June 27th 1746 (The morning after Claire arrives back at Lallybroch)
Jamie lay on his back in the bed, Claire’s head on his chest. He was wide awake. The sun was shining brightly through the windows. It lit her hair, and Jamie marveled at the beauty of it as he ran his fingers over the curls.
Claire was still fast asleep. Coming to Lallybroch from Craigh na dun had been stressful on her and Jamie knew it. She could sleep as long as she needed to. Jamie would enjoy watching her, and holding her until she woke up.
He had so many questions to ask. Janet was probably tearing up the kitchen in her impatience. Jenny had brought Jamie breakfast about an hour ago, but he had waved her away. He’d eat later, with Claire. Taing do Dhia! His wife and child had returned to him.
Claire had said last night that Frank sent her back. Jamie didn’t understand that part. If it had been him, he wouldn’t have let her go. One of the many things he planned to ask his wife about, when she woke up.
Twenty minutes later, she stirred. Yawning and stretching, Claire opened her eyes to find Jamie looking down at her while running his fingers through her hair. She gave him a sleepy smile and reached up for a morning kiss.
“Good morning Sassenach.”
“Good morning Jamie.”
Jamie kissed her again, with some intent. Claire responded, wanting nothing more than to make love this morning. Just as she began to loosen her shift, there was a loud knock (more of a pounding really) on the bedroom door, and Jenny pushed her way in with a breakfast tray.
Claire squeaked, startled and dove under the covers. Jamie gave an exasperated sigh and glared. “ ‘Tis rude to burst into someone’s bed chamber ye ken Janet.”
Jenny just rolled her eyes. “Tis comin' up on noon bhràthair, even if ye are’na hungry...” Claire interrupted by flying from the bed to throw up in the chamber pot. After heaving for several minutes, she looked at Jenny.
“I’m not really hungry right now, maybe in an hour or two.” Jenny gave her a knowing look.
“Dry toast and a bit o that Ginger tea?”
“I’ll go fetch it and Ian. Make no mistake, I want to ken just where ye’ve been and why Jamie was so sure ye were lost to him.”
“I know Jenny. I want to tell you and Ian. But no one else.”
Jenny gave a satisfied nod, picked up the tray and started to leave. Jamie objected.
“Jenny! Leave the tray for me!! I’m starvin.”
His sister started to laugh. “That’s the first time since ye came home that I did’na have to force ye to eat something.”
She put the tray down next to the bed, patted Claire on the back and then walked out, closing the door behind her.
“Are ye alright mo chride?”
“I am. Just morning sickness. Really, that’s a good sign. It means the baby is more likely to be healthy.”
“It does?” Jamie was skeptical.
“What do you plan to tell Jenny and Ian?”
“Everything? Sassenach, I dinna think...”
“Jamie. I have to tell them everything. Frank sent me back with 25,000.00 pounds. If I don’t tell them the truth they’ll think it’s stolen. Besides. Jenny is your sister. We can trust her. Even if she thinks I’m a witch, she won’t tell anyone else.”
“Aye. She may no believe ye though.”
“I don’t think that’s a good reason to lie to her.”
“No.” Jamie sighed heavily. “Ye’re right. I just...want to keep ye safe.”
Claire climbed back into the bed and cuddled next to Jamie. “I know.” She kissed him. “I love you. Now eat your breakfast.”
Jenny and Ian came back fifteen minutes later. Jamie was making serious inroads into the food on the tray. Claire was sitting in a chair across the room, away from the smell of the food.
Ian sat down on the bed and Jenny sat in the other chair in the room, after giving Claire her tea and toast.
“Alright sister, now tell me where ye’ve been and why it is that Jamie thought ye were lost to him.”
“I will Jenny, but you need to believe what I tell you. It will sound like a fairie story, but I promise you it isn’t.”
Jenny and Ian both nodded. “As long as ye tell me the truth, I’ll believe ye. Ye canna lie well anyway.”
Claire took a deep breath and told them everything. Her first trip through the stones, when Jamie took her back the first time, when he took her to the stones again just before Culloden. Jamie confirmed that he had seen her go.
Then Claire explained what had happened when she returned to Frank. How he had believed her and looked for Jamie in the records. How he had told her that Jamie lived. That he had converted her inheritance from Uncle Lamb into money they could use. That he had given her his blessing and helped her to get back to Jamie.
As her tale ended, she went over to her trunk, lifting out the bag and her clothing from the day before.
“Most of the gold is in a strongbox in the bottom of my bag. Part of what took me so long is that the bag is heavy. I also have money hidden in pockets sewn into my clothes...even the bum roll has a hidden pocket.”
Claire began to unpack the bag. Her blanket was on top, with the flint and steel and the water skin. The food of course had been eaten on her journey to Lallybroch.
Next was a bundle of papers, wrapped in a waterproof bag from the military. Claire put the bag on the bed and Ian reached out to touch it.
“What is that?” He wanted to know.
“Pliofilm. It was used during World War 2 to keep equipment dry.” Ian nodded. “When is this invented?
“I’m not really sure. Sometime between the World Wars I think.”
“Shame. That would come in right handy when we have to be out in the fields during lambing season.”
Ian seemed to be taking this really well. Claire cocked her head. “You believe me then?”
“Aye. Truth be told it explains a number of things. Ye never quite knew how to be getting on with things that every lass should ken. But ye did ken other things.” Ian shrugged. “It does’na matter to me either way. Ye’re still Claire.”
Jenny still wasn’t saying anything, just sitting in the chair. Claire looked at her for a minute, then went back to the bag.
Claire pulled out the strongbox.
“This box contains about 1000 pounds in 5 guinea coins. Frank didn’t tell me how he did this. He started out wanting to send me with all coin, but that would have weighed about 35 stone. (500 lbs) So he converted the rest into banknotes. Those are hidden in my dress and underthings. They don’t make noise and even if I was searched it would seem like padding.”
She put the box onto the bed.
Jenny finally got up out of the chair and came over to the bed. She lifted the box, then looked at Claire. “This is’na exactly nothin’ mo phiuthar. Ye carried it all the way home from Craigh na dun?”
Claire nodded. “It was heavy, but I kept reminding myself how much it could help us and the tenants to survive the clearances.”
Jamie and Ian were still poking the waterproof bag. Claire rolled her eyes at Jenny and opened it for them. There were Claire’s three leather bound books, two letters, a small box, and several pieces of parchment.
“What is all this Sassenach?”
“I don’t know exactly. The books are mine. I had to wait five weeks after I got out of the hospital before I could come through the stones. So I wrote down everything I could find about herbal medicine. A friend named Fiona helped. I also wrote down some common ailments, their symptoms and treatments.” Claire picked up the small box. “This is something that we’ll have to keep hidden.”
Opening the box Claire revealed a syringe and several vials of penicillin. “This is medicine from my time. It’s called an antibiotic. I don’t have that much, so I’ll only use it in emergencies for the four of us or one of our children. No one can even know I have it, as it won’t be discovered until 1928.”
The other three adults nodded. Claire put the box in her trunk and picked up the letters. One was labeled Claire, one was labeled James Fraser. Both were in Frank’s handwriting. Claire handed Jamie the one addressed to him.
“Should we read the letters or look through the stack of parchment first?”
“Knowing Frank, the letters explain the parchment, so...”
Jamie nodded. “Together then?”
“Alright.” Claire wasn’t sure what Frank had written and she also wasn’t sure she wanted to read it. But really, after everything he had done for her, for them she owed him the courtesy of reading his last words to her.
I know that you didn’t really pay attention to many of the things I said to you while you were here. You were focused on getting back to your Jamie. I cannot deny that I sometimes became angry and I imagine I will be angry again. You couldn’t help it though, and I couldn’t stay angry. You were so heartbroken and lost that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for you.
Claire, I want you to know that I forgive you.
I think I suspected from the moment I met you that I wouldn’t get to keep you. I don’t say that in self-pity, but in realization. You were always so much. So vibrant and alive, so bold and stubborn and adventurous. I love you, I will always love you, but… I don’t think I would truly ever do anything but hold you back.
Please know that I am so grateful that you loved me. I will always cherish the time I had with you.
I do love you. I want you to be happy. You can’t be happy if your Jamie is arrested as a Jacobite. I want your child to grow up with a father. To that end I have manufactured some documents.
Using what I know of my ancestor and his associates, I made it seem that Jamie was sent to sabotage The Bonny Prince. As my ancestor was killed at Culloden and James was wounded, the papers should work. I hope they do.
I will look for the message from you, just to reassure myself that you are happy. Please Claire. Be Happy.
All my love,
Frank’s letter to Jamie was much shorter.
It would be easy to hate you, and blame you for taking Claire from me. I do neither. I do not fault you for winning her love. I know that you must be a very good man to have captured her fierce heart.
For Claire’s sake I wish you a long life and happiness. Take care of them. Keep them safe. Claire and the child.
“Oh Frank.” Claire was sobbing in Jamie’s arms.
Ian began looking at the papers.
“Jamie, he’s right. If we petition the king ye should be able to get a pardon. Ye may have to turn yourself in, but… it should work, especially with the letter from Lord Grey paroling ye home to Lallybroch.”
“Aye. It will have to wait until I’m recovered, which wil’na be until after the bairn comes. I’ll no leave Claire alone to give birth again.”
“I agree. We can get Ned to begin the petition to the King, and then after the bairn comes ye and Claire can go to London. In this instance it helps that she’s a Sassenach. Twill make it more believable that ye were workin’ against the Jacobites. Ye sent all the men from Lallybroch home before the battle, ye refused to kill young William Grey and spirited him back to his own lines, all these things will work in your favor.” Ian was beginning to be excited for his friend.
“We’ll have to think on it carefully. We’ve time before Claire has the bairn. Now my husband, we should see to Lallybroch. Jamie, I’ll send Mrs. Crook up with another tray in an hour or so.” Jenny and Ian left.
Claire continued to cry, and Jamie wisely let her grieve, holding her and whispering words of comfort and love. Eventually, she cried herself out and fell asleep. Jamie lay there holding his wife, and pondered the generosity of Frank Randall.