Here I am in the first photo, looking at the ruins of Dunnattar Castle, the Scottish Alamo as I like to call it. In the next photo is Loch Ness at dawn. The third photo is of the Urquhart Castle ruins, on the banks of Loch Ness. Photo number four was taken while driving through the Scottish Highlands. Sixth photo taken while in Paris, June, 2015. Me at Land’s End, Cornwall, England.
A handfasting is an old Pagan custom, dating back to the time of the ancient Celts. A handfasting was originally more like an engagement period, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year and a day. The original handfasting was a trial marriage. It gave the couple the chance to see if they could survive marriage to each other. After a year goes by (a handfasting was once believed to last a year and a day), the couple could either split as if they had never been married or could decide to enter permanently into marriage.
On July 29, 1955, Peter MacNab snapped a photo of the Loch Ness Monster as it swam near Urquhart Castle. Cryptozoologist Roy Mackal studied both a photo given to him by MacNab (left) and a photo that was published in Constance Whyte’s book
More Than A Legend (right) and noticed some interesting differences. Some of the differences include a tree in the foregroud of Whyte’s photo, the difference of the creature’s body, and the length of the shadow of the castle. Mackal confronted MacNab with questions about the photos but MacNab was unsure what to say. He told Mackal that it was because he took photos with two cameras.
Mackal labeled the photos as “not suitable for evidence”.
(This chapter is an homage to the ever beautiful and glorious @gotham-ruaidh from the bottom of my heart, you are so lovely and I’m grateful you’re at the forefront of my fandom life and real life too <3)
On the eleventh day of Christmas: In which auld ghosts give fate a helping hand:
Claire surveyed her empty house. The floors sparkled and the whiff of bleach and lemon flash hung in the air as she rung out the mop one last time.
“Have ye finished in here, Claire?” Jenny sing-songed, prancing into the kitchen/dining room swinging the duster between her fingers. “I think I’m done wi’ the bedroom and the bathroom is shiny like a new penny.”
“Yes, I think so. What do you think?” she queried, unsure of her own cleaning skills, but trusting Jenny’s.
“Aye, beautiful job. Now though, Claire, I think we should be getting home. The dress fitting will be soon and ye dinna want to stink o’ detergent when the lassie gets to us, ken?”
Claire dipped her head and chuckled. Jenny had enough energy to support a whole army, and as well as her other many jobs, she had taken hers and Jamie’s wedding on. Nobody had slept for more than a few hours since she had accepted the proposal, all of them swept up in the excitement.
Feeling slightly nervous, Claire tapped her foot against the clean linoleum.
“Are you certain, Jenny? About the dress I mean,” she questioned, remembering the handful she had been presented with on their first visit to the bridal shop. “I’ve done white before. Isn’t it more *proper* to have something less…virginal bride?”
Taking the keys from Claire’s hands and sweeping her out of the door, Jenny rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“So this is what has been bothering ye all these days? Silly thing, ye are, Claire Beauchamp,” Jenny berated, a lightness to her *mild* castigation. “Ye ken Jamie is dedicated to his faith, aye?”
“Y-yes…” Claire returned, her cheeks tinting pink as they walked, arm in arm, back to Jenny’s wee car.
“Weel, I didna want to spoil the surprise, but since ye insist on being –Debbie Downer– in relation to the grandiose nature of yer nuptials, I think I should let you in on the secret.”
Brushing a loose curl away from her forehead, Claire gave Jenny a withering look. “Oh dear, what has he done?”
Biting the inside of her cheek, Jenny started the engine and pulled away from the little house for the very last time, all the while trying desperately not to burst out laughing at Claire’s trepidation.
“Ye ken fine that to wed in a church ye have to attend for three weeks and have the priest announce the ceremony afore hand. Jamie, being a staunch Catholic, and in good relation wi’ our good friends at St Andrew’s, has managed to twist the arms of those concerned, Claire.”
“But, I thought?” Claire murmured, her gloved hands clenching in her lap as she tried to process this massive news.
“Aye, we were meant to have it at home. And he would have been happy to do it. But, considering, he thought he might –try.”
“Even though I’m…not?” Words seemed hard to come by, and so, Claire, her mind racing so fast she thought it might implode at any given moment, opted for as few as possible. Jenny knew what she was getting at.
“Yer to marry a Fraser, Claire. Ye will be, won’t you?” Jenny glanced sidewards as carefully as she could as she drove through the snow filled streets and out of the city. Knowing Claire for such a short while, the subject of religion had yet to come up. She might be a solid atheist for all she knew. Not that it mattered either way; she could see the love the pair had for one another, but it *was* a major part of Jamie’s life.
Biting her lip as she smiled, Claire lost herself in the view as the car skirted the edge of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle coming into view as they approached Drumnadrochit. “I assumed as much when he braved these roads in thick snow to make an appearance that Sunday when we first met.”
“Dinna think me daft, Claire lassie,” Jenny broke in on hearing her side of their introduction, “because I amne. But…”
Twisting her head as they drove past the myriad of Nessie sculptures that lined the wee hotels through the village, Jenny paused and waited for Claire to nod before she continued.
“…whether ye believe in the Lord or no’, the man has a way of bringing the right ones together. Jamie wasne supposed to go to church that morning. Wee Jamie had been sick and I was filled wi’ cold too. Him and Ian were supposed to take the weans off to do the weekly shopping. I think we both could sense something.” Tapping her fingers against the steering wheel, Jenny shook her head, a humourous lilt to her voice as she went on, “He came to me. I dinna think we even said anything to one another, but he came and I nodded and then he left.”
Claire’s mouth opened and closed, as if willing something sensical to come, but it didn’t.
“When he came home, he told me about you. He jokes about my feeling of our father in this house, Claire, but that day, I felt it, and he felt it too. Whether that be God’s work or Da, I dinna ken, but something played a hand in it…and now yer to be marrit.”
Taking her hand from the wheel for one moment, Jenny grasped hold of Claire and held her fingers tight.
“Whatever it is that ye truly believe, Claire, a large portion of Jamie’s heart and soul is rooted in his faith. In *our* faith. That’s why he debated yer first kiss for so long. It’s also why he willna take ye to his bed afore you take him as yer husband.”
Having been moulded by her uncle, an avid fact-finder and illustrious archaeologist, Claire’s thoughts on God had been limited and shallow. She had been taught to admire all of the articles found in relation to Christianity, but had failed to have a connection with anything deeper. Now, however, she had been forced to reevaluate her notions of religion…at very short notice.
She hadn’t even actively contemplated Jamie’s lack of sexual advances. Being an amorous youth, Claire hadn’t waited for marriage for her first sexual encounter. This internal admission made her heart skip a beat. Luckily, it wasn’t a topic she felt like discussing with Jamie’s sister, no matter how close they had become.
“Do you think they would have approved, your parents?” she asked, worry lining her tone as she swept away the stray bits of dust that still clung to her skirt.
“I have nay doubt about it, Claire. Mother would have loved ye. And Da, he kent that he loved Mam the moment he laid eyes on her. A trait, it seems, he kindly passed on to Jamie himself.”
Resting her now free hand on the thin band of gold that lay on her left hand, Claire shifted her knees together in the small footwell. “I would do anything for him, Jenny. He rescued me from crippling loneliness at a time when I didn’t even know that I needed saving.”
“He’s a special one, Claire. There arena many men around like Jamie Fraser…” leaning in to her nearly-sister-in-law, Jenny snorted and bumped shoulders with Claire, “…no’ even Ian, aye?”
Claire laughed, her chest lighter for the comedic injection.
“But, Claire, so are you. If he’s one in a million and he’s chosen ye as his bride, lass, then ye have to be something special too, ken?”
Before Claire could downplay Jenny’s high praise, the car pulled onto the long winding drive that lead up to Lallybroch and the women fell silent. As they rolled around the final corner, the big house came into view, it’s outer arch covered all the way around with tiny candles –all lit and flashing together in solidarity.
“A beacon in the dark, aye? A flame to welcome us home,” Jenny whispered, bringing the car to a standstill and watching as the men exited the house side by side and came towards them, twin smiles plastered across their faces.
“Dinna fash about the white, Claire. Ye are purer than ye give yerself credit for.” Jenny breathed in the calm air of the heated car, patting her softly on the knee before bending across to give her the smallest of pecks against her flushed cheek. “Make it count, mo phiuthar. These are moments that auld ghosts have deigned important enough to gi’ fate a push wi’. Make them count.”