The Frasers needed a day off from the daunting task of packing and labelling their belongings. That’s what Claire thought first thing that morning, opening her eyes to her husband’s red mane right beside her. They were preparing to move to Lallybroch and the summer was coming to an end.
The next thing was that she needed to get to the bathroom. The wee bannock was very excited in the early hours of the day, as had been its sisters and brother, but Claire would never got used to that queasy feeling, even in her fourth pregnancy. Aside from the physical discomfort, she didn’t really mind… If it happened, the baby was there, and moving, and everything was alright.
“Yes, we are happy today”, she whispered to her little one. “Let’s get everyone out of bed.”
Waking Jamie up with a kiss on the lips and another one on the cheek (to which he responded with a lopsided smile and a stray arse grab - his palm seemed to be drawn to it), Claire woke up the little Frasers. First the boys… Fergus was already awake, checking his phone. Willie responded with grunts at his mama’s request, and Fergus assured her he would take care of the rest. Faith was half awake already, as Claire opened the blinds to the girl’s room. There were unpleasant grunting sounds from the copper head buried beneath the covers. Wee Faith proceeded to come down from her top bunk bed, jumping on her sister and coercing her to wake up. The day would be filled.
It was Saturday, no school, but Claire had some exciting plans for the day. Mother-daughter plans, to be exact. Claire, Brianna and Faith kept little traditions: a tea date for 9 year old Faith, a field trip to a bookshop for 8 year old Bree… But today, the boys were off to help Uncle Murtagh and Aunt Suzette with their own packing. They were also going to move to Lallybroch. Murtagh would help Jenny and Ian (and Jamie) run the estate, but the truth was that they would move because neither the sweet grumpy old man nor his sweet French wife would want to stay far from their wee Fraser godchildren.
So, Claire took her little ladies to brunch.
Faith and Brianna were both quite tall for their age, not a surprise if you looked at their father, and were almost as tall as Claire at this point. She admired the wild curly copper head of Bree and the stray brown curls coming out off of Faith’s braid and her heart swelled with pride. To think that she once thought she would never be able to be a mother… She remembered the scare of Faith’s birth, the sleepless stressful nights when she was pregnant with Brianna, when everything from medical school exams to the worst birthing scenarios came to her in dreams, and only Jamie’s soothing words, promises and skilled touch could calm her down and ease her into sleep again.
But they had made it work. And along came William, and the blessing that was Fergus. Claire thought that yes, that was her life. She had never had sisters or brothers, but watching Jamie with Jenny and Ian (and her own relationship with Jenny), proved her the incredible joy of having siblings, the moments of deep tenderness, those of fiery fights and the bond that united them. Brianna and Faith were so much alike and so different at the same time. They shared a fierce nature and were always ready to protect each other, even when they wanted to rattle each other’s ears. They were thick as thieves.
As they sat in a cosy Glasgow coffee shop, ordered the brunch menu, and began munching on mini sandwiches, steamy porridge, buttery scones, eggs benedict, tea and orange juice, they talked about school and how excited every young Fraser was to start the year in a brand new school, and a special one to that - the same schoolhouse their Da had attended. Not to mention living closer to their cousins. In the midst of the conversation, the wee bannock decided it wanted a bit of the fun too, and Claire winced a bit.
“Mama, are ye alright?”
“Yes darling, just your little sister.. She wants to be a part of the conversation, of course.” *How very Beauchamp of her.*
“SISTER?” Brianna and Faith screamed, scaring the waitress passing behind them with a tray of pastries.
“Now, calm down… We are not sure, Da doesn’t want to know, like we didn’t with the both of you actually, and I agreed. But I have a feeling, and I haven’t been wrong yet.”
“Yes, we know how Da just wanted to hear about number three to see if it was going to be a boy… And it was. He convinced you to find out early, Mama. He may do the same again!” Faith rolled her eyes, but giggled.
Claire thought to herself that Jamie’s methods of convincing her to do certain things were not a suitable topic… at that specific moment… with her daughters.
“Mama, what would her name be, if it is a girl?” demanded Bree.
“Well, I haven’t thought about it yet… What would you like to name your little sister? Or brother?”
“Edward for a boy! Or Henry like your da… Since we already have a Brian in myself.”, Brianna added with a beam of pride in her eye and lifting her little chin in a very Fraser-like manner. She was very proud of her name.
“Meh, because everyone thought you’d be a boy.” Faith said mockingly, just meaning to tease her little sister, who responded by sticking her tongue out to her.
Faith simply rolled her eyes and continued. “Mama, I have auntie Jenny in my name, Bree has grannie Ellen, I think a good name for a girl would be Julia… That was your mama’s name, right?”
Claire felt the sting of tears and smiled at her eldest daughter. Of course she had thought about it before… As soon as she felt she was pregnant again, after the initial panic and Jamie’s comforting words.
*It’s a girl, and her name will be Julia.* These were Claire’s thoughts, as she lay with legs intertwined with her husband’s, as he held her and played with her hair. She had just told him about the pregnancy news, crying, and of course, Mr. Fraser almost cried himself. Basking in a warm Glasgow sun, without notice, Jamie just said, “I feel like I knew it before ye told me, Sassenach. And if it is a girl, and let’s be honest, we are very good at making them, her name ought to be Julia… What do you think, mo nighean donn?” Claire looked at him in awe and that was settled. Now, they just had to peacefully wait…
“Yes, I think Da will like it… We shall see, when we get to Lallybroch and this wee bannock is ready to come out of the oven, ok?”
Claire winked at the little girls. She knew they’d be great older sisters to another girl, and started wondering whose eyes would she have, which colour would her hair be… Started looking forward to seeing her husband holding another baby again, her favourite sight in the world. The pregnancy had scared her, and she knew now it would be the last one, but the connection of deep intimacy she already shared with this little baby overshadowed anything else. Everything would be perfect, even in the wee imperfections. She - and Jamie - would see to that.
As the meal came to an end and Mama listened to her little ladies chatting about the bookshop they were going to visit after (“one more Harry Potter book? But William ripped some pages out of Goblet of Fire!!”), and talking about who would take which room at Lallybroch, Claire asked for the check and took a little blue silk bag out of her purse.
“I have something for you two, and for myself. Close your eyes and give me your right arm.”
The girls obediently did so, squirming in curiosity. “Brianna, close your eyes”, scolded Claire as one deep blue eye was trying to peek. In each of the girls’ wrists, Claire placed beautiful silver bracelets, very simple, adorned with one pearl and one gem stone. Faith’s was purple, Brianna’s was red. As she told the girls to open their eyes, she placed another one in her own wrist, this one with a blue stone. In the bag stayed one with a green stone, waiting for its owner.
“Mama, it’s beautiful, thank you!”
“We all have, or will have…” added Claire caressing the little bump that was starting to get noticeable, “the same bracelet. Think of it as your lucky charm. It’s to remind you that you come from a family that loves you, that you each have your sisters that love you and will protect you… And you come from great women.”
Taking Faith’s wrist, she touched the pearl on the little girl’s bracelet and added, “The silver comes from me and da, my wedding ring is silver, right? The pearl is from grannie Ellen’s necklace, and each of your gems come from some of my mother’s jewels. From a pair of vintage earrings and a ring. Two of the few things I remember her wearing, clearly, as she gave me a goodnight kiss. Take good care of them and each other, no matter where you are, do you promise?”
The girls nodded and smiled proudly at their mother, caressing their bracelets, forever carrying the legacy of the extraordinary women who gave them life, and their parents’ love… That one was for the ages.