If Music Be The Food Of Love
I’ve never written anything before, so be gentle with me! But I was thinking about Outlander and the little things that make up our lives everyday that Claire (or myself) would miss when she fell through the stones. For me, I think the thing I would miss most is music. :) I think this little moment takes place just before Jamie and Claire leave Lallybroch in Dragonfly in Amber to go visit Lord Lovat. Read, enjoy, give me some feedback!
The bright lights blinded Claire to all but the first rows of onlooking audience members. She stood tall and took a deep, calming breath. The conductor raised his arms, and as one they began. She felt herself dissolve into the choir, as though they shared one mind for the space of the song. She could feel the deep, rumbling tones of the bass line, accompanied by the light, fluttering notes from the soprano section. And in the center of the intonations, she found the place where she belonged, where she fit perfectly.
The harmony line danced around the melody, jumping to meet it and then darting away. She knew this song well, had sung it a hundred times in rehearsal. While she sang, she lost herself in the rolling waves of music. She couldn’t tell where her voice ended and the rest of the choir began. As the song swelled into a crescendo around her, she felt whole. She could feel the song gently caress her, wrap it’s arms around her as though it were a physical being, holding her tight and safe.
She awoke with the strains of the song just outside of her conscious hearing. If she concentrated she could almost feel the perfect locking in of the last chord. A chord that was not only pleasing to the ear, but somehow made the heart feel whole. The dancing lines of melody and harmony, dipping and weaving together in a constant exchange. An expression of emotion so much stronger than mere words or actions. But now she couldn’t recall the flowing melody that flitted around the edges of her brain. She couldn’t share the simple song that was pulsing through her veins. The knowledge of that nearly crushed her. Left her lonelier for her own time than she had been in a long, long time.
Why hadn’t she paid attention more to the small details that comprised her life before? How could she have taken for granted the simplicity of written music? She could never reproduce the notes and chords of the compositions she longed to hear, that had not even been written yet. And even if she could somehow replicate those songs, how would she play them? She had no piano, no instrument other than her own singular voice. There was a good chance she would never again hear the perfection of a chord that holds your soul and then releases it just as quickly.
She closed her eyes and let the waves of bitter longing wash over her. She would allow herself this small moment of remembrance for her time before coming back to reality. Reaching over, she felt Jamie, warm and strong, lying beside her. She could live with the lost memories of music so long she had him beside her.
Claire’s touch on his arm woke Jamie. He looked over at his wife, a sleepy smile on his face. He reached over, caressing her face with his large, callous hands.
“What are ye thinkin’ about, mo nighean donn? Ye have that far off look in yer eyes. Where are ye?” Claire looked down, not wanting to meeting his eyes. She sat up in their bed, stretching the sleepiness from her limbs.
“It was just a dream, from before. It’s nothing important.” Sitting up with her, Jamie stroked her back. She leaned into his touch, wanting the comfort of something familiar and solid.
“Sassenach, every thought ye have is important to me.” He turned to hold her chin in his hands, forcing her eyes to look at him. “Please, tell me what’s causing that troublin’ look in yer eyes. Let me help ye.”
Claire looked deep into her husband’s slanted blue eyes. Telling him would not bring back the music she dreamt of. And even if it did, Jamie could not hear the music she wanted to share with him so much. He could understand the fact that there was music playing, but he couldn’t make sense of the sounds. The only music Jamie could hear at all was the rhythmic beating of a drum. But still, Jamie understood the words and meaning of the music, even if he could not make sense of the scales that were being played.
Jamie’s hand moved from her cheek down to hold her hand between his, comfort flowing from his touch. Her eyes followed the motion, looking at her hand in his.
“It’s silly really. Just a dream.” She paused, wondering if that was enough of an explanation. Jamie held her gaze, waiting for her to continue. Claire took a deep breath, going on.
“I was dreaming about music. I was on stage, singing with the choral group I was a part of, back in my time. We were performing a song we had sung a million times in rehearsal, a song that I loved. The dream was so real, I could feel the music, could feel the resonance in my chest. It was perfect. I woke up, and I couldn’t remember how the song went. I’m thinking about it now, and I still can’t recall it.” She was getting worked up, and a single tear slid down her cheek as she said “And I can’t ask anyone to help me think of it, because the song hasn’t been written yet here in this time. And even if I could figure out the name of the song, how could I replicate it? I’m just me, how could I replicate harmony?”
She kept her gaze down, feeling silly that she was so emotional about something that was so selfish. What could music do to help stop Bonnie Prince Charlie and the disaster that would be Culloden? Jamie brought one hand up to wipe away the tears that now spilled freely from her eyes.
“Sassenach, I’d no idea -” Claire gently pulled her hand away from him, struggling to untangle herself from the sheets as she rose from the bed. She didn’t want to cry in front of him, feeling selfish about wanting something that was so clearly not a necessity. They were here in Lallybroch, getting ready to march with the soldiers, and all she could think about was wanting to hear a song.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure why I am crying over something so simple.” She walked out of their room quickly, going outside to feel the crisp morning air on her skin and to avoid any more questions.
Jamie watched her go. He ached to fill that void for her. She had given up so much for him, and never once complained. Claire truly was an amazing woman. He wanted to give her a fraction of what she had given him: love, support, and comfort. He would give her anything, as he had vowed those years ago at their wedding ceremony. Yet music…the one thing he could not physically bring to her himself. He cursed the day he had been struck in the head, knocking the ability to hear and understand music out of his head.
Suddenly, an idea struck him. He may not be able to recreate the sounds she remembered, but he could give her something else. He dressed quickly in his plaid, pulled on his boots, and raced to the stables to get a horse. As he rode, he made a list in his head of the houses he needed to visit, hoping everything would fall into place by evening.
Claire stayed outside most of the day, keeping her distance from the other residence of Lallybroch. She didn’t want her melancholy mood to rub off onto anyone else. She worked in the garden, collecting herbs and plants that she would need to treat the ailments of the soldiers as they traveled. As she worked, she hummed a simple children’s song to herself. It bothered her that she couldn’t hum the song from her dream. Why was she still thinking about music and songs in a time like this?
Looking up, Claire saw Jamie striding towards her. The setting sun cast his hair in a shade of deep auburn, with tinges of gold and copper sprinkled throughout. Claire smiled as arrived at her side and held his hand out for her.
“Ye’ve been working mighty hard out here today Sassenach. It’s time for supper, no?”
“I suppose you’re right. I am rather hungry.”
Leading her towards the house on his arm, Jamie seemed to have an excited energy about him. Usually, he was calm and collected, especially here at his home in Lallybroch. Claire wondered what he could have been up to all day. Maybe he had been working on plans to move his men to Lord Lovat’s land with Murtaugh.
As they rounded the final turn from the garden to Lallybroch, Claire came to a complete stop. Standing on the steps of the house were a dozen men in formation, all dressed in full Highland Scots regalia. Each man held a bagpipe in his arms waiting to play. Leading her forward, Jamie gave the men a signal, and they began to play.
Claire felt as though she were floating forward towards to music, the familiar tune of Amazing Grace pulling her closer. As she got close enough to see the faces of the men, she noticed she recognized them. These were the men Jamie would be traveling with to Lord Lovat’s lands. As her gaze drifted to the men on the end, she was surprised to see Murtaugh standing with the men, bagpipe in hand, playing with all the gusto he could muster.
She didn’t realize she was crying until Jamie handed her his handkerchief, wrapping his arms around her from behind and settling his head in the crook of her neck and slowly rocking her back and forth. Claire closed her eyes, letting the song become burned into her memory. When the song finally came to an end, she applauded loudly, and went up to each of the men to thank them.
As the men began to walk back towards their homes, Jamie shook each of their hands in thanks. As Murtaugh passed her, Claire gave him the warmest embrace she had ever given the man. She never imaged that Murtaugh could play the bagpipes, let alone play them so well. When all the men had all left, Claire turned to Jamie, embracing him as tightly as she could.
“Jamie, I can’t believe you put this together for me.” She said into his chest.
“Sassenach,” he said, pulling away to look down into her eyes. “Yer heart is my heart. Whatever it is ye want, if it is in my power to give it to ye, I’ll see it done.” He leaned down, placing a gentle kiss to her lips. “Now, shall we see about that supper?”
She smiled, placed her hand in his arm, and together they walked into the house.
P.S. - I know the song not historically accurate and wouldn’t technically be written until 1779, but it felt right here. :)