The fire was burning high. High and warm and inviting. The thought of it made me smile to myself. My wife tells me constantly how it seems that I have an internal furnace of a body, and to be sure, I felt that difference when she placed the two bricks of ice she called feet against my shins some nights.
I was watching her through the thick hot heat wave of the fire. She had her hair down and a shawl around her bonny shoulders. She was holding our wee Mandy, her hair curling about her face the same way of her grannie’s.
It was the week between Christmas and Hogmanay. A most special occasion that I finally saw and understood through the eyes of my Brianna. I ever thought possible to feel my heart richer than this moment.
With my daughter and wee Roger back, the two wee ones back… The happiness made the worry seem small, but it was still there. The things Brianna and Roger Mac had told us made the hairs rise from my arms and wame. Once again I was trying to make sense of it. Even though I rather believed it, I admitted to myself that I ached to experience part of it as well… Ach, an old man’s delusional mind doesn’t matter, with the picture perfect image I had in front of me.
It seemed like a gift from God (or a tasteful jester, I sometimes thought) that Jeremiah favours me and Amanda favours Claire. Is God giving me what I had missed with Brianna (and all my children), through my grandchildren?
I choose to see it as such. Or better yet, I choose to believe I am having the best of both worlds, for God owes me nothing.
Claire was humming something that I could not recognize, even if I wanted to, while rocking Mandy in her arms, back and forth. I was mesmerized. I had had the so called pictures or photographies of my wee Bree, and not for the first time, I had the urge to have this moment captured in such a way. What an amazing invention. Maybe I could ask Brianna to paint her mother like so, it would be a something to mark our next wedding anniversary.
My perfect wild love, my goddess.
“Are you sleeping with your eyes open, Jamie?”
I shaked my head from my trance.
“No Sassenach, just trying to make sense of the wee tune you are singing to the lass.”
She smiled and tilted her head. Right then, I saw that seven and twenty lass in Castle Leoch that I used to watch over. Just her smile… My Sassenach is more beautiful each passing day.
“It’s called Gloria in excelsis Deo. You know this verse… I was just remembering the Christmas version.”
“I should be singing my glorias as well, if I could”, I chuckled, “so I may ask ye to sing mine.”
“I do Jamie, I do sing our glorias everyday.” She held my stare for a few moments. “Maybe we should put this little lady to sleep?”
I stood up and went to her side to help her get up without releasing or rousing Amanda. After smothering the fire, we started walking the steps separating us from the new House. Jeremiah and Germain should, I hoped so, be already asleep, as should Fanny. They had spent all that week running after each other with Jem holding bits of mistletoe in his hand… The reason for that got away from my understanding, but the glint in his eyes did not.
“Is that lamb too heavy already?”, I asked Claire. She could carry Mandy perfectly, but the days of festivities and work that came with them had been tiring.
“A bit, actually. Would you mind carrying her up the stairs?”
Turning to catch little Mandy in my arms, I thought it would be a good time to tease my wife.
“Och, she is weighing the same as you when I first saw you… The weight of a good draft horse”, I added with a slight side eye behind me, catching an overly exasperated look complemented beautifully with a wee smirk.
“Oh is that so? Maybe this draft horse has grown to big to sleep next to you on the bed… Or dangerous, aye?” The wee tease… Chuckling, we entered the main bedroom to find out that neither one of us would be going to sleep in it that night, alone or together.
The wee gomerels were all sleeping in it. I placed Amanda between her brother and Fanny, safely tucked in. On the other side of the bed, Claire handed me one more blanket to cover the the gang of bed stealers we had among us.
My grandchildren. God, thank You, let them be safe at all times.
“What are you thinking, Mr. Fraser? You are in a deeply reflective mood tonight, and then you start to smile and your eyes get totally unfocused. What is on your mind? Where are you traveling to, love?”, she asked raising a hand to my hair.
“Give me your hand Sassenach.”
We walked hand in hand to her surgery, after I adjusted the shawl around her shoulders. Entering the room, I took Claire to stand by one of the windows. It was one of the best spaces of the new house. During the day, starting morning, it was completely flooded by the sun, so that Claire could work in fine conditions and for as long as needed. The study, where I usually was if not outside the house, was right next to it. It was comforting to listen to the noises coming from Claire’s routine of tending to her patients.
Feeling her eyes on me, I walked to one of the shelves and removed a parcel I had placed there earlier that day. No danger of Claire seeing it before I could give it to her, since we had been dealing with the Fraser-Mackenzie youth party all day. She smiled, a bit flushed, when I handed it to her. While opening it, her smile grew bigger, the wee crinkling of her eyes mesmerizing me.
“Jamie! I thought we weren’t doing this.”
“We weren’t, but I wanted to. And Christmas Day is over by now, aye?”
Her face opened up in a dazzling smile, as she controlled herself not to react in a loud voice.
“Oh Jamie… It’s beautiful”, she said, unwrapping the wool deep cobalt blue shawl, “Thank you, sweetheart.”
“It suits ye, blue is yer colour.” I touched her cheek, that was turning the most delightful pink (which I was sure was my favourite colour in the world). Another thing that had not changed one bit in all the years of our marriage.
“And this… For more doctoring tales. *I will publish this one day* I have it since our last trip to Wilmington”, I said, handing her a leather bounded Notebook filled with clean paper.
“Oh Jamie, how did you manage to keep this hidden?”
“Roger Mac kept them safe for me.”
“Thank you, I love it.” She wrapped her arms around me, as we stood there gazing out the window. She kissed my cheek and I turned to kiss her luscious lips, long and deep, hugging her by the waist and letting my hands drop to the small of her back.
Releasing her a little bit, I touched my forehead to hers, “Thank you Sassenach.”
Breathing heavily against my lips, arms around my shoulders, my love took one of them down to wrap with my own. Her fingers slipped through mine and she held my hand. You hold all of me, mo Sorcha.
“Lets get some whisky from the kitchen, shall we?” She lowered her voice. ”And then we’ll see if these draft horses can find a warm corner somewhere…”