"All of your plays end with me being married off to Meg," Laurie pointed out. He was curled up at the end of the old sofa in Jo's attic, trying to keep his hands warm as he flipped through the latest in Jo's series of annual Christmas plays. It was a cold day in late December, and though Jo had lit a fire nearly half an hour before, it had not yet quite managed to chase the winter out of the room. A throw blanket lay over Jo's shoulders like a cloak, and she was sitting closer to Laurie than he had been used to of late, peering over his shoulder as he read. They were alone, except for Beth, who was huddled next to Jo, watching the two of them contentedly.
"I do hate to end so many of these plays with weddings," Jo replied. "But Meg's so well suited for it. Besides, as this is truly the last time she'll be taking part in our theatre romps, we might as well play her to her best advantage."
Jo cast a glance around the room, and despite her best efforts, she could not help but look mournful. After all, Meg was set to marry that terrible Brooke come spring, and she suspected that Meg had only agreed to take a part in the Christmas play to spare her feelings. Meg had not shown any interest in the production as she had in previous years, instead spending her time sewing, writing letters, and generally looking so lovelorn and womanly that it made Jo's heart ache to watch her. Seeing Meg's apathy had only made vain little Amy turn up her nose at the yearly theatricals, and try to imitate her oldest sister's manner in every way, though having herself no fiancé to write to, she merely composed the occasional letter to Laurie, and stuck it in the postbox between their two houses (Laurie, bless him, always responded in good humor.).
All in all Jo felt that those dearest to her had cast off their childhood so abruptly that it took her breath away, and left her wondering if she would soon be left playing all alone. Jo clutched Beth a bit closer at that.
"She might continue after she marries," Said Laurie, seeing the frown on Jo's face, and wishing to dispose of it in short order. "Only then you will have to give the heroes role to Brooke, and not me."
Jo made such a comical face at that that no amount of concern for her could keep Laurie from laughing.
"Of course Meg and Amy will always take a part in your plays if you ask them to," Beth said softly, effectively silencing Laurie. Beth spoke so seldom and so sweetly that he was in the habit of listening to her whenever she did. "And if they don't, then I will."
Beth's voice quivered at her last words, and with good reason, for she had never ventured to take a speaking role in any of Jo's productions, always having been to shy to do so even for such a small and loving audience as her family was.
"Excellent!" Laurie said encouragingly, "There's a brave girl." His grin widened as Beth's skin flushed a most gratifying shade of pink, and she hid her head against Jo's shoulder. To Jo he added, "And you know you can count on me being in your plays as long as you keep writing them. Just see if you can stop me. I'm a hero, or a villain, or a priest, or whatever else you wish! I'm yours Jo, for as long as you'll have me, I promise."
Jo scowled, but as Laurie had expected to do just that, it did little to dampen his spirits.
"Gentleman's honor?" Jo asked. She had a dangerous glint in her eyes, but Laurie nodded anyway, if only because he was curious to see exactly what kind of mischief Jo had gotten into her head now.
"Be careful," Jo said, "Or I'll cast you as a princess, to make up the actress we've lost in Meg. You did say you'd take any part, and if you don't take it back right now, I'm bound to hold you to it."
"Ah, but you won't do that," Laurie countered, "Because then you'll be lacking a hero to come and sweep the princess off her feet, and rescue her from whatever troubles you decide to set in her path…. And knowing you, there will be enough to try the fortitude of an Olympian goddess."
"Beth can take your usual role," said Jo.
"Oh no!" Was Beth's quick response, for now that she'd opened herself up to the fearful possibility of trying out Jo's stage for herself, she was prone to taking anything Jo said more seriously than it was meant. "Give me as few lines as possible, if you please."
"Why not take my old role yourself, rather than taxing poor Beth? That way you and I can be married in grand style, before an adoring audience," Laurie suggested.
Now it was Jo's turn to flush, and flush she did, looking more unsettled by Laurie's suggestion than he had expected her to be. And somehow, he could not help but think that was a good sign. After all, if she had never so much as considered… considered anything lover-like when it came to him, then surely she would be able to joke about such things with ease. Something about her suggested possibility just then, and Laurie had to bite his lip to keep all of the things he was thinking from spilling out before the time was right. To his surprise, Beth caught his eye just then, as if she were thinking the same thing he was.
There was a long pause, and then Jo squared her shoulders, and answered him.
"I accept your proposal," She said defiantly. She had never been one to back away from a challenge, and she had always been one to know a challenge for what it was when she saw it. "By this time next year, I'll have written a lady's role especially for you, complete with appropriate costuming, and we'll walk down the isle right here on this grand stage. So there! How do you like that?"
And Laurie decided then that the best policy would be not to answer at all, for no worry at how Jo would choose to dress him could possibly keep him from liking the idea quite a bit.