Mod Gotham’s note: Following up from this story, written in response to 03x03. Jamie flashes back to Selkie Island in 03x08…so, what if Claire and Brianna were there, waiting for him?
Seals. Greeting the new day – or each other – loudly.
Claire shifted a bit in her bedroll, bringing Brianna
Her eyes flew open – to see Jamie watching her.
Carefully, reverently he reached across Brianna’s
sleeping form to cradle his wife’s cheek.
“I’m here…you’re here…”
Voice full of so much wonder.
“I could watch you for hours, Sassenach…watch Brianna…”
She lay her hand atop his, twining their fingers
“We can have our forever now, Jamie.”
His chin trembled, eyes shining with so many tears.
“This…this is a day I never thought would come,” he
whispered. “Waking beside ye…holding our bairn…”
He swallowed – and his face contorted in shock.
“What is it, love?” Her voice was strong, calm. Centering.
Gasping for breath, he shook his head. “Outside?”
She chose a small section of wall on the side of the
castle that faced the ocean. Her heart had leapt watching Jamie tenderly kiss
the top of Bree’s curls, then constricted as he threw one of her shawls over
his head – hiding his hair.
In the light of this new dawn, the sun shining on his
face illuminated new wrinkles and lines around his mouth and eyes. Testament to
how hard his life had been since their parting.
Christ – did he see the same lines and gray hairs now,
his eyes searching her face?
“They’ll be looking for me.” One big hand clutched the
shawl tight to his head amid the whipping wind, his other hand lost securely
between both of hers. “The prison guards. The prison governor. He asked me to
translate for Kerr…and I escaped yesterday when we were out cutting peats, on
Claire massaged his hand – the one she had mended, after
his ordeal at another prison, so many years ago – between hers. “Do you think
they’ll send a search party out here? The boat isn’t coming for us until
tonight, after dark.”
He pursed his lips, eyes darting back and forth. “I doubt
they’d send anyone out here – but they’ll be watching the island today. Wi’
spyglasses and such. We canna go outside.”
“That’ll be all right – we need time, you and me. And Brianna,
Jamie shrugged – that odd half-uncomfortable motion she
had seen so many times, and now rejoiced at seeing yet again.
“Such a great father I am to her, and husband to you – I immediately
put the both of ye in danger.”
“Stop that. Stop it right now,” she hissed. “I - *we* -
both knew what to expect when we came back. We are prepared for anything. *She*
is so strong, Jamie – so determined. Just like you.”
His lips cracked the tiniest of smiles. “Puir lass. She
must be a right handful.”
She raised his hand to her lips, kissing each of his
fingers in turn. “She is. But she’s a Fraser. I *do* have some firsthand
experience, after all.”
He squeezed her hand – basking in the feel of her, the
sight of her.
“It’s been so long since…” he swallowed. “Since I’ve felt
a loving touch, Claire.”
She moved their joined hands to her hip, easing closer to
him on the stone wall.
“I can touch you now.” Her eyes shone with promise.
His wame dropped…
“Claire,” he rasped. “I – weel. I must tell ye something.”
She straightened up a bit, preparing. So brave.
He licked suddenly dry lips. “I – I lay with another
woman. Just for one night – the night before I arranged to turn myself over to
the English. Two years ago now. And no – I’ll tell ye all about the rest of it,
at the proper time.”
She closed her mouth, calming her breathing.
“Did you love her?” She hated how small – petty – her
voice was. Of course he had had a life…
“No,” he breathed. “Look at me, Claire. Please.”
She hadn’t even realized her eyes had strayed away from
him – shielding herself, perhaps. But now she returned her gaze to his –
locking with the blue eyes she had seen every day in their daughter.
“She meant to comfort me. It was a kindness. I – I had
been alone for so long, and I kent I’d be arrested the next day.” He swallowed,
throat suddenly thick. “She helped me to forget that.”
Now Claire shifted so that they were side by side – her thighs
pressing against his – on the lichen-spattered wall.
“I shared Frank’s bed, for a time after Bree was born,”
she confessed. “I – we – tried to go back to the way it had been. But we couldn’t…or
wouldn’t find our way back to each other. He was a fantastic father to her,
Jamie – don’t doubt that. But he hadn’t truly been my husband since she was
about a year old.”
He leaned his forehead – cold, clammy – against hers. “I’m
sorry,” he whispered, voice low.
“I’m not,” she breathed, wrapping her arms around him. “It’s
done. Your time with that other woman – that’s done. It’s over. We are here.”
“Thanks be to God,” he whispered, drawing her into a
long, long kiss.
“Do you want to take everything in the box, Mama?”
Claire looked up from the corner of the large room, where
she was folding away the blankets and cloaks they had slept on the night
before. “I don’t see why not – gold coins are as good as gems, and much easier
Jamie padded over to his daughter, crouching beside her. “May
I see what’s in the box?”
She beamed up at him, opening the lid wider. “Look – gold
coins, and jewels, and chains. Even some pearls, just like Mama’s necklace.”
His heart skipped. “Ye mean – the long string of pearls?”
Brianna nodded. “Yeah – she wore it all the time in
Boston. It was one of the things she brought with us.” She paused. “Wait a
minute – I remember now. When we were at Lallybroch, and she wore them, Auntie
Jenny said something and then Mama said *you* had given them to her!”
“Aye – as a wedding present. They were yer grannie Ellen’s.”
“That’s my middle name – Ellen,” she smiled, proud.
Jamie let out a small strangled sound, then pulled
Brianna tightly against him. Awkwardly she patted his back.
“Are – are you OK?”
He pulled back, frowning. “OK?”
She smiled, shaking her head – the most beautiful smile
he had ever seen. “I’m sorry – I forget. It means ‘all right.’ Though I don’t
know why we use those letters. It’s an American thing.”
“Thank ye for explaining it to me – I’ll try to keep up
“Silly – we understand each other just fine.”
Softly he traced one hand down her temple, cheek, and
“My wee miracle. Of course we do.”
“How much longer, Mama?”
Claire drew her shawl tighter around her shoulders. Jamie
turned his back to face the stinging wind, tugging Brianna to stand in front of
him, shielding her with his body.
“Hopefully not much longer, love – it’s long past sunset,
and the moon is up. At least the water is calm.”
*A Dhia* - just the thought of being on a boat, even for
a short journey, curdled Jamie’s wame. But for Claire – and especially for
Brianna – and most importantly, for their life together – he’d do it. Would do
Had done everything.
“Any man wi’ half a brain will no’ come wi’ a lantern,
that’s too risky.” He paused. “Who did ye say the man was, again?”
“He’s someone who says he knew you from before the
Rising,” Brianna piped up. “Mama knew him too.”
“Weel, I kent a lot of men before the Rising,” he
murmured. “So – ”
Jamie turned – pushing Brianna behind him – and sure
enough, there it was. A lonely rowboat, a man’s heaving back facing them as he
pulled and pulled and pulled at the oars.
Claire turned to gather their things – just rolls of
blankets, and two leather satchels, one of her, one for Brianna. Jamie had had
nothing, of course – and he and Claire had secreted the coins and jewels in
their pockets for safekeeping.
Jamie walked to the edge of the rocky shore to help the
man maneuver the boat for a safe landing –
“Weel – it’s good to see ye, Jamie!”
Even in the dark, he’d recognize that voice anywhere.
“Rupert? What the devil? Ye’re alive!”
“Hi Rupert!” Brianna beamed, materializing at his side.
“Good e’en to ye, wee lass. Are ye ready for another boat
“I am!” she exclaimed, and turned to Jamie. “Da?”
If his heart had stopped at hearing Rupert MacKenzie’s
voice for the first time in ten years – then Brianna’s voice calling him Da for
the first time sped it up beyond measure.
He bent, carefully lifted his daughter – and then wife –
into the boat, and then climbed in beside his friend, kinsman, rescuer.
“Ye owe me an explanation, man! How are ye not deid?” He
took the other set of oars, helping Rupert steer the boat toward the shore.
“Now *that* is a story – but dinna fash, we’ve plenty of
Jamie looked across the boat at his wife and daughter –
cuddled close against the cold. Tired, yet smiling.
This is going to be one of those episodes where no matter how many times I watch it, I’ll still find new layers to conversations and spot little Easter eggs and book allusions. My biggest issue with the season so far has been with how Claire’s timeline has been handled and I wasn’t sure what to make of the depiction of Brianna. Luckily, both of those concerns were largely resolved with this episode, which was everything I wanted it to be and then some. I think I’ll try going back and rewatching all five episodes again before 5x06 airs since we’re going to have to wait an extra week for it (and thankfully, they’ve decided to make up for it a little by making that episode extra long).
Imagine Claire had given the pearls to Brianna a bit earlier in 03x05…
Claire set down her now-empty tumbler of whisky, squinting at the lights twinkling on the tree. Joying in the sight of all the familiar ornaments – her favorite, the one she had made Brianna just after she was born – the small Statue of Liberty from their trip to New York when Bree was in middle school – the worn but cherished hand-knit sprigs of ivy Frank’s mother had knit when he was a boy.
So many memories – reminders of times that had once been as real and tangible as the cool press of the couch leather under her bent legs, the condensation from the glass that she wiped on the battered tartan throw hanging over the back of the couch, the rumble of a truck passing in front of the house on this silent night.
Memories – that’s all she had of Jamie now. With three exceptions –
The iron ring she twisted around her finger.
The strand of pearls clutched in her free hand.
And the daughter who silently strode into the room, holding her own tumbler of whisky, and slid onto the couch beside her.
Brianna didn’t speak for a long while. In fairness, they *had* said a lot to each other, these remarkable past few days.
What to say to each other, when a permanent farewell looms? She had never had the gift of such preparation – not with Uncle Lamb, not with Frank. And certainly not with Jamie.
Many times over the years she had wondered what she would have said to each of these men, had she known their time together was drawing to a close. And now that she had the gift of preparation – with her own daughter, no less – the words just wouldn’t come. For any amount of preparation would never be enough.
Brianna, bless her, seemed contented to just sit, and think, and watch the fire across the room.
Claire turned – and watched her daughter. Joying in the very fact of her.
Brianna turned – and met her eyes – and smiled her father’s smile.
Claire cleared her throat.
“I have something for you.”
Brianna quirked a red eyebrow. “You’ve given me so much already, Mama –”
Claire shook her head. “This is different. Here. Give me your hand.”
Brianna took one more gulp, set down her tumbler – and extended both hands, palms up.
Claire carefully, gently laid Ellen’s pearls in Brianna Ellen’s hands.
Whatever Brianna had been expecting, this was certainly not it.
“These – what are these? They’re beautiful,” she breathed, softly untangling the long strand and holding up the pearls to the light.
“They’re Scottish pearls.” Claire’s voice was choked – sounded so very far away. “They belonged to your grandmother Ellen – were a wedding gift from an admirer of hers. Believe it or not – ” and here’s where Claire flashed two hundred years in the past, to the lined face of Marcus MacRannoch and the taste of crushing despair after the bloody fucking sadist had pushed her onto the pile of cold, dead, putrid bodies – “Believe it or not, I was actually able to meet him. His cattle provided the diversion Murtagh needed to help rescue Jamie from Wentworth Prison. You’ll remember that story…”
Brianna nodded, carefully winding the string around her neck. The pearls absolutely glowed in the firelight.
Just like they had –
Claire coughed. “Jamie gave them to me on our wedding night. I – I didn’t realize then just how precious they were to him. And how by giving them to me, he was telling me how much he loved me, without using those exact words.”
Brianna smiled a tight smile, then looked down – running her hands over the pearls.
“You – you must understand something, Bree. I didn’t want to marry him. But I had to – to keep safe. And he wanted to marry me, to protect me. He had been in love with me from the day we met, but I – well. My heart was still closed.”
Brianna shifted closer on the couch, taking Claire’s right hand in her left. Gripping her iron ring – the ring she now knew Jamie had given her. Eyes patient.
Claire looked down at their joined hands. “On our wedding night – we were…intimate…three times. He never forced me – ” and here her chin tilted, eyes flashing. “He *always* gave me the choice. He knew I didn’t want to marry him, so he gave me as much space as he could.”
She swallowed. “So – the first time, it was…short. Functional. We had to consummate the marriage, to ensure it was legal between us.”
“You don’t have to tell me this if you don’t want to.” Brianna’s voice was so calm and gentle. When had she become so grown up?
“But I *do* want to, Bree.” Claire met and held her daughter’s eyes. “You *must* know how it was between us – not only so you know about where you come from, but so you can recognize it when it happens to you. Don’t think I don’t see how Roger looks at you.”
Brianna flushed, but kept Claire’s gaze.
Brave and strong. Lips pursed – waiting.
Claire sighed. “So. The first time was to make it legal. The second time – it was…physical. Fun. He lit a fire inside of me, Bree – and I thought that perhaps being married to him wouldn’t be so bad.”
Brianna tensed a bit – but remained silent.
A log broke in the fireplace, scattering sparks.
“And then the third time, Brianna – I couldn’t sleep, my mind was so full of what had happened. I was sitting by the fire, much as I am now. And he – he came to me, and gave me the pearls.”
Where had the tears come from?
“I felt like such a fraud – here he was, giving me the only thing he had left of his mother, for he wanted to honor me as his wife. And so…”
Claire reached out touch the pearls now – eyes lost in memory.
“That was the first time we made love, Brianna. When *I* began to fall in love with him. For I saw how truly selfless and honorable he was.”
Brianna eased Claire into her arms, holding her so tight, the pearls between them.
“A man like that would never forget you, Mama,” she whispered, hands soothing Claire’s back – like she had done for her when she was small. “If he loved you that much then – I don’t know how that would ever go away.”
“I don’t think it would, darling - but it’s still a hell of a gamble.”
Claire moved to pull away - but Brianna stubbornly held her close.
“You can’t just forget a feeling like that, Mama. *You* certainly didn’t.”
Claire sighed - marvelling in the simple joy of just being held by her daughter.
“I know. I realize it sounds crazy - but I can’t help but think that way.”
Now Bree pulled back a bit - still holding her mother’s hands.
“It’s because you’re a surgeon - you live based on science, on certainty. But since when was anything having to do with - with Jamie - based on so much certainty?”
Claire couldn’t help the beginning of a smile. “Since never, I suppose.” She squeezed her daughter’s hands and gently brushed a few wisps of hair behind her ear.
“God, Bree - you are so like him.”
“Maybe, Mama,” she smiled back. “But I think I’m more like you.”
HI Gotham! Whatever happened to the pearls Jamie gave Claire on their wedding night? In the show, we never see her give them away. Are they tucked safe away at Lollybrach? After he gave them to her, we never see them again. Guess traipsing thru the Scottish Highlands doesn't exactly call for pearls!
Ooh, the pearls! Let me trace their journey for you:
Given by Marcus MacRannoch as a wedding gift to Ellen MacKenzie
Pearls pass to Jamie upon Ellen’s death
Jamie gives the pearls to Claire on their wedding day
Claire attempts to give the pearls to Marcus MacRannoch as payment for taking in a wounded Jamie (whereupon Marcus insists she, Jamie, and Murtagh shelter in his manor, and come under his protection)
Dragonfly in Amber
Claire wears the pearls when she and Brianna travel back to Scotland, and she references a painting of Ellen MacKenzie hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London, where she is wearing the pearls
Claire is wearing the pearls in her dream of Frank giving a lecture to his history students (“A lady, with brown hair curling luxuriantly”)
When living in Edinburgh in the final days of the rising, Claire pawns the pearls to get money to buy supplies for the Lallybroch men (she later gets the pearls back)
Claire mentions that she has left the pearls for Brianna, in a box of keepsakes at their house in Boston
Drums of Autumn
Brianna wears the pearls when she goes to Mass with Roger on Christmas Eve
Brianna wears the pearls when she travels back through the stones; at Lallybroch, she shows them to Jenny and Laoghaire as proof that she is Claire’s daughter; at Lallybroch, she sees the portrait of Ellen MacKenzie wearing the pearls
The Fiery Cross - no mention
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Claire wears the pearls “for moral support” as she, Jamie, and Ian ride into Brownsville following her abduction
An Echo In The Bone, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood - no mention
Could u do a fic of Claire going back in time earlier than she originally does after she goes back to the future at the end of dragonfly in amber and actually interrupting Jamie and Laoghaires wedding? What would Jamie reaction be?
I should be asleep, but for some reason this whole week sleep has been my enemy.. and food. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it sure does make me productive in a creative way! I hope you all enjoy this incredibly long story. (I’ll add a break part of the way through so you don’t have a mile of scrolling to do on your feeds.)
Maybe grabbing Bree was the wrong thing to do. She had a life ahead of her there, a father-like figure, college—even if she was making a choice I didn’t agree with— to become a historian, friends, potential boyfriends, but none of them added up to her family. She thinks we’re just going on a vacation, I’ve only told her we were headed to Scotland, nothing more nothing less. I do hope she will forgive me for what I am about to do. “Why Scotland, mamma? Daddy said you hate Scotland.” “I don’t hate Scotland darling. I have very painful memories from here, but some absolutely lovely ones as well.” A small wistful smile bloomed on my face thinking of the days with Jamie before the war. “If it’s so painful for you, why come back? I’d want to avoid somewhere that causes me pain.” Parking the car I turned to face Bree, touching her cheek I smiled lovingly at her, “Because some of the best things happened to me here, you for one.” Reaching for the basket and the Fraser Tartan blanket and faced the hill, it was now or never the stones would wait for no one on the days of fire feasts. Walking up the hill to Craig na Dun, flashbacks of the last time I was here flooded my mind. Jamie telling me to leave, the rough passionate sex before ripping my soul to tatters, and the all-consuming pain of traveling a second time. We set up our picnic just outside the megalithic circle. “This place is beautiful, yet eerie. What do you think the stones were used for? Would daddy know?” Bree’s inquisitive mind was going a mile a minute, drinking in every detail of the circle and trying to puzzle out it’s secrets. One secret, even her most creative dream, could not conjure up. “It is. Your fa- Frank and I once saw a coven of druids perform a dance here. Come to think of it, it was on this day all those years ago we saw the druids dance. It was hauntingly beautiful chill bump inducing ritual that happened as the sun was rising.” I could see them dancing, Mrs. Graham leading the dancers in a fluidity of intricate moves. “There’s something I need to tell you. Something Frank has been trying to deny since before you were born.” Brianna set down the apple she was about to bite and looked at me, engrossed in what I had to say next. “In May of 1945 I came up on this hill to find a plant, forget-me-nots, that grew just over there. While picking a specimen to take home and study, I heard a buzzing like a thousand angry bees, or a cacophony of angry screams blending together into a horrible buzz, coming from the cleft in the center stone.” Brianna’s face paled “You—you can hear it too?” Laying my hand on hers I tried to reassure her, “Yes, darling. I can. Only special people can hear it. Some say it’s the blood of the Old Folk, the Fae that can hear it, others say it’s impossible. What I believe it to be is genetic, a tiny mutation formed hundreds of years ago that allow certain people, on certain days an ability from which fables are written. We have that ability. Who passed it on to us, I cannot say, but there are more than just us. Two-hundred years, it’s always two-hundred years in the Hieland ledgeds, that’s the jump we can make.” Brianna pulled her hand away from mine, “What are you saying mamma? That we’re some kind of time travelers like from Doctor Who?” I shuddered out a laugh, “Yes and no. We don’t go around in flying blue police box, but we can travel at least two-hundred and two years back. That’s what happened to me the first time I came here. I touched the stones, not only to find the source of the buzzing, but because it felt as though I were compelled to do so. Entranced by the horrific sounds coming from the stone. Even now it’s hard for me to not touch…” “Then why did you bring me here? To see if I had this, this… Ability?” Shaking my head I looked at her beseechingly, “No, I already believed you could, you made the travel once too.” “No I didn’t! I was born here, in 1948. You should know!” “True you were born in 1948, but you were conceived in 1746. Your father, his name is James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, and he lived during the 1700s in Scotland. For three years I lived, loved, and worked with him. Culloden changed everything. He knew about you before I did, sent me back to protect you.” “How do you expect me to believe all of this? If the Culloden you are referring to is the Battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746 and he was a Scot, didn’t he die in this battle?” “He expected to and no doubt tried and failed to do just that. I found record of him, at least I believe it’s him in a prison from 1753-1757 and then at a place in England from 1757-1764, don’t you see he has to have gone home from there.” Producing the documents I found and borrowed from Frank’s office, I handed them to Brianna. Not only was it a J. MacKenzie Fraser prison records, or the Alex. Mac. indentured servant papers, but my wedding certificate and the deed to Lallybroch we both signed over to young Jamie. Bree’s hand traced over my faded signature. “Mamma, this is your writing.” Nodding I looked at her face trying to find something to tell me what she was thinking, but was not successful—Fraser features through and through. “I’ve seen these before. In daddy’s study, he always tried to hide them from me. He left to get tea one day and I grabbed them before he got back. I thought it was interesting and beautiful to find your name on the page. As though it was an ancestor or something. I was wrong, it was you. You really went back?” Tears streamed down my cheeks as I nodded, “I did and I miss your father more than I can tell you. You look just like him; early on there were days it ached to even look at you for the memories it caused, but I never loved you less, only more with each passing moment.” Clutching her hands to my chest was my lifeline to the present, to 1966. “I brought you here because I intend to go back. I want you to come with me.” “I—I—I can’t. Daddy is here, we have a life here! Mamma you can’t leave me, leave us!” Sighing, I was afraid it would come to this. I handed Bree the parcel I hid at the bottom of the basket. “This is yours. It’ll be a little awkward to put on at first but it’ll get easier if you change your mind. The stones only work on fire feasts from what I understand—today being Beltane is one of the days we can travel. I’m going to a place called Lallybroch. It’s still around today, just abandoned. This is your father’s family home, your family home. The only way I know how to direct the jump is to think of who you are trying to get to. Think of me, my darling daughter, when you decide to come. Also, your father would want you to have these.” I placed the first gift Jamie ever bestowed upon me around our daughter’s neck. “They are Scotch pearls, and your grandmother’s. Your father gave them to me on our wedding night. If you want to take them to an antiques shop and have them confirm the date of origin go ahead, but please don’t sell them. They are very precious to me and I want them to belong to you.” Speechless, Brianna fingered the pearls. While she was distracted I grabbed my own garment parcel, placed the left over food into the basket and stood up. Seeing me stand Brianna stood, noticing the almost full basket and folded the blanket for me. “I love you Brianna Ellen Fraser.” I kissed her cheek and turned for the stones. “Wait! Mamma! WAIT!” Her face blurry from tears as I tried to compose myself. “You’re just going to leave me here, alone?” “Oh baby, I don’t wish to do so. I want you to come with me, if you will not then I must go. I’ve waited too long to turn back now.” “I love you mamma.” Bree’s broken whisper cracked my heart. I ran to her held her tight to me enjoying the feel of her before whispering I love you again to her. Letting go I turned for the stones and thought of Jamie. As my right hand began to graze the stone, a warmth engulfed my left.