i have no clue where i pulled this from but i've spent the past few hours typing it. It's based off a dream i had which is probably based off the fact that i watched Braveheart last night for the first time and fell in love with the Scottish all over again. Warrior poets indeed. enjoy and if anyone knows any Gaelic of any sort at all message me and tell me how wrong i'm being. This is completely fictional, i've never been to scotland, though i want to visit dearly. The last name of the family is because i was writing this and decided to listen to DKM and the second song on Sing Loud, Sing Proud is called the Legend of Finn MacCumhail.


When in Scotland.

I've been three days in Scotland. Three whole days and I think I've already forgotten home. (I blame the accents.) My host family is kind, with more sons than I would know what to do with and only one daughter. I was so excited to meet Kiara's family. They live in the middle of nowhere in a large country manor house (inherited of course) with acres of Scottish heath moor and plenty of sheep around them. Sure they have almost an hour of driving to get to school, but they've got ponies and the heath and who would mind while living amongst such scenery.

The entire family is red headed and fair skinned and full-freckled. Kiara's hair is a light strawberry blonde but her brother Aden is a fire-engine red that would make leprechauns blush. There are eleven children in the family and all of them live on the family land. There are several cottages and the like sprinkled throughout the family's vast holdings and it is not uncommon for some of them to simply not come home in the evenings. Both children and parents are comfortable with this arrangement, while I can only imagine how anxious my mother would be if I simply came in past curfew let alone not coming home at all.

It is strange to think that all the land I see out my window belongs to them, as they belong to it. They tell me often that they could never leave it, no matter how their fortunes blow. And I know that they speak true.

The family is outwardly Catholic, and I was worried about that at first, as an atheist, but they are just as likely to curse in the name of God as they are in the name of the Mother or the three worlds that be and all the children carry pieces of bread in their pockets to ward off the wee folk. They are a pleasant mix of old world and new and I am not surprised to learn that they all can speak Scottish Gaelic. I will speak to them about that later, for I have long desired to learn the tongue.

The third morning after I arrived is the first one where I am truly awake. I am thankful that I am here for the 6 weeks that they are off school or I would be up at about 4:30 am. As it is, they wake me up at 8:15 and teasingly call me lay-a-bed while I eat breakfast. The atmosphere is jolly and carefree. Only six of the kids are around when I wander back upstairs to put real clothes on, but they've already started their chores, feeding the chickens and watering the small herb garden out back. Despite the five missing children the chores are done without arguing and even quite a bit of singing. I'm sure that if this house were any smaller I'd be driven insane on a cold day. I'm beginning to see the appeal of those outlying cottages. I dodge small children while waving good morning to the MacCumhail's.

I, at 17, am older than all but Kiara (also 17) and three of her brothers, Tiergan (18), Saeran (20) and Fiachra (21). It is going to take me forever to learn everyone's ages and names, let alone learning how to both pronounce and spell them.

The eldest of the brothers, Fiachra, Saeran and Teirgan, were wandering the high meadows when I arrived. They came home this morning, or so Aden (the youngest at age 4 and a half… the half matters to him) tells me, but I've yet to see any of them as I sleepily make my way up the stairs. The other two missing children were staying over night at a friend's house and should arrive some time in the afternoon.

After grabbing my towels from my bedroom, I wander toward the bathroom for a warm shower so I can actually wake up. In the midst of turning a corner while yawning I run into something… or someone rather. A very tall someone. A very tall, lean, rather attractive, soaking-wet, half-clothed someone.

I stumble back, mouth still open mumbling apologies around my cracking jaw and attempt to process what stands in front of me. He laughs and sticks out his hand. "Fiachra. You must be the cute exchange girl." He jokingly adds a wink to this remark.

Pardon me while my knees melt.

"That would be me. Sorry I ran into you. I'm not used to the time change yet and I'm still exhausted."

"S'alright, 5 hours, that's a killer. I was up too early this mornin' m'self, had to get home cause I knew m' da'd want me to meet you and show you around the land and teach you how to ride the ponies iffen you din't know."

"I can stay on a horse well enough." I grin at the thought of spending time with the boys in this family. I whispered his name to myself so that I'd remember it. This was one thing I could not forget. Fiachra. How Gaelic they all were.

"Bareback?"

"Hmm? " I responded intelligently.

"Bareback, we 'ent got the saddles for the all the wee 'uns let alone friends."

"Oh, I suppose. I've never trotted bareback though, only walked and cantered."

He grinned and it was amazing. I had known this summer was going to be great. I wondered idly if all the older boys were this gorgeous. The younger ones certainly showed promise.

"Should be enough, but I'll show you around n'case you want to do a bit of wanderin' of yur own. And maybeh, iffen you're lucky, you'll get to hear m'pipes."

I grinned broadly and nodded, "I've a feeling I'd enjoy that." We stare at each other a minute, him appraising me silently and me with a slight smile twisting my lips.

Suddenly a call comes down the hall, "Fia, you done with the shower yet?"

He turns and hollers back, "O'course, bathroom's free fer you!"

"Oh" I say, biting my lip. "Guess I should give up on the shower for today then."

I turn back towards my room, intending to drop off the towels. A large hand grabs my upper arm and I turn to face deep green eyes with flecks of gold. "Nah. That was Tiergan. There's a bathroom for the five eldest boys and another for the five y'ungers and one more, tiny though it be, for Kiara. You ken use that'un. Ken't promise you warm water though." He cracks a one-sided grin and I nod gratefully.

After drying my hair and wrapping myself in the biggest towel known to man, I return to my room to grab clothes and shoes before I go see what I'm supposed to be doing. I shiver as I don a flannel shirt, Fiachra was right; the warm water ran out in the middle of shampooing. Being a swimmer, I just shook my hair out, trembled my way through conditioning and gave up all thoughts of shaving. Finally clothed I walk downstairs to the kitchen, which seems to be the hub of the house, where I find Mrs. MacCumhail and little Arten quite busy.

Arten is six years old and has a twin brother, Brendan. They are as different as I don't even know what; Arten is small and has dark eyes with hair that barely counts as red instead of brown where Brendan takes after Kiara in stature and coloring.

They're making dinner, which appears to be some kind of stew, (hey I didn't come here for the food) and I gladly join them in the making of it. Apparently it will sit for hours, like stew in a crock pot at home, so I'm given leave to do whatever I wish for the rest of the afternoon once the ingredients are in the pot.

I'm eager to meet the ponies so I traipse over to the barn, which is probably larger than my house, where I'm tackled by a flying man. Well, maybe tackled isn't the right word. He's swung down from the loft on a rope, obviously couldn't see that I was there and so runs directly into me.

There's something about this family and running into people…

And so I meet Saeran. His name is easy to remember, though I'll have to remind myself that he's not a girl. Second oldest, he's shorter and built a bit stockier than Fiachra. Supposedly he doesn't talk much, this coming from Aden, of course, my source of the family gossip who told me this morning at breakfast. Saeran lifts me up easily from my place on the ground and apologizes awkwardly. I brush off my pants and shirt and smile at him. Aden says he loves the animals and I'm here to see the ponies so I quietly ask,"Could you show me the ponies? Fiachra says he's to teach me to ride bareback later and I'd like to meet them first."

He smiles, and instantly becomes more relaxed. "Sure, this way, iffen he's gonna com' he'll show up on his own time." He shines grin over his shoulder and strolls into the part of the barn that serves as stables.

I spend the better part of two hours wandering around Saeran who, while gentle with the horses he truly loves, is an observant fellow and tells me much about this place I've come to. He knows the entire history of the family; he read it once during an especially rainy week when he was about thirteen. The family is descended from very old blood and that's where the house and land are from. This is one of the largest areas of privately-owned land in Scotland and he'll never be able to call anywhere else home. The family nickname for the land has always been Coigreach Baile, though he doesn't know why. The name translates roughly as 'Stranger Town', which he tells me makes no sense for a town has never existed here, but we both just accept it as a sort of inside joke that no one really needs to understand to use. Eventually we hear the shouts of running children and we make our way quickly back to the house to sit down right as dinner is starting. I can tell, even as I'm pushing in my chair, that this is going to be something like absolutely normal, controlled chaos.

Reminds me of home.