What if Claire travelled through time from her life of the 18th century to Jamie who lived in the 1940s ?
Fast-Forward: Part One.
Hoisting her skirts, Claire dragged in another jagged breath as she ducked and dived through the low hanging branches of the rowan trees that surrounded her. She could hear the far off hollering of the redcoat soldiers, their bugles piercing the silence as the dusk began to creep in.
Her back throbbed painfully as the almost-healed scars of her first run in with the army grated roughly against her tightly pulled bodice. The memory of her recent flogging sat painfully behind her eyes as she fled through the dense underbrush of the Scottish forest. As soon as she’d been able, she’d run. Picking her way through the underbelly of Fort William, Claire had successfully navigated her way through the cells, eventually picking the lock on the door that led out onto the pile of bodies dumped from the most recent hangings. Half blind and in agony, she’d crawled through the stench, up and out into daylight, her legs protesting as she moved without grace, falling and catching herself as her vision blurred.
Fight or flight had raged, her mind telling her one thing, her body another. But flight had won. To stay there meant death and she wasn’t willing to accept that just yet.
Randall’s words pulsed through her, causing her stomach to clench and she stopped to throw up what little she had in her belly, clenching her fingers around the rough bark as she gasped and expelled water and bile into the mud that lay at the base of the trees.
One loaf of bread, an innocent desire to simply feed herself and she’d been thrust into disarray, her life rendered forfeit for her theft. With no family and no allegiances to a husband, Claire had been living the life of a spinster, doctoring the sick and roaming from village to village to make a living. Captain Randall had been the dark mark that brought that living swiftly and sharply to an end.
Her father and Captain Jonathan Randall had been acquaintances…once upon a time. Knowing Claire was soon to be too old for marriage, and in a political move that seemed beneficial for his career, Henry Beauchamp had pledged her hand to the redcoat captain, deeming the match prosperous for all.
Claire had not agreed, and as such had made extremely vocal complaints on the matter.
Spurning Randall, she had vowed never to be linked with the man, his reputation for being a bit of a brute notwithstanding, she couldn’t see herself married to such a cold hearted man.
Her father had been devastated, his anger at Claire seemed never ending. But when the winter came, and with it a fresh batch of smallpox, those concerns paled into insignificance.
It wasn’t long before her mother was dead, followed quickly by her father, leaving Claire completely alone in the world.
The all too real threat of Randall caused her nothing but anguish and so she fled. Carrying only what she must, Claire had taken herself off into the highlands and reinvented herself. And for a time it had worked. She’d built up a grand relationship with the locals, her vast knowledge of the plants coming in very handy with sickness.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Claire forced away the urge to sob uncontrollably, her arm gripping her middle as she steeled her shoulders and began to calm her throbbing heart.
She could still see the look on her father’s face the night she rudely destroyed his vision for her future. She could still see the look of thrill on Randall’s face the night he’d pulled her in for stealing, his eyes alight with pleasure as he’d had her hog-tied to the wagon and flayed until she’d nearly passed out.
‘You’ve got to keep going, Claire,’ a small voice whispered to her, the nightmare of her ordeal not yet over as the dull reminder of her predicament whistled through the air and reached her ears.
The army were closing in on her, and fast.
Bashing her fist against the tree, Claire swallowed back another wave of sickness. The light was slowing dwindling and her familiarity with this part of the forest was severely lacking.
Ahead a brief glimpse of sunset through the diminishing tree line caught her eye, the hints of orange and red sparking like firelight on the almost invisible horizon. The wind rose as she puffed her way through the heather and bracken, her toes bleeding and cut as she trudged barefoot upwards.
Pushing away the imminent urge to curl up and sleep, Claire forced herself out of the forest. The hill itself seemed innocuous, the tall stones standing proud at its peak catching the last of the light as she dug her hands into the damp grass and forged her way up further, closer to the top.
Her hair swung wildly in the wind as she reached it, the mass of curls tangling further as the sweat of exertion poured from her brow. Scrambling through the detritus that sat harmlessly in the centre of the stone circle, Claire turned her head, her eyes just catching a flash of maroon through the trees.
“No” she whispered, her knees quaking as she thrust herself low to the ground, pulling the threadbare tartan blanket over her shoulders as if to shield herself.
The voices were louder now, their coarse cries swirling around her in the rising breeze. It wouldn’t be long, she realised, and they’d be upon her. Not having the momentum to continue, Claire slid herself forwards on the ground, crawling through the filth at the base of the largest of the central stones, her hands shivering with cold and fever as her wounds began to throb harder, the cuts opening and allowing fresh droplets of blood to roll down her already moist spine.
Smacking her back against the solid stone, she cried out as the pain shook her.
Suddenly, and without warning, the ground seemed to shift beneath her bottom, the earth trembling uncontrollably under her as the world began to spin right before her eyes. Shifting her head, Claire clenched her fists in an effort to keep herself still, the piercing shriek that replaced the soldiers calls echoing in her eardrums, deafening her. Her arms flailed wildly as her body seemed to tear apart, her limbs being pulled from their sockets as the hurricane continued.
As the maelstrom ceased, Claire felt herself dip in and out of consciousness, her hands screwed up tightly in her hair as she sunk her head closer to the grass. Tickling her nose, the distinct smell of smoke roused her and she uncurled herself slowly.
Fear took root at the base of her spine as she crawled on all fours around the stone, not daring to touch it again, afraid of what it might do.
Peeking her head around, her eyes caught sight of the scent that had brought her round. A fire had been lit just to the side of the hill, it’s flames drifting up into the night sky as it burned away.
Something was off, Claire realised, her chest constricting as she glanced behind her.
Lights twinkled below in the valley, a whole range of them glowing at the base of the hills.
Inverness? She questioned to herself. But how could she see it so distinctly?
Furrowing her brow she turned back to the immediate call of the fire, her frigid body cold to the bone.
The same unknown feeling that told her something wasn’t quite the same flared. She should have been captured by now, clad in irons and marching with the soldiers back to Fort William. They had, after all, been right behind her just a moment before.
But she hadn’t been.
In fact she felt the distinct feeling of safety. Only the prickle of a notion that seemed to whisper to her that she had nothing to fear from those men here.
Taking the chance, Claire stood once more, letting her shaking knees bear the weight of her as she crept as silently as she was able towards the heat.
“Where am I?” She sighed, her voice trembling as she spoke to the darkness, her hands forming fists at her side as she prepared herself for the unknown.
He heard the snap of the twig before he saw her. Raising his head from his position collecting kindling from the sparse forest that lay to the righthand side of the hillock, Jamie gazed at the battered woman who now stood bashfully in front of his wee fire.
“Ah Dhia!” He whispered, his voice catching in his throat as he hid himself behind the largest tree.
The fire lit her face, the dark streaks of muck illuminated by the light. She was pale, far too fair skinned for a healthy person. He could tell from the way that she held herself that she was in pain, but he couldn’t pinpoint why from his hiding place.
Not wanting to spook her, he crept on his tiptoes to the edge of the trees, holding his hands up in surrender just in case she turned at an inopportune moment and he caught her off guard.
Her dress was peculiar, he realised, her bodice old and torn but still not of this time.
A costume, perhaps. But something about her told him she wasn’t an actress or a member of the local historical society. No, she seemed all too comfortable in her outfit for it to have been a replication of 18th century highland attire.
Wiping his hands on his kilt, Jamie readied himself. Curiosity won out and he began to walk slowly back towards his fire as he watched the strange girl fall to her knees, the relief on her face endearing her to him further.
Without a word, he stepped even closer, the heat of the fire reaching him from where he stood. She still hadn’t seemed to notice him, and the closer he got the more afraid he became of startling her.
“Hey…lassie…” he called out, keeping his voice low as he approached.
Claire threw herself to her feet with some force, her joints protesting as she turned on her new companion. From the tone of his voice, and from the Scots lilt, she didn’t immediately assume danger, but as shaken as she was, she wasn’t completely assured of her safety either.
Her eyes went wide as she caught sight of the man who’d called out to her. His red hair sat slicked back atop his head, fighting in the breeze to free itself from whatever concoction he’d smeared through it. His kilt was bright, something not quite befitting any other plaid she’d seen worn before and his boots were large and shiny.
Shaking her head, she held her hands up in a similar pose. Still she couldn’t pluck out the sounds of the army close by, and the thought that they’d magically disappeared began to sit nervously in her belly.
Where was she?
“You don’t need to fear me, aye?” The young man interjected, stopping only inches away from her as he dipped his head in mock surrender. “I willna hurt you. Promise.”
His smile was reassuring, and Claire dropped her hands and drew in a much needed breath.
Seeming genuine, she allowed him to walk closer, his hand reaching out now as he tried to remove some of the loose leaves and twigs from her mussed hair.
“Got yerself into a wee bit o’ a swivet have ye?” He spoke, his voice soft and calming as he took her in. “I’m James Fraser, Jamie to most. Who might you be?” He asked, curiosity obviously getting the better of him.
Inhaling a deep breath, Claire made to answer him. But as she did a wave of nausea overtook her and her throat trembled with the force of it.
Faster than he’d imagined, Jamie reached out just in time to catch the stranger as her eyes rolled back into her head and she fainted.
“Christ!” He yelled, seeing her face pale and her shoulders slump.
Gathering her up, Jamie slipped his arms beneath her legs and held her to his chest as he strolled back towards his car.
“I guess this means yer coming wi’ me,” he chuckled, placing her softly on the cushioned leather of his back seat. “My mam always said I ha’ lassies falling for me. She isna wrong, aye?” He joked, brushing her curls away from her forehead as he covered her with his own clean blanket, closing the door softly behind him as he climbed into the front seat.
Placing the key into the ignition, Jamie switched on the headlights and glanced back over to his unconscious companion, a wistful smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he took in her prostrate form.
Memories of old stories filled his mind as he tipped his head, viewing her with a sort of caution that seemed to spring from the idea of her miraculous appearance.
He had been alone up here. Craigh na Dunn was a notorious spot for the local druid woman, but only at certain times of the year. Beltane had just passed and as such, those who came here to dance had been days before to complete their ritual. That’s why he’d chosen that moment to flee his sisters monotonous wedding preparations. That’s why he was still in his kilt and not in his trousers.
The thought hit him then. A fairy. One of the magical folk.
The stories his grannie use to tell him sprung to mind as he put a name to the sourcery.
Madness, he scoffed, shaking his head at the myriad of daft thoughts that had begun to spiral in his mind. What a daft notion, of course she wasn’t a fairy!
“Please…” he heard as his guest began to cry out behind him, “don’t…no…please!”
Reaching backwards, Jamie laid his large palm against his cheek as he maneuvered the car towards the main road.
“Hush, lassie,” he cooed as he drove slowly, the lanes narrow and windy as he steered the car in the direction of Lallybroch and home. “Nobody will hurt ye here, rest up.”
The calm voice penetrated her nightmares as Claire twisted herself away from the harsh slap of the lash. Kind eyes and a flash of ginger broke through the angry vision of Randall and her capture. Clambering for some sort of foothold, she managed to find purchase on skin. A hand encircled hers and she gripped it with all her might, holding on as if it might rescue her from drowning in the hell that held her hostage.
‘Hush now…I’ll protect ye, I promise….’ the voice said, the waves of it breaking the shores of her horror and dissipating the pain. ‘Sleep now, mo nighean, rest.’
If I ever stop complaining about Fantastic Beasts casting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald instead of just recasting Jamie Campbell Bower, then you’ll know that that’s not really me anymore, and I’ve been locked away in a trunk somewhere with my face stolen by a bleached pineapple comme Graves style.
New project alert! For his next film, Jim Sheridan
is seizing upon a true story about the Maze Prison escape, which was
known as the Great Escape when the story unfolded in Northern Ireland.
The three-time Oscar-nominated writer-director has just cast Cillian Murphy (Dunkirk, Inception) and Fifty Shades star Jamie Dornan to lead the cast, with Pierce Brosnan in talks to also join H-Block.
The story is about an escape from
the maximum-security prison that became a source of propaganda used by
the IRA. Thirty-eight prisoners escaped from H-Block with only 19 recaptured.
In the escape, one officer died of a heart attack after being stabbed
(one of four injured that way). In all, 20 were injured including
being stabbed or shot; one prison officer was shot in the head but
survived. The escape was a violent breakout that included hostage taking
and ended up being the biggest in both British and Irish history.
Murphy stars as the head of the ring of IRA prisoners who
has earned the respect of the prison guards but now just wants a life of
peace.The gritty role for Dornan is a decided turn from what the actor has
been doing and gives him a chance to really let loose and show his
acting chops as an IRA prisoner and orderly who starts discovering
weaknesses in the prison. He also is one of the last IRA prisoners to
agree to the escape — but leave he does and with a vengeance on the way
out.The role for Brosnan would be a good one for him for the same reasons
as he would play the antagonist — warden of the Maze Prison who is
pitted against the escapees.