Geillis opened the door for James and welcomed him inside. He sighed heavily, trying to contain his eagerness “Sorry tae cut right to tae chase. But have ye found out anything else?”
She studied his face “Have ye slept, at all?”
He shook his head slightly as she gestured for him to sit down on a sofa. It looked like a normal apartment, a normal living room. He told himself this was probably so that the patient feels more at ease in a comfortable environment “I think I managed a couple of hours. I keep having repetitive nightmares. As if all this wasna enough...”
She frowned, sitting on a chair across from him “Nightmares? Have ye always struggled with nightmares?”
“No, only recently, since the accident” he paused and looked at her intently “Ye didna answer my question, though”
“Let’s start with what ye remember, first. I don’t want any new info to confuse things for ye in yer heid”
He nodded “Alright, ok. Well, I still canna remember anything, really. That’s why I think some sessions really might do me good”
“Nothing at all? Ye mentioned these nightmares since the accident. What can ye tell me about them?”
He thought for a while “It’s bits and pieces... I’m afraid most doesn’t even make sense, outloud. It’s all just verra... violent. But they didna start right away. At first I had some good nights, with deep sleep. I remember having really vivid dreams, and, actually... now that I think about it, they were also kind of repetitive”
“Oh? Could ye elaborate on that? What do ye remember about these dreams, what made them repetitive?”
“Well, the fact that it all felt verra... real. I remember dreaming of people I know. It was like they were themselves, but not quite. Like we were in an alternate dimension, perhaps”
Geillis raised an eyebrow “Go on”
“I felt at peace in that world I’d created in my dreams, those first days. I remember feeling so glad that I seemed to be able to go back there as soon as I fell asleep. I could never do that before, not even when I’d wake up from a pleasant dream, I could never close my eyes back and keep on dreaming. So that was odd, being able to go back to that... world”
“And these nightmares, how are they repetitive?”
“In the same way. They’re verra similar, not what happens in my dreams per se, but the feeling that I am in that same world”
“The same world as yer other nightmares, or the same world as yer more pleasant dreams?”
After a long pause James concluded “It’s all the same”
Geillis was silent for a long moment “Jamie, how would ye feel if I were to use hypnosis tae help ye... remember?”
He raised an eyebrow, almost amusedly “Hypnosis? Is that really a thing?”
“Och, I assure ye, it’s verra real. And a verra powerful tool. But it’s likely not what ye think it is”
“Will ye be dangling a pocket watch in front of me?” he smirked
Geillis laughed “That’s exactly what I meant. No, I won’t. Hypnosis is not mind control or brainwashing or heaven kens what else people associate it with after being used in quote-unquote magic tricks and what not... It’s simply a tool psychiatrists use to access yer subconscious. Everything ye want tae know, Jamie, about Claire, about the days ye canna seem tae remember, even about yer interesting dreams and nightmares- it’s all there, in yer subconscious, but something is blocking it and I can help ye surpass this blockage”
James shrugged “Sounds like just the thing”
She appeared to be taken aback “So ye’re willing tae give it a go?”
“Sure. It’s not... dangerous in any way, is it?” he narrowed his eyes at her, the corner of his lips quirking into a smile
“Not at all. Well, I wouldna advise people to do this without proper training, but ye’re in safe hands” she smiled reassuringly “Ok, lay down on the sofa and I’ll close the blinds. Ye need to be verra relaxed for this”
He sighed, gingerly stretching himself on the couch, surprised that it wasn’t all that painful to lay on his back again “I’m afraid relaxed is not really what I’m feeling these days”
The room was now only dimly lit and she sat back in her chair “I want ye to close yer eyes and just focus on yer breathing for a few minutes. Just in and out, and try not to think about anything else but that. I ken it’s not easy, so whenever ye catch yerself thinking about anything else just resume focusing on yer breathing. Try and follow my lead and don’t open yer eyes unless I tell ye to”
He cleared his throat and tried to find a comfortable position, bringing his hands over his chest and extending his neck slightly “Alright. Ready when ye are”
After what had felt like an eternity for James, Geillis spoke in a much more soothing tone, almost whispering “I want ye to think of yerself in a place that brings ye peace” she let him find that image and then asked him “Can ye tell me where ye are?”
“Lallybroch” he smiled subtly
“What are ye doing there?”
“I’m walking in the fields. My hands are brushing the tall blades of grass”
“Are ye alone?”
“No. She’s there”
“Who is she?”
“She’s the one I’ve been seeing, in ma dreams. She’s always there”
“What does she look like?”
He paused “I’m not sure, she won’t show me her face”
“Alright. She’s walking alongside ye?”
“No, she’s on the horse, I’m holding it by the reigns”
“Look up at her. What can ye see?”
“She’s got curly hair...”
“Call to her, will she look at ye?”
“Mo nighean donn...” he whispered and sure enough, whiskey eyes turned to look at him lovingly. His breath hitched
“Did she turn?”
“Aye” his voice cracked “Aye, she did”
“What does she look like?”
Geillis hummed “Is she saying anything?”
James could hardly hear Geillis’ voice anymore, he was lost into his beloved’s eyes. But her eyes saddened, and her gaze lowered to her hands which were now resting over of her corseted stomach. Each of her hands adorned a ring, one silver, one gold. And the silver one was made out of the key to Lallybroch. She was wearing a long, woolen skirt, her feet barely poking from underneath it “Come back to me, James Fraser” she pleaded in her perfectly-english accent, gave him another look over her shoulder as he lost his grip on the reigns, watching the horse take the trail down towards Lallybroch.
James bolted upright, startling Geillis “What are ye doing? I told ye not to open yer eyes until I said so!”
She managed to stop him from leaving and he took a good look at her, finally really seeing her. He then took a step back “How... how did ye...?”
She inhaled and straightened her posture “Dinna fight it, ask me”
“Ye saved her” he whispered
Geillis smiled at that “I did”
“And ye werena burned for it?” he narrowed his eyes
“No, I escaped. But I’m afraid there’s no one tae save yer Sassenach this time around”
He inhaled sharply at her calling her that “Where is she?”
“Ye ken where she is”
“She isna there, she’s not at Lallybroch!”
“She is. Just not in 2020”
James squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the dizziness that surged through him “Christ! She canna! She canna go back!” flashes shot through him, one after the other, sensory overload like nothing he’d experienced before “The sterling pounds, mac na galla! She did it, oh God, oh Claire” he squatted, shuddering, and Geillis watched in disbelief to see this mountain of a man brought to his knees in desperation.
“Ye have to go after her, Jamie. Ye canna let her fair out on herself, ye ken what she’s gone back to”
“There’ll be redcoats all over Lallybroch” his voice was harsher than she’d ever heard it “Looking for me, making sure I dinna survive Culloden”
“Ye ken full well what it’s like for Scotland after Culloden, fox. Ye have to find her and go away, far away. It wilna be safe there, not for a long time...”
He nodded, straightening, inhaling and blinking rapidly, fighting off tears “What if I canna go through? I couldna do it, when I sent her here. I went back and died on that battlefield, I can still feel the sword surging through my flesh”
“I’ve traveled through enough times to ken what it takes. The fact that she did it without knowing much about it tells me she didn’t know how to... make the stones listen”
“Make them listen?’
“Ye’ll see. We need tae be quick. If ye’re sure...”
“I’m sure” his eyes widened at her impatiently “Every second she’s out there alone I’m wasting here for nothing. Tell me what tae do”
“Do ye have a kilt, anything that could pass on as 18th century garb?”
“Aye, I’ve a pretty decent one”
“Ok. Fetch it, and whatever else ye find absolutely necessary. And meet me there as soon as ye can. Ye ken the place”
His jaw set “I ken it well”
He was about to walk out the door when he stopped abruptly, giving her a look “I canna believe I just let a witch hypnotize me!”
Jamie climbed into his car, his mind racing. He was thinking of Claire, Christ!- of their bairn, and most of all he was thinking Murtagh was pretty darn lucky he didn’t have any time to go ring his neck for it.
Speeding towards home, he realized. He’d never drive a car again. It felt surreal and yet, the fact that he was driving a car suddenly felt like the odd thing in the equation.
Approaching Lallybroch, his heart sank as he drove down the road, the building coming into view. The team had done a great job, but it was not the same, it’d never be the same. Not without his family living in it.
His heart longed to be there. He’d always been homesick. A pretty odd feeling for an orphan. But orphan he was not, for he now remembered his Da and his Mam and he knew he’d been loved. Cherished.
He stepped inside and went looking for his kilt. He found it in no time and then saw Claire’s tote bag, lying on the chair. She’d sold his mother’s scotch pearls, nay bother. The poor lass had to do something. She must’ve felt so alone. Thank goodness she’d found him. Deo gratias.
He dressed and took a final look around the master bedroom, the laird’s room. His eyes widened as he stared at the bed, and before he could realize what he was doing, he took out the sword from underneath it. His Da’s blade. Claire had showed it to him. How had it waited for him, for hundreds of years. He sheathed it and made his way downstairs. He stole a glance at the kitchen. He grabbed Claire’s ring and before he could change his mind, he put Frank’s into his sporran as well. Gold was gold, after all, and should the need arise, they’d sell it.
He was damned if Lallybroch were to go to waste again. So he fetched a pen and a piece of paper and hoped it would hold value. An impromptu will, of sort.
He sighed heavily, his hands shaking. He had to hurry. He didn’t know if they were ever going to be able to make it back to 2020. Surely coming back would be the safest option. Surely if he could, then there was no reason why Jenny, Ian and the bairns, and everyone else he held dear couldn’t. But, if not...
He wrote down his wish that he, James Malcolm, was leaving the estate in William Grey’s name, complete with information about his father, John Grey, to become his effective immediately upon turning 18 years of age. He added the date and signed it, and also wrote down the names of Murtagh, Colum and Dougal- the witnesses, attesting to the veridicity of the document.
He then wrote a text and sent it to Murtagh “I could kill your for what you’ve done. Your punishment will be never knowing what has become of me. If you wish to ever redeem yourself for all that you’ve wronged me, you’ll bring the Mackenzies here and sign the document I wrote. Look after the lad, in my stead, if Grey allows it, befriend him. Never interfere in his life. Do it from a distance. Make sure the document is valid, use your ropes. I don’t know if I can ever forgive you. God knows you had your reasons. I pray He forgives you, Ghoistidh.”
He left his phone next to the piece of paper along with his wallet, documents and keys, and without looking back, he walked to the stables. Donas was more than ready to have his master take him on a longer ride than usual.