Title: As thou'rt a Man
Fandom: Little Women
Pairing: Faint Jo/Laurie
Summary: A logical next step. Laurie persuades Jo to embrace realism in acting Hamlet, and realises something important. Light crossdressing Jo/Laurie
A/N: I've been out of this fandom for some time. Real life intruded in a big way. Very slightly kinky but in a Victorian clueless sort of way. Fits into canon if we assume Laurie taught Jo fencing earlier than she profered the suggestion.
"Come on Jo," Laurie urged, the mischief shining through in every part of his demeanour. "How on earth can we do scenes from Hamlet if you don't look the part."
Jo hesitated, torn between what she knew was right, and the tempting prospect of enveloping herself completely within a part. She knew with the inborn sense of all the March women that she really shouldn't be doing this, but unlike the others that in itself was more than a little bit of the temptation personified. "I don't know Laurie," she said slowly. "It doesn't seem, well entirely proper does it? I mean now really isn't the time for playacting with Father so ill, and I'm not sure Marmee would approve."
Laurie knocked her words aside with an airy gesture. "Nonsense old girl, your mother's never minded before about your plays and your boots, and your father would much rather know you were having fun, than moping around like that ghastly heroine in the book Amy is so fond of. You know the one I mean, where she moons at the castle window all day, and sings songs about her love." As he knew it would, the mention of literature instantly distracted Jo.
"Oh I know the one. Awful isn't it?" She contemplated for a second, but Laurie's pleas chimed far too much with her own inclination, for her to refuse, and she relented. "Very well. But if you so much as laugh I shall run you through with my foil, and I can promise it won't be buttoned." Laurie was all smiles in his triumph as he politely took his leave to wait in the library downstairs, thankful his grandfather was not at home.
Jo heard his footsteps pad away, and with resolute steps paced towards the small dressing room. Now that Laurie and his reassuring presence had gone, she found herself far more uneasy, but having agreed she couldn't retreat now. She knew there was no-one in the house, and that Laurie would rather lose his eyes than peek, but undressing in a strange house made her feel even more awkward and ill at ease than she usually did. There was something highly improper about the whole business, and she couldn't shake the feeling that her family would be horrified. Yet she was doing nothing so wrong. When she was down to her bodice, stockings and hair-ribbon she turned her eyes away from the full length mirror, and looked at the clothes Laurie had provided. Although he was inches taller, and broader, they shared a similar body-type, and they had managed to adapt very well, trousers into breeches, and find a suitably ruffled shirt to slash. Slowly she slid them on, laughing at the sight of the breeches to her knee, then the stockinged legs poking out incongrously, before she drew the artists boots that were her pride and enjoy over them. Then she reached for the shirt and pulled it over her head, though she gave up in moments on the cravat- far different to tying one on Teddy. She debated on the waistcoat, rejected it and threw the cloak around her shoulders, rather liking the rich red velvet. Her hair, cut so recently was still so short that disposing of the hair ribbon left her with curly hair very similar to Lauries though a deep russet. Then with deep misgiving still in her bones, she turned to face the mirror.
A shocked gasp was released before she clamped her hand over her mouth. It wasn't Jo March staring back at her, it was the John March her parents might have had if they'd been blessed with a boy. The simple clothes had entirely altered her- she was far more convincing than she had ever hoped she could be. For fun she pulled the moody expression she thought the Dane would wear, and before her eyes transformed into the sulking sullen youth.
Once the first shock had worn off though, she could recognise herself. Anyone looking closely would realise she was a girl- even the ruffled shirt didn't conceal the slight swell of bosom, and the hips despite Jo's boyish shape were not those of a man. But at first glance, and even third she would pass. And Jo admitted with a strange quiver of pleasure that she was a very handsome man. The features that were gawky and colt-like on a girl of seventeen, were entirely appropriate and fitting to a youth in his late teens. Remembering Laurie was waiting, she opened her mouth to call, before stopping, suddenly oddly shy at the thought of Laurie seeing her like this. She might look like a boy, but Laurie knew she wasn't, and these clothes were almost indecent.
She shook off the thoughts, banishing them to the back of her mind. What utter nonsense to think of Laurie like that. She called through the door, knowing he'd be listening out, and while she was waiting, belted the scabbard round her waist, and held her foil loosely at her side.
Whatever else, she was not disappointed by his reaction.
When Laurie had opened the door, he had expected to see Jo March in knee breeches. He had not quite expected exactly what he did see. She wasn't Jo March, not anymore she was something new and disturbingly different. It wasn't just that the clothes hugged her entirely too well, it was that she was a different person, and he knew there and then suddenly, achingly that this was the woman for him. If dressed as a man she could make him feel such a sharp bolt of enormous feeling in his chest for her... She made a convincing youth, he had to admit, almost disturbed by the intensity of feeling that shot through him.
He caught her eyes and realised that however confident she looked, she must be awaiting his reaction. He cleared his throat, disturbingly aware of how he must have looked, devouring her with his eyes like that. "It's fantastic Jo," he said roughly, unable to articulate anything else. Then managing to pull himself together, he added to it. "You look rather like I imagine Hamlet did." The mention of the play seemed to let the strange tense atmosphere subside a little, Jo's shoulders relaxed, and she smiled.
"I couldn't possibly wear this on stage," she protested, looking down on it. "Everyone in the neighbourhood would have an attack of apopolexy." The grin she was wearing though was the smile she wore when planning mischief of the highest order. "I vote we have a Pickwick club meeting. I'll turn up in this, and lend you a dress and a bonnet. What say you Mr Weller?"
He grinned back as he crossed to the dressing room, carefully not looking at the clothing she'd left on the floor, and picking up the discarded cravat as well as his own foil. "That sounds like a fantastic plan Mr Snodgrass. But surely such an eminent gentleman as yourself understands the need to be properly dressed. Submit to my clumsy cravat-tying if you will."
Jo almost dipped a curtsey then remembered her clothing and executed a neat bow. "I am rather jealous," she confessed. "These clothes are just so easy to move in. Why such silly rules for girls?" Laurie moved in front of her, holding out the cravat, his swift, nimble fingers doing the job much easier than Jo could. As he finished tying it and tucking the ends into place, he tried not to look into Jo's eyes. This close, he doubted he could resist the temptation to simply kiss her and be done with it. Up close, she didn't look like a man, she looked just as she always did, and she smelled like Jo always did- of clean soap, faint lavender and warm skin, and he was overwhelmed by the possessive longing that swept him. As he straightened her collar, he noticed how very dark her eyes were, and how still she was as she watched him at work. He could feel her soft breath as she quietly exhaled
With a terrible certainty he knew what was coming next, and stepped abruptedly away, closing his eyes in mortification, ashamed as always by his body's weakness, and thankful for the swift wilting. He knew Jo could have no idea of what his behaviour meant which reassured him more than worlds could say, and covered his momentary lapse by repossessing his foil. "The end scene with Laertes and Hamlet?" he asked, amazed at how breezy and natural his voice sounded.
"Excellent," Jo said, brightening with a smile at the thought. Laurie had been teaching her fencing ever since the publication of one of her stories, and she was fairly proficient she knew, and eager to show off her skill. They started with basic drill, inserting the lines as they did so. When Laurie fell to the floor and gasped out his final lines, with the fine instinct of a true dramatist, she dropped beside him, clasping him lightly as she recited Hamlet's eloquent words. He could feel the fast beating of her heart from the excitement and the exercise, see her flushed face, and he shivered involuntarily, digging his fingernails into his hand. She was very young. He knew that. Knew that she saw him only as a friend, yet he dared to hope as he realised the evident pleasure she took in the freedom of her dress, that in matters of the heart too she would be unconventional, and offer the love he had come to crave.
Reviews would be very welcome :)