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Harvard Boy

Chapter Text

It is scientifically impossible, in Jo’s eyes, to yearn or search for something that is unknown to oneself.

Teddy would say that is just a fancier way to state one of the universal truths- ignorance is bliss.

Afterwards, Jo would scowl and demand he leave the attic at once till he would pepper promises of being a better man, to which Jo would scoff and correct him to say “boy”, but allow him to stay because he would not be Her Teddy and she would not be His Jo if she had not.

Teddy and Jo.

They were the inseparable duo since their fateful encounter that, in the opinion of Meg, benefitted the eldest March the most.

She received a lovely new friend that attained Jo’s tireless quality to keep her sister endless company, and a means of transport due to her clumsiness and swollen ankle back to their cozy house that seemed richer in all necessary sense in comparison to the manor she had been at all night.

Unbeknownst to the others, Meg saw the peculiar boy leave that night with a fond smile. Almost as though he knew how much this family would mean to him, and was so softly touched by the moment he knew would be important to him in the future.

She was saddened for a moment as she thought of how lonely it must be in that large house with just his grandfather in comparison to the lively matriarchal March household.

That was the night Meg saw Laurie for who he truly was before Jo could claim she did- a lonely, wealthy boy looking for companionship and, due to the stubborn blush that Meg swore to have seen, perhaps love too. It would be fate to give the least romantically inclined sister the most endearing suitor.

Meg brushed off her observations and focused on the pain at her ankle. It was impractical to assume so early, yet something about the chirp in his step down the snowy path back to his house told her that the truth has yet to be proven.

Many witnesses and March family members would be unable to attest to the exact moment they believed the Laurence boy was smitten for the tomboy and, as Aunt March would strongly state, lost hope of the group of sisters.

Some, such as Mr. Laurence and Marmee, would hint that it had happened the moment Laurie had seen Jo step into his library and was unable to keep his eyes off of her while she was unable to keep her eyes off of his invaluable first editions of Dickens classics.

Meg sees it happened as softly and quietly as Laurie was when he slept soundly after his tireless work to help in Jo’s upcoming play.

Beth refused to acknowledge that her brother would admire any of them, but she would be a fool to not admit she assumed the fellow had a soft spot for her sister.

Once, when Jo was angry and inadvisable, she refused to see Laurie after a prank she deemed “cruel”, thus causing the poor boy to spend two consecutive afternoons waiting outside the attic door with fresh wild flowers for the chance she may at least acknowledge his existence and have the opportunity to apologize for pulling her hair and causing her to yelp loudly in front of Aunt March.

But, again, she would never relay this story to anyone, less so Jo.

Unable to stomach that her sister would be lovered before she, who had dutifully read and doted towards all romantic literary concoctions, Amy turned her nose towards any news insinuating Laurie’s favor toward his Jo. It was not like she had made dreamy Laurie a mold of her feet, as Jo’s were far too unkempt and haphazardly used to make one as beautiful and small as Amy’s had turned out. And, when she had told her neighbor such observations upon delivery, he laughed and agreed and Amy decided it was unformidable to listen to any gossip about her sister and Laurie because it had to be untrue.

Poor John Brooke, as Laurie’s faithful and tired tutor, witnessed, as he sees, Laurie’s inevitable likeness to Josephine March at the same time he did with the eldest March.

He found it rather peculiar that both sisters were related, as Meg was so beautiful in her gentle and careful ways, while Jo was quite the opposite. Even in her brash ways, the Laurence boy was smitten, naively and genuinely! But, to each their own. He could not speak to Laurie’s weakness to that March girl after first meeting because he himself had an affinity for one too, shortly after she had merely glanced his way.

Laurie, for all his smooth talk and charisma that charmed his grandfather’s clients over time, was unable to pinpoint when he grew to yearn for that girl, his Jo.

Tragedy was a part of his history. Without a mother or father and left with too much money from his grandfather, Laurie was not living the life many others lived. He had the looks and charm that enamored people to please him. He had a substantial amount of money that allowed him to live comfortably. He could be haughty and unpleasant, stupidly charming to any girl to pass the time.

Yet, on Josephine March, it did not matter.

He would rather be pricked by wild berry thorns than recall the terrible second meeting they had, in which he stuttered and was obnoxiously quiet as she was constantly smiling and talking. He had never felt so dull- like those businessmen who had nothing other to do than business- till he met Jo, rightfully and thankfully so.

She was unbothered by his reputation and, whether it was a gift or curse, could not care for him more than she cared about a random other fellow at the market.

It was both humbling and invigorating.

He had someone who wanted to spend time with him and rejected all shiny materials he could bestow on her. All incentives to ensure she would like him did not work.

Instead, she would rather trade a book and listen to him play his music or romp in the gardens while planning a future adventure in London. With his plans, he knew the London adventure would not be a mere dream, but rather a reality. If, she would allow it.

He admits he has done some searching, as any young lad his age would according to his grandfather’s associates, that have allowed him to see many faces over the ancient world and there, at Concord. He yearned for company, someone to be there.

It seemed no matter how fine the hair was, or how colorful the girl’s eyes could be, they were not Jo. They were not animated or spirited or unmasked. They did not romp around bashfully in semi-burnt frocks or want to know why he played certain sonnets and other pieces not. They did not care for his love for fashion or dared to tease him the slightest.

There was nothing wrong with other girls other than one fact- they were not his Jo.

And, when he realized this, it would not be his exact fault for wanting to crumble to the bottom of the pond because the person of his affections could not seem more oblivious than she has been for years towards his advances.

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His solace and death penalty.

It was known that Laurence men attended prestigious schools in order to achieve prestigious education to further their prestigious business endeavors. However, it was unknown how Laurie would deal with the separation from Jo due to this nuisance of a school.

They had been inseparable for years.

Weekends spent at the woods, nights at the theater, and lazy mornings romping around till it teetered along the lines of impropriety. Tea with Marmee and Jo, plays with the girls, and games around his house.

Even the rare debutante ball became an opportunity to dance and joke, making his night and his heart soar. Maybe one day, they would see them together debuting in front of all. Maybe they would see them dancing in front of all, showing that maybe Teddy could have someone like her. Maybe he could deserve someone better than him, her.

Of course, if Jo ever heard him state that she would punch him square on his shoulders and leave hurriedly.

All aspects of his social and personal life were wrapped around the ink smeared hand of Jo.

All to end suddenly and because of him.

Jo never did like change. She never wanted anything to change. Although, if anything must, she wished the stares and long hugs of her Teddy would be more controlled because they left her unreasonably breathless and had her heart pattering more than she deemed healthy.

With Meg scuffling about with Mr. Brooke, Amy spending most of her time in class being reprimanded or with Aunt March to get further reprimanded, Marmee busy with helping the army in hopes of helping her husband, and Beth settling into a peaceful routine of playing a tune or two at the Laurence place, Jo clung to Laurie.

He was her only constant in this whole mess and he would stay as such.

Thus the news of his departure for further education outside the roads of Concord was unaccepted and thrashed by Jo. When he told Jo he would miss her terribly and wished not to go, she told him it made her uncomfortable for him to be quite so sentimental over her of all people.

He wishes the fates would not tease him so.

She sharply tells him his privilege to go to college at all as some could not should suffice for him to deal with their separation. She huffs and looks across the grove and at the view of the small cottages scattered plainly.

He tried to look at her, truly, and he found no semblance of care. Her eyes were masked, lips pursed and she refused to look at him.

He was hurt.

She would not care that he left. She would not care to allow him to remain her best friend and would find better friends to romp around with. She did not care for him in the way he undoubtedly did for her.

He was devastated.

Laurie blundered past her to his home before she could so much as comprehend what she said.

She felt so rotten and useless. Her dear Teddy was leaving her, adding to the pain she felt of having to move forward from her blissful childhood because Meg wanted to marry a darn man and not stay!

Marmee was gone for hours, trusting her children to take care of themselves because they were old enough to. Amy was becoming more and more the refined lady she dreamed to be under Aunt March’s command. Beth was her same Beth, but if any of the others were a lesson learned harshly, Beth would leave and change too.

Beth would be the ultimate the straw to complete the abandonment of her childhood in order to make her become, what her father calls them, a little woman.

She hated it.

Still, she found it unbearable to have caused such anguish on his face. She may be going through her own trials but she had no right to trample his feelings because she was unable to deal with her own.

At once, she stomped to his house to resolve this problem before it enlarged.

Past the domestic workers that knew her all to well and pointed her to the library that she heard thunderous piano chords, she walked with her head held high to Teddy.

“Please, give me leave and do not disrupt me.” Even through the door and the echo after her three loud knocks, she could hear the hurt that she had done to her Teddy.

“I cannot,” she shakes her head and huffs at the tendrils of curls that fall in reaction, “It is too urgent of a matter to let you punish your piano for my lack of kindness.”

She hears quick steps till it reaches the door that is swiftly opened.


Chapter Text

Her resolve to demonstrate her tiredness of his antics diminished after she saw his bloodshot eyes and ruffled slacks. She closed the door behind her and frowned.

“Teddy.” At once, she raised her arms to his neck and hugged her friend with all her might, which was not necessary as Teddy squeezed her waist with urgency she thought impossible.

She released him, once she realized that she did not want to let go of him and that treacherous thump of her heart would not calm, to gather his face in her hands.

He looked down, unable to make eye contact and teetered his feed slightly. It was at that moment she remembered just how young and soft he was. He raised his head as he covered her hands with his. “Jo, do-” and he stared at her eyes, earnest and searching, “do you think that you may miss me while I am gone? For, I can assure you I will. Terribly.”

She had to punch his arm for that awful question.

“Jo! Be serious, please.” There was something in his tone that showed he needed her to be honest, something she has not been with herself in a good time.

“I,” she thought of how to word this without becoming disgustingly sentimental, “I would be the utmost liar if I said I would not because I know in my heart of hearts that I will miss my friend and companion Teddy so, so much. Who else will read my plays and take walks in the garden with me? Who will tease Meg and Mr. Brooke with me, play me music too sad for Beth to want to play, and exchange letters with me?”.

Tears welled in her eyes as she walked away to the window seat, away from Teddy and his embrace that felt awfully comfortable.

She sniffed a few more times before she felt his presence behind her, holding her arms from behind in a caress she did not know if it were appropriate but, none of the less, she sunk into his arms like butter. She turned around to see him smiling.

She punched him again.

“Jo!”. He rubbed his shoulder, attempting to glare at her but his smile was too wide.

She scowled. How dare he! She was pouring her absolute truth and fears and he had the audacity to laugh while he had been upset minutes ago. She knew she should have stayed in the attic to cool off and think, as Meg would advise on numerous occasions, before she did something.

“If you think my tears due to everyone, especially you, leaving me for some grander adventure in life while I idly sit by at my house is something of a laughing matter, I will be on my way back to my house before Marmee lectures me on manners instead of being your entertainment.” She attempted to shrug his hold off of her, but he refused to.

After repetitive calls of her name while she continuously tried to shove away, he finally said with a smile that irked her, “Jo, please, understand.” She rolls her eyes and hits him with her elbow but it only allowed for him to turn her around to see his happy face inches away instead of reflected from the window.

She closed her eyes in a form of resistance. She could not give in.

“Jo.” She sniffed. “Jo, open your eyes, I solemnly swear I just want to explain myself before you avoid me forever and I would have to leave without your lovely doting.” She opened her eyes to glare at him for his joking.

“Not funny, Laurie.” At that, he frowned.

I would rather be lectured by Brooks for hours than be called my Christian name by Jo.

“The reason I am, or, was,” as he pointedly looked at her for a reason she knew had to deal with her calling him Laurie, “so happy at your reaction was because I was previously worried that you would not care of me leaving.

“I was worried I would leave this town and you would not blink. You would move quickly along and replace me, while I think of you as I read a useless textbook around men that could never be my-,” he did not want to use the blast platonic term and instead said his truth. “They could never be my Jo.”

She felt more confused, flattered, and queasy than she had before. It caused her to frown. “Laurie, you are my greatest friend. Why would the thought of me not being upset at the idea of you leaving even cross your mind?”.

He sighs and she knows that if he was not gripped to her firearms he would have ran a hand through his curls that were primly chopped due to school regulations.

“When I think of my future, continuing grandfather’s business and having to put my passion for the piano on hold-.”

“No, Teddy-“ he shushes her so he could get it all out before he lost his nerve.

Jo had an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach. The same feeling she felt when the heroine’s husband died or how she felt when she saw how happy Meg was with Mr. Brooks that was unparallel to her acted smiled in reaction to her plays. There was a change coming. And she did not want it.

At all.

“There was always something that kept me happy for the future. Something to make all the compromises and decisions put forth before me seem manageable as long as I have-,” he twirls a piece of hair of hers and she swears she’s never seen this forlorn look as visibly as she had before on one too many occasions.

Please. Do not, Teddy, pl-.

“You, as long as I have you by my side.” He has a glitter in his eye that she had seen before and thought was mere mischief and humor, not love. Not adoration.

“Teddy, you cannot be saying to me what I believe you should say to some lovely girl years from now.” Whether he hears her protest, he is not deterred.

“My Jo, marry me.” Jo swears she cannot breathe. Her heart was almost bouncy, seemingly happy at this decision her best friend made without her.

“Teddy, we cannot.” Teddy scoffs and laughs. Jo glared at the obnoxiousness of it all.

“I’m serious! We would kill each other.” She pleads with her eyes and grasps his hands, but he scoffs.

“Marmee would never allow you to kill me, she loves me far more than you to allow that,” he says with a smirk that she wants to wipe off his face.

“I’m homely and I’m awkward-“.

“You’re my Jo. You are not just those things, rather those qualities help make you yourself. I do not want someone other than you.”

“We would quarrel constantly. We can’t even help it now!”. She turns to sit at the nearest couch before her weak knees tremble due to the rush of it all. Her knee is tapping unashamedly, showing and pleading him to stop with this madness.

He walks over to sit right next to her, clasping her hands that want to do everything but argue with him.

“Jo, I love you.” From the abject horror that is shown from her eyes, Teddy thought he may have mistakenly asked for permission to burn her newest work.

“No.” She shakes her head and he does to.

“But, I do Jo. I’ve loved you ever since I have clamped eyes on you.”

“You can’t, Teddy. You absolutely cannot.” A tear escapes and, with a heartfelt quickness, Laurie wipes it away.

“Teddy, I love you like I do a brother,” he shakes his head but she insists. Of course her Teddy would be insufferably stubborn on this argument. “I always have and I always will love you, but not like that. You-”.

“No,” and, for a moment, she thought she almost broke through to him by the way his voice wavered.

“I know you love me.” His conviction caused her breath to shorten.

His proud statement, her death sentence.

She shakes her head resolutely, defiant over this treacherous lovering that has taken over enough of the Marchs.

“I know you cannot say you do not see how we are, how this is not friendly nature but rather love.” He almost wants to scream in frustration but he finds that he was closer to crying.

“I just do not understand why you are fighting me,” his voice strains, a sound she never wants to hear again, “over something that is so natural. It’s always been us- Jo and Teddy. Why will you not allow yourself to- to love me?”.

“But, Teddy,” he looks up, so hopeful it makes her conviction waver just the slightest, “I do love you. But, that-. No, we cannot do this!”

She stands up, all her emotions culminating to infuriation.

“‘Natural’, you ask?” she points at him, allowing him to grab hold of her hand. “Is it natural for me to become someone’s wife, because all those years of writing plays and romping at the forest grounds has proved this? To become a simple addition to a man, to hold no central worth? To have to keep a household in order and birth heirs and,” she breathes out roughly, “and stop writing? What is so natural of-,” she cannot, refuses to say it. Marraige.

“Do you not know me? Jo, I would never make you an addition to me. We are equals as we always will be and I would be damned if we are not. I do not care for such tasks that society has deemed necessary for a wife to do. I want you to read and write as much as you want.”

“Teddy,” she puts one hand to his cheek and he softens to it, leaning and trusting. It breaks her heart to have to break his. “I am unfit for society. I would break all your fine china-“

“Quite assumptious of you to presume I would dare allow you to hold such a thing.” A smirk barely on his lips as his mouth is stern, ready to persuade.

She wants to smooth the crinkle between his brow but knows it would not help her argument. “I do not know when I would want children-“

“That does not matter. For you, I would wait till you are ready to.” Her brows furrow in confusion; this was not helping her convince him at all.

“Don’t you see?”. He intertwined the hand on his face with his own. “This is on your terms. My sole intention is to love and provide for you. Please,” he begs, almost whispering to God himself, “please let me.”

“Teddy,” she needs to nip this in the bud. This argument has been prolonged enough.

“We are too young to be talking about all of these matters,” she almost smiles at Teddy’s pout, “You are about to leave to see and live in a whole new city. There are other people, millions, and you are so terribly young. You cannot possibly think this is logical.”

“I was too young when I fell in love with you so I find this rather fitting.” She can hardly breathe. “And, I have no plans terrifying you with an engagement ring or wedding in two nights.” He runs a hand through his curls and if she were not so emotionally drained, she would have sadly smiled because the small act proved how nervous he was.

“I am leaving, college and all. I will be back in between breaks but I will not see you for quite some time in between them. When I am there, studying and painfully reading without my trusted book club fellow,” she could not help but smile then, “I will think of you. I want to know that once I have left here, you will not be charmed by some other neighbor.” She meekly attempts to laugh at his obvious distaste. “I want to ensure you are mine now, and forever. The ring can come later as long as I have your word.”

“Teddy.” Her heart broke more and more as this night and conversation never seemed to end.

“There- there is someone out there who will love you,” he shakes his head, as if the idea of someone other than her was abominable, “at the right time and is wonderful. She will be the perfect wife for you and-”.

“No, Jo.” His voice steely and almost burnt of energy. “I have tried. I swear I have. There is no one like you and I want you.”

She realizes, in some moment previously, she did not appreciate Teddy’s honesty as much as she thought she always would. She yearned for days without this lovering and leaving. But, as the saying goes, you cannot yearn for what you do not know.

Teddy shakes his head. Perhaps he was a bit naive and overly confident that of course she would say yes, they would embrace, and all would be right.

Now, he feels his heart has broken more than it has ever, more than he thought capable. They were touching but it was a semblance to them at the present, close but so far. And, worst of all, nothing was alright or would be alright.

“I realize this is much.” She looks up to him but he dares not to do such a brave, vulnerable act. One look from her and he knew he would undo and beg her, pride unimportant.

But, he could not do that to her.

“Many things are changing, but so has our love.” He takes her silence and not her insistent argument a sign that maybe she agreed.

He did not know pain could be felt from the degradation of having to convince someone that they loved you.

Still, he persisted. “You cannot stare into my eyes and tell me you have not felt any change in our love.” She looks away, annoyed at the truth at his statement, making him chuckle but without true happiness.

“Jo, just please consider it. I am leaving in a week’s time. You do not need to answer now, or even before I leave. Just, when you do know your answer, no matter what it is, please tell me.”

He is patient, too patient to be her natural Teddy. It jabs her heart.

“I promise I will.” He nods primly and she had been granted a chance to escape and be on her own, to think till the next morning brought more questions.

She had to leave before more chaos ensued.

She kisses the top of his forehead, so gently that he could barely attest that she did at all, and leaves him sitting as he was before. This time, with no music to soothe his soul and a heart more broken than he thought possible.

It made no sense at all. What would give Teddy the notion that she would want to hear all of this? She searches for an answer she will unlikely ever achieve.

She aimlessly climbs the stairs to her room till she reaches her bed and weeps. Everything has changed.

She has changed.

He has changed.

Her heart is breaking, even though she is the one who broke it.

Chapter Text

There are moments in one’s life where decisions and their paths tend to be life altering, consequential.

When Laurie decides to send a sloppily written letter after a hazy drunk night, he did not think much of it.

Dear Jo,

Jo. Josephine. Josephine March. Josephine Laurence. Jo Laurence.

It sounds divinely created, almost as though He himself made it. Would it take Him for you to believe me when I say I love you? Or that I only want to be with you, and only you and your books and your brash ways and your burnt frocks?

I have only been here for two weeks and I am awfully miserable. The professors assign work that can accumulate to over one hundred pages of reading, two written essays, and an assortment of projects and expect it all in five days time.

The other men here are substantial; many are here like me, because of their family, and only a handful are here because they genuinely want to learn. I find that you would get along quite well with those people, but I cannot pledge my favor towards this if you refuse to acknowledge my bane existence.

I do not understand why Grandfather sees it so that I must attend this drat place. I have never been a scholar. If anyone should have taken my place, it should have been you. You see words so colorfully and lively as though they are a moving illustration. You see the characters wholly, human to a fault. It is your love for academics that has caused me to want to strive here. Perhaps if I do come back with honors, I can get a treat? It only requires you to utter three letters and thus I am overjoyed and satisfied.

I know you have stated that you believe you are not destined for love, but that is a lie I can attest. You love books, art, and people. You love using my vests and borrowing my scarves when you think I do not know. You love many things, ideas, and people.

Maybe, you are just incapable of loving me.

You would not be wrong to think so, or even the first.

Do you miss me? Say yes, and I will be on my way back. I will find the nearest train, even without Grandfather’s help, and head straight till I reach our little train station. A carriage would pick me up and I would not dare to waste a minute more before walking steadfastly into your arms. You would be there, as beautiful and smart and wild as ever. You would be Jo, you would be home.

I have been thinking about you more than society would deem proper. I will admit that while I did state that you could take your time answering that question, I did not expect you to ignore me for the past three weeks and two days. It hurts my heart more than I could ever state. I miss you, Jo. Come back to me. Write back, please.

I love you.

Yours truly,

The letter was sloppy and full of unhinged devotion.

When he woke up the next day, believing the silly dream of writing a letter was another sign that perhaps he should write a letter demanding her attention, a mail carrier left a note stating his letter would arrive in one weeks time.

He sighs roughly and winces at the noise. At least she would know how pathetic he was and he would not have to guess what her answer would be. It would be swift and final- no.

He did not know if the pounding in his head or the wave of realization hurt him the most. A swing of the leftover concoction his roommate made might help him decide.

There is no time like the present, as Meg March would say. It would not help to dilly dally on past mistakes or worry about the future that is, albeit sometimes romantic, uncontrollable.

She needed Jo to live in the present.

For weeks on end, Jo would be scribbling some story madly, as if someone was racing her to the last word, till she would groan and crumble the piece of paper into a ball and grab another to repeat the cycle. It was both mentally and financially draining to witness.

Meg knocks on the door, willing herself to have the same wisdom as Marmee. “Jo. I hear you in there. Let me in.”

She could hear the loud footsteps, unladylike in delivery, but it was not the time to point out mannerisms. She felt rather nervous. The last time Jo was this unruly was when Amy had burnt her works in a fit of rage.

Jo scowls as she opens the door. “What is it?”. Her hand ticks impatiently, her hands just desiring to hold the fountain pen Laurie gifted her immediately.

“We must talk,” Jo huffs in response. Muttering so faintly that Meg could barely hear her state, “And what good does talking do?”.

“You have been in one of the most horrible moods and I simply cannot allow it. It’s been three whole weeks, two weeks since Laurie left, and you have been caged here writing like a madman instead of doing your chores or daydream. You did not even make time to say goodbye to Laurie!”.

Jo winced.

She just did not know what to do.

Two weeks ago, the day before he left, he stopped by the household but was unable to enter due to Beth’s insistence.

“I am to not allow you access.” Her chin was held high, but her eyes struggled to look away. In her resilient and Beth-like way, her voice was quietly stern.

“And, may I ask, why is that so?”. He smiled but his eyes conveyed his worry. It displeased Beth.

“I have been instilled distinct orders to not allow any Theodore Laurence men up.” At the raise of one of his eyebrows, she added, “Maybe it was Jo’s orders.”

“Well, as I see it, you must allow me to enter since I am no man. I am just Teddy.” He smiled as he passed her up to the staircase. She opens her mouth to protest but made no move to stop him.

The climb up felt rather different. The steps were the same and the nick on the wall was still near the corner of the fourth step. Still there for as long as he has been there. No one else knew this house better than the March girls, but he was a strong contender. He knew this house like the back of his hand, like an old piece he has practiced since his younger years.

He could not understand why he felt so nervous. This was home. This was Jo. The mere idea of them being unable to solve this was unacceptable, aiding his urgency.

He wondered why each step felt similar to assigned condemnation to a lion’s den, while also an assimilation to heaven’s gate.

He tried to make his footsteps light, careful not to frighten her even more so. She did not look up, but she happily sighed, naively, and said, “Beth, tell me he has-“.

She blanched. She blanked on her upcoming thought. She begins to feel that cursed thumping in her heart.

Thinking. All she does is think. Some men in her time would say women do not think at all or to the same degree as men, however Teddy could never be one of them. He was Teddy after all.

And yet, she feels as though she cannot fathom a thought. She feels foreign, as though she does not know him or herself or them.

He spoke his truth, something she could never dare to tell him was not his, but she wished she could convince him she was not the one to share this truth with.

“I am terribly sorry,” he attempts to smile but it resembles more of a grimace, “it seems as though Beth has not gotten rid of me.”

She nods primly. “It appears so.”

“I suppose you are still dwelling on an answer to my question, or perhaps,” she sensed him become less aloof to the matter at hand as he absentmindedly traced the back of the wooden wall, “I am a fool and your answer has not changed, and you-”.

“Teddy,” he looks up, hoping more than anything and bravely desperate for the response he wants, “I can’t.”

His heart breaks, but it was not like he was not used to the feeling.

He cannot bear to look at her, “Please, understand. Teddy, I-” she attempts to grab his hand, but he refuses, “I know some truths in this world. I know any woman would be absolutely lucky to have your adoration and love, to call you home, to be your lifetime companion. I know women, according to Aunt March, are supposed to be overjoyed by marriage and children. I know love is powerful and vast, yet so very precious. I know you are entrusting me with your heart, forever indebting me to your endless trust.

“However,” he stings from her touch, “I know innately, deep in my heart I am not meant to be a wife. I long to be the bride of adventure, not hinged by domestic matters. I long for so much in life- experiences, accomplishment, companionship, and,” she looks at him, truly, “if time and life permits, maybe then love.”

He looks up too. He finds they are rather close and her lips are barely an inch away, so close that he could lean in ever so slightly and kiss her.

“But most of all, I know that I do not know if I ever will fall in love. I have tried, I swear it, and I cannot say ‘Yes’ truly so I will not say it at all.”

He wondered if the breaking of his heart could be heard from within the Harvard campus.

“Perhaps I am not made for romantic love, maybe love of the world and family and-.”

“No.” His words were finite, resolute. Spoken by determination and bitterness.

“No, Jo. I know you. I think you will marry. I think you will find someone and love him,” his voice cracks, but his agency does not waver, “and you will live and die for him. I know you will, it is your way.” Jo shakes her head constantly, denying what she does not want to hear. “And I will watch."


“But, I would be damned if I stayed here and did.”

He leaves without looking back.

Nothing burns more than cold change.

In October, the leaves fall and the air shifts. Sweat no longer accumulates on the back of Jo’s neck and nor does the heat reach through her linen garments to make the days seem longer yet brighter. Now there are winds so harsh it nips her toes that are under layers of wool socks. It brings change, it brings no Teddy.

A little above Concord, October greets Teddy in his dorm with an unmatched dreariness that could only be challenged by his mood. The cold was the cold no matter where he went, but home was no longer wherever he went. Rather, it stayed there, calling him to hurry back miserably.

She never wrote back. It has been a month since he sent that letter. That cursed letter truly ended all his chances.

He was utterly stupid. Who was he, a boy, to propose far before the right years or even before proper courting? Rather, who was he to believe even after proper years or proper courting she would change her mind and say yes? Who was he to believe he could change Jo to make himself happy?

Who was he to still hope when all hope should be gone?

He was Theodore Laurence. He was to go to his home the following morning to shadow his grandfather during a business meeting. He was to pretend to be interested in calculations and persuasion rather than the girl from the house across.

He would rather not.

Jo spent her days in repetition: teach Beth, argue with Amy, ensure Meg was never left alone with Mr.Brooke, scandalize Aunt March, kiss Hannah’s cheeks after every breakfast, and try not to worry Marmee.

However, Marmee knew better.

It was all a way to appease her mind and her heart. Ever since the encounter with Teddy in the attic, she was unable to focus at her beloved writing spot. It hindered her creative voice, ceasing her ambition to write.

While cleaning upstairs, petting a tie Teddy always argued for, Jo finds herself overwrought by emotion she thought should not, could not touch her.

Nostalgia. Reminiscence. Regret.

It was there Jo found herself talking, or rather attempting to talk, to her mother. Marmee found Jo, sitting near the window, absentmindedly staring at the staircase entry while rubbing a purple-ribboned key between her thumb and finger.

She had told Jo that it was okay to be distraught, it was okay to feel all or little emotion. But, it was not okay to pretend to be indifferent.

“Jo, be honest and understanding when I ask this, why are you here and upset? You know he-”.

Jo scoffs, then remembers the manners Marmee instilled in her and looks remorseful. “I- I’m sorry, it’s just that,” she inhales and looks at the key, “I don’t know what he knows. Does he know I still care for him? Does he know that I do not know what I feel? Does he know that I miss him, so terribly?”.

Marmee sits on the floor near Jo and pats her hand. “As much as I wish I did know, there are only so many things we are gifted with and knowledge of men seem to not be one of them.” Jo laughs, and Marmee continues. “Jo, I must be quite honest with you now,” and Jo nods in agreement, “if you do feel this terribly about Laurie, why are you not trying to talk to him right now about how you feel? Laurie is a dear friend no matter what. He should be able to understand hear what you have to deliver.”

“Marmee, I- I miss him. So much more than I deem bearable. But-”.

“Women-” she tries to control her breath, “have minds and souls as well as hearts. We are so much more than beauty and talent and love. I am so much more than the magical ending he can give me. There must be something more for me than marraige and lovering, there is just so much in this world. So much beauty and knowledge and adventure. I am just so sick of being told that love is all that a woman is fit for, so sick of it! But,” she cannot help it when the tears well up, “I am just so lonely.”

“Why is this so? Why can I not be content with his love? Why must I yearn for his companionship and maybe his love if I refuse to give mine in return? Why must I break his heart and break mine too?”.

Marmee lets her cry and cry. It feels like a great deal of time has passed till she stopped.

My dear Teddy,

I miss you more than I can ever express, so writing shall do. Although, I hope my letter will not urge any immediate action from you other than a response.

I have been thinking.

Logically, we should not work out. Over time, we would quarrel and become unnaturally unhappy. We would never see eye to eye, and debate on a news article or my disliking of an associate of yours.

And yet, I see no other way life should be. I see us quarreling and angry, but at the end of day we are still together, unified and content. We would never see eye to eye, but I see it as a way for my life to never lose action or meaning. My worst fate is to lose my meaning in life, to live my life without you.

I know I have said I do not love you in that way, or that I cannot. You must understand Teddy, I do not understand love. There are reasons why I do not read romantic tales or soulmate pairings; I am unfit and unknowing.

All I know is that I have never felt this way for anyone but you.

Love, Jo

Signed, sealed, and delivered to the post box in the forest with the lock of her red ribboned key.

A day later, his letter came in, and so did her world come down too.

And, in some moments, change happens so cumulatively and irrevocably that it pains the one who notices it.

He is right there. Entering his house, as if he has forever and has not been gone for more than an excruciating period of two months.

She could not breathe. She watched from her window up above as he got out of his carriage and into the house with a prompt click of the house door.

All she could do was march over to his house, like she did a month ago, a lifetime ago.

She smiled at the same housekeeper and understood again that Mr. Laurie was in a foul mood, but she persisted. Because, this was destiny, this was Laurie and she was Jo.

He had to hear from her. He had to know she cared.

A different thunderous melody floated across the house, solemn and careful. This was Laurie, but different. He was, after all, a college boy, and perhaps his music taste matured. Perhaps he preferred one classical artist more than the other now, perhaps he liked sciences too and dabbled in philosophy.

Perhaps he was a different boy with different interests that did not include her.

Perhaps she was late.

Her resolve dimmed. She was undignified in acting as though Teddy would be any bit as happy to see her as she was him. She humiliated his attempt of proposal, said no twice, and did not respond to his letter because she was too unable to respond.

She was impatient with him and now she is waiting to see him.

Before she could walk back to her home, dismissing those incredulous ideas, she hit upon a nearby stand, creating a rattling sound that stopped his quiet tune.

Just as she was turning to exit, she hears him, barely so that she scarcely believes he is real.


She turns around and is hugged. And, all is right in the world. Change, so obscure and ominous, seems on course like destiny. He is different and so is she, but nothing could be more wonderful.

“Oh, Teddy, sweet Teddy,” she murmurs to his chest as they embrace. He seemed to have gotten taller during the time spent apart or less familiar, more confident and snug.

“I am so glad you have come! I was so scared you would never want to see me again or-.”

She swats his shoulder playfully. His grin is bashful and large. “Teddy! How could you even think I-.”

“Jo, please,” he takes her hands in his, “let’s be friends once more.”

She moves her mouth to interject but he overspeaks. “I promise I will not try again to propose. I realize now how foolish that was. You were right, and I realize now, that I cannot lose you over something so unnecessary, something that is not us. Please say we can be friends again,” he grasps her hands like a lifeline that he had not seen for years, “Please, Jo? I promise to put this whole ordeal behind us. Just,” his voice cracks, “please.”

She is conflicted; her heart hurts and her mind is rushing with thoughts and emotions.

She nods and he rushes to hug her once again.

She nods and she understands, now, how cruel timing can be.

Chapter Text

“Tell me, do you think we will be friends forever?”.

Jo peers at Laurie through his fingers that fret around her hair, playing with it as though they were still innocent children and as though society would not frown upon it. They were laying on a red and white blanket with the wicker basket of picnic treats at their side as Jo leaned on her hand for support while Laurie sat peacefully in a criss cross manner. She felt the way he was looking at her, with that stubborn twinkle in his eye, but she decided to not address it.

“Yes. For as long as I can or have imagined life, you, Josephine, have been a part of it.” He says it so earnestly and with the deepest stare that Jo could not help but do what she did next.

She squints at him through the sun and throws a piece of grass on him. “I am serious, Teddy. Do you really think we will still be friends? Even when you will get a wife or if I get a husband?”.

His jaw clenches, ever so slightly, and he tries to swallow.

It still stings.

After a year and months of awkward conversation, they found their rhythm back. At first, their friendship was no real friendship. She was excited to have him back but he still had reservations. She thought it was because he did not want to be her friend again, but rather it was because he knew if he spent too much time with her he would be unable to cope when the inevitable day comes when she would meet the man that Teddy could never be. He would be there, preferably drinking something harsh and bitter, but there nonetheless. He would not be Teddy if he were not with Jo, no matter the relationship.

This period of time, this year and months of awkward movements around one another and careful language has been a reprieve of sorts. After the storm they have weathered, it seems as though this uncomfortable state of uncertain friendship was the calm they have prayed for.

Still, it was rather painstaking. Each break that he did get to see her during his second term was always too short. She told him tales of her “dull” time without him. She would go in explicit detail the boredom she felt when Meg would enlist her help with wedding planning. They had finally agreed to a theme, wedding cake flavor, and the decor they wanted to make, but Jo was still apprehensive of the addition of Mr. Brooke.

Beth kept her busy most days. Mathematics was easy, resembling the piano in a strange way. The youngest March saw that each piano had multiple pieces, and those pieces could solve puzzles in the form of a sinota or an unfinished melody. Literature, however, was not her strongest suit. Informative essays were satisfactory, but persuasive essays were rather difficult for her because she did not want to impose her opinion so harshly.

It made both Jo and Teddy smile.

Amy March was a busy young lady in the making. Days were spent with lessons about propriety from her Aunt, cooking lessons with Marmee, painting practices with Meg as her muse, braiding Beth’s hair, making random gifts for Laurie, and arguing with Jo. It seems like an hour cannot go by peacefully without either sister making quip comments or purposely irking the other. Still, sometimes they were able to have a calm chat about cake flavors or their love for annoying Aunt March.

Rather recently, Jo was casually explaining her latter excursion to the city where she met him- Friedrich Bhaer. She spoke of some fanciful tale that was truly “dreamy”, according to Amy. Jo had bumped into him at the station and saw him again at a local pub where he then offered dinner for two and a tutoring job.

She said yes to dinner and no to the tutoring job.

In some ways, Teddy thinks he ought to be at least a bit grateful. She said no to the job, ensuring he was able to visit her once a month without it being entirely pathetic and obvious if he had to make an excuse to go to New York to see her instead. However, the agreement to dinner made him uncomfortable, itchy like those new trousers Grandfather bought him. Of course, he had no reason to be worried about some silly dinner. After all she was not the girl to fall for someone after one conversation. However, and unfortunately for Teddy, she was a girl someone could fall for after one conversation. It made him nervous as to how much that Bhaer character may be enthralled with Jo like he is, or some miraculous day from now, was.

Plus, he won in the end. She was staying in Concord, less a distance than the city. She said she had no reason to leave and work there. She had a wedding to plan and plays to write and adventures to have and other countless works. She was, as she stated when assuring her family and Teddy, “content”. Still, sometimes when he looks at her as she writes in her journal, he wonders if that forlorn glance is for him.

When further probed by Teddy, she said that she respectfully and professionally admired Friedrich, but he could never be her Teddy. He knew she added that last part teasingly, but he held that statement close to his heart and thought of it whenever he did miss her and did not know if she missed him.

So, when she asked that question, all he could think was, Yes, since I hope to be the husband or never live to see the husband.

“I see no reason why not. I understand that it is less common and that it may seem improper, but we have never been ones to follow the rules, right?”.

She purses her lips and looks at him before nodding her head in agreement. He has noticed that now, that difference and undeniable maturity within her. She is still Jo, she still laughs in inappropriate events and is as adventurous as ever. But, she is more contemplative. She is brash and abrupt, but she sees the impact of her actions sooner than she did before. When he looks at her, truly looks at her, he sees how much she has grown. Whether she or anyone liked it or not, she has blossomed with aging.

Her hair is kept at a set length in a bun near the nape of her neck, but it was still unruly. Her frocks are occasionally burnt, but she has become wiser when picking where to write her pieces. She laughs less but it is fuller, richer. It is harder to make her laugh, the cheap jokes he would deliver a year ago do not work as well as they used to, but it only made Teddy work harder to make her happy.

She has made many new friends, as he predicted she would. Few men from nearby towns have stopped by to discourse with her or the lovely Amy, who was still under Aunt March’s wing to become a renowned Parisian debutante.

He even had the pleasure to meet the foreign man named Friedrich when he just happened to stop by town on a weekend when Teddy was able to return back too. Whether he seemed a bit besotted with Jo was none of Teddy’s business, but it did not mean he did not make it his business. He was always internally debating with himself why he even cared when he knew he should not and that she did not want him too.

Fredrich was a lovely new addition and friend for Teddy, to say the least.

He uncrosses his legs and stretches to get an apple from the basket. Maybe some food would make him less melancholy and take away his long list of negative thoughts.

Jo lays her head back down on the blanket, seeing the tree’s branches instead of his body. “That’s exactly what I told Meg! She told me she doubts this friendship of ours will last at this closeness. She was reprimanding me for-.” Her eyes bulge, and she quickly puts a hand over her mouth and stops tracing the lines on his hand.

“Reprimanding you for?”. His eyebrows go up, just as his questioning begins. She had just said a rather insulting comment about their friendship from her sister so he doubts there could be anything worse. Even so, Jo was not one to withhold information from Teddy. Rather, it was Teddy who would tease her of his knowledge of something she did not know that he knew would irk her and make her angry till he would tell her.

She was never one to hold back from her Teddy.

She softly sighs. “She told me that it is selfish of me to want to continue this close friendship of ours because it is not exactly encouraging to women who could possibly be a future wife of yours.” He snorts as she rolls her eyes, but she looks at him pointedly. Sometimes he wishes she would at least pretend to be upset at the idea of him being with someone else, but he cannot ask for what is not there.

“But do not fret, it has no bearing on you but rather my impropriety. She did joke that my friendship with you is hindering Fredrich from making a gesture towards courting, which I told her was-”.

Teddy sits upright immediately. He did not know the day would come this quickly. For heaven’s sake he was only gone for a year and a half and he essentially missed Jo’s development of love for men and her wedding proclamation!

Today was going to be a long day.

“Do- do you love him?”. He hates that he stutters, but it had to be said. He must know.

“Oh my word, Laurie! You know me. Why-”. She opens her mouth to continue but Teddy shakes his head.

“Do I?”. His eyes bulge as he finishes whispering his side comment, cursing his inability to sensor his thoughts before they were delivered.

“And what exactly do you mean by that Lawrence?”. He could hear the hurt in her voice, reaching something inside of him in his heart but he was too far into his delusions to give it a thought.

He sighs exasperated. He was only here for a day more and he did not want to spend his last day with her before he had to go back to university quarreling. “Nothing, okay, can we just-”.

“No, if you have something to say, please feel free to say it.” She glares at him, angry. She glares at him, confused and saddened at his statement.

How dare he whisper such a preposterous question! Whenever he came back, which he did ever so sporadically as if to spite her, she would tell him everything he missed. Down from the freshest town gossip to the new blueberry bush she found an hour before they met. She thought, by relaying what happened to her and asking and learning what happened to him, the time they spent apart would feel minuscule, almost like they had spent everyday together. So when he says this, stating that she is a stranger after all this time she has spent to ensure that she has not been, she cannot help but be angry.

She was already sitting up, a reflex from his statement and stood up after seeing him ready to walk away.

“Hey,” she said as she poked his upper right shoulder, “if you have something to say just-“.

He turns around and is too close. He is too close to exploding with words. He is too close, an inch or two away, from kissing her as her palm found its way on top of his erratic heart.

“Stop it Jo, please.” She glares but it softens at his plea and he continues, “You know what I mean. Each time I come back here, I-,” he ruffles his hair like he does when he is frustrated. “I feel like I am competing with him, that damn Friedrich of yours, for your attention.”

Jo can hardly breathe, like his words pummeled the air out of her like they were a hammer themselves. He went on, full of momentum and built up emotions. “Like- like I have not been your very best friend and he somehow has because of some chance encounter. I know this is absolutely foolish and that there is no reason for me to be- to be feeling this way but-.”

He looks at her and sighs, as though she has worn down his strongest shield. As though she has won the battle and the war and everything in between when she did not realize the war was even present.

All this time, all of the times she missed his stares and his bashful behavior after he became more reserved and careful around her and the times she wanted to turn the hand of time back so that her answer could have been different, he may have been doing so too. If she were given the chance, her answer still would not have been a yes, but it would not have been such a decisive no. However, when she thinks of doing that, she feels an emotion akin to guilt and loss. There was no need and no right to feel upset at a love loss when she chose to nip it before it had a chance to fully bloom.

She looks at him, or rather as much as she can as his head is tilted downwards and his curls obnoxiously cover most of his face. “There is no competition. You are Teddy. I am Jo. There will always be Teddy and Jo, not him, never him.”

He gasps at her words. Did she truly mean it? Did all hope have to be lost?

All this time, he still held a flame for her when she has spent the past year attempting to blow it out, and rather unsuccessfully at that.

“I know I told you I would never bring up what happened all that time ago,” she pales, internally cringing at that horrid day and the reminder of her mistakes, “but I cannot lie here with you, as you talk of another man, when I am still in love with you and I do not know when I will not be or if I ever can stop loving you.”

“Teddy, I-. You can’t possibly-” and she looks up to him, and he was impossibly close. She tries to find the will to do something, anything, but her brain short circuits and refuses to act rationally upon a time of quick thinking. There were many emotions running through her bloodstream that forced her to do what she could not be blamed for.

He notices the distance too. She was close, too close. Her nervousness reflected his and, selfishly, it was a balm to him. She was feeling what he was feeling. It was too much, a cumulative sum of secretive glances that held more than what the eye portrayed and months of waiting. He never wanted to admit why he was consistently waiting, he could never admit that he has always held hope for them, even in the midst of the fact that she did not.

Hope is a fool’s game. And, fortunately, his grandfather taught him how to play and win many games. He just never taught him how to win this stalemate of a game.

“Jo,” he his voice hearse with emotions. He lifts a hand gently to her check, careful not to spook her and cause this moment to end terribly. He touches her and she feels as though he is looking at her like she were a wild horse, prone to run and quick to move.

He was not wrong to think so.

He feels her hand go on top of his hand, cautiously and wonderfully. He understands now what Shakespeare mentioned. If palm to palm were Holy palmers’ kiss, then the soft brush of her palm to his callous knuckles from tirelessly playing sonnets of her must be along those lines too. Peculiar was the thought of how illogically unholy their touch was, due to the amount of time both have repressed their emotions quite substantially, although it was the simple brush of skin.

He leans in more, tempting his fate. Their noses touch and he closes his eyes. He does not dare to see what so clearly holds his fate. “Jo,” he breathes, like saying her name is natural as consuming oxygen. In many ways, it has.

“May I kiss you?”.

She leans in more, her other fist clutching his top harshly as the other has moved and laid on his chest plainly, as though if she lessened the degree of her grip he would be back to his university.

She wants to say yes. She wants to scream yes.

He can almost feel it. Her sanctifying his love and the promise of a future.

Until, it abruptly shatters.

He feels it. He feels her remorse and regret coming in prickling waves before he opened his eyes. He feels her back stiffen and her breath sucked in. He gives himself one second, one second before he had to admit everything was done for and that she would never forgive him for this.

“We cannot, Teddy.”

He opens his eyes and sees the apology in her eyes. His face falls for a second, she cannot be sure she even witnessed it, before it turns stony. Cold, and standoffish, not her Teddy.

He moves away from her and shakes his head and hands, like he was trying to rid himself of this, of her and the feelings he long thought he successfully repressed. “Teddy, please, wait. Let me explain-”.

How much I love you and how much we must be careful. How much this will be ruined if we kiss now.

There was still many factors at play- he was still attending Harvard and she was staying at Concord. He has experiences he must weather alone, and she must also. They had to grow for them to truly be together, she just knew it was not the right time. If they were to kiss now, she could not be held accountable for begging for Laurie to stay.

“I care for you. I-.” She says it tentatively and simply, like this was plain truth and not hidden information.

He knows how she cares for him. As a friend, nothing more and nothing less. He just could not understand why he still festered hope. Why, of all people, must she be so brutally honest with him?

He did not know she could be this cruel.

“Please, please do not.” His voice low and he can barely hear himself as the wind rises through the nearby trees’ branches and as his heart erratically beats. “Please, do not say what you do not mean, especially at my expense. Or rather, please do not repeat what you have in the past. Give me that much, spare me that much.”

“Teddy, I swear it.” She holds his face as he looks at her, hopeful. “I have realized now and-.”

He could not hear another word. Another word and she would state again why she could not love him like he desperately has always, like how he is doomed to forever.

“Why must I be unable to unlove you?”. He whispers it, and she knows it’s for her more than anyone or anything there, but she wishes it was to anyone but her. She wishes it was anyone but her who could have caused this pain. She wishes she could tell him that she loves him like he can just as confidently, without breaking into shards.

Or perhaps, as he did love her.

He storms away, and she understands how the calm in the eye of the storm is not the calm at all, rather it is the greatest delusion of all.

Amy March was not one to sit still if Aunt March was not watching. She had a temper and opinions that have gotten her in trouble, but she believed freedom of speech was necessary for any society to be a true democracy.

Amy March was not one to lie to Laurie.

She may be a few years younger and not as well traveled as her half-Italian friend, but she knew right from wrong and good from bad. And, right now, he was teetering along the lines of wrong and bad.

She had accompanied Aunt March to a gathering near his university. She had presumed it would be an affair in which her aunt would see possible suitors for the little March, but rather it was a way in which her aunt could force someone to be as miserable as herself, talking about property with the old chums of her great-grandfather.

Her grandmother was a contradiction of sorts. She has always emphasized marrying wealthy, yet she herself never has. She strongly encourages beauty and manners, but is brash and will snip at anyone’s less than perfect behavior. She claims to believe female writers and women in power are absolutely diabolical by making society change, yet she has always been in charge- a matriarch. Sometimes, Amy finds that perhaps Aunt March herself is not so horrible, but rather the beliefs that have been instilled in her are. Still, even if that were the case, her Aunt’s actions continuously propagate the notion that habits truly die hard.

She was someone who was hard to understand and empathize with, but Amy found that there was more to her than her harsh opinions that resembled familial love and a bit of loneliness. So, as Aunt March’s favorite, she took it upon herself to dote on her as her Aunt has subtlety for her family.

Thus, Amy accompanied her Aunt to this evening affair. She was there to promptly help her up or to agree when she said someone’s skirt was awfully short for a function with a considerable amount of men, to which she would nod and promise not to do that when it would be her time to go to Europe with her Aunt March and, possibly, Jo.

Whilst sitting prettily as Aunt March refreshed herself at the nearest ladies room, she spotted a commotion at the far corner diagonal to her. Some spoiled boy was drinking haphazardly and was accompanied by two fellows and two ladies who were positively laughing at his amusing clumsiness.

Of course, as a lady with manners and grace, she minds her business. Still, as a lady with manners and grace, she could not stop her eyes from bulging and her quick steps to the lounge chair in which the man was teetering about when she heard that familiar laugh from a boy she has always wanted to make laugh.

Theodore Lawrence.

As she makes her way, hurriedly as she sees her aunt exiting the washroom and getting bombarded by an old uncle who claims to be jolly friends with her aunt during her youth, she sees it is the perfect time to stop this behavior once and for all.

She storms by, undeterred till she walks slower as she nears him. He must have heard her, or perhaps noticed her lovely pink shoes that she always adorned during plays because they were especially marvelous and deserved attention.

“Laurie, are you alright?”. She keeps a distance, not knowing what to do with her hands as his company stares at her boringly. She overhears one girl ask the other who she was and why she was there. She lifts her chin higher.

Laurie scrambles abruptly, spilling a red wine upon the couch and the skirt of a girl who laughs unfettered, and bows in front of Amy.

“Princess Amy, lovely to be acquainted with you once more.” He takes her hand, adorned with a lovely lace glove that her aunt purchased her as preparation for accompanying her, and kisses it. Her cheeks heat but she pays no heed. There was no time for doing such.

Well, perhaps later in the hotel room she could but for now she must not. At least, Meg would want her to be strong in her conviction and not weak in her heart.

She was somehow always weak in the heart when it came to Laurie. She hopes he may be for her too, even just a little, and if she were honest, maybe just a little more than he did for Jo.

“I feel caught.” His face grimaces as he realizes Amy’s fury was upon him, not his company. She moves away as his guests attempt to make room for her to join them. He quickly makes steps towards her as she moves past him.

He hears her huff and he knows she will be quite harsh with him. He usually finds it rather funny or peculiar when she does so, a small girl with a big attitude.

“You know, I despise you.” Her words were not true, obviously, but they held some truth. He has everything in the world, almost handed to him in a silver platter, yet he acts a fool and arrogantly. He was receiving a comely education and had the chance to meet future business partners but he was rather kept with keeping the wine company.

It was rather pathetic.

“Oh, Amy, you despise me?” he says with a laugh and points mockingly at himself. He knew she never could truly hate him. He was Laurie after all.

She turns abruptly, as they beat a corner that is secluded. Even in times of temper she still had some semblance of manners and propriety unlike him. She had Aunt March to thank for that.

“What do you think Jo would think? With you acting like a pure dandy with no care in the world? With a hand like that?” pointing to the hand he was using to attempt to touch her. “It looks like it has never done a day of work in its life. And that ring,” pointing to the emerald cut on his ring finger, “looks ridiculous.”

At once, his smile flattens and his shoulders lose their inebriated arrogance. He becomes sober and it is frightening to see how much he had crumpled in a matter of seconds at the mention of a ring. It is a feat, considering the amount he consumed, but Jo had a sobering effect on him.

Quietly, just so Amy could hear, “Jo gave me this ring.”

She shifts uncomfortably but her stare does not look away. It dwindles in intensity, but she looks none of the less. Was that what her sister caused? Was this what love causes?

“I feel rather sorry for you, I really do.”

She steps away from Laurie, only looking back when she has been thoroughly chastised by her aunt as they leave and sees he sits alone, on the couch, with a dreary look.

His hand carries his goblet of wine and rubs the ring carefully so.