Happy Birthday, Jem!
Happy Birthday to Jeremiah Alexander Ian Fraser MacKenzie!
*** SPOILER WARNING! ***
If you haven't read all eight of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.
Roger and Brianna's son Jem was born in mid-May, 1770. The exact date of his birth is not mentioned in the books, but fans have unofficially adopted May 15 as his birthday, so that's what I'm going with. He's a Taurus, like his grandda. <g>
Depending on how you count his age, he's either 247 years old, or 45. Either way, it's pretty mind-boggling!
Here are some of my favorite quotes about Jem:
1) Roger meets his newborn son for the first time:
To my surprise, Roger didn’t look at Brianna, or reach for her hand. Instead, he swiped his thumb across his bleeding wrist, and stepped close to her, eyes on the baby. She pulled back instinctively, but Jamie’s hand came down on her shoulder.2) Trying to make love in the same room with a young toddler is an exercise in (sexual) frustration, as Roger knows all too well:
She stilled at once under its weight, at once a promise of restraint and protection, but she held the child tight, cradled against her breast. Roger knelt in front of her, and reaching out, pushed the shawl aside and smeared a broad red cross upon the downy curve of the baby’s forehead.
“You are blood of my blood,” he said softly, “and bone of my bone. I claim thee as my son before all men, from this day forever."
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66, "Child of My Blood". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
[Brianna] made a small noise deep in her throat and stretched luxuriously. She arched her back, pushing her backside up in a way that convinced Roger that the course of wisdom was to fling back the quilt, roll on top of her, and achieve his goal in the ten seconds flat it was likely to take.3) By the age of 2 1/2, Jemmy was already showing signs of growing up to be what Claire calls "a bloody man":
He got as far as flinging back the quilt. As he raised his head from the pillow, a round, pale object rose slowly into view over the rim of the cradle, like one of the moons of Jupiter. A pair of blue eyes regarded him with clinical dispassion.
“Oh, shit!” he said.
“Oh, chit!” Jemmy said, in happy mimicry. He clambered to his feet and stood, bouncing up and down as he gripped the edge of the cradle he was rapidly outgrowing, chanting, “Chit-chit-chit-chit” in what he evidently thought was a song.
(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 89, "The Moons of Jupiter". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
A shrill cry from behind made Roger whirl on his haunches. Jemmy, his grandfather’s dirk held over his head with both hands and wobbling precariously, was staggering toward the boar, his face beet-red with ferocious intent.4) And then there was the time when Jemmy, not quite three, got drunk on cherry bounce. This scene always makes me laugh.
“Jem!” he shouted. “Get back!"
(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108, "Tulach Ard". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Your son is a drunkard,” [Bree] informed him. Then she caught a whiff of Roger’s breath. “Following in his father’s footsteps, I see,” she added coldly.5) Jem at four, noticing the scars on Jamie's back for the first time. This is such a sweet moment!
Disregarding this, Roger sat down beside her and gathered Jemmy up into his lap. Holding the little boy propped against his knees, he patted Jemmy’s cheek, gently but insistently.
“Hallo there, Mej,” he said softly. “Hallo, then. Ye’re all right, are ye?”
Like magic, Jemmy’s eyelids floated up. He smiled dreamily at Roger.
“Hallo, Daddy.” Still smiling beatifically, his eyes closed and he relaxed into utter limpness, cheek flattened against his father’s knee.
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Ambush". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jemmy sighed in exhausted bliss, legs wrapped round Jamie’s middle, arms about his neck, and leaned his sun-reddened cheek against the scarred back. Then he thought of something, for he raised his head and kissed his grandfather with a loud smacking noise, between the shoulder blades.6) I always have to laugh at the idea of six-year-old Jem teaching himself to read by spelling out words from an infamous 18th-century erotic novel:
Her father jerked, nearly dropping Jem, and made a high-pitched noise that made her laugh.
“Is that make it better?” Jem inquired seriously, pulling himself up and trying to look over Jamie’s shoulder into his face.
“Oh. Aye, lad,” his grandfather assured him, face twitching. “Much better."
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49, "The Venom of the North Wind". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
He was retrieved from Jamie's study, where he had been spelling out words in--7) Jem in the tunnel in AN ECHO IN THE BONE. He's a logical thinker, like his mother and his grandda. I like the way he fights down his fear and tries to think calmly and analyze the situation.
"Jesus Christ on a piece of toast!" his grandmother blurted, snatching the book from him. "Jamie! How could you?"
Jamie felt a deep blush rise over him. How could he, indeed? He'd taken the battered copy of Fanny Hill in trade, part of a parcel of used books bought from a tinker. He hadn't looked at the books before buying them, and when he did come to look them over ... Well, it was quite against his instincts to throw away a book--any book.
"What's P-H-A-L-L-U-S?" Jemmy was asking his father.
"Another word for prick," Roger said briefly. "Don't bloody use it."
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
He found the opening, and felt his way in on his hands and knees, and cracked his head on the thing where the controls were, standing up. That made him see colored stars and he said “Ifrinn!” out loud. It sounded funny, not so echoey now he was inside the train, and he giggled. He felt around over the controls. They were like Mam said, just a switch and a little lever, and he pushed the switch. A red light popped into life, and made him jump.8) I love this bit because it shows so clearly how much Jem loves his little sister and wants to protect her:
It made him feel lots better, though, just to see it. He could feel the electricity coming through the train, and that made him feel better, too. He pushed the lever, just a little, and was thrilled to feel the train move.
Where did it go? He pushed the lever a little more, and air moved past his face. He sniffed at it, but it didn’t tell him anything. He was going away from the big doors, though—away from Mr. Cameron.
(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 96, "Firefly". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
There was a lot of screaming and crying going on inside the Buchans’ house, and he felt his chest go so tight he couldn’t breathe.9) No doubt about it, young Jeremiah MacKenzie has a Fraser temper! But I think he was more than entitled to blow off some steam after all he'd been through.
“Mandy!” He tried to call, but her name came out in a whisper. The front door was hanging open. Inside, there were girls everywhere, but he picked Mandy out of the muddle in the lounge instantly and ran to grab her. She wasn’t crying, but she latched on to him like a leech, burying her black curly head in his stomach.
“It’s okay,” he told her, squeezing the stuffing out of her in relief. “It’s okay, Man. I gotcha. I gotcha.”
(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 38, "The Number of the Beast". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I want Daddeeeee!"Poor Jem has had a hard time of it in recent years. I sincerely hope that happier times lie ahead for him, now that he's back home on Fraser's Ridge and reunited with his grandparents, and his friends Germain and Aidan.
Jem's face was bright red with fury. At this, it went white.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" he shrieked at Mandy, who yelped in terror and screamed louder, trying to scramble up Brianna's body.
"Jem!" Lionel Menzies was on his feet, reaching for the boy, but Jem was absolutely beside himself, literally hopping up and down with rage. The entire restaurant was gaping at them.
"Go AWAY!" Jem roared at Menzies. "DAMMIT! Don't you touch me! Don't touch my mam!" And, in an excess of passion, he kicked Menzies hard on the shin.
"Jem!" Bree had a grip on the struggling, bawling Mandy but couldn't reach Jem before he picked up his dish of ice cream, flung it at the wall, and then ran out of the café, crashing the door open so hard that a man and woman on the verge of entering were forced to leap aside to avoid being knocked over as he rocketed past.
(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "In Which Things Converge". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Birthday, Jem!