Imagine Murtagh meeting Brianna for the first time and being amazed on how much she looks like Ellen and what he would think.
“Where’s yer uncle?” Murtagh asked Ian who was effectively standing guard over Marsali and Germain.
“He went to take a piss,” Ian informed him, ignorant of Marsali’s eye roll as she readjusted Germain in her arms. The lad––nearly a toddler––had been worn out by all the people and things there were to see and had finally passed out in his mother’s arms.
“He’s been gone a while if that’s all he was about,” Marsali observed. “We ken they were hoping he wouldna have time to prepare for Fergus’ defense.”
Ian worried aloud, “Ye dinna think they meant to take extra measures to be sure he couldna help Fergus, do ye?”
Murtagh frowned at Ian as Marsali continued to pale and fidget beside them, nervously bouncing Germain.
“You stay here,” he instructed Ian. “I’ll see what’s holding him up.”
He muttered under his breath as he walked away. In many ways Jenny’s youngest lad reminded Murtagh of his godson but he lacked Jamie’s tact and awareness… though Jamie hadn’t always had possession of those himself.
It was interesting to see the effect living with Jamie and Claire had on Ian––and he on them. Murtagh felt the familiar stab of disappointment that he’d never gotten to see Jamie with his own child. Those days in Paris––as painful as they could be with all their dull and stuffy trips into ‘society’ and the watching over your shoulder everywhere you went––they had at least been spent in pursuit of a better future, building something for that bairn Claire had carried in her belly. Losing the wee lass at the same time their plotting in Paris and hopes of having any lasting impact fell to pieces had left them all adrift when they’d returned to Lallybroch. They hadn’t truly regained a sense of direction until they were forcibly dragged into the fighting itself by that ‘bonnie,’ naive prince. And then the news of the second bairn––another lass, Claire told them––come too late and raised in a time and place entirely foreign to them.
Murtagh’s reverie was interrupted as he spotted Jamie around the back of the building. There was someone with him, which immediately put Murtagh on edge. His hand rested on the handle of his knife where it was tucked safely into his belt. But Jamie’s posture was awkward and uncomfortable, not fearful or aggressive. Murtagh wasn’t sure what to make of the lad whose back was to him. Tall and braw but there was something… off about him.
Jamie caught sight of Murtagh and as his attention focused on his godfather, the lad he was addressing turned to look as well.
Murtagh thought his heart might fail him.
His hand dropped away from his knife and his knees began to buckle. He reached out for something to lean on but there was nothing at hand. Jamie rushed forward and caught him.
“Murtagh,” he murmured as he led the older man toward a nearby tree. “Are ye unwell?”
“Ellen,” he whispered in response. “The lass looks like Ellen.”
Jamie smiled with pride. “Aye, and wi’ good reason.”
“Is he okay?” the lass herself asked in an unusual accent. She stood back, her arms crossed over her chest.
It was nothing like Ellen’s voice. Somehow, that helped Murtagh to regain control of himself.
“No need to ask ye who ye are,” Murtagh said gruffly, straightening and clearing his throat. “Claire said ye favored yer father. She couldna have kent just how much ye were like yer grandmother, though.”
She was younger than Ellen had been when she’d run off from the Gathering with Brian Fraser; she was closer to the age Ellen had been when hehad first met her.
“Mama said I looked like the portrait of her,” Brianna recounted, her gaze drifting between Jamie and Murtagh. “It’s hanging in the National Portrait Galler. After Mama… left, I went to see it myself. They don’t have her name but I could see what Mama meant.”
Murtagh felt a lump form in his throat and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t quite swallow it down. It pained him that Ellen’s name had been lost, but that her portrait still hung in a museum two hundred years from now… That she would endure like that was fitting… and that she had endured in the form of this lass––her granddaughter.
“What did ye need me for?” Jamie finally thought to ask.
Murtagh snapped back to the present and recalled poor Marsali worried about Fergus with naught but Ian and wee Germain for comfort.
“Came to fetch ye. Fergus’ case will be called soon,” he explained.
Jamie jumped. “Christ! Marsali must be––come,” he motioned to Brianna. “This willna take long.” And with that Jamie began striding purposefully forward leaving Murtagh and Brianna to fall awkwardly into step together in his wake.
“You’re Murtagh, aren’t you?” Brianna ventured, breaking the silence.
He responded with a gruff and wary, “Aye.”
“Mama thought you must have died at Culloden too. Ad we didn’t find word of you while we were looking for Ja––for Da,” she explained, flushing in a pretty way that deepened her resemblance to Ellen MacKenzie Fraser and caused Murtagh to flush as well.
“Aye, well, it was a near thing a few times but I wasna so important as yer father. I wouldna expect history to recall me as it would him.”
As they came around the corner of the building to find Jamie with Marsali and Ian, Brianna’s mouth shut, her lips pressing together self-consciously.
It occurred to Murtagh that there was a lot to the story of the last twenty-some-odd years that Brianna––like Claire before her––was missing. Murtagh decided to have a few words with Jamie this time around rather than interfering personally.