It introduces Annag, of Clan MacClarren, long before she takes the name Anne Marie. Shortly before her life changes. Forever. I haven't pinned an actual time or geographical location yet. I'm still researching and changing my mind. A lot. But, here it is....
A slight breeze ruffled Annag’s already unruly red curls. She’d stepped outside the crowded stone house for a moment to take a final look around. She leaned against the outcrop she’d known all her life. The smell of the clan‘s sheep filled her nose. This was her last night on the moors of Clan MacClarren.
Soon the small party from clan MacGoulan would arrive. After a feast and music and dancing they would gather her and Taog, along with her few belongings, to begin the journey back to his home.
It was a fortunate turn for her. At nearly 20 years, she was considered old for marriage. The limp form a childhood injury had made her an undesirable choice.
It had also been a benefit. She was marrying a man she had grown to love. Taog had been sent to train with her father, Donnchadh, chief of her clan. A warrior however, Taog was not. More a bard and dreamer. She had more skill with weapons than he had acquired. It was a joke between them, he’d raise the babes and she’s protect the family. During his time with the clan, they had talked and laughed and dreamed together. Her father upon seeing the budding romance, saw a way to bind the two clans together as well as finally finding a match for daughter.
Taog had slipped behind her as she took her last look of home. He knew she was excited yet anxious about the changes that were coming.
“Are you sure, love? Can you make this move” he asked. She leaned into him as he wrapped his arms around her, one hand sliding to the swell of her belly.
“Yes, of course. I’m just nervous. I haven't met any of your family but your brother.” Sionn made her uncomfortable, he was twin to Taog in looks, but his personality was completely opposite. “Besides, its a bit late to change my mind now.” She laid her hand over his. Protective of the small life within.
Taog knew how she felt about his twin, he chuckled, “he grows on you. He’s not as tough and surly as he seems. Well, mostly not.”
She laughed with him, turning to face him. She gazed into his eyes, a dark blue that made her think of deep water. She wanted to look into them forever. His thick black hair curled tightly against his head, unlike her own temperamental locks. She lace her arms around his neck and pulled his mouth to hers.
“Oh sweet lass, you’ll make us miss the party if you start that.” His voice made the words a caress. She held tighter, trying to pull him to the ground.
“Annag! Come in girl, the MacGoulan will be here soon”, her mother, Mara, called. Annag reluctantly pulled herself away. “You've been saved,” she whispered, “this time..”
As they returned to the chief’s house, the clan hounds greeted them with wagging tails. The wonderful smell of roasting mutton caused her mouth to water as she opened the door. Her younger sister, Danae was following their mother from hearth to table, helping as best as her small size allowed.
“There you are, girl! Sneaking about with that young man again, I see.” Her mother teased. “Think you would have learned a lesson from that.” She gestured to Annag’s rounding middle.
“I take full blame for the state your daughter finds herself, and I’ll pay the price.” Taog pretended chagrin, for only a moment. He laughed merrily, “I take that back, the lass is to blame. It must be that red hair, all over the place, it blinded me.”
“Oh really, you will blame me? The price you will pay is not what you expect, I think.” She punched him playfully. “Remember, I’m much better with the broadsword than you, and I’m not afraid to use it!”
He grabbed her hand before she could strike again, “but my harp and my voice will soothe you. And the babe.” He grinned, “which is good, because your singing will just scare the poor thing.” He let go her hand and ducked quickly behind a table before she could plant another blow.
Mara shook her head, but inside she felt warmth. The chatter between the two reminded her much of the way she and Donnchadh had been years ago. They still loved one another, but the job of keeping the clan together took much time and energy.
She interrupted their play by assigning them tasks to get ready for the arrival of Taog’s brother and the few others that would escort the couple back to MacGoulan clan home.
Her happy mood was only slightly marred by the thought of her eldest daughter going away. She chided herself, “MacGoulan is only a two days trip. I can visit her and my grand babe whenever I wish.” That thought kept the tears away. Though she knew there would be no stopping them when she watched her daughter’s back walking away.