There were times when Friedrich Bhaer simply liked to stare at his wife.

They talked, yes, they talked, about any and everything, and often Jo would become caught up in her own words, waving her hands and letting the chatter flow, miles a minute...he liked to stare then. He liked to look at her face, at the way her cheeks were always pink when she grew excited, at the way her hair tumbled loose of its confinements, at the wild heedlessness of her large grey eyes.

Often, he would lose track of what she was saying (it was easy enough) and just look, letting himself...what was the word...enjoy it. This would last until she noticed-which, being Jo,she did fairly quickly, and often humorously.

"You look abstracted, Professor," she'd say, laughing up at him. "Pondering metaphysics?"

Ach, she did not know...she never knew. With a smile, he would ruefully admit that he was in the clouds, as they said...and the conversation would go on.

Many times she'd sit at a battered old desk set just for her, and write, write, write...he liked to stare at her then, too. He'd look at her mouth, set and determined, at the way she would bite her bottom lip when she thought over plots, at the way her eyes flashed when she had the idea...

Once, she'd caught him; she had been scribbling away, tongue between her teeth, and he had been trying to immerse himself in a book he was usually fond of...at last, he had given up, setting the book down and (he blushed to think of it) gawking at her...slowly, she had become aware, and at last looked up, her brown face alight and-ah,temptation!-spattered with ink...

"What are you staring at, Fritz?" she'd asked, half amused, half puzzled. He had turned a decided crimson, and struggled to find the excuse...the one he at last found was feeble.

"Thou had ink on thy nose, Professorin."

"Oh?" Jo had said, scrubbing at the spot most un-romantically. "Is it off?"

"No, mein Jo, not quite,"he'd replied, smiling now. "There is some on thy mouth, too...may I help?"

Jo had assented gratefully, if with some of what they called the school girl's blush on her cheeks, and it was a long time before she returned to her writing.

He liked to look at her, too, when...when...he knew not a way to say it to make it sound as lovely as it was...when they were alone together in the evenings, just they two, and her hair was loose, and her lean brown self was just visible in the dim light...

Unashamed, he would simply stare...and this was is favorite time to do so, for at these times his Jo would stare back.