HAPPY WORLD OUTLANDER DAY!!
#DailyLines #InHonorOf #WorldOUTLANDERDay !! #Book10
To all the readers who’ve entered the world of Outlander since June 1st, 1991. (Goodness, that’s…<counting on fingers>…thirty-one years ago! Well, time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?)
[Excerpt from Untitled Book 10, Copyright 2022 Diana Gabaldon]
“What are you thinking?” I asked. “I know it’s about William.”
“Oh, aye?” He glanced at me, mouth curled up at one side. “And what do I look like if I’m thinking of William?”
“Like someone’s handed you a wrapped package and you’re not sure whether it’s something wonderful, or a bomb.”
That made him laugh, and he put an arm around me and pulled me in close, kissing my temple. He smelled of day-old linen, ink and hay, and the dribble of honey that had dried down the front of his shirt, like tiny amber beads.
“Aye, well, one look at the lad and ye ken he’ll explode before too long,” he said. “I only hope he doesna damage himself doing it.”
He shrugged comfortably.
“I’m no very breakable, Sassenach.”
“Says the man with four—no, five bullet holes in his hide, to say nothing of enough surgical stitching to make a whole crazy quilt. And if we start counting the bones you’ve cracked or broken…”
“Ach, away—I’ve never broken anything important; just the odd finger. Maybe a rib, here or there.”
“And your sternum and your left kneecap.”
He made a dismissive Scottish noise, but didn’t argue.
We stood for a bit, arms about each other, listening to the sounds outside. The younger children had fallen asleep under bushes or in their parents’ wagons, their happy screeching replaced by music and the laughter of the dancers, the clapping and calls of those watching.
“He came to me,” Jamie said quietly. He was trying to sound matter-of-fact, but he’d stopped trying to hide what he was feeling.
“He did,” I said softly, and squeezed his arm.
“I suppose there wasna really anyone else he could go to,” he said, off-handed. “If he canna find his grace, I mean, and he couldna very well talk to anyone in the army, could he? Given that….” He stopped, a thought having struck him, and turned to me.
“D’ye think he knows, Sassenach?”
“About—what he said. The…threat to Lord John. I mean--” he elaborated, seeing my blank look, “does he ken that it’s no just a canard.”
“A—oh.” I stopped to consider for a moment, then shook my head with decision. “No. Almost certainly not. You saw his face when he told us about what Richardson was threatening. He’d still have been scared—maybe more scared, if he knew it wasn’t an empty threat—but he wouldn’t have looked the way he did.”
“Both. But anyone would be, wouldn’t they? Under the circumstances.”
“They would. And…determined, would ye say?”
“Stubborn,” I said promptly, and he laughed.
“A bomb for sure, then.”
The air had cooled with the setting of the sun. Now it was full dark and the mountain breathed, a lithe sense of spring in an air filled with night-blooming flowers and the resins of resting trees. It would be different on the coast. Still fresh, but strong with fish and seaweed, tar and wood and the tang of salt in everything.
I might have one more mountain night like this, maybe two or three, but likely not more. I breathed deep, resolved to enjoy it.
“When?” I asked.
“If it were up to William, we’d already be gone,” Jamie said, drawing me closer. “I told him I must think, but meanwhile, preparations would be made; no time will be wasted. “ He glanced toward the window. With luck, Brianna and Roger Mac will have him drunk by now; he’ll sleep sound. He kens he’s safe,” he added, softly. “Or I hope so, at least.”
“I’m sure that he does,” I said, also softly, and rubbed his back, the scars invisible under his shirt. His children, his grandchildren. If only for a moment, here, together, in the place he had made.
There was a break in the music, though the air was still full of talk and laughter. That died down now, though, and there were a few moments of silence before the faint sounds of a guitar drifted up from the distant bonfire. Then two voices, one rough and one smooth, weaving a song.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…
My heart squeezed tight and so did my throat. I’d never heard Bree and Roger sing together. They must have done this before, though, in private; perhaps as an exercise to strengthen Roger’s voice.
We stood in silence ‘til the song was over, listening to magic. I looked up at Jamie’s face, soft in the candlelight, his eyes far away. He didn’t hear music, as such, but I knew he felt the song anyway.