Shifted - Part 7, Chapter 8
n Shifted, the premise is simple - what if Claire had gotten pregnant with Brianna a month or two earlier in the story, and she and Jamie had re-evaluated their priorities and decided that the cause was lost, and they were able to slip away from the army and quietly return to Lallybroch?
Part 7 - The Visitor
Lallybroch, Autumn 1762
Jenny had set Roger to work, gathering eggs and feeding the sheep along with Young Jamie. Claire was grateful she didn’t have to face him as soon as she came downstairs for breakfast – she wanted to speak with Brianna first. William’s question – together with his unexpected need for physical comfort – had shaken her. She didn’t want Brianna to feel the same way – and she certainly wanted to learn more about her daughter’s feelings for Roger.
Claire slowly stirred her parritch, watching the apple chunks almost melt into the steaming oats. She listened absently to Jamie and Ian’s conversation about the mare that was about to foal, and kept one eye on Brianna, quietly finishing her breakfast across the table. Jamie’s right hand lay on her thigh, thumb softly gliding back and forth, while he finished his own parritch with his left hand.
When Brianna stood to take her empty bowl to the kitchen, Claire squeezed Jamie’s hand and followed her – grasping at the opportunity to speak with her daughter alone. Right outside the kitchen, she lay a hand gently on Brianna’s shoulder – which was difficult, considering the girl was already taller than she was.
“What’s the rush? Did you not finish your lessons again in time for school?”
Brianna sighed, settling against the whitewashed wall. “I did, but - it doesna matter, Mama. I’ll be done soon anyway – no need for schooling after this term is up.”
“Brianna.” Claire used her best Mama voice to draw her daughter’s eyes upwards. She waited until Brianna’s blue eyes met hers. “What have I told you about your education? About how important it is?”
“I understand, Mama. But what does it matter, anyway? You know this is my last term. There’s no more schooling after this.”
“Says who?” Claire rested an arm gently on Brianna’s elbow. “Remember when we talked with your Da about the Universite in Paris?”
“Aye. But will they truly take me, Mama? A girl from a Scottish farm? I’ve never been to a grand city like Paris. I canna speak much French, and I dinna ken what to study.” She licked her lips. “And I dinna want to be so far from you, and Da, and William.”
Gently Claire gathered her daughter into her embrace. Brianna hugged her mother tightly and sighed deeply.
“If it’s what you want, love, we’ll make it work. We’ll find a way.”
Brianna nodded into the curve of Claire’s neck, just happy to be held by her.
“Mama?” she asked softly after a long moment.
“What do ye think about Roger?”
Ah. Claire drew back and raised one eyebrow. “He seemed pretty smitten with you last night,” she said matter-of-factly. “And I wasn’t the only person to notice that you stared right back at him.”
Brianna blushed. “He’s from your own time, then?”
Claire nodded. “He is. And I did know him, when he was a lad. He surprised me yesterday.”
“Aye, I could see that. Ye were a bit quieter than usual last night at supper.” Brianna paused. “Does he intend to stay?”
Claire sighed. “I have no idea. Your father and I want to find out.” She cocked her head, inquisitive. “Would you want him to stay?”
Brianna licked her lips. “I dinna ken, Mama. He’s so different. And so – ” she hesitated, face flushed.
“So – what?” Claire encouraged.
Brianna smiled nervously. “Well, he’s so handsome, Mama! He has the most beautiful eyes!” Mortified, she covered her mouth with one hand.
Claire smiled, so happy for her daughter. “There’s nothing wrong with admiring a man in that way. I still feel that way whenever I look at your father.”
Brianna set her shoulders. “A Dhia, Mama. Dinna talk to me of that just now. Everyone kens what you and Da were up to when ye took your wee trip together.”
Claire laughed. “Your man should make you happy, Brianna. And make you feel for the rest of your life like you’re sixteen again.”
Brianna’s fair brow rose. “But I am sixteen, Mama.”
Claire nudged her daughter closer to the kitchen. “So remember this feeling. Because if you don’t have feeling like this whenever your man looks at you – he’s not worth your while.”