Flood my (Christmas) Mornings
Notes from Mod Bonnie:
- This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
- See all past installments via Bonnie’s Master List
- Previous installment: Sweet Souls (Jamie tells Bree a story to get her to sleep)
December 25, 1950
‘Children laughing, people passing’
Laughing. That’s what one expects to hear from children on Christmas morning.
Not a BLOODCURDLING SCREAM.
Jamie and I went from dead-sleep to complete and utter panic in a single heartbeat, and staggered blindly to her room to find it empty. After a frantic ten seconds, we found her in the doorway to the living room, shrieking in delight at the Christmas tree by the fire.
I groaned in relief and clutched my belly, panting, but Jamie was faster to action. “Brianna Ellen Fraser!” His whole body electric with adrenaline, he snatched her up off the ground and made her look him in the eye.“You’re NOT to prowl around the house wi’out your mother or me, d’ye hear me? Ye stay in your room until we fetch ye.” He gave her a harmless but firm shake for emphasis. “D’ye hear?”
“But—but—Daddy, LOOK!” She contorted in his arms to loll her head back at the tinsel-clad tree. “CHRINSMINS!!!”
Jamie exhaled hugely and closed his eyes for a moment, as if forcing the fear and anger to exit his body. I rubbed his arm encouragingly and he made a small sound of acknowledgment before kissing Bree’s cheek. “Aye, Christmas, it is.” He set her back down on the floor and put his arm around my waist, the both of us looking down ruefully at our grey-hair-inducing progeny. “Ye like the tree, cub?”
“AYE!” Bree squealed emphatically, bouncing twice on the spot for joy before running over to examine it more closely.
Jamie and I had brought in the tree last night after she had gone to bed, making a happy, pajama-clad, fireside evening of getting the thing decorated as the snow gathered outside. We’d happily gorged ourselves on Mrs. Byrd’s iced gingerbread and guzzled apple cider as we festooned the branches with baubles and tinsel. Jamie, though he’d never before the 20th century heard of such a daft thing as bringing a live tree indoors and gaudying it up, seemed absolutely delighted by the overall effect—though in all honesty, it may have been the dollops of whisky he added to his cider. He kept on stepping back and proclaiming passionately, “’s’BEAUTiful!”
A good portion of the tinsel ended up in our hair and clothing, for decorating inevitably turned into throwing and fits of helpless giggles; and, of course, icing was attack-smeared over faces as we laughed ourselves hoarse; and *naturally,* one thing led to another, AND we ended up on the ground, naked, covered in sticky sugar, and making sweet, sweet Christmas Eve love on the rug (an activity that doesn’t often make the carols and poems, that)(but pretty bloody festive, in my book).
Jamie’s squeezing my arse into oblivion (as though also remembering our celebrations last night) was more than a little distracting as we fondly watched Bree, swaying as she stared in rapture up at the tree. “S’all—” she made a vague, sweeping gesture with both arms, and hopped up and down, “—all—HAPPY!”
I gave Jamie a squeeze back, laughing. “The tree makes you feel happy, lovey?”
Bree glared at me, ever the toddler-pedant. “It IS happy, Mama, see? See it?”
“You’re so right, baby. It’s a very happy tree.”
A quarter of an hour later, with mugs of tea and plates of toast with cinnamon butter, Bing Cosby crooned out Christmas tunes from the record player while the rest of us sat on the floor by the fire to open gifts.
Bree went first, of course, and her gasp of delight was nearly as alarming as the one that had awoken us in terror. “Issa TRAINNN!!” she squealed, pulling the wrapping paper loose with startling voracity.
All in all, I would wager Jamie had just as much fun setting the wooden train set up as Bree, and she was having a jolly good time. Seeing the pair of them laying on their stomachs, choo-choo-ing along and causing disastrous (and apparently hilarious) collisions was a special kind of joy.
I wrapped my hands around my mug and leaned back against the face of the sofa, feeling—something in my belly. Not movement—it was far too early for quickening, but that bit of foreign pressure…yes, that was there.
I can’t wait to meet you, little one, I said silently to my child. Hurry up and join us, alright? And I could have sworn the pressure responded.
“Happy Christmas, Sassenach.” Jamie was handing me a lumpy parcel wrapped in brown paper.
“Oh, darling!” I cried in delight a moment later, wrapping what turned out to be a sumptuous plum-colored wool scarf around my neck, “this is gorgeous! Wherever did you get it?”
“…You MADE it??”
“Oh, aye,” he shrugged, oh-so-casually.
I just bloody stared at him. “You….KNIT???”
“Aye…is it bad?” He was startled by the intensity of my shock and he looked both bewildered and slightly nervous.
“NO—not at ALL, but—” I ran my fingers over the fine, neat rows of stitches. “I just—don’t think I’ve ever known a man that knits!”
“No? All highland boys do. Something to keep the hands useful while tending sheep or the like. Or, when there’s down moments at the barn not occupied by the lassies,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. He grinned shyly. “Ye really like it?”
“I LOVE it,” I said, with complete sincerity. “Just you wait, all the girls at the hospital will be after you to make THEM one!”
“Well, I’ll do what I can,” he said amiably, and I could tell he was gratified.
“Lord, I feel foolish over your present now.” It was definitely NOT homemade.
He grinned. “I’m sure I’ll love it, mo nighean donn.”
He did love it, in fact. The look of glee in his eye as he thumbed through the full-color special edition of Motor Trend (along with an indefinite subscription) made it clear just how much of a monster we’d created in letting Jamie get his hands on a car— Sorry, get his hands on BONNIE (Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ). See? A monster. He was vociferating passionately about one of the articles on new headlight trends for 1951, when both of our Parent Radar Senses pricked up. “Bree, what are ye doing, there, lass?”
Bree was walking purposefully toward the foyer, and said only, “Somethin’”
Jamie snorted with a laugh. “Ye dinna say!”
“Loveyyyyy…. Tell Mum and Da what you’re doing, over there.”
She didn’t answer, intent on reaching under the buffet cabinet by the door to grab for something, something that turned out to be a mailing envelope.
“Why, you clever girl, spotting that!” I peered in vain to ascertain if it was a piece of incoming mail or outgoing. Regardless, it must have gotten pushed off the back of the cabinet by accident, and sat unseen for God knew how long. Hopefully it wasn’t an overdue bill or something urgent.
“Aye, good work, cub. Can ye bring it here?”
Pleased with her successful rescue mission, Bree skipped back to us and gave the letter to Jamie. He glanced at it for a minute, then grinned. “That’s a Christmas present for your Mama, a leannan.”
“Oh? Another one?”
“No’ one that was planned, but I think it’ll be a welcome one, all the same.”
“Heer’go, Mama,” Bree said, flinging it unceremoniously into my lap. Harvard University, the return address said.
“Could be very much NOT a present, you know,” I said, seizing up and feeling like I wanted to vomit from anxiety. “In admissions, small envelopes are usually bad news, not good.”
Jamie’s expression wavered a bit at that, but he gave a game sort of shrug. “Open it?”
I slit open the envelope with a fingernail. God, these old fuddy-duddy bastards surely rejected me for being a married woman. Thank God, I hadn’t known I was pregnant at the time, for that surely would have been an automatic, No thank you. This rejection would be—
It must have shown on my face, for Jamie was beaming from ear to ear as he crawled over to kiss me. “Well done, Sassenach!!”
“It does say accepted, right?” I handed him the letter. “My brain isn’t making it up?”
“Aye, there it is, right in black and white. ‘We are pleased to inform you that you have been ACCEPTED.’ Bree, lass, your mother’s going to be a doctor! That’s exciting, aye?”
“Yeah!!!” Bree said, though she was mostly focused on her trains.
“More like I’m going to be a part-time organic chemistry and biology student,” I said, but practically bubbling over with relief. I’d been expecting that goddamn letter WEEKS ago! “Just the two prerequisites, but…” BUT STILL!
“I’m so proud of ye, lass,” he said, beaming. “Happy, happy Christmas, mo ghraidh.”