03x03

5

There had to have been a few dimensions where the forecast didn’t call for some deus ex machina torrential rain to come save that pickle from dying in the sun. Just saying.

she will come for you...

Imagine what we could have seen at the seals’ isle in 03x03…


Stroke.

Stroke.

Salt stinging the still-healing wounds on his wrists, crusting in his eyes.

Cold penetrating his bones.

Feet kicking madly, praying for purchase.

Two dark lumps barked from the rocky shore.

Duncan’s paper-thin voice rasped in his ears.

*Folk do say as how Ellen MacKenzie did leave her brothers and her home, and go to wed with a silkie from the sea. She heard them, aye?*

Ellen’s sole surviving son heard them now.

A wave crashed over his head – and Jamie flailed, spluttering –

There. Rocks beneath his feet.

Slowly, slowly up the spit and onto the beach. Feeling two hundred years older than when he had dived in.

Intent on the tower Dougal had shown him as a lad.

Where the gold lay waiting, guarded by the white witch.

Step by aching step. Rocks skittering toward the water. The seals looked up, watched him pass, and returned to their piles of shellfish.

Where the pebbles turned to dirt and knee-high grass, he turned. Watched the cliffs, wind cutting his cheeks and sluicing through his clothes. Wishing harder than at any moment in his life to be home, in his bed, with his wife.

*Lord, that she may be safe.* His right hand darted to cover his heart, fingers curling in the cold, feeling his shoes fall apart as he stepped into the grass. *She and the child.*

Up to the base of his mother’s tower – a ruined thing, half caved-in, built untold centuries earlier by foolishly optimistic monks. Where he and Dougal and Rupert had passed a very cold night when he was fifteen.

Smoke.

Jamie’s hand instantly darted to his belt, for the dirk that had not been there for three years.

Fish. Someone was here, roasting fish.

His mouth watered – and he didna care whether friend or foe. Today he was here to end this – whatever this was.

Strength surged through his limbs – shaking with fatigue and cold – and he darted around the side, toward the door –

And into the main part of the tower, where miraculously the roof had not yet caved in. Light streamed through the empty windows, illuminating a man hunched over a roaring fire, turning over and over a long stick speared with five fat fish.

He must have made a sound – for the man dropped the fish, and lowered the hood of his cloak.

It was not a man.

It was a woman.

Brown curls exploding around her face. Whisky eyes shining with tears. A long, elegant hand wearing an iron ring flew to her mouth, failing to choke back a sob.

Jamie opened his mouth, but had lost his voice.

He fell to his knees, reaching for her, body beginning to fail.

Her voice – her beautiful, beautiful voice – surrounding him as he slipped away.

“Jamie! Stay with me, you bloody Scot. Don’t leave me now, not after everything – don’t leave me…”

Jamie stirred awake, shutting his eyes against the sunlight, tightening his grip around Claire’s waist, snuffling into her neck.

Any minute now he’d hear Mrs. Crook calling them for breakfast…

“Mama?”

He opened his eyes – to find Claire watching him, so beautiful in the firelight. She pulled out of his arms – and away from their nest of blankets and cloaks.

He blinked, finding himself, taking stock.

Twilight outside. Somehow he had lost his clothes, and someone had given him new, loose breeches and a pair of itchy woolen socks. And bandaged the sores on his wrists, re-opened during the swim.

“Mama,” the voice repeated. “Is he awake?”

Slowly, gasping, he eased up on one elbow. Scanning for Claire in the half-dark –

Ah. There she was, just on the other side of the fire.

She wasn’t alone – there was a girl. Eight, nine perhaps. And the spitting image of his mother.

“Claire,” he croaked, throat absolutely dry. “I – Claire – ”

And then they were both there, Claire sitting behind him, leaning him against her – the girl bringing a waterskin to his lips.

He watched her with terrified eyes.

Put down the waterskin – and reached out a hand to trace her face.

Miracle of miracles.

She was so perfect.

“*Ciamar a tha thu, mo nighean ruaidh?*” he whispered.

She smiled shyly. He cupped her cheek.

“I don’t speak Gaelic.” Her accent was strange – flat, a bit nasal. Like nothing he had ever heard.

He swallowed. Feeling Claire’s hands run down his arm, twining their fingers together. “It means – ”

“-But I’m willing to learn, if you’ll teach me?”

She grinned now, and his heart cracked wide open.

“Aye,” he swallowed, tears spilling. “Aye. I’d love that.”

Then she threw her wee arms around his shoulders, pulling him close.

“I’m Brianna,” she whispered. “Your daughter.”

Jamie wrapped his free arm around his lass, the fingers of his other hand squeezing Claire’s almost desperately.

“I’m your Da,” he sobbed. “God be praised, Brianna. I’m your Da.”

Much later – long past dark. Brianna lay just beside them, curled up in her own nest of blankets.

But Jamie couldn’t tear his eyes from Claire’s face – so close to his as they shared kiss after kiss after sweet kiss.

“How?” he breathed against her lips, tangling his legs with hers under the blankets. Feeling so alive.

She ran her nose against the stubble of his chin, breathing him in.

“Which part? Going through the stones? Finding Duncan? Getting here?”

He kissed her clavicle, so bonny above the neck of her shift. “Everything.”

“We’re safe here – you should know that. Nobody will come looking for you.”

He pulled back just a little. Eyes boring into hers. “Nothing on earth can part me from ye now. S-Sassenach.”

His voice broke, and her chin trembled, and she drew him into a long, long kiss.

After a bit, she left their bed to fetch some bread and apples.

“I’ll tell you how,” she said softly, mindful of their daughter sleeping peacefully. “But you must eat while I tell you.”

He grumbled but sat up, crossed his legs – knees touching hers – and listened raptly to her tale.

It was difficult to focus on so much – to convince himself he was not dreaming, cold and alone in the cave or in prison.

Frank Randall had found him – found evidence of his being at Ardsmuir, anyway. Hadn’t told Claire – she had found the papers while looking for something for Brianna. She had confronted him – and left for Scotland a week later.

“I hope you don’t think me irresponsible, for bringing her with me. But I couldn’t leave her, Jamie. I couldn’t risk – ”

“Sshh,” he soothed, gently rubbing her leg. “Ye did right. We are together, now, because of you.”

They had gone to Lallybroch first – and Jenny had put her in touch with some of the MacKenzies who survived Culloden. And one man suggested Duncan Kerr.

Jamie set down the core of the apple. “You knew exactly how to find me. How to bring me to ye.”

She sighed. “I didn’t. I took a gamble, is all. There were so many things that had to fall into place…”

He bent over, tilting up her chin to face him. “Dinna drive yerself mad. It did. It all did. And for the third time, Claire Fraser, ye have rescued me from prison.”

Outside the waves lapped at the rocky shore. The seals called to each other – the gulls cried – the wind whistled in through the high, bare windows.

“There’s a man coming tomorrow night. He’ll bring his boat, and take us back to shore.” Claire settled back down in their nest, leaning on one elbow, nipples puckered in the chill. Jamie swallowed.

“And where then?” He lay on his side, back to the fire, and gathered his wife close.

“Ireland. It’s not too far, and they won’t know us there. We can start over, the three of us.”

Jamie nuzzled against her cheek. “We can live under our real names.”

She nodded against him. “Yes. So many Scots left for Ireland after the Rising – we’ll find a home there. We’ll make one.”

“I’ll see to it. And wi’ the gold, we can do anything, aye?”

She smiled. “It’s over there in the corner – we won’t want for anything.”

He kissed her brow, so gentle.

“Mama?”

Claire drew up a bit – to see Brianna sitting up in her bedroll, sleepily rubbing her eyes.

“Come here, love,” she said, so gently. “Come here.”

Quietly Brianna padded towards her parents, hesitated, then slipped between them.

Jamie laid his arm across Brianna’s side, his hand cupping Claire’s back. Brianna’s small back settled against his chest. Claire’s face edged closer, resting her forehead against his.

“Lord, keep our family safe,” he breathed, voice thick with feeling. “Keep us safe from violence, and harm. On this night, and on every night…”

I love nothing more than when a beloved passage is adapted almost verbatim into the series

“I — spoke to you of my wife,” he said, forcing the words out as though they hurt him.

“Yes, you said that she was dead.”

“I said that she was gone, Major,” Fraser corrected softly. His eyes were fixed on the pawn. “It is likely she is dead, but—” He stopped and swallowed, then went on more firmly.

“My wife was a healer. What they call in the Highlands a charmer, but more than that. She was a white lady — a wisewoman.” He glanced up briefly. “The word in Gaelic is ban-druidh; it also means witch.”

“The white witch.” Grey also spoke softly, but excitement was thrumming through his blood. “So the man’s words referred to your wife?”

“I thought they might. And if so—” The wide shoulders stirred in a slight shrug. “I had to go,” he said simply. “To see.”

…“I see. And your wife…?” Grey paused delicately.

Fraser shook his head briefly.

“There was nothing there to do with her,” he said softly. “She is truly gone.” His voice was low and controlled, but Grey could hear the undertone of desolation.

– Voyager