When the Heart Calls

BY : ChrissyQuinn
Category: -Misc TV Shows > General
Dragon prints: 72
Disclaimer: I do not own Outlander, nor the characters from it. Any resemblance of OCs to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Je Suis Prest

October 1764

                On the road I fell asleep in the stranger’s arms and when I woke I found myself in a warm bed in a room with walls painted blue and paintings of things and people I didn’t recognize. The room however, I knew, it was the guest room I’d stayed in with my parents. The furniture was different but I recognized the fireplace and even the view from the window. On a chair by the bed was a pile of clothes I assumed was for me. An olive-green robe, a long linen chemise and a corset among other things. Mom used to love dressing up for all the different faires we’d go to, so I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the various parts—it also meant I knew the corset was going to be a challenge. Once I had the shift on, I glared at the corset before doing my best to lace it, remembering how my mother showed me. The corset exaggerated my already exaggerated figure and the stays pressed into my sides but I could breathe at least. The olive-green robe or outer dress slipped on easily enough, but it didn’t cover anywhere near what I was used to at the faires and festivals I’d been to with my mother. In all truth I loved how I looked, but I knew enough to be scared of men if I was in the time period I thought I was, and to know I’d have limitations and expectations based on my behavior.

                For once I was thankful not to be the average almost sixteen-year-old, the only social media I liked was taking pictures of the herbs in my grandmother’s garden and posting them on Instagram with my Grandmother’s remedies. My parents and grandparents were history professors who specialized in the enlightenment period, so I knew some things, I hoped it be enough as I peered at myself in the mirror and pulled my hair over my shoulders. I heard muted clips of an argument. Curious I grabbed the tarot cards from the bag and slipped the velvet pouch into my skirt pocket before heading downstairs to the source of the heated voices.

                “James Fraser, is that girl your bastard?” A voice carried all the way up to the hallway when I shut the door. There was more of a conversation and as I wound my way through the startlingly familiar home to the sitting room where the man from the side of the road was talking to a smaller pale woman with black hair and dark eyes.  Both stared at me as I descended the stairs. I was about the woman’s height, almost around five feet tall exactly.

                “I don’t mean to cause any trouble,” I spoke as I wrapped my arms around myself.

                “Never any trouble to help kin,” the short woman spoke smiling at me before shooting a glare at the man.

                “I—” I started but she cut me off shaking her head.

                “No, any one who looks at you and Jamie side by side can see clear as day. You look just like your Da. What’s your name dear since your Da doesn’t ken it?”

                “Moira-Rose,” I answered glancing up at the man called Jamie who did in all truth look like the very image of my father.

                “Moira-Rose what a bonnie name for such a bonnie lass. Moira-Rose Fraser,” the woman corrected and sneered at the tall red-haired man as she left the room. I couldn’t help to smile a bit, seeing as that was in fact my name.

                “I’m sorry,” I swallowed, and he shook his head.

                “No need for that.” He pursed his lips for a moment taking a step closer. “I think I ken who you are… is your mother’s name Claire?”

                I shook my head no. “No, my mother’s name is Cosette.”

                “Aye, I see…” he looked around. “Did ye’ come through the stones?”

                I kicked at the wooden floor and nodded. “Yes and I… I am a Fraser.”

                “O’course, anyone with eyes kens that. What… but what year are you from, lassie?”

                “Twenty fourteen.”

                He raised his brows and sat down on one of the couches. “I’ve kent one traveler before, but from not so far in the future.” For a time, he was quiet, nodding to himself. It was hard to look at him, I knew the furrow in his brow well, it was the same furrow Da got when deep in thought. “You’re sixteen, aye?”

                “Soon.”

                “I ken a bit about going through the stones. I think. It might take a few days… until then, Moira-Rose, you’ll be my daughter. Since Jenny will’na believe otherwise. I’ll keep you safe, I kenna imagine how worried sick your own Da must be.”

***

                Children ran around laughing as I sat on the steps of Lallybroch watching as Jenny hung the laundered sheets. It was strange to see the outside of the massive castle like home. I’d known it so well from the summers I visited my second cousins, but without the paved driveway and with barn animals and crops it seemed more welcoming somehow. Hours passed since the talk in the hall and I’d spent that time trying to help Jenny with things only for her to push me away. Apparently, I needed to rest, even though I didn’t feel like I needed to.

                 A rider came up the road and through the gate, and a red-haired boy about my age ran from the stables to meet him. The rider was earth shatteringly handsome, the kind of man my grandma would call a pretty youth.  His black hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and his eyes were blue like lapis lazuli or the Mediterranean Sea, and his skin smooth and pale. There was something about his face that I couldn’t put my finger on, but he looked like what I used to envision a prince would look like when I was a child. Then that gaze bluer than blue settled on me and my heart stopped as it stayed fixed while he spoke with the Red-haired boy. A stiff wind blew combing back through my hair as he approached the stairs and I was the center of his world until he stopped in front of Jenny.

                “I have news for Milord,” he smiled at Jenny and she told him where Jamie was, but all I could focus on was his French accent.

                “Why don’t you have Moira-Rose take you,” Jenny said with a chortle, “The lass is itchin’ to do somethin’ and refuses to rest.”

                “Who?” the man spoke furrowing black brows.

                “Jamie’s daughter.” Jenny nodded in my direction and I nearly died. My brain died around attractive guys and I always came on too strong, something that I had no doubt would get me in more trouble in seventeen sixty four than it did in twenty fourteen.

                “Daughter?” He tilted his head to the side and more conversation followed that I tuned out trying to decide if I was going to run into the house and hide or not. Unfortunately I took too long to make the choice.

                “Milady?”  The voice came from behind me and I whipped around to see him standing there, the rider of the startling beauty. I swallowed and wrapped my arms around myself trying not to blush.

                “Please don’t call me ‘Milady’,” I spoke in French as Jenny raised her brows at me before continuing to hang the wash. My accent was noticeably Parisian when I spoke French, thanks to the handful of years I lived there when my mother taught at the Sorbonne. “I’m Moira-Rose.”

                “But you’re Milord’s daughter, Milady. I am in your father’s service, and so, I am in your service as well. Jenny said you could take me to Milord?” The smile he gave me was slightly crooked, the imperfection making the rest of him so much easier to bear.

                I nodded and pursed my lips as I stepped into the house and held the door for the tall handsome dark-haired man.

                “I’m Fergus.” He spoke after some time, keeping close but at the same time not too close. Something about the way he kept that distance between us made me think he was consciously aware of that space. It was because of the forced distance that it took a moment to register that the very French man following me had a very unfrench name.

                “Fergus is a strange name for a Frenchman,” I commented with a side glance at him, never before had I been so aware of how my chest rose and fell as I breathed and given where his eyes so often flit he was too.

                “I had another name once, but Milord gave me a new one when he hired me,” he answered dismissively, shrugging one shoulder. What he said struck something deep inside me, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have my name taken from me. I paused with knit brows and we stood there in the hall with roughly a foot of space between us.

                “What was your name before?”  I asked, as the strange quiet of the house settled in around us.

                “Claudel.” He answered watching me carefully.

                “Which do you prefer? Claudel or Fergus?”

                He cocked his head to the side, lips curling into a smirk that warmed my cheeks. “I don’t believe anyone has asked me before. To be fair, both sound lovely when you say them.”  I giggled at the very obvious line and started walking again, he was quick to keep pace with me but allowed that’s pace to remain constant.

                “I think when we’re alone, I’ll call you Claudel.” I glanced over my shoulder at him.

                “As you wish, Milady.”  It was his turn to blush slightly, he reached for the door to the library but before he could open it, I leaned on the door, blocking his path. He took a step closer as I raised my chin, aware of the heat and the smell of him, earth and cloves and lavender not to mention something masculine and foreign that lurked under all of it—the scent of him. His natural scent made me press my knees together as he stared deep into my soul. The space was gone now, and I quivered in his proximity.

                “As you wish, Moira-Rose.” He bowed his head a little, closing his eyes slightly and I stepped out of the way, quaking like a leaf as I opened the door. On the other side, Jamie sat in a Library drinking whisky, there was a book in his hand, but his attention fixed on me and Fergus.  He didn’t look too pleased. We hadn’t done anything but flirt a little, but something told me twentieth century flirting might be a bit too much for the eighteenth century. I took the look  as a sign to leave and started for the door again.

                “Morra,” Jamie called me by my Da’s nickname for me and I stepped back into the room. He sounded so much like Da when he said Morra that it hurt. “Fergus, step outside for a moment while I talk to my daughter, lad.” Fergus bowed his head and left; Jamie waited until the door shut to start speaking. “Morra.” He sighed. “You’re a bonnie lass, men will throw themselves at your feet. If ye mean to stay I can arrange a match for ye. But only if your virtue is intact ye ken? Yes, Fergus is a bonnie lad, but not any sort of match for ye or anyone truly.”

                I swallowed and nodded slowly, withholding my anger. What I wanted to do was scream at him for taking someone’s name from them, but I couldn’t; he was going to help me through the stones. Also, with parents who were historians I knew that some things I found cringey were not even thought twice about in this time.

                “If ye dinna mean to stay… keep yer distance from the lad. I dinna ken if virtue and honor have any meaning where yer from but I intend to watch over ye like a real father and send ye back with yer virtue intact. Ye can go now.”

                My bones ached for me to say something, but I didn’t. Instead, I nodded and left but I did give Fergus a quick glance as I passed him.

                Again I tried to help Jenny hang the linens but was shoved away. Every day for a whole week was like that, though I fit in with the rest of the family, I couldn’t help but notice that Jamie didn’t, or rather that Jamie seemed to mope about. My days were filled with sketching and doing indoor things until my summer tan gave way to my normal golden hue. I didn’t stick out so much then, I’d never be a pale rose of Scotland but I was light enough not to stress over my complexion anymore.

***

                It was the middle of the second week when weather was starting to turn cold, that I asked Jamie to allow me to go foraging. I was fairly surprised when he agreed to go out with me into the little swath of forests beyond the fields. I was slightly homesick, and I wanted a bath with herbs like my grandmother would make for me when I was feeling sad. Jamie kept me in line of sight but he was mostly quiet, and if not for his breathing I would have forgotten he was there.

                “I’ve noticed…” I started as I picked some wild lavender. “You don’t seem very happy.”

                He nodded. “Aye.”

                “Is it the person you know who went through the stones?” I glanced back at him and he nodded solemnly as I tied up the sprigs of lavender and put them into my leather bag.

                “Aye,” he replied with a nod, from his tone alone I could hear the pain in that little word.

                “My grandmother believes the faeries take certain people where they’re needed. And that a heart can cry out to another heart through the stones.” I smiled, and paused kneeling by a bush of wild flowers. “If you touch the stones you’ll be taken to the person your heart is crying out for.” Even as I said it I couldn’t help to think it sounded like garbage but it was what Grandma told me every time she warned me about the faeries.

                He snorted and shook his head. “No offense but it sounds like the perfect thing to tell a wee lassie, not so much a grown man.”

                I shrugged and went back to picking flowers. “How long ago did they go?”

                “Many years ago, I’ve been without her longer than you’ve been alive I reckon.”

                “My mother died two years ago…” I pursed my lips and turned a leaf over in my hand. “It was one of those strange occurrences you always know can happen but never think will. She slipped and fell.” I swallowed and paused looking down at the white chamomile flowers. “My father is already engaged to another woman with a wedding already arranged. I don’t understand it. How can you love someone and replace them so quickly?” Just speaking about it brought tears to my eyes, and made my chest tight with anger.

                “On occasion some ask it.” He nodded a little and looked at me. “I ken, they want the one who’s left behind to have a good life. It really dinna go deeper. You’ll understand it more after you’ve really felt love. In the end you’ll stop at nothing to make sure the other person is safe and cared for, even if that means ye have to let them go or urge them to find another.” The tension remained in his voice, and I sighed.

                “I don’t think I ever will.” As I spoke crunching footsteps drew my attention, squinting toward the house I made out the source, Fergus was walking through the trees toward us. His broad smile as he approached elicited one in return. “He’s always smiling,” I whispered under my breath.

                Jamie snorted. “I think that has a bit to do with ye, Lassie.”

                Fergus bowed his head to Jamie and me as he reached us. “Milord, Milady,” he addressed us respectively, his gaze lingering a little on me as I smelled an herb keeping eye contact until he broke it. “Jenny sent me to fetch you, Milord. There is something wrong with one of the Horses.”

                “Keep an eye on her will ye’?” Jamie nodded toward me. “Something tells me our bonnie wee little lass here is far from done and there’ll be no removing her until she’s finished without a great deal of kicking and screaming.” At Jamie’s words I giggled and nodded winning a smile from him. “Aye, I’ve taken notice of your stubbornness.”

                “Not a thing will happen to Milady in your absence,” Fergus assured.

                Jamie nodded, “Keep your pistol close. And remember what I said, Lad.”

                “Aye, Milord.” Fergus looked down at the shed leaves and pine needles as Jamie walked back toward Lallybroch. I imagined Jamie had a talk with Fergus similar to the one he had with me so I continued gathering herbs, binding their stems in twine and stuffing them in the bag and didn’t press the matter… at first.

                “So, you’ve been talking about me?” I glanced up and he took a few steps closer but stopped himself.

                “Most are talking about you, Milady.” Why Milady, when my name sounds so pretty with his accent.

                I made a small noise and looked up at him, “I thought we were in agreement, Claudel?”

                “Milord is looking for a husband for you in France, I delivered the letters yesterday to the post. Your virtue is to be guarded so you can find a husband worthy of you.” He sounded bitter and I couldn’t take the bitterness, so I stood and walked deeper to the forest leaving him to trail after me.

                “You seem angry,” was all I said as I knelt beside a holly bush. I wanted to push him, to make him say more but at the same time I knew I shouldn’t. As I sat in the brush waiting for his reply I couldn’t help but to blame my grandma. Was he who pulled me here?

                “Should I be content that Milord told me that I’m not fit for you?”

                “Why did he say that?” I couldn’t help but to furrow my brows, it didn’t make sense to me on the surface, it didn’t when Jamie said it either, though deep down on some level I was aware that it did. Thanks to Jenny, I was being recognized as Jamie’s daughter, which meant that Fergus couldn’t show interest in me because we were from different social classes. That was how it worked, or at least that was how I thought it worked.

                “I asked him for permission to court you.” He paused, as our eyes locked, however he broke the gaze by staring off into the distance twitching his head in a little shake. “But I have no left hand, no family name, no means, and have the misfortune of being born in a brothel. Milord didn’t say that of course, but he did make it clear that you’re leaving for France within the month.”

                “What Milord doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” The words fell from my mouth before I could stop them, but I still smirked all the same as I tied another bundle of herbs away. “You could always court me in secret, like Lancelot and Guinevere. Love for love’s sake.”

                “You’ll do very well in France,” he said as he neared, stooping low to tuck a sprig of heather behind my ear. “I pity your husband to be, there is nothing he can do to guard himself against you. He’s going to expect a simple Scottish lassie and find himself in possession of beauty worthy of Versailles with a mind for games like the ladies of the French court.”

                “Flattery will get you nowhere,” I teased with a wink, behind us a twig snapped and Fergus drew his pistol, placing himself between me and the noise. There was a man I didn’t recognize in a worn and ragged tri-corner hat and coat with his face covered by a dark bandana and a pistol in hand. My heart pounded against my ribcage as I pressed myself to Fergus. Another man stepped out from behind a tree, and Fergus leaned in close.

                “Run,” he whispered to me and I took off as he fired at one of the men. Pistol fire filled the air as I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. A pistol shot hit the ground beside my skirt and I ran even faster, I ran until my legs ached and my lungs burned. Only then did I stop as the gunfire was muted.

                I didn’t recognize any of the forest, but then on the horizon I saw someone running after me and it wasn’t Fergus. My stomach twisted and I darted forward again, I didn’t get far before I slipped and fell. Fear gripped my heart and I thought I’d die from that alone as they gained on me as I pulled myself from the ground. The stranger grabbed a fistful of my hair, using it to throw me on the ground as I screamed myself hoarse and fought him. He tore my dress and my skirt as I kicked, cried and scratched at him as he mauled my breast with his hands. I clawed at his face, and he reared back.

                Sneering he punch me in the face, not saying anything at all as my ears rung. Blood filled my mouth from my split lip, and I groped around the ground for anything to use against him as he raised up to unbuckle his trousers.

                 BANG.

                 Blood and thicker things exploded out the back of the man’s head and he fell backwards leaving me to pant and slowly try to stand, slipping in the leaves as I became aware of my nakedness. I wrapped my arms around myself, but I didn’t quite feel like I was there. None of it felt real but instead like it was something I’d seen on television or read about. I couldn’t stand. My legs wouldn’t hold me, and I couldn’t stop staring at the body. Someone knelt beside me and put their coat over my shoulders. I could still feel the dead man’s hands on my breasts and smell his stink.

                Piteous high pitch sobs wrecked my body. Fergus knelt beside me in the leaves, but he didn’t touch me or say anything. I couldn’t breathe, my breaths came in gasps between sobs. I leaned on him, pressing my face to his side as I cried, and he stroked my hair.

                “You’re safe,” he cooed to me, his touch calming the panic that had seeped into my bones.

                Above thunder rumbled, and though he looked up at the sky he didn’t say anything about the dark clouds on the horizon. More thunder sounded overhead, and I tried to get up again, only succeeding because Fergus helped me. I leaned against him heavily as we walked back for Lallybroch.

                Everything was a haze, Fergus only left my side while Jenny insisted I bathe. My breasts were bruised badly, purple fingertips covered them and I couldn’t look at myself without sobbing. Most of the herbs survived but they didn’t bring me comfort as I sat in the bath, the smell was the same but I didn’t feel like I was in my body, instead I felt above it, looking down at this stranger who couldn’t stop sobbing and shaking. My lip was swollen, the pain of it and my breasts distracted me as I brushed the dirt, twigs and leaves from my hair. Jenny gave me another chemise to wear and I’d lost count of how many times everyone said, “you poor thing,” or some iteration of it.

                Back in my room I didn’t even feel comforted by the familiarity. I curled up under the cold covers and cried until I passed out. Then I dreamed that Fergus didn’t get there in time, and when I woke up screaming I could still feel the weight of that hateful stranger pressing down on me. Thuds sounded and Jamie threw open the door as I cried curled up into a ball in a shroud of my traitorous hair. My eyes and throat burned as I sobbed. He sat at my feet and patted my shoulder.

                “I should’ve stayed or picked ye up and carried ye back to Lallybroch.” I could hear the frown in his voice. “When a thing like that happens, I ken well the hole it leaves on the soul. Take all the time ye need, my wee lass. Ye survived what he did, and you’ll survive this too.”

                Jamie stayed for a time seated at the foot of the bed, then left probably when he thought I’d fallen back asleep. The truth was sleep scared me, the thought of what I might dream of squeezed my heart. I stood and pulled on the robe, leaving the room. I didn’t bother with a candle and though the place was darker than I was used to even with the hearth lit, I still knew how to navigate it in the dark. A child cried somewhere, but it was something I’d grown used to hearing since multiple generations lived there. My feet carried me down to the servants quarters without much of a thought. I’d only intended on wandering until I got tired enough to sleep.

                “Milady?” I’d never been so embarrassed and relieved to hear someone’s voice, I turned to face Fergus, hugging the robe closed.

                “I can’t sleep… I mean I can sleep I just…” I covered my face for a moment, willing away the memory of that afternoon.

                “You see him…” he spoke carefully with a certain sadness and understanding in voice that was almost hard to bear.

                Dropping my hands I nodded and held myself. “I know it’s over… I know he’s dead but…” A shuddered breath warbled out as I stood there staring at him as my eyes burned as the tears came despite myself. Without hesitation he crushed me against him.

                “Shh, he’s gone now. No matter what you see he can never hurt you again, Milady,” he whispered as I buried my face against his chest. The scent of his skin calmed me, lulling me into a state of tranquility. “I’ll take you back upstairs and sit with you.”

I nodded and allowed him to lead me back to the bedroom. He did so carefully, watching to make certain no one saw us. Once we reached the room and I entered he shut the door behind me.  As I sat on the bed I didn’t feel awkward or ashamed to be in the room with him. I’d never had a boy I liked in my room before, I’d never had so much as an awkward kiss.  I was aware of his presence as he guided me toward the bed, and I glanced nervously up at him as we stood before the bed and I shrugged out of the robe. There was tension between us, something that made it difficult to breath as he pushed some of the wisps of red hair behind my ear. The silence was deafening and our breathing and the crackle of the fire were the only sounds and every little errant noise came entirely too loud.

                “Lay down,” his voice came so quiet, like he was afraid of the words. I nodded and laid on the bed. He pulled the comforter over me and tucked me in so tight I nearly suffocated as he laid behind me. There was a barrier between us of velvet, embroidery, wool and linen but it didn’t seem like enough as he leaned back against the headboard beside me and stroked my hair. “When I was young and first in Milord’s service, I endured something similar. I had a certain talent for relieving people of their unattended possessions. I went to take a bottle of perfume from a room in a brothel for Milady… Milord’s wife. A man came in and… thought I was on offer.” He wet his lips and frowned. “I didn’t scream at first though I did fight, but the pain of it…” He furrowed his brows and shook his head. “Milord heard me, kicked in the door and pulled the man off me. I hid as they fought, too scared and pained to do anything… After I had horrible nightmares and all I wanted was for someone to be there. No one was, though. Milady and Milord had their own problems at the time. But I’ll be here for you, I’ll sit here until dawn, so you know someone is watching. And if some how he is brought back to life, I’ll cut him down long before he can lay a hand on you.” The longer he spoke the less I fought sleep until it claimed me as I laid in his arms.

                When I woke I could still smell his scent lingering on the pillow beside me but Fergus was no where to be found. However, laying beside the clothes set out for me was a sprig of heather like he’d tucked behind my ear the day before. I put the sprig behind my ear before getting dressed. It was a different gown from before, a soft pale purple that hovered between lilac and lavender. It looked good against my skin and brought out my eyes more than the olive had.

                Heading downstairs I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, my mind focused on Fergus and the sprig of heather he’d left for me. I walked in a dream, one where I sought him out and kissed him. My fingers played in my long red hair and as I stepped down the last stair BAM, someone collided into me, knocking me right on my bottom. Groaning I pulled myself and found Young Ian holding his forehead.

                “Ow,” I pulled myself to standing, as the ginger boy laughed brushing off his breeks.

                “Sorry, Cousin. I dinna see you there. You really are a wee little thing.”

                “It’s okay, I only think I’m slightly concussed,” I gripped rubbing my forehead.

                “Oh, is that a French thing? Ma and Da think your ma is a French…” He blushed and shook his head. “On account of how you say things.”

                I scratched my ear and nodded, “Yes, it’s a French thing.” And like I summoned him by speaking the word French out loud, Fergus rounded the corner. He smiled at me but didn’t move to close the space between us. The waist coat he wore was blue like his eyes and matched my dress a bit.

                “Your maman is looking for you,” Fergus spoke to Young Ian who glanced me over and nodded. “Janet needs help with the hay cart.”

                “Bah, that’s woman’s work,” Young Ian pouted crossing his arms.

                “Woman’s work or no, you’ll get a good thrashing if you take too long, brother.” Fergus chuckled as Young Ian grumbled and left.

                “They think my mother is a French prostitute?” I asked pursing my lips.

                “No, but Milord did say she was french, I’m uncertain where the whore part came about.” He shrugged with one shoulder and I pushed some of my hair behind my ears touching the sprig of heather. “Ah, you found my gift.” He touched the flowers adjusting it before taking a step back.

                “Thank you, for everything yesterday. I… don’t think I can say it enough.”

                “Think nothing of it, it was my duty to serve you, Milady.” He took his hat off and bowed, pressing the hat to his chest before standing.

                I scrunched my nose as he called me Milady. I hated it. More than anything I wanted to hear him call me by my name. He chuckled and smirked, righting the hat on his head as he moved a half step closer, but quickly retreated when a horse sounded outside and Jamie burst through the door, his hair wild and his chest heaving almost as much as my own. I blushed and turned from Fergus.

                “Morra, we need to talk,” he started, as Fergus folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall. “In private.” Jamie shot Fergus a quick look and he nodded before turning to leave. “Hide your pistol, mon fils.” Fergus nodded and left, once the door shut Jamie walked to a near by table and poured himself a glass from a pitcher. “Someone heard the shots yesterday… and the British are sending soldiers to investigate. When they come speak as little as possible, and if ye do have to say anything speak only French. Fergus says you sound like a French lady when ye speak it… lets hope the lad meant it truly.”

                “Does this mean I have to tell everyone my mother is a French whore?” I lofted a brow and he shook his head.

                “No, I dinna say that. One o’ Jenny’s older boys said it I think. We’ll say your mother is an acquaintance of my cousin, he has a very lucrative wine trade in France. D’ye have any French relations ye ken?” He took a big swig from the cup and I smoothed the bodice of my gown as I thought about all the time my mother spoke about her family tree, aside from the Haitian slaves.

                “There’s a relatively well known painter in paris, Joseph-Marie Vien, I’m related to one of his illegitimate daughters.” As I said it all I could think of was the large painting of his my mother had in the entry way when we lived in Paris and her and Da guest lectured at the Sorbonne. We were descended from the subject, apparently he had an affair or so the family story goes. Though I left out the part where the subject was a well known prostitute according to my mother.

                “Good, I’ll tell the others.” He pursed his lips for a moment. “Do ye’ draw then?”

                I nodded. “It’s my favorite hobby… next to hedge witching and tarot.” I giggled and he raised his brows.

                “Hedge witching? With herbs?”

                I nodded. “Da says we come from a healer, a dame blanche…”

 

                “There’s the faerie in the family tree, the Dame Blanche who started it all. You can thank her for your love of herbalism over Instagram,” Da pointed to the family tree in the ancient bible, before pushing black plastic-framed reading glasses up his nose. “James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser married Claire Beauchamp Fraser, but no one can account for her before that. No baptismal records, no nothing. It’s like she fell from the sky,” he continued tapping the name Claire Beauchamp for emphasis I crossed my arms over mom’s vintage Guns N Roses t shirt and rolled my eyes. I might have been thirteen but it all seemed like fiction to me.

                “Dad, if I write about faeries for my family history paper, I’m going to end up either in a straight jacket or with an F.” I shifted my weight to one leg as he smirked.

                “Where’s your highland sense of adventure?” He laughed and tugged a strand of my red hair. “You’ve got the genes clearly my bonnie wee lassie but you’re lacking the fire.”

                I scoffed. “As a professor aren’t you supposed to discourage me from crazy outlandish topics?”

                “No, I’m your father first. That means I have to be supportive, bonus if you somehow come up with proof for your Gran that Claire really was a faerie.” He chuckled more closing the bible I huffed and stormed out of the room.

 

                “…Claire Fraser,” I finished, the memory fresh in my mind.

                Jamie’s mouth fell open and he took a step back, his eyes growing misty. “Claire…she was with  bairn when she left but…” Shutting his eyes for a moment he shook his head and looked at me, staring at my face like he was searching for some sign of this woman whose genes I had same as his.

                “You have a son in seventeen…. Seventy something, Colum Ian Beauchamp Fraser. My Da’s named after him… Colum was a Mackenzie laird according to Grandma… she’s a Mackenzie.” As I rambled Jamie sat down and poured himself another drink.

                “If ye dinna look so like me I’d call ye a liar, but…” he sighed and took another long drink. Clearly it bothered him.

                “Claire was the traveler?” It all made sense to me then as I approached him and he nodded. That was why no one could trace her—she didn’t exist before then.

                “Aye…” he nodded. “Claire and I have a son…” he trailed off his mouth curling into a smile, then he looked at me and nodded. “Christ.” He sighed with a chuckle, covering his face with his large hand.

 



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