Roger watched Bree and her Aunt Jenny string up enormous twine spider webs through the low hanging branches surrounding the yard where folk would gather. Brianna had rigged simple pulleys that would raise and lower enormous black spiders that she had made out of twigs and branches and painted black to drop down on unsuspecting guests.
They’d briefly debated adding in snakes but Claire had firmly dissuaded them on this point. Ian added to the decor by making corn stalk bundles. The Beardsley children scattered fallen logs and hay bales for impromptu seating.
Roger felt a sudden stab of sadness and, paradoxically, joy as he caught Jem, Jamie, Bree and Jenny standing in a cluster laughing together. Echoes of Brian Fraser that only become more pronounced seeing all the shades of his strong features reflected through this legacy of bone and blood.
He especially envied Bree’s easy way with Jenny. He felt again the sudden shock of their introduction. Before they’d even seen Ian or met his baby, Jamie couldn’t wait to introduce Jemmy and Mandy to their great Auntie He himself had been holding his breath just waiting for some sign of recognition from Jenny.
Roger didn’t believe for a second that she had forgotten him. Lallybroch hadn’t put up too many house guests that dropped in out of the clear blue sky looking for missing children to overlook his time there. Brian, and for a time Jenny as well, had also traipsed hither and yon through the countryside and all the way down to Fort William rendering all manner of assistance to him.
Yet he hadn’t detected even a flicker of recognition when they’d come face to face. Jenny had warmly embraced Bree and the children and offered him a more cordial, and formal, head nod.
“I see a lot of you in Jem and Mandy now that they are older, too.” Claire murmured. Roger turned and smiled at her.
“Aye. But, a flock of Frasers is a sight to behold.” He said, stating the obvious.
“If you ever wanted to talk about it, you know I’m happy to listen.” She said softly, turning a troubled gaze on him. Not knowing how to begin, or what the reaction might be he and Bree hadn’t said very much at all about their adventures, then or in the time before.
Roger took a deep breath, “when I went through looking for Jem, I ended up returning to Lallybroch. In 1739.”
He watched as Claire dropped her head and turned quickly not daring to risk Jamie looking over and seeing the shock on her face. Roger waited for her to say something.
Finally a whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
“He– Jamie was in Paris but Brian and Jenny…I had no choice. I cannot look at Jamie without—”
“No!” He said rather more forcefully that he needed to. “Yes, but not really. I sent word of what happened to Joe.” Claire smiled wistfully. “He sends his love. He and Gayle and Lenny are doing well. Anyway, she knew where I was and she and the children came to find me. Brian saw her first.”
Claire inhaled sharply and slowly let the breath out through her nose.
“Brian thought she and Jem were his wife and son come to him from beyond the grave. He fainted.”
“Fraser men do that whenever they think they’ve seen a ghost.” Claire valiantly tried to make light of the conversation. “Jamie passed out cold the first time he saw me in Edinburgh.”
“Bree…how could we explain? It seemed best to let him think it was a vision. I also knew she’d not be able to resist warning him. That was the hardest thing to hold inside. So I left without any word of thanks or where I’d gone, or that I found my son safe.”
“You were right to leave as you did, Roger.” She reassured him. Claire was quiet a moment and then started to ask him something else.
“Sassenach?” Jamie startled her and she whirled around to find him just behind her carrying two buckets of water. “Och, sorry, lass I didna mean to scare ye. Though I suppose that just gets us into the spirit of the day, aye?”
Roger hadn’t caught more than a glimpse of her for the next several hours. There had been plenty to do and see. As the unofficial hosts of the Halloween affair, he and Bree were kept busy running to and fro, getting games up and running then moving to the next event. The day had been designed around simple pleasures to be enjoyed by adults as well as bairns.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks!” He overheard Jemmy warn.
Roger turned to see Ian looking at the barrel of apples dubiously.
“How hard could it be?” Ian scoffed.
“Give it a try, will thee, Ian? Win me an apple, if thee can.” Rachel’s eye sparkled.
Ian double checked his ribbon to ensure his hair would stay tightly bound and out of the way while Jemmy loosely tied his hands behind his back.
Jamie had just turned around after placing two freshly carved pumpkins to along the already crowded pathway, having put candle stubs stuck in each one and came beside Roger to watch as well.
Rachel stood near Jemmy, all of them laughing uproariously as Ian struggled in vain to snag an apple with his teeth. Ian came up spluttering time and again before he found the trick of trapping the apple against the side and sinking his teeth in.
“Oh well done!” Rachel complimented as her husband neatly dropped his prize into her outstretched hands.
“Now you need to look for the ha’penny!” Jem cried, pointing to the basket of flour set out on the table next to them.
Jem shot Roger a look of glee. Roger almost called out a warning to Ian but Jamie, who wasn’t even looking in his direction, inclined his head in such a way that it stayed the impulse. He could see the snarky expression crossing between grandfather and grandson.
In the basket, a mound of flour hid small coins. Using the same technique as used in the barrels, Ian, hands still tied behind his back, snorted and search around in the basket trying to find coin and leverage but in the end the only thing he had to show for his efforts was a face coated in a fine film of flour. He came up spluttering and spitting out bits of paste to onlooker delight.
Jamie laughed hard at the vision before him.
“Here, Ian, wipe yerself off before you walk about, ye look like a ghost awakened from the graveyard.” Jamie handed him his spare handkerchief, “Shake yer hair out too, lad.”
Spluttering and blinking his eyes furiously, Ian gratefully accepted Jamie’s offering as well as the cider Jemmy placed in his outstretched hand.
Everywhere Roger looked, children were running about excited and happy. Jenny and Bree with the help of Lizzy and Amy had done a great job turning faces into bats, cats, butterflies, pirates, ghosts and goblins, he saw a pig and even a frog here and there knowing those more complicated designs would have been Bree’s.
He knelt down by Mandy who was patiently waiting her turn amongst a group of children. Several hay bales were stacked up forming a simple wall upon which the body of a donkey– looking remarkably like Clarence, was roughly outlined.
Claire had a blindfold and tied it on each child in turn. She spun them around and around, placing the long tail in their hands and set them off to try and complete the picture. He hung back as she did the same for Mandy.
“Oh, well done, dear! You hit the hind quarters. Grand-dad ended up somewhere near his ears!” Mandy smiled, pleased with herself. She spotted Roger placed her had in his. He and Claire shared a smile as Mandy pulled him away urging him on to the next thing.
This turned out to be a three- legged race. Roger noted that Jamie and Germain had entered this heat.
“Do you want a go?” he asked his daughter.
“Jem does.” She said by way of answer.
Sure enough Jem was approaching with a piece of twine to link their legs together. Jamie gave him a distracted smile as about six entrants lined up on the starting line. However, Germain and Jem were clearly staring one another down. The gauntlet laid, Roger shot Jamie a look of challenge. He watched that brow quirk up and he nodded.
Roger and Jem, being more experienced, tightened arms around one another’s sides and leaned into the start line. Jenny was holding Mandy’s hand in hers as she raised her other hand holding the kerchief. By the time she’d finished on your mark get set go, they’d set their feet firmly on the path to victory.
It was neck-and-neck until they rounded the oak tree. Then. Jamie and Germaine found the right rhythm to the game. Despite putting on a full out sprint at the end, Jamie and Germain crossed the finish line steps ahead of them. Bree cheered and clapped, kissing Germain on the forehead celebrating his hard won victory.
He smiled modestly. “I think that this time next year, Jem will be much taller and Grand-pere and I will be out of luck.”
“We’ll have to see what the next year brings, you will grow taller, too; and I imagine your grandfather still has some tricks up his sleeve.” Roger squeezed a companionable arm around Germain’s slight shoulders.
As he did so he was surprised to see Jamie’s own shoulders relax imperceptibly. They hadn’t really talked at all about their plans. Why they were here and where they would be this time next year.
Jamie hadn’t wanted to push. Neither had he, not asking directly what had happened over the last few years. He’d learned of Henri-Christian, a little of the battles fought, a bit more of William and Rachel’s brother Denzell and his wife but no more than superficial information. They both were aware war was coming and soon. They wanted to hang onto these days as long as they could, time enough for action and decision later.
Jamie would want Bree and the children out of danger, but they hadn’t had a chance to fill Bree’s parents in on the fact that there was more likely more danger to Bree, Jem and Mandy then than now. With Frank Randall’s warnings fresh in mind, the past was their refuge. They would need to find the time to explain soon, but not today.
At present, Roger was following Himself into the summer kitchen. Roger had no idea why Jamie had wanted him to follow. He was last here yesterday morning helping Bree create a scary wolf’s head mounted on a board. Ultimately, they decided it looked a little too much like the ghost of Rollo to actually use as a decoration. He shoved it under a shelf in the back corner. They’d dispose of it tomorrow he supposed.
Roger wondered briefly if Jenny had remembered him and told Jamie about it. He mentally prepared himself for the difficult conversation ahead, telling himself that Jamie would understand. He’d lived with travellers long enough to have a sense of the complexities they faced. At this Roger scoffed, complexities indeed, had he and Claire not almost died trying to prevent the aftermath of Culloden? Aye, if anyone understood the costs of this business and the stark choices forced upon travellers, it was Jamie.
They rounded the corner into the small lean to that was for wood, though only half filled now.
“I’ve a thing to give to ye.” Jamie told him, forestalling the I’m sorry Jamie I couldn’t tell your father or your sister, forgive me that had been on the tip of his tongue.
Shocked, Roger found a guitar in his outstretched hands. It had been beautifully made. Six strings, a rarity for these times. Jamie must have gotten the design from Bree. Roger held it up to the light. He saw there was even a leather strap to strong it across his chest. Bree had thought of everything and his father-in-law had seen it through.
“Jamie?” He asked. The name sounding a little less odd on his tongue.
“It’s what ye play? Then, I mean?” He asked him and Roger was deeply touched by the small gleam of apprehension he saw in Jamie’s eyes.
“It’s perfect.” He said.
“Bree thought ye might be able to use it for today. I dinna ken what exactly it’s to do wi’ Halloween but she said you’d know.”
“I do.” He assured him.
“Good, let’s to it then.” Jamie nodded once and, without looking at Roger again, emerged from the side yard, spotting Mandy at once and scooping her up in his arms leaving Roger to follow behind.
They were all gathered in a circle, about twenty of them ranging in age from 3 to about 11 or 12. Amy had just finished passing out small pumpkins To all but one of the assembled children. Roger stepped into the circle and shouted out the rules. Then began to play a fast paced Pop Goes the Weasel which had the children frantically passing the long line of pumpkins to the child next to them over and over again, giggling and antsy with the surprise of the unknown. When the tune abruptly cut off, Mandy was the only child without a pumpkin in her hands. She was out. Amy took away one of the pumpkins and the music started again. This was followed by a round of Goblin, Goblin, Ghost, a variation on Duck Duck Goose. Then Roger tried a variation of the freeze dance game. Over by the oak tree, Bree was gathering the smaller children for a game of Guess the Ghost one child hid under a sheet and the other children tried to identify their haunter.
Teasingly, Bree had draped the cover over Jamie, everyone able to discern the guess ghost in an instant.
“There’s no one within fifty miles that looks like you.” Ian laughed.
“Look like me? I’m covered head to knee.” Jamie grumbled good naturedly.
“Yer still you, Uncle Jamie, always.” Ian said simply.
Clear had been supervising the pumpkin carving. at first it was difficult to explain the concept but she and Bree made a few examples as guidance.
They sent the pumpkin seeds to roasting near the fire, and redistributed the pumpkin pulp to various family to take back with them at the end of the evening. Most carvers followed the simple pattern that Claire had made for illustration, though Brianna had made something of an art with the four or five pumpkins that she had carved. He could see a shooting star and an abstract swirling design but the owl was his favorite. Roger was looking forward to seeing everyone’s reaction to the pumpkins at night.
Claire, Bree and Jamie, accompanied by a bouncing Jem and Mandy, were making their way methodically down the path lighting the pumpkins one by one to the general awe of the assembled guests. The bonfire had been lit and most folks were gathering around to have supper and rest after a long afternoon of fun.
“I always wondered whether ye’d found Jeremiah. It makes my heart lighter to know you did.” Jenny’s voice startled him out of his stupor.
Roger closed his eyes briefly but then turned toward him.
“I didn’t like leaving as we did but you’ve seen Bree now, you know why—”
“Oh aye. Ye ken I’m the one that found my Da passed out in the paddock?”
Roger shook his head.
“He was going on about how the ghost of my Mam and brother had materialized out of nowhere.” She smiled, sad and sweet. “I told him I thought he must have hit his head. But he insisted he was telling the truth. When I saw Bree for the first time, it never occurred to me that she might have visited before. It was seeing Jem and hearing his full name off Jamie’s lips that did it. Well, that and seeing you. I never forgot you.”
“No, I didn’t think you had. I’m glad you said something. I wanted so badly to thank you for your many kindnesses. What a privilege it was to be welcomed at Lallybroch, what a fine man your father was.” Roger wasn’t sure how much to say, how much she knew.
Jenny, quick as ever guessed the direction of his thoughts.
“Before Ian, that is my Ian, died – ye met his father, remember?” Roger nodded. “Claire and Jamie came back to Scotland. She tried to tell me what she was. I guess it’s what all of ye are?” Jenny’s thick brow raised up in question. Roger confirmed her supposition with a nod.
“Many a time I have thought of Claire and grieved. Every time I looked at my brother after Culloden my heart broke for him, having to live on without her. I saw her ghost the day he wed Laoghaire. Many a time I’ve also thought of Claire and been angry with her. When she showed up out of nowhere, alive, twenty years gone when all she’d been was a memory with no good explanation of where she’d gone or why she never left word. It reminded me a great deal of you, now that I think of it. I hated her when Ian was dying and she couldn’t save him. I thought what good was her…gift, then? But now I think it’s no’ a gift at all, is it?”
At this Roger shook his head. Jenny was quiet for a long moment.
“I dinna ken if it will help to know, but you and the lass did the right thing, not coming back, letting him think Bree and Jem were ghosts. My Da went easy to his grave knowing my Mam and brothers would be waiting for him in the hereafter.”
Sorry for the delay. Power outage will continue through the week so Halloween at the Ridge - Part Four will also be delayed as well.
Prompt: Sam and the reader go on date number two and plan for date number three. Bold moves are made, hopefully furthering their relationship. This chapter is written for @supernatural-jackles Colors of Fall Writing Challenge (aka, the inspiration of this entire series). My prompt was Apple Picking.
It rained on the first day of Autumn. It was beautiful, except that you had to drive through it first thing in the morning.
After your date with Sam, you crawled into bed with a happy smile on your face. You couldn’t stop thinking about how well it went. You couldn’t stop thinking about the next date. You couldn’t stop thinking about him, period.
Still thinking about him, you decided to inform him that it was raining. Sure, it was five o’clock in the morning, and you were positive he was asleep, but maybe having that to wake up to would make him just as happy as you were right now.
Apple (Malus domestica) Also Called: Fruit of the Underworld, Fruit of the Gods, Silver Brough, Silver Branch, Tree of Love are among the most common fruits eaten in the US and Europe. They grow just about anywhere. There are many varieties; most are small to medium sized tree. These members of the rosacea family have characteristic five-petaled flowers appear in the spring on cymes of 4-6 flowers. The petals are white on top and pink underneath so that they look bright pink during the budding stage. The pistils and stamens are bright yellow. The leaves are oval-shaped with serrated edges, shiny green on top and slightly fuzzy underneath.
Fruit appears in late summer and ripen in autumn. Fruit can be red (red delicious), yellow (golden delicious), green (granny smith), or streaked red with yellow.
Elemental Association: Water
Planetary Association: Venus
Deity Association: Apples are sacred to many Goddesses including Aphrodite, Iduna, Freya, Pomona, Eris