Mai invited Poppy to hers for a “party”… said “party” consisted of Mai and Poppy’s Auntie Whatsherface…. Jane? Janet? Something…IDK. She’s married to Poppy’s Uncle Lukas anyway and she’s an interfering old cow.
Mai cooks a delightful Mac’N’Cheese and demands that everyone eat it. Poppy threw it in the bin and flirted with Mai instead.
At that moment the voice of one Janet Murray floated out the door calling for Fergus, who was still so dumbstruck to answer anything but a weak, “I am here, madame.”
Then out the door came a very heavily pregnant Jenny. Her eyes lit on me.
“Hello Jenny.” I said
“Christ” was all she could say. She looked almost exactly the same, at the first glance. Pregnancy added to that fact, most of the time I had know Jenny she was in some stage of pregnancy. She did however, much to my shock, have one or two strands of grey hair and she was younger than I was. I could have gone staring at her for hours, looking at all the small changes the year had brought on to her. But there were more important thing at hand.
I spoke to Brian, “This is your Aunt Janet.”
“Auntie Jenny,” she corrected me before going on to say, “Your are the spit of him aren’t ye. What is your name then laddie.”
“Brian.” He said, viewed Jenny cautiously, not wanting to feel like an oddity on display.
Jenny let out a sound that could have been a laugh or a sob, then she looked me in the eye and said,
“Good God Claire, where the hell have you been!” She had a look on her face that shocked me. I had never seen Jenny really mad at me, but I’d seen it now.
“I was in the Colonies.” I paused then, it would be best for everyone involved not to tell anyone the truth, “I thought Jamie was dead. I couldn’t look back and live.”
“So you’ve come back now”
“Yes” I said my eyes downcast.
She gestured for us to come inside. The parlor look almost exactly the same and I fell gratefully into one of the chairs. I looked over at Jenny. In this light she looked much older, her face was slightly gaunt, and her eyes held hardship that had not been there 6 years ago. What had I missed
“Where is everyone? How are you’re children?” I asked, the house was uncharacteristically quiet, in the state I was in it did more than unsettle me. I slight panic washed over me at the thought that something might have happened to the children.
“They’re are all out on the estate, the twins, thats Janet and Michael, are up in the nursery.”
It was odd that she didn’t mention Ian or Jamie, a surge of terror ran through me. Jenny must of seen it and said, “Ian has been arrested, and taken to settle the matter of who Lallybroch belongs to.”
While I was more than glad to know that Ian wasn’t dead, it was not the information I was after.
“And Jamie?” I urged.
“Jamie lives in a cave. We won’t send for him until nightfall Claire, It is to dangerous. I’m not risking his neck.”
“I’d rather have him living as much as you”
It will late morning, hours to go till nightfall, even this time of year. I wouldn’t get answers from him for hours. I’d have to get them from Jenny
“How is he?” I asked tentatively
“He might as well have died the day you left.” Not willing to talk about it any more she asked, “Tell me about Brian then?”
Brian was sitting quietly next to me, taking in the room. I nudge him slightly, “Would you like to tell your Auntie how old you are.”
“I’m almost six. Are you really my Auntie. I didn’t think I had an Auntie.” he rattle off.
“Yes I am yer Aunt. Yer Da’s sister.” she pointed to the door, “That’s Fergus, he’s verra dear to all of us.”
“Oh.” Brian said. “Do I have cousins then.”
Jenny laughed at that saying, “Yes you’ll have a hoard of cousins.”
That seemed to please Brian and he said, “So I have an Auntie, cousins and a Da here. Why’d you leave then Mama.”
“That’s a verra good question Brian.” Jenny said, not turning to look at me.
“I know.” Brian said, grinning slightly.
“Yer just like yer Da at that age.” Jenny chuckled
Brian looked disappointed, causing Jenny to raise her brows.
“Brian hasn’t really had a father. He doesn’t know what they’re like.”
Jenny with the skill of a train mother turned to Brian and said, “Well yer Da is exactly like ye. You’ll get along fine.” She was obviously very fond of her nephew. Her feelings about me on the other hand, were seriously impaired. Could I even blame her?
That was how went spent the next hour. Her asking Brian question after question. A small smile always lighting her face, like he was the best news she had received in years. Brian himself began warming up to his new aunt, scooting closer and closer to her until he was sitting right in front of here. The was a sound of foot steps and shouting, suddenly three children scrabbled into the room. They stopped when they saw me. There was a young boy about 11, and two girls who were about 7 and 8.
The boy spoke, brushing dark brown curls from his eyes, “Auntie Claire?” he sounded astonished, he blinked a few times trying to make sure he was actually seeing me
That must be Young Jamie! Then the two girls must be Maggie and Kitty.
The smaller one, Kitty, looked me up and down critically, turned to her brother and said, “She doesna look like a Fairy. I heard one of the maids say she was an auld one.”
Brian got to his feet defensively and said, “My Mama isn’t a fairy, and she isn’t old either.”
“Who are ye?” Maggie said.
“My name is Brian Alexander William Beauchamp.” he looked up at me hesitantly and then quietly added, “Fraser” he was unsure of the word and it tripped slightly on the way out. The girls were older than he was but Brian was nearly as tall. They were all nose to nose, it they were cats you could have seen the hair on their backs raised and claws poised to fight. They all looked like the were about to killing each other until Jenny and I stepped in.
“Yes mo cridhe that is your Auntie Claire. And Brian is yer Uncle Jamie’s son.”
“Uncle Jamie doesna have a son Mam.” Maggie said, trying to correct her mother’s obvious lapse of her senses.
“He does” I said, “Your cousin has just been living with me. I wonderfully to see you all. You’ve all grown so much.”
The girls became shy after I addressed them but Young Jamie seemed pleased saying, “Good. We need more boys. I just have sisters except for Michael, but he’s just a wean.”
Their brother’s approval of their new cousin drew the girls out of their shell and they circled around Brian like a white blood cell around a germ. Jenny glanced up at the window.
“I’ll tell Mary to get some food on the table, and Fergus when it gets dark go get my brother.” Jenny said.
I followed Jenny to the kitchen, quietly asking, “Please tell me more about Jamie.”
Jenny looked at my darkly, “He was on death’s door when he came back for Culloden, part of it was the battle, most of it was the loss of ye.” She took a breath and said, “I didna ken what seeing you again will do to him, and I haven’t the faintest notion what the knowledge of his son will do to he either.”
“Jenny, I am sorry” that word feel all to short, “I thought he was dead.”
“Aye I suppose you did, but ye must have known we weren’t”
“I wasn’t myself for a very long time” I said in way of an explanation.
Jenny made a scottish noise waving what I said off, “He killed a deer the other day, we’ll have some of that with dinner. Ye were right about the potatoes.”
Brian was thrust into in group of cousins with ease and they left to go play till supper was ready. Supper was a quiet subdued affair. The table while not empty was much more scarce than the last time I had been here.
Jenny told me to put whatever things I had into where I used to sleep. To Jenny it seemed, I had never truly lived here, and if I did she’d forgotten it. I could hardly blame her, to her I was had abandoned her beloved brother when he needed me the most. Had given birth to his child and had not told anyone. To her I had forfeited any claim I had to this place or it’s people. The room should have been exactly how I remembered it, like most of Lallybroch, but it wasn’t. It was clean and neat. The smell of old wood and hearth fire filling every corner. But I could feel the emptiness the absence. No one had been in here for a long time. Had Jenny thinking me dead left it was as tomb for me. I sat down on the bed, tracing the pattern of the quilt over and over again. I knew I had loved Jenny. She was the closest thing I had ever had to a sister, I knew she had felt the same way. She had no idea, no grasp of the circumstances of my departure, all she could possibly know to feel was betrayal. I stared at the rays of sun slowly weakening till the faded into nonexistence, alone with my musings. With a shock I realized, it was almost dark.
Author’s Note: What! A longish update it must be Christmas! I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. Your likes, reblogs, and comments as always are the best present. Thanks for reading. Best wishes in the new year
Hi can you please have one around Voyager where Claire catches Jamie talking to a picture of Brianna, telling stories, wisdom, etc or just anything to do with the pictures and Jamie learning about Bree, I feel like it’s underutilized in the book.
(This prompt, and the other one I’m about to post, are my first foray into writing for the Outlander world. Jamie and Claire are hard (like, really hard) to write, so…be gentle.)
The soft pressure of his palm on my thigh dragged me muzzily back to the realm of consciousness. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than an hour – two, tops – and it was first instinct to push his hand away and grumble my way back to sleep. Before I could move to brush him away, the difference in the weight and size of the hand on my thigh registered.
Not the middle of the night advances I’d become accustomed to rebuffing, but Jamie. The ache in my thighs and the stinging marks on my clavicle and neck were Jamie, not him.
I smiled into the pillow and burrowed in a little deeper. He had been talking, I noted, and paused when I moved. He was silent, and I could almost feel him looking at me. I froze, eyes closed, trying to keep my breathing deep and even to let him think I was still asleep.
After a moment he squeezed my thigh softly and continued his quiet rumblings. I caught a word here and there, his speech a mixture of English and Gaelic – something he only did when he was emotional in one way or another.
His voice continued, rumbly and deep, lulling me back toward dreamland.
“You’re the spit o’ me, bless ye. I wouldn’t have wished that on any lass - but a Dhia mo maise, I would change nothing about you. Are ye like yer mam? Sharp tongued as the devil himself but willing to carry the weight of the world on your back lest others suffer? Or maybe you’re like your Auntie Janet – Jenny, your mam may have told ye about her…no matter who ye are like, mo luaidh, yer perfect and let nay person tell ye otherwise. I’m none so good with the fatherly wisdom or advice, and I’m not daft – I ken ye can’t actually hear me, but it eases my mind to say it aloud. My Da once told me once, the most important thing for ye to do in life is love your wife – well, in your case your man – openly. Dinna hide it from him. Show him your love as often as you can in the way that is right for ye, words, actions, or both. The bairns you may one day be blessed to have will see that, and be loving, generous people in return. I dinna ken that I did that with yer mam, but a Dhia if she didna ken before she will now, I promise ye that.”
“Tha mi duilich, mo nighean ruaidh. Tha mi duilich airson gabhail dhi bhuaibh . Bidh mi a dhìon aice agus gràdh dhi airson an dithis againn , tha mi ‘gealltainn.” he whispered, voice breaking and his hand tightening on my thigh again, “I’m sorry for taking her from you.” Almost without conscious thought I covered his hand with mine and turned to face him.
He was sitting on the side of the bed, one long leg tucked underneath him and three of the pictures of Bree spread on this thigh.
“I dinna mean to wake ye,” he said softly, dovetailing his fingers with mine on
top of the blanket. I pressed a kiss to the point of his shoulder and rested my cheek against the spot.
“I didn’t mean to intrude,” I replied, giving his hand a squeeze. “You seemed to be having a moment.”
“Ach,” he retorted, waving his free hand in dismissal, “I was just…nah, it’ll sound daft.”
“It wont,” I promised, nuzzling into his shoulder.
“I was just…talking to the lass. I ken she can’t really hear me but…”
Tears welled at the corners of my eyes and threatened to spill down my cheeks. I sniffed, hard, and managed to keep them at bay.
“She can,” I whispered. “What were you telling her?”
“This and that…” he went quiet, one blunt finger tracing the soft curve of two-year-old Bree’s cheek before moving to run down the length of eighteen-year-old Bree’s arm, “I have so many things I want to tell her, so many things I want to know…”
They were quiet, both staring into the face of a child one would never meet and one would never see again.
“I wrote it all down,” I started, he turned to look carefully at my face as my glance flitted from photo to photo on his thigh before staring at our linked hands. “in a journal. I wrote in it every day, even when there was nothing to report other than the funny way she said ‘garbage’.”
“And how did she say it?” He asked, rubbing a thumb along the back of my hand.
“Jarebage. She knew she said it wrong, and she hated it and fixed it almost every time she said it wrong, but it felt important. It felt like something you should know, so I wrote it down.”
I drew my legs underneath me and reached for the pile of photos sitting on the mattress with my free hand, settling them on my crossed legs.
“That rabbit,” I said, pointing at the photo from her first birthday, “Timothy. I have no idea where she heard the name Timothy or how she got it in her head to call him Timothy, but Timothy he was. Never Tim or Timmy, always Timothy.”
He smiled, the edges of his eyes crinkling.
“I almost brought it.”
He peered at me, confused.
“The journal, I almost brought it. But I wasn’t sure if the pictures would make it through, let alone the journal. I thought it was important to leave it for her. She needed something to remind her that I – we – loved – no, do love – her. I couldn’t risk it disappearing forever along with me,” a sob caught in my throat and I all but physically shoved it down.
“You were right, mo nighean donn. I’ve already taken you from her, I canna – willna – take her memories.”
The tears that had been threatening below the surface finally spilled their way down my cheeks, dripping onto our clasped hands.
“Will ye tell me more about her?” he asked, wiping the stray tears from where they had pooled on my cheekbones.
I looked up at him, his blue eyes blazing into my own, “Of course.”
“But not just now. Sleep, mo nighean donn. I have ye during the waking hours, let her have you in sleep.”
Mo maise – my beauty
Mo luaidh – my beloved/darling
Tha mi duilich, mo nighean ruaidh. Tha mi duilich airson gabhail dhi bhuaibh . Bidh mi a dhìon aice agus gràdh dhi airson an dithis againn , tha mi 'gealltainn. - Roughly: I’m sorry, my red one. I’m sorry for taking her from you. I will protect her and love her for both of us, I promise.