Ok, I have taken out a lot of the endearments that I used, because people pointed out to me I had been a little liberal with them, which I realised on a re-read. :) Not really changed much else, tbh. Might do another chapter.
Jo March shrugged off her heavy winter coat and flopped onto the hearth rug, loosing her mane of chestnut hair from its net.
"Jo, dearest! How was your day with Laurie?" her sister Meg cooed from the easy chair, enjoying the peace and quiet of her day off.
The tall girl muttered, "It was ok," without a hint of her usual enthusiasm. Meg arched an eyebrow and closed her book softly, sensing something wrong with her haphazard sibling.
"That's not like you, Jo! You usually can't wait to tell about your larks, and to 'fess about some naughty thing you've done." Margaret laughed sweetly, sliding to the floor to join her sister. No-one was in, so her dignity would still be intact and not a soul would find out. Josephine didn't answer, instead chose to stare intently at the fire and follow the dancing embers with her soulful eyes.
"I can't see Laurie…Teddy…him, again." Jo whispered after a few minutes of silence, pulling her knees to her chest and dropping her head.
"But he doesn't go to college for another few months." Meg responded, resting a gentle white hand on Jo's arm.
"I know that. I just don't want to see him." her sister replied testily, an edge in her voice. Meg sighed quietly, and Jo felt anger rise inside her heart at her own stupidity. She couldn't cry, she had promised herself. As a big girl of sixteen, acting brother to all her sisters, she couldn't allow herself to cry.
"Heavens, why ever not?" Meg cried, pulling Jo into a warm hug.
"Because I'm a silly little girl, that's why." she admitted, burying her face into Meg's shoulder.
Just as Meg's eyes shot open in surprise and realisation, their youngest sister Amy tumbled into the room, laughing with Beth, the final sister.
"Oh, Jo, Meg, you should have seen it, it was quite hilarious!" Beth cried, her normally soft voice bright and loud with enthusiasm.
"What happened, Bethy?" Jo asked at once, springing out of Meg's embrace and shooting upright, smiling at the children.
"Well, I met Beth on my way back from the schoolhouse, and she was in the grocers buying some lettuces for Marmee. Old Mr Laurence came flying around the corner in his carriage, and near knocked us over when we were crossing the road. He jumped out and apologised and offered us a ride home, then when we got here he nearly did the exact same thing to poor Laurie as he was putting something in the Post Office!" Amy cried in a rush, giggling in a most unladylike manner.
"The look on the poor boy's face was too funny, so Mr Laurence postponed his business even longer to apologise to his grandson." Beth continued, hanging her bonnet on the little hook by the door. Meg laughed politely but Jo stayed stony faced, her eyes darkening at the mention of Laurie's name.
That night, Jo was having trouble sleeping. Really, it was a most disagreeable happening when one so longed to be a boy, then found that you were rapidly shooting up into a woman. Feelings and all. And Laurie…Poor, dear Laurie had probably been so hurt when she had gotten cross with him, marching off down the garden path without a glance back at 'her boy'. At the memory of his downcast face, Jo let out a quiet sob.
Across the room, Meg heard Jo crying and was at once by her side. She slid into bed beside her sister, knowing that a familiar presence was always a comfort when one is upset.
"Jo, what's wrong?" she whispered, trying not to wake the little ones. Jo sniffed defiantly, and shook her head.
"Not a thing, Peggy. Go back to bed like a good girl, and get some sleep." she replied, wiping her face hastily with the sleeve of her nightgown. Meg shook her head, and took her sister by the hand.
"Does this have something to do with Laurie?" the eldest sister murmured discreetly, secretly suspecting what Jo could not admit to herself.
"No." was the immediate reply, coming far too fast to be believable. After a moment of quiet, Jo couldn't help but continue. "Yes, Meg, it does. Oh, bother these tears! I don't know what to do with myself." she finished with a bashful laugh. Meg understood in a heartbeat, and knew that Marmee could help her afflicted sister.
Marmee rolled over in bed just as two white figures entered her room, hand in hand. She at once recognised them as Meg and Jo, so she sat upright and lit a candle. The first thing she noticed was Meg's discreet smile, and Jo's tearstained face.
"My Jo! What's wrong?" she cried, patting the bed beside her so that her daughters could join her. Jo looked at her mother then dissolved into tears, Meg keeping a tight grip on her hand. The girl just managed to choke out the word 'Teddy' before burying her face into her hands, horrified at herself. Mrs March at once understood, and drew her second child's distraught form to her body, cuddling her close.
"What about him, my dear?" she coaxed soothingly, knowing the information must come from the girl herself. Jo was reluctant to answer, a huge racking sob jerking through her body.
"Oh Marmee, I think I'm rather in love with him!" she whispered, a fierce blush rising to her thin cheeks.
Minutes passed as the three women took in the revelation, then Meg, the romantic of the family, clapped her hands and hugged her sister.
"Oh, Jo! I always knew that you and Laurie were meant to be together!" she cried, and Jo gave a reluctant smile. A crease appeared in Marmee's forehead.
"Don't let this affect your friendship, Jo. Be children as long as you can, and don't let your head be turned by the idea of lovers and romance. But…cherish these feelings, for they might blossom and grow with you both. Love is a great beautifier." she smiled, stroking the soft hair on the bowed head.
"I will try, Mother. I was just so cruel to him today, because we were skating on the lake and I slipped and almost fell, but he caught me and I thought my heart was going to jump right out of my body and I was so ashamed and afraid that I yelled at him." Jo rambled, turning her head to gaze out of the window at the white house across the way.
"Go to him in the morning and apologise heartily. However, do not let your feelings get the better of you in such a way again. Being in love is no crime, my Jo. You are a young woman and it is entirely natural that you should feel this way at some point."
"But Marmee, how can I ever face him again? I'll mangle my words and blush and be a complete fool."
"Don't worry, my dear. You'll manage." said Marmee with a smile.
Jo wrung her hands as Laurie entered the little March parlour, his hat in his hands. He looked at her reproachfully, evidently still hurt from her outburst the previous day. She looked at him for a moment, then sagged onto the little couch.
"Oh, Teddy, I'm sorry about yesterday." she said quietly, unable to make herself look at him. She knew if she did, his sweet brown eyes would crumble her resolve to be strong around him.
"I'd quite like to know what I did to offend you, old fellow." came the curt reply, and Laurie dropped down beside her.
"Oh, it wasn't you! I was just feeling out of sorts and I'm afraid I took my anger out on you. You'll forgive me, won't you, chap?" Jo added, giving him a boyish smile for good measure. At once Laurie's face smoothed into a grin and he, quite against propriety, drew her into a forgiving hug.
"Quite alright, my friend, let's not speak of it again but go and cause some trouble somewhere." he mumbled into her hair, which she hadn't bothered to turn up. Jo blushed against his shoulder, and her heartbeat quickened.
Meg and Marmee watched discreetly from the stairs, smiling at one another. The friendly hug lasted a fraction longer than expected, and as Jo pulled away Meg had to stifle a giggle at her sister's flushed face. Even Mrs March had to smile as her tomboy of a daughter stuttered another apology to her friend, then proposed some apples and a game of Authors. She raised her eyes to the ceiling, knowing that Jo in love was going to be difficult to handle. She could not wait for the challenge.