Imagine what we could have seen at the seals’ isle in 03x03…
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
Ellen’s sole surviving son heard them now.
A wave crashed over his head – and Jamie flailed,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
“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
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?
He kissed her clavicle, so bonny above the neck of her
“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
“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,
“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
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,
She smiled. “It’s over there in the corner – we won’t
want for anything.”
He kissed her brow, so gentle.
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
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.