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You’ll Be in Mo Cridhe

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Leaves crunched underneath my feet, and here and there I could detect the sounds of rodents and small animals scuttling about. 

Beyond that, was the magical orchestra of sounds from the jungle. The endless cacophony of birds, the distant call of a macaque, the rushing of a nearby stream.

I looked at Jamie, saw the relaxation of his posture, the ease of his gait. For however much he insisted that he was home as long as he was with me, I knew that deep down, this would always be home.

But the warmth in his eyes when he looked at me was unchanged, and I had to lean up and kiss him, just because I loved him so very much.

A little giggle had me pulling back, and grinning at the chubby-cheeked, redheaded angel in my arms.

“What’s so funny then?” I asked.

Brianna, our smart, spirited, and rambunctious three-year-old daughter didn’t answer, but only giggled some more.

“Mama!” Fergus called from up ahead. “Look at these flowers!”

“Lobelia, I believe,” I said. 

Fergus ran back to me, holding his arms out for Brianna.

“Come on, Bree! Come see the flowers!”

I relinquished Brianna to her brother, warning him to make sure she didn’t attempt to eat anything.

Watching our children play, I wrapped an arm around Jamie’s waist, leaning my weight against him. “You think they’ll be here?” I asked.

“Azizi said they have maintained the same migration schedule,” Jamie said. “But he admitted that it’s been some time since any of the Waziri have seen them. They could have decided to move to new grounds…”

“The Mangani have lived here for generations,” I said, using the term coined by the Waziri to describe the tribe of abnormally large and intelligent gorillas. “And they’ve been careful to keep the general public away.”

Ever since our return to Europe, the fascination with “Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, had only grown, and the Waziri worked tirelessly to protect Jamie’s gorilla family from poachers and well-meaning scientists alike. My own scientific mind agreed that the troop was fascinating, a marvel, but the world did not need to understand them. They needed to just live...as did Jamie.

In the past few years, I’d been studying medicine alongside my mentor, Joe. Women, of course, did not typically become doctors, but Joe told me that I was talented, and that there were hundreds of people in Congo that needed the care of a talented doctor, and did not care whether they were male or female. It certainly gave me a purpose, but the true reason we returned was because it was where Jamie was meant to be, and we both longed to share it with our daughter. 

Jamie would always be part of Lallybroch, and his family there. But he would also always be part of the jungle. He would always be half-wild. And he would never be like other men.

And that was just part of the reason I loved him.

“How come Uncle Lamb didn’t want to come?” Fergus asked, tightly holding onto Brianna’s hand as they walked.

“Oh, his lumbago’s been acting up,” I said, linking my own hand with Jamie’s. “Besides, he’s enjoying catching up with Badru.”

We continued on a while longer, Brianna’s aimless chattering joining with the other sounds around us, until Jamie suddenly pulled me to a stop, quickly bending to pick up Brianna.

“What is it?” I asked quietly, thinking of any manner of predictor nearby that he could detect and I couldn’t. Leopard, cheetah...a hippo. 

“Da?” Brianna asked, watching as fascinatedly as I, as Jamie tilted his head up, sniffing the air. But then, his expression melted into a smile, and I relaxed.

As if he’d summoned them, the gorillas emerged from the greenery, as silently as shadows.

Brianna gasped, tightening her hold on her father, and Fergus sidled up more closely to my side.

Jamie had been very reluctant about this trip, or at least, reluctant to bring me and the children. The last time he’d met with his brother, the leader of the troop, after a long separation, the two had clashed violently. But I reminded him that we would do this as we did all things - as a family.

Jamie let out a low grunt, the first I’d heard from him in years. (And I was comfortable enough in our relationship to admit I found it a little arousing. But I could tell him that later.)

Akut seemed to have grown even more since last we saw him, making his way to the front of the troop. 

“Gorilla!” Brianna exclaimed, pointing.

My biggest fear during all of this, was that when Jamie and I finally made our way back, that we might find his dear mother was no longer there. But then, there she was, nudging her son out of the way.

Sighing in relief, Jamie carefully approached the troop, Brianna in his arms. I held back with Fergus, my stomach in knots. 

Brianna clung tightly to Jamie, whimpering in fear. But then, as he knelt before Kala, Bree looked up from where she’d had her head buried in her father’s neck, and then blue eyes met brown.

Kala made a soft sound, almost like a coo, and brushed the back of her hand across Brianna’s face.

Brianna flinched slightly, but then she smiled, and reached out a hand.

Kala held up her own, and I watched Brianna’s tiny hand press against the much larger palm.

I looked at Akut, to gouge his mood, but he was calm, and grunted softly as Fergus and I approached. 

I knelt beside Jamie and Bree, brushing the back of my hand against Kala’s chest.

“D’ye see, Brianna?” Jamie whispered, his voice thick with emotion. “This is my own mam.”

Brianna looked at Jamie in surprise. True, we’d told her as much before, but she was still very little, and besides, seeing it all in person was very different.

Jamie set Brianna on her feet, and she immediately stepped closer to Kala, touching her face, while the gorilla stood still, watching on in adoration.

“Is your mama, Da?” Brianna sought to clarify. 

“Aye, a leannan .”

With a giggle, Brianna collapsed against Kala, as she normally would with me or Jamie, or any of the rest of her loving extended family, trusting us to catch her and hold her tight.

I held my breath, but Kala sat back on her haunches, expertly hoisting the little girl up in her long arms, holding her as gently and tenderly as if she were made of glass.

Akut huffed, tapping the ground, and all of the gorillas turned to go.

“Where are they going?” I asked.

Jamie smiled. “Only to the nesting grounds. It’s isna’ far.”

I watched in bemusement as Kala took Brianna by the arm and lifted her to sit on her back. Brianna tensed a moment, unsure, but as Kala began to walk, Brianna quickly found the way of holding on, and laughed merrily. “Mama look!”

“I see!” I called out, trying to tamp down my worry. “Hold on, Bree!”

“She’s alright,” Jamie assured me. “My mother will keep her as safe as your or I. Fergus, can ye keep up wi’ them, lad?”

“Sure,” Fergus said, already trotting to catch up with Kala. “Where will you be?”

“We’ll be along,” Jamie said, grabbing my hand. “But I haven’a flown in some time.”

Before I could protest, Jamie had swung me onto his own back and was scaling the nearest tree so quickly, it was like he’d never left the jungle.

I clung on, having forgotten the rush, but then let go once we reached the highest branch so I could attempt it alone...but not before just stopping to watch Jamie leap into the air, as if he really could fly, only to grab a vine at the last second and go swinging above the gorillas, making that strange, inhuman call that only he could, much to his children’s delight.

He would need to come back for me, of course, he would never leave me behind for long. 

But for a moment, just a moment, he was once again the wild man I’d first found, and loved.

He was Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. He was Jamie Fraser, King of Men. And most importantly, he was mine.

And he was home.