One Year Later
Tristan and Amelia lay out on the grass gazing up at the stars. “There it is,” he whispered, “Orion’s Belt.” He laid his hand on Amelia’s swollen belly and smiled at the butterfly movements within. “What shall we name it?” he asked of the first star in the center between the red and blue.
“Well, if it is a boy, Malcolm says we should name it after him, but Fergus says absolutely not that it should be named after him.”
Tristan chuckled. “Jacob mentioned something in kind to me as well.”
Amelia smiled, intertwining her fingers with his. “I like the name Jacob,” she murmured thoughtfully.
“He also asked that I remind you that it works as a girl’s name as well,” Tristan’s chest moved in mirth as he laughed silently beside her at the thought.
“Oh, did he now? How is that?”
Amelia snorted in a most unladylike fashion before dissolving in laughter. “We are not naming our daughter Jacobina.”
“I agree.” Tristan brought her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly.
“Never William.” A frown crossed her features and he knew that she was thinking about her father. The Viscount had gone through a trial, but before he could be sentenced, he had committed suicide from the shame of his circumstances. Tristan wished more than anything to wipe the stain from her memory.
“What about Victoria Grace?” he murmured softly, turning to watch her face unsure whether such thoughts would cause pain or joy.
“After my mother and sister,” she murmured turning to meet his eyes. “Oh, Tristan… It is perfect.”
Tristan smiled and gathered her to him kissing her passionately. “Victoria Grace it is then.”
“And what if it is a boy?” Amelia murmured settling her head into the crook of his arm.
“It won’t be,” Tristan answered running his fingers through her hair, watching it glisten in the moon’s light.
“And how would you know such a thing? Have you taken to practicing witchcraft?” she jested.
“I just know.” And he did know. He did not know how he knew, he just knew as if the spirit of their child’s dearly-departed grandmother had whispered it to his soul.
Amelia laughed lightly. “And does this gift of divination tell you how many children we will have as well?”
Tristan smiled kissing her forehead. “Three.”
“Three? How do you know that?” she asked doubtfully.
“Because it was written in the stars,” he smiled, lifting their joined hands upward as if to touch the three tiny sparkling lights above them. “For if you did not know it already, my love… we have always been written in the stars.”
Ten Years Later
Tristan and Amelia sat in front of their lakeside cottage watching the children at play. Victoria Grace chased after her two little brothers, Jacob Henry Fergus and Jonathan Malcolm, at the water’s edge pretending to be a water horse. “Jac! Jon! Do not go too far into the water, my loves,” Amelia called, as the boys moved a little farther than she was comfortable with. The waves lapped gently at the shore, but she knew how easy it was to get in over one’s head if they were not a very strong swimmer.
“Och, they’ll be fine,” Malcolm’s amused voice laughed back.
Amelia looked up with a smile as Malcolm and his brother walked toward them along the edge of the water. “Malcolm, Alasdair, what a pleasant surprise,” she greeted the brothers with sincere pleasure at seeing them.
“Uncle Malcolm! Uncle Alasdair!” The children cried out and clambered back up onto the shore to wrap their wet arms around the Maxwell brother’s legs in greeting.
The Maxwell brothers chuckled fondly patting each child on the head in turn. “Hello, wee Knights,” Malcolm lifted the youngest, his namesake, into his arms. “How fair ye?”
“Just grand,” Jonathan Malcolm answered with a grin, weaving his fingers into Malcolm’s beard. “Victoria is a water horse and she is trying to carry us below the waves to eat us in her underground lair.” The boy’s eyes were crinkled up in mischievous delight at the prospect.
“Och, well then, ye better run for ye dinnae want the Kelpie tae get ye,” Malcolm admonished joining in the fun and chomping playfully on the little boy’s tiny hand. Jonathan Malcolm dissolved into giggles and ran off back to the water as soon as Malcolm set him back down, Jacob Henry Fergus following on his heels.
Victoria Grace looked behind the Maxwell brothers and frowned. “Did Grannie Eilidh not come with you?”
“Nae, but she was hopin’ that ye and yer Maither might come up and help her with the cardin’ and spinnin’ o’ the wool upon the morrow,” Alasdair answered smiling affectionately down at her pretty little face.
“Would you care for some help with the sheep shearing?” Tristan inquired, with a raised brow. “I am certain that the boys would find it to be quite the lark.”
“We were o’ the same mind,” Malcolm nodded, taking a seat in the upturned log beside Amelia. She reached out and squeezed his hand affectionately.
Alasdair lowered himself to the ground beside his brother. “I will ne’er get used tae an English Earl and Lady as willin’ tae get their hands dirty as ye are,” he remarked with a good-natured shake to his head. “Ye are nae akin tae any noble family I have e’er heard tale o’.”
“Nay, we are not,” Tristan agreed smiling down at Amelia, taking her hand in his to kiss it.
“’Tis good for the lads,” Malcolm noted, watching the boys play. “A good laird kens well all matters pertainin’ tae his estate. Wee Jac will do well when the time comes.”
Tristan nodded and smiled at his eldest son and heir. “I agree.”
“Let us hope that such responsibilities are a long time in coming,” Amelia murmured, kissing Tristan’s hand in turn.
“It will be,” Tristan reassured her with that sort of unexplained knowing that she had grown accustomed to where her husband was concerned. He had been right about everything in their marriage thus far, from how many children they would have to whether they were male or female.
“Good,” she murmured meeting his eyes. “I could not live without you.”
“I will never leave you, my love, for even if my breath should leave my body, you only have to look up to the stars to know that I am still there beside you.”
She nodded up at him with tears in her eyes. Even after all these years, she would still feel that stab of fear that she might lose another person she loved too soon. With Tristan, no matter how long we would have together it would never be enough. Amelia looked over at their guests but found that Malcolm and Alasdair were speaking quietly with Victoria, obviously attempting to give their favorite couple a moment of privacy. She turned back to Tristan meeting his eyes.
“Thank you for giving me this. I know it is a far cry from our families’ estates and all that goes with them, but I am never more at home than when we are here, together.”
They had come to the mountain lake where the Maxwells lived and camped along its shores as part of their honeymoon. It had been quite unorthodox but had suited them both well. Tristan had been in doubt of such a choice until he had stood on the lakeshore next to her and felt the same peace that she had discovered there. They had decided, with the Maxwells consent, that they would build a small cottage for themselves on the shore and spend as much time as their responsibilities would allow there with their family.
“Thank you for having the courage and forethought to make me see its worth,” Tristan murmured. He reached out and tucked a dark curl behind her ear.
“What are you thinking?” she asked, leaning into his palm.
“She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” He quoted from Proverbs reaching into his pocket and pulled something small out of it. He took her hand in his, placed it to his lips, then took the thing in his hand and slid it onto her finger. “Happy Anniversary, my love.”
Amelia felt something cool and solid slip across the skin of her finger. When Tristan removed his hand, her breath caught in her throat. On her finger was the most beautiful ring that she had ever seen. The ring was made of gold, with a sapphire on one side, a ruby on the other, and three small diamonds lined up in a row in the middle. “Orion’s Belt,” she whispered in awe.
“To remind you when you begin to doubt…”
Amelia looked up into his eyes beaming the purest love that she had experienced in her life and she knew without a doubt that it would never fade or leave her no matter what the world may hold.
“…that we were written in the stars.”
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