Mòrag moved past Hamish and into the kitchen. Several people stood around the space, all watching her entrance. She gasped as her eyes fell on the two people she had lost countless nights sleep over since she was taken from her home three years before. The two people she had not been permitted to contact for fear that it would put both them and her in further danger.
Evelynn rushed forward, threw her arms around Mòrag and broke. Her sobs were so violent that they racked Mòrag’s body as well as her own.
‘Evie…’ Jock said from behind her, ‘yer makin’ a scene, lass.’
Evelynn released Mòrag and turned on her husband. ‘I think I’m entitled to make a scene, Jock. She could have died. Several times she has been in danger and we have been too far away to lend her even emotional support.’
‘Hey, Evie, calm doon, hen eh.’
‘Calm down, Calm down.’
Soft sniggers sounded from around the room. Evelynn and Jock had clearly not changed at all in the time since Mòrag had last seen them and it warmed her heart to see them just as she remembered.
‘I have had to listen to you tell me to calm down for three damn years, Jock!’ Evelynn continued, stabbing a finger at him. ‘I reserve the right not to be calm now!’
Jock smirked at her and the sight actually made her laugh drawing an irked look from Evelynn.
‘Damn the pair of you!’ she exclaimed. ‘Neither one of you could ever take a telling off seriously.’ She turned then and wrapped her arms around Mòrag again, this time her body was much calmer. ‘You’ve changed so much and at the same time not at all.’
‘Same to you,’ she replied as Evelynn dropped back to allow Jock to wrap her in his big strong arms. ‘I missed you both like crazy.’
‘I know, hen. And we missed you too.’ He gave her a big wet kiss on her forehead. ‘Gads I’m so proud of you.’
Mòrag felt her cheeks heat.
‘Are ye fixing tae keep her tae yersels all night then?’ came a voice from the behind Jock.
‘Or are you going tae introduce everyone tae their new Bhanrigh?’
Jock grinned. ‘Aye, awright, awright, keep the heid.’
He turned to regard the speaker and Mòrag found herself looking down into the face of a dwarven man. His thick black beard was peppered with silver; as was his rough shorn hair. He was heavy built, a solid mass of muscle and attitude. Mòrag’s gaze flitted from him to the dwarven woman who mirrored the first man’s stature only with a little less bulk and a lot more femininity. She was stood by the enormous bulk of a man that Mòrag thought was only a fraction smaller than Harry. By the far wall stood two women and a scruffy looking man.
Dirk, Trina, Bron, Moira and Lizbeth… Malcolm? Yes she decided. He wasn’t a Douglas. ‘Where is my grandfather?’ she heard herself ask aloud.
Jock turned to her with a dumbfounded expression on his face. ‘… How?’
‘Because the lass listens when she’s telt a gid story. Don’t ye, hen?’ Aggie said as she sauntered into the room pulling a terrified looking Morrigan after her.
‘Turn round, lass. Let me look at you.’
The deep, rich burr of his voice made Mòrag’s skin tingle, and for a fraction of a second she felt unable to move. She turned slowly, unsure how he would react to the similarities between her and her mother; unsure what he would say to her and unsure of what she would, could or should reply. Before her stood a man of strong features who oozed the highlander attitude that she had seen so many times in Jock. His sleek straight hair fell in iron grey strands to almost the middle of his back, his beard to the centre of his chest and his piercing blue eyes looked deep, deep into her soul. He bore a striking resemblance to Andrew though not close enough for him to look like a close family member.
‘Gads, hen,’ he exclaimed, his brows pulling together in concern as he raised a hand to her cheek. ‘Ye must be in so much pain.’
As if bidden by his words the constant pain in her head — which she had become so used to that she could ignore it for the most part — intensified threefold and she grimaced.
‘Gee, ta for reminding me,’ she said.
The others in the room all laughed.
‘Gads she even talks like Nessie!’ the man who Mòrag thought must be Malcolm exclaimed.
‘Aye,’ her grandfather replied. ‘That she does.’ He smiled at her and finally drew her into a warm hug. ‘You and I,’ he said, ‘have a lot of catching up to do.’