"Claire, ye must go back to yer own time, to a man who loves ye. Ye promised me when we were in Paris, that if the time came, ye would go back." Jamie escorted her up to the summit of the hill.
She pulled back when they reached the edge of the stone circle, "I can't leave you, come with me."
Jamie stepped away from her and circled the center stone, touching the stone he said, "I canna, it's no' my place, my destiny lies on Culloden Moor."
He walked back over and gathered her into his arms, "I will find you, I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without ye - then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed and stolen, betrayed, and broken trust. But there is one thing that shall lie in the balance when I stand before God, I shall have one thing to say to weigh against the rest. Lord ye gave me a rare woman and God I loved her well."
He placed a finger under her chin and tilted her face up to bring her lips to his. He kissed her tenderly at first, then the kiss became more demanding and hurried as he poured his heart and soul and everything he felt into that kiss. He gently lowered her to the ground, rucking her skirts and his kilt up, "I must have ye once more before I die."
He thrust into her repeatedly his lips never leaving hers, tears rolling down her cheeks as she pulled him deeper into her. If this was to be the last time, they would savor every moment, every sensation. She would take this moment with her to last long after she traveled through the stones, back to a life she no longer wanted. She would remember this moment when the only thing she had left to live for was the child that rest below her heart. With one final thrust, Jamie spilled his seed inside of her for the last time, just as the cannon blast brought them back to their reality.
The battle had begun, she must go through the stones now and save herself and the child, all that would remain of Jamie. He rose to his feet and taking her hands, he helped her to stand with him. He pulled her tight to his chest and walked her backward toward the stone that would take her away from him forever.
Clutching him tightly around the neck she cried, "I love you, I love you."
He blinked to keep the tears from falling, "And I, you."
He turned her in his embrace so that his chest was pressed to her back, and raised their joined hands to the stone. They touched the stone together and suddenly she faded from his embrace and was gone. He turned and walked over to where they had laid together, bent down and picked up the tartan that she had dropped when they made love for the last time. He raised it to his face and inhaled the scent of her, the scent of his wife whom he would never see again. He walked back to the center stone, tears running down his face, and placed his palm on the stone, thinking only of Claire and the child, bidding them a last goodbye.
Suddenly everything went dark, his body felt as though it was being ripped apart as the otherworldly screams pierced his ears. He felt as though he was falling from a great height, he could hear his own screams joining the others. He hadn't seen anyone else near the fairy hill, but he must have died, he must have been killed, for surely this was purgatory. He held the tartan tight to his chest and wished he could see Claire one more time before purgatory took him.
Just as suddenly as the blackness and screaming began, it faded away. His body came back together, the screaming faded to birdsong and the darkness gave way to the beautiful ember hues of sunrise stretching across the sky. He felt sick to his stomach and attempted to sit up. His muscles were too sore to situp immediately so he rolled over onto his knees so he could wretch the contents of his stomach.
Once he had finished wretching, he heard sobbing, it was a voice he recognized, it was his wife, it was Claire. He got to his feet and followed the sound, she was leaning against one of the stones that created the circle of stones, with her knees drawn up to her chest and her face buried in her hands. He quietly made his way over to her and knelt down in front of her. She was so caught up in her grief that she didn't hear him approach, "Sassenach, my love, open yer eyes and look at me."
She shook her head, "You're not really here, I left you to die on that bloody moor. I know I promised you, but I can't, Jamie. I can't go back to him, I can't go back to Frank, I'm sorry."
His heart broke for her as he reached out and stroked her hair, her head whipped up, her eyes wide and her mouth dropped open. "I ken ye promised me, mo chirdhe, I'll not make ye keep yer promise, ye need not go back to Frank, I'm here now."
She threw herself into his embrace and sobbed into the crook of his neck and shoulder, "Oh Jamie, I thought I had lost you forever, how did you get here?"
He chuckled as he continued to stroke her hair, "I dinna ken how I got here or even where or when here is. Do ye think we made it to yer time?"
She pulled back and looked into his eyes, "I'm not sure, I know we are not in 1746 anymore. The sounds of battle are gone but I am not sure what time we traveled to, there is not yet enough light to be able to see anything."
Jamie rose up, bringing her with him, his arms wrapped around her waist as he scanned the land around them. "Aye, yer right, we canna see a thing. We shall remain here at the stones until there is enough light to see, then we will make our way to Inverness and find a way to determine what time we have traveled to."
Jamie sat down against the rock that Claire had been leaning against and brought her down to sit between his legs. He used the tartan that he had brought through the stones and wrapped it around them, creating a cocoon of warmth until there was enough light for them to determine which way they would go. "Lay yer head on my shoulder and rest mo ghráidh, I've got ye now."
Claire did as he suggested and laid her head back to rest, she knew once they started moving that it would be more than a few hours before they reached Inverness. After having faced the worst decision of her life, she was now able to relax, knowing that the love of her life was with her, and no matter what they would never part. She drifted off to a dreamless sleep within moments.
Jamie watched as the colors of the sky changed and the sun slowly rose, revealing a world similar to what he had left behind, but definitely different. He scanned the land around them, the area he could see from their vantage point had indeed changed. He looked down toward the bottom of the hill and instead of seeing an expanse of lush forest, he saw what looked like a black river, it must be the road that Claire had described. But it didn't resemble any road he had ever seen before, they must be in her time or close to it.
She was sleeping so soundly that he regretted having to wake her, but they couldn't stay at the stones indefinitely, they had to find out for sure what time they were in and then plan what to do next. He was a bit apprehensive of their next step if they had indeed arrived in her time. In her time she was married to Frank and that would be a hurdle that could prove difficult to deal with.
He gently stroked her cheek and placed a kiss on the crown of her head, "Sassenach, my love, ye need to wake up. We need to start walking and make our way to Inverness."
Claire's eyes fluttered open, a smile upon her face. She looked around, confused at her surroundings at first, but then remembered that they had traveled through the stones together. She sat up straight, her head whipped to the left and then to the right as she scrambled to her feet. "Jamie, I think we are back in my time or at least in the future. That is the road that I traveled on to get to Craigh Na Dun almost three years ago when I first met you."
Jamie rose and stood behind her, lacing his arms around her waist and settling his chin on her shoulder, "I thought it might be, but we still dinna ken for sure what year we are in. Ye said that roads like that one existed for many years before ye traveled, we may no' be in yer time at all."
She nodded and leaned her temple against his head, "Yes that is true, paved roads have existed in Scotland since 1865, so logically we could still be a hundred years before even my time. But look over there at the hills, do you see those tall poles sticking up out of the ground and the wires running between them?"
Jamie looked to where she was indicating, "Aye, I see them, what are they?"
She grinned, "That my love, is a power line and the first power grid in Scotland was erected in 1928, so I think we are closer to my time than yours."
She stepped away from him, forcing him to release his grip on her waist and grabbed his hand, "Come on, let's start walking, the only way to know for sure is to go to town and find out. I will have a better idea of when we are, once I see some automobiles."
Jamie followed her down the hillside, "Automobiles, ye said they are like a horseless carriage, is that right?"
Claire turned to look at him over her shoulder and smiled, "Yes that's right, although when I was describing modern conveniences to you, I never thought you would actually get a chance to see any of it. I suppose I have got a lot more to teach you, for starters, the world is much noisier now than it was in the 18th century, so try not to be too frightened when we get to town."
Jamie took a few long strides to catch up to her and walk next to her, "Aye, I'll not be scairt as long as yer by my side to teach me." He placed a kiss on her temple as they stepped onto the blacktop.
Claire led the way as they walked hand in hand toward Inverness. They had walked for a few miles when a loud rumbling sound startled them. Claire turned to see what the sound was, she had become so accustomed to only hearing the sounds of nature in the 18th century that the automobile had sounded out of place in the highlands. She pulled Jamie away from the road as the car passed them by, "Well that answers one question."
Jamie looked down at her curiously, "What question would that be?"
She chuckled "We are definitely in the 1940s, at least in 1945 or later. That automobile that just passed us was a 1945 Rover P2, it was the same type of automobile that I drove to Craigh Na Dun that day we met.
Jamie nodded, only understanding about half of what she had said, "Aye, so do ye think we traveled the same amount of time that ye did when ye first went through, do ye think we traveled 202 years back into the future?"
Claire looked at him and shrugged, "So far it appears that way, but we still need to make it to town to be absolutely certain."
They walked for a while more, making sure to stay off the edge of the road in case another car rumbled by. Soon the sound of another car came up behind them and stopped. Claire and Jamie turned around to see someone getting out of the car, "Can I offer ye some help, did ye have car trouble?"
Claire squeezed Jamie's hand, a silent request to let her handle the situation, "Yes thank you, we did have car trouble, but we need to get back to Inverness, do you think perhaps you could give us a ride?"
The man looked at the pair, clearly going over his options, "Aye, I can give ye a ride into town, is there anywhere specific ye need to get to?"
Claire thought for a moment, "Yes actually, I am an old friend of Mrs. Graham, she worked for Reverand Wakefield last time I was here. But it's been so long since I have seen her, I'm not sure where she would be living now."
The man visibly relaxed, "Aye, I ken Hannah Graham, she is still in the employ of the Reverand. Would ye like a ride to the manse, she should be there now?"
Claire really didn't want to go to the manse and have to possibly face the Reverand so she decided against it, "No that is alright, I will give her a call later, if you could just take us into town we should be able to decide what to do from there."
Taking into consideration Jamie's seasickness, Claire suggested that he sit in the front seat with the window down while she took the back seat. "Just tip your head back and close your eyes, we will be there soon."
The man glanced back and forth between Jamie and Claire, "Ye look, familiar lass, are ye from around here?"
Claire panicked, "Um, well near here yes. Our home is near a village called Broch Mordha, in the highlands."
The man pulled his attention from her and pulled the car back onto the road, "I ken of the place, what are yer names, I may have heard of ye?"
Claire smiled, knowing that Fraser was quite a common name even in this time, "We are Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, this is my husband Jamie and I am Claire."
The man's eyes widened, "Aye, that is where I ken ye from, yer Claire Randall, the woman that went missing almost three years ago. Yer picture was in all the papers. There was even a reward for information on yer whereabouts, still is if I'm not mistaken."
Claire's eyes got wide and Jamie's head jerked up at this revelation, they now knew for sure they have traveled to the correct time, but they could both be in serious danger. Claire made a decision, "Please sir, I am not who you think I am, people have made that assumption before. I am Claire Fraser and this is my husband Jamie Fraser, I am not a missing person."
The man looks at Claire in the rearview mirror then takes another look at Jamie, "Aye, ye are Mrs. Randall and this lad is the highlander in the wanted poster, the suspected of abducting ye, the likeness, it's not an exact match, but the features are close enough."
Claire panicked, "Please if you could just take us to the manse, Mrs. Graham will assure you that I am not this Mrs. Randall that you speak of."
The man looked between the two of them again, "Aye ye are, but I can see ye were not kidnapped at least, I'll not be turning ye in. I'll take ye to the manse to sort this out and we shall talk to Hannah and see what she has to say about all this."
Claire took a deep breath and rested her forehead on the seat in front of her, thanking the Lord for small mercies. She raised her head and looked at the man, "Thank you so much, I can't tell you how much we appreciate it." She leaned over the front seat and took Jamie's hand in hers, "It will be alright love, just relax we don't have far to go before we reach the manse. Hopefully, I can convince the Reverand not to call Frank as soon as we arrive." Jamie placed a tender kiss on her knuckles.
The man softened his demeanor at the exchange between the couple and decided that if he was going to risk being arrested himself that he wanted to know more about them, "Did ye meet in the war then? That is one of the rumors going around, that ye met another soldier while ye were a nurse in the war and ye ran away with him."
Claire sighed and decided that the rumor was as good of an excuse as any, it was at least more believable than their truth, "Yes, Jamie and I met while I was a nurse in France. We tried to deny what we felt for each other, but when we saw each other again after the war ended, what we had between us, it was too important to walk away from. We love each other, more than anything in the world, and only want to be together. My marriage with Frank was falling apart and I knew he wouldn't divorce me, so Jamie and I ran away to be together."
The man nodded in understanding, "Aye, I can see the love between ye, but why have ye come back now, after all this time?"
Jamie spoke up this time, "We talked about it and want to go about this the right way. We dinna want to hide anymore, we wish for our bairn to be born into a respectable home and to do that, Claire must first divorce Frank so we can be wed properly and our child willna be branded as a bastard."
The man nodded but didn't respond, so they let the subject rest as he drove them the rest of the way to the manse.
They pulled up to the manse and the three of them climbed out of the car. Mrs. Graham noticing the car pulling into the driveway had opened the door and was walking out to greet them. She stopped in her tracks with a stunned expression on her face when her eyes came to rest on Claire, "Mrs. Randall, you've returned."
Claire walked over and gathered Mrs. Graham into a hug, "Yes I have returned, but it's Mrs. Fraser now, please let me introduce you to my husband." Claire turned to introduce Jamie as he bowed deeply to the older woman, "Mrs. Graham, this is my husband Jamie Fraser, Jamie, this is Mrs. Graham."
"At yer service madam. Claire has told me so much about ye." Jamie took her hand and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles.
Mrs. Graham blushed and pulled her hand back swiftly, "Och, it's so nice to meet you as well. Please come in, ye must tell me everything."
She turned to lead them into the house when the man who had given them a ride cleared his throat, "Hannah, could I speak with ye a moment."
Mrs. Graham turned at the sound of her name, nodded, and walked over to speak in hushed tones to the man. After a few minutes of hushed discussion and a nod exchanged between the two, Mrs. Graham returned to the couple. The man must have been happy with her explanation because he tipped his hat to them, turned and got in his car, and drove away.
Claire had a concerned expression on her face as Mrs. Graham walked back toward them, "Dinna worry dear, Harold won't say a thing. I assured him that yer an old friend and in no danger from yer laddie here. Come in let me get ye some tea and biscuits, ye must be famished from yer journey through the stones."
Jamie stopped in his tracks, "Ye ken about the stones?"
Mrs. Graham stopped and turned to look at him, "Aye, I even told Mr. Randall about them, told him that is what happened to Mrs. Randall when she disappeared, but he didna believe me. But I was right wasn't I, what year did ye travel to, dear?" Mrs. Graham looked at Claire then turned and proceeded into the house as the pair followed.
Claire followed Mrs. Graham into the kitchen, "Before we get into all of that, may I inquire as to the whereabouts of the Reverand, I don't wish for him to know of my return just yet."
Mrs. Graham showed them to the table where they both took a seat then she patted Claire's hand, "Not to worry dear, the Reverand is in Edinburgh for the day, he'll not be back till tomorrow. Now tell me all about yer journey."
Claire smiled and relaxed, knowing they had at least another day before Frank found out about her return, "Well I went through the stones accidentally, I had no idea at the time that is what had happened or that time travel was even possible. I woke up in 1743 and was surrounded by gunfire, there was a small skirmish between some redcoats and highlanders near the hill."
Mrs. Graham smiled, "I take it that is where ye met yer lad here."
Claire returned her smile, "Not exactly, the first person I met was Frank's ancestor, Johnathan Randall. The man was a vile monster who attacked me, I was rescued by another highlander, Murtagh Fitzgibbons, he is Jamie's godfather actually. He took me to a small cottage where I met Jamie, he was injured and that is when I repaired his dislocated shoulder. The men decided to take me with them to Castle Leoch. They were a MacKenzie cattle raiding party, hence the reason the redcoats were shooting at them when I found myself transported through time. After a time, I fell in love with Jamie and married him, the rest is history."
Mrs. Graham shook her head, "Ye ken that ye will have to tell me a bit more than that, ye had an adventure for almost three years. I want to hear all about it."
Claire conceded, "I know you do, and I will tell you everything, but right now if it is alright we would like to eat something and then get some rest. Then perhaps tomorrow if you wouldn't mind, you could take us to the hospital."
Mrs. Graham looked at her concerned, "The hospital, why, is there something the matter?"
Claire smiled and took Jamie's hand in hers, "No, well I hope not. You see, I am pregnant, I want to make sure that the trip through the stones didn't cause any harm to the baby."
Mrs. Graham smiled, "Of course, it will not be a problem, we shall go in the morning. Finish eating up and I'll show ye to yer room."
When they finished eating their late breakfast, Mrs. Graham led them upstairs to the room they would share, "Mr. Randall, brought yer things here when ye went missing, I have placed yer suitcase just inside the room. Jamie, I can take yer clothes and wash them for ye when ye decide to use the facilities, but I'm afraid that I dinna have any other clothes that will fit ye. We will need to go into town and buy some things for ye to wear."
Jamie nodded in agreement, only understanding a portion of what the kind older lady had said to him. He waited until they had reached their room and then she had left them alone before asking Claire, "Sassenach, what facilities was Mrs. Graham speaking of?"
Claire grinned and took both of his hands in hers, "Do you remember the first time you took me back to the stones, when you gave me the choice to choose you or Frank, and I chose you?"
Jamie furrowed his brow in confusion, "Aye, I remember."
She squeezed his hands, "Do you remember how I said the hot baths almost won out, but I needed you more?"
Jamie grinned at the memory of her choice, "Aye, are ye saying the facilities she mentioned are the hot baths ye spoke of?"
Claire nodded, released one of Jamie's hands, and led him into the bathroom adjoining their room, "Come with me, I will show you."
Jamie anxiously followed her, he knew from the way Claire had spoken of the hot baths, that they were a good thing. She led him into a small room with a basin, a strange seat shaped like a large bowl filled with water and what appeared to be a tub, all made of what appeared to be porcelain. Claire released his hands and began to show him how everything worked, "I know that some of this is similar to items from your time, for example, the sink there is what you would call a basin, however, the spigot is where the water comes out that we use to fill it." Claire reached over and turned the handle on each spigot so a slow trickle of water ran into the sink and down the drain.
Jamie looked astounded, "Where does the water come from and where does it go?"
Claire turned the spigots off, "The water is pumped from a well underground up through pipes to fill the basin, and then it drains out other pipes as wastewater once you are finished with it." She placed a rubber plug that was resting on the back of the sink and attached to the spigot by a short chain into the drain hole and turned the spigot back on to show him how the sink could hold water. She looked at him to see that he understood then turned off the spigot and pulled the plug to let the water drain.
Next, she showed him the bathtub, "I'm sure you recognize the bathtub, the spigot, and plug work the same as the sink, there is a spigot for cold and one for hot water, but you can also shower in the tub. It is like rain and it comes out of this area here." Claire pointed to the showerhead, "To get the water to come out of the showerhead instead of the tub faucet, you must first pull this lever here, when you are ready to shower, I can show you how that works."
Jamie quirked his brow, "Will ye use the shower with me then, a nighean?"
Claire giggled, "I just might have to in order to show you how it all works, but let's move on to the last bit, it is the most complicated and hardest to explain." Claire pointed to the toilet and lifted the lid, "This is a toilet, it replaces the chamber pot, which explains what it is used for. You will use a toilet instead of a chamber pot or going outside in this time, no matter what.
Once you are finished using it, you pull this chain and it allows the water to carry away your waste, after it has done that, you release the chain and the bowl refills with water so it is ready for the next use. You sit on the seat defecate and can stand to urinate. But when you use the toilet to urinate, you must lift this seat rim to keep it clean, then lower it back down once you are finished. That way when a lady needs to use the toilet, the seat is already lowered and she doesn't accidentally fall into the cold water."
"Now when you defecate, you use the paper here to wipe your backside clean, the used paper goes into the bowl of the toilet to be flushed away with your waste. You don't need a lot of paper, think of it like leaves, four or five squares at most are usually plenty, of course you can always tear off more if necessary." Claire's cheeks were beginning to turn pink with all this talk of how to use the toilet so she turned away from Jamie to attempt to hide her embarrassment.
Jamie placed a finger under her chin and turned her back toward him until her gaze lifted to his eyes, "Thank ye mo nighean donn, this is all new to me, I wouldna ken what to do wi' it all if it were no' for ye."
The smile reached her eyes as she saw the sincerity of her husband's kind words, "You're welcome my love, now if you are ready to shower, you should remove your clothes so I can take them to Mrs. Graham to wash."
Jamie quickly stripped his body and gathered his clothes in his hands, noticing Claire remained fully clothed, "Are ye not going to wash as well, mo chridhe?"
She nodded, "Yes I am, but I will take your clothes to Mrs. Graham first and then return to shower with you. Hand me those and wait here, I won't be but a moment."
Claire took the clothes from Jamie, moved past him, walked out of their bathroom, and closed the door behind her. She left their bedroom and carried Jamie's clothing downstairs to Mrs. Graham who was in the kitchen sipping a cup of tea at the table. "Mrs. Graham, I have brought Jamie's clothes down, do you have a robe or anything he could use once he is finished in the shower until they are washed?"
Mrs. Graham stood up and took the pile of clothes out of Claire's hands, "Aye, there is a linen closet at the top of the stairs, just across from yer room. Ye should find a few robes inside there. I'll just put these in the wash and knock on yer door once they are ready."
Claire thanked her then quickly returned upstairs to join her husband in the shower. She stopped at the linen closet and retrieved the robes. When she walked back into the room, she locked the door and placed the two robes on the foot of the bed before walking over to the bathroom door. She knocked twice lightly on the door and tested the handle, it remained unlocked but she still announced herself before opening it and possibly frightening her husband, "Jamie, it's me, I'm coming in now."
Jamie stepped away from the door to allow Claire enough room to swing it open and walk in, "Aye, come in and show me how this shower works."
Claire stepped inside the small bathroom and the sight of her husband standing completely nude in the modern bathroom took her breath away.
He reached out to take her hand, "Sassenach, is something wrong, ye have been staring at me since ye walked in a moment ago."
She shook her head to clear her thoughts, "Oh, no, nothing is wrong. I was only admiring my beautiful husband standing here in front of me in the 20th century, I'm alright now."
Jamie chuckled, released her hand, and gestured to her clothes, "Well if ye plan to shower wi' me, ye probably should remove yer clothes, would ye like me to help ye with that?"
Claire turned away from him, "Yes please, will you help with my skirts?"
Jamie obliged her and untied her skirts with practiced hands and had them pooling around her ankles in a matter of moments. She turned back toward him and removed the rest of her layers without assistance. When she was finally completely naked, she gathered up all of her clothing and took them back to place them in one of the plush pink velvet chairs that sat next to the hearth in their room. She returned a moment later and gestured for Jamie to step into the tub, "Step into the tub but remain standing, this tub is not large enough for both of us to sit. You don't sit during a shower anyway, so I just meant we won't be able to take a traditional bath together."
Jamie placed a finger on her lips to stop her nervous rambling, "Calm yer nerves my love, I will do as ye say, now show me."
Claire took a deep breath to calm herself and followed Jamie into the tub, she pulled the curtain around them to block any water from falling onto the floor outside of the tub. She bent over to turn on the hot and cold spigots, adjusting the temperature to something that would be comfortable, but not scalding. Once she was happy with the temperature, she flipped the lever to redirect the water to the showerhead and stood straight up. She turned around to face Jamie, who had been watching her movements intently through the entire demonstration. "Switch places with me so you can feel the warm water yourself."
She placed her hands on his hips and he mirrored her movement, placing his hands on her hips. She maneuvered them past each other so that Jamie could stand under the showerhead. He was so tall, that the shower head was barely high enough for him to stand below it, but he managed. Jamie sighed when he felt the water cascading over his head and run down his body, "Sassenach, I canna believe ye gave this up for me. If it had been me making the decision, I think the hot baths would have won out."
She slapped him playfully on the chest, "Ha Ha, very funny, here take this soap, I know you have seen soap before and wash your body. I am going to step out for a moment and grab the shampoo so that I can wash your hair."
Claire walked back into the bedroom and removed her citrus-scented shampoo from her luggage and returned to the bathroom. She pulled the curtain back and stepped back into the shower where Jamie stood with his eyes closed, and a smile plastered across his face as the soapy water washed off of his body. "Open your eyes, love. I have brought shampoo, it is a special soap just for your hair."
Jamie stepped out of the flow of water and bent over enough for Claire to easily reach his hair. She placed a small dollop of shampoo in her palm, placed the bottle of shampoo in the tub at her feet then gently began to massage the shampoo into his curly red locks. Jamie placed his hands on her waist to maintain his posture, closed his eyes, and moaned at the sensation of her fingers moving expertly over his scalp. She removed her fingers after a few mimutes, "Alright you can stand up now and use your own fingers under the flow of the water to wash the shampoo out."
When Jamie did as instructed, Claire stepped back and took in the sight of her clearly aroused husband. She knew that having her hands on any part of his body was enough to arouse Jamie, but she had forgotten that fact when she decided to wash his hair. She was rather enjoying the sight when his voice startled her from her thoughts, "Like what ye see lass?"
Jamie chuckled and stepped out of the flow of water to gather her into his arms and press her body to his, "Jamie don't I'm still filthy and you are all clean."
He leaned down and nibbled on her neck, "I dinna care, I can wash again."
Claire pushed away from him, trying to keep the smile from appearing on her lips, "Well I do, let me wash and then we can make love in a proper bed, now switch me places so I can stand under the water."
Jamie released his hold on her slightly but maintained his grasp on her hips as they moved past each other again. He released his hold when Claire reached for the soap that Jamie had dropped on the bottom of the tub when he had finished scrubbing his own body. She stood back up and scrubbed every square inch of her body until her skin tingled in delight. She rinsed the suds off her body and reached down to grab the shampoo bottle but noticed that Jamie it already held in his hand, "I will need a bit more for my hair since my hair is longer than yours, are you going to wash my hair for me?"
Jamie squirted a large dollop of shampoo into his palm, "Och, Aye, turn around mo ghráidh and step back toward me, I canna wait to get my fingers in her lovely brown curls."
Claire did as he requested, enjoying the relaxing feeling of having her hair washed. She relaxed so much that she felt her body lean back against his, trapping his steel hard cock between her back and his belly. She secretly smirked at the situation but kept silent so as not to encourage him. But a moment later she found herself moaning at the sensation of his gentle touch on her scalp.
He continued his ministrations and chuckled lightly, "If ye keep making wee noises like that, I may just have to take yer body right here in the shower, a nighean."
Claire realized the sound had escaped her and not remained only in her head as she intended it to, "Oh, I'm sorry, here let me rinse my hair and we can get out of the shower."
Claire stepped back into the flow of water and quickly rinsed out her hair, she turned the spigots to the off position and returned the shower lever to the tub faucet position. She then pulled the curtain back, took Jamie's hand, and carefully stepped out of the tub onto the plush bathroom rug. Jamie stepped out after her, awaiting instructions for what they were supposed to do next. Claire grabbed two towels off of a shelf under the sink and handed one to Jamie, "Here dry yourself off with this towel, then we can wrap them around ourselves and go out into our room. Mrs. Graham supplied us with robes so you won't have to be naked until your clothes are washed."
Jamie rubbed his fingers over the soft towel, "Sassenach, are ye sure this is a towel, it feels softer than any towel I have ever seen, even the towels we used in Paris."
Claire giggled, "Yes Jamie, I'm sure, some things have improved in the last 200 years, towels are one of them. Now dry off and we can go to our room and finish what we started in the shower."
She led Jamie by the hand back into their bedroom, removing the robes from the bed and placing them on the chair before pushing him to sit on the foot of the bed. Before she could step away from him, Jamie's hands came up to her hips, holding her close to him. She stood between his knees, her fingers caressing his scalp, she relished the silky feel of his clean cinnamon curls. His eyes closed as he concentrated on her gentle, relaxing touch. A soft sigh escaped his lips and she took a step closer, placing a tender kiss on his forehead.
His arms came around her waist as he drew her close, he placed a kiss on over her heart, "I love ye so much, Claire. I dinna ken what I would do without ye. I was prepared to live without my heart when I brought ye to Craigh Na Dun. But I thank the Lord above for allowing me to follow ye through the stones."
He rested his head against her chest, breathing deeply and savoring the moment. She pulled back and looked down at him, using her index finger she lifted his chin to bring his gaze up to her eyes and noticed a single tear track on his cheek, "Oh Jamie, my love, you have no idea how happy I am that you were able to come with me, I will never leave you. I didn't want to leave you at the stones and if I'm being completely honest, I intended to wait a few hours and come back to you."
She stepped back from him, his arms fell away from her body to come to rest on his thighs. She untucked her towel and let it fall away from her body, Jamie gasped at how thin she looked. Spending those last several months traveling from one battlefield to the next, it had been a while since he had the opportunity to see her completely unclothed. He felt guilty, it was his job to keep her fed and protected and neither of them had much in the way of nutrition since joining Prince Charles.
She stepped toward him as more tears escaped his eyes, "I'm so verra sorry mo nighean donn, yer beautiful body is so thin and I dinna ken what I will do to care for ye now. I have no land, no money, no means to care for ye properly."
She took his hands in hers, placing them on her breasts as her fingers tangled in his hair, "Don't you know by now that none of that matters, you are all I need. You didn't have a penny to your name when I married you, it didn't matter to me then and it doesn't matter to me now."
He massaged her breasts as she began placing kisses all over his face, first over his eyelids, then the tip of his nose, then along his jaw and finally ending with a tender kiss on his lips.
He looked up at her as she smiled sweetly down at him, "I ken mo chridhe, but still how will I care for ye in this time without a home or money?"
She placed another kiss on his forehead, letting her lips linger a moment longer than necessary, "We don't need to worry about that, I have my inheritance from my uncle. We won't need to worry about money for a long time and as for a home, I have an idea about that, but I must talk with Mrs. Graham first."
She pushed back onto the bed, pulling his towel away from his hips as he laid back. "Scoot back on the bed some." She requested. He did as she asked, his eyes never leaving her face. She crawled up over him, coming to rest with a knee on each side of his body, his already hard, throbbing cock trapped below her heat and his belly.
Jamie reached up taking a breast in each hand, gently caressing her rosy pink nipples, being mindful of how sensitive they were. She placed her palms on his chiseled abdomen as she rocked against him, savoring the friction the position offered. Suddenly Jamies hands came down to her hips, stilling her motions, "If ye dinna stop mo ghráidh, this will be over before it begins."
She grinned at him, raising up on her knees, she reached down between them, grabbed a hold of his cock, and guided him to her center. She slowly lowered her self onto him, they both released a sigh of pleasure as her hips came into contact with his. She stayed motionless for a moment, appreciating the sensation of having his cock fully sheathed within her body. Slowly she began to move up and down, setting a teasing pace, his cock almost slipping out as she rose above him. Then she slammed down, her body shuddering, she came apart as fireworks exploded behind her eyelids. He held her tight against him, waiting as she returned to herself, then skillfully twisting, flipping her over and bringing her body under his. All the while never dislodging from her beautiful body.
He laced the fingers of both of his hands in hers, holding them above her head as he began to slowly pump into her, returning the same teasing that she had offered to him. He leaned down, his lips a whisper's distance from her's, "Give me yer mouth Sassenach." Their kiss was searing, she could feel the spark rush all the way down, making her toes curl. He released her lips and thrust into her, harder and deeper. After several more thrusts, his hips began to lose rhythm, she could tell he was close. He plunged his cock into her again and she felt her body start to tremble, so focused on his impending release she had not recognized her own coming on. He plunged into her again, spilling his seed as her walls milked him with her earthshattering orgasm.
He collapsed next to her, stroking her curls between his fingers as they stared into each other's eyes. "I love ye, mo nighean donn."
She smiled and stroked her fingers down his face, from his temple to his jawbone, "I love you so much, Jamie."
They laid there gazing at each other lovingly for quite some time before both drifting off to a peaceful sleep.
Claire woke sometime later, wrapped in Jamie's arms. She carefully disentangled herself from him when she heard a light tap on the door, realizing the sound is what had awoken her. She pulled the quilt over Jamie for the sake of Mrs. Graham's modesty, walked over to the chair, grabbed one of the robes, and slipped it on. She padded over to the door, glancing back at Jamie to see that he was still asleep before opening the door. She peaked her head out of the opening, "Mrs. Graham, is there something you need?"
Mrs. Graham lifted Jamie's clean folded clothes up and offered them through the door, "Just thought yer lad may want to dress before we go into town this afternoon. Whenever yer ready we can go."
Claire took the stack of clothes, "Thank you Mrs. Graham, Jamie is asleep just now, but I will wake him and we will be down momentarily."
Mrs. Graham nodded, then turned on her heel and left. Claire quietly closed the door, set Jamie's clothes on the chair opposite the one that held his robe, and walked over to wake him up. She sat on the bed next to him, leaned over, and placed a chaste kiss on his full lips, "Wake up my love." Jamie's eyes fluttered open and he laced his fingers around her neck and pulled her down for another soft kiss. "Come on, you must get up, we need to drive into town and buy you some new clothes and we may not have time tomorrow with going to the hospital and the other thing I want to do."
Jamie released her, raised to a seated position, and drew her body against his. She placed a kiss at his throat before pulling out of his embrace and walking over to gather his clothes. She placed his clothes at the foot of the bed then grabbed her suitcase to decide what she would wear. Placing her suitcase on the side opposite from where Jamie sat, she opened it to investigate what she had packed almost three years prior.
Jamie stood, took his now clean plaid, spread it on the floor, and began to pleat it. Claire stopped digging through her suitcase to watch her husband. Jamie donning his kilt had always mesmerized her and today was no different. Once Jamie had his plaid skillfully wrapped around him she returned her attention to her own clothing. She decided on a navy colored pair of trousers and a long-sleeved white silk blouse that had long ties at the neck. He removed a matching pair of white lace panties and bra from her things and began to put them on as Jamie sat on the foot of the bed watching her intently.
When she was completely dressed, she removed her hairbrush from her suitcase and walked over to the vanity to brush out her curls. She was startled by Jamie's voice, "Are ye daft woman, what in God's name are ye wearing?"
She turned and looked at him, baffled at his outburst, "What do you mean, I think I look rather respectable."
Jamie made a Scottish sound of disapproval in his throat, "Ye call that respectable, I can see every shape of ye, those breeks leave nothing to the imagination, it's indecent to dress as such."
Claire turned fully toward him, her hands on her hips, "We are in my time now Jamie, woman dress like this. What I'm wearing is quite modest for the time. I am not going to get angry with you because I know the way you are accustomed to seeing women dressed, but please trust me. You will see when we go into town that a lot of women dress like this, some in clothes you might even deem as scandalous but are quite acceptable."
Jamie huffed as he walked over and placed his hands on her shoulders, he took a breath to calm himself, "I ken yer right mo nighean donn, but yer not other women, yer my wife and I suppose it will take some time for me to come to terms with the way people dress now. Please dinna lose patience wi' me, I will try to accept the changes, I must if we plan to live in this time."
Claire moved her hands from her hips to lace around his waist, she leaned up and placed a kiss on his chin, "I know you are going to have a difficult time and I will try and make it as painless as possible for you. Now allow me to plait your hair before we go downstairs, Mrs. Graham is waiting for us."
Claire quickly plaited his hair, tying it with a ribbon she had in her suitcase and led Jamie downstairs to find Mrs. Graham. She was waiting for them with a cup of tea at the dining table. "We are ready when you are, Mrs. Graham."
As they prepared to leave the manse and head into town, Claire informed Mrs. Graham of Jamie's motion sickness. Mrs. Graham drove slower than usual with Jamie sitting in the front seat and his head tipped back on the headrest to attempt to ease the motion. Their first stop was the bank, where Claire made a withdrawal in order to make their purchases for the day. Claire insisted that Jamie wait in the car with Mrs. Graham while she went in and took care of everything.
Their next stop was an upscale men's boutique, where Claire was confident they could either find something that fit Jamie or have something made custom for his magnificent warrior's physique. Claire led Jamie into the store, practically pulling him along since Jamie was so distracted at the abundance and variety of clothing available on the racks. "Sassenach, is everything in this time so plentiful?"
Claire giggled, "If you think this is plentiful, just you wait and see what the grocery store has to offer."
Jamie made a sound in his throat and focused on following Claire through the store. She stopped at a counter where a man in a suit welcomed them as they approached. "Fàilte, how may I help ye today?"
Claire smiled politely, "Hello, my husband is in need of some new clothes. All of his old clothes are from before the war and nothing fits him now, so we will need to get new measurements, would you be able to help us with that?"
The man walked out from behind the counter, looked Jamie up and down, "Aye, please follow me if ye will."
Claire urged Jamie to follow the man as she trailed closely behind them. The man led Jamie to a small dressing room and had him remove his overcoat and boots. Claire explained what was happening so Jamie did not react badly to the man touching him in a seemingly intimate way. The man had Jamie spread his arms first so he could measure his wingspan. He placed the metal end of the tape measure between Jamie's fingertips as he stretched the tape across the expanse of his back and to his opposite wrist. His wingspan was an impressive 76" but the shop owner didn't seem disturbed by this fact and moved on to measure the girth of Jamie's chest, waist, length of his legs, and girth of his thighs. Jamie maintained a stoic mask throughout the process, his tapping fingers were the only outward indication of how uncomfortable he was with the whole situation.
The shop owner told them to have a seat as he left them to wander through the boutique gathering several items off of the racks. The shop owner returned to them with a stack of items for Jamie to try on and directed Jamie to a fitting room. Jamie looked at Claire with a pleading look on his face, so she followed him into the fitting room, carrying his boots and overcoat, leaving the shop owner standing in shock.
Once inside the fitting room, Jamie placed all of the clothing on the small shelf located inside. He removed his waistcoat, kilt, and shirt and began dressing in the new clothes. He chose a light blue button-up shirt, navy trousers, and a matching vest and suit jacket. The buttons on the shirt were smaller than he was used to, but after only a moment of struggle, he got the hang of it. Claire had to show him how the zipper on the trousers worked, being mindful of his lack of underclothes. "Jamie I know you are not used to wearing anything under your kilt, but in order to protect your cock, we are going to need to purchase some boxer shorts for you to wear under trousers."
Jamie quirked his brow and tipped his head to the side as he looked down at her, "Boxer shorts?"
She grinned up at him, buttoning his trousers, "Yes they are like short trousers but you wear them under regular trousers. They will be easier to explain once I can purchase some for you and show you how to wear them. Now tuck your shirt in, then I will help with the vest and jacket."
Claire stood back, grabbed the vest and suit jacket, and helped Jamie to slip them on. He buttoned up the vest but left the jacket open, "Well, how do I look, will I do?"
Claire smiled at his sudden insecurity, this man truly had no idea how appealing he was. She took a step toward him, pressing her breasts against his chest, placing her palms on his chest and running them up to lace her fingers behind his neck and pulling his lips down toward hers within a breath of touching, "Oh my love, you have no idea how divine you look. You are so delicious, I could eat you up." She breathed against his lips before Jamie smiled against her lips and captured her mouth in a crushing kiss and lacing his hands around her waist.
He released her lips and peppered kisses over her jaw and down her neck, he growled in her ear, causing goosebumps to cover her body, "Ye like what ye see then lass?"
She moaned at the warmth pooling in her belly in reaction to his husky voice, "Oh yes, but we must stop."
He growled in her ear again, "Why, do ye really wish me to stop?"
She melted against him, "No, I don't wish you to stop, but we must so you can try on the rest of these clothes."
He reluctantly pulled himself away from her, "Aye, as ye say."
He took a step back, removed the suit jacket and trousers, but Claire stopped him before he could remove the shirt, "Leave the shirt on, you can wear that with these denim trousers, these are more like your breeks that you would work around Lallybroch in or for a relaxed day at home."
Jamie took the denim trousers from her and immediately noticed they were thicker than the suit trousers he had just tried on. He pulled the denim on and carefully fastened them, making sure to tuck his shirt in before zipping them up in order to protect his cock from the metal teeth of the zipper. He looked up to Claire for her approval, but when his eyes rested on hers, he noticed the lustful gaze she was giving him, "I take it ye like this as well then."
She hooked her fingers in his belt loops and pulled him against her, "Oh yes, I might have to put off the rest of my shopping for another day so I can take you home and ravish you."
He chuckled as he held onto her shoulders, bent down and placed a kiss on her nose, "Aye, ye could, but tis getting late and we must visit the hospital tomorrow. As much as I want ye, I think we must finish shopping first. We have the rest of our lives together to ravish one another."
Claire groaned as she pouted at him, "Yes, I know you are right, but we will be revisiting this tonight."
He chuckled, "As ye say, my lady."
Claire folded the suit and Jamie's kilt and shirt, "Leave those clothes on, we are buying them. I'm going to grab a few more suits in this size and some more denim trousers, a few more shirts, some boxers, socks and we will get you measured for shoes. Then we are headed to the women's boutique so I can purchase some new clothes for me as well."
Jamie gathered his boots as Claire gathered the rest of the clothes, then followed her out of the dressing room to find the shop owner. The owner was behind the counter waiting for them, "Are ye ready to make yer purchase?"
Claire smiled at him as she set the suit on the counter, "Not quite yet, I am going to select a few more pieces, but my husband still needs some shoes, could you measure him for the correct size?"
He returned her smile, "Aye, of course, ma'am, please follow me over this way, sir."
Jamie followed the man to the footwear section, casting a quick glance toward Claire. She nodded in reassurance so that Jamie would relax as she walked away to choose some more pieces for Jamie's wardrobe. In addition to a few more suits, denim, and button-up shirts, Claire chose some t-shirts as well. After making her final selections, she placed everything on the counter and made her way over to where Jamie was being fitted for new shoes. The shop owner had selected some black oxford loafers to go with his suits. Jamie looked up as Claire walked up and took a seat beside him, "What do ye think, will these shoes do?"
She placed a hand on his thigh, "Yes my love those should do nicely, now if you are ready, we can make our purchases and continue to the women's store."
He took hold of her hand and brought it to his lips, "Aye mo ghráidh, je suis pret."
Jamie followed Claire to the counter, astounded at the stack of clothing she had piled on the counter. The shop owner completed their purchases, placing the items in six large paper shopping bags and passing then to the couple. "That will be £329 ma'am."
Claire opened her purse, handed the shop owner the money, and waited for him to return her change. After she received her change, she turned to see the shocked expression on Jamie's face, "What is it, my love, what's wrong?"
He leaned over and hissed into her ear, "£329, Claire that is an appalling amount of money, I canna let ye pay for all of this."
She giggled as she steered him toward the door, "No it's not and you will let me pay for this, you are my husband and it's my job to take care of you. Besides, it's from my inheritance that Uncle Lamb and my parents left me. We have plenty of money Jamie, there is no need for you to worry."
Jamie's expression suddenly turned to one of surprise, "What do ye mean we have plenty of money?"
She opened the door and led Jamie to Mrs. Graham's car to place their purchases inside the boot of the car, "What I mean is, that my parents and uncle had life insurance that they left to me, when we stopped at the bank earlier I checked on my balance. There is a rather large purchase that I plan to make and I wanted to be sure that I still had plenty of money to do so. We have been through so much already, I want us to focus on each other and our family. I want nothing to take away from that, but first I have to check on a few things to make sure that is even possible."
Jamie walked with Claire to the women's boutique, "How much, Claire, how much money do ye have?"
She turned and wrapped her arms around his waist, his arms naturally circling around her shoulders, "We have just over £775,000 in the bank, it will be enough for us to live comfortably without having to seek outside employment if we wish. But please don't ask me about the big purchase, I want that to be a surprise. Trust me, tomorrow you will know everything."
He placed a kiss on the crown of her head, "As ye say mo chridhe, I trust ye."
Claire pulled out of his embrace, grabbed his hand, and led him into the boutique. She asked Jamie to sit on a bench while she wandered through the store and chose several sundresses, trousers, and new blouses as well as several matching lacy undergarments. None of her old clothes felt right anymore, they didn't reflect the woman she had become since falling through the stones. These new purchases felt like something she would pick for herself instead of something she would choose to appease Frank's fragile sensibilities and she couldn't wait for Jamie to see her in them.
They woke early the next morning and dressed in their new clothes. Jamie wanted to appear respectable when they arrived at the hospital for Claire's checkup so he chose a slate grey suit with a lavender dress shirt and blue-grey necktie. Claire chose a white knee-length summer dress that had tiny violet flowers scattered over it. Claire helped Jamie to secure the tie around his neck and suggested that he wait to put on his vest and suit jacket until after they had eaten breakfast.
The couple made their way downstairs, following their noses to the kitchen where Mrs. Graham was preparing bacon and eggs. Mrs. Graham looked up as they walked in hand in hand, "Well good morning, don't you two look like a matching pair and Jamie you clean up quite nicely."
They both took a moment to look at each other's apparel choices up and down then matching grins appeared on their faces when they realized they had chosen complementary outfits. Jamie pulled out a chair for Claire to sit down then took the chair next to her. Mrs. Graham had already placed the bacon on the table before they came down so all that was left was the eggs. She set the pan of eggs down on the table just as Claire spoke up, "Is Reverand Wakefield not back yet, I only see three place settings?"
Mrs. Graham took her seat opposite Claire and began dishing food onto her plate, "No he has not arrived yet, he phoned this morning to say he wouldn't be back until this afternoon. But not to worry, I did not mention that you were here, I assume that you are not quite ready for what telling him will entail."
Claire nodded her approval, "No, I'm not yet ready for Frank to know, I haven't yet figured out what I am to say to him. I would rather not be taking advantage of his friend's hospitality when he learns I have returned and no longer wish to be married to him. I know he will be angry and I would rather not give him more to be angry about."
Mrs. Graham reached across the table and patted Claire's hand, "I understand and I think you will be quite happy, that matter you asked me to check into should ensure your happiness. Frank need not know anything until you are quite prepared for him. Now let's eat so we can get you two to the hospital and then onto your big surprise for Jamie."
Claire nodded and attempted to hide her grin, but Jamie saw it, "A surprise for me, what might that be?"
Claire grinned openly, but kept her gaze on her breakfast, "You will just have to wait and see, I'm not going to let you ruin this surprise and I know it will be worth the wait."
Jamie grumbled but grinned regardless, knowing his wife's surprise would indeed be something to make him happy.
They quietly finished their breakfast with only the sounds of cutlery on china filling the room. Jamie and Claire excused themselves to their room so Jamie could put on his vest and suit jacket and Claire could don a lavender cardigan. They met Mrs. Graham in the yard, waiting by her car and again Jamie took the front seat to repress his motion sickness. Mrs. Graham drove cautiously and they arrived at the hospital only five minutes after leaving the manse.
Mrs. Graham had some errands to run and promised to meet them at a nearby park when she had finished. Claire escorted Jamie into the large hospital and walked to the reception desk, "Excuse me, I am hoping I can get a check-up today."
The woman sitting at the desk looked up at the pair and smiled politely, "Aye, what is it ye would be needing a check-up for?"
Claire returned her smile, "I am a few months pregnant and we have just returned from a long journey, we just want to make sure everything is as it should be with the baby."
The receptionist looked down at her logbook, running a finger over the list as she searched for an opening with the appropriate doctor. Her finger stopped on a name with an open slot next to it, "Awe yes, Doctor Hunter has an opening this morning in about 15 minutes, if ye care to wait"
Claire looked to Jamie then redirected her attention to the receptionist, "Yes that would be perfect, could you direct us to his office?"
She nodded, "I can do that, could I get yer name to write in my wee book here?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, of course, my name is Claire Fraser."
The receptionist stood from behind her desk and came around to show them the way, "If ye will just follow me, I will take ye to his waiting room."
The couple followed silently behind the receptionist, climbing the stairs to the second-floor offices. They were led to the second door on the right and entered into a bright cheerful office with a welcoming atmosphere.
The receptionist walked to the desk where another young woman sat and let her know about the new appointment, then she excused herself and left the office. Claire and Jamie took a seat in the small waiting room to wait until they were called back. They didn't have to wait long before the woman at the desk called out Claire's name, "Claire Fraser, please follow me, Dr. Hunter is ready to see ye now."
They both took a restorative breath and got up to follow the secretary back into the exam room. She handed Claire a paper gown, "Please change into this Mrs. Fraser, Dr. Hunter will be in to see ye in a few moments."
Claire took the paper gown and the secretary left the room. Claire began to remove her clothes, folding them, and placing them on the chair beside Jamie.
Jamie's jaw dropped, "Claire, what are ye doing, why are ye taking all yer clothes off?"
Claire giggled, "Jamie, this is what is done for an exam in this time, please don't worry, the doctor won't do anything that is not necessary."
Jamie leaned back, unhappy with the situation but decided to trust Claire's judgment, this was her time after all.
Claire finished disrobing, replacing her clothing with the paper gown and climbed up to sit on the exam table, her legs dangling off the end. A few minutes passed before a light knock sounded at the door, "Come in, I am decent." she called out through the door.
The door opened and Dr. Hunter walked in, Claire's eyes brightened, "Denzel, is that you. Oh my God, I haven't seen you since Paris, what are you doing in Scotland?"
Dr. Hunter chuckled, "It's nice to see you too, nurse Randall."
Claire interrupted him, "It's actually Fraser now, but please go on."
Dr. Hunter turned, just realizing the massive Scot sitting in the room with her was indeed not Frank, "My apologies, Mrs. Fraser. Back to what I was saying, as I'm sure you remember we met several Scots during our time in the war and their stories of their homeland intrigued me. After the war ended, my wife and I decided to take a vacation and check out the country for ourselves. When we arrived we knew that while the stories the Scots told definitely painted a beautiful picture of the place, they certainly didn't do it justice. We fell in love with Scotland immediately and decided to make our home here in Inverness."
Claire cast a lovely smile in Jamie's direction, "Yes Scotland and it's people definitely have a way of making you feel at home and loved."
Dr. Hunter placed his clipboard on the counter behind him as he directed Claire to lie back on the table and place her feet in the metal stirrups he brought up from either side of the exam table. "So tell me, Claire, how did you find yourself in Scotland and remarried. Did you lose your husband in the war?"
Claire grimaced, "Not exactly, after the war, Frank and I came to Scotland to try and reconnect, but we both realized we were different people. Not long after that, I met Jamie. We fell in love, married, and have been traveling ever since. When we realized I was pregnant again we decided to return home to Scotland."
Dr. Hunter had not yet begun the examination, he raised his eyes inquisitively at Claire, "Again, this is not your first pregnancy?"
Claire's face fell as Jamie sighed, "No Denzell, we lost our first daughter at just over five months gestation, she was stillborn and I almost died with her. It was placental abruption and I had a severe fever for quite some time afterward. Some of the placenta had remained within my body after she was born, I'm lucky to be alive."
Dr. Hunter looked over at Jamie and noticed his tense stature, he decided it would be best to explain each step of the exam as he progressed to relieve the stress the young father was apparently feeling. "Well, I am certainly glad you made it through, I am so sorry for your loss. Now, Claire, I am just going to check your cervix, this might be uncomfortable and feel cold."
Dr. Hunter grabbed a tube of lubricant, squirted some on his gloved fingers, and moved to insert his two fingers inside of Claire. He was stopped before he could touch her by the sound emanating from Jamie. Jamie was growling low in his throat as his eyes shot daggers at Dr. Hunter. Luckily Claire heard Jamie's reaction to the situation as well, "Jamie come stand up here by my head please, Dr. Hunter is not doing anything inappropriate, this is all required to ensure the health of me and the baby, please trust me."
Jamie nodded, stood, and walked around the Dr., shooting him a warning look and went to stand beside Claire where he could no longer see what Dr. Hunter was about to do.
Claire nodded to Denzell as she took hold of Jamie's clammy hand, she whispered assurances to him as Dr. Hunter inserted two fingers to feel her cervix. The internal exam only lasted a moment, "Alright Claire everything seems fine with your cervix, you can put your feet down now, I just need to listen to the babies heartbeat and then you will be all done for today."
Claire did as he said, removed her feet from the stirrups and placed her legs on the table. Dr. Hunter walked around to stand beside the table on the side opposite of Jamie. He placed his stethoscope on her belly and moved it around as he listened intently. He grinned widely when he heard the heartbeat, "Awe, there it is, a nice strong heartbeat as well, would you like to hear it?" He removed the earpieces from his own ears and offered them to Jamie.
Jamie looked to Claire in question, she nodded and grinned at him. He took the earpieces and placed them in his own ears, his eyes grew wide at the sound coming through them, "Is that our wee bairn?" He asked in absolute wonder.
Dr. Hunter spoke up, "Yes, a very healthy baby indeed. Normally you would come in for a check-up once a month for the first few months, but since you had such difficulty with your last pregnancy, I want to see you both every two weeks to monitor the baby's development. I will leave and give you a few minutes to redress then I will come back in and speak with you about a plan to maintain this pregnancy till the end."
Claire nodded as Denzell left the room. As soon as the door shut, she hopped down off the table to discard the paper gown and put her own clothing back on. She glanced up at Jamie as she pulled her panties back on and noticed his tear-stained cheeks. She quickly pulled her dress on before going to him, aware that Dr. Hunter wouldn't be gone long, "What is wrong my love, why the tears?"
She walked over to him and caressed his cheek as she wiped away the tears that continued to fall, "I am just so happy, Claire. I never thought I would get this chance and now I am here wi' ye in yer time and I heard our bairn's heartbeat. He is truly alive and I will be here to meet him, I willna leave yer side, I will be wi' ye when he comes."
Claire pulled his head down to her shoulder and rubbed his back. His arms encircled her waist as he pulled her tighter against him and buried his face in her curls. "Oh my love, I won't ever let you go, no matter what the future has in store for us, we are in this together. Do not be afraid, there is the two of us now." They stood rocking together and to let the happy moment flow over them.
A few minutes later, Dr. Hunter knocked on the door, "Is it okay to come back in?"
Claire separated herself from Jamie, but grabbed his hand in support, "Yes, Denzell, please come in, we are ready."
Dr. Hunter walked back in and took a seat on his exam stool. He motioned for the couple to take the seats next to the wall. "Now in addition to biweekly check-ups I want you to take it easy Claire, I do not want you to overexert yourself. I know you and if someone is not caring for you, you are someone that will push yourself beyond your limits, so no work until after the baby comes. You are to stay home and just enjoy this pregnancy, let others help you. It is time to put your own health above everyone else. That also brings me to my next item, if you decide after the baby comes that you want to return to work, I would be happy to have you as a nurse in my office."
Claire smiled, "Yes I will take it easy, Jamie will make sure of that and I will keep the job offer in mind. Jamie and I have not yet decided what our future looks like beyond bringing this baby into the world healthy and happy."
Dr. Hunter stood up, "Very good, stop at the front and make an appointment for your next visit. I'm sure Dorothea would love to meet you, so when you are feeling up to it, we would love for you both to join us for dinner."
Claire stood up, pulling Jamie with her, "Thank you Denzell, we would love that, but first, we must get settled. I will let you know a time that works for us."
Dr. Hunter opened the door to allow the couple to leave and stepped to the side.
They left the exam room, made a stop at the secretaries desk to make their next appointment then left the office to head toward the park and wait for Mrs. Graham.
Claire followed the directions that Mrs. Graham had given her to find the park where they would wait for her. Jamie spotted a bench near a small pond when they entered the park and changed their trajectory towards it. Claire was grateful for the bench in the shade. They took a seat, sitting close enough that their thighs were touching. They were both lost in thought as they watched the ducks on the water, intermittently flipping upside down to catch a bite to eat. People occasionally passed by as the couple sat in peace, neither of them paying any attention to their surroundings. A man who was passing by stopped right in front of them and was staring at Claire. Jamie was just about to say something when Claire spoke up first, "Can I help you, it's impolite to stare you know."
The man shook his head as if he was attempting to dispel a thought that was stuck, "Pardon me, madam, I feel as though I have seen ye somewhere before, but I canna place where that might have been."
Claire and Jamie exchanged a look of confusion, "I probably just have one of those faces, we only just arrived in Inverness yesterday. The last time I was here was almost three years ago, and I haven't gone anywhere either time to have met anyone, I'm sure I would remember you if we had met."
The man's face suddenly changed, he appeared as though something that is long forgotten had just revealed itself. "That's it, I saw your picture on a missing person poster, there is a reward. You are Claire Randall!"
Claire's eyes hid nothing as they became wider, her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but nothing came out.
Then the man turned to Jamie, "And you look like the man that is wanted as a suspect in her disappearance."
Now it was Jamie's turn to look perplexed, "Me, I'm her husband, and as ye can clearly see she is not missing and her name is not Randall, tis Fraser."
The man shook his head, "No, ye are definitely Claire Randall and I'm going to collect the reward for turning ye both in."
Before either of them could say or do anything, the man had rushed off.
Claire turned to Jamie, "We have to get out of here, we can't wait for Mrs. Graham, let's get back to the hospital and see if Denzell can give us a ride."
Jamie stood and pulled Claire to her feet, they rushed back in the direction of the hospital. Mrs. Graham saw them when they were almost to the hospital doors, pulled over, and called out the window to them. "Where are ye off to in such a hurry, dearies?"
Claire ran to the car, "Oh, thank God, someone recognized us. We have to get out of town, can you take us to Lallybroch?"
Mrs. Graham nodded, "Aye, get in, we will go now."
Jamie got in the front seat as Claire climbed in the back, he turned and looked at her as Mrs. Graham pulled the car back onto the road, "Why do ye want to go to Lallybroch, Sassenach?"
Claire sighed, "Well that was going to be your surprise, I had already planned on taking you there today, but now it looks like we will be arriving a bit sooner than planned. Mrs. Graham, do you think we have time to stop at the manse and gather our things before we go to the estate?"
Mrs. Graham shook her head, "If ye are trying to keep a low profile, I suggest we avoid the manse. The Reverend is sure to be back by now and I ken ye are not ready for him to ken ye have returned. I'll fetch yer belongings tonight before I leave and drop them off to ye in the morning."
Jamie was confused at their exchange, "Would one of ye tell me what is going on, if we are not going to be staying at the manse anymore, where will we be going?"
Claire sighed again, "That was the other surprise, yesterday I asked Mrs. Graham to look into who owned Lallybroch. It turns out the bank owns it, nobody has lived in it for a little over three years. When we arrive today, we will be meeting with a representative from the bank to sign papers so that Lallybroch will be ours."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "How is that possible?"
"I'm using my inheritance to buy Lallybroch, all the arrangements have been made. Mrs. Graham were you able to get those documents I spoke with you about?"
She passed an envelope back to Claire, "Aye, everything ye asked for is in there."
Claire opened the envelope, pulled everything out and passed it up to Jamie, "You are now a documented Scottish citizen in this century, there is a birth certificate, passport, library card, and military service record. I will be buying Lallybroch in your name so that when I file for divorce from Frank, he won't have any chance of taking it from us. Since I am technically still married to him in this century, we were not able to get a marriage license, we will have to get married again after my divorce is finalized. As for your initial question, we will be staying at Lallybroch from now on."
When they pulled into the dooryard at Lallybroch, there was already a car parked and a short, stout man standing on the porch waiting for them. He waved to them as Jamie and Claire stepped out of the car.
Mrs. Graham made a hasty retreat so she could make it back to the manse in time to hear any news that might come up now that Claire and Jamie had been spotted in Inverness.
Claire took Jamie's hand and led him up the steps to meet the man from the bank, "Hello Mr. Davies, this is James Fraser, I am his representative and will be handling the purchase of the property today. May we go inside and take a look at the inside of the house before we make a final determination on the house?"
Mr. Davies tipped his had, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Fraser, please come in, take a look around, take all the time you need. I will be in the kitchen when you are ready."
Mr. Davies turned toward the door, pulled a ring of keys from his suit pocket, and fumbled through them for a moment before settling on the one that presumably opened the door to Lallybroch.
He pushed the door open for them and stepped to the side to allow them to enter first. Jamie stepped in first, to say he was shocked would be an understatement. This was the home he grew up in, but nothing resembled the home he grew up in. The room that had been the parlor was empty, which made it appear much larger than it had when it was filled with the furniture and memories from his childhood. He cautiously walked from room to room, with Claire following closely behind him. She was more interested in what Jamie thought than looking at the house herself.
Jamie made no sound as he took in his surroundings and his emotions were masked, so Claire couldn't get a clear read on what he was thinking or feeling. When they finally reached the Laird's room, Claire closed the door behind her and waited for him to say something. He walked over to the small window and peered outside, apparently lost in thought. She waited a few minutes more before her patience eventually ran out and she spoke a bit harsher than she intended to, "Would you say something already?"
Jamie turned to look at her, the mask still in place, "What do ye wish me to say, Claire?"
She walked over to him and placed both hands on his chest, "I would like to hear your thoughts, I can buy Lallybroch, we can raise our family here. This can be our home, just like we always planned."
He placed his hands over hers, holding them in place, "It canna be just like we planned, it will never be just like we planned. With Jenny, Ian, and their bairns gone, this place will never be like it was before."
Claire sighed as she rested her forehead against his chest, "I know that Jamie, there is nothing we can do about that. But we could still be happy here, in this time, you and me and our children. We can make a new life here. Lallybroch can be our safe haven."
Jamie frowned, "Do ye mean to hide away from the world then? Ye canna run from yer problems, Sassenach, ye must face Frank and put this behind us, if ye plan for us to have a future together."
She lifted her head to look into his eyes, "I know that Jamie and I plan to deal with all of that. I want Lallybroch for us, but I also want to keep you safe and out of danger. Lallybroch can provide that for us. I will deal with Frank, but I don't want him blaming you for my disappearance, its not your fault and you shouldn't have to take the blame."
He let go of her hands and wrapped his arms around her to hold her close to his heart, "I ken it isna my fault that ye fell through the stones, but I kept ye there wi' me. I could have forced ye to go back to him."
She shook her head, "I wouldn't have let you, I loved you too much by the time I told you where I came from."
He chuckled, "Aye, yer a stubborn one, that's for certain."
Claire grinned, "So, what do you think, should we buy Lallybroch and raise our family here?"
Jamie shook his head in defeat, "Aye, let's go down and talk with Mr. Davies."
When it was all said and done, Claire was able to get the price down from £350,000 to £275,000. She argued that the property was in such disrepair that it would take twice that much to restore and update everything. Mr. Davies finally conceded and passed the amended contract over to Jamie to sign after only 2 hours of negotiations. He handed Jamie the key and wished him a hearty congratulations on his new home.
Jamie looked around after Mr. Davies pulled away, "What will we do about furniture Sassenach, I canna have my pregnant wife, sleeping on a cold stone floor."
She giggled, "Oh don't you worry about that my love, the furniture will be delivered later this afternoon. Now, let's go out and look at the rest of the property, I want to see how my garden fairs."
Jamie shook his head and followed her through the house to the back door, "Ye ken it has been 200 years, yer garden is likely no' there anymore."
Claire gasped, placing a hand over her mouth as she opened the door and took in the scene before her, "Jamie look, my garden is still here and it is even bigger than I remember."
Jamie peered past her, confused since the place where her garden had been appeared to be a fenced-in area with overgrown weeds. He looked down at her, worried she might be delusional, "Are ye feeling alright, mo ghráidh, that is no' a garden."
She lightly slapped him on the chest, "Well, of course, you can't see it. It needs to be weeded of course and likely new plants transplanted, but the size of it is bigger, you can still see where the rows of herbs were. It just needs a little bit of care to bring it back."
Jamie shook his head, "If ye say so."
Early the next morning Mrs. Graham returned with the couple's belongings and news of the fallout from Claire and Jamie being recognized. Jamie answered when she knocked on the door, "Mrs. Graham, we dinna think we would see ye so soon. Is everything alright?"
She passed him Claire's luggage and some bags full of his clothes, "No actually everything is not alright. The Reverend has no idea that you and Claire were at the manse, but he told me last night that Frank will be in town today. The police notified him shortly after you two were spotted and he called the Reverend to let him know what was happening. I think its best if the two of ye stay here until I get a chance to find out what he is thinking about the whole situation. Did Claire have a phone installed yet, I can call with the news if she has?"
Jamie shook his head as he ushered her to the kitchen, where Claire was scrambling eggs on the modern stove. Claire looked up as the two entered the kitchen, "I would say good morning to you Mrs. Graham, but I can see from the look on your face that it may not be such a good morning after all. What happened?"
Mrs. Graham repeated what she had told Jamie and handed Claire a card, "This is the number of a lawyer, he worked with my daughter Mary when her husband was cheating on her. He was able to get her the divorce she wanted and her daughter Fiona. When ye get a phone installed ye can call me at this number on the back of the card, that is the number to my home. I will let ye get back to yer breakfast, I must be off before the Reverend wonders what is keeping me."
Later that morning the phone was finally installed, Claire's first call was to the lawyer. The phone rang twice before it was answered by a female voice, "Mr. Newog's office, this is Maisri, how can I assist ye today?"
Claire cleared her throat, "Hello Maisri, my name is Claire Fra ..... uh Randall. A friend of mine gave me Mr. Newog's card and said that he could help me obtain a divorce from my estranged husband."
Claire could hear the smile in the secretary's voice, "Aye, he can, would ye like to set up an appointment to come into the office and speak with him?"
Claire groaned, "Actually, I was hoping that I could have him meet me at the place I am staying currently, you see I don't have any transportation."
The secretary hummed as if she were thinking, "Please hold, let me go ask Den what he wants to do."
Claire nodded, then realized the woman couldn't see her, but before she could answer verbally, she heard soft music come over the line. She rested her forehead on her open hand and reminded herself to stay calm.
A few minutes later a male voice was on the line, "Mrs. Randall?
Claire raised her head from her hand, "Yes, this is Mrs. Randall, but please call me Claire."
"Fine, Claire, this is Mr. Newog, Maisri has informed me that ye will need me to come to your home and speak with ye about yer divorce."
Claire sighed, "Yes, I am so sorry but I don't have any transportation yet. I'm living at a place called Lallybroch, it's just outside of Broch Mordha, are you familiar with the area?"
Mr. Newog chuckled softly, "Aye, I grew up in Broch Mordha. How soon do ye want to get yer petition for divorce started?"
Claire sat up straighter and gathered all the courage she could muster, "Actually I was hoping that perhaps you would like to come and discuss it over dinner, tonight."
"Well, since it is rude to turn down a dinner invitation, I would be glad to."
Claire grinned, "Perfect, I'm not sure yet what we will have, but how does 6:00 sound?"
"Perfect, I will be there just before 6:00, we can go over your case after dinner."
They both thanked each other, then rang off. Claire took a deep breath, feeling better now that she had completed the most important task for the day. She still had to figure out what she would make for dinner, luckily they had found some chickens in the barn late last night and they had laid enough eggs for breakfast. But she couldn't very well serve eggs for breakfast, she just hoped that Jamie's would be rewarded with some meat from his impromptu hunting trip he took off on this morning.
She decided to fill her time until Jamie was supposed to be back at noon with tidying her garden. There were some basic tools left in the garden that must have been abandoned by the previous owner. Clair changed into some trousers from her old life, not carrying if they became ruined and went to the barn to fetch the shovel and pickaxe. The first order of business would be to pull all of the weeds, it was tedious work but it must be done in order to inventory the helpful plants still growing amongst them.
After what seemed like all day, but was actually closer to an hour, she had removed all the weeds and piled them on the outside of the fence. Next, she grabbed the pickaxe and began turning the soil to remove the rocks that littered the garden. She didn't remember this many rocks the last time she worked her garden and for a brief second, she wondered if perhaps rocks grew. She giggled at the ridiculous thought, then continued clearing her garden.
Roughly another hour had passed by the time she was shaping the garden rows back into some semblance of order. A few of her herbs remained, but not many, she would need to go foraging in the nearby woods to find the correct specimens to transplant again. She also planned to use half of her garden for planting vegetables. Seeds were much easier to obtain in the 20th century and she planned to grow as much variety of vegetables as she could get her hands on.
She had gotten about halfway through with shaping the new rows when a shadow fell over the area she was working. She looked up to see what had caused the shadow and to her surprise it was Jamie. He was holding out his catch for the day, he had three rabbits and two trout. "I promised a long time ago that I wouldna let ye go hungry." He sheepishly grinned at her.
She stood up and wiped her hands on her trousers, leaving dirty handprints behind. She reached out to take the rabbits from him, "Oh good, I was a bit worried what we would be serving Mr. Newog for dinner tonight."
Jamie frowned at her as she turned to make her way toward the gate of her garden, "Who is Mr. Newog, and why are we serving him dinner?"
She turned toward him, "Oh, right, I forgot to mention it. I called the lawyer this morning, his name is Mr. Newog, I invited him to dinner tonight so we can discuss the details of the divorce. That also reminds me, we need to think of something to tell everyone."
Jamie's frown deepened, "Tell everyone about what, Sassenach?"
She shook her head, "Sorry, I have been thinking about everything and I guess I am speaking in half sentences. We need to figure out a story about how and where you and I met, why I am staying here with you, and where I have been all this time. We can't say that I have been here, because anyone who cares to look into it can see that you just bought the place and clearly with the work we still need to do to make the land look decent, it has not been lived in for a while."
Jamie's frown relaxed as he followed her into the house, "Awe, I see. So do ye have something in mind to tell them, then?"
She shook her head, "Well not exactly, I figured we could stick to the truth as much as possible and only skew the facts that will make us sound out of our minds."
Jamie nodded in understanding as they stepped into the kitchen. They worked in harmony, side by side as they prepared the rabbits for a stew. "So we could say that we met after I was in a battle, we met when ye healed my wounds and we were drawn to each other from that first moment. We spent more time together than proper which we both excused as ye checking my healing wounds, but eventually, it turned into something we couldn't ignore."
Claire sighed, "Well, yes, that will work for how we met, but that suggests we met during the war. How do I explain disappearing after coming to Scotland with Frank?"
Jamie thought for a few minutes more as he skillfully skinned the second rabbit, "Ye said that Frank spent much of his time researching his family with the Reverend and ye frequently walked around Inverness alone, that is when ye spotted the vase, is it not?"
Claire furrowed her brow, looking at him in confusion, "Yes, but I don't understand how that explains why I disappeared."
Jamie smirked, "Aye, it does help. Ye see we must have crossed paths again on one of yer outings. We couldna deny what we felt, so we planned to run away together."
She smiled as she realized that the idea may just work, there were only a few more details to sort through, "Alright, that could work, but then where have we been all of this time? I couldn't have left the country, I left my passport behind with the rest of my things at Mrs. Baird's Bed and Breakfast."
Jamie pondered the problem for a moment, "Hmm, Ye said that ye used to live rough with yer Uncle Lamb. Couldna we simply say that we were traveling across the land, ye offering yer healing skills to farms we came across and me offering to help with work on the farms in trade for food and lodging during the colder months."
She thought over it for a bit as she diced up the rabbit, but before she could answer there was a knock at the door. Claire set her knife down, wiped her hands on a towel, and went to answer the door.
Jamie reached out and grabbed her arm before she could leave the kitchen, "Wait, Sassenach, ye dinna ken who it could be. I should be the one to answer it, stay here until we ken who it is."
She nodded, "Yes, you are right, we don't want anyone to know that I am here until after the divorce papers have been filed."
Jamie grabbed the towel, wiped his own hands, then before he left to go answer the door he cast a warning look back at her over his shoulder that conveyed how serious this was. She nodded in understanding and resumed her task of dicing the rabbit meat.
Jamie hesitated for a moment when he approached the door, he wasn't sure who could be on the other side, but he was prepared to defend Claire no matter what. He pulled the door open slowly and let out a sigh of relief when the visitor's identity was revealed, "Mrs. Graham, what are ye doing back so soon, and what have ye got wi' ye?"
Mrs. Graham shoved two paper bags into his arms, "I've brought ye some groceries, I figured ye must be starving. Take these to the kitchen, I've got more in the boot of my car."
Jamie did as she said then returned to the door to help her with the rest. She was just coming up the steps when he returned, "Here this is the rest of it, where is Claire?"
Jamie took the bags from her, pushed the door closed with his foot then turned to lead the way, "She is in the kitchen, preparing the rabbits for stew. Will ye join us for dinner, Claire has invited her lawyer so we can go over the divorce?"
As they entered the kitchen, Claire walked around the counter to take Mrs. Graham in a tight embrace, "Thank you so much for everything. I heard Jamie ask you to join us tonight, we would love to have you. It would also help if you could tell the lawyer how Frank ignored me while we were at the manse."
Mrs. Graham pulled back from the awkward embrace, "I would be happy to join ye for dinner tonight, but I dinna finish at the manse until 5:00."
Claire smiled as she turned to walk back over and resume her work on the rabbit, "That is perfect, dinner is at 6:00 and the vegetables you have brought us will definitely improve this rabbit stew."
Mrs. Graham said goodbye to the pair, then turned and left.
Jamie pulled the groceries out of the paper bags, setting everything out on the counter to see what they had. Claire watched as he examined things that were foreign to him, "Perhaps I should make some sandwiches for our lunch."
Jamie looked up at her skeptically, a loaf of sliced bread in his hand, "What is sandwiches?"
Claire giggled, "A sandwich can be made with just about anything, but traditionally, you take one of those slices of bread," she pointed to the bread he was holding, "then you add sliced meat and cheese, sometimes mustard or mayonnaise, then you put another slice of bread on top. You pick the whole thing up and eat it with your hands. Would you like to try some for lunch today?"
He peered at her dubiously, "Aye, I will try it, but I canna promise that I will like it."
Jamie took over dicing the rabbit meat into cubes while Claire washed her hands and put all of the groceries away, keeping out only what would be needed to make their sandwiches. Already predicting how much Jamie would eat, she set out the ingredients for 6 sandwiches. Anything that they didn't eat for lunch, could just be put into the refrigerator for tomorrow's lunch. She opened the jar of mayo, dipped her finger in, and held it out for Jamie to taste, "Here, taste this so I can decide whether or not to put it on your sandwich."
He quirked his eyebrow, but leaned over and took her finger into his mouth, sucking the mayo off seductively until he heard her breath hitch. Finally, he released her finger, "Tis good, but I may need another taste to be sure."
She grinned at him, "Behave yourself, James Fraser, we have too many things to finish before we think about that, but if you like it so much, I'll put some on your sandwiches."
He pouted at her, "Come now, Sassenach, there is always time for that."
A blush rose from her chest to the tips of her ears, "Perhaps after we finish lunch."
Jamie chuckled and returned his attention to the rabbit. Claire moved around next to him to take a butter knife from the drawer directly in front of him. Her hand brushed past his trousers, causing his cock to twitch as she reached for the drawer. His breath caught in his throat as the knife he had been using to dice the rabbit, suddenly clattered to the counter and his hand came down to catch her wrist and hold her hand against his growing erection. Their eyes locked and time seemed to stop, Claire broke the spell, breathlessly whispering his name, "Jamie, I need a knife so I can put the mayo on your sandwiches."
He released her wrist but not before pulling her against him and kissing her deeply, pulling away from her only when they were both panting, trying to catch their breath. "Dinna, tease mo ghráidh, ye will pay for that later."
He took a step back to allow her room to pull the drawer open and retrieve the knife she was after. With her chest heaving, she attempted to tamp down her arousal and focus on the task before her. It took a moment to regain control and remember what she had been doing before he kissed her. Jamie realized her predicament and pulled a knife from the drawer and handed it to her, "I think this is what ye were after lass, do ye need help preparing the sandwiches?"
Claire shook her head and returned to her place on the other side of the counter so she could resume the assembly of their lunch. She dipped the knife in the jar of mayo, pulled a large dollop out, and began spreading it on each slice of bread. She removed enough slices of turkey from the butcher wrap to place a slice on each sandwich. Then she unwrapped the swiss cheese, adding a slice on top of each piece of turkey. She unwrapped the head of lettuce, removed the outermost layer to add to her garden as compost, and placed a fresh inner leaf on 2 of the sandwiches. She looked up to see if Jamie wanted any lettuce, but he shook his head, not trusting uncooked greens. She finished off by adding a second slice of bread on top of each assembled sandwich and placed them on 2 plates which she removed from the cabinet.
She passed Jamie's plate across the counter to him and walked over to the sink, pulled two glasses from the shelf next to the sink, and filled them both with water. She set a glass next to Jamie's plate and one next to her own. She returned to the sink, washing her hands and nudged Jamie in the ribs, reminding him to wash his hands before he ate his lunch. He finished dicing the last of the rabbit meat, placed it in the pot on the stove, then washed his hands as well.
Jamie appeared to enjoy his sandwiches, moaning after every few bites and finishing all four sandwiches in the time Claire had started on her second one. "Is there anything else going in the stew, Sassenach?"
Claire swallowed her mouthful, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and nodded, "Mrs. Graham brought us some vegetables, I would like to add some carrots, celery, and onion into the stew. It will all need to be chopped of course, but I can do that if you can take a rag from the linen closet and go wipe down the table in the dining room."
Jamie nodded, placing a kiss on her crown as he walked past her, "Anything ye say mo chridhe."
Claire finished her sandwich, placed the sandwich ingredients back into the refrigerator, and removed the vegetables necessary for their stew. She walked around to the sink and placed all the vegetables under the flow of water to rinse them off. Once clean, she placed them on the counter next to the cutting board. She washed the cutting board and knife, wiped the counter where it had been then started chopping vegetables. When she finished with the vegetables, she scraped everything into the pot, placed the lid on top, and turned the temperature down to let the stew simmer for the few hours that remained until their guests arrived.
Jamie returned to the kitchen just as she was finishing and came up behind her, sliding his hands over her hips around her waist, pulling her back against him. He placed a kiss at the crook of her neck and shoulder, causing a shiver to run down her spine. He whispered against her ear, his warm breath causing another shiver, "We have time now, Sassenach and ye owe me after teasing me before lunch."
She leaned her head back against his shoulder, her eyes closed, she sighed, "How do you intend for me to pay for my transgression?"
He nibbled her neck, then used his tongue to soothe the sting, "I think ye ken, how I intend to collect my payment from ye mo ghráidh."
He moved his hands from her hips, slowly allowing them to glide over her body, placing one on her barely apparent bump and allowing the other to travel up her body and cup her left breast. She moaned as he began to gently massage her breast, pressing her hips back and causing delicious friction against his cock. She came back to her senses just enough to realize where they were standing, "Jamie, not here, not in the kitchen, take me to bed." she breathed.
He didn't need telling twice, he released her breast, deftly scooped her up into his arms and strode purposefully out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the Laird's chamber. Once inside the room, he closed the door with his foot and gently placed her on her feet. With the ease of modern attire, it only took moments to remove their clothes. Within minutes, they were both standing nude admiring one another's bodies.
Claire couldn't resist the urge to run her hands over his rock-solid chest, feeling the power beneath her hands. Her eyes were drawn to the transverses abdominous or the sexy v-shaped muscles that pointed directly to his impressive cock. Jamie's hands found purchase on her soft round arse, gently massaging each buttock and drawing her body tight against his. They both groaned at the electricity that passed between them at the contact their bodies shared.
Jamie captured her lips with his in a crushing kiss, filled with all the love and desire he had for her, his tongue invaded her mouth, plunging it's depths, writhing and tasting every contour and shape. She opened to him, blossoming under his attentions, her tongue darting out and joining his in dance, tasting a swiping across his lips and tongue. His hands moved down, lifting her legs up to wrap around his waist, their lips never losing contact. They were lost in the pleasure and passion that the kiss expressed, reveling in the sensation of their souls become one.
Jamie slowly walked toward their bed, stopping only when he felt his shins hit the frame. They broke apart from the kiss, both gasping for air as Jamie gently lowered her onto the bed. He stared down at her body, spread open, glistening and throbbing, begging for him to touch her, to kiss her most intimate parts.
He knelt down, relishing the goddess before him. Her hips bucked in anticipation, heels digging into the bedding and her honey pot dripping with arousal. He reaches out sliding one finger inside of her, a bolt of lighting shooting straight to her core as she moans with desire. He slowly pumps his finger in and then out, rubbing his thumb over her little pink nub that grows with each thrust of his finger.
He can't take it anymore, her moans causing his cock to grow harder and more painful. He places her legs over each of his shoulders, allowing him closer access to her glistening core. He traps her thighs with his hands and leans in, slowly rubbing his nose over her pink bud. A squeak escapes her kiss swollen lips and he grins against her. Her whole body trembles when he uses his tongue to tenderly caress her silky wet folds. He breaths in her intoxicating womanly scent as his tongue plunges inside her, swiping up and down and around. He moans, and the vibration of his deep sultry voice sends a shock through her body, curling her toes.
Her fingers finding their way into his soft red curls, tugging lightly, not directing his movements, or trying to pull him away, only holding on. He lightly scraped his teeth over her swollen bud, causing her to cry out in ecstasy. He plunged two fingers inside her core, her walls beginning to flutter around them as her thighs squeeze his head between them as she rides out her explosive orgasm. He gives her bud a tender kiss after she releases him, then moves up her body, kissing and nibbling all the way up to her mouth. "Give me yer mouth, Sassenach."
She laced her fingers in the curls at the nape of his neck, drawing him down, his lips brushing against hers, so featherlight. It's just a tease and she needs more, she presses her lips against his with all the force she can muster, he grins against her lips before biting down on her bottom lip. Her hips thrusting up against his, trying to join their bodies, he can't deny her any longer. He grasps her hip, angling her just right and in one forceful thrust, he is buried deep inside her. A deep moan escapes both their lips at the moment of joining.
He begins to move slowly, not wanting to cause her any harm. He pays homage to her body as she takes him in again and again. He plunges his cock into her over and over again, losing rhythm and restraint as he gets closer to his own release. But he holds back, he will not spill himself until she has found her pleasure. He leans down and takes a nipple into his mouth, suckling, and nipping. Her chest begins to heave as her breath becomes erratic, then he feels her walls flutter around his cock and he can't hold back any longer. He cries out her name as he spills his hot seed deep inside of her, she milks him with her own release, drawing every last bit out of him. His body crumbles down next to her as they both pant, and hearts thunder in their chests.
He caresses her skin, worshiping her lovely body, thanking the Lord for giving her to him. "I love ye mo ghráidh."
She sighed as she rested her head on his muscular bicep, "I love you too, Jamie."
He stroked her hair, watching as her breathing returned to normal and her eyes turned heavy with sleep, "Rest now, we have a bit of time before our guests arrive."
After a nice afternoon nap, they both dressed and prepared for the arrival of their guests. Mr. Newog arrived first, briefcase in hand, and ready to get down to business. Jamie ushered him into the parlor, "Welcome to our home Mr. Newog, I am James Fraser, would ye like a wee dram of whisky while we wait for our other guest to arrive?"
The older gentleman took a seat close to the hearth, "Aye, I willna turn down a dram. May I ask where Mrs. Randall is?"
Jamie grimaced at the use of the name of his enemy, "She is upstairs readying herself for dinner, she will be down presently."
Jamie handed the man a tumbler of whisky, and sat down across from him with his own glass.
Den took a sip of his whisky, savoring the smoky flavor as it smoothly slid down his throat, burning pleasantly on the way down. "Tell me, Mr. Fraser, how did ye and Mrs. Randall meet?"
Jamie rolled his glass around in his hands, hoping that the story he and Claire had come up with would be convincing. "Claire healed my arm after I had injured it in battle. My shoulder had been dislocated and shot."
Mr. Newog's eyes grew a bit wider, be he quickly schooled his features before moving on with his interrogation, "I see, so ye met during the war, I presume?"
Jamie took another sip of his whisky, liquid courage wasn't particularly necessary in the instance, but it definitely wouldn't hurt either. "Aye, in France, when Claire was a nurse and I a soldier."
Mr. Newog eyed him skeptically, "I have done some research since I spoke with Mrs. Randall this morning, it seems she went missing nigh on three years ago. The car she had been driving was found at Craigh Na Dun and her husband reported her as missing. She was thought dead at first, but when a body didna turn up, there were rumors that she ran away with a lover."
Jamie sat stoically not letting his face reveal anything and with no response from him, Mr. Newog continued, "Did ye and Mrs. Randall have an affair while ye were in France, during the war?"
Jamie looked at him and answered him truthfully, "No, we didna have an affair, we were no' intimate until after she left Frank."
Mr. Newog threw back the rest of his whisky and set his glass on the small round table next to his chair, "Then how do ye explain Mrs. Randall's disappearance so suddenly and being here in yer home?"
Jamie sighed, "There was something powerful between us, we spent much time together in France, but Claire was married. It never went any further than a deep friendship. But then Claire and I encountered one another in Inverness one day when she was here with Frank. We kent then, that what we had felt all those years before had no' changed or faded away. We realized then that it was love that we felt, a love strong enough to abandon all reason. So we planned to meet at Craigh Na Dun and run away together. I had told Claire of the fairy stories and how people were rumored to have disappeared from there, never to be seen again. She agreed that it was convincing enough for the people of the highlands to believe it had happened to her. So we met at the stones, she left her car there as if she planned to return to it and we left."
Mr. Newog looked Jamie over for a moment before continuing, "That explains her disappearance, but that does no' explain where she has been for the past three years. Mr. Randall posted wanted posters all over Scotland and not just posters with her picture as a missing person, but posters with yer face, ye are a suspect in her disappearance. Mr. Randall claims that ye took Mrs. Randall against her will. Not one person has reported seeing either of ye in all of Scotland, how do ye explain that if ye were no' holding her against her will."
Claire had been listening to their conversation from the second floor landing and at this point, she had had enough of the accusatory tone that Mr. Newog had been directing at Jamie, "Jamie is not responsible for my leaving. I left of my own accord and will not be returning to Frank. We only came back now, because I am pregnant and we want to be wed before our child arrives. We can't do that until I am divorced from Frank. Now are you here as my lawyer or are you here to help Frank?"
Mr. Newog stood abruptly at Claire's sudden arrival, "Aye, Mrs. Randall, I am here to help ye. I just had to be sure that ye were no' being coerced or threatened into this divorce."
Claire moved to stand next to Jamie and take his hand in hers, interlacing their fingers, "I assure you Mr. Newog, this is what I want, I can't wait to be Jamie's wife."
Before anyone could say another word, there was a knock at the front door. Claire excused herself to answer it while Jamie showed Mr. Newog to the dining room. Claire opened the door to Mrs. Graham who was holding a warm apple pie, "Good evening Mrs. Graham, please come in. I am so glad that you were able to make it."
Mrs. Graham handed Claire the pie so that she could remove her coat. "I will just put this in the kitchen, you can hang your coat on the coat rack there in the corner. Would you mind helping me to bring dinner to the table?"
Mrs. Graham hung up her coat, "Oh no dear, I am happy to help ye. Besides, it will give us a moment to chat while we have a moment alone."
Claire led Mrs. Graham into the kitchen, "What is it that you wanted to talk about?"
Mrs. Graham took both of Claire's hands in hers as soon as she set the pie on the counter, "I have news about Frank, he arrived at the manse this afternoon. The police called and told him that ye had been seen in Inverness with the man who is a suspect in yer disappearance. His emotions have been wavering all afternoon, between excitement that ye have returned and anger that ye might have left him for another man."
Claire pulled her hands away from Mrs. Graham and leaned heavily on the counter, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ."
Jamie walked into the kitchen to hear her last remark, "What is it Sassenach, what has gotten ye so upset?"
Claire looked up at him, unable to gather her thoughts enough to utter a single word. Jamie noticed that her complexion had lost its natural pallor and she was suddenly white as a sheet. He rushed over to her and took hold of her before she fainted, "Are ye alright mo nighean donn, ye look as though ye have seen a ghost?"
Claire peered up at him, "No, I'm not alright. Mrs. Graham just informed me that Frank is at the manse and that he is not only raving about me leaving him for another man but he is excited that I have returned. What the Hell am I going to do, Jamie?"
He rubbed her back and pressed her against his chest, "We are going to do just as we have planned. First, we are going to enjoy our dinner wi' our guests, then we are going to tell the lawyer that ye want a divorce. After that, we will just see what happens. We will be safe here at Lallybroch, I will see to it. We dinna need to leave here for a least two weeks when ye have yer next appointment for the bairn. Frank has no reason to look here for ye and perhaps we can ask Dr. Hunter to come to Lallybroch to examine ye if ye are still feeling anxious when that time comes."
Claire nodded, not entirely convinced that their plan would work. "Ok, go back into the dining room with our guest. Mrs. Graham is going to help me bring the food in, we will be right there."
He kissed her forehead and released her, "As ye say, my lady."
When dinner was finished and the pie completely consumed, everyone gathered in the parlor to discuss the divorce. "Alright, Mrs. Randall, I already ken that ye want to divorce yer husband. I need to ken if there are any assets that ye wish to have as yer own?"
Claire shook her head, "Please call me Claire, Randall is not my name anymore. The only thing I have is the inheritance from my parents and uncle Lamb, which is in an account and only in my name. I don't want anything else from him, except for my freedom." She took off the gold band that Frank had given her on their wedding day, "Here you can even give this back to him, I want nothing from him."
Mr. Newog took the ring and placed it in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. "Good, the paperwork willna take long to draw up. I have one more question, where did ye wed?"
Claire furrowed her brow, "I don't see what that matters, but we married in Scotland."
Mr. Newog nodded, "Good, that means all legal matters will remain in Scotland. I will get these papers drawn up tomorrow and return here in two days to obtain yer signature. I will file the petition for divorce with the court and send a copy of the divorce petition to Mr. Randall. Once he signs and returns the papers we will only need to file the completed petition with the court. After the court receives the papers, a court date will be set and a judge will make the final determination. After that, ye will be a free woman."
Claire wrung her hands in her lap, "How long does all of this usually take, Jamie and I would like to be wed as soon as possible."
Mr. Newog looked up at her as he was gathering his notes to place in his briefcase, "That will all depend on Mr. Randall, but if he is amenable and signs right away, the whole process from the time I file the petition usually takes about 30 days. Of course, if he doesna sign right away, it will certainly take longer. I advise ye no' to have any contact with him between now and the court date. A judge will make a final determination and ye will need to be in court that day."
Claire frowned, "A judge gets to tell me whether or not I may get divorced?"
Mr. Newog chuckled, which infuriated Claire, "No ma'am, the judge will determine how the property or accounts are split, but since ye are no' asking for anything save yer own accounts, there should no' be an issue."
Two days later, Mr. Newog returned with the prepared divorce papers. Claire invited him into the parlor where she went over the papers with Jamie. After determining that the lawyer had laid everything out just as Claire had wished, she signed the papers and handed him back to him. "Now what happens?"
He slid the papers into his briefcase, "Now I will return to my office. I will make a copy of these papers this afternoon. Tomorrow morning I will go to the courthouse and file these with the court. The next morning, I will mail a copy of the divorce papers to the address ye gave me for yer husband in Oxford. Ye must lay low, dinna venture into town. Ye need to avoid any situations which may bring ye into contact with Mr. Randall."
Claire nodded as she and Jamie escorted Mr. Newog back to the front door, "Of course, we wouldn't want that. Will you let us know when it is safe for us to venture into town, we will be needed supplies again soon and I can't keep being a burden on poor Mrs. Graham."
Mr. Newog tipped his hat, "Aye, ma'am, a week, possibly two, and Mr. Randall should have received the papers. I will call the number ye gave me when I get a response from his lawyer."
A week after she signed the papers, Mrs. Graham arrived with news that Frank had returned to Oxford. With no other sightings of her or Jamie, the police put the sighting down as a false lead and Frank lost hope again.
It was two more weeks before Mr. Newog called to notify them that he had received a reply from Frank's lawyer, stating that he would not sign the papers until he could talk to Claire himself. Apparently Frank didn't believe that she would leave him of her own accord. Claire asked Mr. Newog to inform Frank's lawyer that the next time he set eyes on her would be in divorce court and that she had no desire to see him.
Claire and Jamie had not left Lallybroch for fear of running into Frank, although Mrs. Graham repeatedly assured them that he remained in Oxford.
Another three weeks passed, it had been a month and a half since they returned through the stones and Mr. Newog had no news for them. Claire decided that she was tired of hiding out and needed to go shopping for her own groceries. Mrs. Graham loaned them her car, while she stayed behind at Lallybroch. Jamie suggested that they not go any further than Broch Mordha since Frank had no reason to go there or suspect Claire would be there.
While in Broch Mordha, they were able to purchase their basic groceries, but they would need to travel into Inverness for the supplies required to make repairs on the barn and stables. Claire and Jamie were both eager to add livestock to the farm again and without the repairs being completed, the animals would not be protected from the ever-changing Scottish weather. They decided to wait for two more weeks and hope for news from Mr. Newog before making a trip to Inverness.
Two more weeks passed and Mrs. Graham arrived on their doorstep early so that the pair could use her car for their trip to Inverness. They only had two stops to make and the first was the hardware store to purchase the tools that would be required to make the repairs as well as a box of nails. Their next and last stop was the library, Claire had promised Jamie that they would try and find out what happened to his family and their best source of information would be the public library.
As they were walking out they were stopped dead in their tracks by a man's voice, "Claire... Claire is that you... where have you been all of this time?"
Claire turned around with Jamie at her side, the voice belonged to the last person that she wanted to see, "Frank." she replied flatly.
Frank had been walking toward them, but then he suddenly halted when his eyes landed on her 5-month pregnant belly, "You .... you are pregnant?" He was clearly shocked and unsure of what to think as several emotions played across his face in rapid succession. Suddenly anger was the only emotion emanating from him as his gaze left her belly and landed on Jamie, "You bastard, it was you that I saw standing outside of the bed and breakfast. You stole my wife you Scottish bastard and you, you whore, I knew you were cheating on me."
Claire and Jamie exchanged a look of confusion, "He didn't steal anybody Frank, it was my choice to go with him. You need to let me go, I no longer love you or want to be with you. Just sign the bloody papers and let me go."
Frank shook his finger in their direction, "You lied right to my face when I asked you if you met anyone during the war, and then you ran away with him. You probably planned it the whole time. You were all for coming to Scotland when I suggested it for our second honeymoon. I suppose I'm the fool, all the while thinking we came here to rekindle our marriage and you .... you were planning your escape the whole time. Well played, Claire, well played. I guess now that you are carrying this Scottish bastard's child, there is nothing left for us. I'll sign the papers and have my lawyer send them to yours. I want nothing more to do with you, you stay away from me, you whore."
Jamie growled and all his muscles tensed at Frank's words, but Claire squeezed his arm, silently letting him know that she would handle this. "Think what you will of me, Frank, but I never lied to you. I do love Jamie and I am having his child. All I want from you is a divorce so that I can move on with my life with the man that I love. Do as you just said you would and sign the papers Frank, there is no reason to continue to draw this out any longer. I have moved on and it is time that you did as well. Go find someone who loves you as you deserve to be loved."
Claire turned on her heel and pulled Jamie with her and toward Mrs. Graham's waiting car. They got in and drove home to Lallybroch with new hope in their hearts that everything was finally going to go according to plan.
The next morning, Claire and Jamie were surprised to find Mr. Newog on their doorstep with less than stellar news. "I thought I should let ye ken that I received a message from Mr. Randall's lawyer. It seems that Mr. Randall has been pressuring the police to arrest Jamie for your kidnapping, Claire. He refuses to sign the papers and claims that ye are under duress from Mr. Fraser."
Claire's face turned bright red as her knuckles turned white with how tightly she was holding her fists, "Are you fucking kidding me, why that ignorant bastard. What the hell does he think he's doing? Certainly, he can't get away with this?"
Mr. Newog looked down at the hat he had clasped in his hands, "Aye, he can, Claire. But thankfully, no one kens where either of ye are, and for yer own safety, I think it best that ye dinna venture into town."
Claire gave him an exasperated look, "Well now what do we do? Clearly I don't want to be married to him anymore. For God's sake, I am carrying another man's child. Does he honestly think he can force me to stay with him?"
Jamie laced his arm around her waist, trying to give her whatever support and comfort that he could. "Dinna fash, mo nighean donn, we will find a way, we always do."
Mr. Newog sighed, "There is one other thing we can do. We can file a petition with the court. You can claim that you strayed from the marriage bed, but in order for them to take it seriously, you will need to claim that it happened initially soon after you joined the army. We will need to establish a history so that it appears as if you planned to run away together long before you appeared in Inverness. You will have to claim that you had an affair, while you were in France and that it was your intention to meet up with Jamie in Scotland after the war ended."
Jamie stared down at Claire, silently asking if she could do that. He was willing to do whatever it would take to have her by his side for the rest of his days. Even if that meant tainting his fabricated military record.
Claire turned to Mr. Newog, "Fine, we will do it, what do we have to do?"
Mr. Newog cleared his throat, "Ye will need to write down the date that ye first met, when the affair started, what kind of interactions ye had and anyone that ye could use as a witness. I will give ye time to think about it, but we will need to file the petition as soon as possible. Give me a call when ye have everything together."
Mr. Newog turned and left them standing on the porch, contemplating how exactly they were going to pull this off. As his car pulled away, Claire slumped against Jamie's chest. "How the hell are we supposed to do this. It's not like I can suddenly provide a witness, everyone that we knew is dead and on the other side of the stones."
Jamie placed a finger under her chin, bringing her head up so she would look into his eyes, "Would Dr. Hunter be willing to say that he kent us in Paris, do ye think he would be the witness that we need to make them believe our story?"
Claire sighed, "I don't know, he never did like Frank, but I have never known him to lie. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to ask him."
Jamie released her chin and placed a kiss on the top of her head, "Give the man a call and invite him and his wife to Lallybroch for dinner tonight mo chridhe."
Several hours later, Denzel and his wife were knocking on their front door. Jamie answered as Claire was setting the table, "Dr. Hunter, Mrs. Hunter, please come in."
Dr. Hunter's wife looked at Jamie, "Please call me Dorothea, and may I say what a lovely home you have. Thank you for inviting us to dinner, Denzel has told me so much about Claire, I have been simply dying to meet her."
Jamie coughed to cover his unease, "Aye, she is a remarkable woman, please come with me, she is serving dinner in the dining room now."
The couple followed Jamie through the large house, admiring everything they passed as they made their way. Jamie gestured for them to have a seat as he left to help Claire in the kitchen.
They returned carrying a tray with a large roast surrounded by carrots, potatoes, and onions. "I am so glad you could both make it. I must admit, however, that we have an ulterior motive. Denzel, do you remember our time very well in Paris?"
Denny looked at his wife with a furrowed brow, "A bit, why do you ask, Claire?"
She took her seat next to Jamie, reached out and took his hand in hers then turned her attention to her friend, "Well, as you know I was married once before, technically I still am married to Frank, although I haven't been with him since before the war. I have filed for divorce, but he refuses to sign the papers. I don't know exactly what he thinks is going to happen by denying me this, but we have had to come up with another way to end this."
Denzel looked at her with confusion on his face, "And, what exactly does that have to do with me?"
Claire and Jamie exchanged a brief look before she continued. "Jamie and I met during the battle, I fixed his dislocated shoulder and a bullet wound as many nurses would when there were far to worse of wounds for the doctors to tend to. Anyhow, we became very close after that. In fact, that is when we began our relationship."
Denny looked at Jamie then back at Claire, "I don't remember you ever spending time with anyone back then Claire, you were always so proper with all of the soldiers that came in. You spurned any and all advances no matter how sincere they were. I don't believe that you were having an affair."
Claire sighed and looked to Jamie for some help, she always had trouble lying, so maybe he could sell their story better than she could. Jamie understood what she needed so he took over, "Aye, Denzel, we were having an affair, but Claire was afraid of the repercussions since I had been her patient. We kept our relationship well hidden and she maintained the outward appearance of a happily married woman. She was happy, just married to the wrong man. We would have been together sooner, but after I healed I was sent back to battle and she thought I had died. It was only after reuniting in Inverness that we knew we had our second chance to be together and all reason went out the window. We ran away together and left her husband Frank to think she had simply disappeared. But now that we are back, she is trying to get a divorce from the man that made her miserable, but he willna allow it."
Denny looked between the two again, "So what is it exactly that you are asking of me?"
Claire decided she could take over from there, "Even though we kept our relationship hidden rather well, we need a witness to testify to the fact that we did indeed have a relationship back then. That our affair started in 1939 just months after I arrived in Paris. Without it, Frank can have Jamie arrested, he has accused him of abducting me, of holding me against my will. But I'm sure you can see that is simply not the case, we love each other more than anything in this world and will do whatever it takes to be together, even traveling through time to escape Frank."
Jamie chuckled to cover the truth that Claire had just revealed to their unsuspecting guests.
Dorothea placed a hand over Denzel's, "Denny, darling, can't you see that they are in love. Of course, you can help them, it's not going to harm anyone to tell a judge that they have loved each other that long, will it?"
Denny gazed lovingly at his wife, "No, my love. I guess it won't. Alright, Claire, I will do this for you, but you must come work with me after that baby is born. You owe it to me to provide my practice with the best nurse possible."
They all chuckled as Claire nodded, "Of course, Denny. I would be happy to work with you, but I think I want to wait until this little one is at least a few months old before I do."
Denny smiled, "I wouldn't expect anything else, now if you don't have any more strange requests, this roast looks mouthwatering, shall we dig in?"
After Denny and Dorothea left, Jamie and Claire retired to the study to begin writing down a fake timeline of when they met and how long their affair had lasted before Jamie was sent back to battle. "I'm going to approximate the dates of when we first met, based on my memory of when I first met some Scottish soldiers."
Jamie smiled across the desk at her, "Aye, mo nighean donn, whatever ye think is best. I will go over yer list once ye have completed it, then I will make my own to match up to yer timeline."
Account by Claire directly from a journal kept during the war.
April 11, 1939 - I arrived in Paris to begin training as a nurse.
May 6, 1939 - Jamie arrived injured at the field hospital where I attended to his injuries.
May 7, 1939 - I went to check on Jamie's injuries, to make sure they weren't infected.
May 8, 1939 - Jamie and I had lunch in the mess hall together and exchanged flirtatious words and glances.
May 9, 1939 - Jamie came to find me since I had skipped lunch due to an influx of injured soldiers. We together behind the mess tent.
May 10, 1939 - I kissed Jamie before retiring to my cot for the night.
May 11, 1939 - Jamie and I strolled hand in hand around the perimeter of the camp.
May 12, 1939 - It was my first day away from the field hospital, Jamie and I spent the day walking around Paris together and kissing repeatedly as we walked along the Seine River.
May 13, 1939 - I told Jamie that I was married and we agreed to figure it out.
May 14, 1939 - I suggested to Jamie that we run away together after the war ended
May 15, 1939 - I removed the bandage from Jamie's bullet wound, he had a slight infection which turned into a fever and he was admitted back into the hospital under my care.
May 19, 1939 - Jamie finally woke up after being unconscious for 4 days.
May 20, 1939 - Jamie was feeling much better, we discussed our future together, the babies we would have and the life we would live.
May 21, 1939 - Jamie was allowed to leave the hospital for short walks to gauge his strength. We kissed every time we found ourselves alone.
May 22, 1939 - I told Jamie that I love him.
May 23, 1939 - Jamie told me that he loves me.
May 24, 1939 - Jamie asked me to marry him when the war ends. I said yes.
May 25, 1939 - Jamie and I made love under the stars.
May 26, 1939 - Jamie was discharged from the hospital and deemed healed and healthy enough to return to battle.
May 27, 1939 - Jamie and I cried in each other's arms at the unfairness of the war.
May 28, 1939 - Jamie and I said goodbye and promised to write every day.
June 6, 1939 - I received my first letter from Jamie, he told me how much he loved and missed me and promised we would be together one day.
June 30, 1939 - I received another letter from Jamie, he was worried that it may be his last for a while but promised to send another as soon as he could.
August 15, 1939 - I received a letter from Jamie asking me to meet him at the Eiffel Tower on my birthday.
October 20, 1939 - Jamie met me at the Eiffel Tower, we were both on leave for a week. We spent our time inside of our hotel room, making love, sipping wine, and eating great food.
October 27, 1939 - Jamie and I said goodbye again.
December 29, 1939 - Jamie sent me a beautiful pearl necklace for a Christmas Gift, he said it belonged to his mother.
Jan 6, 1940 - I had a miscarriage and lost mine and Jamie's baby.
May 4, 1940 - I received word today that Jamie's regiment had come under attack.
May 10, 1940 - I wrote a letter to Jamie's sister Jenny today, I'm praying that he was sent home to Scotland to heal.
June 28, 1940 - I still have not received word back from Jenny, I was told mail has been restricted.
December 15, 1940 - I received a letter from Jenny, she hasn't heard from Jamie since just before Christmas a year ago. But she hasn't received notice of his death or capture either, we still have hope.
March 23, 1941 - Jenny wrote and said she received notice that Jamie's regiment was considered lost, bodies had not been recovered. I can't believe he is gone.
January 18, 1942 - I have decided that I need to let go of Jamie and move on with my life.
May 6, 1942 - I decided today that when the war is over I will leave Frank. I know in my heart that he has been unfaithful.
September 22, 1942 - Frank visited me for the first time since this war started today, luckily the hospital was busy so I wasn't forced to pretend to be happy.
July 12, 1943 - Frank visited again, the conversation was stilted, we didn't know how to be around one another anymore, the war has changed us both.
March 30, 1945 - I have received my discharge papers.
April 27, 1945 - I met Frank in London today after getting off the train. We decided to try and make our marriage work and find the people we had once been.
April 29, 1945 - We arrived in Inverness Scotland today.
April 30, 1945 - Jamie is alive, I ran into him while I was shopping alone because Frank was to busy to spend time with me. We made a plan to run away.
May 1, 1945 - Jamie and I ran away together and left Frank without any clue. I know he would never let me go.
Jamie's account of his relationship with Claire from letters and memories.
May 6, 1939 - I was shot and fell from a building, dislocating my shoulder, I arrived at the field hospital in Paris where a beautiful nurse attended me.
May 7, 1939 - The beautiful nurse came to check on me and told me her name.
May 8, 1939 - I searched for Claire so I could be close to her and we ate together
May 9, 1939 - The lass works so hard, that she neglects herself. I brought her lunch and made sure she ate every bite.
May 10, 1939 - Claire allowed me to kiss her.
May 11, 1939 - We walked around camp as if we were not in the middle of a war.
May 12, 1939 - We walked along the Seine River, laughing and enjoying each other's company like the lovers we are.
May 13, 1939 - She reminded me that she is a married woman, I told her she doesn't look too happy to be married to him. She told me that it was a spur of the moment decision made in fear of the coming war.
May 14, 1939 - She asked me to run away with her. I agreed.
May 15, 1939 - I went back to the hospital, my bullet wound was infected.
May 20, 1939 - We discussed our future together, the babies we would have and the life we would live, I told her we would be happy at Lallybroch.
May 22, 1939 - She finally admitted that she loves me, but I waited to tell her. I didn't want her to think I was saying it just because she had.
May 23, 1939 - I told her I love her and we are meant to be together.
May 24, 1939 - She accepted my marriage proposal
May 25, 1939 - I made love to Claire under the stars.
May 26, 1939 - They are sending me back to war.
May 27, 1939 - We cried and I held her close, afraid to let go.
May 28, 1939 - Claire and I said goodbye and promised to write every day.
June 12, 1939 - I received my first letter from Claire, she told me how her days were going at the hospital and reminded me how much she loved me.
June July 8, 1939 - I received another letter from Claire, we are moving to another location and I may not be able to write to her for a long while.
August 1, 1939 - I wrote to her and asked her to meet me at the Eiffel Tower on her birthday.
October 20, 1939 - We met me at the Eiffel Tower, we were both on leave for a week. I spent my time loving her and worshipping her body.
October 27, 1939 - Claire and I said goodbye again.
December 16, 1939 - I sent her my mother's pearl necklace and told her how precious she is to me.
April 1, 1940 - My regiment was attacked today and we were all taken as prisoner. I can't get a letter out to let Claire know that I am alive.
March 4, 1945 - Those of us that survived were released today, we are being sent to a hospital in London until we recover.
March 8, 1945 - I was told of the attack on the field hospital in Paris, Claire is lost to me, she has died.
April 30, 1945 - Claire is alive, I ran into her while I was running errands for my sister in Inverness. We made a plan to run away.
May 1, 1945 - Claire and I ran away together.
Jamie and Claire compared their lists and decided that if this didn't convince the judge they didn't know what would. Denny and Dorothea would be by in the morning so that Denny could deliver his letter, claiming to have been a witness to Jamie and Claire on several occasions sneaking off together, but the dates would be vague since it wasn't of importance to him. Many of the soldiers and nurses and been engaged in similar activities and Jamie and Claire were no different.
Early the next morning Denny and Dorothea showed up just in time for breakfast. Claire had collected fresh eggs from the few chickens they had inherited when they purchased Lallybroch and some bacon that Mrs. Graham had been kind enough to purchase at the market in Broch Mordha. Jamie had insisted on having orange juice as well as coffee with breakfast. Even though he at first had rejected the idea of drinking juice from fruit, he soon came to enjoy the sweet juice immensely and it became a regular staple on the Fraser breakfast menu.
Denny handed claire his letter to the judge when breakfast was finished and waited quietly with Dorothea, sipping their black coffee as Jamie and Claire read over the letter.
To Whom It May Concern:
This is my account of the relationship between Nurse Claire Randall and Lieutenant James Fraser.
Lieutenant Fraser came into the care of Nurse Randall soon after Nurse Randall arrived in Paris and began her training as a combat nurse. Lieutenant Fraser was not gravely injured so he made a perfect candidate for Nurse Randall to care for. He arrived with a dislocated right shoulder and a minor gunshot wound in the right trapezius muscle. Nurse Randall first returned the shoulder joint to the proper position, then cleaned and dressed the gunshot wound. Due to the nature of the gunshot wound, Lieutenant Fraser required monitoring in case of infection and subsequent fever.
Nurse Randall took on all care of Lieutenant Randall and the two became quite close, spending every spare moment together. They were spotted by several members of our team, dining together, walking alone, holding hands, and stealing kisses when they thought they were alone. Lieutenant Fraser ended up coming down with a fever due to his gunshot wound and was admitted back into care in the field hospital and was unconscious for several days. Nurse Randall never left his side during the entire time he was asleep.
When Lieutenant Fraser's fever finally broke and he awoke, his first words were to Nurse Randall, reminding her how much he loved her. She cried and thanked God that he had survived the fever so they could be together. A few days after Lieutenant Fraser's fever broke, he was discharged from the hospital and received clearance to return to battle. The two of them spent every moment until his departure together.
After Lieutenant Fraser left with his regiment, Nurse Randall was distraught and her mood never improved. When she received news that his regiment had been attacked, she cried for several weeks but refused to believe he had been killed in combat. Not until Lieutenant Fraser's sister had received notice of his death and contacted Nurse Randall with that information did Nurse Randall finally begin to accept it as fact and start to grieve.
She made mention of asking her husband for a divorce even after she learned of the news of Lieutenant Fraser's death. She talked with me as well as a few of the nurses who tragically died in the bombing of the hospital about how unhappy her marriage had become. How they no longer communicated and how she suspected her husband of being unfaithful to her, even before Lieutenant Fraser had come into her care.
I am afraid that I do not have specific dates for any of this, Nurse Randall and Lieutenant Fraser were among many in the war who found love and acted upon it. Their relationship did not stand out amongst the others that went on, enough for me to track dates. I do however know that Nurse Randall had never been happier than she was when she was with Lieutenant Fraser and their love for one another is rare and should not be denied.
Claire and Jamie looked up at Denny with matching expressions of shock, awe, and thanks. "Oh, Denny this is perfect, thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to us.
Denny blushed, "Well, it's like Dorothea reminded me, why should you try and fight true love. I do remember when Frank would contact you back in Paris and you were never as happy as I have seen you with Jamie. When the mail would come week after week and there was no letter for you, it would first make you upset, then angry, and finally defiant. I believe you knew in your heart even then that Frank was not truly the one meant for you and unfortunately you were stuck in a situation that you didn't see a way out of. I can't tell you how happy I am for you, that you finally found that way out. I hope this letter helps and the judge can see that this is the right thing to do."
Jamie put a hand on Claire's shoulder, "Thank ye, Denny, truly we only wish to be happy as a family and be rid of the headache that Frank Randall has continued to cause us these past months."
Denny leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table as he laced his fingers together in front of him, "If this doesn't work, I know some people that were in the same division of intelligence as Frank and they owe me a few favors. I'm sure they would be willing to spill the beans on Frank Randall's affairs during the war. If admitting to infidelity yourself won't work, perhaps proving that Frank was guilty of it as well, will provide the ammunition you need to win your divorce from the man. You know I never liked him Claire and I will do whatever is in my ability to be sure you are rid of him for good."
Claire smiled softly, "Thank you, Denny, I will let you know if we need to take that step, but I am hoping this will be enough for the judge."
Denny and Dorothea bid the Frasers goodbye. Claire and Jamie waived to them from the porch as their friends backed out of the driveway and pulled away. As soon as they were out of sight the couple went back inside the house and straight to the study to call Mr. Newog.
Mr. Newog's law offices, how can I help ye today?
Hello Maisri, this is Claire Randall, may I speak with Mr. Newog, please?
Right away, ma'am, please hold a moment while I connect ye to him.
Thank you Maisri.
This is Den Newog, how may I help ye today Claire?
Hello Den, Jamie and I have our accounts of events ready as well as a witnesses account of events. Are you able to pick them up today or shall I ask Mrs. Graham if she can drop them off at your office? We want to get this going as soon as possible.
If ye could have Mrs. Graham bring them in that would help immensely, I am up to my ears with a few other cases today. But as soon as your documents are delivered, I will have Maisri take them over to the courthouse and file them wi' the judge assigned to yer case.
That sounds perfect, I will give Mrs. Graham a call and see if she can do it this morning. Thank you again Den, Jamie and I both appreciate everything you are doing so much.
Not a problem my dear, I have seen this situation too many times to not want to do all I can to see the outcome ye wish for. I will give ye a call after I receive word back from the judge on his decision regarding the accounts and how it will affect the outcome of yer divorce.
Thank you, Den, we will speak to you soon. Goodbye.
Goodbye my dear, don't give up hope. We will win this case, no matter what it takes.
After Claire rang off with Mr. Newog, she immediately called Mrs. Graham at her home number but received no answer. She really loathed calling the manse for fear that the reverend would answer instead of Mrs. Graham, but she had no choice, she had to reach Mrs. Graham as soon as possible.
Reverend Wakefield's residence, this is Frank Randall, how may I help you?
Claire covered her mouth and her eyes grew wide. She pressed the receiver to her chest and mouthed the word Frank to Jamie. His eyes too grew wide as he whispered, "What should we do, Sassenach?"
"You must ask for Mrs. Graham, Frank doesn't know your voice, you can say that you are her nephew of something. He will know my voice if I ask for her and I can't speak to him." She shoved the phone in his direction.
Jamie took the receiver and cleared his throat.
Hello, Mr. Randall, I am calling for Mrs. Graham, might she be available?
I believe she just stepped out to watch Roger play in the yard, may I ask who is calling?
Aye, tis her nephew... Malcolm.
Fine, fine, I'll go let her know she has a phone call, please hold.
Jamie listened as the sound of the phone being sat onto a wooden table came through the receiver, then silence for a few minutes before the sounds of the phone being picked up came through the receiver.
This is Mrs. Graham, Malcolm mo chridhe is that ye?
Jamie sighed Aye, Mrs. Graham, tis Jamie. Claire called and Frank answered, I did no' ken what else to do but use a fake name. Did ye ken who it was that was calling ye?
Mrs. Graham chuckled Aye, I did lad. What is it that ye need to tell me?
Jamie continued the conversation in Gáidhlig to hide what had to be said. Is Frank still there?
Mrs. Graham responded in the same language. Aye, right here.
Aye, I thought he might be. I'll not hand the phone off then, just in case her voice carries over the line. We have some documents that we need to have ye take to Mr. Newog. He canna get away from his office and we need to get them filed today. Do ye think that ye can get away and take them for us?
Aye, I can come for a visit after I put Roger down for his nap, the reverend should be able to handle the lad while he sleeps. It should be about an hour before I can get away, I canna wait to see ye again, lad.
Thank ye Mrs. Graham, we will see ye soon.
An hour later Mrs. Graham was standing in their parlor, "We sincerely apologize for repeatedly putting you in tough positions Mrs. Graham. As soon as I can get my divorce, I can purchase a car and we will be able to run our own errands and won't be a burden on you anymore."
Mrs. Graham waved her hand dismissively, "Think nothing of it lass, ye have become like family to me. I dinna mind doing this for ye. I never thought ye belonged with Mr. Randall and now seeing ye with Jamie, it makes me happy that ye fell through time and found yer true love. I'll take these straight over to Den's office then pick up some groceries for ye before I return to the manse. I told Frank that I would be visiting family for a few hours so I dinna want to return to soon."
Claire furrowed her brow, "What is he doing there anyway, shouldn't he be at Oxford teaching or something?"
Mrs. Graham shrugged, "I dinna ken lass, he showed up late last night wanting to speak wi' the reverend about an important matter. I dinna ken what that matter is, but I have a feeling it has to do with yer divorce."
Jamie grunted as he began to pace back and forth in front of the hearth, "Will the man never give up, he has lost and canna win. Claire has chosen me at every opportunity, this petition for divorce proves that she doesna want to be wi' the man. For God's sake, she carries my bairn in her belly, does he expect her to walk away from her own flesh and blood, or does he expect me to relinquish my child to his care. He is mad if he thinks either of those things to be true. Perhaps he just wishes to punish us for hurting him. It wasna intentional, be we canna simply deny what we feel for one another and no one should expect us to."
Mrs. Graham nodded in agreement, "I dinna disagree wi' ye lad. I dinna ken what is in the man's mind. But it is not the first time I have seen him act irrationally since Claire disappeared."
Claire frowned at her friend, "What do you mean when was he irrational before this?"
Mrs. Graham's eyes got wide, she realized she had revealed more than she had meant to, "Well the first time was a few months after ye disappeared, he received a tip from someone that said they kent where the highlander in the wanted posters was located. He was lured to a dark alley by a young woman. The group planned to rob him of the reward, but Frank beat them all and choked the woman until she begged for her life. That was just before the reverend advised him to let ye go and move on wi' his life."
Claire's eyes grew wide, the man that Mrs. Graham had described wasn't even recognizable to her, she couldn't seem to reconcile her mind with this picture of him and the Frank Randall she remembered. "Wait, you said the first time, what else is there, how many times?"
Mrs. Graham cleared her throat and shuffled her feet, eager to be on her way but answered the question none the less. "Right after he saw ye and Jamie outside the library, he returned to the manse. I believe he had been drinking after he saw ye, perhaps even before."
Claire turned to Jamie, "That would explain his erratic behavior and accusations toward you about staring up into my window, there is no way that could have been you. Please continue Mrs. Graham."
Mrs. Graham nodded and resumed her recollection of events, "Well when he returned to the manse, he first went up to his room. I heard things crashing about, but I had seen the state of him when he arrived and I was not about to intervene. After a bit, he stormed out, slamming doors behind him. He went out into the reverends old storage shed, later we found everything inside had been destroyed. The reverend confronted Mr. Randall and he promised to pay for all the damages, but didna give any reason for doing it in the first place. That is when I first noticed how much he had changed. He was always a calculating controlling man, but since yer disappearance, there is something not quite right about him. Tis almost like a shadow of evil has taken hold of him as if he enjoys damaging things and hurting people. I'll get these papers over to Den, so we can get this divorce finally moving forward and ye can be rid of that man for good."
Claire sighed as Jamie rubbed a hand gently over the sore spot on her lower back, "Thank ye Mrs. Graham, I think I am going to take Claire upstairs for some rest. Please be safe and let us ken if there is anything we can do to repay ye."
Mrs. Graham smiled as she walked to the door and let herself out, "Ye just take care of yer little family, lad, that will be thanks enough for me."
It was a week after Mrs. Graham had delivered the papers to Mr. Newog before Claire or Jamie had heard anything about their account of events that eventually led to Claire's disappearance at Craig Na Dun.
When the phone rang, Jamie picked up the phone in the study since he was in there going over cost analysis sheets for preparing the fields for planting the following spring. "Hello, this is James Fraser, how may I help ye?"
"Hello James, this is Den Newog, is Claire perhaps available?"
Jamie sat up straighter in his chair, "Aye, she is, please hold on a moment while I go and fetch her from the garden."
Jamie sat the phone down on the desk and jogged through the house to the back door, and across the yard to the garden that still looked like a fenced off patch of weeds to the untrained eye and stopped as he approached the area where she was turning over soil. "Sassenach, Mr. Newog is on the phone for ye. It sounds important."
Claire peered over her shoulder at Jamie, causing him to chuckled at the smudge of dirt across her forehead and right cheek. She grinned at him, fully aware of what she must look like. He had called her a wood nymph enough times after she had come in from working in her garden that she knew it was probably what he was thinking at that very moment.
He reached down, placed a hand under each of her arms, and drew her up to her feet as if she were light as a feather. "Come Sassenach, I'm anxious to hear what the man has to say."
She brushed offer her garden apron and pushed a few stray curls back with the back of her hand, causing more dirt to adhere to her porcelain skin. "Alright I'm coming, just give me a moment to clean up first."
Jamie shook his head as he reached for her hand, "Nah, ye can take the call in the kitchen, ye willna even track dirt through the house."
Claire sighed and allowed Jamie to drag her along behind him. She mused at his excitement, he seemed like a kid on Christmas morning that knew without a doubt that Santa had been there and delivered just what he had asked for. She shook her head and rolled her eyes at the ridiculous amount of excitement rolling off of him and at that moment, she knew he would be a marvelous father when their baby decided to make his or her arrival into the world.
She followed him into the house and entered the back door just as Jamie was picking the receiver up off of the hook, "Mr. Newog, she is right here."
Jamie passed the phone to Claire and hurried through the house to go hang up the other receiver. He was just coming back as Claire pressed the phone to her ear and let Mr. Newog know she was on the line, "This is Claire, how can I help you today Mr. Newog?"
He cleared his throat, "I'm so glad I could reach you, Claire, I have some exciting news for you."
Her eyebrows rose as she glanced at Jamie, anxiously bouncing on the balls of his feet, waiting for her to share whatever news that was about to be presented to her. "Oh, what news would that be?"
She could hear the mirth in Mr. Newog's voice, "The judge has gone over all of the accounts and he has asked for a meeting in his chambers. He would like to see both you and Jamie as well as Mr. Randall. This will be an informal hearing to hear all parties. He was quite interested to learn that you have no' lived with Mr. Randall in almost 12 years now. I believe that will come to be an advantage for us."
Claire couldn't decide if she was supposed to be nervous or excited about the news so she tried to keep her voice neutral, "That is great, when is this hearing set for?"
"It is set for tomorrow morning at 10:15 AM. I can give the two of ye a ride if ye will need it."
Claire leaned against the wall, worried she might topple over if she didn't' have any support, "Um, I think that would probably be best since I haven't spoken with Mrs. Graham in a few days and last I heard, Frank was still staying at the manse. She may not be able to get away to give us a ride to courthouse."
"Fine, I will be around to fetch ye about 9:30, be sure that ye are both dressed in yer Sunday best. We want to show the judge how well ye are doing in the company of James."
Claire sighed as she looked down at her hands. "That sounds perfect, we will see you bright and early tomorrow morning, if you come around 8:30, you are welcome to join us for breakfast."
Mr. Newog rang off, but Claire still held the phone between her cheek and shoulder as she stared down at her hands. Suddenly the loud signal that the line was dead came through the receiver and startled her out of her reverie.
Jamie stepped closer to hee took the phone receiver from her and hung it back on the base. "What did Mr. Newog have to say, Claire?"
She tore her gaze from her hands and looked up at Jamie, "Oh, he said that we have a hearing in the morning with the judge. It sounds like the judge was quite intrigued by our accounts and the fact that I haven't lived with Frank since before we both joined the war."
Jamie laced one arm around her waist, drawing her body against his and placed a finger under her chin and lifted so her eyes were forced to lock with his, "What has got ye so upset then mo ghráidh?"
Claire shook her head and lifted up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his chin, "I'm not upset, I was just looking at my hands as I talked to Den and realized that I am still wearing your ring on my right hand."
Jamie looked at her hands, taking them both in his own and lifting them to his lips to gently place kisses on the back of each, "Aye?"
She smiled at how much he loved her and the patience he had to draw out what she needed to say when she always had a hard time finding exactly the right words. "Well, I think it belongs on the left hand, the traditional hand for marriage, but I won't take it off. Will you move it from my right hand to my left?"
Jamie grinned, feeling like he had truly won the stars and the moon in that moment. He had been waiting since the day he slipped his ring on her finger to be able to place it on the correct hand and now she was asking just that of him. She was prepared to show the world that she belonged to one man and that one man was him. "Aye, gladly mo nighean donn."
Jamie took a half a step back to allow a bit of space between them and took her right hand in his left, using his right hand to slowly remove the ring. He kissed the ring after it slipped loose from her finger, then picked up her left hand to slide it on the finger where it had always belonged. He looked up to see her face as he slid the ring on her finger, but her eyes were focused on the ring, "Jamie wait." He stilled instantly, worried she had changed her mind. "There is something inscribed inside, what is that?"
Jamie relaxed and grinned, "Did ye no' see it until now?"
She tore her eyes from the ring and gazed into his lake blue eyes, "I have never taken it off, it has been on my finger since you placed it there just after we returned to Leoch. What does it say?"
Jamie lifted the ring up toward the light so she could read the inscription. She reached out and took his hand in hers so she could tilt the ring to just the right angle to allow her to read what was inside, "da mi basia mille"
Jamie leaned forward and his lips came within a hairsbreadth from her lips as he whispered, Give me a thousand kisses."
She leaned even closer so that her lips were brushing his as she finished the line, "And I'll give you a thousand more."
Jamie slid the ring onto her finger as she pressed her lips hard against his in a kiss that told him how grateful she was to have him as her husband. If not yet in law, it was already true in their minds, bodies, and souls.
I have no clew what divorce laws were or are for that matter, this is all fantasy, so please don't go all, 'that couldn't happen' on me. This idea just popped into my head and I went with it.
Den showed up for breakfast bright and early, never one to turn down a free meal. Jamie showed him to the dining room where Claire was bringing in the last of the breakfast dishes. They all sat down and dug into breakfast. Jamie was the first to break the silence, "How do ye think the hearing will go, Mr. Newog?"
Den looked up from his plate, "Ye must call me Den, Jamie. We are sitting in yer home having a delicious breakfast, there is no need for such formalities. As for the hearing, the judge happens to be a friend of mine and he has not told me that we have anything to be worried about. I take that as a good thing, if there was a need to worry over something, he surely would have told me so we had time to prepare."
Claire let out a breath that she didn't realize she had been holding, "What exactly is suppose to happen at this hearing?"
Den picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth, "The judge will have questions for all three of ye. He is going to determine if Mr. Randall has cause to think that ye might come back to him and take up where ye left off with yer marriage. He also wants to determine if the relationship between ye and Jamie is genuine or if he is only a friend or acquaintance that is helping ye out of a marriage that ye no longer wish to be a part of."
"Jamie captured Claire's hand in his larger one, "It sounds as though we dinna have a thing to worry about then, is that no' right?"
Den smiled, "That is right indeed Jamie, I think by the end of the day, we will have convinced the judge to sign the divorce decree and determine that ye are divorced and free to remarry as ye please."
Claire finally allowed a smile to grace her face, "You truly believe that this could all be over by this afternoon?"
Den swallowed the bite of eggs he had just taken and looked her squarely in the eye, "Aye, I believe that the judge will order it, yes. The official paperwork must be filed and it will take another two weeks to finalize once he orders it. But if he agrees that a divorce is in yer best interest then we will have cleared the last hurdle."
Both Jamie and Claire sighed, finally after months they would be free of the one last Randall that had a hold on them. Finally, they would be able to get married again and their child would not be born a bastard.
They finished breakfast in silence and Claire went to the washroom off the kitchen one last time before they all piled into Den's car and made their way into Inverness to meet the judge for their morning hearing. The rode in silence during the entire trip, both Claire and Jamie too nervous to even think about Jamie's motion sickness. They each focused on the scenery they were passing by as the drove closer to Inverness.
When Den pulled up and stopped in front of the courthouse, they were both shocked out of their wandering thoughts. "Come now, ye two, the hearing starts in 15 minutes, tis better to be early than on time or late."
Jamie opened his door and got out, then opened the back door and helped Claire out. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to move easily with her ever growing burgeoning belly leading the way. At only five and a half months she was already quite large with it being her second pregnancy and the heat of the summer made any situations quite uncomfortable for her. She couldn't wait to get the mess that was Frank Randall behind her so she could go home to Lallybroch and relax in comfortable clothes until the baby decided to join the world.
Jamie offered her his arm which she gladly took and allowed him to lead her up the stairs to the front of the courthouse. Luckily they hadn't run into Frank when they arrived and Den assured them that they would be able to enter the judge's private chambers as soon as they got upstairs and would not have to endure anytime alone with Frank.
They rode the elevator to the third floor, Jamie gripped Claire's hand tightly the whole way up. She leaned up and whispered in his ear to attempt to calm his nerves of not only the surprising contraption that he suddenly found himself in but their imminent encounter with Frank Randall. A man whose face resembled Jamie's tormentor far too closely not to bring the terrible memories of pain and torture to the surface upon facing Frank Randall. "I will explain everything once we get back to Lallybroch, just know that you are safe with me. I won't let anything or anyone bring harm to you, my love."
Jamie squeezed her hand, silently thanking her for knowing that he needed her voice of reassurance to ground him.
Den led them from the elevator once the doors opened on the third floor, down the hallway to the last door. Inside the office sat a single desk with an older blond woman with round black framed glasses. She looked up from the ledger she was writing in, gesturing with her finger to hold on for a moment since she was currently on the phone. She finished her conversation, writing something down in the ledger then hanging the phone up and smiling at the three of them, "Good morning Den, I presume ye are here to see David about the Randall divorce hearing."
Den smiled at her, "Ye ken that I am, Cora, may we go into his chambers and wait for him and the other party and his council to arrive?"
Core stood from her desk and pointed down the hall, "Ye ken where it is, Den. Help yer self to the coffee and doughnuts I have put in there for ye. David is on a call with his wife, he will be in shortly. Shall I send in Mr. Randall and his council when they arrive as well?"
Den shook his head, "No, Cora, let's wait until David calls for them."
Den led Claire and Jamie down the hallway to a large corner office with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the town of Inverness below. He gestured for them to take a seat on the plush dark brown leather loveseat on the left side of the room. That left three single matching high backed brown leather chairs other than the judge's brown leather swivel chair behind the overly large victorian styled mahogany desk. Two on the opposite side of the room and one near the loveseat.
Den poured coffee for all of them but nobody had room for doughnuts after the delicious meal that Claire had prepared for them just that morning. They all sat quietly, sipping their black coffee while they waited the next few minutes for the judge to arrive. The sound of a hidden door in the wall beside the desk opening brought all their heads up to see the judge coming in, "Good mornin' to ye all. Den would ye care to introduce me to yer clients?"
The judge dressed in a dark grey suit with his black judge's robe open at the front, strode over and took a seat behind his desk and folded his hands together to rest on the desk in front of him as he awaited introductions.
Den stood up and gestured to the couple, "Your Honor, these are my clients Mrs. Claire Randall and her fiance Mr. James Fraser, Claire and James, may I introduce the Honorable Judge David MacPhearson whom will be presiding over your case today."
Claire and Jamie greeted the judge in unison, "Your Honor, it is a pleasure to meet you today."
The judge nodded, "Likewise, Mrs. Randall would you like to begin?"
Claire cleared her throat, "Please, your honor, call me Claire, I hope to be rid of the name Randall, it no longer belongs to me. But if you must be formal, please use my maiden name of Beauchamp."
The judge nodded, "Very well, Miss Beauchamp, please tell me why you seek a divorce today."
Claire nodded, set her mug of coffee on the coffee table in front of her, and scooted forward so she was sitting just on the edge of the couch cushion. She reached her hand back in search of Jamie's for support, he offered it willingly and scooted forward to be right beside her. She cleared her throat, "Should we perhaps wait for Mr. Randall and his council to arrive before we begin?"
The judge shook his head, "No, I would like to hear from you first, without any outburst or interruption from Mr. Randall, please proceed."
Claire nodded again as Jamie squeezed her hand in the reassurance that he was there by her side, no matter what. "Frank and I married hastily as the war was announced, nobody knew what was coming and we both felt that to have something to look forward to at the end of the war would be enough of an anchor to keep us alive. We had dated for a few months beforehand, but the marriage and wedding were not planned. He didn't ask me to marry him until we were standing outside of the registry on our way to lunch with his parents. Not even a month later, we were both off to war. I joined and became a combat nurse and was sent to Paris soon after my enlistment. Frank was part of the intelligence division and was stationed in London. We rarely spoke and very few letters were exchanged between the two of us."
I wanted to put her testimony as well as this on one chapter but it got way to long so I split it in two. Bare with me, the second part of this will be up within a few days.
The judge nodded and waved his hand in a gesture for her to continue. She glanced back at Jamie and he gave her hand another soft squeeze, "Well soon after arriving in Paris, I met Jamie. He came in with a group of Scottish soldiers who had been ambushed. He had a dislocated shoulder and a bullet wound in the same shoulder. Normally a doctor would have seen to the injuries, but there were several other soldiers who were far worse off than Jamie. So he was assigned to me and I cared for him. I instantly felt a connection to him, stronger than anything I have ever felt in all my life."
Claire quieted down and began to reminisce about those first days after she had met Jamie and the feelings that she had tried to deny to herself. She drew on those interactions to tell the next part of her story, knowing full well that every lie could be detected on her face. "I would purposely seek him out with the excuse of checking on his injuries, but in truth I wanted, no I needed to see him, to be near him. His injuries were healing quite nicely and he really didn't need the level of care that I was offering. But I couldn't keep my distance from him, his presence made my heart flutter and gave my life purpose. I felt closer to him than I had felt for anyone before him, even Frank. After a while, I could no longer deny my feelings and I realized that Jamie was feeling the same things for me as I was for him."
Jamie had been watching her face through her entire confession, a confession of emotions that he had not heard about until this very moment. A tear rolled down his face as he realized that she too had loved him from the very beginning and the guilt of leaving Frank behind without an explanation was the only thing causing an internal struggle within her mind. She had argued with herself to either follow her head and return to Frank or to follow her heart and remain with him, and thankfully she had listened to her heart.
Claire glanced back at Jamie and her heart softened at the expression on his face, his usual mask was gone. He was showing all of the love and devotion that he had for her and she realized that she had never shared those things with him. Without thinking about their surroundings, she reached up and wiped the tear from his cheek, then cupped his cheek in her palm and gave him a loving smile as they gazed into one another's eyes.
The judge cleared his throat to bring her attention back to him, a sly smile on his face. Claire blushed and looked down at her and Jamie's clasped hands for strength to continue, "Well, after that we confessed our love for one another, we could no longer deny it to ourselves or one another. Our relationship blossomed and Frank wasn't even a part of my thoughts anymore. We gave in to the magnetic pull and spent every free moment together. Jamie was still my patient until a doctor deemed him ready to return to battle, so we had to be careful. We hid our relationship as best as we could to keep from getting either of us into trouble."
Claire thought about the time period that Jamie had been in Wentworth. She thought of the horrors that Black Jack Randall had inflicted on his body and mind. Jamie had endured it all without fighting back, all in the name of his undying, all consuming love for her. She thought of how long it had taken him to recover after they rescued him, and the fever he had endured at the abbey when he was so far gone that he was given last rights. She thought of what she was forced to do in order to pull him back from the brink. Those memories, though painful to think about, helped her to describe her next lie with honest, heart felt emotion.
"After a while, Jamie developed a fever, his bullet wound had become infected and he was admitted back into the hospital. He was unconscious for several days and I never left his side. It became apparent to all those who saw us in those moments, of my true feelings for him. But no one tried to put a stop to it, I think they sympathized with me, with us. We had found love in the most unlikely of places, even if I was already married."
A tear escaped Claire's eye and the judge handed her a tissue, "Take a moment to compose yer self lass, then continue when ye are ready."
Claire took the tissue, wiped her eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing. "A few days later, Jamie woke up, his fever had gone down and the infection had abated. He was released from the hospital to allow him time to get exercise in the sun and recover his strength and a few days later a doctor deemed him fit to return to battle. Jamie and I promised that we would write and keep in contact. I told him that I would leave Frank, I would divorce him so that Jamie and I could be together when the war ended."
"We did write until the letters stopped coming. I had received word that his unit had been ambushed and everyone had been killed. I refused to believe he had died, I felt that I would know in my heart if he was truly gone and I never felt that. So I held onto hope, hope that he lived, hope that we would be together again. I wrote to his sister Jenny and she hadn't received an official notice of his death, so together we held out hope that he lived."
Claire thought about what it would be like to truly lose Jamie if he had really been a soldier in her war, how would it affect her if all the things she described had really happened to him. She thought of what it would have been like if she alone had passed through the stones to the 20th century and Jamie had done as he intended to do and returned to the battlefield. If he had joined the men in the battle against the British and lost his life, how badly would it affect her? The thought of it alone, upset her enough to cause true emotion to bleed into her story.
Claire choked on more tears and wiped her face again. Jamie released her hand and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pressing a tender kiss to her temple. The gesture was the strength that she needed to continue, she looked up at the judge and pressed on, "Jenny finally received notice of his death and wrote to me about it. That was when I left my post in France, I was determined to live my life the way I wanted to. I planned to divorce Frank and go live in the highlands of Scotland. Jenny had invited me to live in their family home with them. She said that if Jamie had loved me, then I was something special and I was welcome at their home. So when Frank suggested a holiday in Scotland to renew our marriage, to try and reconnect after 9 years of being separated, I agreed. But I had my own motives for going. I didn't intend to renew our marriage or reconnect with him. I planned to go to Scotland, meet and stay with Jenny while I took the time to contact a lawyer to begin the divorce."
The judge stopped her, "When did that plan change, clearly it changed since that would have been the end of April in 1945, correct?"
Claire nodded and looked up at Jamie, his brilliant smile, gave her a renewed energy. She returned his smile with a radiant smile of her own, "What changed is that I was shopping in Inverness while Frank did research with an old colleague of his. I was biding my time, trying to plan the best way to get away unsuspected. While I was looking in a window at a shop, staring at a vase and trying to devise an escape plan, I saw a familiar reflection in the window. I closed my eyes, thinking that Jamie's ghost had come to see me finally. But the warm breath at the back of my neck and the familiar feel of his hands on my shoulders told me that he wasn't a ghost. I turned around slowly, afraid he would disappear before my very eyes. But he didn't, he was truly there, alive and whole, standing before me with the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. That is the moment that my plan changed."
The judge furrowed his brow, "Why didn't ye leave together right then?"
Jamie and Claire exchanged a look and Jamie took over, "I was in town gathering supplies for my sister and the farm, I wasna prepared to leave just then. We parted, neither wanting to, but we both had some things to sort out before disappearing. Besides, if we left then, there would certainly be witnesses, we had a better plan where nobody would be around to give a detailed account of what did or did no' happen. Claire went back to the bed and breakfast to keep up appearances until I could make the necessary arrangements for us to leave. We both knew that we couldna stay anywhere near Inverness, so I had to let my sister ken that I would be gone for a while and that I would be with Claire. We planned to meet the next day at Craigh Na Dun, to make her disappearance seem like the fairies had taken her."
The judge sat back in his chair, contemplating everything that the couple had shared. After a few moments, he sat forward, "I believe that the two of ye are truly in love and that the marriage between Miss Beauchamp and Mr. Randall was not thought through properly before committing to each other. Miss Beauchamp, I assume that the bairn ye are carrying belongs to Mr. Fraser, is that right?"
Jamie grinned and placed a protective hand over the child in Claire's womb, "Aye, the babe is mine."
The judge smiled softly, "I am inclined to judge in yer favor Miss Beauchamp, especially since I dinna like to split up families with children involved. However, before I make a final judgment on the matter, the law requires that I must hear from Mr. Randall as well. There is a private room where I will have the three of ye wait, while I hear from Mr. Randall. Den if ye please, would ye take the couple to my private chamber and wait for me to call ye back."
Den stood up and gestured for Claire and Jamie to follow him. They disappeared through the hidden door to impatiently wait for Frank to give his testimony and for the judge to call them back in. The inside of the judge's private chamber was decorated in the same dark brown styled furniture as the office they had just left, but the room had a more relaxed homey type of atmosphere. Claire and Jamie sat quietly for a bit on a long sofa, not quite sure what to do with themselves, while Mr. Newog read through a file in a chair on the opposite side of the room.
Jamie turned to Claire and spoke quietly so as not to be overheard by Mr. Newog, "Ye never told me any of that mo ghráidh."
Claire furrowed her brow, "I told you how it was between Frank and me, that even if I had not met you when I did that our marriage was doomed to failure."
Jamie shook his head and smirked, "No' that, mo chridhe, the part about coming to see me after ye fixed my shoulder because ye wanted to be near me because even then ye felt the same pull that I did to be near one another. That ye loved me since the beginning. Why did ye no' say anything until now, would ye have ever told me?"
Claire sighed, "Honestly it never occurred to me that I hadn't told you all of that, at least not until I looked up and saw the raw emotion on your face. Even though I attempted to deny it to myself, I have loved you from the very start and with my glass face, I thought you knew that."
Jamie thought back for a moment, "I kent ye cared for me deeply, but I didna ken it was love until ye uttered the words in the Laird's room at Lallybroch, after I had already revealed my feelings for ye. If ye had told me sooner, I never would have suggested that ye return to Frank."
Claire shook her head, "No, when you took me back to the stones and gave me the choice, that was the moment that I was finally able to listen to my heart. My head was no longer in control and I knew at that moment that you were the right choice. If you hadn't have done that, I may not have been able to let go of the guilt of leaving Frank when I did. Everything happened as it should have. Nothing changed after we revealed that we loved each other. We were still as intimate as we had been, we just knew we were all in for the long haul, forever."
Jamie raised his brow at her, "It may have changed some things, ye may have meant the words ye said when we wed, instead of feelin' guilty about doin' it."
Claire shook her head, "I meant the words in my heart and I didn't feel guilty about saying them, I felt guilty about saying them while still technically attached to another. I wanted to be only yours and I was lying to both of us, by not telling you about Frank back then. I couldn't commit to the words fully because I was still married to another. I want to marry you again and have both of us know that I am only yours and nobody else has a hold on me."
Jamie lifted their joined hands and kissed the ring he had placed on her left hand the evening before, "Aye, I want that too mo ghráidh. This time, we will be doin' it for ourselves and no' to keep ye out of the hands of a Randall or to thwart my uncle's attempts to make me chief of clan MacKenzie. This time it will be what we both want when we both want it."
Claire smiled softly, "Yes, it will be all for us and nobody else. Speaking of us, I hope everything goes as we wish for it to go today. What do you think Frank is saying to the judge in there anyway?"
Jamie shook his head, "I dinna ken, but the judge already said he is inclined to side with us, let's hope that whatever Frank has to say, that it does no' change the judge's mind."
After a few minutes of sitting in peaceful silence, Jamie furrowed his brow, "How did ye lie so convincingly about my injuries and putting them into the context of yer war? How were ye able to have true tears and emotion when ye spoke of it? Ye were no' at all convincing when ye tried lying to Colum and Dougal, but in there wi' the judge. If I had no' kent the truth of it, I would have believed every word ye said."
Claire lowered her gaze to the floor, ashamed of the memories she had to use to bring forth true emotion. Jamie placed a finger under her chin and gently lifted until her gaze met his. "Claire, I need to ken what has changed, how were ye able to do it and seem so honest?"
She swallowed past the lump in her throat, "I thought about a time when you were truly so bad off with fever that you almost died. I also thought about what it would have been like if we had actually parted at the stones and you had gone back to that bloody battlefield and died. I thought of how it would feel, how it would affect me if that had truly happened."
Jamie sighed and pulled her into a warm embrace as he whispered into her curls, "Aye, those memories of what happened during the times ye speak of, they are hard memories to bring up willingly to be sure. I wish ye didna have to do it, but I think since ye did that ye convinced the judge of our love. I think perhaps that was why he said what he did about judging in our favor. I just hope that no matter what Frank has to say, that the judge feels the same way at the end of the day and grants our wish for yer divorce."
Who would like to see Frank's testimony from his POV?
The judge watched as Den led Mr. Fraser and Miss Beauchamp through his hidden door and waited a few moments after it clicked closed before picking up the receiver to his phone. He dialed the receptionist's extension and listened for the first ring and for her to pick it up, "Yes, yer Honor, what can I get for ye?"
The judge smiled at her happy greeting, "Thank ye Cora, but I'm not in need of anything this morning. But can you tell me, has Mr. Randall and his council arrived yet?"
"Aye, his council Mr. Roberts arrived about 5 minutes after Den took Miss Beauchamp back to yer office. Mr. Randall arrived just before yer call came through."
The judge scoffed, "So I see, he can't even show up on time for his own divorce hearing. How was he to know that I wouldn't be ready to see him right away? Fine, please send them back."
Frank had just barely sat down when he heard the receptionist's phone beep. He pretended to browse through the articles in the magazine he had picked up while eavesdropping on her side of the conversation. His ears perked up when he heard Claire's maiden name and then his own. He wondered why they were referring to Claire as such instead of Mrs. Randall. As he was trying to puzzle it out his thoughts were interrupted by the receptionists calling to him and his lawyer.
Cora stood up from her desk so that the pair might see and hear her better, "Mr. Roberts, the judge will see you and Mr. Randall now, his office is straight back down the hall, the last door on the left. Just a quick knock before you enter will suffice."
Mr. Roberts stood and tipped his hat to the lady then turned to Frank, "Follow me, Mr. Randall, and don't say anything unless the judge addresses you, he is a man who appreciates the respect that he has earned."
Frank grumbled and thought to himself, this whole process was a waste of his time, he just needed time alone with Claire to convince her that she was making a huge mistake and that he would protect her from her abductor. Never the less, he followed behind his lawyer, ready to get this over with and take his wife home with him.
The judge looked up from the notes he had taken in the time since he made the call to Cora, when he heard a soft knock on the door and heard the click of its opening. "Come in gentlemen, please take a seat where ever ye like."
Frank scanned the room as he walked in, searching for Claire, but with no sign of her, he switched tactics to looking for the best position to give him the upper hand in negotiations. His gaze stopped immediately upon noticing the pair of half empty coffee mugs on the coffee table in front of the loveseat as well as the lone cup on the side table next to one of the chairs on the other side of the room. There were three cups, one cup had pale pink lipstick marks, which he immediately identified as Claire's, that must mean that the cup next to it belonged to her abductor, would the man never let Claire out of his sight?.
Frank elected to take one of the high backed chairs on the opposite side of the room to avoid sitting where either Claire or the Scottish giant had sat. Mr. Roberts took the seat next to him, "Good morning yer Honor, may I introduce Mr. Frank Randall, Frank this is Judge MacPhearson."
Frank nodded toward the judge but didn't' say a word of acknowledgment. Mr. Roberts could see the judge bristle at the rude gesture and cleared his throat to try and ease some of the tension filling the room, "Judge MacPhearson, where would you like to begin?"
The judge leaned back in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest. His body language signaled to Frank that the judge was not at all interested in what he had to say, but this was going to be his only chance to win the judge over. Frank leaned forward his elbows on his knees with his hands in a prayer gesture and his index fingers pressed against his lips as he waited for the judge to voice his request.
The judge glared at Frank, he could tell that the man was calculating and probably had several tactics up his sleeve to convince the judge that the divorce was unnecessary. "Mr. Randall please tell me why you are contesting these divorce proceedings."
Frank sighed, that was the perfect question to allow him the opportunity to convince the judge to send Claire home with him. "I would love to tell you why I believe this whole thing is a farce. My wife was kidnapped by a Scottish barbarian. She is being held against her will and he has brainwashed her into leaving me."
The judge's eyes suddenly grew wide with shock but he quickly composed himself to ask the next question before Mr. Randall could see his reaction, "Why is it that you believe this to be true, Mr. Randall?"
Frank smirked, this was the clincher, "Because your honor, my wife loves me deeply. She agreed to marry me after only a month and a half of dating, with no protest what so ever. We would have had a family by now if it wasn't for the bloody war. It's not my fault that we were separated for nine years after our marriage had just begun. We were only in Scotland to celebrate our marriage to have a second honeymoon as it were and to learn about the new people we had become since the war changed us so much. She never would have been abducted or even met that man if we hadn't have come to Scotland."
The judge smirked and Frank assumed that he had won him over. "Did ye not volunteer to join the intelligence division of the war, Mr. Randall?"
Frank frowned, he had no idea where this line of questioning was going and it threw him off of his game, "Well, yes, I felt it was my duty to serve with my vast knowledge in the field."
The judge sat forward, Frank recognized the move as one of a predator about to attack it's prey, "So it was your choice to leave yer wife after only having been married for a month. Ye were far beyond the age of being drafted to join, in fact ye are 15 years older than Miss Beauchamp, almost twice her age, is that not a fact?"
Frank's face grew red with anger and his hands fisted in front of him which did not go unnoticed by the judge, "Her name is Claire RANDALL, not Beauchamp, not since she became my wife and what does my age have to do with anything?"
The judge smirked, "It appears to me, Mr. Randall that ye are the one who had control of Miss Beauchamp, the lass was a mere 18 years old and innocent to the ways of the world when ye wed her. And from her testimony alone, ye had never even asked her if she wanted to wed ye. Ye took her to the registry and suggested ye wed since ye were planning to leave for the war and didn't know if ye would make it out alive. It seems to me that ye guilted the lass into marrying ye."
Frank's jaw dropped, unable to respond to such accusations, so the judge continued. "Miss Beauchamp was lucky, she joined the army herself and gained a bit of world knowledge without yer influence. She found true love with a soldier much closer to her own age and the two are now expecting a bairn of their own and from their own admissions, this will be their second child together. That tells me along with speaking to them both that Miss Beauchamp was not only not abducted but chose to leave of her own accord and had planned to do so for some time before disappearing in May of 1945."
Frank's eyes grew wide and he whispered, "They have another child?"
The judge sat back satisfied, the only reason he knew of the first pregnancy was from Claire's account of events that had been dropped off at his office by Den's secretary. There was no need to reveal to Mr. Randall that she had lost the baby, it was Claire and James's right to keep that knowledge to themselves.
Frank looked at the judge, "How old is the other child, was the slut pregnant during the war, is that why she never made a request for me to come to see her or for her to come and see me. Is that why she went to Paris alone during her leave, so she could give the bastard to him, has the bastard been living with the fucking Scot all this time. Is that why she agreed to come to Scotland so she could see her child and lover?"
The judge kept his face emotionless but smiled internally. Frank Randall had just made the decision quite clear for him. Frank had assumed all along that she had not been loyal to him, that her heart was somewhere else and he was only fighting this divorce so Claire couldn't be happy and because Frank was not someone who liked to lose.
The judge leaned forward, his elbows on his desk, and his hands clasped together with a mischievous grin on his face, "Ye see, Mr. Randall, I am not a judge that is inclined to break up families and since Miss Beauchamp already has an established family with Mr. Fraser, I see no reason not to grant her request for a divorce. Please sit there and do not say a word, I would like to call Miss Beauchamp and her council back in so they can hear my final judgment."
Frank sat paralyzed, this hearing had not gone at all how he had expected it to go. Not only was Claire pregnant with this Fraser person's child but they already had one child together. How could she do this to him and lie about cheating on him when he confronted her about it.
He watched as the judge got up from his chair and strode over to the wall and knocked. A moment later the wall opened up to reveal a hidden room. A man that Frank had never seen before stepped out then turned and spoke to someone inside, he spoke too quietly for Frank to hear what was said.
Then Claire stepped out behind the man whom Frank assumed must be her council, Frank smiled at her, but she kept her facial expression neutral and didn't look at him. Then as she stepped forward Frank caught sight of a large hand on the small of her back and Frank swallowed audibly. A moment later, the Scottish giant known as Fraser stepped out behind her and guided her over to the loveseat. They sat down, so close to each other that their knees touched. Claire's hand rested on the swell of her pregnant belly and Fraser's hand rested on top of hers. His body language told Frank that Fraser was protecting what was his, not only the child in Claire's womb but Claire herself. Frank snarled at the sight, then noticed a slight chuckle from Fraser. Frank's eyes shot up to see the look on the man's face, it was covered with a knowing smirk.
Then the tension was broken by the judge's voice. "Now that we are all assembled, I am ready to reveal my judgment on the divorce of Mr. Frank Randall and Miss Claire Beauchamp." Everyone held their breath and Claire placed her other hand over Jamie's, squeezing it hard. He, in turn, wrapped his free arm around her shoulder, drawing her closer to him. The judge scanned the faces of all those present in the room. "It is my judgment that the divorce is granted. As of this moment Miss Beauchamp ye are a free woman, able to do with your life as ye please. I wish ye and yer family good luck and good health."
Frank's jaw dropped as his eyes grew wide. The judge continued to speak, but Frank couldn't hear any of it, he had gone deaf in the shock of the judgment. He stared at the judge unbelieving until he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Claire was holding Fraser's face in both of her hands and placing kisses all over his face as tears ran down both of their faces and Fraser murmured incoherent words to her. In between kisses, she responded in the same strange language and Fraser's hands laced around her waist drawing her tight against him as they each buried their face in the other's neck and shoulder.
Frank continued to sit there, stunned into silence as his lawyer tried to pull him to a standing position. Suddenly Fraser stood and drew Claire up with him, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and guided her from the room. Her lawyer following behind them, telling them something that Frank couldn't make out due to his shocked state.
Finally, his lawyer was able to break him from his thoughts, Frank looked around and realized that they were the last two in the office, where had everyone else gone? Where did Claire go, she was supposed to be going home with him. He had only one thing running through his mind, he couldn't lose her again, she had been gone from him for three years, going through God knows what kind of torture. He had to save her, he had to protect her from the Scot who had forced himself on her, he had to hide her from the man who was forcing her to have his child, he had to find her and bring her home with him.
I was going to wait till tomorrow to post this chapter, but you all seemed so eager to read the next part, so here ye go. I haven't written the next chapter yet, it is still formulating in my mind. It may be a week before the next bit is up. I have 7 other fics that I must update as well and this one has monopolized my time lately.
Jamie and Claire walked arm in arm out of the courthouse, giddy with thoughts of their future. A beautiful future, together finally within their grasp. Mr. Newog followed behind them and escorted them out to his car.
Jamie opened the back door to allow Claire to carefully climb inside, then he took up his spot in the passenger seat, directly in front of her.
Mr. Newog climbed in behind the wheel then turned and looked at the couple before starting the engine, "This calls for a wee celebration, what do the two of ye say to a spot of lunch before I take ye back home?"
Before either of them could answer, Claire's belly growled loudly. Jamie chuckled, "I think perhaps the bairn has made the decision for us, aye, Sassenach?"
Claire rubbed her burgeoning belly thoughtfully, "Yes, that sounds wonderful, Den."
Den nodded in agreement, turned forward in his seat, and started the car. He looked around to be sure he was clear to pull away from the curb and into traffic when he noticed Frank standing on the courthouse steps with an angry expression on his face as he stared menacingly at Jamie.
Den pulled away and shook his head as he glanced in the rearview mirror. Frank had moved to stand in the street and was staring after them as they drove away.
Den drove a bit before he spoke up, " I think it best if we get out of Inverness, there is a quaint little diner in Broch Mordha that I think ye both will enjoy immensely. Besides, another matter has just come up that I would like to discuss wi' ye both."
Jamie and Claire exchanged a look of confusion, both with furrowed brows. "What matter is that, Den. I thought we were all done and now Jamie and I can get married, can't we?"
Den sighed, "Aye he can, but unfortunately the matter I must discuss wi' ye, does involve Mr. Randall."
Jamie glared at Den, "What about him?"
Den turned and looked at Jamie as he pulled away from Inverness onto the open highway toward Broch Mordha, "I saw a familiar look in his eye as we drove away. I dinna think he means to let this go so easily. I think perhaps we should file an order of protection against him. I also think we should list both of ye as well as her unborn child as possible targets of his aggression."
Claire gasped as a hand came up to cover her gaping mouth, "Do you really think he would do something to harm one of us?"
Den sighed, "I dinna ken, but it doesna hurt to be proactive in cases such as this."
Jamie looked at Den more intently, "What would an order of protection mean?"
Den sat taller in his seat, going from friend to lawyer in a sit second, "Well it basically means that Mr. Randall will be breaking the law if he comes within a pre-specified distance of either one of you. And if he does, he can be arrested for breaking the order of protection."
Jamie scoffed, "So it offers us nothin' in the form of protection, just ensures he is pushed if he doesna abide by it."
Den sighed in defeat, "Yes, but with the order of protection in place, you are able to take whatever action you seem necessary to protect yourselves and each other if he breaks that order."
Jamie glanced back at Claire with a mischievous gleam in his eye, "Whatever I deem necessary ye say. So if the man tries to kidnap my wife and I run him through with my broadside, I willna be arrested?"
Den's eyes shot up to Jamie, attempting to determine if he was making a joke. But Den saw no mirth in his expression, only a grim determination could be found there. "Aye, if he is threatening her life then, yes, ye could take his life to spare hers."
Jamie turned to face Claire, "What do ye think, Sassenach, should we have Den file the order?"
Claire sighed, "Yes, Jamie, I think perhaps we must. Even if we truly don't have anything to worry about, I would feel safer if we had some legal protection if he does come after one or all of us."
Den slowed the speed of his car as he approached the small village of Broch Mordha, "I will write up the order after I return to my office this afternoon and deliver it to Judge MacPhearson this evening and tell him of my suspicions."
Claire placed a hand on Jamie's shoulder, "Now that we have that settled, can we not talk about Frank anymore. I want to relish in our victory and start thinking about our future and planning our wedding."
Jamie placed his large hand over hers as his expression softened considerably, "Aye, mo ghráidh, that is all I want as well. But I think we should perhaps also talk about more security at the farm. I dinna trust that man as far as I can throw him."
Claire sat back in her seat, pulling her hand from under Jamie's so she could rest her hands on her belly, "Yes, I know that we must. I will call Mrs. Graham when we return home and ask her who the best person is to call about adding security to Lallybroch."
Jamie shook his head and looked over his shoulder at Claire, "Nah, all we need are some guard dogs. Ye remember how Bran would alert the whole house when anyone arrived at the estate. Ask Mrs. Graham where we can get a few good guard dogs, some trained to attack and take commands in Gáidhlig."
Claire smiled, "Yes, Jamie, I will ask her, but we want to make sure the dogs are good with children, I don't want to have to keep this little one inside the house to avoid contact with unfriendly dogs."
Jamie grinned at her, "Sassenach, good guard dogs ken who their pack is and will do anything to protect them, but love their family."
Jamie turned back to the front of the vehicle, just as Den pulled in to park in front of a small diner.
After their relaxing lunch, Den drove the couple back to Lallybroch. Jamie helped Claire out of the car and the two of them waved as Den backed out of the driveway and headed to his office. Jamie took Claire's hand, "Let's go for a wee walk, Sassenach. I would like to discuss our plans to remarry."
Claire gladly agreed as she fell into step beside Jamie. They walked past the house and toward the woods. After they had walked peacefully for a few minutes, Jamie looked down at Claire, "I wish to wed at Lallybroch if ye are agreeable to that."
Claire smiled happily, "You don't wish to be wed in a church?"
Jamie shook his head, "Nah, we did that already. This time I want to wed ye in a place that is part of who I am, a place where the spirits of my family can be wi' us."
Claire walked along beside him, quietly contemplating his request, "Yes, I agree. I think Lallybroch will be perfect, but Jamie I want to keep it small. I don't know a lot of people in this time, even though this was the century I was born in and I only want those most important to us to attend."
Jamie made a sound of agreement in the back of his throat, "Aye, ye ken how many people I ken in this time and the most important thing is no' the wedding. The most important thing is that I can call ye my wife again and we can be a family when our bairn joins us in a bit over three months. That brings me to my next question."
Claire hummed, happy to be walking peacefully next to Jamie, no matter where he was leading them, "What question is that, my love?"
Jamie smiled at her endearment for him, "How soon would ye like to wed and must we have banns read in this time?"
Claire shook her head, "No, that is not necessary. All we must do is go down to the courthouse and apply for a marriage license, then find a priest to marry us. However we will need at least two witnesses and if we expect anyone to be able to attend, we will need to give them a bit of notice."
Jamie stopped and pulled her into an embrace, resting his chin atop her head, "How much notice do ye think would be enough?"
Claire laced her arms around his waist and melted against his warmth, "Hmm, I think a few days should be enough time for the people we will invite to make plans to attend."
Jamie kissed the top of her head, "Who all do ye wish to invite?"
Claire thought for a moment, "Well, honestly there are only a few people that come to mind. Of course, we will invite Mrs. Graham, she has been essential in helping us to get to where we are today. Then I think we will invite Denzel and his wife Dorothea. I really don't have anyone else that is important to me. I would invite Reverend Wakefield, but since he is a close friend of Frank's, I don't think that is the best idea. I don't want him to inadvertently tell Frank anything or let it slip where we live. I think the less he knows about us, the better."
Jamie squeezed her tighter, "Aye, I think that sounds like a good amount of guests. Perhaps we could serve them all lunch afterward."
Claire smiled, "Yes, I will have to get Mrs. Graham to help me with that, but I think it will be a lovely day."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, so shall we tell them we plan to wed on this Saturday, August 14th, then?"
Claire kissed the dip between his collar bones, "Yes, I think that will be perfect, that will give me three days to find a dress, talk to a priest and let everyone know."
Jamie pulled back from her so he could look into her eyes, "Allow me to speak to the priest in Broch Mordha, Sassenach. Tomorrow morning perhaps Mrs. Graham will meet us so that we can get our marriage license and then she can take ye to find a dress."
Claire grabbed his hand and turned back toward the house, "It sounds like we have a plan then. Let's return to the house so we can call everyone and make sure they are going to be free."
After walking in silence for several hundred yards, the pair found themselves at the edge of the woods. Jamie sat down, with his back against the trunk of a large oak tree, then took Claire's hand to help her sit down between his raised knees. She settled herself down, her legs stretched out straight in front of her and leaned back into the warmth of Jamie's chest. Her hands came to rest on the swell of their child and Jamie's hands naturally came around to rest right over hers. Claire rested her head back against Jamie's chest and let out a sigh of contentment, "Can you believe how far we have come. Starting in a damp, dark cottage in the middle of 18th century Scotland, being forced to wed, falling in love, losing Faith, coming back to each other, facing innumerable foes and obstacles along the way to ending up in 20th century Scotland, happy, healthy and free to be with each other again and expecting our second child in just over 3 month's time."
Jamie leaned down and placed a kiss to the crown of her head, "Aye, we did face many challenges, but we faced them together and came out stronger in spite of them. We deserve our happiness, Sassenach and as ye say, we are free to enjoy it as a family."
Claire lifted Jamie's hand and placed a kiss on his knuckles, "I can't wait to be your wife again and start looking forward to our future. Now that we don't have to worry about Frank anymore, I only see good things for us. We have enough money to turn Lallybroch back into a functioning and profiting farm, so you can be Laird of our estate once again. Once the baby is a year old, I will be able to go back to work as a nurse with Denny and we will both be fulfilling our dreams. All those things we wished for when we first went to Lallybroch after the witch trials can be ours again. I know that we have a few phone calls to make for the next step in being together, but right now, I am enjoying the feeling of being held by your strong arms."
Jamie smiled in agreement, "Aye, to hold ye out in the open, without the worry of redcoats coming to harm one of us is more than I could have dreamed of when I took ye back to Craigh Na Dun on that fateful day in April. To ken that I will get to be here by yer side as ye bring our bairn into the world, God Claire I owe ye my soul, for that alone."
Jamie moved his hand to gently rub over the swell of their child and was rewarded with the first movement he had felt from his child. His eyes widened as his body stiffened in response, "Was that, did he just...?"
Claire giggled, "Yes, he has been doing that all morning. I am so glad that you can finally feel him."
Jamie placed his hands, fingers spread wide to cover as much area as possible over the swell of their child, ready to feel the next movement. He didn't have long to wait as the child tumbled and twisted inside Claire's belly, rewarding Jamie not only with a weak kick or punch but the feel of Claire's whole belly shifting with the movement. Jamie chuckled in delight at the feeling of his child, strong, active and growing. "By the feel of it, we have a wee highland warrior ready to fight his way out. "
Claire giggled as she placed her hands over Jamie's, "Yes, it would seem so, I can't wait to meet wee Brian Fraser."
Jamie made a sound in his throat, "Aye, we have no' discussed middle names for wee Brian. Do ye wish to honor yer father as well?"
Claire wrinkled her nose, "No, I don't think Henry will do for a Scot, but what would you say about using one of your names?"
Jamie leaned his head back against the tree and let his hands slide up to the top of Claire's belly as the movement from within had subsided, "Which name would ye choose?"
Claire smiled, "What about Jamies, we could name him Brian James Fraser."
Jamie made a Scottish sound deep in his chest, "Well, that is no' enough names for a Scot, Sassenach, he will need at least one more middle name in addition to Beauchamp. What would ye think if we honored Murtagh?"
Claire thought for a moment, "Which order would you put it all in?"
Jamie rubbed her belly, "Brian James Murtagh Beauchamp Fraser."
"Yes, I quite like that, but what if we are wrong and it's a girl, we thought Faith would be a boy as well and we were wrong."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "I dinna ken, I had no' thought the bairn would be anything but a lad. Do ye have somethin' in mind?"
Claire turned to gauge his reaction to her suggestion, "Actually, I do. When I made the promise at the stones that I would name our child after your father, I meant it. After these few months back in my time, I have had time to think about what I would choose if the baby turned out to be a girl and you had not been able to come through with me. What do you think of the name Brianna?"
Jamie wrinkled his nose, "What an awful name for a lass."
Claire frowned, "It's not awful, it's beautiful and her middle name could be Ellen, to honor your mother. I only think it right that both of their names be together in our child."
Jamie relaxed his features and thought for a moment, before appearing to come to a conclusion, "Aye, tis a beautiful name, but ye say it wrong. Ye should say it BREE-uh-na and no put the emphasis on the first part of the name, but the last instead."
Claire rolled the new pronunciation around in her mouth a few times and nodded, "Yes, you are right, that is much more beautiful the way you say it with your brogue."
They both sat in silence for a while, lost in their own thoughts about their child. Before long, Claire shivered, "Are ye cold, mo chridhe?"
Claire nodded as she tried to press her body closer to Jamie's, "Yes, I think the temperature is dropping. I don't know how long we have been sitting out here, but it must be a few hours by now. We should head back down to the house and make those phone calls."
As soon as they made it back to the house, Claire went into the study to make a few phone calls while Jamie went up to the Laird's room to fetch something from a hiding spot he had found two hundred years ago. He just hoped that no one had found his hiding spot in the intervening years and the trinket he was after was still where he had left it.
Claire started by calling Mrs. Graham. The phone rang twice before it was answered by the Reverend. "This is Reginald Wakefield, may I inquire as to who is calling?"
Claire cleared her throat, "Hello, Reverend, it is Claire, would Mrs. Graham perhaps be available to speak?"
Claire could hear Reverend Wakefield's muffled voice as he called out for Mrs. Graham and announced that it was her on the phone. She also heard Frank's gruff voice as he asked about her. She grimaced at the sound of his voice and wished she would have waited a bit to call Mrs. Graham at home instead of calling the manse. A few moments later, Mrs. Graham's voice came over the line, "Hello dear, what can I do for ye?"
Claire smiled at the sweet sound of her friend, "Hello Mrs. Graham, I'm not sure if Frank said anything to you, but the judge granted the divorce this morning, Jamie and I are planning to get married in three days time. We will need to go into town and get our marriage license and I wanted to know if you would help me to pick out a dress."
Mrs. Graham was quiet for a moment before speaking, "Why don't I speak wi' ye this evening when I have more time to speak, I have so much left to do here at the manse today and I truly dinna have time to chat just now."
Claire sighed, "Is Frank listening to what you have to say?"
Mrs. Graham's voice sounded relieved, "Aye, tis no' a good time. I'll speak wi' ye later, my dear."
Claire groaned, "I understand, please call me when you arrive home."
Mrs. Graham responded without giving anything away. "Ye have a good day as well. Goodbye, my dear."
Claire hung up the phone and put her head down on the table, would they never be rid of the Randall's interfering in their lives? She took a breath and picked up the phone again and this time she dialed Denny's office. The receptionist answered with a cheery voice, "Good afternoon, ye have reached Doctor Hunter's office, how can I help ye today?"
Claire smiled at the happy mood coming through the phone line, "Good afternoon, this is Claire Fraser, is Dr. Hunter available?"
Claire heard what sounded like pages turning before the receptionist answered, "Let, me just make sure he isn't on the other line, Mrs. Fraser."
Claire nodded, then remembered she was on the phone and the receptionist couldn't see her, "Thank you."
A few minutes later the receptionist came back on the line, "Doctor Hunter is available, I'll patch ye through Mrs. Fraser."
Claire sighed with relief, "Thank you."
A moment later, Denny picked up the phone, "Claire, is everything alright with you and the baby?"
Claire chuckled, "Yes, Denny nothing to worry about. I just wanted to let you know that the judge granted my divorce and Jamie and I are planning to be married in three days. We wanted to invite you and Dorothea if you are free. We haven't set a time yet, but we are thinking probably around 10 AM. We will be providing lunch after the ceremony and there will only be a handful of people attending if you and your wife are able."
Denny chuckled, "Claire, we wouldn't miss it for the world. You just contact me with details when you finalize everything."
Claire smiled to herself, "Thank you, Denny, for everything. Jamie and I owe you for helping us out with the letter to the judge."
Denny laughed again, "Happy to help, my dear friend. I could see how happy the two of you were together. I would do anything for a friend, especially someone as special as you, Claire. Count me and Dorothea in and let us know if we can bring anything for lunch after the wedding. I would love to continue to chat with you but have to let you go now, I have a patient who should be showing up for her appointment any minute now. And congratulations on your divorce."
Claire smiled to herself, "I will call your receptionist by tomorrow afternoon with more precise details, and don't worry about bringing anything to the lunch."
Claire hung up the phone, left the study, and went in search of Jamie. She found him upstairs in the Laird's bedroom. He had pushed the bed closer to the window and was knelt down on the floor with one of the floorboards removed, revealing a small, dark space beneath. A wooden box that would fit snuggly in the hiding space was sitting on the floor in front of Jamie. Claire walked over to see what he was doing, "What did you find?"
Jamie looked up, keeping his hand in a fist, "This was my mother's jewelry box. I hid it here when the redcoats put a levy on the lands in hopes of keeping all of her valuables hidden. I canna believe it was still here, untouched, and unfound after all this time."
Claire put a hand on his shoulder so she could carefully kneel down beside him, "What were you looking for inside the box?"
Jamie leaned over and kissed her on the temple, extended his closed hand toward her, and slowly opened it to reveal what he held in his palm. Claire looked down and gasped as her hand came up to cover her mouth, "Oh, Jamie, it's so beautiful."
Jamie grinned, "My father gave it to me when I reached my 18th birthday. He said that my mother would want me to have it to give to my wife someday. It was her wedding ring and I thought to give it to ye when we wed again."
A tear rolled down Claire's cheek as she cupped Jamie's face with both of her hands, "It is lovely Jamie, I would be honored to wear your mother's ring. It's almost as if it was made just for us, with the roses and thistles intertwined with the vines, and what a lovely stone, do you know what kind it is?"
Jamie nodded as Claire picked the ring up from his palm and took a closer look at the single gem at the top, "Aye, tis a blue lace agate, my father found it on the beach near Inverness and had it rounded, polished and fashioned into a cabochon stone to set into a wedding ring for my mother."
Claire placed a kiss on his cheek, "It is lovely set in silver Jamie, and the color matches your eyes perfectly. I won't be able to look at it without thinking of you."
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."
Even though they were technically already married and Claire was obviously verra pregnant, Jamie insisted that they hold to tradition and sleep separately the night before their wedding. The growing baby had made it easy for Claire to fall asleep at almost any time of day or night, but when she retired to bed in the Laird's room, she couldn't seem to find a comfortable position. She tossed and turned for over an hour, unable to force her mind to rest. Claire was anxious and excited for her coming nuptials with Jamie, making the marriage valid in both the 18th century and the 20th. However, she also couldn't seem to make her mind and body relax without being safely wrapped in Jamie's warm embrace.
Finally, she decided that perhaps a glass of milk would help her to relax enough to get even just a little bit of sleep before her big day. She swung her legs out of bed, took hold of the bedpost, and carefully hoisted herself out of bed. She grabbed her robe off of the back of one of the chairs in front of the fire, wrapped it around her body, and strode over to the door. Afraid that Jamie might still be up, she pressed her ear to the door to listen for any telltale sounds of him moving about the house. Since only silence reached her eager ears, she gently turned the handle and opened the door slowly as she continued to listen.
She carefully stepped out into the hallway, attempting to make her footsteps land as lightly as possible so as not to wake her husband. She scowled momentarily at his apparent ability at being able to find sleep so easily. Claire slowly crept downstairs, skipping the step that she knew squeaked just a bit when it was stepped on. When she made it to the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and listened again. After a minute or so of listening, she deemed it safe to sneak into the kitchen to fetch her glass of milk.
The floor on the main level was made of stone, so she didn't need to be so quiet with her footfalls. However, she did need to be careful not to bump into any furniture in the nearly pitch black darkness that filled the house. She didn't dare turn on any lights and inadvertently wake Jamie from his slumber. She felt along the walls and counter steps as she came closer to the kitchen. When she reached the kitchen door, she slowly pushed it open, focused so closely on not making any sounds that she didn't notice the candle that flickered on the counter as she stepped into the kitchen.
She jumped at the sound of Jamie's voice, "Sassenach, what are ye doin' out of bed?"
Claire's hand came up to calm her racing heart as she focused on Jamie sitting on a stool at the counter, eating a sandwich. "Jamie, Jesus H. Christ, you scared the daylights out of me. What are you doing down here?"
Jamie chuckled, "I asked ye first mo chridhe."
Claire walked over and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, "I couldn't sleep and it appears as though I wasn't the only one."
Jamie grabbed a hold of her arm and pulled her around his body so he could wrap her in his large arms, "Aye, my mind willna let me rest."
Claire nodded and placed a kiss on the underside of his jaw, "I have the same problem, but it's not just thoughts of the wedding that are keeping me awake."
Jamie placed a kiss on the top of her head, "Aye, I canna sleep wi' out holdin' ye in my arms, keepin' ye safe."
Claire sighed, "Yes, that is exactly it. Must we really hold to tradition? According to God and us, I am already your wife, this child within my womb is proof enough of that, surely."
Jamie chuckled, "Aye, yer right lass. I suppose it wouldna hurt to forego this one tradition and we can keep our night clothes on in order to remain chaste, at least for tonight."
Claire smiled up at him, "Oh, please Jamie. I am afraid if you make me go back to bed by myself I won't get any sleep tonight and it appears that neither will you. I think it would be best for both of us if you come back to bed with me. You can leave our room in the morning before I get dressed and then at least that tradition will remain intact."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I must agree wi' ye. Besides, I tend to wake earlier than ye do, so I can bid ye a brief goodbye before ye see me in the morning."
Claire giggled, "If you must. Finish your sandwich, while I pour myself a glass of milk, then we need to head up to bed and get as much sleep as we can in the time we have left."
Jamie kissed her once more then released his hold on her waist. "Aye, tis already late and we dinna want to look like melted caramel when we say our vows in front of our friends on the morrow."
Claire walked over and grabbed a glass from the cabinet, kissed Jamie's back as she walked past him to get to the refrigerator, and retrieved the milk. She poured just a few swallows worth into her glass and replaced the bottle to its place inside of the refrigerator. She sat down on the stool next to Jamie and sipped her milk while he finished his sandwich. When they were finished, Jamie gathered their dishes and placed them in the sink to be taken care of in the morning.
Claire took Jamie's hand, blew out the candle, and led him out of the kitchen and up to the Laird's room to join her in their bed as they both were finally able to relax enough to close their eyes and find sleep.
Jamie woke before Claire the next morning as was typical. Claire loved to sleep a bit later than first light, but Jamie was raised as a farm boy, and rising with the sun was as much a part of him as his red curls. He gently kissed her head, then rose from the bed, being mindful not to jostle her about as he moved away from her and off the bed. He gathered some clothes for doing chores and took them with him to the bedroom he had intended to sleep in the night before. His wedding attire was already in the second bedroom since he had planned to dress there and go out to the field behind the house to wait for Claire before she finished getting ready for the wedding. He put on his everyday clothes to go collect eggs from the chickens and check on their new guard dogs while he brought them their breakfast.
Claire had worried about the dogs being friendly to their wedding guests, but Jamie had suggested that everyone should be present at Lallybroch when the couple brought the 4 dogs home with them two days before. Luckily Jamie's idea worked and the dogs accepted everyone as a part of their family. Jamie asked the group to walk with them through the house and around the grounds nearest the house as they introduced the dogs to their new home. Denny, Dorothea, and Mrs. Graham were all happily willing to oblige the couple after Mrs. Graham regaled everyone with what she had overheard Frank say to the Reverend upon his return from the divorce proceedings.
Claire and Jamie were grateful to have such kind, loving friends who were willing to put Claire's safety above the uncomfortable situation they all found themselves in and the need for the guard dogs. All three of their friends promised to stop by Lallybroch regularly to ensure that the dogs would remain accustomed to each of them.
So far the dogs had not alerted the couple to any intruders on the property and it was everyone's ardent hope that they would never have the need to be anything more than loyal companions.
After watching the dogs dig into their breakfast with hearty appetites, Jamie led them back outside and walked with them unleashed around the property. He knew from his childhood at Lallybroch how important it was for the dogs to be reminded of their territory every day. Jamie's fear that Frank was a true threat to Claire was too much to forego even one day of training with the dogs. He would need to introduce the dogs to the priest when he arrived, but if Jamie was with the man, the dogs would understand that he was only a visitor. The breeder had assured Jamie that the dogs were trained to sense a true threat by scent, body language, and tone of voice. He promised that the dogs would not see someone as a threat if they were introduced to the dogs properly. But a threat would be attacked and restrained for as long as it took for their humans to be alerted, whether that threat is another human or an animal predator.
While Jamie was out walking the dogs, Claire awoke and went into the en suite bathroom that had been added to their room sometime in the past. She craved a long soak in their huge clawfoot tub. While she was shopping in Edinburgh with Mrs. Graham, they had picked up some bath oils and Claire was eager to use them in hopes that the oils would ease the itching sensation that plagued her always stretching belly. The shop owner had assured her that the oils would reduce her chances of large stretch marks appearing on her belly.
Claire wasn't a vain woman by any means, but the added benefit of not gaining more stretch marks had sold her on the idea of the bath oils. The pleasant scents of citrus and rosemary filled the steamy air as the hot water poured from the faucet to fill the deep tub. Before stepping into the tub, Claire checked the clock to gauge how much time she had before Mrs. Graham arrived. She had woken up earlier than usual in anticipation of the day's events and knew she had roughly an hour before Mrs. Graham would arrive.
Claire walked into the bathroom, closed the door, disrobed, and slipped into the steaming water as a moan of relaxation escaped her lips. She laid her head back against the back of the tub, just as she heard Jamie closing the front door of the house.
When Jamie walked back into the house he went straight to the kitchen. He planned to make Claire breakfast, knowing that if he didn't make it a priority that she would forget to eat. Normally he wouldn't be worried if she skipped breakfast since he could give her snacks throughout the morning. But since they would both be busy doing their own thing and wouldn't have time to eat until their lunch after the wedding, Jamie wasn't going to give her a chance to forget about eating. It was important that she keep her energy up, especially since the bairn was taking every bit of spare energy she had while it grew larger with each passing day. They had already passed the point in her pregnancy where they had lost Faith, but Jamie still worried that something could go wrong. With the way his mother died and with how close Claire had come to dying when Faith was born, Jamie was not willing to take any chances with her health.
As Jamie was finishing preparing a tray with Claire's breakfast there was a knock on the door, then Mrs. Graham's voice came floating through the house, "Is anyone home?"
Jamie smiled at her cheery voice, "In the kitchen Mrs. Graham, please come in."
A moment later Mrs. Graham pushed the swinging door open and stepped into the kitchen. "Good mornin' lad, are ye ready to get married today?"
Jamie grinned as he placed the rose he just trimmed on the breakfast tray, "Aye je suis pret. I am as ready as I will ever be, but I need to take this up to Claire. If I dinna feed her, she willna remember to eat."
Mrs. Graham smirked, "Ye should no' see yer bride until she walks down the aisle to ye. Allow me to take it up to her on yer behalf. Yer guests should be arriving soon and ye will wish to be ready yer self before they do."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, yer right. Thank ye, Mrs. Graham. Please allow me to carry it up and ye can take it into Claire for me."
Mrs. Graham nodded, "Aye, of course, lad, lead the way."
Jamie handed the tray to Mrs. Fitz and left her standing in the hallway to knock on the door that led to Claire, as he turned and walked to the guest room. He looked at his wedding attire all laid out on the chair next to the hearth and smiled. A few weeks after they had come through the stones, Mrs. Fitz had mentioned a kilt weaver and Jamie eagerly took her up on the offer of having his kilt pattern reproduced into a few new kilts. He had chosen his lightweight kilt to wear for his wedding kilt. When the three of them went to Edinburgh to go shopping for Claire's dress, Jamie had gotten a new white button up shirt, some new stockings to wear with his boots and a black suit jacket and vest, designed to wear with kilts. Before he had gone down to the kitchen the night before in search of a snack to calm his mind, he had spent nearly an hour cleaning and polishing the boots he had been wearing when they arrived in the 20th century. Even though his father's ruby ring had lost its gem when they had traveled through the stones and he could no longer wear it, he knew Claire would find him as dashing as she had at their first wedding, just over 200 years before.
Not wanting to smell like the chickens or dogs when he said his vows to Claire, Jamie decided he had time for a quick shower before he had to dress and prepare for his wedding guests to arrive. He left his wedding attire right where he had laid it out the night before and walked down the hall to the main bathroom to take a hot, soothing shower. He adjusted the temperature, stripped down, placing his dirty clothes in the hamper and climbed into the shower, taking a brief moment to luxuriate in the steaming water as it ran down over his head and body.
He grabbed the bottle of shampoo that Claire had bought for him, which he had moved from their en suite bathroom the night before, squeezed a dollop into his palm, replaced the bottle to its resting place on the soap ledge, and scrubbed the shampoo into his wet locks. After rinsing the shampoo from his hair, he used the bar soap and quickly scrubbed the farm smell from his body, rinsed, and climbed out, wrapping a towel around his hips before he moved onto his other ablutions. He wiped a hand over the mirror to clear the fog so he could see his reflection in order to shave. He wished to look just as he did on the day they had originally married in hopes it would bring some memories back for Claire.
He finished up in the bathroom after towel drying and combing his hair and returned to the guest room to begin dressing. He glanced at the clock sitting on the bedside table and took note that he had roughly half an hour to get dressed and downstairs in time for their other two guests to arrive.
Claire sat on the bed and picked at the breakfast that Jamie had sent up for her, enjoying every bite, but not really feeling very hungry. However, she knew that Mrs. Graham would report back to Jamie if she didn't finish her breakfast and she didn't want to deal with an angry Scot on her wedding day. Claire continued to snack on her breakfast as Mrs. Graham combed through her wet curls and began to twist up sections near her temple, pulling up small sections as she moved the twist around toward the back of her head. She used pins to keep the twist in place and wove the two ends past each other, tucking them underneath to hide the ends. "Claire, I brought some flowers wi' me to place in yer hair but I left them in my car. Why dinna ye put yer dress on while I run down to my car and fetch them."
Claire nodded, "Yes, alright."
Mrs. Graham left the room, giving Claire just enough time to remove her bathrobe, pull some lacy undergarments on that she had purchased in Edinburgh and slip her arms into her dress and wrap it around her body. Mrs. Graham returned just in time to help Claire tie the perfect bow, which would rest just behind her left elbow and over her hip bone. "Alright lass, now that we have yer dress situated, let's get these flowers woven into yer hair."
Claire looked at the flowers which Mrs. Graham had set on her vanity when she returned, while she helped to tie her bow, "Oh, Mrs. Graham, you brought forget-me-nots. These are lovely and Jamie will simply adore them."
Mrs. Graham chuckled, "Aye, I ken, the flowers are the same color as the lad's eyes."
Claire smiled and looked down at her hands folded in her lap, thinking about those beautiful cerulean eyes that showed such love and tenderness when they looked back at her. She couldn't wait to look into those eyes and speak her truth to the man whom they belonged to. This time she would keep her eyes locked on his as she recited her vows to him and she would mean every word of it.
Mrs. Graham rested her hands on Claire's shoulders, "Take a look lass, tell me what ye think."
Claire looked up and took in her reflection. Mrs. Graham had not only weaved the flowers into her hair, but she had placed the crystal tiara on the crown of her head and weaved the flowers between the crystals as well. Claire swallowed hard and nodded, "Just one more thing and I think the look will be complete."
Mrs. Graham frowned, "What might that be, lass?"
Claire got up from the vanity and walked over to the mantel where she kept her little velvet pouch. She returned to the vanity and sat down on the bench, opened the drawstring top of the black velvet pouch, and poured the pearls Jamie had given her into her hand. "These are what is missing, Jamie gave them to me on our first wedding night 205 years ago. I plan to wear them today, to honor him, his mother, and the family we left behind when we returned to my time."
Claire handed the pearls to Mrs. Graham, "Would you mind placing them around my neck?"
Mrs. Graham nodded and smiled kindly, "Aye, I would be honored to lass. Since we have covered something old, something new and something blue, ye just need something borrowed."
Claire looked at Mrs. Graham's reflection in the mirror inquisitively, "Did you have something in mind?"
Mrs. Graham let out a small chuckle, "Aye, I brought my pearl earrings, I didna even ken that ye would have a pearl necklace that matched them so well."
Claire smiled as Mrs. Graham pulled the pearls from her coat pocket, that hung on the hook behind their bedroom door. "Thank you Mrs. Graham. I have something that I would like to ask you as well."
Mrs. Graham tilted her head to the side, "What is it?"
Claire smiled brightly and turned to face Mrs. Graham, taking both of her hands in her own, "I was hoping that you would walk me down the aisle to Jamie. You are the closest thing I have had to a mother since I was five years old and I would be honored if you would give me away today."
Mrs. Graham pulled her hand from Claire's and wiped her eye, "Och, lass, it would be my honor to give ye away."
Jamie checked his appearance in the full length mirror in the guest room, adjusted his jabot, checked his sporan for Claire's ring, and went downstairs to pour himself a glass of whisky and await the priest. He had made sure the dogs were locked in the barn before he came inside to take a shower and dress, but he would need to let them loose after introducing them to the priest. He walked outside and stood on the porch, waiting for the man to arrive. Before too long Denny and Dorothea pulled into the dooryard. Denny walked around the car to open the passenger door and help Dorothea out. She had a baking dish in her hands and offered it to Jamie as she approached, "I know that Claire said not to worry about bringing anything, but I couldn't resist, I love to cook and this was the perfect occasion to cook something that I couldn't make for just the two of us."
Jamie sniffed the dish, trying to determine what was inside, "Whatever it is, it smells delicious, I canna wait to try it."
Dorothea grinned widely, "It is eggplant parmigiana, I learned the recipe when Denny was away at war and I have been dying for a reason to make it ever since then."
Jamie chuckled, "I'll just take this into the kitchen, would the two of ye mind waiting out here for the priest, he is the only one left to arrive and I need to introduce him to the dogs so that I can let them loose to guard the house and lands."
Denny patted Jamie on the shoulder, "We would be happy to wait for him and I can take him to introduce him to the dogs if you like, that way you don't get your clothes dirty if they don't behave."
Dorothea agreed, "Yes, you look great, Jamie, we wouldn't want anything to ruin that, let Denny and I take care of the priest and the dogs. We can let them loose after everyone has met and then meet you behind the house in the field."
Jamie nodded, "Thank ye, if he arrives before I make it back out here, please feel free to help out."
It only took Jamie a few minutes to place the dish in the kitchen and return to the porch and as he stepped out, the priest was pulling into the dooryard. Jamie bounded down the steps and met the man at his car, holding the door open for him, "Thank ye for comin' father. As I mentioned when I spoke to ye the other day, we have some guard dogs that will be workin' the property today. I would like to introduce ye to them so they dinna see ye as a threat."
The priest nodded, "Aye, I remember ye telling me of yer troubles, lead the way, Mr. Fraser."
Jamie, as well as Denny, led the priest to the barn as Dorothea made her way upstairs to see if Claire and Mrs. Graham needed any help.
The dogs were well behaved, each taking a turn to sniff the priest's hand and giving it a lick of acknowledgment before returning to their bedding and awaiting orders to guard. "Denny, will ye show the priest to the heather field behind the house where the ceremony will be held. I need to set these boys to work and then I will be on my way up."
Denny nodded, "Of course, Jamie, but don't take to long, it's almost time and Claire will be down soon."
Claire walked over and looked out the window. The laird's bedroom was situated at the front of the house so all she could see was the cars in the dooryard. She recognized Denny's car, but not the other so she assumed that it must belong to the priest. A moment later there was a knock on the bedroom door, followed by Dorothea's voice, "May I come in, are you decent Claire?"
Claire chuckled, "Yes, come in Dorothea, I have been decent for a bit. Now I just have to wait until I can go down and walk toward Jamie, making him my husband, finally."
Mrs. Graham tried to hide her smirk at Claire's choice of words, "Och, aye, it must seem like ye have been waiting over 200 years to finally call the man yers."
Claire giggled, "Yes, it has been much too long for certain."
Dorothea frowned, clearly not understanding the joke between them. She strode over and joined Claire at the window, "The priest just arrived and Denny went with Jamie to introduce him to the hounds. I hope for the poor man's sake that they behave like gentlemen and don't jump on him."
Claire sighed, "Yes, you and me both. I know they are skilled at guarding, but I am wary of them meeting new people and not thinking they are a snack."
Dorothea giggled as she pointed to the dooryard, "Well, there is Jamie with the dogs and they don't look they have had any religious meals lately, so I think the introductions must have gone well."
Claire chuckled, "I hope you are right, but I can't look, I don't want to spoil the effect when I see Jamie standing at the end of the aisle for the first time."
Mrs. Graham chuckled to herself again, but this time, Claire just rolled her eyes at the older lady's amusement at her current predicament. "Shall we go down to the kitchen ladies, if Jamie is putting the dogs to work, it must be about time for the ceremony to begin."
Mrs. Graham got to her feet, and checked Claire's hair one more time, "Alright lass, let's go down."
The three women nodded, then left the room to head downstairs. They went into the kitchen so that they could use the backdoor in the kitchen to access the field behind the house. Dorothea watched out the window over the sink, waiting for everyone to get into their places. "Alright, Claire, the priest has taken his place, Jamie is standing near him and Denny next to Jamie, it's time."
Claire took a deep breath, nodded, and put a big smile on her face, "Alright ladies, je suis pret, let's go."
Mrs. Graham furrowed her brow, "Ye ken that Jamie said the same phrase this morning when I asked him if he was ready to get married today. Would ye tell me what it means?"
Claire smiled softly, "It means 'I am ready' and I am, I can't wait to call Jamie my husband."
Dorothea took one look at the two of them standing arm in arm and stepped out the back door and slowly walked down the aisle to join the men. Mrs. Graham let go of Claire's hand, "We mustn't forget yer bouquet lass, tis in the fridge. I put it there when I came down to fetch the forget-me-nots for yer hair."
Claire nodded, "Yes of course, what would I do without you, Mrs. Graham?"
Mrs. Graham smiled as she closed the refrigerator door and turned to present the bouquet of white daisies, forget-me-nots, and a few sprigs of baby's breath. Claire pressed her nose into the bouquet and inhaled the heavenly scent, "Do you know that I didn't have a bouquet the first time Jamie and I wed?"
Mrs. Graham patted her arm as they walked toward the back door, "From what ye told me, yer first wedding was akin to a shotgun wedding wi' out the fear of a coming bairn."
Claire belly laughed, "Yes, I guess it was, but I am so glad that I get a second chance to do things right. I can't wait to marry the love of my life again and let him see how much I mean my vows."
Mrs. Graham took Claire's hand and looped it through her bent arm as the two women stood at the doorway and prepared to step through toward the first day of the rest of Claire's life. Claire stood frozen, not with nerves or unsureness of her decision, but in awe that she was getting a second chance to do right by Jamie. A stiff kick to her ribs from the child within her womb brought her out of her reverie and the two women stepped out the door into the bright sunlight that lit the garden at the rear of the house.
Claire brought her eyes up and looked in the direction of the field of heather that grew behind the house. Jamie was just out of sight past some trees that bordered the yard, so he wouldn't see her until she rounded the trees. She took a deep breath and allowed Mrs. Graham to lead her forward. She felt like running to Jamie and collapsing in his arms as his strong heartbeat thundered under her ear, but she knew that she needed to savor these moments. She wanted to make them last and imprint every moment into her memory, just like Jamie had done the first time they had wed. She kept her steps slow and looked around at her herb garden, listened to the birds singing in the trees, smelled the morning dew as it evaporated in the hot rays of the sun shining overhead.
Claire smiled at the thought that God had seen fit to bless their wedding with a sunny day, rare in the Scottish highlands. With each step she took closer to reaching Jamie, the harder Claire's heart pounded and the more active the child within her womb became. She switched her small bouquet to the hand looped through Mrs. Graham's arm and rubbed soothing circles over the swell of her child, "It's alright my little love, we are going to see your daddy very soon, I know you feel my excitement, but I beg you to please be patient with me."
Mrs. Graham chuckled, "I would be willing to bet that as soon as the bairn hears Jamie's voice, that the wee one calms right down."
Claire chuckled as well, "I am willing to bet that you are exactly right on that account. Jamie has always been able to get this baby to relax, of course, his velvety baritone voice has an effect on me as well."
Mrs. Graham stopped in her tracks and gasped, "Claire!"
Claire giggled, "You have seen my husband, right?"
Mrs. Graham smiled knowingly, "Aye, I have and he is quite a dish, ye are a lucky woman Claire. Now, let's not dilly dally any longer, that wonderful man is waiting for ye, just around this corner."
Claire adjusted her expression, placed her bouquet back into her left hand, gave a small nod and the two of them resumed their trek toward Jamie. As they approached the tree, Claire's breath hitched and her nerves suddenly hit her as she realized she was about to see Jamie, standing at the end of the trail, waiting for her. She took a deep breath, kept her eyes up, preparing to take him in as soon as she took her next step.
She took one more step and pivoted around the tree, and standing only a few steps away, stood Jamie, dressed in full highland regalia, looking even more regal than he did on the day they first wed. He shined up like a bright new schilling. He stood proud, his eyes glittering with unshed tears, and the most beautiful smile she had ever seen graced his lovely chiseled face.
Jamie watched as she stepped around the tree, his breath hitched in his throat at the sight of her. She was ethereal in her new wedding dress, hugging each of her curves and proudly showing off the swell of the child that lay beneath her heart. The sight of her brought tears to his eyes, but he remained strong, not allowing even one to spill over onto his cheek. He felt as though he was in a dream, gazing at the beauty before him, her smile so radiant that it made the already sunny day seem all that much brighter.
He didn't think it was possible, but she was even more beautiful than the day she had wed him for the first time, over 200 years ago. Hell, she was even more beautiful than when he had kissed her this morning as she lay peacefully asleep in their bed. Jamie grinned, knowing that it wasn't the dress that made her more beautiful, but the fact that she was striding toward him, of her own accord. She was walking toward him to become his wife, not because she needed to do it to save her life, but because it was what she wanted to do in order to complete her soul. She longed for this day, just as much as he had longed for her from the moment he set eyes on her on that first day in the cottage in 1743.
Claire tried to maintain her pace but found herself walking a bit faster to reach him as soon as her feet could carry her to him. Mrs. Graham could feel her anxious excitement vibrating through her body and did not try and hold her back, instead, she kept pace with Claire as she strode faster toward Jamie.
The two women reached him in 5 long strides and Jamie bowed to Claire, just as he had done on their first wedding day, "At yer service madam."
Claire stifled a giggle at the memory his actions had caused to bubble to the surface. She curtsied back to Jamie, "My Laird."
Claire and Jamie were so focused on one another that they missed the confused expressions on Denny and Dorothea's faces. Mrs. Graham took Claire's hand from her arm and placed it in Jamie's waiting hand. "She is all yers, lad."
Jamie gave Mrs. Graham a crooked smile, "Thank ye, Mistress."
The priest cleared his throat to get their attention, but Jamie and Claire continued staring into each other's eyes, the love radiating so strongly between them that you could feel it in the air. The priest cleared his throat again and began the ceremony, "Good morning, everyone. From this place, a lovely field of heather on the grounds of the historical estate of Broch Tuarach, the home of this lovely couple, we take ourselves out of the usual routines of daily living to witness a unique moment in the lives of James and Claire. We are gathered together on this day to witness and celebrate the marriage of James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser and Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp. We come together not to mark the start of a relationship, but to acknowledge and strengthen a bond that already exists. This day is made possible because of your love for each other. It is our hope that your fulfillment and joy in each other will increase with each passing year.
Marriage is a commitment in life, where two people can find and bring out the very best in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other human relationship can equal, a physical and emotional joining that has the promise of a lifetime.
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Lord, we thank you for gathering everyone here today. We ask that you help James and Claire to remember the strong love that they share. To work that love into practical things so that nothing can divide them. May their love always inspire them to be kind in their words, considerate of the other’s feelings, and concerned for the other’s needs and wishes. Increase their faith and trust in you. Bless their marriage with peace and happiness and make their Love fruitful for your glory and their joy, both here and in eternity. Amen.
Your relationship will take more than love. It will take trust, to know in your hearts that you want only the best for each other. Dedication, to stay open to one another, to learn and grow, even when it is difficult to do so. And faith, to go forward together without knowing what the future holds for you both.
While love is our natural state of being, these other qualities are not as easy to come by. They are not a destination, but a journey. Marriage is a give and take between two personalities, a mingling of two endowments which diminishes neither, but enhances both.
Seeing that no moment is without meaning, we ask that you take this marriage as a beginning of your lives together. Today signifies the creation of a new home and a new family for you both. May you be fulfilled by each other’s love and friendship. May you be overjoyed by the promises you are about to make and the life together you will create.
Remember that in every marriage, there are good times and bad, times of joy, and times of sorrow. Marriage is a journey, a time of adventure and excitement enhanced by the love, trust, dedication, and faith you share in one another.
May the promises you make to one another today, be lived out to the end of your lives. Tomorrow can bring you the greatest of joys, but today is the day it all begins.
As James and Claire prepared for the ceremony part of this wedding celebration, they reflected on what it is that they love about each other. And this was the easiest part of planning this wedding!
James, Claire loves that you blend in so comfortably with her friends. She sees in you a funny, kind, sweet, and caring man. She loves that you think she is intelligent and that you always find a way to compliment her.
She loves that you always want to be close to her. You remember details of the stories she tells. You help her around the house. Most importantly, you are so close that even when she is at her worst, you have never made her feel like you want anything but to be closer to her.
Claire, James loves that you can't mend a sock to save your life, but you have mended him more times than he can count. He loves your eyes, your smile, your curls, and your beauty. He loves your kisses and your tender heart. He just really loves you!
You both look to a shared future that includes raising a happy and healthy family. That future also includes a richly lived life together…going out to restaurants, spending time with friends, relaxing at home in front of the hearth, singing and dancing…Claire will do the singing, and James will do the dancing.
The years will come and go…you won’t take each other for granted, you will laugh a lot, you will be the best parents you can be, you will grow older and wiser together. It’s a good story, and the ending is not in sight!
We come now to the words James and Claire want to hear the most today…the words that take them across the threshold from courting to being married.
A marriage, as most of us understand it, is a voluntary and full commitment. It is made in the deepest sense to the exclusion of all others, and it is entered into with the desire and hope that it will last for forever.
Before you declare your vows to one another, I want to hear you confirm that it is indeed your intention to be married today.
James, do you come here freely and without reservation to give yourself to Claire in marriage? If so, answer 'I do.'"
Jamie grinned at Claire, "Aye, I do."
Claire, do you come here freely and without reservation to give yourself to James in marriage? If so, answer 'I do.'"
Claire wiped a tear from her eye before it could fall and gave Jamie a watery smile, "Yes, I do."
The priest smiled and nodded as he turned his attention back to Jamie, "James, please repeat after me…
I, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser take you, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp to be my wife.
I give to you in the presence of these witnesses.
My promise to stay by your side, in sickness, and in health, in joy, and in sorrow.
As well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation.
Comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals.
Laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit.
Always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
I promise to give you respect, love, and loyalty. I will share my life with you and build our dreams together.
This commitment is made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and made new every day of our lives."
Jamie's smile grew as he repeated his vows to Claire, he thought this new version fit the two of them much better than the original vows they had exchanged on their first wedding day.
The priest turned to Claire and requested that she repeat the words as well.
Claire smiled up at Jamie, her smile radiant, "I, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp take you James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, to be my husband.
I give to you in the presence of these witnesses.
My promise to stay by your side, in sickness, and in health, in joy, and in sorrow.
As well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation.
Comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals.
Laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit.
Always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
I promise to give you respect, love, and loyalty. I will share my life with you and build our dreams together.
This commitment is made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and made new every day of our lives."
The officiant nodded once they had finished and moved onto the next portion of the ceremony, "Having this love in your hearts, you have chosen to seal your vows by exchanging rings. Your wedding rings are the outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible bond which already unites your two hearts in love.
From the earliest times, the circle has been a sign of completeness. The rings that you have chosen to wear have neither beginning nor end, much like your love for one another. They are a symbol of the words that you speak today. May these rings be from this day forward, your most treasured adornment, and may the love they symbolize, be your most precious possession. As you wear these rings, may they be constant reminders of these glad promises you are making today.
James, place the ring on Claire’s finger and repeat after me…."
He pulled her ring from his sporan and slipped it onto her left ring finger, settling it right next to the first ring he had given her, the ring made from the key to Lallybroch, then recited the words the priest had told him to repeat.
"I give you this ring. Wear it with love and joy. As this ring has no end, my love for you is also endless."
The priest gave Claire the same instructions and Claire turned away from Jamie, toward Mrs. Graham and took a ring from her, she turned back to Jamie with a smirk on her face as he looked at her in confusion. "I had this made for you when we were in Edinburgh. I thought perhaps you would like a ring that was similar to mine."
Jamie looked down at the silver ring that looked as if it had been made by hand and the wide silver band did indeed look like it had been made to match Claire's original ring made from the key. She lifted his left hand and slid the ring on, then raised it to her lips and kissed it reverently before letting their hands fall between them, still intertwined. "I give you this ring. Wear it with love and joy. As this ring has no end, my love for you is also endless."
The officiant cleared his throat and continued, "May the wedding rings you exchanged today remind you always that you are surrounded by enduring love. Everyone has advice for newlyweds. James and Claire, I offer these good wishes to you on this special day.
May your life together be blessed with prosperity and good health. May you always share open and honest communication between each other. May you respect each other’s individual talents and gifts and give full support to each other’s professional and personal pursuits.
May you cherish the home and family you will create together. May all the years to come be filled with moments to celebrate and renew your love. May your love be a life-long source of excitement, contentment, affection, respect, and devotion for one another.
Now if you will all bow your heads for the closing prayer. Eternal God, help James and Claire to fulfill the promises they have made here today and to reflect your steadfast love in their commitment to each other. Give them kindness and patience, affection and understanding, happiness, and contentment. May their family and friends continue to support them in difficult days, so that their love for each other may continue to grow as long as they both shall live.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.
Forever and ever.
James and Claire, since you have consented together in holy matrimony, and have pledged yourselves to each other by your solemn vows and by the giving of rings, and have declared your commitment of love before God and these witnesses, I now pronounce you husband and wife in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those whom God hath joined together, let no man separate.
James, you may kiss your bride."
Jamie grinned so wide it seemed as though his face would split in two. He pulled her against him and cupped her head with his large hand. She tipped her head up toward him and stared into his blue depths. She touched her lips to his and murmured against them, "I love you, soldier."
Jamie rubbed his lips over hers, then let his tongue slide out to glide over her bottom lip, before crushing his mouth over hers. He nibbled her bottom lip, and sucked it into his mouth, then laved the tender swollen flesh with his tongue. He released her lip and plunged his tongue into her mouth, allowing their tongues to tangle and slide over one another in a slow languid dance. Eventually, they were forced to part for air, but Jamie kept his lips against hers as he whispered his reply to her declaration of love, "I love ye too, mo Sorcha, wi' all my heart."
Claire pulled back a bit, but their foreheads remained pressed against each other's heads.
The priest noticed that they had come up for air and took the moment to present them. "Ladies and Gentleman, it is my privilege to introduce to you, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser.
Mrs. Graham was the last of their guests to leave as Jamie and Claire waved goodbye to her from the porch as she backed down the driveway and out of the dooryard. When she was out of sight, Jamie turned and scooped Claire up in his arms. She giggled at his antics, "What are you doing, you ridiculous man?"
Jamie grinned at her and placed a kiss on her forehead, "I'm carryin' my wife over the threshold. Now stay still, so I dinna drop ye."
Claire clasped her arms around his neck and buried her head against his cheek as he carried her back inside. He kicked the door shut with his foot and kept her in his arms as he strode through the parlor and up the stairs. She giggled as she realized what he was doing, "You know that it is not required in this century to consummated the marriage to make it official."
Jamie grinned, "It may no' be necessary, but that does no' mean that I intend to forego lyin' wi' ye."
Claire rolled her eyes, "I wouldn't expect anything less from my stubborn husband."
Jamie chuckled, "At least now when ye call me yer husband, tis no' a lie. Ye truly are my wife, in my time and now in yers as well."
Claire kissed the underside of his jaw, "This is our time now, my love, not just my time. We will raise our children in this time, safe from war and violence, safe from the clearances and the famine."
Jamie's eyes grew dark, "I only wish that the rest of my family didna have to face such atrocities, I feel a fraud, bein' here wi' ye."
Claire stroked his cheek. "We must not think of them like that, we must remember them how we last saw them."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, but I canna help but think of what they must think happened to me, to us."
Claire sighed, "Unfortunately, they likely think we died that day at Culloden. Perhaps one day, when enough time has passed, we can go back."
Jamie's eyes grew wide, "Ye would truly do that?"
Claire furrowed her brow, "Why wouldn't I, they are my family too, Jamie. I may not have been born a Fraser, but I love them as if I was."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I suppose ye do. But I dinna wish to think of the past anymore, tonight I wish to celebrate my wife."
Jamie carried her upstairs and gently laid her on the bed, "Stay here, I just want to check on the dogs. I'll no' be too long."
Jamie left the room and took the stairs two at a time as he quickly descended them. He reached the front door and whistled then waited for the dogs to come. They each came bounding up to the porch from different directions, their tails wagging. Jamie chuckled and patted each of their heads, "Good boys, come let's get ye some food before ye keep watch through the night."
The dogs fell into formation as they followed Jamie to the barn. He poured each of them a bowl of dry dog food and made sure they had water as well. He left the barn door open as the dogs dug into their dinner and went back inside the house. Once inside, he checked all the doors and windows, making sure everything was locked up tight before ascending the stairs to join Claire in the Laird's room.
When he entered, Claire had already disrobed and was lying on the bed, naked as the day she was born. A groan from deep in his chest rumbled from Jamie as his eyes narrowed and he began removing his clothes, dropping them in his wake as he walked toward the bed. He stopped at the end of the bed, pulled off his boots, and unbuckled his belt, allowing his kilt to float to the floor around his ankles. He climbed up on the bed as if he was a predator stalking his prey. Claire giggled at the hungry look on his face. He grabbed her ankles and pulled her toward him as he growled, "Ye are mine, mo nighean donn, now and forever, in this time and every time. Come here and let me devour ye."
Claire grinned mischievously at him, "Come and get me, my Laird."
Jamie raised his eyebrow, "Och, I will. Now lie still while I taste yer sweet nectar."
Claire allowed her legs to fall open invitingly as Jamie lowered himself between them. He kissed the swell of her belly, not lingering in one place for even a moment. He moved down, capturing her little pink bud between his teeth, causing a pleasant shudder to ripple through her body as she moaned his name. Jamie grinned against her core, released her bud, and plunged his tongue as deep as he could reach between her wet folds. He swiped his tongue forward and back, in and out, occasionally grazing his teeth over her bud. After a bit he took her bud between his lips and began to suck gently, slowly increasing the suction and dipping is fingers into her core. He curled his fingers, placing pressure in just the right spot as he continued to suck and she responded in kind as her hips began to buck against him and her fingers tangled in his curls.
Her moans became louder and her fingers became demanding as she pushed his head against her core and her hips ground against his mouth. Suddenly she began to tremble and Jamie released her from his mouth and quickly climbed up over her. He took his throbbing cock in hand and thrust into her core, burying himself to the hilt so that he could feel her body fall apart around him. Her silky walls squeezed and milked him as she lost herself and he began to move in and out, slowly and pressing deep as he came fully into her, drawing out her ecstasy. When her limbs loosened up and her body started to relax, he thrust harder and faster and cupped her head, bringing her lips to his in a bruising kiss. He nipped at her bottom lip and gently tugged until she moaned and plunged her tongue into his mouth.
Her fingers curled in his hair once more and she pulled his mouth against hers, but she couldn't quite get close enough as Jamie tried to curl his body around the swell of their child. She used what strength she had and deftly rolled them both over until she was straddling Jamie's hips and he was looking up at her. Jamie grinned at the new angle and placed his hands on her hips to assist her in moving. She rocked her hips back and forth and around, rubbing her bud against his pelvis bone, the friction caused by the hairs surrounding his cock, causing a delicious sensation, sending her closer to the edge once more. She rocked faster and harder and Jamie thrust up in rhythm with her. Her walls began to flutter again as she braced herself with her hands on his thighs. The angle caused by her leaning back, helped Jamie to plunge his cock even deeper inside of her and the sensation caused a shiver to shoot up his spine. When her body began to milk him, he could not hold back and the sounds of their bodies coming together, accompanied by their voices as they cried out each others names when they simultaneously found their release, echoed around the room in a symphony of bliss.
Claire collapsed beside him, both of them panting and staring at the ceiling. After a few moments, a giggled escaped Claire's lips and Jamie turned his head to the side to peer at her with narrowed eyes, "Are ye laughin' at me, lass?"
Claire shook her head, "No, no I'm not. I was just thinking that this time was so much better than the first time."
Jamie scoffed, "So ye are laughin' at me then."
Claire furrowed her brow, "Well, no. I wasn't laughing about it being better this time, I was laughing at myself for ever thinking that I could have you for a short time and then just walk away. There is no way I ever would have been able to do that. You are my heart and soul and I simply could not live without you and I'm glad that I wasn't forced to. I am happy that I can have you here with me and we can raise this baby together."
Jamie rolled to his side to see the earnestness in her face, "Aye, I am glad of it as well. I canna wait to meet this bairn and any others that God sees fit to bless us wi'."
Claire reached up and placed her hand on his cheek. "You are going to be an excellent father, Jamie. I can't wait to see this child cradled in your strong arms."
Jamie turned his head and placed a soft kiss in the palm of her hand. "As I canna wait to see ye feedin' our child at yer breast. As beautiful as ye are now, mo ghráidh, I ken that ye will be even more beautiful when that day comes that I can witness ye nourishin' our child."
Claire closed her eyes and tried to imagine it, then opened her eyes and looked at him. "It will be a beautiful life, won't it."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, it will."
Two months passed after Jamie and Claire said their vows and Claire decided on her own that it was probably best to take it easy for the rest of her pregnancy. She was out in the garden, tending to her herbs while Jamie mending fences at the back edge of their property. Suddenly Claire jumped when one of the dogs alerted her to an intruder. The couple wasn't expecting visitors, so Claire instantly feared who it might be. She looked up toward the back of the property, but Jamie was too far away for her to call out to him. She looked around but didn't see anyone, but she knew that the dogs would not alert for no reason, so she carefully got to her feet, looked around again, and walked as swiftly as she could toward the door at the back of the house.
She made it inside the house, locked the kitchen door, then as quickly as she could in her swollen state went to the front door to ensure it was locked as well. She checked all the windows, turned off any lights that would illuminate the house when darkness fell, and went upstairs to the nursery. She looked out the nursery window toward the fence at the back of the property and she could see that Jamie was making his way back down to the house. He must have heard the dogs alert as well and there is no way he would leave her alone when there was danger nearby.
She breathed a sigh of relief that her husband was on his way back to the house. She walked down the hall toward the Laird's room and looked out the window toward the front of the property to see if she could see what caused the dogs to alert.
The glint of metal in the sun caught her attention and she realized there was a car parked near the ridge at the far edge of the property. She raised her hand to shade her eyes from the sun and tried to make out who the car might belong to and movement at the treeline, just 200 or so yards from the house caught her eye. She narrowed her eyes and peered in the direction of the movement and could clearly make out the shape of a man and two of their guard dogs, surrounding him and growling as the man had his arms raised in surrender. It appeared as though he was slowly backing away from the dogs, but they weren't' letting him move very far.
Claire startled at the sound of pounding at and she scrambled back to the nursery to peer out the window. Jamie had made it back to the house and was at the back door. He peered up at her as she leaned out the window, "Sassenach, tis just me, let me in."
Claire nodded and raced down the stairs as fast as her burgeoning belly would allow. She made it to the back door, unlocked it and opened for Jamie to enter. He came in, and gathered her into his arms as he buried his nose in her hair, "Are ye alright, lass?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, I'm alright, but there is a man, I saw him toward the front of the property."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Show me."
She nodded, took his hand, and led him upstairs. They went into the Laird's room and Claire took him to the window and pointed to where the man had been standing. "He is just there, but I don't understand why he would leave his car at the ridge and walk here."
Jamie shook his head, "I dinna ken either, but I'm going to find out."
Claire grabbed his arm, which caused Jamie to look at her face. He saw the fear there and his own expression softened, "Dinna fash, lass. It will be alright."
Claire shook her head, "Please don't go out there, please don't leave me."
Jamie put a gentle hand on her cheek as he cupped her face, "I must, the dogs willna let him leave. I must go see who is out there and either call the authorities or find out what the man wants."
Claire gripped his arm tighter, "Then I'm going with you."
Jamie shook his head, "Nah, lass. Ye are 8 months pregnant, ye canna be traipsin' about in yer condition. Please just stay here, if I need help ye will be here to call for help."
Claire sighed, "I don't like this Jamie, can't you just call the dogs back?"
Jamie shook his head, "Ye ken they willna come unless they see me. They are doin' their job, I must go out there, ye can stay here and watch my back."
Claire nodded, "Alright, if you insist, but I'm calling Denny, just in case."
Jamie chuckled, "I dinna ken what ye think he might do, but call if ye must."
Claire scoffed, "I don't know what he can do either, but he is the only other man I trust and he might be able to help you if that man means trouble."
Jamie smiled softly at her, "I'll take my pistol if it makes ye feel better."
Claire nodded, "Yes, it does. If there is trouble, fire off a round and I will get help."
Jamie walked over and pulled his pistol from the nightstand drawer then returned and pressed a kiss to her temple. "Watch over me, mo ghráidh."
Jamie turned off the bedroom light before he walked out, "Keep the light off Sassenach, that way if ye are standin' in the window, ye canna be seen."
She nodded and walked over to the window, keeping herself partially hidden at the edge of the window. She waited, listening for the sound of the front door closing. She noticed that when Jamie stepped outside and into view that he had his sword belt, he must have stopped in his study and grabbed it before going outside. She watched as he walked with purpose out of the dooryard over to the stables. A few minutes later, he rode out of the stables on the large black horse he had purchased just a month before. Jamie rode down the long driveway that led to Lallybroch and out across the field of Heather, straight for the man that the dogs had surrounded.
As he approached he could hear the dogs growl. He couldn't yet see the face of the man so he didn't call the dogs off. He got closer and jumped down off his horse, tying him to a tree. He drew his sword with his left hand and pointed his pistol at the back of the head of the man with his right. "Who are ye and what business do ye have here?"
The man spun around and the dogs moved in closer, protecting their master. "Excuse me, I am so sorry, is this your land, sir?"
Jamie tipped his head to the side, "Aye, now answer my question, who are ye?"
The man took his hat off his head, eyeballing each of the dogs in fear, "Please excuse my lack of manners sir, the name is Oliver Clark."
Jamie gave a command to the dogs in Gáidhlig to sit and watch, then turned his attention back to the stranger, "And what business do ye have here, Mr. Clark?"
The man visibly relaxed, but kept twisting his hat in his hands, "I'm from the law offices of Roberts, Williams and Clark and I have a for a parcel for a Miss Claire Beauchamp."
Jamie growled deep in his throat, "Her name is no longer Beauchamp, I'm her husband, James Fraser and ye can give me the parcel and I will take it to her."
The man looked around nervously, "I'm sorry sir, but I have explicit instructions to deliver it personally to Miss Bea... uh Fraser."
Jamie narrowed his eyes at the man, "I dinna ken if I beleive ye. Why did ye leave yer car on the ridge if ye truly are who ye say ye are?"
The man looked back at his car, "My radiator overheated and the parcel is time sensitive, I must deliver it before sundown today."
Jamie looked the man up and down appraisingly then gave a curt nod and ordered the dogs to back away. "Fine, ye can ride to the house wi' me and deliver yer parcel."
The man relaxed his shoulders and bent over to pick up a briefcase that Jamie hadn't noticed until that moment, "Thank you sir, I am grateful to you."
Jamie rolled his eyes, turned around and strode to his horse. He swung up on the large steed and waited for the lawyer to approach, "Give me yer hand and I'll swing ye up."
The man looked at Jamie nervously, but saw no other choice and offered his hand.
As Claire watched the exchange from the window, she let out a breath when she saw Jamie riding back with the man on the back of his horse, clutching his briefcase against his chest. She quickly made her way down to the parlor when Jamie got close to the dooryard. She didn't know who this man was and she wasn't about to let him in their house, so she walked out the front door and stood on the porch waiting for their approach.
Jamie swung the man down off the horse then quickly dismounted himself. "Sassenach, this is Oliver Clark, he says he has a parcel for ye."
Claire furrowed her brow and walked down the steps, and into Jamie's embrace. She needed to have his touch on her to feel safe. "What is it you have for me Mr. Clark?"
The lawyer looked back and forth from Claire to Jamie, "Well, it's of a sensitive matter, could we perhaps go inside?"
Claire shook her head, "No, we can discuss whatever it is you came to discuss out here."
Jamie quirked his brow as he looked down at Claire, never more proud of her feisty strength than in that moment. He looked up at the lawyer who seemed shocked by her reply. "Where is the parcel, ye have for my wife sir, ye said that it was time sensitive."
Mr. Clark shook his head, "Oh, yes, of course." He set his briefcase down on the ground, opened it and pulled out a large legal envelope and passed it to Claire.
She frowned at the envelope until Jamie pulled his dirk from it's scabbard and handed it to her, "Use this."
Claire looked up and gave him a grateful smile, "Thank you, my love."
Claire took the dirk, sliced open the top of the envelope and pulled out a stack of legal papers. She looked up at the lawyer, "What's all this?"
The lawyer cleared his throat, "You were listed of next of kin on the patients intake forms. You are the only person that she is asking to see."
Claire frowned, "Who wants to see me, what patient?"
The lawyer pulled another piece of paper from his briefcase and scanned over it then looked up at Claire, "Julia Moriston"
Claire's eyes grew wide and her knees turned to jelly. If it hadn't been for Jamie's arm already wrapped around her, she would have crumpled straight to the ground.
Jamie scooped her into his arms and carried her inside, leaving the lawyer to deal with the papers that Claire had dropped and were now strewn across the ground. He carried her into the parlor and laid her gently on the settee, then knelt beside her and gently stroked her cheek, "Claire, mo ghráidh, wake up my love, come back to me."
Claire's eyes began to flutter open and then she looked up into Jamie's beautiful eyes and smiled, "I had the strangest dream, my mother was alive."
Jamie nodded, "I'm verra sorry mo nighean donn, but it was no' a dream. Mr. Clark, he brings news that she is asking to see ye."
Claire slowly sat up with Jamie's help. "Where is he, I don't understand, my mother died in 1923 with my father."
Jamie nodded, "Stay, here mo ghráidh, I shall go fetch him."
Claire nodded and relaxed against the arm of the settee. A couple of moments later, Mr. Clark followed Jamie into the parlor, "Pardon me for causing such a shock ma'am. But if I could get an answer.
Claire shook her head, "How do I know this isn't just someone pretending to be my mother? As far as I'm concerned, my mother died 25 years ago in a car accident with my father."
Mr. Clark sighed, "I understand your confusion and apprehension, but you have very little time to decide. The doctors say that she doesn't have much time left."
Claire looked down at her large belly then up at Jamie before turning her attention back to the lawyer, "Where is she?"
The lawyer's face seemed to relax, "She is currently a patient at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh."
Claire's eyes grew wide, "My mother is in Edinburgh."
She turned to Jamie, "We must go, we must go now."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I'll go pack a bag for us, ye just stay right here and wait for me." He left her laying on the settee and raced up the stairs to pack their bags.
Mr. Clark passed the stack of papers back to Claire, "Miss Bea.. I mean Mrs. Fraser, please take a look at these papers, I will need a signature."
Claire furrowed her brow and looked down at the papers, "What are these?"
Mr. Clark cleared his throat, "Well, ma'am, it's your mother's last will and testament, she is leaving everything to you."
Claire stood outside the hospital room, gripping Jamie's hand tightly, afraid to enter. Mr. Clark had dropped them off at the entrance before leaving to run a few errands and wouldn't return for 2 hours. Claire looked up at Jamie with fear in her eyes, "What if it's not her?"
Jamie squeezed her hand, "What if it is?"
Claire nodded, "If it is, what do I say to her? It's been 25 years since I laid eyes on my mother and now after finding out she's been alive all this time..."
Jamie pulled her into his warm embrace, "I ken, Sassenach, I can see all the emotions, the turmoil, the betrayal, and the hope playin' across yer face. But ye willna get yer answers unless ye walk through that door and ask yer questions. Ye must confront yer fears, or ye will regret it."
Claire sighed against his chest, then gathered her strength and stood up tall. "Don't leave me, I need you with me if I am to go in there."
Jamie placed a kiss on her forehead, "I'll not leaver yer side."
Claire took a deep breath, turned around to face the door, and reached out, grasping the door handle tightly. She looked back at Jamie and he gave her a reassuring nod. She twisted the handle and stepped into the dimly lit room. Claire looked over at the bed and her breath hitched at the frail woman sleeping there. Jamie squeezed her hand, "Is it her, is it yer mother?"
Claire shrugged and kept her voice low so as not to wake the woman. "I don't know. She doesn't look like the memories I have of my mother, but it's been 25 years, I expect she might look a bit different."
Jamie released her hand and placed it on the small of her back, urging her to step further into the small, sterile room. Claire slowly took a few steps closer, afraid of what lay ahead of her. Jamie stayed at her side as she stepped up beside the bed and began to look closer at the elderly woman that lay before her. As Claire was looking down at the woman's hands, trying to find something familiar, a voice broke into her thoughts, "Claire, is that you?"
Claire's head shot up as she stared into eyes that were identical to hers. She reflexively took a step back when the woman lifted her hand to reach for her. "Claire bear, you don't need to fear me, sweetheart. Come closer so mummy can look at the woman you have become."
Claire shot a frightened look at Jamie, and hissed in a low voice, "Nobody has called me that in a very long time. I think it's her, I think it's my mother."
Jamie gave her a reassuring smile and placed his hand on her shoulder, a silent reminder that she wasn't alone and he wasn't going anywhere. Claire felt a bit of strength seep into her from Jamie's small gesture and composed herself to face her mother. She took a step closer to the bed and took hold of the hand that still hovered in the air, "Yes mummy, it's me, Claire."
Julia smiled, "Oh, my sweet girl, it is so good to hear your voice again."
Claire frowned and turned to look at Jamie, then turned back to speak to her mother, "It's good to hear your voice as well, it's also good to see you after all these years."
Julia nodded, "I can hear it in the cadence of your voice, you have questions for me and I will tell you anything you want to know. But before we get into all that, will you tell me who it is you have brought with you, I can hear someone else in the room."
Claire frowned, "Can't you see him?"
Julia shook her head, "I'm afraid not, I lost my sight in the accident. I have had to rely on my other senses for the past 25 years."
Claire sat down in the chair next to the bed, not releasing her mother's hand. "I have brought my husband with me. Please don't ask that I send him away, he is here for moral support."
Julia nodded, "I understand, but please tell me that you didn't fall for that pompous professor. Tell me that you went to the stones and met the highlander you are supposed to be with."
Claire's eyes grew wide as she shot a look of alarm at Jamie, then swung her gaze back to her mother, "Mum, how do you know about the stones?"
Julia shook her head and laid back against the pillow, "I have a bit of explaining to do. The accident that took your father, was not in a car. We had gone to Craigh Na Dun to try to travel back in time. We needed to ensure the survival of a certain bloodline. But when we touched the stones, your father was killed, burned badly. I lost my eye sight and my memory. I have only recently gotten my memory back after 25 years of not even knowing my own name."
Claire looked at her mother in exasperation, and ripped her hand out of her grasp "I don't understand, why did you leave me? You were going to travel back in time and leave me all alone. You had no idea if you could get back to me. Who was so important that you thought you had to travel back to ensure they survived?"
Julia reached out blindly for Claire's hand, but Claire refused to reach for her. "I am so sorry my darling. If we had known about the consequences, we never would have attempted it."
Claire shot to her feet, "Who, Mum, what was so important that you risked it?"
Julia took a deep breath, "We were trying to go back to ensure that William Fraser of Broch Tuarach would survive."
Jamie gasped and Julia's eyes shot toward the sound immediately, "Claire who have you brought with you?"
Claire reached out to take Jamie's hand and calm him as she shook her head, "Nevermind that now, why were you trying to ensure the survival of William Fraser?"
Julia gripped the sheets tightly in her fits, fearful of the unknown person in her room. "William needed to survive in order to protect his younger brother and sister. If William were to die as history foretold he would, his siblings would be tortured."
Claire tried to calm herself as she pushed for more information, "And why was that important?"
Julia gritted her teeth, "I wish you would tell me who else is here, I don't wish to reveal family secrets with a stranger in the room."
Claire growled, "I told you I have brought my husband with me, that should be good enough for now. Now, why was it important to keep William's siblings from being tortured?"
Julia shook her head in annoyance, "Because you are destined to marry his baby brother, James. It was written in our history books, but if he was tortured he would take his title as Laird so seriously that he would fight at the Battle of Culloden and lose his life. You would return to this time and be forced to live with a man that no longer cared for you. If you stay in this time, your child will not survive."
Claire frowned, "I'm sorry, what?"
Julia leaned forward, "Please, Claire before I tell you anything else, I must know the name of your husband. I cannot in good conscience reveal anything else."
Claire sighed, "Mum, I would like you to meet my husband, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Laird Broch Tuarach."
Julia gasped as her eyes went wide and her voice came out in barely a whisper, "Is it true, you came through the stones?"
Jamie looked at Claire then reached out and took Julia's frail hand, "Aye, madam. I am Jamie Fraser and I did come through the stones wi' Claire."
Julie squeezed his hand as tears came to her eyes, "If you are Laird, that means William died, and if he died that means..."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I endured torture at the hands of Black Jack Randall. I also intended to fight at Culloden, but when I was tryin' to send Claire back to her time, I somehow came wi' her."
Julia shook her head, "This is unbelievable." Then her eyes went wide again, "You can't stay here, you must go back. If you stay in the time then the prophecy won't come true, you have to go back."
Claire stood up and placed a hand on her mother's shoulder, "What prophecy?"
Julia sighed, "It is The Brahan Seer's prophecy, he believed that a new ruler of Scotland would emerge from the Fraser line. In particular, that heir would descend from the Frasers of Lovat and would rise to power after the eclipse of the kings of the white rose, or the Stuart line. However, it also states that if the child is born 200 years after it is conceived it will die on the day of it's birth."
Claire gasped and cradled her belly, "Mum, I'm pregnant, I was before we came back through the stones."
Julia sat up abruptly, "You must go back before the child is born, it is the only way your child will survive. How much time do you have before the child is due?"
Claire looked at Jamie then back at her mother, "I'm 8 months pregnant today."
Julia reached out toward Claire, so she stepped forward so her mother could feel her stomach. The child within gave a mighty kick, "Oh, my you certainly have a lively one there."
Claire smiled as Jamie wrapped his arm proudly around her shoulder, "Aye we do."
Julia pulled her hand back, "What day is it today?"
Claire furrowed her brow, "It's October 23rd, 1948. But why does that matter?"
Julia reached out and grabbed her hand, "There are certain times when the veil between this time, and Jamie's is thin enough to allow you both to pass through. October 31st and May 1st. I don't know why you were both able to travel during the battle, except perhaps all the spirits that could not rest. But you must go back before your child is born, you only have 8 days."
Claire looked at Jamie then back at her mother, "Mum, we can't we are both wanted in the 18th century. Jamie will be killed and I probably will be as well."
Julia shook her head, "There are more stones, not just those at Craigh Na Dun. You must go to America, there is a place called Ocracoke Island just off the coast of North Carolina, there are some stones there. You will be safe in America for a time, at least until the American revolution. If you were pregnant before you came through, that means it was 202 years ago that you traveled, so if you go back now, it will still be 1746. You will have roughly 30 years before the American Revolution and with that time, you can decide what you wish to do. You don't have to join in the battle, and by that time you could even return to Scotland, but whatever you do, you cannot remain in the 20th century."
Claire sighed, "Mum, how do you expect me to leave you when I have just found you again?"
Julia gave Claire's hand a squeeze, "I have merely days left if that. I am suffering from kidney failure, I don't have long, in fact as soon as these machines are shutoff I will have mere hours. But I don't want you to wait, I want you to take everything from my savings account and purchase gold, it is the only thing that will make it through the stones and not bring unwanted attention. You can use it to purchase land in the new world, to re-establish yourselves. Please, Claire, don't put this off, you must leave for America today."
Claire looked at Jamie and then back at her mother, "Are you certain about this prophecy?"
Julia sighed, "The Brahan Seer made many predictions and he was never wrong, Jamie I am sure you can attest to this."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I have heard of him, and his predictions as far as I ken have all come true. Claire, I dinna wish to press our luck, I think we should listen to yer mother and go to America."
Claire nodded, "Alright, mum. Where are these accounts and how do I get the money from them?"
Julia patted Claire's hand. "Mr. Clark has all the information, I will call my bank and they will be expecting you. You must not waste any time, go to the bank, draw out my savings and go to the nearest gold dealer, and purchase as much portable gold as you can carry. Then fly to North Carolina and go through the stones. Please, this is my dying wish, do this for your mum."
Claire wiped a tear from her cheek, "When you put it that way, how can I say no. But we will have to return to Lallybroch to retrieve our things from the 18th century, we will look quite out of place with what we are wearing today."
Julia smiled and kissed Claire's hand, "Fine, but no other stops."
Claire leaned over and hugged her mother as well as she could around her burgeoning belly. Then Claire backed up and Jamie stepped forward to hug Julia, "Dinna worry Mistress Beauchamp, I shall take care of yer daughter."
Julia squeezed him tighter, "I never doubted it. Now you two best be on your way."
Mr. Clark could not leave town to take Jamie and Claire all the way back to Lallybroch, but he could arrange for a car to take them back. As they walked through the front door, they both seemed to be soaking in everything around them, memorizing Lallybroch. They walked slowly, hand in hand, through each room, ending in the nursery that Jamie had just finished furnishing with the cradle and armoire he built by hand. Claire walked over and pulled the doors of the armoire open to run her fingers of the stacks of soft baby clothes inside. Jamie walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist, and rested his chin on her shoulder, "Do ye think we can take it all wi' us?"
Claire choked down a sob, "I think we should at least try, the more we can take with us, the less we will need to replace when we are back to your time."
Jamie pressed a kiss to her shoulder, then stood up tall, "Other than the bairn's clothes and the gold we purchased wi' yer mother's money, we dinna have much else to take."
Claire leaned her head back against his shoulder and placed her hands on top of his, "There is something more that I am hoping to bring with us, but I will need to wait until we land in America to get it."
Jamie turned her in his embrace so he could look into her face, "What would that be?"
Claire cleared her throat and placed both hands on Jamie's chest. "The 18th century can be a dangerous place and not only because of war. You know first hand that diseases can be deadly. Those same diseases can be prevented or treated in this time. I don't want to risk the lives of our child, of any of our children to that. I want to take vaccinations back with us, enough to inoculated 12 children, should you get your wish. And don't forget, that you are accident prone, my darling. I think it would benefit us if I could get my hands on some penicillin, as well as a few syringes and perhaps a set of knives for healing."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Would it no' be simpler to perhaps ask Denny if he could get ye those things?"
Claire frowned, "Perhaps and I might be able to through the airport with them by using my nurse's badge from the war. But Denny will want to know why he will also want to know where we are going. I don't think I can lie to him anymore, Jamie."
Jamie pulled her back against him and rested his chin on top of her head, "Aye, I ken. But I dinna ken if he will believe us."
Claire pressed her face into his chest, letting his warmth erase their burden for a moment.
Jamie rubbed her back, drawing nonsensical shapes on her back. "Claire, I ken that we canna stay here, in this time, but I canna help but feel as if we just made Lallybroch our home again. We have put so much time and sweat into making it what it once was. We canna simply abandon it to return to the past, what if there comes a time when we need to come back to this time? We must find someone who will care for not only the house and the land but the dogs and my horse as well."
Claire nodded solemnly, "Yes you are absolutely right and unfortunately we don't have any time to think about it. We only know a handful of people and only a few of those are people that I would trust to look after Lallybroch for an indeterminate amount of time."
Jamie made a noise in his throat which caused Claire to look up at him, "What is it, Jamie?"
He looked down into her golden eyes, "If ye think we can trust Denny wi' the truth about us, do ye think we could trust him wi' the care of Lallybroch?"
Claire frowned, "I know we could trust him, but we can't make that decision for him. We will need to tell him the truth and then ask him if he would be willing to take on the responsibility of it all."
Jamie kissed her tenderly on the forehead then pulled back and looked into her eyes again, "I hope he doesna think us mad when we tell him everything. But if he does, then perhaps we can ask Mrs. Graham. I ken she is gettin' on in age, but she already kens the truth about us and knows how much Lallybroch means to us."
Claire sighed, "Yes, she does, but I'm just afraid that Lallybroch would be too much for her to take on."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Perhaps if she were to do it alone it would be, but did she no' say that her daughter and granddaughter live nearby? Perhaps the three of them together could manage it. Tis no' like we have tenants to worry over anymore. The only crop we planted this spring was grain, perhaps she could hire some men to bring it in for her. Then she could decide if she wanted to replant or allow it to turn to heather. She already kens the dogs and Silas is a gentle horse, her granddaughter could ride him so he's no' just wastin' away in the stable. I ken she would appreciate the chickens and the number of eggs they lay as well."
Claire tilted her head to the side in thought, "Hmm, perhaps you're right. If we asked Mrs. Graham and she accepted, we wouldn't need to divulge our secrets to Denny. However he is expecting me to come and work with him after the baby is born, so I will need to tell him that we are moving to America."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, but would he no expect ye to stay in communication wi' him, and would he no' ask why the sudden change of plans?"
Claire frowned, "Yes, you're right. I don't know what we could tell him as for the reason we are leaving. But we could say that we will be moving into the backcountry and likely won't have access to a phone."
Jamie tapped his fingers on her back for a bit, deep in thought, trying to figure out a good excuse to share with Denny. Claire stroked her fingers down his cheek, "What is it, my love?"
Jamie tore his attention from his thoughts and smiled softly at her, "What if we told him that I have been hired to go train horses on a farm in America."
Claire nodded in agreement, "Yes, that could work. We could tell him that when we were away for those three years, you had gained quite a reputation. We could say that an old friend sent you a letter, begging for you to come to his horse ranch and train his horses. We could say that with the pay he is offering you, there is simply no way that we could turn it down."
Jamie grinned, "Aye, that sounds believable. But I think perhaps ye should write him a letter and we could ask Mrs. Graham to deliver it to him."
Claire smiled, "Yes, that way he can't ask any questions that we don't have answers for. But this all depends on Mrs. Graham's answer."
Jamie released his hold on Claire and took a step back, "Perhaps ye should go down and give her a call, invite her to breakfast in the morning. Then after yer finished wi' the call, I would like to take a walk around the estate, at least the bit that is close enough for ye to reach wi'out tiring too much. Then I will take Silas out and ride around the rest of the estate, get one last look at it all before we say goodbye. I think it will help if we can say goodbye, especially since we dinna ken when if ever we will return."
Claire used the phone in the study to call Mrs. Graham at the manse. The phone rang twice before it was answered, "Reverand Wakefield's residence, the Reverand has stepped out. May I take a message?"
Claire gasped, "Frank, is Mrs. Graham available?"
She could hear him gasp through the line, "Claire, is that you. My God, where have you been?"
Claire furrowed her brow in confusion, "What do you mean, where have I been. I'm at home, with my husband."
Frank made an incoherent sound, which almost caused Claire to hang up, but she needed to speak to Mrs. Graham and it was better to get through to her over the phone than to try and go see her. "What do you mean, husband. I am your husband, Claire."
Claire shook her head, "I'm not going to get into this with you, Frank. I don't have time for this, Jamie is my husband, not you, not anymore. Now is Mrs. Graham available or not?"
Frank made another sound and Claire was growing exasperated, "She's not in. She went into town to buy some things. You could come to the manse and wait for her."
Claire huffed, "Goodbye, Frank."
As she was hanging up the phone, Jamie walked in, "Did I hear that right, were ye on the phone wi' Frank?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, apparently he's at the manse and everyone else has stepped out. I don't know what's wrong with him, but he is convinced that I'm still his wife. He told me that I could come to the manse and wait for Mrs. Graham."
Jamie furrowed his brow and knelt down in front of her, "That is no' a good idea."
Claire leaned forward and stroked her hand down his cheek, "No need to worry about that. I'm not going anywhere near the manse, but if I can't get ahold of Mrs. Graham, I will need to call Denny, we don't have a choice."
Jamie nodded in understanding, "Aye, we dinna have time to wait, call him and invite him and his wife to breakfast tomorrow. We will tell him everything, together."
The next morning, Claire and Jamie cooked a feast for breakfast and had everything set out on the formal dining table when Denny and his wife arrived on their front step. Jamie answered the door and ushered them into the dining room, "Please, have a seat, Claire will be wi' us momentarily."
Denny smiled, "Thank you, Jamie, this all looks and smells divine. I gathered from Claire's hasty phone call last night that what you both have to tell us is quite important."
Jamie nodded as he took his seat at the head of the table, "Aye, tis. But we must wait for Claire before we begin."
Denny nodded and pulled a seat out for Dorothea, "Have a seat, my love."
After they had all taken their seats, Claire made her way into the dining room, "I am so sorry I wasn't down here to meet you. This baby has been putting constant pressure on my bladder and I had to use the bathroom just as you arrived. Please, serve yourselves, eat as much as you like. What we have to tell you is going to take a while."
Jamie stood and pulled Claire's chair out for her, helping her to sit down before taking his own seat again. They all piled their plates with a variety of food and Claire began to speak between bites. "Denny, Dorothea, we have invited you here today to ask an enormous favor of you."
Denny looked up with his brow furrowed, "Another favor, Claire?"
Claire nodded as she blushed, "Yes, unfortunately, I seem to be in the market for favors lately. But I am hoping that you will see this favor as a benefit to you both."
Denny smiled, "Well, don't keep us waiting, tell us what this favor is."
Jamie took Claire's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, "We want you to become caretakers for Lallybroch. We need to go away for a while and we don't know for how long. But we don't want to just abandon Lallybroch, we want to leave it in the care of someone we trust. Someone who will treat it like their home, someone who will take care of it as we would."
Denny frowned, "Where are you going?"
Claire took a deep breath, "This is the hardest part for you to understand. But I might as well come straight out with it, there is no point in beating around the bush. Jamie and I are going back to the 18th century, where he is from, where I met him."
Denny set his fork down and the color drained from his face, "Claire, are you feeling alright, you aren't making any sense?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, Denny, I'm feeling great actually. I know what I am telling you sounds like a tall tale, but trust me that what I tell you is the absolute truth."
Denny nodded, "I'll listen."
Claire turned and smiled at Jamie, then turned back to face Denny and Dorothea, "In 1945 after the war ended, Frank and I came to Scotland for a holiday. He called it our second honeymoon, a chance to get to know one another again. But Frank was so wrapped up in chasing his family history, his ancestors, that he had no time for me. We went to a hill called Craigh Na Dun and watched the local Druids dance on the night of April 30, 1945. The next morning I returned to look at a flower I had seen at the base of one of the stones. But something drew my attention and I touched the center stone, it took me back in time to 1743, where I met Jamie.
I spent several weeks at castle Leoch working as a healer and eventually I married Jamie and chose to stay in the 18th century with him. We lost our first daughter in Paris, she was born to soon. We tried to stop Prince Charles from launching his rebellion, but obviously, we were unsuccessful. On the morning of the Battle of Culloden, Jamie brought me back to the stones to send me back to Frank, but somehow he was able to come with me. We returned to April 16, 1948 and went in search of the only person I knew who would believe me, Mrs. Graham.
Thankfully she believed us and helped us to get to Lallybroch. I used my inheritance to purchase Lallybroch back from the bank so that we would have our home back. Jamie was Laird Broch Tuarach in 1743 and I was his lady. We thought it only right that we should come to the only home we ever knew. As you both know, we have put everything we have into making Lallybroch whole again and we can't just walk away to let it fall to waste again."
Denny frowned, "Let's say that I believe you and I'm not sure that I do, why do you need to return to the 18th century now, is someone threatening your life?"
Claire looked to Jamie for him to explain, "Have ye heard for the Brann seer?"
Denny nodded, "Yes, actually, I have, what about him?"
Jamie sighed, "He foretold a prophecy, one about our family, our child to be specific. If we stay here, in the 20th century, our child will die on the day of its birth. But if we return to the 18th century..."
Denny gasped, "It is true, you are a descendent of the Frasers of Lovat, your child will lead to the next ruler of Scotland."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat was my grandsire."
Denny sat back in his chair, his eyes wide, "The Brann seer has never been wrong. I believe you, but how will I know that you made it back safe?"
Claire looked at Jamie wide eyed, "Well, in all honesty, I didn't expect you to believe us. I suppose we could put something in a newspaper, you could look for it."
Denny nodded, excitement beginning to bubble out of him, "Grand, what newspaper, where will you go?"
Claire smiled at her friend, "We are flying to North Carolina tonight, there are some stones there that we can travel through. Once we reach the 18th century, travel will be harder, so I doubt we will go far from where we first arrive. But we can post something in the newspaper in North Carolina when we arrive, perhaps a letter of sorts."
Denny nodded, "Yes, that will do, but I think you should wait until you have the child, perhaps you could put in a notice with the child's name and both of yours. That way I will know that what I find is truly from both of you. Now, you said you want someone to oversee Lallybroch, we would be happy to do that for you. Is there anything else we can do?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, actually, as you know diseases in the 18th century can kill a person outright. I want to take enough vaccinations for any children we might have, including this one. Jamie wants 12 and I don't foresee that happening, but one never knows."
Denny chuckled, "Yes, of course, I can go back to my office and gather everything you might need. Perhaps some penicillin tablets and syringes as well."
Claire grinned, "You read my mind. I would like to take a medical kit back with me to care for Jamie and our family."
Denny leaned forward and took a big bite of a cinnamon roll that Claire had made, "After breakfast, we will go to my office and gather everything that could be useful to you. Then we will come back here with it all and see you off. Also, it would be helpful if you could make a list of what we need to do to properly care for Lallybroch."
With the situation with Lallybroch sorted, Claire and Jamie could finally take a breath. But Claire still wanted to talk with Mrs. Graham, she needed to let her know what was happening. Mrs. Graham had been the one constant friend and supporter to Claire since before she had first fallen through the stones. Claire felt she owed it to her to let her know about their plans to return to the past. It wouldn't be fair of them to just suddenly disappear without a trace or word to where they had gone. So after Denny and Dorothea left on their mission to procure the items that Claire would take back to the past with her, she plucked up the courage to try and call Mrs. Graham at the manse again.
Jamie went with her to the study so he could take the phone from her in case Frank was the one to answer again. Claire took a deep breath, picked up the receiver, and dialed the reverend's number. The phone was picked up after two rings and Claire breathed a sigh of relief at the voice that came over the line, "Reverend Wakefield's residence, this is Mrs. Graham, how may I help ye?"
Claire smiled to let Jamie know that all was well then turned her attention back to the phone, "Mrs. Graham, I am so glad that you answered."
Mrs. Graham made a noise of worry in her throat, "Is everything alright, Claire, is it the bairn, is Jamie not home?"
Claire shook her head, "Oh, no, it's nothing like that, but I was hoping you could come by Lallybroch today. Jamie and I have something very important that we would like to talk with you about."
Claire could hear Mrs. Graham relax, "Aye, I have time now."
Claire gave Jamie a thumbs up gesture, "That is perfect Mrs. Graham, we'll be waiting."
Claire hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair. Jamie walked over to stand behind her and began rubbing her shoulders, "I take it that she is on her way then."
Claire nodded as she reached up and placed her left hand over Jamie's left hand, "Yes, she said she has time right now, so we should take the time until she arrives to go up and pack the baby's things into one of the leather satchels we picked up when we were in town."
Jamie nodded and walked around in front of her to help her up. Claire placed both of her hands in Jamie's strong hands and allowed him to pull her up and out of the chair. Jamie pulled her against him as he curled his body around hers. He could feel the nervous tension radiating from her as he rubbed soothing circles over her back and rested his chin on her shoulder, "All will be well, mo chridhe, ye must have faith."
Claire closed her eyes and sighed, "Yes, I know that you are right, I just have a feeling that we are not done facing our battles in this time."
Jamie turned his face to press a kiss below her ear before pulling back so that he could look into her eyes, "Look what we have been through already, look at what we have accomplished after all that we have already faced. There is the two of us and as ye said when the watch came to Lallybroch, we shall face it together and overcome it, no matter the cost."
Claire nodded, "I know you're right, but until we pass through the stones, I won't be able to relax."
Jamie quirked his brow at her in admonition, "Tis no' good for the bairn, ye must relax mo ghráidh."
Claire nodded again, "Yes, you're right, I'll try. Come let's go pack everything so when we wake up in the morning we can go straight to the airport."
Jamie released her from his embrace and took her hand in his, bringing her hand up to place a kiss on her knuckles before he pulled her from the study and up the stairs to the nursery.
As they were packing the last of the items they would take with them, including some soap and shampoo, the doorbell rang. Jamie left Claire in their bedroom to race down the stairs and answer the door. He pulled the door open and stepped off to the side, "Mrs. Graham, we are so happy that ye could make it, please come in and have a seat in the parlor. Claire is upstairs, I'll go up and fetch her and please feel free to pour yer self a dram."
Mrs. Graham nodded and followed Jamie into the parlor and took a seat as Jamie bounded up the stairs. She shook her head with a smirk on her face, amazed at the energy of young people. A few minutes later, Jamie and Claire came slowly down the stairs. Jamie was holding one of Claire's hands in both of his as he helped her to maneuver her advanced pregnant body down the stairs. He guided her over to sit next to Mrs. Graham and helped her to sit. Then he moved one of the highbacked chairs from the other side of the room over to sit next to Claire. He took her hand in his as Claire reached out with her other hand to take Mrs. Graham's hand.
Mrs. Graham's gaze bounced back and forth between Jamie and Claire in curiosity. Claire looked her friend in the eyes, "Mrs. Graham, you have become like a mother to me, to both of us really and we want to thank you for that and for everything you have done for us."
Mrs. Graham patted Claire's hand with her free hand, "It has been my pleasure dear, yer both very important to me."
Claire nodded as she looked down at their joined hands, "Yes and that is why it breaks my heart to have to tell you this."
Mrs. Graham furrowed her brow and she squeezed Claire's hand, "It does no good to ruminate on it, tis best to just get it out, my dear."
Claire looked up at her friend with a watery smile, "Yes, you are quite right, so I suppose I might as well just come straight out with it. Jamie and I have to leave."
Mrs. Graham frowned as she quickly glanced at Jamie, noticing the same sad expression on his face as was on Claire's. "Where must ye go?"
Claire quickly glanced at Jamie and he squeezed her hand in reassurance, "We must return to Jamie's time."
Mrs. Graham sat back suddenly her frown deepening, "Whatever for?"
Claire sighed as her shoulders slumped, "I found out that my mother is alive, well, she was until yesterday. We went to the hospital to see her and she told me some things that I wasn't prepared to hear. The gist of it is that if we don't return to the 18th century, our child will die on the day of it's birth."
Mrs. Graham shook her head, "That doesna make any sense, tis safer in this time to have a child than it was 200 years ago."
Claire nodded, "Yes, medically speaking it is, but not for our child. My mother told us about a prophecy, one that refers to our child."
Mrs. Graham scoffed and rolled her eyes, "I dinna put much stock in prophecies my dear and I wouldna think ye would either. Yer a logical woman, surely ye ken that it makes no sense."
Claire sighed, "Under normal circumstances, yes I would agree with you, however, this was a prophecy foretold by the Brann seer. He named Jamie's family specifically and the nature of the prophecy could only be about us."
Mrs. Graham's frown returned, "I've heard of the Brann seer, but I am no familiar wi' any of the prophecies. What does this one in particular say?"
Jamie took this moment to speak up, "The Brann seer prophesizes that a new ruler of Scotland would emerge from the Fraser line. In particular, that heir would descend from the Frasers of Lovat and would rise to power after the eclipse of the kings of the white rose, or the Stuart line. However, it also states that if the child is born 200 years after it is conceived it will die on the day of its birth. My grandsire was Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, and our child was conceived in the 18th century, if we remain in this time, our child will be born 200 years after it's conception. The prophecy could only be about our child, this child that Claire carries."
Mrs. Graham nodded, "Yes, I can see why ye wish to return. I have heard that the Brann seer was never wrong, so I wouldna take this prophecy lightly either. On the surface, it seems impossible, but it foretells all that has happened to ye both thus far. I dinna like it, but I am inclined to agree with ye. Ye must go back for the survival of yer child, tis just too bad that we dinna ken what it is that threatens the life of yer child. Perhaps we would be able to stop it from happening."
Claire nodded, "Yes, that was my thought as well, but since we don't, I won't take any chances. We have already lost one child, we will not lose another."
Mrs. Graham frowned again, "But is it not too dangerous to return to Jamie's time, aren't ye both still wanted for yer part in the rebellion?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, and that is why we won't be going through the stones at Craigh Na Dun. Instead, we will fly to North Carolina tomorrow morning, there are some standing stones on an island there."
Mrs. Graham shook her head, "This is all so much to take in. Is there anything that I can do for ye?"
Claire sighed, "We have asked Denny and Dorothea to take over Lallybroch, it will remain in Jamie's name and they will be tenants. We don't know when if ever we will return, so we would appreciate it if you could look in on them from time to time. Make sure they are happy here and if they ever need or wish to leave, we would be grateful if you and your daughter would take over and live here. We don't wish to leave and let Lallybroch fall into disrepair again, but we have no choice. Our child and our family will always come first."
Mrs. Graham squeezed Claire's hand, "Ye dinna need to worry about any of that. I will make sure that Lallybroch is cared for, even if Denny isna able to do it."
Jamie and Claire let out matching sighs of relief, "Thank ye, Mrs. Graham, ye ken how important Lallybroch is to me. We willna be able to return to it in my time, so to ken that it is cared for in this time, it brings a bit of peace to my heart."
Mrs. Graham smiled softly, "Aye, I ken, Jamie. Ye have enough things to worry about, dinna let Lallybroch be one of them."
Claire released Jamie's hand and wrapped her arms around Mrs. Graham, "We will miss you so much, but we will find a way to let you know that we are alright. We are planning to put a notice in the newspaper in North Carolina after our child is born so that Denny knows we made it and the baby survived. You should be able to find it as well, probably more easily than Denny since you work for a historian."
Mrs. Graham smiled as she pulled back from the embrace, "I dinna ken where the standing stones in North Carolina are located, but if ye are able, ye should post the notice in the North Carolina Gazette, tis one of the oldest publications and they were always ahead of their time on archival practices. Although I believe the first publication wasna until 1751, ye might have to wait 5 years before ye can post the notice."
Claire nodded, "Alright, that is what we will do. Besides even if we need to wait 5 years, you will still be able to find it relatively soon. You won't have to wait that long."
Mrs. Graham chuckled, "Aye, I willna and by that time, ye may have more news that ye wish to share."
Claire rolled her eyes as she cast a knowing glance at Jamie, "If he has anything to say about it, we will likely have plenty of news to share. Although after 5 years, we might have too much news to share in one notice."
Mrs. Graham nodded, "Aye, so ye will post multiple notices, if ye use yer initials instead of yer names, ye can post them without the worry of anyone in that time gaining too much information about ye."
Claire nodded as she quirked her brow, "You are a wise one. You will need to help Denny to find the notices as well then."
Mrs. Graham patted her hand, "Aye, I can do that."
Jamie stood up, "I shall write down how we will sign the notices in the list of things to do to care for Lallybroch. Take yer time wi' Mrs. Graham, Claire, I shall no' be long."
After spending over an hour chatting, Mrs. Graham bid Claire and Jamie goodbye. "I will be here in the morning to pick ye up. I would like to take ye to the airport and see ye off one last time."
Claire and Jamie each took a turn embracing her, "Thank you, Mrs. Graham, you have been a godsend to us and we don't know where we would be if it weren't for you."
Mrs. Graham patted Claire's back, "Yer quite welcome, just take care of each other and this wee one, that will be enough thanks for me. I ken it is not likely, but I hope to see ye both again someday."
Claire smiled at her, "Yes, perhaps someday we will need to return."
Jamie opened the door and Mrs. Graham released Claire to step out, "I will see ye both in the bright and early morning."
Jamie and Claire followed her out onto the porch and stood arm in arm as they watched her back out of the dooryard and disappear through the trees. Claire sighed as she looked up at Jamie, "I wish we didn't have to leave."
Jamie nodded and wrapped her in his arms as he pressed a kiss to the crown of her curls, "Aye, if it were no' for the prophecy, we would be safer here. The advancements of this century would be beneficial to our bairns, there are so many more opportunities for them here. Now that we have been here for these many months, I dinna ken how we will live in my time again."
Claire chuckled, "You my dear husband have continued on here at Lallybroch as if it were still the 18th century, I don't think it will be as hard as you think to conform to your time again."
Jamie rolled his eyes, "Aye, the farming aspect hasna changed, but there are things in this time that I will miss."
Claire pulled back to look up into his eyes, "Such as?"
Jamie sighed, "Well, I have become accustomed to havin' a hot bath every night after workin' on the farm all day. The ease of everything is so much greater than it was in my time. Ye dinna need all day to cook a meal, or boil and haul water to bath, we dinna need to make candles for light, everything is just simpler now."
Claire nodded, "Yes it is, but you grew up in the 18th century, you already know how to live during that time. I came from this time and went back and had to figure everything out, it's not as hard as you think. My biggest challenge was using words that were common then and not mentioning inventions from my time. Our children will know no different than you did when you were a child, they will grow up in the 18th century, that will be their home, we will be their home. Not this place or time, not Lallybroch in your time, but anywhere we decided to settle."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I suppose the yer right, but ye didna find yer way in my time as easily as ye think ye did. Tis part of the reason I was drawn to ye from the first. Ye were so different than anyone I have ever known, I just didna ken why."
Claire rolled her eyes, "Well yes, I did stand out, but I think that had more to do with my strong will not the year I was from."
Jamie quirked his brow, "But did they year ye came from, no' sculpt ye into the strong, independent woman that ye are? Ye are a product of yer time, but I am no' complaining, I hope our children are all as strong willed and stubborn as their mother."
Claire grinned, "And as kind and passionate as their father. Come on, let's go finish packing, Denny and Dorothea will be back soon and I want to spend a bit of time showing them all of the estate and the list of things they will need to do to keep it running."
Claire and Jamie spent the afternoon packing, most of their belongings would go into one of the spare bedrooms that would remain locked until and if they ever returned. The only thing they would be taking to the airport with them were their 18th century clothing and the things they had already obtained for the baby. Claire and Jamie had discussed buying gold with Julia's money, and both decided it would likely be easier to take the money with them and purchase gold once they landed in America. They packed their 18th century clothing into a large suitcase and put everything else in the few satchels they would take with them through the stones.
By the time they had finished and set their bags by the front door, Denny and Dorothea were pulling into the driveway. Jamie had heard their car, so he opened the front door and waited for them to get out of their car, climb the front steps, and enter the house. "We are glad ye made it back while there is still daylight left."
Denny handed Jamie a heavy leather satchel, "It took a bit more time to obtain all the items I thought would be useful to Claire, some of them I had not thought of until I was making up her medical kit, but she will be grateful for them once you have made it back to your time."
Jamie took the bag from him and set it alongside their other bags in the foyer, "Come, Claire and I wish to speak wi' ye before we go out onto the property."
Denny nodded and he and Dorothea followed Jamie into the Parlor where Claire was sitting in front of the fire with her hands on her large belly. "Good afternoon, Claire, are you feeling alright."
Claire tore her gaze from the flames in the hearth and smiled at her old friend, "Yes, the baby and I are doing quite well, thank you. Jamie and I were just waiting for the two of you to arrive so we could go over the maintenance of Lallybroch."
Jamie took a seat next to Claire, "The estate is no' as big as it was back in my time and we no longer have tenants to care for, but we did plant a few crops this year that will need tendin' when the time comes. Mrs. Graham has agreed to help ye in any way ye might need and she kens about the care of the crops. I have written everything down about the care of Lallybroch, but I would still like to go out and walk the land wi' ye to show ye what ye will be carin' for."
Claire put a hand on Jamie's and he immediately stopped talking to look at her, "What is it mo ghráidh?"
Claire smiled thoughtfully at him, "Before walking the land, why don't you give the both of them a tour of the manor, after all, they will be living here, they should know where everything is."
After Jamie gave Denny and Dorothea a tour of everything and gave them the list of how to care for Lallybroch, he and Claire bid them goodbye and made it an early night. They climbed the stairs to the Laird's chamber, took a look around, and crawled into bed. Claire snuggled up against Jamie's chest as he cradled her in his arms, one hand over the swell of their child as he silently prayed for their wellbeing.
They fell fast asleep, at ease with the knowledge that they had done everything they could to ensure Lallybroch would be taken care of and their plans for their departure were set.
Mrs. Graham pulled into the dooryard just as Jamie was out collecting eggs from the chickens. He and Claire had planned to have one last breakfast at Lallybroch before saying goodbye to her for the foreseeable future. Mrs. Graham waved to Jamie as she made her way up the front steps and knocked once on the door before turning the handle and pushing the door open. She walked through the house and found Claire in the kitchen, frying bacon.
Claire looked up from her task and an inviting smile spread across her face, "Mrs. Graham, you're early. We didn't expect you for another twenty minutes or so, Jamie and I wanted to have breakfast ready when everyone showed up."
Mrs. Graham waved her hand in the air as if to dismiss Claire's worries. "Dinna fash, lass. I came to help ye prepare breakfast. I knew that ye both would already be up and ye dinna need to be on yer feet any longer than necessary, especially since ye will be walkin' for God knows how long after ye pass back through the stones."
Claire sighed in relief and passed the spatula over to Mrs. Graham, "Alright, I guess I can't deny you your one last chance to spoil us."
Mrs. Graham grinned in satisfaction as she accepted the utensil and took Claire's place at the stove.
Just as Claire was sitting down on her bar stool, they heard the front door open and Jamie's voice, accompanied by two others, drift toward the kitchen. As he walked in, he placed his basket on the counter next to the stove, then strode over to stand behind Claire and place a kiss on her cheek, "I see that Mrs. Graham has dismissed ye from yer duties already."
Claire rolled her eyes and patted the hand that Jamie had placed on her shoulder, "Well, we both know that she is a better cook than I, so I couldn't very well argue with her."
Claire turned to look up at Jamie and noticed Denny standing in the kitchen doorway, "Denny, come in and join us, we are just going to enjoy one last breakfast in our home before we head to the airport. Please, sit down, there is enough for everyone."
Denny nodded and stepped further into the kitchen, closely followed by Dorothea, "Good morning Claire, how are you feeling this morning, how is the baby?"
Claire looked down at her belly and rubbed a tender spot where the child had just kicked her rather forcefully, "We are doing quite well, Dorothea, would you like to feel the baby?"
Dorothea's face lit up, "If you wouldn't mind, I would be honored."
Claire reached out and took hold of Dorothea's hand, placing it on her burgeoning belly, where a foot was firmly pressing outward. Suddenly the foot moved across Claire's belly and Dorothea gasped as her eyes went round. Both Claire and Jamie chuckled at her reaction, "The bairn has been quite active lately, tis reassuring to ken that he is doin' so well."
Denny had watched the interaction and the glee on everyone's face, "Claire, would you mind if I gave you one last examination before you leave for the airport?"
Claire and Jamie both looked up at Denny with concern written all over their faces. He noticed right away and waved his hand in the air, "Not to worry, I just want to be sure that the baby is head down, you have a few weeks left to go, but the sooner he or she is in the proper position, the better and easier the birth will be."
Claire sighed and nodded, "Yes, I think that would help to put my mind at ease as well. Should we go up to our bedroom now? We plan to leave directly after breakfast and head to the airport."
Denny nodded, "Yes, I think now would be best." He turned to look at his wife, "Dorothea, will you stay here and help Mrs. Graham with breakfast while I give Claire one last exam?"
Dorothea nodded and walked around the counter to press a kiss to Denny's cheek, "Of course, do what you need to do, we will be right here when you are finished."
The three excused themselves and went up to the Laird's room. Denny did a quick external examination, pressing here and there on Claire's belly and he was able to determine that the child was already head down and his or her head was partially engaged in the birth canal. He looked up at Claire with a satisfied grin on his face, "Congratulations, this child is already preparing for his or her birth, it is very unlikely that he or she will rotate any further. However, that does mean that for the next few weeks, your ribs will become quite sore from all of the kicking and stretching that this little one does to prepare to come into the world."
Claire sighed in relief and Jamie squeezed her hand, "Do ye hear that Sassenach, this bairn is doin' just fine."
Claire nodded and watched as Jamie lifted her hand and pressed a kiss over her ring. "That is good, now, let's not keep our guests waiting any longer. I want to enjoy one last breakfast in our home before we leave, possibly forever."
After a tearful goodbye and a double and triple check that they weren't leaving anything that they might need behind, Jamie placed their bags in the boot of Mrs. Graham's car, then helped Claire into the front seat of the car as he took the back seat. Denny had given Jamie some Dramamine for the car ride and subsequent flight over the Atlantic Ocean at breakfast, so he was able to enjoy the ride through the Scottish countryside as they drove to the airport.
There wasn't much conversation as Jamie and Claire spent what little time they still had in Scotland, staring out the window, watching it pass them by at an alarming rate. Jamie knew that they would likely pass by Craig Na Dun on their way to Inverness, but none of them were prepared for the effect it would have on Claire or the child within her womb. Suddenly she threw her head back as a string of curses left her mouth. Mrs. Graham looked over at Claire an expression of alarm, clearly written on her face, "Claire, lass, are ye alright?"
Claire nodded as she spoke through clenched teeth, "Yes, but it appears that this little one can hear the stones almost more clearly than I can."
Jamie reached a hand up and placed it on Claire's shoulder, "Perhaps the child canna hear them, but instead can feel the vibration of them, just as I can."
Claire furrowed her brow and looked back at Jamie, "You can't hear them?"
Jamie shrugged, "Aye, I suppose I can, a bit anyway, but it is more that I can feel them, deep into my bones."
Claire nodded, "Yes, now that you mention it, I can feel them too."
Claire reached her hand up and placed it over Jamie's, "Don't worry love, I'm not feeling any contractions or anything even close to labor. It's just that your child kicks like a mule on fire, it's just as Jenny described it when she was in labor with Maggie. But we are both fine and we are prepared for our journey to our new home."
Jamie relaxed a bit at her reassurance, but he didn't remove his hand from her shoulder for the rest of the trip to Inverness. When Mrs. Graham pulled the car to a stop in front of the airport, Jamie quickly climbed out and helped Claire out as Mrs. Graham went around and opened the boot. Jamie made sure Claire was alright before leaving her side to retrieve their bags from the boot of the car. Mrs. Graham let Jamie take care of the bags as she walked over to offer Claire her arm. "Lean on me lass, take yer strength from me. Ye must not overexert yer self, especially when ye are so close to yer goal."
Claire smiled softly at her as she took Mrs. Graham's arm in support, "Thank you, Mrs. Graham, I will keep that in mind."
Jamie gathered their bags and closed the boot, then joined Mrs. Graham and Claire on the sidewalk next to the car, "Mrs. Graham, will ye accompany us and help Claire to get inside so that I can get our bags?"
Mrs. Graham nodded with a small chuckle, "Aye, lad, ye aren't gonna get rid of me that easily. I will remain here until ye board the airplane and I see ye lift off into the sky."
Jamie sighed and gave a small nod in thanks. Then waited as Mrs. Graham turned with Claire and led the way inside the airport.
They found the ticket counter easily enough and Jamie purchased two one way tickets to America. The closest they could get to their destination would be Boston and from there they would take a connecting flight to Jacksonville North Carolina and then from there, they would get on a small plane for the last leg of their journey and fly to a small airport on Ocracoke Island. Most of their bags were small enough to take on the plane as carry-on luggage but their suitcase, holding their 18th century clothing was far too large and had to be checked. Jamie was apprehensive about letting it go, but Claire placed a comforting hand on his arm, "It's alright love, it's only clothes, if something happens to it, we can always buy more. Besides, we have the means to do so, please don't fret over it, I'm sure it will be fine."
Jamie decided it was necessary to release control and took a calming breath to focus on his wife and their remaining bags. Mrs. Graham walked them to their gate and took a seat with them. They wouldn't have to wait long before it was time to board, but her presence was comforting to both of them.
Twenty minutes or so later, after sitting silently, and watching the people around them, the announcement to board the plane came over the loudspeaker. Jamie nearly jumped out of his skin at the announcement, but Claire put a calming hand on his knee, "It's alright my love, that just means we can get on the plane as soon as they open the door."
Jamie nodded and carefully helped Claire to her feet. They both gave Mrs. Graham a lingering, loving embrace, holding her tightly until it was time to go. Mrs. Graham smiled and waved as they turned and walked away from her and disappeared through the door.
Jamie took the lead as Claire gripped tightly to the back of his coat. He walked slowly so that she could keep up with him, balancing their bags in both of his hands. Finally they entered the plane and began to carefully make their way down the narrow aisle to their seats. But suddenly Jamie stopped in his tracks, causing Claire to stumble and run into the back of him. She tried to peer past him, but his frame was too large, so she leaned up to whisper in his ear, "Are you alright, Jamie?"
He shook his head to dispel the shock and turned to speak to her over his shoulder, "Aye, just stay close and dinna let go. I'm gonna give ye the window seat, lass, but dinna look toward the back of the plane."
Claire furrowed her brow, curiosity causing her to want to see what he didn't want her to see and Jamie clenched his jaw, "Please Claire, for once, do as I ask of ye."
Claire sighed as she conceded and nodded, lowing herself back onto her heels, "Alright, but you will tell me what it is that has you acting like this."
Jamie nodded and gave her his crooked grin, "Ye ken that I will, but no' right now. Our seats are just ahead there, when we get there, turn around before ye sit down, aye?"
Claire rolled her eyes and nodded, but when they arrived next to their seats, she did just as he had asked. She settled herself in her seat and accepted each of the satchles that Jamie passed to her, tucking them between her feet to keep them safe during the long flight across the ocean. Soon Jamie sat down next to her and took her hand in his, "Are ye alright, lass, do ye need anything?"
Claire shook her head, "No, but I wanted you to have the window seat, I wanted you to see Scotland from God's point of view."
Jamie kissed her on the cheek, "I'll bide, besides, ye are no' that big, I am sure that I can see past ye."
Claire rolled her eyes and her free hand automatically came up to caress her large belly. Jamie pressed a kiss to her knuckles, "All will be well soon, mo ghráidh, we are almost there."
Claire smiled sweetly at him, "Yes we are and soon there will be three of us."
The two fell into a comfortable silence as the rest of the passengers boarded and before they knew it, the pilot was telling them to buckle their seatbelts. Jamie's grip on Claire's hand tightened as the plane taxied down the runway and began to lift into the air at a speed that Jamie never would have imagined possible. Claire leaned close to the window, so that Jamie could lean close to her and peer out as they rose above Scotland. She smiled at the awed expression on his face as he watched his country fall away. When they rose above the clouds, he sat back, shaking his head, "I wouldna believe it if I had no' experienced it for myself."
Claire giggled, "Believe it, my love, you are flying."
Jamie grinned but didn't release the pressure he had placed on her hand. Claire knew something was bothering him, something had stopped him cold when they entered the plane and she was not willing to wait any longer for an explanation, "Jamie, when we got on the plane, something startled you, what was it?"
Jamie sighed as his shoulders slumped and he turned to face her as much as the tight plane seats would allow, "Dinna be alarmed and dinna look, promise me, Claire that ye willna look."
Claire frowned, but she nodded in agreement, "Alright, I promise."
Jamie swallowed past the lump in his throat, "Frank is on this plane, it appears as if he is flying to Boston as well."
Claire's eyes went round and she fought the urge to see for herself. She nodded and swallowed, "What do we do if he spots us, this is a 14 hour flight, Jamie, surely we can't manage to avoid him for the whole trip?"
Jamie clenched his teeth, "Aye, but as long as we can, we will. Tis why I insisted that ye take the window seat, I will protect ye wi' my body, but I dinna think he will attempt anything in such a small space."
Claire squeezed Jamie's hand, "Ask the stewardess for a blanket when she comes around, it should help to hide my identity."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I will, but I wish that ye dinna have to hide."
Claire swallowed hard again, "I do too, but there is a threat to our child and for all we know that threat could come from Frank. I don't care if I have to put the blanket over my head, nothing is stopping us from completing our mission."
Jamie pressed a kiss to her temple, "Aye, ye have a point. We willna take any chances. We must focus on our goal and try our best to avoid Frank Randall."
Jamie had managed to obtain a blanket from the stewardess right away and spread it out to cover Claire. With the combination of the warmth the blanket offered and Jamie's scent filling her nose, Claire cuddled up as best as she could with an eight month pregnant belly, rested her head on Jamie's shoulder, and was fast asleep within minutes of takeoff. Jamie looked over Claire's head to see the land of Scotland fall away as the plane lifted off of the tarmac and began to glide through the air as if by magic. Before long, the plane had climbed high enough in the sky that all Jamie could see was the blue of the sky and a smattering of clouds scattered across the great expanse of the sky.
Jamie looked down at Claire, her face the picture of peace in her slumber. He placed a hand on her thigh and tilted his head to the side to rest his cheek upon the top of her head. He knew the flight would be quite long from what Claire had told him and he had intended to remain awake for the entirety of it, but if he was going to be perfectly honest with himself, the flight had become quite dull soon after the land below was no longer visible. So he closed his eyes and took the opportunity to sleep peacefully with his wife, thousands of feet above the earth's surface.
They weren't asleep long, no more than an hour when Claire began to stir. Jamie woke immediately when her breathing changed to a waking rhythm. His eyes opened just moments before Claire pulled her head off of his shoulder and looked up at him with pleading in her eyes. "Jamie, I need to use the loo, but it's at the back of the plane and I'll need to pass by Frank to get to it."
Jamie stiffened at the realization that Claire would need to relieve herself several times during the flight and each time she did would mean increasing the chances that Frank would spot her. He nodded and took a deep breath, "Give me a moment to see if Randall is awake."
Claire frowned, "It doesn't matter if he is awake, I still need to go."
Jamie sighed, "Aye, I ken that, but if he is asleep it gives us time before ye must face him, and before we need to come up wi' a solid plan. Whereas if he is awake, then we need to prepare ourselves to face him now."
Claire's frown disappeared and was replaced with one of understanding and trepidation, "Alright, but what do we do if he is awake and notices me?"
Jamie clenched his jaw, "If he is awake, I will escort ye to the back of the plane and draw his attention. I will block his path so that he canna follow ye and corner ye."
Claire nodded, "Alright, then, take a look and tell me what you see."
Jamie pushed the blanket that had fallen onto his legs into Claire's hands. He attempted to turn in his seat, but it was too small for him to perform such a simple maneuver. So instead he looked up and down the narrow path between the seats to be sure no one was coming from either direction. He then uncurled himself and stood from his seat. He stretched his arms above his head as soon as he stood, grateful for the small reprieve of being stuffed into the too small airplane seat for so long. Then he covertly looked over his shoulder in the direction where he had seen Frank sitting when they had first boarded the plane. He let out a sigh of relief and leaned down to speak quietly to Claire, "He appears to be asleep, I think ye are safe enough for now,"
Claire nodded and scooted from her seat over into the one that Jamie had vacated only moments ago. She reached up and took Jamie's proffered hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet and against his chest. He released her hand and placed one hand on her hip and the other he used to cup her face as he looked into her eyes, "I'll no' let anythin' happen to ye, I'll be right here if ye need me."
Claire took a deep breath and nodded, "I know that he is asleep, but he could wake at any moment and I would just feel better if you came with me anyway. If the stewardess attempts to stop us, we could just tell her that I am not quite steady on my feet and you are simply helping me to get there."
Jamie nodded, "Let them try to stop me."
Claire smiled gratefully up at her husband and turned to walk down the narrow path toward the back of the plane. Her eyes automatically scanned the seats behind where they had been sitting, in search of Frank. As soon as her eyes lit upon him, her breath hitched and a shudder ran down her spine. She swallowed hard and put one foot in front of the other, carefully making her way past Frank to her intended destination at the airplane's loo.
Jamie kept a gentle hand on the small of her back as they passed by other airplane passengers and he had felt her whole body stiffen when she spotted Frank. Jamie clenched his teeth at the thought of that man causing such distress in his wife. He vowed to himself that once they disembarked from the plane, he would do everything in his power to make sure her mind and body were at ease until their child was born.
As they passed by Frank's seat, both Claire and Jamie let out a sigh of relief that Frank hadn't woken and they both prayed that he would remain asleep, at least until they could return to their seats at the front of the plane.
When they finally reached the loo, Claire squeezed through the narrow door, then closed and locked it behind her. Jamie turned his back on the door, all but obscuring it from the view of anyone else. He stood with his feet parted, shoulder width apart, his arms crossed over his chest and the expression of one daring anyone else to even try and get past him to his precious wife.
His intimidating presence, caused even the stewardess, someone who was used to a variety of personalities and moods to question her logic when approaching him, "Excuse me, sir, I noticed that ye accompanied yer wife to the loo, might I ask if everything is alright?"
Jamie looked down at the timid woman standing just out of arm's length in front of him, "Och, aye. Everythin' is fine, she just had to use the loo and wi' her bein' so far along wi' child, I helped her to keep her balance. There's naught to fash about, lass."
The stewardess nodded, "Alright, well if you need anythin' just wave toward the front of the plane and I'll be right there."
Jamie gave her a curt nod, "Thank ye."
Before the stewardess left, she turned back to Jamie, hesitant for a moment, "I can see that ye wish to say somethin' more, out wi' it, lass."
The stewardess squared her shoulders as if heading into battle, "This isna normally done, but the crew has a loo at the front, nearer to yer seats. I remember when my sister was carryin' her bairn and how many times she had to use the loo. If yer wife would prefer, I will let the other crew know and she can use the one at the front of the plane. Tis a bit bigger than this one and she willna be rushed by other waiting passengers."
Jamie's eyes softened as he nodded with a smile, "Thank ye, I think she would appreciate that kind gesture and I am certain that she would prefer that as well."
The stewardess smiled brightly, proud of herself for making the large foreboding Scot smile then she turned and walked away to tend to her other duties. When Claire exited the loo, Jamie escorted her back to their seats, thankfully past a still sleeping Frank, and once they were settled he told Claire of the stewardess's kind offer. Claire's eyes brightened, "Oh, that is so nice of them, now I won't have to walk past Frank, thank God for small miracles."
Jamie chuckled, "I dinna ken about it bein' a miracle, but it was certainly a kindness that they didna have to offer."
Fortunately, the remainder of the flight went by without a confrontation with Frank Randall and the stewardesses even allowed Jamie to use the front loo, determined that he would not fit in the passenger loo due to his immense height and breadth. Jamie didn't need to partake of it as often as Claire, but when he did he was infinitely grateful for the kindness of the crew. After a long flight of several naps, discussing where they would settle once they arrived in North Carolina, snacking on nuts, and devouring two meals, Claire and Jamie prepared themselves for the landing.
Much to Jamie's dismay, the landing was not nearly as smooth as the takeoff and he gripped the armrests so hard that Claire could have sworn she heard them both crack under the pressure. She tried to reassure him, but the bumpy landing was not doing her any favors either and she felt herself grip her own armrest tightly as the other hand wrapped protectively around the swell of their child.
Claire looked up at Jamie's tense expression and tried to soften her voice, "It's alright love, I know this seems terrible, but this is perfectly normal. We were just flying through the air at over 200 miles per hour and now the plane is attempting to slow as fast as possible so we can come to a stop in one piece."
Jamie turned to face her, his jaw clenched, "I'll be glad to put my feet on solid ground and never step foot on an airplane again. Tis good we are goin' to a time when they dinna exist."
Claire rolled her eyes, "You do realize that we just crossed the ocean in less than a day, in your time, that feet would have taken several months and wouldn't have been near as comfortable. Please just try to relax, this is the worst part, for the most part, flying is an enjoyable experience."
Jamie forced his face to relax, "Aye, tis and ye ken that for ye, I would do anything, even sail across the ocean."
Claire grinned and pressed a kiss to his shoulder, "Good, now since I have distracted you, take a look out the window, we have landed."
Jamie tore his gaze from her and stared out the window, watching as the plane turned and the Boston airport came into view. He looked back at her with a satisfied smirk on his face, "Ye always ken just what to do or say to put my mind at ease, mo nighean donn."
Claire nodded, "Of course, you might be able to fool others, but I can read you like a book, my love."
Jamie chuckled, "Aye, ye can, but now we must gather our things and prepare to get out of this can."
Claire giggled, "As you say, my Laird."
Jamie rolled his eyes, "No' anymore, my Lady. But perhaps one day we can return to Lallybroch again."
Claire took his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze, "We will make it so, but now America beckons us."
As Jamie began to stand a stewardess stopped next to his seat, "I'm sorry, sir, please remain seated, the passengers at the rear of the plane will be disembarking first. We don't want anyone in a rush to push yer wife and cause her to fall down the steps."
Jamie settled back in his seat and smiled gratefully, "Thank ye for thinkin' of her safety."
The stewardess nodded and returned to her post at the front of the plane to give the passengers instructions.
Jamie and Claire sat quietly as the other passengers began to pass them, stopping every few feet so someone could retrieve a bag from the overhead compartment. Eventually, Jamie felt the hair on his neck stand up and Claire's grip on his hand tighten. He turned to look at her and she was staring over his shoulder, eyes wide in worry. Jamie took a deep breath and prepared for what was certain to come in the next few moments. He kept his eyes forward, not wanting to be the reason that Frank's gaze fell on them. Jamie squeezed Claire's hand, a silent message to calm down and a reminder that he would protect her.
She turned to look at him and he gestured with his chin toward the front of the plane. She understood immediately and turned to face completely forward, gripping Jamie's hand even tighter. People began to move again, then suddenly Frank was standing right next to them, but he hadn't looked down and noticed them.
Claire closed her eyes and prayed that he would continue to look forward, but a moment later, her peace was broken by his voice, "Claire?"
She kept her eyes tightly closed and refused to acknowledge him, but his voice tried to break through again, "Are you just going to sit there and pretend that you can't hear me?"
Claire felt Jamie's grip on her hand tighten, "She doesna wish to speak wi' ye Frank, leave us be."
Frank scoffed, "Who are you to tell me what I should and shouldn't do?"
Jamie rolled his eyes, "I am her husband, now I asked ye to leave us be. Move forward and get off the plane, Frank."
Before Frank had a chance to respond, he was being pushed from behind. The people standing in the aisle behind him were impatient to get off the plane and his stalling was already irritating them. "Move forward, Mister."
Frank had no choice but to take a few steps forward, coming to a stop just out of Claire's line of sight. Jamie leaned over, "Tis alright to open yer eyes now, he canna see ye from where he stands."
Claire took a deep breath and hesitantly opened her eyes. "He is going to be waiting for us when we get off the plane."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, I ken."
Claire looked at him, a worried expression painted across her face, "What are we going to do, now that he knows we are here, we won't be able to avoid him."
Jamie clenched his jaw, "Aye, perhaps ye should go to the lady's room when we enter the airport. He canna follow ye in there and perhaps I can distract him."
Claire frowned, "Distract him from what?"
Jamie sighed, "For ye to leave the airport."
Claire shook her head vehemently, "No, I will not leave you, Jamie Fraser, not for one moment."
Jamie squared his shoulders, "Now, Claire, we discussed this, there is a threat to our child and the threat might just be Frank Randall."
Claire pressed her lips into a tight determined line, "We won't let him harm our baby, but we will do this together. I don't know what Frank is doing in Boston, but I doubt he has much time to waste by trying to follow us."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, perhaps yer right. Maybe the stewardess could help us."
Claire frowned, "How?"
Jamie smirked, "Let me take care of it."
After everyone else had disembarked the stewardess approached them, confusion etched all over her face, "Are ye both alright, why have ye not gotten off the plane yet?"
Jamie turned his expression into one of alarm, "I believe that my wife has gone into labor, she canna get off the plane on her own."
The stewardess's eyes went round, "Oh, my God, wait right here, I will get the medical team."
Jamie smiled at her thankfully, "Thank ye, lass."
As the stewardess quickly retreated toward the front of the plane, Claire grabbed Jamie's arm, "What in the hell are you doing?"
Jamie patted her hand, "Trust me, mo ghráidh."
Claire squeezed his arm, "Are you going to let me in on this little plan of yours or are you just going to keep me in the dark?"
Jamie rolled his eyes. "Mrs. Graham told me that if ye went into labor on the plane that an ambulance would be called and they would bring a stretcher right to the plane to load ye into the ambulance and take ye straight to the hospital. You wouldna have to go through the airport and the flight crew would make sure to get our bags to us."
Claire's expression softened, "Why you bloody, genius Scot."
Jamie chuckled, "Can ye tell me that ye have a better plan to avoid Frank?"
Claire shook her head, "No, I can't say that I have. But what happens when we get to the hospital and they realize that I am not in fact in labor?"
Jamie shrugged, "We blame it on the stress of the flight over the ocean and they can give ye a check up to ease both of our minds while yer there."
Claire nodded in agreement, "Alright, I don't like being deceptive, but it is a brilliant plan."
A few minutes later, just as Jamie had predicted a group of medical personnel boarded the plane with a stretcher and with Jamie's help lifted her onto it. They carefully made their way down the aisle, to the doorway and down the steps outside the plane. Frank was standing off to the side, his mouth agape in shock as he watched Claire being loaded into the ambulance and Jamie climbing in after her. As the door to the ambulance was closing Claire could hear Frank's voice, "Where are you taking her, that's my wife."
Jamie rolled his eyes as the Emergency medical technician looked at him quizzically, "Did I hear correctly, did that man say that he is Mrs. Fraser's husband?"
Claire reached out and put a hand on Jamie's before he could say anything, "He was my husband, a very long time ago, but Jamie is my husband now, and has been for the past three years."
The technician looked back and forth between them, "I take it that he didn't take that too well."
Claire and Jamie shook their heads, "Nah, he didna, we didna ken he was on this plane until after we were already in the air. We would have taken another, had we known."
The technician nodded in understanding, "So then let me ask you Mrs. Fraser, are you truly in labor?"
Claire's eyes grew round, "No, I don't think so."
The technician chuckled, "I take it that your ex-husband is a dangerous man and you needed a way to escape."
Claire nodded, "I do apologize for the deception, but yes, he is. We even had to purchase guard dogs for fear of mine and my husband's safety."
The technician nodded, "No need to apologize, my sister had a stalker a few years back, I completely understand. But I do need to know if you wish to continue on to the hospital?"
Claire shrugged, "I don't know how else we can avoid him."
The technician chuckled, "Harry, drive around to the front of the airport, these fine folks need an escort to the taxi's."
Claire's face relaxed, "Oh, thank you so much. But how will we get our bag?"
The technician patted her hand, "Tell me where you plan to stay tonight and I will personally make sure that your bag is delivered to you."
Claire smiled gratefully, "I don't know how we can thank you."
The technician smiled, "You just make sure that this child comes into this world safely and we will call it thanks enough. My sister and her unborn child were killed by her stalker, so to know that I could help just one person in a similar situation, that is enough for me."
Claire reached over and took Jamie's hand, pulling herself to a sitting position. Once she was sitting up, she pulled the technician into her arms for a warm hug, "Thank you so much."
Jamie cleared his throat, "We will be stayin' at the Lennox Hotel for tonight but we have a flight to North Carolina in the mornin'."
The technician nodded, "Alright when we drop you off at the taxi's I will go in a fetch your bag."
Jamie patted the older man on the shoulder, "We canna thank ye enough, mo caraid."
The man looked at Jamie quizzically but Claire noticed first, "He speaks in his native tongue in emotional situations, he just said I thank you, my friend, he is very grateful for your help in getting us away from Frank."
The technician nodded, "Awe, well you're welcome. Head's up folks, we are at the taxi's and if you wish to avoid that Frank, fellow, I suggest that you don't waste too much time in hiring one to take you to the Lennox."
An hour after Claire and Jamie had entered their room at the Lennox hotel, there was a knock at the door. Jamie looked over to his wife, sleeping peacefully on the large hotel bed, then walked over to answer the door. He opened it slowly, keeping the chain that Claire had shown him, securely in place. He peeked through the small opening to ascertain the identity of their visitor and smiled at the person on the other side, "Doctor, you came."
The technician laughed, "You can call me Lawrence, are you going to unlock the door so I can give you your bag?"
Jamie pulled his head back and looked at the chain, "Och, aye, hold on just a moment." He closed the door, unhooked the chain, then pulled the door open. He waved his hand toward the inside of the room, "Claire is asleep, but please come in."
The technician walked into the room, "I can't stay, I'm still on duty, but I wanted to bring this by and make sure you had both made it safe."
Jamie nodded, "Aye, we came straight here and Claire fell asleep as soon as we arrived."
Lawrence smiled as he glanced over at Claire's sleeping form, "That is good to hear, she could use the rest while she is still able to get it. I wanted to wish you luck on your journey and I hope that you don't have any more run ins with Frank."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Thankfully we have no' seen him since ye loaded Claire onto the ambulance and hopefully we dinna see him again before we return to the airport in the mornin' to board our next plane."
Lawrence extended his hand to Jamie and thankfully, Jamie had become accustomed to the gesture since being in the 20th century and gladly took his hand, "Good luck to you."
Jamie nodded, "Thank ye again, Lawrence. We are truly grateful for yer help and understandin' of our situation."
Lawrence took one last look at Claire before walking out the door, "Take care of her."
Jamie nodded and held the door open, bidding the friendly medical technician goodbye. He turned around and looked at Claire before walking over and joining her for the night. They woke early the next morning, stopping in the hotel lobby for a coffee and a muffin. Then catching a taxi to take them to the airport, eyes peeled for Frank as they walked through the airport toward their designated gate.
At 7:00 a.m., Jamie escorted Claire onto the plane, looking at every passenger as they boarded. When the plane pulled away from the loading area and began to taxi down the runway, Claire and Jamie let out a collective breath of relief. Frank was not on their flight and they were one step closer to the stones on Ocracoke Island.
Even though the flight from Boston to Ocracoke only lasted two hours, Claire took the opportunity to get a bit more rest. As the plane began to prepare for landing, Jamie leaned over and whispered in Claire's ear, "Tis time to wake up mo ghráidh, we are landin' on Ocracoke, I can see the stone circle from here."
Claire's eyes began to flutter as she woke and stretched. She groaned at her inability to stretch completely, the narrow airplane seat, limiting the space in which she had to extend her limbs. As her eyes opened, she looked over at Jamie, then followed the direction where his finger was pointing out of the small oval airplane window. She took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the bright light outside the plane. Then finally, her eyes settled on the circle of stones, atop a small mound of earth, surrounded by a group of trees near the beach. She gripped Jamie's hand and looked up at him with tears in her eyes, "We're almost there, Jamie, soon we will be back in your time and we can begin the rest of our lives."
Jamie brought their clasped hands up to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, "Aye, it willna be much longer."
Claire sighed in relief, "Once we get there, we will likely need to find a way back to the mainland, do you suppose there will be anyone traveling back and forth from the island in the 18th century?"
Jamie shrugged, "I dinna ken, but we will find a way, I will see to it."
Claire nodded and leaned her head on his shoulder as the plane's landing gear could be heard lowering from the belly of the plane. They touched down after another moment and the small plane bounced along the runway. Claire gripped her belly, praying the child wouldn't wake and cause more unbidden pressure on her already full bladder. She gripped Jamie's hand tightly with her other hand and he stroked the soft skin on the back of her hand with his thumb. After a few minutes, the plane slowed and eventually came to a stop, before turning and taxing back toward the small island airport. Finally, the plane came to a stop and the stewardess appeared at the front of the plane and began giving instruction to the passengers about disembarking. However, this time, Claire and Jamie would be allowed to get off the plane first due to Claire's condition. The flight crew appeared eager to have her out of their care.
Once their feet were on the ground, both Claire and Jamie took huge lungfuls of the fresh salty air of the island. They waited outside the plane for their bags and once they had them in hand, they made a beeline for the airport so that Claire could relieve herself before they made the short hike to where they had seen the circle of stones.
Once they reached the beach, Claire insisted on taking her shoes off and feeling the cool wet sand on her tired swollen feet. Jamie carried her shoes, as well as the few bags they had with them as they slowly strolled north toward their destination. Claire looked around and noticed that even in the 20th century, the island contained very little in the way of civilization. She worried that when they traveled back through the stones, that they would be isolated on the island, with no way of escaping.
Jamie could see and feel the tension in her body, so he squeezed her hand in reassurance, "We will find a way to North Carolina, even if I must build ye a boat wi' my own two hands. We willna be stranded, I gi' ye my word."
Claire took a deep breath and nodded, "Yes, I know that, but the baby will be here soon and that will make it even more difficult if this island is uninhabited in your time."
Jamie released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders to pull her closer to him, "I gi' ye my word that I will see our family safe, no matter the cost."
Claire nodded, a bit more at ease with his promise and the feeling of safety that she always found in his arms. "I know you will, Jamie, so let's get to the stones and travel back. I think I am beginning to hear the stones, they shouldn't be much further."
They walked for another ten or so minutes, following their instincts and the ever increasing sound of the buzzing stones. As the buzzing got louder, they turned away from the beach and entered the dense trees, coming out into a small clearing with a mound of earth in the center. They stopped as they entered the clearing and looked up toward the stones. Jamie swallowed past the lump in his throat, adjusted the straps of their bags on his shoulders, released his grip on Claire's shoulder, and took her hand in a tight grip. "Together, dinna let go of me, I canna lose ye after all we have been through to get here."
Claire tightened her own grip and they took a step forward in tandem, gradually making their way up the small incline. When they reached the top and outer most stones, they looked into one another's eyes, gave a brief nod, and took the last few steps toward the center traveling stone. Together their hands rose, as if by their own accord, and at the same moment, they both pressed their hands to the cold granite and disappeared from the 20th century.
Claire opened her eyes, her whole body aching with the need to vomit. She looked around, but she was entirely alone, she couldn't see Jamie or any of their belongings. She began to panic as she rolled to her side and ungracefully pushed herself onto all fours. Suddenly the urge to empty the contents of her stomach was more powerful than the need to find Jamie. She began wrenching, the sounds of her own discomfort overpowering even the sounds of the nature that surrounded her.
She didn't notice the hand that appeared on her back and began rubbing gentle circles to help calm her. She didn't notice the hand that pulled the hair back from her face or the soothing gáidhlig endearments of the man she loved, not until she rocked back on her heels and he enveloped her in his arms. "Are ye alright mo chridhe, is the bairn alright?"
Claire wiped her mouth and nodded, "Yes, we're both fine, it's just the effects of traveling through time."
Jamie nodded and stroked her hair, wrapping a curl around his finger and pulling it taut. "Take all the time ye need, we dinna need to rush now."
Claire took a deep breath, immediately noticing the freshness of the air she inhaled. She looked up into Jamie's eyes, worry painted on her glass face, "Do you think we made it, do you think we arrived in the right time?"
Jamie shrugged as he continued to soothingly stroke her hair, "I dinna ken, but I would say that we are no' any longer in yer time. The air is too fresh, the sounds are natural. I dinna hear the buzzing of electricity anymore and it just feels right again."
Claire nodded, completely understanding what he meant. The 18th century had given her a different feeling when she had first traveled back, something primal that she had never experienced in her own time, and somehow after they had touched the stones just a few moments ago, the feeling had returned.
Claire took a deep breath and gripped Jamie's shoulders, "Help me up, I think if we are going to find people, it will be back in the direction that we originally came from. I know we can survive here, even if we are the only people on the island, but I would rather find out now than to wait. If there is any chance that there are people here and we can get over to the mainland, I want to go as soon as possible."
"Aye, I agree wi' ye, there is no point in makin' it harder if we dinna have to. Let's walk back down the beach and see if perhaps we can find a ship or boat of some kind."
Jamie rose to his feet, then slowly helped Claire to rise as well. Once she found her balance, he turned around and picked up their bags from where he had placed them when he first approached Claire after having traveled through the stones. Claire looked at the bags and then back up at Jamie, "We should change into more appropriate attire, just in case we do run into other people. The last thing we want is to be taken as witches and burned at the stake before we even have a chance to live."
Jamie nodded in agreement and passed her the bag which contained their 18th century clothing. "Ye get changed first, I'll keep watch."
Claire accepted the bag, set it on the ground and accepted Jamie's help to kneel down so that she could remove everything that she needed to dress. She stripped her modern clothing off rather quickly, tossed them into a pile near the edge of the stone circle and took her time pulling on each of the layers of her 18th century dress. When she was finally finished, she called to Jamie. "Alright my love, I'm all finished, come and change your clothes as well."
Jamie turned back to face her, took the few steps to reach her and pulled her into his arms with a huge smile on his face. "I never I thought I would see ye lookin' so beautiful, mo ghráidh."
Claire giggled, "Is that so?"
Jamie nodded and pressed a tender kiss to her forehead, "As much as I enjoyed seein' ye in yer modern dresses and breeks, they dinna suit ye."
Claire rolled her eyes, "Well I for one will miss them, it was so much simpler to dress in my time."
Jamie chuckled, "Aye, it was quicker to remove yer clothing as well."
Claire pulled out of his arms and lovingly patted his chest, "Now it's your turn to change back into my 18th century highlander, and fortunately for you, it doesn't take any longer for you to dress in this time than it did in my time."
Jamie nodded, kicked his shoes off, then had his breeks and shirt pulled off in less than a minute. He knelt next to their bag, pulled his own 18th century clothes from inside and was redressed just as quickly as he had undressed. His boots, however, took a bit longer to fasten than the modern shoes he was glad to be rid of. Claire looked down at their pile of clothes with a furrowed brow, "What should we do with all of this? It's not much safer to have it with us than it is to be wearing it."
Jamie nodded in agreement, "Aye yer right, perhaps we should burn them, leave no trace of the future to be found."
Claire sighed and nodded, "Yes, I think that is probably best. But since you're so much better at building a fire from nothing, I will leave you to it."
Jamie chuckled, "Aye, I'll be glad to take care of it mo chridhe."
Jamie walked out of the stone circle, picked up a few dry twigs from the edge of the forest floor, then scanned the ground for the correct type of rocks to use to strike a spark. Being raised in a time before conveniences such as matches, it didn't take Jamie long to find what he was looking for. He gathered all of the fire making supplies and returned to the pile of clothes. He wasn't sure how flammable they would be, so he used the twigs and sticks he had gathered to build a small fire next to the pile. Once the fire was burning steadily, he began to add each piece of clothing to the fire, allowing it to burn completely before adding the next piece. After only about 10 minutes all traces of the 20th century had been burned to ash, so Jamie stomped out what remained of the fire, then kicked some dirt onto the still hot coals to smother the fire completely.
When he was satisfied that the fire was no longer a danger to the surrounding forest, he gathered up their bags, looped the straps across his body, then took Claire's hand, and together they began the trek back toward the beach.
I apologize for the shortness of this chapter, I'm not sure yet what I want to happen next for these two and I think it's best if I figure that out before writing more.