Murray spat back at him.

“Mark me, now it is but weeks gone since we took the cities of Perth and Edinburgh without firing a single shot!” Charles butted in, interrupting the two squabbling buzzards. “And let us not forget, they welcomed us with open arms!”

“Aye, no thanks to these two weans!” O’Sullivan exclaimed, gesturing to Cailean and Jamie.

“Oi! These two weans spent the last few weeks trainin’ our men from farmers te soldiers! And what have your men been doin’, aye? Oh, tha’s right, ye dinnae have any!” Cailean spat back defensively at O’Sullivan.

“No? And where’s your army, Fowlis of Barra? Couldnae convince your grandfather to give them up for the noble cause?” O’Sullivan said back to him.

“My grandsire is his own man, as I am my own man,” Cailean said back to him.

“Enough!” Jamie shouted, silencing the room. “Back te the conversation at hand, when ye took Edinburgh and Perth, ye had surprise on yer side, Yer Royal Highness.”

“Aye, General Cope wasnae expectin’ us,” said Murray. “His troops fled.”

“And that willnae happen again,” Jamie said.

“Perhaps if I were to negotiate a meeting with the General?” Charles asked him. “Offer him generous terms of surrender?”

“Yer Highness, I dinnae see how that will help-” Cailean began, but the prince held up a hand to stop him.

“Give him my word that his men will be allowed to march unmolested back to England,” he continued. “I am sure he has no more desire to shed English blood than I.”

“He might no’, but his men might feel differently,” said Cailean, who got shushed again.

“We are brothers, after all,” Charles replied.

“Even as a young lad, you had the kindest of hearts, sir,” said O’Sullivan, doing some major ass-kissing. It was enough to make Cailean feel an urge to gag. “But I fear the time for talk is done. We sailed from France to fight a war. Let’s fight it and be done with it.”

“Easier said than done,” Cailean said to him. “This is the third Jacobite uprisin’ in, what, sixty years? Fifty? The English willnae let us go quietly. We have history te back that up.” And the future as well , Cailean thought to himself.

“I have made my decision!” Charles announced. “I will not risk destroying our army by ordering it to cross potentially lethal ground. I trust the word of my Scottish companions, who have lived on this land for all their lives, as have my dear friends, James, and Cailean, and Lord General Murray as well.”

“I will not allow it!” the Quartermaster exclaimed with his Irish temper.

“Then resign yer commission and let the prince find himself a general with a firmer backbone! Like Mr. Fowlis here!” Murray shouted at O’Sullivan like he was scolding a child.

“Why, you pompous toe-rag!” shouted O’Sullivan.

“While ye wee auld buzzards exchange insults, what do ye want us te tell the clans?” Cailean asked the prince, who let out an annoyed huff.

“Tell those men to await further orders,” the prince told him irritably. “And get these two arguing clotpoles out of my presence!”

“Ye heard yer prince,” Cailean told Murray and O’Sullivan, who sent him a glare as they left the prince’s tent, their squabbling continuing outside.

“Suppose I’ll go and inform MacDonald and Chattan,” said Jamie, nodding to his brother before leaving the prince’s tent.

Why must the Scots be such intractable people?” Charles demanded, and Cailean couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Aye, we’ve a tendency te be a wee bit pig-headed on occasion,” he replied. “ You have Scotland runnin’ in yer blood, too. That stubbornness gives us the strength te move mountains because we dinnae give up so easily.”

“Hm,” said the prince. “Mark me, I promised my father, and I have promised God. This rebellion must succeed.”

“It may be difficult with a devil like England on our tail, Yer Highness. Trust me, they’re no’ wont te give up easily, either,” Cailean replied, leaning against the table.

“Hmph,” Charles replied again. “James’s noble wife will be among those providing medical succour for those poor souls in need of such come the cannon’s roar?”

“Aye, my noble sister, too. She’s helpin’ te set up a field hospital as we speak, her and the MacBean lassies she taught at Crieff. She’ll be teachin’ other women, too, and settin’ up a few hospital tents in the camp,” Cailean replied.

“Be so kind as to inform James to tell her that the Prince asks that English casualties be tended to before the Jacobite wounded,” Charles said to him, taking Cailean off guard.

“Treat the English first?” Cailean asked him.

“Indeed! They are my father’s subjects also, and I will have them well cared for,” Charles replied.

“Yer Highness, as noble as tha’ is, my sister will tell ye herself, tendin’ in order of nationality-”

“They must be made to realise that the Scots wage war upon them with the greatest of reluctance,” Charles exclaimed, interrupting him. “They are our enemies now, but one day soon, they will be our friends again.”

“Yer Highness,” Cailean said with a sigh. “The English… They’ve never really been a friend te the Scots… They’ve hammered us fer centuries like… like an aulder brother te a younger. Always tryin’ te force us te bow down te them, never showin’ the Scottish crown an ounce of respect until it was joined with theirs, and even then, they didnae respect us. I dinnae ken if friendship is possible between the English and the Scots. However, as your loyal friend, I would advise ye not te say such a thing within earshot of the men. They wouldnae appreciate such sentiment, seein’ as many of them have been afflicted by harassment from the English… and I ken fer sure my sister willnae follow such an order as treatin’ the English first.”

“From her prince , maybe not. This is why I desire you to speak to James, as I am certain Lady Broch Two-rock would prove obedient to an edict from her lord and master,” Charles told him.

“I’ll pass along the message, but this isnae the first time my sister has worked in a field hospital in battle, Yer Highness. She will prefer te treat in order of need, rather than nationality. If an English soldier comes in with a wound that threatens his life and a Scot comes in with a dislocated shoulder, aye, she’ll treat the English lad first… but if it’s the other away around, I fear the English lad will have te wait,” Cailean tried to explain to the prince, but he wouldn’t budge.

“Tell James to order her to do as I say,” Charles insisted, and Cailean let out a sigh.

“All right. I’ll do as ye say,” Cailean replied, standing and leaving the prince’s tent.


CATRÌONA POV

“Absolutely not !” I hissed sharply at my brother. “Does that conceited bastard really think I’ll let a man die because he’s Scottish when there’s an English soldier in my tent? Hell no. Tell him he can kiss my pale white magic arse and I’ll treat on a needs basis.”

“I tried te explain that to him, but he was insistent,” said Cailean as he followed me.<