julia is having a good hair day

Fanfiction - Outlander Secret Santa 2016

Dear @lenny9987,

It turns out I am your Secret Santa. I’m curious to know if you had any suspicions about it. It has been truly a pleasure to do this for you – someone I admired even before I came on Tumblr, such a talented lady and insightful soul. I’m honestly so in awe of you that am a bit shy about it. 

In your latest response, you told me about how you would like Outlander to end – and talked about legacy. Serendipity, because it turns out I was finishing writing for you a story that is just about that (on many levels).

I hope you enjoy it. Wishing you a Merry Christmas - filled with love, laugh and Outlander. <3 And thank you @moghraidhjamie for the brilliant plan and doing this for all of us!

Tales of Us

“Jules!” Henry called upon entering the house, smiling as he aimed to throw his hat in the direction of the heavy hanger standing by the door.

“There you are!” Julia Beauchamp marched into the hall to greet him, touching his face in passing, going to help him out of his day coat. “Dinner won’t keep much longer – the chicken is probably twice dead by now, from all the waiting. What happened?”

“Quite the story, my dear! I’ll tell you all about it while we eat – I’m famished. I’ll go and wash while you ask Mrs. Florence to serve. Where is my sweet girl?”

“Sweet, hmmpf.” Julia snorted, giving him a one eyed look with honeyed eyes, an amused smile gracing her soft mouth. “You only say that because you come home when she is already fed and clean, not looking like the devilish thing she is all day. Claire is already asleep, it’s past her bedtime in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Oh.” He seemed to deflate like an empty balloon – he was always fairly eager for the moments he got to spend with their daughter, after working all day. “Alright, then. I’ll go and kiss her after dinner.”

They eventually sat down for the evening meal, Henry enthusiastically launching himself on the complex tale of the events that had led to his delay.

“…The poor woman – Emma – in labour in the middle of the street, huffing and puffing like a wildcat – I’m so fortunate to have seen you so before, my darling, or I’d been running for the hills!”

“Aren’t you brave, sir?” She smiled to him with a glint in her eye, mocking. “What then?”

“Well,” He shrugged, slightly embarrassed. “The Royal London Hospital was quite near. So I carried her there. End up staying to make sure everything was well - her husband was away from the city, in Scotland to visit some family.”

“You did?” She shook her head, visibly impressed. “And the child?”

“A boy.” He smiled, raising his glass of dark and rich wine. “Red as a plump tomato, but incredibly fair, the poor chap. The most beautiful creature in the world to his mother, nonetheless.”

“Yes, I’m sure of that.” Julia agreed with tenderness in her voice, her mind wandering to the first glimpse she had had of her daughter, glowing like an opal amidst the haze of childbearing. The strangeness of knowing an entire person had lived inside her for months – sharing dreams, cravings and anxieties - yet capable of being so singularly unique.

“Emma was so grateful for my assistance she offered me that book.” He pointed to an old volume, which he had previously rescued from his coat’s pocket, now laying on the coffee table. “She said it was a favourite of her and her husband, an antique he had purchased from a bookseller because he and the author shared the same family name – Mackenzie.”

“That’s lovely, Henry. I think I’ll forgive you for being terribly late, just this time.” Julia squeezed his hand. “Shall we drink to this new life you helped into this world?”

“Yes!” He laughed and filled both of their glasses to the brim with liquid happiness. “Long may live Jeremiah Walter Mackenzie!”

****

“How did we manage to make such a perfect thing?” Henry heard Julia’s voice and looked above his shoulder, seeing her standing steps away from him in the hallway, her arms crossed and the smile – that smile! – that she always wore so well.

“I don’t know.” He sighed and his eyes softened at once when he looked at the sleeping form of their daughter. He had been lost in contemplation of her – again. “I wasn’t thinking much when we made her. Maybe it was beginner’s luck.”

She snorted and came to hug him from behind, her warm and small hands folding around his chest.

“What were you thinking just now, when I interrupted you?” Julia felt him stir and kissed the back of his neck. “You looked puzzled and a tad concerned. What is it?”

He hesitated – she could feel the battle inside him and the moment he decided to speak freely, his muscles tightening bellow her fingertips. He turned and caught her, hugging her with his long arms. She sighed blissfully, her head coming to rest on that special place on the curve of his neck.

“Once Claire is grown,” He started, moistening his lips. “What will we tell her about how we met?” Henry slid his fingers on her face and tilted her chin to meet his gaze. “About how you came?”

“I reckon we should tell her the easiest thing, really.” Julia squeezed his hand. “The truth.”

“Are you sure?” He pressed on, agitated. “Maybe it’s too much for her to bear. She will have questions and I don’t want her to feel in any way different.”

“She is different, darling.” Julia smiled tenderly and caressed the shadow of his stubble. “Claire is the daughter of a time traveller and a lawyer - deception is a second nature for the both of us. And yet our daughter is incapable of lying even to save her bum from a good smacking; and when she does try, she fails miserably. There isn’t a dishonest bone in her body.”

“You’re right.” He murmured. Henry took her hand and guided her back to the living room, where he collapsed on his favourite armchair, pushing her to sit on his lap.

“Besides,” Julia resumed. “She might be able to travel herself. You wouldn’t want her to go someday to see the Stonehenge and end up thrown back in time, completely unprepared.”

“I never thought of that.” He conceded, looking even more alarmed than before. “My God, she could get in all kinds of trouble!”

“Yes.” Julia slowly nodded. “As I did, before I found you.”

Silence fell between them, as both their memories were flooded with images from their now distant past – the strange girl with dangerous ideas; the turmoil of accusations – from mentally insane to Hungarian spy; the bold words and scandalous clothes; and the respected yet lovely man that saw through it all, decided to love her against all opinions and wise words of advice.

“Do you ever regret it?” Henry whispered, after he passionately kissed her lips. “Your decision to never return to the future? I know what you lost, Jules.” He said in a husky voice. “It seems the Great War just ended and yet we know soon enough the world will be upside down again. You lost the privileges and rights you were used to - and have to live with the burden of knowing such things to come.”

“Someone has to battle for women’s suffrage.” She winked. “Maybe I was meant to come and make the future happen as I knew it. Perhaps it only happened because I came.”

“I’m afraid for Claire.” He admitted, brushing her temple with his lips. “It’s only good she has at least one brave parent.”

“We’ll tell her the truth, Henry.” Julia said with finality, her fingers combing his dark hair. “And one day she can decide for herself. But if she was to find a love like ours in another time and place – I can only pray that she’d be wise enough to make the same choice I did. To live it well, no matter the cost.”

“Mama.” A small voice came from the door. They turned their necks and watched three-year-old Claire, curly hair spiked in every direction, marching in with her small white nightgown, bringing Raymond – the teddy bear – in tow. “Bad dream. Read me a story?”

“Alright, sweetie.” Julia gave Henry a final peck on the lips and moved to grab the book from the table. “Daddy brought in a new book, shall we give it a try?”

“Is it a boing book?” The toddler asked, suspicious.

“Boring?” Julia smiled, knowing that Claire was always disappointed to discover her father’s legal tomes. “I don’t think so – this one has stories in it. Shall we go?”

Claire nodded ecstatically – a new book was an event well worthy of celebration.

“Let’s see.” Julia started, after tucking Claire in – a hard task that ended with a tickle battle, both of them blushed and puffing, breathless. She opened the book, her finger tracing the faded black ink from the yellow and fragile pages, a sudden chill prickling her skin like a whisper.

Tales of Us

A story by Roger J.W.Mackenzie

Once upon a time, in a cabin amongst the wilderness, lived a healer and a red man whose heart belonged to her the moment they met…”

***

Jamie came in late that night, his hands stiff and cold after a long day at the fields. I was already nestled in bed, the blissful feeling of warmth enveloping me - basking in the singular comfort of knowing myself snug when the world around me was filled with the threat of winter.

I had been waiting for him, concern eating away inside my chest, and my heart leapt as soon as I heard him coughing downstairs. He was just starting to compose himself after the swooping pneumonia that had hit him a few weeks ago; I had pleaded for him to stay home a while longer, but at the redeeming age of seventy five he wasn’t about to become less stubborn – and so in spite of my strong looks of reprimand, he had strolled out of the house to oversee the harvest. At least he wasn’t doing any actual physical labour – was he?

This time things had been touch and go for a while – fever had consumed him for days, and even my best batch of penicillin in a long time had seemed only to slow down the progress of the disease. I had been almost powerless, knowing that the battle was being fought somewhere inside him, far away from my eager hands. That hadn’t prevented me from standing watch to him, denying with alacrity any attempt of replacement or soft words that urged me to rest - there was no rest away from Jamie; there were no possible distractions when the man that was my entire life was struggling to come back to me once more.

But Jamie had prevailed again and everyone in Fraser’s Ridge would say that he was the same man as before – it was only on the confessional of our bedroom that he felt safe enough to be weak. To surrender himself to a healing sleep, much deeper than usual. To feel the pain in his joints and allow me to massage his fingers with my special ointment. To be scared with me of how little time we had left.  

“Are ye still awake then?” He asked upon entering the room. Jamie had freed his hair from the ribbon, now almost entirely grey, like a fire vanishing in a dark cloud of ash. His face was carved with lines, more from tiredness than from age, as he still maintained a grace about his high cheeks and full mouth.

“My hip is troubling me.” I answered. It wasn’t a lie per se – my hip had taken the bad habit of throbbing with pain in the most inappropriate circumstances, and Jamie knew it better than anyone.

But what kept me awake was a longing that ran bone deep – the sudden realization that our next meeting might never come. The thought of losing him was asphyxiating, so much so I feared my heart would forget how to beat – I couldn’t bear the idea that he wouldn’t be in my arms when it happened.

“Ye should spare yerself, Sassenach.” He gave me a concerned look, while he slowly bent to rid himself of his boots. “Stay inside more instead of wandering about, tending the sick.”

“The pot calling the kettle black.” I said cheerfully, giving him a narrow look. Well most of my looks were narrow by then – my eyesight wasn’t that great anymore due to a combination of cataracts and presbyopia. “I’ll stay dutifully inside by the fire when you join me, alright?”

He rolled his eyes, but his lips twitched in a smile.

“I brought ye a wee gift.” He sat on my side of the bed, next to me, and presented me with a parcel folded in cream paper.

“Oh.” I blurted, surprised. “What’s this about?”

He looked embarrassed but a tad defiant, his blue eyes shining bright.

“Well, thirty years ago ye came back to me and became my wife again.” He noticed my surprised look and laughed. “A man seldom forgets the day he was born again, Sassenach.” Jamie said softly, smiling more widely, his eyes limpid as summer’s oceans.

Tales of Us.” I squinted to read on the first page of the book I now possessed. “You put wee Roger up to this?”

“Aye, mostly. Roger Mac has a real knack for storytelling, ye ken? And he was willing – said he might as well write some of our wickedness down, so that Jemmy and Mandy can accurately tell our greatgrandchildren our story. I think wee Roger is becoming melancholic in his auld age.”

“If you find Roger old, what are you?” I snorted and rolled my eyes.

“Wise, of course.” He raised an eyebrow and stretched himself to lay down closer to me.

I giggled, thinking of little Claire Faith and Jamie Ellis listening to the more interesting parts of our shared history. I perused the small volume and ended on the final page, noticing it blank – unfinished.

“He promised he will finish it, afterwards.” Jamie said in a low tone, his voice husky. I understood what he meant – Roger would write the ending of our story after we were gone.

I kissed him on the lips, wordless. Thirty years ago I had entered that Printshop with mixed hope and fear – not knowing what would come, but willing to start again with the man that was my soul - if he wanted me back. And he had wanted me everyday ever since – proved it to me with kisses, words and actions each day of our shared lives.

“One day I promised ye’d be the last lass I kissed.” He whispered against my white hair, sheltering his words against me, like freshly fallen snow that covers the last green things on the meadow. “And perhaps that kiss is not sae far away now. So I shall kiss ye until I’m out of breath, to make sure I fulfil my promise. I’ll gladly go into the afterlife with the taste of ye still on my lips, mo ghraidh.”

I caressed the lines on his face, which I knew so well. Ahead of us lay a separation that nothing could conquer, a threatening storm forming on the horizon. We could both feel it, the distant thunder that crashed our bones, the ripples of pain to come.

But we were together. And we had faced a lifetime of defying the odds – I had lived a life thinking I would never see him again, only to be given a second chance. Somewhere in the future I would be born and our story would start again.

Jamie grabbed my hand and kissed the ring that was his, entwining our shrivelled fingers afterwards. I reached for some writing tools I kept close to me on the nightstand and managed to scrawl on the bottom of the final page.

“And they kissed, until there were no more kisses left, and even then their lips went on touching, whispering to each other of a thousand kisses shared and a hundred more to come.”