Mrs. Graham showed up at their door bright and early, having begged off her chores for the day at the manse. The couple was in the dining room enjoying a breakfast of fresh eggs and toast when she knocked on the door. Claire didn't seem to hear the knock so Jamie wiped his mouth and stood to go answer the door, "I'll get the door mo ghráidh, finish yer breakfast."
Claire smiled at him and swallowed, "Thank you, my love, I'm sure its only Mrs. Graham, why don't you invite her in for breakfast."
Jamie nodded and placed a kiss on the crown of her curls before leaving the dining room to answer the door. He walked down the hall toward the door and answered it with a smile, "Mrs. Graham, please come in. We just sat down for breakfast, please join us."
Mrs. Graham removed her hat and stepped into the house, "Well I must say that this is a pleasant change. I am usually the one serving breakfast, I don't mind if I do join ye."
Jamie stepped aside and gestured toward the dining room as he took Mrs. Graham's hat and coat. "I'll just put these away, please go ahead and join Claire in the dining room. I'll be just a moment."
Mrs. Graham nodded and walked down the hall to the dining room where Claire was setting a place for her at the table. "Oh my dear, this looks lovely, thank ye for inviting me and for thinking of me to help ye choose yer wedding dress."
Claire grinned, "Mrs. Graham, you are the closest thing that I have to a mother, there is no one else I would rather spend this day with. Thank you so much for agreeing to come with me, but I must also confess, I was hoping that you would know where to go to find a dress. I'm afraid that I am more familiar with 18th century Scotland than I am with the 20th century."
Mrs. Graham took her seat next to Claire and patted her hand, "Dinna worry, lass. I ken just the place to go, but it will require a wee trip on the train. I thought perhaps after we stop at the courthouse to obtain yer marriage license that the three of us could take a ride down to Edinburgh. Jamie could visit Edinburgh Castle while the two of us shop for yer dress. I'm sure that he would enjoy seeing how it has changed over the centuries."
Jamie walked in at the end of the discussion, just missing what they were talking about, but hearing enough to know that his name had been mentioned. "What will I enjoy seeing?"
Mrs. Graham turned and smiled sweetly at him, "I thought perhaps ye would enjoy seeing Edinburgh Castle after all these years. Ye could take the tour while Claire and I shop for her wedding dress, then after we are finished we could all go shopping for yer wedding attire."
Jamie's eyes widened as his brow rose almost to his hairline, "Edinburgh, is that no' still too far away for a day trip even in this time?"
Mrs. Graham chuckled, "Aye it would be if we drove, but we willna drive. Instead, we shall take the train. We will drive down to Inverness and take the train from there."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Do ye think that my wame will be able to handle a train? Claire told me about them and the constant rocking motion that is similar to a ship. I dinna do so well on sea voyages."
Claire reached over and placed her hand on top of his. "We can stop at the chemist and purchase some motion sickness medicine before we get on the train. I'm quite sure that the medicine will be able to ease your stomach so that you can enjoy the ride while you see Scotland from a whole new point of view."
With an agreement on the plans for the day made, the three of them dug into their breakfast. Claire ate a second helping, claiming it was for the baby, while Jamie enjoyed a third, making no claims except he was still hungry. Mrs. Graham helped them to clean up before they all piled in her car, proper required documents in hand to obtain their marriage license. Mrs. Graham waited in the car while Jamie and Claire went into the courthouse. Obtaining a marriage license was quite simple with a letter from their judge, advising the clerk that the couple should be approved without haste. They were in and out in only 15 minutes, marriage license in hand.
Mrs. Graham smiled at their matching beaming smiles as they descended the courthouse stairs and strode with purpose toward her car. They climbed in, and the three made their way to their next stop at the chemist. After Claire explained Jamie's issues to the pharmacist, he was more than willing to provide Jamie with enough motion sickness pills to last him for 30 days. He advised Jamie to take one, just prior to riding in a car, boarding a train, ship, or plane and not taking another for at least 24 hours after the first pill.
Their next stop was the train station and they arrived early enough for Jamie to take a look around and ask the engineer several questions before it was time to board. Claire was amused at Jamie's fascination with the steam engine and realized that she had married a man that could make himself at home in any time period and in any location. Jamie was a man out of time, but with his modern way of thinking, he fit in more in the 20th century than he ever had in the 18th century. She had no doubt that once they were past the wedding and able to truly settle into their 20th century lives that Jamie would flourish and the only thing he would miss from his own time would be his family.
Finally, it was time to board the train and the three of them easily found their seats in a private cabin. Mrs. Graham had selected the privacy of a cabin in the instants that Claire might need to rest or if Jamie's stomach would not remain calm even with the aid of the motion sickness pills. It wasn't Claire's first time on a train and she took great pride in explaining everything to her husband who was just as fascinated with their cabin as he had been the steam engine.
Claire explained how the bench seats transformed into a large bed when one was needed and how there was storage space under the seats so they wouldn't be crowded by any purchases they might make before boarding the train to take them back to Inverness. To Claire's surprise, Jamie chose to sit next to the window, he was eager to see the landscape of Scotland from a completely new point of view.
Claire took a seat across from Jamie, so she could witness his reaction as they passed through Scotland at a speed greater than even the fastest ship had traveled in the 18th century. As they pulled away from the train station, Jamie's eyes grew wider and wider in awe as the land passed them by, faster than Jamie could have imagined. Eventually, Jamie relaxed and began pointing out familiar landmarks to Claire and Mrs. Graham, explaining what had changed or what had remained the same from the last time he had been there.
After about an hour, Claire had leaned her head back to rest and had promptly fallen asleep. Jamie noticed and traded places with Mrs. Graham so that he could move Claire to rest her head on his lap. The bairn was growing large enough that it was taking every bit of spare energy that Claire possessed. Jamie knew he would get plenty more chances to see Scotland from a train and chose to offer comfort to his wife over watching the landscape race by. Claire slept right up until the train stopped at the depot in Edinburgh and only awoke with a gentle shake from Jamie, "Ye must wake up mo chridhe, we are in Edinburgh and tis time for ye and Mrs. Graham to go in search of yer wedding dress."
Claire sat up and rubbed her eyes. She nodded and Jamie helped her to stand and regain her balance as they prepared to disembark from the train. Once they stepped off the train, Claire grabbed Jamie's arm, "Are you sure that you will be alright by yourself. I don't want you to get lost or in trouble, I'm sure it would be alright if you came with us and then we can go visit the Castle when we are finished."
Jamie gazed at her worried face, "Aye, I will be alright Sassenach, Scotland has always been my home and I have been to Edinburgh often enough that I am sure I can find my way to the castle. I willna leave the castle before the two of ye come to fetch me. Ye need no' worry about me lass, I promise no' to kill anyone while ye shop for yer dress. Now go and enjoy yer self wi' Mrs. Graham, dinna worry over me."
Claire sighed, "Well, if you are absolutely certain. But promise me you won't go anywhere else and don't tell anyone when you are actually from."
Jamie chuckled, "I'll be fine lass, now go."
Claire pulled a map out of her handbag, "Here, take this just in case. I have marked the castle and the train station in case you wish to return here."
Jamie rolled his eyes but took the map to ease her mind. "Fine, now go. Stop worryin' over somethin' that has no' happened yet."
Claire nodded and stretched up to place a kiss on his cheek. "I will try not to take to long. I'm not picky and finding a dress that fits properly shouldn't' take to long."
Jamie drew her into a tight embrace as he placed a tender kiss on her temple, "Take as much time as ye wish mo ghráidh, I willna mind. I wish for our wedding to be everything ye have ever dreamed of."
Claire pulled back to look up into his pools of icy blue, "You have already given me a wedding beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of, my love. This time it will be more of a celebration of our love than the joining of two scared people."
Jamie shook his head, "Our first wedding was a celebration of my love for ye, this one will be a celebration of yer love for me as well. This time, I will ken that ye wish to be there and are no' simply doin' it to escape the clutches of a madman."
Claire quirked her brow, "Do you honestly think that I would let anyone force me to do anything. Do you truly believe that I would have married you if I had not truly wanted to?"
Jame chuckled, "Aye, now that I ken ye a bit more, I must say that I dinna ken anyone that could force ye to do anything that wasna somethin' ye had already wanted."
Claire leaned up to capture his lips with hers and after a brief passionate kiss, Jamie sent her on her way with Mrs. Graham as he took his leave to explore the city on his way to Edinburgh Castle.
As Jamie walked through town, he saw several places that had existed during his time, but several more that had been erected in the years since. When he reached the castle, he joined the next tour and listened in amusement as the tour guide rambled on about the history of the castle and various battles that had been waged there. Knowing that Claire would be upset with him if Jamie were to correct the guide on some of the points where he was a bit cloudy or had his facts confused entirely. Jamie bit his tongue and let the guide carry on, making a complete fool of himself in the process.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mrs. Graham had taken Claire to a specialty boutique where they only carried understated wedding dresses for ladies that were not completely consumed with making the best and grandest impression at their weddings. The shop was focused on brides who were truly in love and only wanted to impress one person on their wedding day. Claire fell in love with the place as soon as they stepped through the door.
The shop owner met them at the door, "Hello ladies, please come in and have a seat. I have a few questions for ye so that we might find the perfect dress for yer special day. I see that ye are expecting a wee bairn, so my first question is, do ye wish to hide yer pregnancy, or would ye like a dress that showcases yer condition?" Claire looked down at her belly and thought about how proud Jamie had been when he realized they were expecting another baby. She smiled to herself as she gently stroked over the swell of her child. The shop owner smiled at her, "That is all the answer that I need my dear. No matter what else the dress requires, it will have an empire waist so that your bairn isna hidden from the world but included in the nuptials."
Claire smiled thoughtfully at her, "So far you have impressed me with your intuition, I am curious how asking a few questions will help you to find the perfect dress for me though."
She shop owner threw her head back as she laughed, "Aye, tis a gift ye see. It has no' let me down yet, so if ye will allow me to try, I am quite certain that we have that dress that was made just for ye."
Claire shrugged her shoulders, "Well, its not as though I have anything to lose by answering a few questions. Go ahead and ask away, I will try to answer to the best of my ability."
The shop owner directed them to a small sitting room, "Please enjoy the tea and pastries as we figure out the type of dress that will suit ye."
Mrs. Fitz and Claire sat down on the white velvet settee and indulged in the sweet pastries.
The shop owner sat down across from them with her hands folded in her lap, "Now, onto the second part, tell me what ye wish for yer groom to think when he sees ye walking down the aisle toward him?"
Claire thought for a moment with her brow furrowed, "Well, I'm not really sure what I want him to think. He already tells me that I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. He tells me every day that the rounder I grow with his child the more he loves me." Claire blushed, but the shop owner gave her a look that encouraged her to continue, "Well, we can't seem to keep our hands from each other, we are quite insatiable and have become even more so since my pregnancy. Jamie is old fashion and thinks it indecent to show to much skin, but he has been coming around more and more. He calls me my heart and my love."
The shop owner put a hand up, "That is enough about yer groom, now tell me how ye wish to feel on yer wedding day."
Claire smiled, "I only wish to feel special, I never really dreamed about getting married, but this is the day that I will give the love of my life everything that I am. I want to be everything he deserves and I want to feel worthy of his love for me."
The shop owner grinned, "I believe that I have just the dress for ye, wait right here."
Claire turned and exchanged a look with Mrs. Graham who just smiled and patted her hand, "Trust in the process my dear, she is quite talented at what she does."
Claire smiled nervously, "I am trusting you, but I have to admit that I am a bit nervous at what she will suggest."
A few minutes later the shop owner returned with a garment bag, "Do ye wish to try this on today?"
Claire stood up and nodded, "Yes, the wedding is this Saturday so it is imperative that I choose a dress today."
The shop owner hung the dress on a high hook and unzipped it. She pulled out an ivory chiffon a-line wrap dress with flutter elbow length sleeves and an empire waist. The dress didn't look like much as it hung loose on the hanger, but the shop owner held it out to her, "I can see by the expression on yer face that ye are no' impressed, but please just trust me, try it on and then make yer decision. The dressing room is right around the corner."
Claire took the dress and walked toward the dressing room, mentally going over the sundresses that she already owned, contemplating which of them would be pretty enough for her marriage to Jamie. She slipped out of her clothes and slipped her arms into the dress, carefully wrapping it around her and tying the wide ribbon at her side. She was so lost in thought that she had not turned to look in the mirror inside the dressing room before stepping out and making her way back to the small sitting room.
Her brow was furrowed when she emerged and the shop owner frowned, "Ye look lovely lass, do ye no' like the dress?"
Claire looked up at the shop owner and Mrs. Fitz standing together with matching expressions of awe on their faces, "Wot?"
Mrs. Graham wiped a tear away, "My dear, ye look like an angel, Jamie will fall upon his knees when he sees ye in this dress."
Claire finally looked down at the dress, then stepped up onto the small platform and turned around to peer at her reflection in the three, floor to ceiling mirrors that surrounded her. She gasped when she saw her reflection, "Oh, my, is that me?"
Mrs. Graham came to stand next to her, "Yes, my dear that is you, what do you think of the dress?"
Claire couldn't hold the tears back, "It is so lovely, I don't even know what to say. I never dreamed of my wedding day, but if I were to dream, this is the dress I would dream of."
The shop owner clapped her hands, "It is the perfect dress for ye, but I think perhaps it needs one more thing."
Claire furrowed her brow, "What more could it possibly need?"
The shop owner turned to a small table filled with all types of adornments and picked up a delicate tiara then turned and held it out toward Claire, "Just a wee bit of icing, never hurts."
Claire's hand came up to cover her mouth as she watched the shop owner place the tiara on her head in the reflection. The shop owner took a step back and took a look at Claire from every angle, "No that simply will not do. Your hair, the tendrils at the temple should be twisted and pinned at the back as if they completed the back of a crown, the rest must be left down to cascade over yer shoulders."
Claire pulled her hair out of her pins, "Will you show me, I want to see the full effect before I decide on the dress."
The shop owner nodded, "Aye, hand me yer pins."
Claire passed the pins to the shop owner who skillfully twisted her hair together, blending it seamlessly at the back of Claire's head then placing the tiara just right so that the ends of it disappeared into her hair. She pinned the tiara in place then stepped away so Claire could see her reflection. A gasp escaped her mouth at the same time a tear rolled down her cheek. Her voice came out in barely a whisper, "Oh, my God, this is the one, this is the dress, this is how I want to look for Jamie on our wedding day."
Mrs. Graham came up to hug her tightly, "I watched as Clarice styled yer hair, I think that I can recreate it for ye. Do ye wish to purchase the dress today?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, I need to take this dress home with me, Jamie will absolutely love it."