Frank walked into the room and glanced over at her as she stood staring out the window of the small room Reggi had generously offered her while she convalesced. He slowly walked closer to her, worried he may frighten her if he approached too quickly. However, she had heard him enter and turned as he approached, effectively stopping him in his tracks, "What is it, Frank?"
He took a deep breath and retreated across the room, he needed to be nearer to the door in case she rejected his proposal. "I want to make a deal."
Claire crossed her arms over her chest a defensive maneuver to be sure, "I'm listening."
He nodded and steeled himself, preparing for whatever her reply might be, "I want to raise this child, together, as yours and mine. But to do that you must forget about your past, no searching for him, not talking about him. This child will be mine and yours and will never know any different, do you agree?"
Claire furrowed her brow in thought. For the most part, Franks offer was exactly what Jamie had asked of her, but to never tell their child of the father who gave his life to protect them. The father who had known about him even before she herself had entertained the idea. To never tell their child who was made from the purest love one could hope for, of the father that loved him to the very marrow of his bones, she didn't know if she could accept that deal. Although what Frank didn't know, wouldn't hurt him, she could tell the child of his father, perhaps when he was grown.
She nodded to herself and came to a decision as she brought her gaze up to Frank's hopeful expression. "Fine, no looking back, no ghosts. We will leave the past in the past."
Frank sighed in relief and picked up her stack of 18th century clothing, "I will deal with these, you don't need to have these reminders of your past now that we have agreed to leave it there."
Claire nodded and looked down at the iron ring on her right hand, tears welling in her eyes at thought of saying goodbye to the ring that Jamie had gifted her. The ring that was made from the key to Lallybroch, Jamie's home, a place so dear to his heart that he went to war trying to save it. But as she looked down at the ring, she couldn't force her fingers to pull it off and suddenly Frank's hand covered her own as he lowered his voice to a soft murmur, "In time, when you're ready."
Claire nodded and sighed in relief. She didn't think she would ever be ready to remove Jamie's ring. But for the promise she made to him, she would accept Frank's offer and raise Jamie's child with him.
Frank accepted the offer to teach at Harvard and Claire didn't fight him on it. He said that if they remained in Scotland or even England, the stigma of her disappearance would follow them and they would never have a normal life. Once they were in Boston, no one would even suspect that Frank wasn't the biological father of the child she carried in her womb. So to protect her child from the scandalous talk that was sure to follow her for the rest of her life, she prepared herself to never return to Scotland again.
Even though she had made a promise to Jamie to return to her life with Frank, Claire found it impossible to return to the way their relationship was before. When Frank would try and touch her she would flinch. It was a combination of the face he shared with his monstrous ancestor and the betrayal she felt for Jamie by allowing Frank to touch her in such a way. So throughout her pregnancy, her mind turned inward, remembering the moments that she and Jamie shared together. When Frank was away at work, Claire would whisper to her unborn child, she would tell him all about his amazing, proud, brave father the highlander Laird who sacrificed himself for the ones he loved.
As time went on the stories turned into a bit of a fairytale and Claire realized that she had found a way to tell her child all about his father. She could tell him a bedtime story about the brave man that had made him and Frank would be none the wiser. As long as she didn't tell the story in Frank's presence, she could keep her promise to him and not be forced to lie to her child.
On November 23rd at 8:03 P.M. Brian Malcolm Fraser Randall came into the world with a wail that lifted his mother's heart. Luckily the doctor had encouraged her to nurse him before Frank was notified of his birth and she took that opportunity to tell him his very own fairytale for the first time in his life. "Oh, sweet Brian, I wish your father was here to see you, but since he couldn't make it, I will tell you all about him."
"Once upon a time there was a brave highland warrior who was out for a ride through the forest on his trusty steed Donas. The highlander decided to take a different route home and came upon a hill with a circle of stones standing atop it. Of course, the highlander was quite curious about the stones, for they were like nothing he had ever seen before. So he pushed Donas to move closer to the stones, but Donas was frightened at the sounds coming from the stones, so he reared up and threw the highlander from his saddle. The highlander landed hard on his shoulder and groaned in pain as he laid at the bottom of the hill.
But soon he heard the most beautiful sound of a woman's voice coming from the top of the hill. He looked up and saw the most beautiful woman appear right out of thin air. The highlander knew the stories about hills with stones and knew that the woman must be a fairy. The stories were warnings about the fairies and how they should not be trusted, but the highlander could see that the fairy only wanted to help him. So he laid perfectly still and waited for the fairy to come down the hill and find him.
When she saw him she gasped at how handsome the highlander was, but she noticed that he was in pain and she ran to his side. She saw that he had hurt his shoulder and luckily the fairy knew just what to do to help him. Soon she had fixed his shoulder and the highlander was so grateful that he offered her his plaid to keep her warm. The fairy could see that he was not like the other men she had seen near the hill so she accepted his plaid.
The highlander helped her onto his horse Donas and together they rode for many nights until they reached a big castle. The people of the castle didn't trust the fairy, but the highlander vowed to protect her. It wasn't long before the highlander and the fairy fell in love and got married. They left the big castle and went in search of the highlander's home. When they arrived the highlander's sister was there, but she wasn't happy that the highlander had married a fairy so she argued with him.
But after a while, the highlander's sister could see that the fairy and the highlander loved each other very much. She asked them to stay and live there forever but there were bad men looking for the highlander, so he had to take his fairy wife away to Paris to escape the bad men. But they met more trouble when they arrived in Paris and met a Prince who had plans for the highlander. The Prince wanted to start a war and become king of the land where the highlander lived.
So the highlander built an army for the prince to try and help him win against the king. The highlander was worried about his fairy wife and the unborn child she carried so he took her back to the fairy hill. He told her he loved her and their child but he was no longer able to protect her, so he kissed her goodbye as they both cried and the fairy disappeared through the stones, never to see her highlander again."
Claire wiped the tears from her face and looked down at the sleeping form of her son. She stroked his cheek and was rewarded with a beautiful little smile, just like his father would do in his sleep. She hadn't taken her eyes off him for what seemed like hours when her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice, "Claire, are you alright darling?"
Claire quickly schooled her features and looked up at Frank, "Yes, we are both doing quite well, thank you."
Frank took a tentative step closer and peered at the baby in her arms, "Frank, this is our son, Brian."
Frank gripped the hat he held in his hand a bit tighter and walked over to stand beside her as he looked down into the face of the tiny baby in her arms. Just then the nurse came in with a tray of food for Claire and peered over at Brian, "What a handsome little boy, but where did he get the red hair?"
Frank was standoffish with Brian and at first, Claire thought maybe it was just the natural nervousness of a new father. However, the months went by and Frank still wasn't bonding with Brian. He even seemed to be spending more and more time at the university. When Brian's first birthday rolled around, Claire had planned a small birthday party for him. Even though Jamie couldn't be there to celebrate his son's birthday, Claire was determined to make the day special and memorable. She invited some of the women she had met at the local park to bring their children to the house on Fury street for Brian's birthday and had asked Frank to invite some of his colleagues as well. However, Frank informed her that they would be uninterested in attending the birthday party of a one year old baby.
She tried not to let it get to her, but the fact was, that Frank no longer seemed to be interested in being a family. He had begun offering to tutor some of his students and rarely came home before Claire put Brian to bed at night. Though Claire felt lonely, Frank's absence from their life was better than having him around. Claire missed Jamie terribly and her nightly bedtime story about her life with Jamie became more and more detailed.
By the time Brian was 5 years old, he had begun to ask questions during the story and Claire was all too eager to fill in any gaps. However his latest question had surprised Claire, "Mama, what did the highlander look like?"
Claire gazed out the window as a small smile came to her face, "Well, he looked a lot like you, my little warrior." She reached out and stroked one of Brian's long cinnamon curls. Frank loathed how long his hair had become, but Claire couldn't bring herself to have it cut and Brian didn't seem to mind, so she let it grow. "His hair was red and curly and he had the most beautiful baby blue eyes."
Brian grinned, the gap where his two top teeth had fallen out just a few days before reminded Claire of Angus and she laughed. Brian laughed as well then finally settled down, "Did his hair and eyes look like mine, mama?"
Claire sighed, "Yes, my little love, he looked just like you."
Brian nodded as if he could imagine just what Jamie had looked like, "What about the fairy, mama, what did she look like?"
Claire briefly wondered if she should remain close to reality or change the story a bit, but in the end, she decided that honesty was best, "She had brown curly hair and eyes like a tiger."
Brian giggled as he pointed at Claire's eyes, "You have tiger eyes mama, are you a fairy?"
Claire smiled and shook her head, "No, baby, I'm not a fairy, but sometimes I wish I was."
Brian leaned up and gave her a wet kiss on the cheek, "Don't feel bad, mama, you are much prettier than a fairy."
A silent tear rolled down Claire's face but before Brian could notice, she pressed his head to her chest and placed a kiss in the crown of his curls.
When Brian was 10 years old he brought home a homework assignment that caused Claire's breath to hitch, "Mama, Mr. Bailor wants us to make a family tree so we can show where we came from."
Claire's eyes went wide momentarily, but she quickly schooled her features, "Alright, love. What do we need to include?"
Brian sat down at the kitchen table and opened his backpack to pull out the assignment. He laid it on the table and began to read, "We need to list ancestors as far back as we can. If we can find out what kinds of jobs they had I can earn extra credit. Mr. Bailor also wants us to list our physical traits and who in our family we might have gotten them from."
Brian looked up from the list and frowned at Claire, "Mama, who do I look like?"
Claire closed her eyes to keep the tears from spilling down her cheeks as she shook her head. After a moment, she opened her eyes and looked up at her beautiful son, who was the spitting image of the portrait of his father that had hung in Lallybroch in 1743. "You look like a very brave person in your family tree, my love."
Brian tilted his head to the side, "Who, mama, what was his name?"
Claire sighed as she looked toward the door of Frank's study then back to her little boy, who wasn't so little anymore. "His name was James Fraser."
Brian frowned, "Like the highlander in my fairytale?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, my little love, just like the highlander."
Brian looked down at his assignment list then back up at Claire, "But mama, he lived in the 1700s, I don't think that Mr. Bailor wants us to go that far back."
Claire nodded in understanding, "Don't worry Brian, you can just say that you got your traits from a Scottish ancestor a few hundred years back."
Brian seemed content with that answer, "Alright, mama."
Then Brian's eyes seemed to light up, "Mama, Father's research is about Scottish history from the 1700s, do you think he would mind if I looked at his books?"
Claire sat down across from Brian, "Baby, I don't think that's such a good idea, you know how he is about his study."
Brian's shoulders slumped, "I know, but I promise to put everything back. He won't even know I have been in there."
Claire sighed, "If you are going to do this, I will help you. But it's already to late today, tomorrow when you get home from school, we will see what we can find. But you mustn't tell your father, alright?"
Brian nodded enthusiastically, "Yes, Mama, I promise."
The next day, Claire took down the key to Frank's study from over the door, and together she and Brian went in. Claire wasn't sure where to begin, neither she nor Brian had been allowed in the study before, so she decided to start at his desk. As she sat down in his chair, she noticed a stack of papers on the corner of the desk, and on top of the pile was an envelope from Scotland. Curiosity got the better of her and she picked up the envelope, which happened to be from Reggi.
She opened the envelope and pulled out the letter and began to read.
Dear Frank, I have found more information on the Jacobite by the name of James Fraser. Indeed he was an important man in Charles Stuart's army. He was among 5 Fraser officers at the battle of Culloden and the only officer not to die that day.
Claire's eyes went wide as a tear spilled down her face. Not only had Jamie not died at Culloden, but Frank knew and hadn't told her. She grabbed the envelope and looked at the postmark, it was dated from just a few months after she had returned through the stones. Frank had known the whole time and hadn't said anything. She wiped her eyes and looked back at the letter to continue reading.
James Fraser was lost to history after that and I have been unable to find any more information on him. However, Charles Stuart had commissioned portraits of his most important supporters and a colleague of mine tells me that there is a portrait of Red Jamie and his wife the Stuart Witch in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Please let me know if you decide to visit the Gallery and what your findings are.
I will keep you apprised of any additional information I find.
Brian walked over, "What is it, Mama, are you alright?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, my love. I'm alright, have you found anything?"
Brian nodded and placed a familiar drawing in front of her, "Who is the man in this wanted poster, mama? He looks just like me."
When Brian turned 15, Frank was killed in a drunk driving accident and Claire made the decision to take Brian to the National Portrait Gallery and tell him the truth of his origins. She waited till he was finished with school and had a long summer vacation ahead of him. She bought the airline tickets and reserved a room at Mrs. Baird's Bed and Breakfast. She didn't have to worry about taking time off of work, since Frank had been against her being employed and she hadn't felt right about leaving Brian alone with Frank.
The one time she had needed to run to the market and had to leave Brian with Frank had been enough to scare her into never doing it again. Luckily she had walked in the front door mere seconds after Frank had raised his hand and her screech had stopped him from laying a hand on her then 2 year old little boy. Before that day, she didn't think Frank had anything in common with his ancestor Johnathan Randall, but the look on his face and the rage in his voice had proved her wrong.
It frightened her enough that she didn't know what he would do if she tried to take Brian and leave him. The only time he wanted anything to do with her or Brian was when he needed to impress a colleague from Harvard and even then he preferred to have Brian tucked into bed early so no one would notice how different the boy looked from either of his parents.
Neither Claire nor Brian showed any remorse at Frank's funeral and in fact, both of them were quite relieved to no longer be forced to live in fear. After the funeral, Claire took Brian home and they wordlessly entered Frank's study. Brian walked over to the bookshelf where he had found the wanted poster just 5 years prior and pulled it out again. He brought it to his mother and knelt down in front of her as she sat in Frank's chair, "Mama, years ago you told me that this is Jamie Fraser, will you tell me about him. I know that you know more than what you have said. Who is he to us, to me?"
Claire closed her eyes and placed her hand on the drawing as she sighed. She opened her eyes and took Brian's hands in hers, "It's time I told you everything, my sweet boy."
Brian took a deep breath, "I'm ready, Mama."
Claire nodded and smiled at her son. He looked just like his father had when she had met him nearly 18 years before. She pulled Brian up to his feet, "Come sit on the sofa with me, this might take a while."
Brian nodded and grabbed the folder that Claire had in her hand so that she could stand. She made her way to the sofa and patted the cushion next to her. Brian handed her the folder and took the seat next to her, ready to listen to whatever she had to say."
Claire took a deep breath and began, "Frank was not your father, not in any way. Not by blood, not by love. The only thing he did for you was to remain married to me, and support us, but even that was done for selfish reasons. If things had gone the way I had wished them to, you would have known the truth from the very beginning."
Brian smiled and sighed in relief, "Thank God for that. I had suspected for a while, but neither of you ever said otherwise. I even suspected that I might be adopted, but I know how much you love me, mama, so I couldn't reconcile that you weren't truly my mother."
Claire chuckled, "Yes, my love. I am really your mother and you do know a bit about your father, at least what I felt was safe enough to tell you."
Brian furrowed his brow, "What do I know?"
Claire patted his knee, "Do you remember when you were in the 5th grade and you had that ancestry assignment?"
Brian furrowed his brow in thought then nodded, "Yes, I remember, what about it?"
Claire turned to look at him, staring into the blue eyes that he shared with his father, "You had asked me who you looked like."
Brian nodded and smiled softly, "You told me that I looked like the highlander in my bedtime story. He is the same man in this wanted poster, right, mama?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, his full name was James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Laird Broch Tuarach."
Brian frowned, "Is that where you got my middle names?"
Claire nodded, "Yes and your first name was from his father, Brian Fraser."
Brian's frown deepened, "But why would you name me after ancestors from over 200 years ago?"
Claire squeezed Brian's hand, "I want to tell you everything my love, but to do that I must take you to Scotland, there is something there that you need to see first."
The next morning, Claire drove Brian to the airport, they boarded the plane and slept through the 12 hour flight to Edinburgh. Upon disembarking from the plane, Claire hailed a cab and requested that the driver take her to the National Portrait Gallery. They stopped at the desk and Claire asked directions to the Jacobite section of the gallery. After walking down a few winding hallways they finally came to the portrait they had been searching for and Claire remained quiet as she turned Brian around so that he could face the portrait of her and Jamie.
She watched as the emotions flitted across his face. She had known for a while that he had the gift of hiding his emotions, just as his father did. However, the shock of what he was seeing was too much for him to contain. Claire sat down on the bench behind him and waited for him to react. After about 5 minutes he turned around and stared at her, a dumbfounded expression on his face. "Mama, I think you need to explain. The plaque under that portrait says that it was painted in 1745, but that couldn't possibly be true. You are in that portrait and the man you are with, well he looks like me, except he is dressed like a highlander."
Claire nodded, "Yes, he was a highlander, his name is Jamie Fraser, he is your father."
Brian furrowed his brow and sat down hard on the bench next to her, "Mama, you're not making any sense, are you feeling alright?"
Claire took a hold of his hand, "I am feeling quite well, my love, and I have much to tell you, but this is not the place to do that. We need to rent a car and take a drive to Lallybroch."
Brian pulled his hands from hers, "Mama, Lallybroch is just a place in a fairytale, it's not real."
Claire sighed, "Yes, my love, it is very real, but I haven't been there in a very long time. I would like to take you there and tell you all about your father."
The next morning, Claire did as promised and took Brian to Lallybroch. They sat on the front steps and Claire told him the story of his father. "I know this will be hard to believe, but I need you to listen. I met your father in 1743 after falling through some fairy stones at Craigh Na Dun. You know the basics of the story from the bedtime story that I have told you since you were born. I have tried to keep it as close to facts as possible, but I did leave out a few details. No, I'm not a fairy, but it was the easiest way to explain what had happened to me all those years ago.
You know that I was a nurse in the war and that Frank and I came to Scotland after the war ended in 1945. We were here on our second honeymoon when I fell through the stones. At first, I couldn't believe what had happened to me, but there were too many things that my brain couldn't reconcile. Your father befriended me and become someone I could trust. He married me to protect me from Black Jack Randall. But that's not the main reason, he also loved me, but I didn't know that at the time. Soon I fell in love with him, but I was afraid to tell him the truth about where I was from. Eventually, I did and he took me back to Craigh Na Dun, determined to do the right thing by returning me to my own time. But I chose to stay in 1743 with him, by then I knew I loved him and couldn't live without him.
Your father had a price on his head for something that Black Jack had done, but accused your father of doing. Black Jack had tortured your father in various ways before and while I knew him. Along with some of your father's kinsmen, I broke him out of Wentworth Prison and we sailed to Paris. On the way there, I gave him some news that would help to heal his soul. I never told you, but I was pregnant before, but I lost the baby. Your sister, Faith was born far too early.
The loss almost tore us apart, but we returned to Scotland and found one another again. However, while we were in Paris, your father and I had tried to stop Charles Stuart from building an army, we tried to stop the battle of Culloden from happening, but as you know, we were unsuccessful. Charles Stuart forged your father's name, branding him a traitor and forcing him to join his army. We did everything we could right up until the last day to stop the battle, I even suggested poisoning the prince. Dougal, your father's uncle overheard the plan and threatened to kill me. Your father protected me by killing Dougal, but that made him an enemy of the MacKenzie's as well. Your father knew I was pregnant with you, even before I did and he saw only one option to save us both.
He took me back to Craigh Na Dun and forced me to go back through the stones, he wanted to make sure we were safe. He knew about Frank by then and he was sure that Frank would love and care for us."
Brian scoffed, "Well, he was wrong about that wasn't he."
Claire's eyes lit up, "You believe me then?"
Brian shook his head as he stood up and began to pace in front of Lallybroch. "I don't know what to believe, obviously this place is real, I know Culloden is real, the portrait was real. I'm just so confused, Mama."
Claire nodded, "I know, my love and I am so sorry that I haven't been able to tell you until now. I would like to take you to Craigh Na Dun to show you the stones as well, perhaps then it will make more sense."
Claire became more and more apprehensive with the closer they came to Craigh Na Dun. The last time she had been there having been the day Jamie had forced her to return to the 20th century. She parked the car, turned off the engine, and sat silently staring up at the hill with her fists gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles had turned white. Brian noticed and reached over, placing his hand on top of Claire's, "Mama, are you alright?"
Claire looked over at her son and gave him a nervous smile, "Oh, yes darling, I'm alright, it's just been a very long time since I have been here and the place doesn't exactly hold good memories for me."
Brian patted her hand, "Mama, we don't have to do this today if you're not ready."
Claire shook her head, "To be honest, I will never be ready so it's better to just do it now."
Brian smiled and opened his door, "Take all the time you need, Mama, I'm going to walk up and take a look at the stones."
Claire's eyes went wide as she scrambled out of the car, her voice coming out much louder than she had intended, "NO, wait."
Brian furrowed his brow and turned to look at her as he closed his car door and walked toward the front of the car, where his mother was coming around. "Don't worry, Mama."
Claire gripped his hand tightly, "Brian, please, just wait. The stones are dangerous, you mustn't go up there alone."
Brian sighed and rolled his eyes, "Alright, well then come with me."
Claire took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, gripped Brian's hand tighter, and together they began the short trek up the hill. As they got closer to the stones, the sick feeling in Claire's stomach increased. The buzzing became louder and louder and she could suddenly feel the stones pulling her toward them. When they reached the outer ring, Brian pulled Claire's hand, forcing her to stop in her tracks. "Mama, what is that awful sound?"
Claire released his hand, turned and cupped his cheeks in both of her hands, with a look of glee on her face, "You can hear them, then?"
Brian furrowed his brow, "I hear something, it sounds like bees but it's so loud."
Claire nodded and stroked his cheekbones with her thumbs, "That's the stones calling to us, my love. I think it means that you are able to travel through time as well."
Brian tore his gaze from his mother's face and looked up toward the center stone, then back down at his mother, "Is this the last place you saw my father?"
Claire nodded as she tried unsuccessfully to hold the tears back. Brian brought his hands up to her face, wiped the tears away, and leaned his forehead against hers. They both closed their eyes and for a moment Claire felt as though it was Jamie that she stood with on that hill. But Brian had his own distinctive scent, similar to that of his father's but all his own. After a moment he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her close, pressing her head to his chest. "It's alright, Mama, I believe you. I don't understand it all, but I believe you. I know there is so much more than you aren't telling me, I would like for you to tell me everything, but perhaps this is not the best place to do that."
Claire nodded as she squeezed her son tighter, her arms wrapping around his narrow waist, "God you are so like him."
Brian chuckled and pulled back from their embrace, "Let's go to the inn and you can tell me everything."
Claire nodded and together they turned and walked down the hill toward the car.
After they returned to the inn, Claire and Brian sat on her bed and she started from the very beginning, only leaving out intimate details that only she and Jamie should be privy to. When it was all said and done, they both had tears streaming down their faces. When Claire had told him everything that had happened at Wentworth, Brian had moved to sit beside her and gathered her in his arms.
When Claire finally made it to the part where Jamie had forced her to leave him, Brian wept with her, "Oh, mama, he loved us so much. But how can you be certain that he died that day?"
Claire's eyes went wide and she got up and walked over to their suitcase, pulling out the letter that she had found 5 years prior and handed it to Brian as she sat next to him again, "Actually I believed he had died that die, like he intended to, that is until I found this that day in Frank's study."
Brian furrowed his brow and took the letter from her, he read through it several times before he looked up at her, "Mama, this just says he was lost to history, we don't have proof of his death. He might have survived much longer than you realize."
Claire frowned, "But how would we find that out?"
Brian shrugged, a gesture so much like Jamie that it made Claire smile, "I don't know, but we have to try. Perhaps instead of just looking for my father's name in history, we could search for Red Jamie as well. That is what the portrait at the National Portrait Gallery referred to him as. There might be more associated with that name, that we could find. Besides, now that we are in Scotland and closer to where everything happened, it might be easier."
Claire sighed, "Mrs. Graham warned me about chasing ghosts, I don't know if it is such a good idea."
Brian got up and began pacing back and forth in frustration. Then after a few minutes, he came back over and knelt in front of her, taking both of her hands in his. "Mama, I know that he has been dead for 200 years, but I have just learned that I had a father who loved me. I had a father who was a noble and honorable man, willing to sacrifice his own happiness to save his wife and unborn child. If I don't do everything in my power to learn all I can about what happened to him, then I could never forgive myself. I can understand if you can't bring yourself to do this, but this is something I need to do."
Claire shook her head and gave him a watery smile, "There is no denying that you are your father's son, you are just as headstrong as he was. If this is truly something you need to do, then I won't stop you, in fact, I will help in any way that I can."
Brian rose from his kneeling position on the floor and then sat down next to her on the bed again, "Do you think this Mr. Wakefield would be willing to help us?"
Claire shook her head, "Honestly I don't know, but it's worth a try I suppose."
The next day, Claire and Brian drove to the manse. Claire was more apprehensive than she had been when they had gone to Craigh Na Dun, at least she had known what to expect at the hill. At the manse, however, she would need to face people from her past, people who had been friends with Frank and would likely feel loyalty toward him and his memory. She didn't wish to disappoint her son, but she feared that disappointment is exactly what they would both be facing by asking the reverend for his help in their search.
She steeled herself for rejection, turned back, and looked over her shoulder at her stubborn, proud, Scottish son then turned back and knocked on the door. She was surprised when a young woman answered, "Hello, is Roger expectin' ye?"
Claire frowned, "No, I was hoping that either the Reverend or Mrs. Graham were still here, I knew both of them a very long time ago."
The young woman smiled, "Oh, my grannie is in the kitchen, but the Reverend died this spring."
Claire gasped as her hand came up to cover her mouth, "Oh, I am so sorry, we had no idea."
The woman stood to the side, "Well, I can't leave ye standing out here, come in, I'm sure that grannie would love to see an old friend."
Claire nodded and reached back to take Brian's hand. The young woman closed the door behind them as they waited off to the side, "My name is Fiona and I have been helping out more since she is getting on in age. Roger is in the study if ye wish to speak with him as well."
Claire nodded as she followed Fiona down the hall to what she remembered was the kitchen, "I think I remember Roger, he was only about 8 years old last time I was here."
Fiona turned and smiled at her, "Well, he is a man grown now, but I'm sure he will remember ye as well."
They entered the kitchen and Mrs. Graham looked up from her cup of tea, a surprised expression on her face, "Mrs. Randall, is that ye?"
Claire smiled softly, "Yes, Mrs. Graham, it's me Claire and I would like to introduce you to my son, Brian."
Mrs. Graham looked over Claire's shoulder at Brian and her eyes went wide, "He looks just as ye described yer Jamie when ye came back through the stones."
Fiona frowned and swung her gaze between Claire, Brian, and her grandmother, "Grannie are ye talking about the stones at Craigh Na Dun?"
Mrs. Graham smiled thoughtfully, "Aye, I am. Mrs. Randall went through them in 1945 and reappeared three years later with the most fantastical story and carrying a bairn no less."
Claire blushed as she took a seat across from Mrs. Graham and gestured for Brian to sit next to her. She took Mrs. Graham's hand in hers, "Brian is the spitting image of his father, right down to his mannerisms and personality. He is truly his father's son and now he wishes to find out what happened to Jamie after Culloden."
Mrs. Graham nodded, "So ye ken that he survived then?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, some years ago, I found the letter from Reggi saying as much, but we know nothing beyond that."
Mrs. Graham patted her hand, "Well, as ye ken, Reggi often had me help him with his research. We did find more, but Mr. Randall insisted that the research remain here. He was fearful that ye would find it if Reggi sent it on to him in Boston."
Claire's eyes went wide, "What more did you find?"
Mrs. Graham looked up at her granddaughter, "Fiona, my dear, will ye fetch Roger and ask him to bring the research on Red Jamie?"
Fiona nodded and turned to leave the kitchen, "Yes, Grannie, right away."
A few minutes later, Fiona came back into the kitchen, "Grannie, Roger says there is far too much to bring into the kitchen, but we should be able to use the sitting room and spread the research over the coffee table."
Mrs. Graham nodded, "Aye, thank ye, Fiona."
Fiona turned and walked out of the kitchen and led the others to the sitting room. When they entered Roger had two boxes sitting on the floor next to the coffee table and was pulling a file folder out of one of the boxes. He looked up as they entered, "Mrs. Randall, Mr. Randall, please have a seat."
Brain clenched his jaw, but Claire noticed and squeezed his hand in warning. They both took a seat on the edge of the sofa cushions and waited for Roger to begin. He pulled a sheet of paper out of the file folder and handed it to Claire, "Mrs. Graham has told me the story of your disappearance several times and I do have a few memories of my own of when you returned. I know that Brian is not Frank's son by blood and he was supposedly fathered by an 18th century Jacobite officer."
Claire nodded, "Yes, all of that is true, Mrs. Graham said that Frank asked the reverend to help him with his research into Jamie and that there was more than what he had in Boston."
Roger nodded, "Aye, there was. The last thing that father sent to Frank was the letter about research he discovered that proved that Jamie had survived the battle. Frank replied and asked him to continue searching be demanded that anything he found would remain here. I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but Frank made visits here every few months and together the two of them would go over father's findings."
Claire frowned and looked over at Brian, "No, we were not aware of that. He had several business trips over the years, but he always said they were in California and would never call us while he was away, claiming the time difference to be to much."
Roger sighed, "I'm sorry to break that news to ye, but I imagine he was here when he said he was in California. But let me begin with what we found after we realized that Jamie survived the battle."
Claire nodded and looked down at the sheet of paper, "What is this, it looks like a children's story?"
Roger shook his head and took the sheet of paper back from Claire, "That is what we thought at first as well, this story has been passed down from generation to generation for the past 2 centuries and father only figured out that it was true about 12 or 13 years ago. This is the story of the dunbonnet, it tells of a Jacobite warrior that returned home after the war, but he had to hide in a cave on his own estate. You see he was too well known to be seen out in the open and he had to wear a brown bonnet to cover his flaming red hair."
Claire's eyes went wide, "You think the dunbonnet could be Jamie?"
Roger nodded, "Aye, I do. You see the dunbonnet was said to have hidden in a cave near a rock outcropping called the Leap o' the cask."
Claire frowned, "I don't understand, what does that have to do with Jamie?"
Roger pulled an old map out of the second box and spread it on the coffee table. Circled in red was the words 'Leap o' the Cask', Claire looked closer and her eyes went wide, "It's located near Broch Mordha, about where Lallybroch would be."
Roger nodded, "Aye it is and Father, Mr. Randall, and I drove out to Lallybroch a few years after the two of ye moved to Boston. I think Brain would have been two or three at the time, but Lallybroch was just as ye described it to Frank and he knew then that what ye had told him was the truth about traveling to the past. We climbed the hills behind Lallybroch and found the Leap o' the cask as well as the cave just above it. Of course, the cave was empty after two centuries, but we found something carved there that sent chills down Mr. Randall's spine."
Claire looked over at Brian then back at Roger, "What was carved there?"
Roger shook his head, "Tis best if ye see it for yer self, but I found more in father's research, Jamie survived longer than the 7 years that he lived in the cave. It's not part of the original bedtime story that was passed down through the years, we found it in an old journal. But apparently, the dunbonnet had a french servant boy that would bring him supplies, and one day the boy was followed by the redcoats. The boy tried to throw the soldiers off his trail by taunting them, but they eventually caught him and cut off his hand. The dunbonnet felt guilty that the boy had lost his hand while trying to keep his hiding place a secret, so he asked his sister to turn him in for the reward. The reward would help to keep the estate afloat for a while and the redcoats would finally leave his family and tenants alone."
Brian reached up and brushed the tears from his mother's cheek, "Don't weep, Mama, this is good news, we know that he survived much longer than he intended to."
Claire nodded, "Yes, I know you are right, but we could have been there with him, our separation was pointless, we belonged in the 18th century with your father."
Brain shook his head, "What kind of life would we have had, either separated from him as he had to live in a cave or trying to survive in that cave with him. We did as he wanted us to and we thrived in this time."
Claire nodded, "I know that you are right, but it is still painful to hear how he was forced to live, while we were here, living a life of comfort."
Brian squeezed Claire's hand, "I wouldn't exactly call the life we had comfortable, Mama, but Roger is not finished, let's listen to what else he found."
Roger looked at both of them and was satisfied that they were ready to hear more, "After that, we found the muster roll at Ardsmuire Prison where one Jamies Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser was arrested in 1753. He was a prisoner there for three years until the prison closed in 1756. After that, we lost him for a while, but then we found a letter from his sister to an estate in England. She wrote to someone named Alexander MacKenzie and told him of his nephews and nieces. Father believed that Alexander MacKenzie and James Fraser were one in the same and that he had to use a pseudonym due to his status as a Jacobite traitor. It appears that he was paroled to the estate called Hellwater for 6 years until he received a pardon and returned home to Lallybroch."
Claire's eyes went wide, "That is 16 years of history, that means that he would be at Lallybroch now, Brian just turned 15 in November, it hasn't yet been 16 years since I returned, Jamie survived, we could go back."
Roger nodded, "Aye, ye could and he is no longer a wanted man, but we found more."
Claire furrowed her brow, "What else did you find?"
Roger took a deep breath, "I'm not entirely sure but it appears that Jamie used another alias and moved to Edinburgh sometime between 1762 and 1766. We found an article in an old newspaper and the printer's name was Alexander Malcolm."
Claire shook her head, "I don't understand, you think that is Jamie as well?"
Roger nodded, "Aye, but not from the name alone, it is more what the article says or the quote it uses."
Claire took the paper that Roger offered her and read the quote, "Freedom an' whisky gang thegither!
Claire's gasped, "That was written by Robert Burns."
Roger nodded, "Aye, it was, but at the time this article was printed, Burns was only 6 years old."
Claire tore her gaze from the article, "Only someone with knowledge of the future could have written that."
Roger nodded as he smiled, "Aye, and we have the printer's handwritten notes. I have them here if ye wish to look at them and compare them to what ye ken is Jamie's handwriting."
Claire nodded as she reached a shaky hand out. Roger handed her the handwritten notes and as she looked over them, the tears began to roll down her cheeks. She touched the notes reverently as if they were the man himself instead of a copy of the words he had written.
Brian nudged her, "Mama, is that Da's handwriting?"
Claire placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a sob, "Yes, Jamie wrote this, he survived. We can go back and find him."
Mrs. Graham placed a hand on Claire's shoulder, "Slow down, lass, there are only certain times of the year in which ye can travel and ye must be prepared. Ye need the right clothes, ye need 18th century coins to purchase things ye might need and ye need a gemstone to secure yer safe passage through the stones."
Roger leaned forward and placed one more document in front of Claire, "There is one more document that we found."
Claire looked down and her eyes went wide, "Roger, this is a death announcement for Jamie, Brian and me, in 1770 something, the date is smudged."
Roger nodded, "Aye, it is, so ye need to think long and hard if ye truly wish to go back, just to die in the next 8 to 18 years."
Claire furrowed her brow and looked up at Roger, "I don't care what this newspaper says, we must go back. Jamie deserves to know his son and Brian deserves to know his father. If I had been privy to this information all those years ago, we would have gone back then. This is not up for discussion."
Roger sat back in his chair with a smirk, "Mrs. Graham and I thought ye might say that, so we have been doing a bit of research on the stones and how traveling is possible as well."
Claire's eyes grew wide, "You have, what have you found?"
Roger pulled another sheet of paper from the second box, "It seems that only certain people can travel and only on certain days of the year. We know that Beltane which is on May 1st is one of those days as well as Samhain, which is on October 31st, but Claire you also came through on the anniversary of the battle of Culloden. We assume that this is a special day as well, at least for Craigh Na Dun, since it is located so close to where the battle took place. We believe that all those men that lost their lives became spirits, and they help to thin the veil during that time every year."
Claire furrowed her brow, "What do you mean that is a special day for Craigh Na Dun?"
Roger pulled out another map with lines and circles drawn all over it, "Craigh Na Dun, lies on a place on the earth where some of the earth's lay lines cross. Mrs. Graham and I as well as several others think that these lay lines mark places on the earth, not just Craigh Na Dun, but other places as well where the possibility of time travel exists for those people that were born with the ability to do so."
Claire sat back in astonishment, "There are other places where this is possible?"
Roger nodded, "Aye there are, but that is not all we found out."
Brian leaned forward, "What else did you uncover during your research?"
Roger pulled a stack of papers out and held them in his lap, "Many people have attempted to travel, some of them, like ye Claire are successful, but others perish when they try. The people that are successful are usually reported as missing persons. Mrs. Graham and I have compiled a list of names of those who went missing during those special dates during the year and around places like Craigh Na Dun."
Claire shook her head, "I don't see what any of this has to do with us."
Roger sighed, "I'm getting there, please be patient, I need to tell you this so you understand."
Claire nodded, "Fine, get on with it then, we don't have all day."
Roger chuckled, "Eager to get somewhere, are ye?"
Claire frowned, "Yes, I want to go see my husband, but if I am to do that, then we need to first return to America and sell everything."
Roger's eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open, "Ye are that determined to go then?"
Claire nodded matter of factly, "Yes, and the sooner the better in my opinion."
Roger nodded and cleared his throat, "Right then, I suppose I should get to the point then. Mrs. Graham and I took that list of names and have done our own research, looking for those names throughout history. It wasn't easy, but we were able to find some of them. All of those people tried and attempted to use their knowledge of the future to change major events and all of them failed. However, we believe that they were able to use their knowledge to change smaller events. For example, potatoes being planted in the highlands for the first time came out of nowhere, there were no prior trades or other typical events that would have led up to something like that. Aye, it was a small change to be sure, but when ye consider similar things like that happening, it doesn't compare, it's almost as if the highlanders were told by someone from the future that they needed to plant potatoes in order to survive the famine that followed the battle of Culloden."
Claire's eyes went wide and she could feel her skin warming up as she flushed in embarrassment. Roger leaned forward and peered closely at her, "Ye wouldn't happen to know who told those highlanders to plant potatoes, would ye, Claire?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, I told Jamie's sister, Jenny to plant potatoes. She argued with me at first, saying that they weren't grown in the highlands, I told her they would be and they would need them to survive the war that was coming and the famine that would follow it. We harvested our first crop when Jamie and I returned from France, they were a big hit with the family and all of the tenants. I suppose that word got around at how easy they were to grow and how long they would keep in proper conditions."
Roger chuckled, "I'll say, but my point is that you said something to the right person at the right time that changed history or perhaps steered it in a better direction. I think that if you wish to go back, that you have the ability to change what that newspaper says, but I wouldn't try to change large events, there are just too many players and too many moving parts to have the desired effect."
Claire rolled her eyes, "Yes, I know first hand that we took on an impossible task, there was no way that we could have stopped the rising. God knows that Jamie and I tried everything we could, lost a child in the process, sacrificed our life and love together, and spent nearly 20 years apart, all because we tried to stop that popinjay Charles Stuart from leading all those men to their deaths at Culloden Moor."
Roger placed a hand over Claire's to calm her a bit, "That is still not all. We found that ye need a gem to travel, they help to secure yer safe passage. The few people we have spoken to also say that someone on the other side can draw ye to them, but that is not the only way to steer to the year ye wish to go to."
Claire frowned, "I didn't realize you could steer, I thought the time one would travel just happened at random, after all, I traveled 202 years into the past, but Geillis Duncan traveled from 1968 and arrived sometime before I did, so she traveled at least 225 years."
Roger smirked, "Aye, she probably obtained a black diamond. As far as we have been able to research, it is the only gem strong enough to survive the trip through the stones and the only one which allows ye to steer to the year ye wish to travel to."
Brian furrowed his brow in thought, "Mama, you said that you lost Faith when my father challenged Jack Randall to a dual."
Claire nodded in confusion, "Yes, Brian, I explained, that at that time, I believed he was a direct ancestor to Frank, but later found out that it was Alex who was Frank's ancestor. I only went to the woods to stop them in hopes of preserving Frank's future."
Brian grunted and Claire had to stifle a chuckle, the sound was so like Jamie that sometimes it was difficult to tell the two apart. "A fat lot of good that did, Mama, the man was a cruel prick and we would have been better off without him. There is only one choice that my father made that was foolish, and that was to send you back to Frank. We would have been better off going back to Lallybroch and living with our true family."
Claire sighed, "I know my love, but your father was just trying to do what was best, it was the only way he thought to see us safe, to make sure that we survived."
Brian's shoulders slumped, "I know that Mama, but it doesn't change how I feel. Can you imagine what our lives would have been like if you had stayed?"
Claire smiled at the flood of memories that came rushing back to her, "More times than you can count, my darling."
Claire turned her attention back to Roger, "Is there anything else that you need to tell us?"
Roger shook his head, "I believe that is everything, but if ye are planning to return on Samhain, ye only have four months to get yer affairs in order and return to Craigh Na Dun."
Claire stood up and looked down at Roger with determination in her eyes, "Then we had better return to Boston right away."
When they returned to Boston, neither Claire nor Brian felt like they had come home. Both of them silently longed to be back in Scotland as soon as possible. Upon entering the house on Fury street, Claire made a beeline for Frank's study and Brian went straight for the photo albums that Claire had kept and created over his life. Brian gathered the four albums that contained his life in photos and sat down on the sofa to choose the pictures he most wanted to share upon meeting his father for the first time.
It took him just under two hours to narrow the photos down to what could be carried on his person. He knew that taking such items back in time was risky, but he knew how much his father would cherish the memories he had missed out on being a part of. Many of the photos that Brian had chosen included both him and Claire, but there was a handful that Claire had taken of just him and only one of Claire by herself.
Along with the photo albums, he found a voice recorder, curious he pressed the play button. The tape was a recording of Frank talking into the mic about what seemed to be notes for the book he had written a few years before his death. He set the voice recorder beside him on the sofa and started placing the albums in a box that was destined for storage.
As he was putting the last of the photos that he wouldn't take with them into the box, Claire came back out into the sitting room with a small box in her arms. He looked up at her quizzically and she came to sit down next to him, "I still haven't heard back from the solicitor on Frank's will or estate and I honestly don't expect that he left us much if anything at all. But before his mistress can get her hands on anything, I figured we will take what will help us when we go back to meet your father."
Brian grinned, "This is a side of you that I have never seen, Mama. You have a bit of anger inside."
Claire nodded, "Yes, I do. He lied to me, to us for all of those years. We lived a miserable life with him when I could have been raising you with your real father, a father that loved you and gave up everything for you. But Frank was selfish and kept us here, to punish me or Jamie, I don't know, but it was wrong. I have taken all of his coins from the 18th century, I will take the ring he gave me as well as anything else that can be sold and we will use it to buy everything we need when we go back."
Brian set the photos down on the table in front of him and took the box from her to sit beside the photos. Then at the last moment, he pressed the record button on the voice recorder. He then took both of her hands in his as he looked into her eyes, "Mama, I know that you feel responsible for all this, but it's not your fault."
Claire nodded as she took a deep breath, "You're right, I used to feel guilty, but after our trip to Scotland and finding out everything that Frank hid from us, I no longer feel that way."
Brian smiled softly at her, "But now you know better?"
Claire nodded, "Yes, I do. Now I know that Frank was just as devious as his ancestor, though not a direct descendent, he was just as much of a monster as Black Jack. However Frank was far crueler than Jack, he kept Jamie's survival from me and led me to believe that I owed it to him to remain here in a loveless marriage as his wife. I will never forgive him for that and I regret ever feeling obligated to come back to him."
Brian smiled thoughtfully at her, "Do you wish you would have told my father the truth about Frank sooner?"
Claire scoffed, "Honestly if it wouldn't have meant a wall was still between us, I never would have told Jamie about Frank. I was happy in his time with him, and when he took me back to the stones the first time, I was confused. I only considered coming back to Frank, because there was a brief moment that I thought perhaps Jamie didn't want me."
Brian chuckled, "But obviously you decided to stay anyway, why?"
Claire chuckled, "You are so like him, so curious and smart. After that thought passed, I realized that Jamie was just doing what he thought was right. Jamie is an honorable man and when I told him that I still had a husband who was likely missing me in my own time, Jamie felt obligated to take me back, to give me the choice to return to Frank. When I realized that, I knew that I couldn't live without Jamie."
Brian smiled at the imagery of it, "You once told me that you were forced to marry my father, but I know you, Mama. No one could force you to do anything you didn't want to do."
Claire smiled, "Well, in all honesty, I felt an attraction to Jamie, from the first moment I set eyes on him. Then with the more time I spent with him and the more I got to know him, the more I cared for him. I felt guilty for what I felt for Jamie, I felt some sort of loyalty to Frank. I did want to marry Jamie, but I felt like a fraud because I had already given my vow to someone else. I wanted Jamie to be the only man I was married to, but since I was already married to Frank, I felt that I couldn't give myself to Jamie, not without the guilt of Frank hanging over my head. But after all these years and truly getting to know who Frank is, or rather who he was, I now realize that my loyalty was misplaced. He had not only moved on from me long before I fell through the stones, but he felt no guilt over it. Did you know that he continued sleeping with other women even after I returned and I know that he never cared for you. I had hoped he would form a connection with you, but on that day that I left you in his care when you were only two years old, that all changed. When I came home and walked through the door to see his hand raised just as he was about to strike you, I realized what kind of a monster he was and that what I had felt for him wasn't love. But I had become dependent upon him and it was too late to try and leave. We had no way to get away, let alone survive. I wish I would have known sooner, I would have returned to the 18th century, to Lallybroch and even if your father had died on that battlefield, I know that Jenny would have welcomed us home."
Brian squeezed her hands, "If you could go back and tell your younger self anything, some advice perhaps, what would you say?"
Claire leaned back and was quiet for so long that Brian thought perhaps she wouldn't answer, but then she sat forward, determination on her face. "Well, at first I was going to say that I would tell myself not to marry Frank, but if I hadn't married Frank, then I never would have gone to Scotland and if I didn't go to Scotland, I never would have gone to Craigh Na Dun, fallen back in time or met your father. No, that is not the advice I would give myself. If I could go back and give my younger self advice, it would be to trust myself, to listen to my heart, to tell Jamie that I loved him as soon as I knew it."
Brian quirked his brow, "When did you know you loved him?"
Claire chuckled, "I realized I loved him on our wedding night, but I knew for certain and admitted it to myself when he rescued me from Fort William."
Brian chuckled, "But then he punished you and you let your anger overpower your heart."
Claire nodded, "Yes, for a few days there I considered trying to get back to my own time again, but then when Jamie gave his oath to me and I saw all the pain and fear of losing me on his face, my anger melted away and I gave myself fully to him. I was his for certain from that day forward."
Brian smiled, "Do you have any other advice that you would have given yourself at that time?"
Claire tapped her chin for a moment then smirked at Brian, "I would not try to stop Charles Stuart, all our intervention did was to make Jamie known to that fool. If it hadn't been for my plan to try to stop the rising, Jamie never would have met Charles and that popinjay would have no reason to forge his name and force him to become part of the rising and fight against the British. Jamie never would have been forced to send me back on the morning of the battle of Culloden and you could have been raised by your father, a man who loved you."
Brian swallowed past a lump in his throat, "Would you tell yourself anything about what was to come?"
Claire frowned, "You mean after Jamie sent me back?"
Brian shook his head, "No, Mama, about going back to Lallybroch, about the Black Watch showing up with the deserter Horrocks. Or about uncle Ian killing him, but my father taking the blame and about Tarran MacQuarrie forcing my father to join his raid which led to the ambush and his subsequent arrest. Or about him being in Wentworth prison and sacrificing his body to Black Jack in order to save your life. If you could warn yourself about all those things that led to my father being raped and tortured at the hands of Randall, would you tell yourself?"
Claire swallowed hard, "Yes, if I could go back and stop any of that from happening, you know that I would. I would do anything to save your father all of that pain. He still had nightmares about Jack Randall when he sent me back and I am certain that those nightmares continued after he was captured and sent to Ardsmuire after the rising."
Brian looked down at their clasped hands, "Mama, do you think that my sister Faith could have survived?"
Claire furrowed her brow, "I honestly don't know, my love. I wasn't exactly taking it easy when I was pregnant with her. I probably shouldn't have been volunteering at L'Hopital as much as I was when I was pregnant with her. Perhaps if I could have remained pregnant a few weeks or months longer, she would have survived."
Brian sighed, "So you don't think it was my father's fault for challenging Randall to a duel that caused you to miscarry her?"
Claire shook her head, "No, I was angry at him at the time for putting his revenge above our family, but I am the one who put Frank above our family. If anyone was at fault it was me."
Brian sighed, "I think that is enough talk about regrets, for now, Mama. We need to focus on what we need to do to return to my father."
Claire nodded, "Yes, the first thing we are going to do is to sell everything that we aren't taking with us, then trade that money for anything we can carry with us and use in the 18th century. We will likely need it to buy a couple of horses and supplies before heading to Lallybroch."
Brian turned discreetly and pressed stop on the voice recorder, then turned back to face Claire, "How long do you think it will take before we can return to Scotland?"
Claire shrugged, "I'm not sure, hopefully not long. I know we can't leave until October 31st, but I would like to be back in Scotland long before that. But tomorrow I will take the first step by going to Frank's solicitor to determine what his will said and what he wanted to happen with his estate."
Brian stood up then extended his hand for Claire, "Let's worry about that tomorrow, tonight I am going to make you a nice dinner."
Claire smiled up at her son as she took his hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet and into a warm hug, "That sounds marvelous, but let's do it together."
When Claire and Brian visited Frank's solicitor, they learned that Frank had left nearly everything in his home office to the university's history department, but luckily the contents were not listed. Claire had no issue with boxing up all of his books and research, not including what he had found on Jamie and sending it with a courier to the university. Frank had surprisingly left the house to Claire but had stipulated that his mistress, Sandy Travers receive half the proceeds from the sale of the house. But since he and Claire were still married at the time of his death and no familial connection to Sandy could be established, his preferences for her to receive funds from the sale of his estate were a nonissue.
It didn't come as a surprise when Brian wasn't mentioned in the will at all, but since Frank was listed as Brian's father on the boy's birth certificate, the law deemed it right that he should receive a portion of the profits from the sale of the estate. However Brian had no issue with taking nothing from Frank, the man had never shown him any kindness or love and Brian was happy to have it all over and settled.
The last thing that Claire had to sell was her car and Frank's, which turned out to be quite simple. She had gone to the hospital under the ruse of getting a checkup but had hoped to get access to some vaccinations and penicillin. She was successful in that endeavor but nearly had a heart attack as she walked out of the hospital's exit and made her way over to her parked car. She hadn't noticed the man walk up behind her until he spoke up, "Excuse me, ma'am, might I have a word?"
Claire's eyes grew wide, fear that she had been caught sent a chill down her spine. She pasted her best smile on her face and turned to face the man. "Yes, what can I do for you?"
The man extended his hand, "Pardon my manors ma'am, my name is Joe Abernathy and I noticed the for sale sign in the window of your car. Might I inquire as to the asking price?"
Claire let out a breath of relief, "Oh, well honestly I have no idea, my son and I are moving out of the country and we are just hoping to get a good offer on both vehicles."
Joe's eyes lit up, "You say you have two vehicles for sale, wonderful."
Claire frowned, "Why ever would you be in need of two vehicles?"
Joe chuckled, "Well one for myself and one for my wife Gail. I have been taking a taxi to work and it is getting quite expensive, but if we each had our own vehicle, we wouldn't need to depend on the taxi service."
Claire nodded in understanding, "Well, I can give you my address if you and your wife would like to come by and look at the other car."
Joe nodded, "Thank you that would be wonderful..."
Claire realized that she hadn't introduced herself and the man was likely waiting for her name, "Claire, Claire Fraser."
Joe smiled fondly and offered her his hand, "Nice to meet you, Claire, I will talk with Gail and if it's alright we can come by this evening after I get off my shift."
Claire nodded, then pulled a blank piece of paper from her purse, and wrote down her address, before handing it to Joe. "That sounds wonderful, I will let my son know to expect you."
Claire climbed into her car and watched the man walk back toward the hospital. She couldn't believe that it had only taken three months to take care of everything in Boston. As soon as the cars were sold, she and Brian would board a plane back to Scotland, and once there, they would procure every bit of coin from the time period they would be traveling to, and with any remaining funds, they would purchase jewelry that they could sell or trade once they traveled back through the stones.
That evening Joe arrived with his wife Gail and she fell in love with both cars. Joe gave her a fair amount for both on the spot and he and his wife each drove away with their new to them cars. Brian wrapped his arm around Claire's shoulder and pulled her close to his side, "That was the last bit of business we had in America, Mama. The realtor called and said the new owners have given us an extra week if we need it, but I think we can leave tomorrow morning."
Claire nodded as she wrapped her arm around her son's waist and looked up at him, "Yes, my love, it's time to go home, it's time to introduce you to your father."
Brian grinned, "Let's go up and pack the rest of our things and make it an early night. I called the airport earlier and the first flight to Inverness leaves at 6:00 a.m."
They turned together and made their way up the stairs to the house on Fury street. Though Brian had long grown out of having his mother tuck him in, he allowed Claire to do it one last time in the home he had grown up in. After he had changed into his pajamas, he had called Claire into his room. He laid down and pulled the blankets up, Claire took them from him and tucked them under his chin then turned to sit on the edge of the bed. She placed a hand on his chest and looked into his eyes, "This is it, my boy, this is our last night in America and once we land in Scotland we will have just over a month to procure the rest of what we will be taking with us. We could find you a kilt, but it wouldn't be the correct color pattern and I don't wish to offend your father like that, so I think it best that we look at costume shops for period appropriate clothing for both of us."
Brian nodded, "Yes, Mama, I agree and had already asked Roger and Mrs. Graham for help on finding a place where we can purchase what we need. Roger called just this morning to tell me that he thinks he found the perfect place."
Claire rolled her eyes, "You're just like your father, always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else and you already have a plan figured out for what will happen next. There is no denying who fathered you, my sweet boy."
Brian chuckled, "Let's go to sleep Mama, the sooner we do, the sooner we will wake up and the sooner we will be on a flight back to Scotland and that much closer to my father."
Claire smiled lovingly and leaned over to place a kiss on his forehead, "I do love you Brian Fraser."
Brian grinned, "Thank you for dropping the Randall, I don't ever want to be called that again."
Claire nodded, "Of course, now go to sleep, we have an early morning."
After touching down in Scotland, Claire and Jamie were welcomed with open arms by Mrs. Graham and Roger. Roger had insisted that the pair stay at the manse until it was time for them to make their trip through the stones. Roger and Brian sat in the front seat, while Mrs. Graham and Claire took the back seat. Roger looked over at Brian as they started down the road away from the airport, "Fiona keeps asking about ye."
Brian turned and looked at Roger wide eyed, "Why, I thought she was your girlfriend."
Roger chuckled, "Aye, she is, but she overheard us talking of yer father and she's worried about what yer reaction will be to traveling to another time and meeting the father that ye just recently learned about. She doesna want ye to build him up to be more than what he is."
Brian frowned, "What is he?"
Roger rolled his eyes, "He is just a man, capable of making mistakes. He's not perfect and likely won't ken how to be a father to ye. He is yer father, but he has not had the raising of ye for these past 15 years."
Brian nodded in understanding, "All that might be true, but no matter what he is, he will be a better father than the man I was raised to believe was my father was. Frank didn't love me or even care for me and it didn't bother him to let me know that. I was raised by a loving mother, but the home was not full of love. My mother lived in fear of the unknown and I could feel her heartache as I grew. My father, just speaking his name makes my mother's eyes light up, so no matter what he is, he already means more to me than any other man ever could. So I thank you and Fiona for your concern, but I'll be fine."
Roger nodded, "Aye, I told her as much, but it helps to hear it in yer own words. Now about the costume shop, we can go in the morning if ye wish or we can wait a few days to give ye and yer mother a few days to rest. Mrs. Graham and I have already researched all the locations where ye can get what ye need and I found a gem shop that deals in rare and unique gems. They did have one black diamond and the shop owner promised to hold it until you arrived."
Brian covertly looked into the back seat to make sure his mother had not overheard his and Roger's conversation, and thankfully she seemed to be emersed in her own conversation about the stones. Brian then turned his attention back to Roger, "Good, I will have you take me there in the morning before Mama gets out of bed."
By the time they pulled into the driveway at the manse, it was just after 8:00 p.m., but jetlag had Claire and Brian fighting to keep their eyes open. Roger and Mrs. Graham helped to carry their bags inside and show them to their rooms. Within moments of closing their doors and laying on their beds, both were fast asleep. They slept straight through until 8:00 a.m. the next morning when the smell of bacon and eggs wafted up the stairs and into their rooms.
Brian got up and dressed quickly, glancing at the clock on his bedside table and chastising himself for sleeping so late. He quickly changed out of his clothes from the previous day and pulled some fresh clothes from his suitcase. As he opened his bedroom door and stepped into the hall, he nearly bumped into his mother who was coming out of her room, just across the hall. He looked at her face, a bit startled to see her looking so much happier than he ever had before, "Good morning, Mama, you look lovely today."
Claire smiled up at him and brushed a curl out of his face, "Good morning, my sweet boy. You are looking well rested as well."
Brian smiled down at her as he offered her his arm, "Allow me to escort you to breakfast milady."
Claire's eyes grew wide and tears began to form as she stared up into her son's eyes. Brian looked down at her in confusion, but quickly wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her into his chest, "What's the matter, Mama, did I say something wrong?"
Claire shook her head and wrapped her arms around Brian's waist, "No, my darling, it's not that you said anything wrong. It's just what you called me just now, milady. That is what your older brother Fergus used to call me and I realized that if everything goes as planned, I might be able to reunite with him as well. We could reunite with our entire family if everything goes right."
Brian sighed and rested his chin on top of her head, "That is the plan and I wasn't going to tell you until I could be sure that it was possible, but Roger has found a jeweler who has tracked down a black diamond. I had planned to go and see him today, in hopes that he could find another. Mrs. Graham had told us that the black diamonds were the most powerful protection and could lead us to exactly where we need to go. It was going to be a surprise for you, but I can see that it doesn't matter, we just need to do all we can to get back to my father and the rest of our family."
Claire took a deep breath and took a step back, pulling out of Brian's embrace, "That is very thoughtful of you, Brian and perhaps it would be best if you had a black diamond since you are unable to visualize your father so that the stones will take you to him. But I went through twice before, once with the jewels in my watch and the second time with the stone in Jamie's father's ring. I think if we can get something like a ruby, emerald, sapphire, or regular white diamond, that it will be enough for me."
After Claire composed herself, she took Brian's arm, and together they made their way downstairs to the kitchen, where Mrs. Graham, Roger, and Fiona awaited them. "Good morning my dears, come sit down and have some breakfast."
Claire smiled at the three of them as Brian pulled her seat out for her, "Thank you, Mrs. Graham, everything smells delicious."
Mrs. Graham reached over and patted Claire's hand, "No need to thank me, dear. To see the happiness that shows in yer face is enough for me. But ye best eat, we have plenty to do and only a small amount of time to do it in."
Claire nodded and picked up her fork to dig in. Brian sat down next to Roger and leaned over, keeping his voice low, "I told Mama about the black diamond, she thinks that one will be enough. So we can all three go after breakfast to buy that and another gem."
Roger nodded, "Aye, I thought that would be her opinion on the matter, but I agree that it is better for ye to have the black diamond. We will go to the jewelers first then to the costume shop and then our last stop will be the antique shops where Mrs. Graham and I have already found coins and notes for the correct time period."
Brian patted Roger on the back, "Thank ye, Roger, ye have been a great help to us and we willna forget that."
Purchasing the gems and costumes turned out to be the simple part of their mission. Tracking down enough money to be sure that the Frasers and Murrays would never want for anything again, proved to be a bit more difficult. Claire knew that she and Brian would never be returning to the 20th century after they made the journey back to Jamie's time, so there was no reason not to spend every last dime of her savings and that of the proceeds from the sale of Frank's estate.
Together with Roger, Claire and Jamie used the last month they had remaining, to travel all over Scotland and England, procuring every bit of early 18th century money that they could find. By the time they returned to Inverness to make their final preparations to leave, they had more money than the Duke of Sandringham and the Duke of Argyll combined. While they traveled from coast to coast, Claire was also able to get her hands on some medical instruments that wouldn't seem out of place for the time period.
So on the night of October 30th, they packed everything they would be taking with them into four large leather satchels, dressed in their 18th century costumes. Claire looked over at Brian and quirked her brow, "Brian, why are you bringing that voice recorder and my journals?"
Brian shrugged, "I thought it might be nice for my father to read about our time here."
Claire tilted her head to the side, "And the voice recorder?"
Brian shook his head and sighed, "I want him to hear in your own voice, your own words, how it was with Frank, how you missed Jamie, I want him to know the truth."
Claire frowned, "You don't think I will tell him the truth?"
Brian shook his head as he set down the voice recorder and walked around the bed to take her hands in his, "It's not that I think you won't tell him, but I know that once you see him, the past will melt away and your heart won't allow your head to make room to dwell on the past, let alone speak of it."
Claire sighed, "Yes, you are probably right. Alright, I will allow it, but you must keep it hidden, I don't want you to be accused of witchcraft."
Brian placed his hand over his heart, "I give you my word, I won't let anyone but father see it."
Claire shook her head and turned to finish packing her satchel, "Frasers."
Brian chuckled and returned to his side of the bed to finish placing the last of his items in his satchel.
When they were finished, they loaded everything into the boot of Roger's car. Mrs. Graham and Fiona decided to accompany them and together they made their way to Craigh Na Dun. When Roger finally parked the car at the bottom of the hill, Claire and Brian clasped hands and both took a deep breath, "It's time, Mama, let's go meet my father."
Claire nodded and followed Brian out of the car. They walked around to the boot of the car and Brian packed all four bags onto his shoulders, then he followed Claire up the hill. As they approached the outer ring, she turned and looked at him, "I should probably go first, that way when it is your turn, you can imagine me and let me draw you to me on the other side."
Brian nodded, "Whatever you wish Mama, I will wait on this side and watch you go through."
Claire took a deep breath and turned to face the center of the stone circle. She walked forward and stopped a few feet from the largest stone located in the center of the circle then turned to look at Brian one last time, "You have the black diamond, so think of me and the year 1761 as you touch the stone, don't think of anything else and you should go to the right time. I will be waiting for you on the other side."
Brian nodded and took the few steps to her, pulling her into his arms before she went. He buried his face in her curls and hugged her tightly, "I love you, Mama, think of father and I will see you on the other side."
Claire stepped out of her son's embrace and stroked her fingers down his jaw, "God you are so like him, I can't wait for you both to meet each other. It is a moment that I have waited for since he sent me back to this time."
Brian smiled and turned to press a kiss to the palm of her hand, "Soon, Mama, I will meet him soon, and you shall see your dream come true."
Claire nodded and released her son, "Alright, my love. Step back and wait for me to go through. Once I disappear, don't wait, touch the stones, and follow me home."
Brian nodded and took a couple of steps back to stand at the edge of the stone circle, just a few feet away from Roger, Mrs. Graham, and Fiona. Together they watched Claire step closer to the monolith, her hands rising as she came closer. Then she took the last step and her hands came into contact with the stone, but instead of disappearing from sight, she was hurled back against one of the stones at the edge of the circle, her limp body engulfed in flames.
Brian's eyes went wide as he dropped his bags and ran to his mother's body. Roger and Mrs. Graham ran quickly after him, grabbing his arms just in time to keep him from throwing himself on Claire's already charred remains.
Brian crumpled to the ground, his face buried in his hands as he sobbed uncontrollably, screaming Mama into the darkness of the night that surrounded them.
I didn't plan on posting this next chapter immediately, but I can see that you all need to know what happens next. I apologize for the shock I caused, but I needed a catalyst for Brian to return to the time he did.
Brian wept for a while, wrapped lovingly in Mrs. Graham's warm embrace as she whispered in Gáidhlig until he finally calmed down. He took a deep breath and allowed Roger to pull him to his feet, "Come on lad, let's go back to the manse."
Brian furrowed his brow and shook his head, "No, it's more important now more than ever that I return. I made a vow to my mother, I told her that she would see the moment that I met my father and I do not intend to let her down."
Roger and Mrs. Graham furrowed their brows in confusion, "How do ye plan to do that lad, yer Mam died when she tried to pass through the stones, I dinna think it's safe, ye shouldna try and travel back, especially now."
Brian jerked away from Roger who was reaching out to grab his arms again, "No, I must go and I must go now. Mama said it was dangerous and that each time she passed through it was worse, but I have never passed through, at least not on my own. I must go back and there is nothing you can do to stop me." Before anyone had a chance to react, Brian scrambled over to where he had dropped his bags, scooped them up, and ran to the center stone. He took one last look at what remained of his mother, then thrust his hands against the stone and thought of his mother's smiling face and a year in which she had existed in the past.
When Brian woke on the other side of the stones, his head throbbed and his stomach twisted in protest. Even though Claire had done her best to prepare him for what to expect as they traveled through time, her description was woefully lacking. He laid on his back, peeling his eyes open to peer up into the starry sky, taking note of how brilliantly the stars shone above him. After a few minutes, his stomach had calmed and his eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He knew he must have traveled because the sounds and the smells were all too fresh to be anything that he had grown up with within the 20th century.
He rolled to his side, being mindful not to place his body weight on the bags that were slung over his shoulders. As he rose to his feet, he scanned his surroundings, taking note that the trees looked much younger. There was no evidence of the rode they had traveled on to arrive at Craigh Na Dun and no power lines indicating he was still in the future. As his eyes adjusted even more and his senses seemed to strengthen he spotted a column of smoke in the valley below. He smiled to himself, hopeful that he had made it to the time he had intended to travel to. He wiped the still lingering tears from his cheeks, straightened his clothes, and began to make his way down the hill.
It took him nearly 20 minutes until he made it close enough to see the light of the campfire and hear the sounds coming from the lump which was obviously people lying near the fire. He stopped and listened, wary that it might be someone that would not welcome his arrival. What he heard caused a bright smile to grace his face. He tuned his ears to the voices and crept closer, "I bloody hell couldn't live without you, that's why."
He had to keep from laughing out loud at hearing her voice again, elated that he had arrived in 1743, just in time to hear their reunion. He decided that he should probably make his presence known before their reunion became uncomfortable for him. So he made a bit of noise as he slowly approached and cleared his throat.
To his shock, before he knew it, his father had leapt from his place on his bedroll, pushed his mother behind him, and pulled his sword. Jamie had the sword pointed at his throat, a menacing look on his face, "Who are ye and what are ye doin' here?"
Brian raised his hands to show that he wasn't a threat. "I mean you no harm, but I came here to see both of you."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Yer no' from here, where is it that ye came from and what do ye want wi' me and my wife?"
Brian sighed and suppressed the urge to giggle at the absurd situation that he suddenly found himself in upon his first meeting with his father. "I came through the stones, just like she did."
Jamie furrowed his brow as he turned to glance over his shoulder at Claire, "Ye ken about my wife and the stones?"
Brian nodded, "Yes, I know your wife, quite well actually, if you will allow me to step into the light so that you might get a better look at me, as well as let me explain, I think you will understand."
Jamie looked him up and down, the boy seemed to be familiar, but he was standing in the shadows and Jamie couldn't make out his features clearly enough to make sense of why. So he took a step back, keeping himself between the stranger and his wife. He gestured to a log on the opposite side of the fire, "Sit over there, I dinna want ye near my wife."
Brian sighed and lowered his head, allowing his hair to fall forward and obscure his face. He took a seat on the log, opposite his parents and set his bags at his feet. He took a breath, watched through his lowered lashes and waited for his father to settled down next to his mother. When both sets of eyes were on him, he slowly raised his head. Both Jamie and Claire's expressions showed their shock at his appearance, but Jamie's expression quickly changed to one of anger, "Who are ye?"
Brian took a deep breath, "My name is Brian Malcolm Fraser and I am your son."
Jamie and Claire looked at one another in confusion, then Jamie looked back at Brian, "How can that be?"
Brian looked up to the heavens for a bit of strength in telling his tale then quickly returned his gaze to his parents, "I come from the year 1963. My mother, you Claire raised me after my father, you Jamie sent her back through the stones."
Claire furrowed her brow, "But I didn't go back, I chose to stay here."
Brian nodded, "Yes, you did choose that, this time."
Claire looked over at Jamie and squeezed his hand, "I promise that I will never leave you."
Brian cleared his throat to get their attention, "You didn't want to leave, but he forced you. He made you go because he knew that you were pregnant with me."
Jamie's eyes grew wide as he tore his gaze from Brian and looked down at Claire's stomach, "Yer wi' bairn?"
Claire furrowed her brow, "I can't be, it's not possible. I've had my courses since Colum sent you away with Dougal."
Brian reached into his bag and pulled out a stack of journals, "Everything should be explained in these, but I will sum it up for you. After tonight you will return to Lallybroch, you will remain there for a few weeks, but eventually, the black watch will show up. A man named Horrocks will accompany them and recognize Jamie."
Jamie's expression turned to one of worry and the color drained from his face, "What happens when he recognizes me, does he turn me into the watch?"
Brian shakes his head, "No, he blackmails you for more money, but when you go to meet him to pay him what you have, he wants more. Uncle Ian runs him through with his sword, but the rest of the watch suspects you killed him. You take the blame and the leader of the watch threatens you and our family if you don't join him on his raid. But the raid turns out to be a trap that Horrocks setup with the redcoats. You are captured, but during the transport, you escaped. Mama, doesn't know you escaped and she goes after you with Murtagh, but eventually, you are captured again. You are taken to Wentworth prison and sentenced to death by hanging."
Claire gasped and gripped Jamie's hand tighter, "We can't go to Lallybroch, not if that is what awaits you."
Jamie shook his head, "No, we canna."
Brian cleared his throat, "You didn't hang, a redcoat captain rode in at the last moment and stopped the execution."
Jamie clenched his jaw, "Who was the captain?"
Brian sighed, "His name was Randall, but your torture had just begun. Mama found out you were being held at Wentworth and she broke into the prison to rescue you."
Jamie's eyebrows shot to his hairline as he turned and looked at Claire in shock and awe."
She shrugged, "What wouldn't you do for someone you love?"
Jamie's lips curled up in a smile, everything but Claire faded away, "Ye love me?"
Claire's eyes went wide, "Did I just say that out loud?"
Jamie chuckled, "Aye, ye did, mo nighean donn."
Claire sighed, "Well, I do, but what about you?"
Jamie reached up and took one of her loose curls between his fingers as he looked deep into her eyes, "I have loved ye since that first night at Leoch, the night ye wept in my arms."
Claire's eyes glistened with unshed tears, "Oh, Jamie, why didn't you tell me."
Jamie shrugged as if his shirt didn't fit quite right, "I didna wish for ye to feel obligated to say the same. I hoped ye felt the same way for me, in time, but just havin' ye close was enough for me."
A tear rolled down Claire's face and Jamie quickly wiped it away with the pad of his thumb. Brian wiped his own happy tears from his face and cleared his throat, "I don't mean to interrupt this tender moment, but I have more to tell you."
Jamie and Claire turned back to look at Brian, love shining brightly on both of their faces, "Go on, tell us the rest."
Brian nodded, "Captain Randall captured mother as she was trying to break your manacles, he threatened her life and you offered him your body in return for letting her go."
Jamie clenched his jaw, "Dinna tell me what he did, I can imagine it for myself."
Brian nodded, "Alright, well anyway, Mama, Murtagh and some of Dougal's men were able to free you, but not before Randall tortured you to the point that you begged for death to take you."
Jamie swallowed past the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat and wrapped an arm protectively around Claire's shoulder. "What happened after they rescued me?"
Brian smiled, "Your hand was badly broken, but Mama mended it, but your soul was broken as well. You wanted to die and even told Mama that she should return to her own time, to Frank. She of course refused and stayed by your side, helping to bring you back from the brink. After that, you sailed to France, and on the voyage across the channel, Mama revealed that she was pregnant."
Jamie frowned, "How could I send her back through the stones if we were on our way to France?"
Brian shook his head, "She wasn't pregnant with me."
Claire's eyes went round, "You have a sibling?"
Brian shook his head and swallowed hard, "Not a living sibling. She died at birth, it was a complication that you said might have been avoided had you taken it easier during your pregnancy. But there was so much stress on both of you, with trying to stop Charles Stuart and the news that Black Jack had lived through the stampede at Wentworth."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Wait, ye have lost me, stampede, Charles Stuart, Randall?"
Brian sighed, "I apologize, I am going to fast. To rescue you from Wentworth, Murtagh and the men sent a herd of 30 cows through Wentworth prison, Randall was trampled in the confusion and everyone thought he had been killed. On the voyage to France, Mama suggested trying to stop the battle of Culloden and the rest of the rising from happening by cutting off Charles Stuart's funding. While you were in Paris, you were able to get close to Charles, but he was charming and able to convince otherwise logical men to follow him. When you visited Versailles, Mama found out that Randall had survived after she met his brother Alex.
She kept it from you, worried that you would return to Scotland to seek your revenge and in turn be captured and hung. Eventually, she revealed the truth to you and you ended up seeing Randall on another visit to Versailles. You challenged him to a duel, but Mama thwarted your plans by telling the authorities that Randall was the one who had attacked her and her friend in the streets. Randall was released after it was proven he couldn't have been responsible, but by that time you had promised to wait a year to kill him. Mama asked you to spare his life so that Frank could be born, she saw him as an innocent in all of it. But you promised for your own reasons, you wanted there to be someone for her to go back to if you failed at stopping Charles Stuart."
Claire cut in, "I take it we failed and that is why Jamie sent me back."
Brian nodded, "Yes, but Jack Randall did not sire Frank's ancestor, it was his brother Alex that fathered him."
Claire furrowed her brow, "You said that Jamie sent me back because he knew I was pregnant with you, but I don't understand why he would do that."
Brian sighed, "After you had thwarted the plan for the duel, Jamie had let the matter go, but he was called to a brothel to settle Charle's debt. He took a young boy with him, a boy whom you adopted as your own son and the boy wandered into a room while he was waiting for my father to settle the debt. The room he wandered into happened to be occupied by none other than Randall himself. Jamie heard the boy scream out in pain and rushed into the room to find Randall raping him."
Jamie's eyes went wide, "A child, he buggered a child?"
Brian nodded, "Yes and you pulled him off and began beating him. Some men heard the commotion and pulled you off, but you challenged him to another duel. During this, Mama was working at L'Hopital d Anges and had began to bleed. The mother, her name was Hildegard forced Mama to remain there and rest. When Mama returned to Jared's house the next morning there was a note waiting for her, a note from you. You had apologized, but she was angry, you had broken your promise to her. She went to the woods to stop the duel from happening, but you were already in the midst of the fight. Mama began to bleed again and Magnus took her to L'Hopital, but she lost the baby, she was born dead.
Mama was angry with you and only found out later that you had been arrested and taken to the bastille. You hadn't killed Randall, but you injured him so that he could never sire a child. Mama had to sleep with the King of France to buy your release. King Louis was able to secure your pardon in Scotland as well and both of you returned home to Scotland. You had a few months of peace, but one day a letter came from Jared, congratulating you on joining Charles's rebellion. Charles had forged your name on a document stating your support of King James, branding you a traitor once again. You had no choice but to join him and raise an army. Everything happened just as history recorded it and it came down to the last day before the battle at Culloden. Mama had one last tactic to stop the final battle from happening, she suggested killing Charles Stuart by poisoning him. Dougal overheard the plan and threatened to kill Mama. But you loved her, and stopped him, you fought and after a bit, you killed him with his own dirk."
Jamie gasped, "I would have been wanted by both the British and the MacKenzies."
Brian nodded, "That is why you sent Mama back. You said that even if you survived the battle that you would be killed by either of your two enemies. You thought that the only safe place for her was the future, at Frank's side as his wife."
Jamie narrowed his eyes, "Ye keep callin' him by his name, why do ye no' talk of him wi' affection?"
Brian sighed, "I don't have affection for that man, he was never a father to me. He hated me and didn't let a chance go by to let me know that. I know you wanted a better life for Mama and me, but we would have been better off remaining her, even if you had died at the battle."
Jamie's eyes went wide, "I take it that I didna die then?"
Brian shook his head, "No, but Mama and I only found out a few months ago that you had survived. You hid in a cave on your land for 7 years before having Aunt Jenny turn you in for the reward. After that, you were in Ardsmuire prison for three years until they closed. We eventually established that you were still alive in the year 1761 and Mama and I made plans to come back."
Jamie furrowed his brow, "Ye planned to come back together, why did she no' come wi' ye then and why are ye in 1743?"
Brian sighed, "Mama touched the stones first, but they rejected her, she died when she touched them. After I cried for her, I realized that I could come back and change it all from happening. I could stop you from meeting Charles Stuart, from being tortured, from all of it. I could stop Mama and me from living a miserable life in fear of Frank and we could be a family, the way that we were supposed to be."
Claire swallowed past the lump in her throat, released Jamie's hand, and walked around the fire. She reached down and took hold of Brian's hands, pulling him to his feet. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed her head into his chest, "Oh, my sweet boy."
Brian looked across the fire at Jamie, then wrapped his arms around his mother, "Oh, Mama, I am so glad you are alive and that I found you."
Before either of them had a chance to say anything else, Jamie walked over and gathered them both in his arms. "I dinna ken how I am to explain that I have a 15 year old son, but I believe ye mo mac."