A Highlander Forged in Fire – Extended Epilogue
Fraser could not have been happier, though marriage was not the end of the happy tale between Isla and himself. After the excitement of their wedding day, there came many more feasts and celebrations, and Fraser found himself the center of attention. It was quite overwhelming, and the humble blacksmith was amazed at how he was now feted by those around him.
“Hail to thee, Laird apparent,” they said, filing past him and bowing, much to Fraser’s embarrassment.
“Ye have much to live up to in the footsteps of yer father,” others said, but Fraser was content to find happiness in the present, at Isla’s side.
In his own mind, he was still the lowly village blacksmith, to whom people brought their horses for shodding and soldiers their swords for mending. It mattered not to Fraser whether he held title or not, so long as Isla was at his side.
He had many plans for the future and set about rebuilding the croft and being a faithful husband to Isla, whom he loved more than anything in the world.
“I shall see to it that ye are always taken care of, lass,” he told her as they walked hand in hand a few days after the feast.
“Ye have already taken care of me, Fraser,” she replied. “We shall care for one another,” and he smiled at her and kissed her.
Isla was happy at the croft, which had once belonged to her grandparents. Fraser had repaired it and made it strong and sturdy, and it was a happy place in which to raise a family. It was not long after their marriage that she gave birth to their first son and they named him Rory. He was a bonnie bairn and doted over by his grandparents and those around him, including his Godfather Sweeney, who was a regular visitor to the croft.
“Ye cannae keep away, can ye, Sweeney?” Isla said one day when Sweeney appeared at the door, bearing a sprig of heather in his hand.
“Well, ye made me Godfather, and I have responsibilities,” he replied, but Isla was more than happy to see him.
Over the years, he had been a good friend to them all, and she welcomed him inside, just as Fraser was returning from his work.
He was busy working on the ruined castle below, which, along with helpers from the village, he was working hard to restore.
“How goes the work?” Sweeney asked as Fraser settled himself at the table, bouncing baby Rory on his knee.
“Aye, it goes well, though it will be a few more winters before we move from this place to there,” he replied, as the child began to cry.
“Why we have to move to a drafty old castle when we have this lovely croft is quite beyond me,” Isla replied, for she was quite happy in her grandparents’ croft.
“Ye will nae say that when the English have regrouped and regained their strength,” Fraser said. “What news dae ye have from Kirklinton, Sweeney?”
“Much the same. Yer father and Lena are happy enough together. They seem closer by the day,” he replied.
“It would be nice if they were to marry? Dae ye nae think?” Isla said, smiling, as she took the bairn from Fraser.
“They are certainly close,” Sweeney replied.
Isla wanted her father to be happy, and since Lena’s arrival, the two had seemed to grow ever closer. He was getting older though and would not see many more winters on the borders. Lena had also had a hard life, and Isla wondered just how long it would be before her husband became Laird of Kirklinton.
“If it makes them happy,” Fraser said.
Isla was about to reply when suddenly she felt a twinge in her stomach. It happened several times before, and she rushed from the room to be sick.
“Are ye alright, Lena?” Fraser said, rushing after her as the bairn began to cry.
“Aye,” she said, smiling at him, “but I think I might be with child.”
Isla was with child, and some months later, she gave birth to another boy, who they named Owen. The croft now seemed very crowded, and Isla was more in favor of the renovated castle than she had been before. With two children, and perhaps more on the way, she knew that her growing family would soon outgrow her grandparents’ croft.
“‘Tis nearly finished,” Fraser told her, two years after she had given birth to Owen.
“How long, Fraser?” she asked. For now that Duncan was three years old and Owen two, they were becoming boisterous, and the croft was far from adequate
“By the winter, lass,” he replied, smiling at her as she rolled her eyes.
They were expecting a visit from Duncan, and as she looked out of the window across the heathers, she could see him ambling across the moor.
“Yer brother is here,” she said, scooping up the bairns in her arms.
Together, the family walked out to meet him, and the children were delighted to see their uncle, who always came bearing little gifts, He was dressed in his monks’ habit, and he embraced them all in turn, blessing the children as he always did.
“How was yer journey, brother?” Fraser asked,
“Aye, it was uneventful, which is how I always pray it to be,” he replied, laughing, for Duncan always laughed a lot.
Isla had noticed that in him recently. He seemed entirely happy and contented in his vocation, and she was glad that he too had found the happiness which they enjoyed themselves.
“What news dae ye have?” Duncan asked. “Are yer father and mother well?”
“Aye, they get along very well,” Fraser replied, laughing.
“They should be married. That is the proper thing,” Duncan replied, raising his eyebrow.
“Well, I shall leave ye to suggest that,” Fraser replied, as they walked up towards the croft.
“And ye, Isla, what happy news dae ye have for me?” Duncan said.
Isla was surprised by his words, for she had told no one except Fraser that she was expecting a bairn. She had realized only a few weeks ago, and it was far from apparent yet, except to herself.
“I … how?” she said, as she and Fraser turned to him in surprise.
“Oh, intuition, I suppose,” he replied and tapped his nose.
Isla was pleased when Lena announced she had given birth to a baby girl. Not that she would have minded either way, but a girl would be good company for her in later years, and she held the baby close to her breast and kissed her.
“What will ye call her?” Lena asked, for she had been present each time Isla had given birth and asked the same question.
“Evie,” Isla replied, for it was a name she had always loved.
Lena called her son into the room, and Fraser hurried in, stooping by the bed and smiling at Isla, who lay back in exhaustion.
“Well done,” he said, and Lena handed him the baby.
“A beautiful little girl for our family,” she said, as Fraser took the child gently in his arms.
“Hello there, ye are beautiful just as yer mother,” Fraser said, holding the baby close to him and placing a delicate kiss upon her forehead.
Isla knew that now her family was complete, and she delighted in seeing them grow. They were each so different. Rory took after his grandfather and was always getting into scrapes; Owen was like his father, quiet and ponderous; and Evie took after her mother, a brave little lass with a determined will.
Isla could not have been happier, and it was not long before the family moved into the castle, which had once belonged to her parents. It brought back many memories for Isla, and she often found herself sitting quietly in the Great Hall, remembering the Armstrongs and the family she had lost.
“What were they like, mother?” little Owen asked her one day.
“Well, why dinnae the three of ye sit down, and I shall tell ye the whole story,” she replied, as they settled by the fire.
It was now ten years after their wedding, and Fraser and Isla were walking on the heathers between Kirklinton and the Armstrong castle. They held hands, and above them, a hawk was circling. Just as it so often did when they walked together in this way, as though it were always keeping watch over them. In the distance, the three children were running and playing together on the moorlands, happy and carefree
“We have much to be thankful for, ye and I,” Fraser said, as they came to the ridge and looked down upon the castle.
“Aye, a great deal,” she replied, turning to him and resting her head upon his shoulder.
“I have never ceased to love ye, Isla, and day by day, my love for ye grows,” he said, and he turned and kissed her.
“And I feel the same for ye, my darling husband. I love ye so very much, and I couldnae imagine my life to be any other way,” she replied, and together they looked over the heathers as the hawk circled above.
“What dae ye think the future will hold for our bairns?” she asked, looking over at the children, who were holding hands as they ran across the moorlands.
“I dinnae know, but all I hope is that they will be as happy as we have become,” Fraser replied, and he turned again and kissed her, the future stretching on ahead, as a new generation came to the fore.
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If you want to know what lies ahead in our story, you may want to get the sequel…
This is the tale of a Highlander entrapped by the sins of his father and a rebellious lass who must defy her family’s great legacy to find herself. Surrendering to a forbidden love that it was never meant to be, can these two escape their destinies without unleashing chaos to the Highlands?