Chapter 1: Remembrance
Every anniversary was the same. Claire woke up with the tingling in her breasts, a dense ache in her womb and heart. Claire’s soul was intertwined with Faith’s for an eternity. No amount of time, space, or history could reverse that. Time would never be able to fully heal this wound.
The people of the Ridge felt it too, the shift from eleven o’clock to midnight. The energy of the air changed it became heavy and soundless. The pulsing of the wind reflected that of the mothers cry. When dawn came the heaviness followed the ridge around as they attended to their daily tasks. They knew not to disturb her. Instead they lit candles for her to help penetrate the heavy air so it could breathe and give hope and love to the grieving Laird and Lady.
Jamie felt the change too. His mind and body were heavy and his heart restrained with
soundless sorrow for his lost daughter. He lay there muttering prayers of love and forgiveness. He felt the guilt consume him like it did every year. He prayed to Faith, ‘help your mother find peace and solace’. He felt Claire stir beside him stir, instantly becoming rigid and cold. Neither of them dared to move closer to one another in fear of breaking the others sacred silence.
When dawn came they rose in silence and got themselves ready for the day ahead. Claire changed into her dark navy woolen dress with a single pink tulip embroidered on the top left-hand corner of her bodice like a broach. She pinned her unruly curls up into a secure neat bun that was unlikely to cause her any issues throughout the day. The two of them had planned to spend the day away from the hustle and bustle of the ridge and take the day to explore the Carolina wilderness further, leaving Roger and Brianna in charge. Claire picked up her tartan cloak that Brianna had made for her and fastened it around herself for warmth and safety. She picked up her medical satchel, took a shallow breath, and went to go find Jamie.
Jamie prepared the horses as Claire was getting herself ready. Being with horses helped focus his mind. He always felt calm and protected by them, he could sense their need to look after him as much as they needed to be looked after by him. The saddling and brushing grounded him. He guided the two horses towards the big house. He saw her standing there waiting for him. At first he had to do a double-take. He felt his heart swell and warmth coarsed through his chest. She looked so bonnie, so much how he remembered her looking when he first met her. How she hated and still did hate having her hair scraped up and confined. His heart began to sink at the realization she did have her hair pinned up neatly. His walk toward her slowed as his heart began to thud with each step closer to her. She smiled weakly at him as she mounted her
horse and the two of them set off in silence.
It was a warm spring day. The wildlife of the ancient forest was melodic and the soundscape of their activity eased both Jamie and Claire out of their restlessness. They stopped by a stream for the horses to get some water. On the other side of the stream, Jamie spotted a narrow pathway between two vine-covered rocks leading to somewhere unknown.
‘Sassenach?’Jamie called, smirking to himself. Claire turned around, her curls starting to loosen and fall out of her bun.
‘Tie the horses up to that tree beside ye’
‘Why?’ Claire asked warily, tying them up with trepidation.
‘Do ye trust me?’ Jamie reached out his hand toward Claire. She nodded, giving him a small but sweet smile.
‘Then follow me...’ He grinned, grabbing hold of her hand and pulling her through the stream making her squeal as her shoes and the bottom of her dress got soaked. In a single file they walked through the slender gap between the two rocks whilst still holding hands neither one of them letting go. The pathway was dark and twisted in several different directions. As they got closer to the end of it the sound of running water began to fill their ears. When they reached the clearing they were met with breathtaking scenery that took both their breaths away.
It was a mountainous waterfall, almost kingly in its stature. It was surrounded by large lanky trees billowing in harmony with the wind. The sunlight made the water sparkle and glisten on the rocks. The sight of the place brought tears to both their eyes. It reminded them both of their home, Scotland.
‘It’s so beautiful’, Claire said simply, unable to take her eyes off the water.
‘Aye, it is...’ Jamie whispered, looking at his wife, bathing in her features. She reached for his hand, her eyes still on the water. He placed his in hers rubbing his thumb along her knuckles. Her breath became shaky, he could see the tears starting to fall. He solidified his touch letting her silently know that he was there.
’The water reminds me of her...’ Claire admitted, walking closer towards it. Jamie watched her, scrambling to find his words. Claire knelt at the water's edge and lowered her fingers into the water playing with it.
‘Water always reminds me of her. Whether I hear the sound of a stream or someone pouring a glass my mind is with her. It takes me back to how it felt carrying her. She used to kick whenever I was near it. She would have loved the water I’m sure of it-’ Claire broke off, choking back her tears. Jamie walked over to her and crouched behind her whispering into her hair, stroking it.
‘Trees always remind me of her. When I was in the Bastille my cell had a window that looked onto a group of trees. They were all twisted and bent ‘round one another. When I did’ne hear word of ye and the bairn I would pray for ye both whilst looking at that those trees. The trees here are more like the ones at the Bastille so I canna help thinking more about...Faith.’ ,Jamie himself began to shake and cry gripping hold of Claire tightly.
‘You never told me...’ Claire said turning around to face him, looking intensely at him. Hurt and relief plastered across her face. They rarely spoke of their daughter, it never felt right, but today it did.
‘Neither did you’ he stroked her cheek lightly, making Claire close her eyes.
‘I feel her close to us’ Claire sighed opening her eyes looking around the vast open space.
‘Aye, she’s here. I think she’s the one who brought us here, showing us the water and trees.’ Jamie leaned in kissing Claire on the cheek with such tenderness it made claims heartbreak out into a million different songs.
‘Well, she’s most certainly a Fraser’ Claire laughed wiping her eyes, then beamed at her husband. He chuckled beside her resting his head on Claire’s shoulder.
‘Aye, she is. Always will be.’ Jamie’s eyes met with Claires. It was only them left in the world. Only the sound of the water and trees echoing around them gave them any sense of reality. They were rooted again to one another because of Faith. It was going to be okay.
‘I love you’ She whispered stroking his face. ‘And I you.’
Chapter 2: It's Only A Matter of Time
This one-shot is Inspired by a line in Hamilton's, Who lives, Who, Dies, Who Tells Your Story.
'I cant wait to see you again. It's only a matter of time.'
Claire fell onto the bed, exhaustion overwhelming her body. Her joints and muscles ached with age and fatigue. Claire sighed, squeezing the muscles in her shoulders to try and release some tension.
‘Do ye need a hand Sassenach?' Jamie, observant as ever put his book down.
‘If you don’t mind’ Claire said smiling sweetly at her husband's tenderness.
‘No, I dinna mind at all’ Jamie replied as he grabbed some of the almond cream Claire had made and began work at the knots in her shoulders. Claire sighed, the warmth of his hands and the heavenly smell of the oil on her skin made her instantly sleepy.
The two spent the next few minutes in blissful silence enjoying each other's company. Jamie watched the visual change of his wife sinking into relaxation. He didn’t want to stop massaging her but he felt his hands stiffen and cramp causing him hot searing white pain in his joints. Claire felt the shift in Jamie so she put her hand on top of his, stopping him from continuing.
‘It’s okay Jamie,' She said simply, ‘We’re both getting older. It’s okay’. She turned around and kissed his long knobby fingers and began to press and massage them. Jamie sighed and relaxation began to take over his body. He was tired. He felt his insides well up with tenderness as he watched his wife work on his hand with such attentiveness. The candle next to her flickered for a split second his mind saw Claire back in France tending to his hand as he recovered from Wentworth Prison. He looked down at her stomach. She had been pregnant Faith then. His heart clenched at the memory. He blinked, his memory of her had vanished. He was back in the room with Claire now looking right at him, concern apparent on her face. Her white hair glowing and accentuating her beautiful curls. He was overcome with a blessing, seeing her age alongside him. How fortunate he got to see her change and grow fiercer with each passing day.
‘Jamie?’ She questioned him, stoping her work on his hands. He reached a hand up to her face and stroked her cheeky gently.
‘You're so very beautiful Sassenach. I Dinna think I tell ye enough how grateful I am for it all, Claire.’
Claire was taken aback, he hardly ever called her by her name, only when he was serious. His hand moved from her cheek to her neck and breast. his hand lightly hovered over her stomach for a mili-second longer before landing on her hands. She understood. Claire’s eyes welled up and her womb clenched involuntarily. She kissed his hand in reply and bringing him close to her.
‘Let’s go to sleep’ she whispered. The smell the almond cream and the warmth of Jamie lulled Claire into sleep.
In her dream, Claire felt like she was floating in a chasm of blue and purple. The colours swarmed around her watery and warm like she was enclosed in the water world of the womb. She felt the colours move to the rhythm of a heartbeat. The chasm smelt strong of the heat of a man with an accented with almond cream. Her limbs felt weightless and ageless yet she knew that she was a younger version of herself. Her hair swayed around her untamed and unkept, single strands of silver standing out against the hues of blues and purples. She felt her feet touch the ground. The chasm around her began to open its self up. Ahead of her in the far distance, she saw blurs of yellows, oranges, and browns beginning to form shapes that looked like two people. Claire walked toward them. She heard the heartbeat of the place begin to quicken the closer she got. Was it her own heart that was making the noise? The sound around her stopped and the colours slowed down when she had a clear view of the figures. She stood completely still, her heart caught in her throat as she tried to reach forwards. She couldn't, it was as if she had been glued to the spot.
One of the figures in front of her was Claire in her twenties, curls neatly pinned up the way she wore it daily in Paris. She wore one of her favourite yellow silk dresses from that time. Jamie had it made for her when she started to show when she was pregnant with Faith.
Claire immediately drew her eyes to the second figure, a young girl about seven or eight years old in a long cream nightdress with her long copper hair plaited. Her skin was the colour of moonlight. It was radiating glowing like moonlight like she wasn’t apart of this world. Claire tried to speak, call out to her daughter but the words would not come. She knew it was Faith.
It had been nearly forty years since Faith’s death but time didn’t matter in the world of dreams. For as long as she lived, Faith would always be her little girl. The tears began to consume her causing her vision to blur. Her younger self crouched down and put her ahead against Faith's. She saw her younger self mutter something to her daughter she couldn’t understand.
Suddenly, the water swarmed around her and the vision of Faith faded away as the water and the sound of a booming male voice overpowered her senses. ‘Claire!’
She awoke violently, feeling Jamie’s hands on her arms shake her awake. Her heart was beating like quick-fire; unhesitant and rapid. She opened her eyes, groggy with sleep. Her eyes were wet, she didn’t realised she had been crying in her sleep or that she had been shaking. Jamie wrapped his arms tightly around her, whispering Gaelic words of endearment he would use to soothe the children when they had bad dreams.
Claire's heartbeat slowed down and her cries subsided as she was brought back to reality.
‘Was it a bad dream Mo Nighean Donn?’ He asked with caution, not wanting to pry. Claire hiccuped, grabbed a handkerchief and blew her nose. She shook herself to full awareness and pulled herself away from Jamie.
‘ I saw her again tonight Jamie.’ Her words hung heavy in the air. The silence was palpable you could hear a pin drop.
‘She visits me more often in my sleep now…She’s grown in my dreams you know? She must be seven or eight now. She looks so much like you…’
Jamie had no words. He hated to see how much the dreams had been plaguing Claires sleep for the past few months. Well, he was not sure if they were plaguing or comfort to her.
‘It’s like she’s trying to me something Jamie, but every time I try and speak in my dreams, words fail me’ She explained in a tone that left Jamie quite alarmed.
‘I’m older now Jamie. I feel the effects of my age, I get weaker with every waking day.’ Jamie felt his stomach knot and chest tighten at her words.
‘I don’t know how much longer until I’m… but I feel its imminence.’ Claire let out a shaky breath and averted eye contact from her husband. She didn’t think she could bear to look at him. She knew he knew that she was not well and that it was soon.
‘I willna let that happen Sassenach. I won’t. I’ll kill ye if you die before me’ She laughed at that allowing herself to look back at him.
‘You know she’s telling me it’s nearly time. She needs me now-’
‘And I dinna?’ Jamie interrupted anger and pain consuming him without reservation.
‘Chan eil ann ach beagan ùine. Leig athair às i’ Claire muttered, catching Jamie completely off guard.
‘What did ye say Sassenach?!’
‘Chan eil ann ach beagan ùine. Leig athair às i. I remember now what she said to the other version of me in my dream. What does it mean?’ Jamie’s breathing became shallow. He closed his eyes in sorrow and surrender. He allowed the tears to fall down his face. It's too soon.
‘Come to sleep Sorcha. We still have some time’. Claire nodded, wiped the tears from his eyes with her hand, and gave him the tenderest kiss. The two of them laid down together; touching, remembering, and savoring one another’s naked bodies.
He wrapped his arms around Claire spooning her close him. ‘I love ye Claire Beauchamp’, Jamie whispered. He knew her soul rather than her body answered him. She was finally at peace. It was only a matter of time before he would be too.