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Jo's Past

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Chapter 1 “Teddy! Let go of me!” Jo yells, as she tries to spin out of Laurie’s reach. She attempts to spin quickly, trying to catch him off guard. Unfortunately for Jo, but the opposite for Laurie, he’s fast and catches her waist before she can make a full circle, stopping her to look right at him. Jo looks up into her fiance’s eyes, and her stubbornness melts away. Her heart swells at the look on his face, which fills his eyes with love. Laurie pulls So close to him, and she rests her head just below his shoulder, not tall enough to reach. She can feel his heart beating, and she knows she made the right choice, all those months ago.

“I’ve missed you Laurie” Jo says. They’re walking through the familiar field they once walked through all those years ago. She still couldn’t believe that he was finally back. After a while, she felt he would never come back. After, she dreaded him coming back. Afraid he would come with a wife, leaving her behind. She decided to not write the message she had so wanted to write. To her luck, though, Laurie came back with no partner.

“I missed you too Jo.” Laurie looks ahead of him, thinking about his years in Europe. They had been drunkenly wasted, and Laurie had made a social fool of himself. No matter how hard he dried to wash Jo from his thoughts. No matter the amount of alcohol he consumed, or the number of ladies he had… been with. Jo was never far from his thoughts. He had tried so hard, leaving her letters to sit unread, getting rid of every single thing that reminded him of her.

But he would always end up in his room, scanning the letters for any sense of what she was feeling. He could never take the ring Jo gave him off his hand. The one thing that still held his connection to her while away. The item that represented the part of his heart that would always hope for Jo. When Laurie got back, he didn’t know what to expect. He was glad to see that Jo had missed him, just as he did her. She had hugged him the second he was through the Marches door. They had spent the last several weeks catching up and avoiding the obvious.

“I missed you so very much, Jo. If you had seen me when in Europe, you would have given me such a lecture. You’re lucky Amy was there to do it for you. I was wasting away, too caught up in my petty grief, and trying to drown every thought of you in alcohol and women.” Laurie stops short when Jo halts her steps. He thinks back on what he’s said and is horrified how much he has shared. He looks to Jo, trying to see her thoughts, but her expression is blank. Laurie can’t take back what he’s said and saying more will make things worse. No, he has to wait for her to react before continuing. She’s already been silent far too long, contemplating what to say.

“I caused you that pain?” Her voice is small. So un-Jo like that Laurie’s heart breaks a little. She thinks his behavior is her fault. A year ago, he would have said the same thing, but Amy showed him who he’d become. Now, as Jo thinks those thoughts, he shames himself for thinking all that time ago, Laurie gently rests a hand on the side of Jo’s face. She refuses to look at him, so with his hand he brings her wet eyes up to his.

“You could never cause me pain, Jo. Not even back then, when we stood here in this field years ago. I was hurt, yes, but the pain I experienced in Europe was my doing. Do not blame yourself for my actions.” Jo nods and pushes his hand down.

“Teddy, I’m so sorry for denying you then! I still think I made the correct choice, but the way I said no, the reasons I said no. You deserved, deserve better than that. Marmee pointed out, after you were gone in Europe for a few months, that she thought the real reason I said no was because you were the one constant in my life, and I didn’t want our relationship to change. It scared me. I felt as if everything was changing, and then our friendship was also changing and I didn’t want that, so I ran. And I’m sorry for causing you to hurt Teddy.” It shocked Laurie. Jo had changed in the past years. 15-year-old Jo would never have opened up to him like that before. They had both changed a lot in the years they’ve been apart. Matured and learned.

“It’s okay, Jo. We both have grown up. It’s in the past.” Jo smiled sadly. They both continued walking, a peaceful silence surrounding them. Finally, Jo broke the silence.

“I wrote you a letter you know. I never sent it, but I’ve thought a lot about it.” Laurie gave her a curious look, and his eyes only grew wide when she took a piece of paper from her dress pocket and held it out to him. He took the envelope that had his name written on the outside. He looked at her for confirmation whether to open it. Jo nodded her head, so Laurie opened it. He had to reread it twice. The first time to believe what she wrote, and the second to understand what she had written. It said Jo wished she had said yes. But didn’t she just say a moment ago that she made the right choice back then? He looks up from the letter. Jo is nervously biting her lip.

“Well? What do you think?” She looks almost irritated at his slow comprehension.

“I don’t understand. What does that mean? You said you don’t regret saying no, but this letter says you do.” Laurie’s trying not to get his hopes up, she can shoot them down just as quickly. Jo shakes her head and mumbles something incoherent under her breath. “What I’m trying to tell you is that when you made your first offer, it wasn’t the right time. We were too young to understand what we needed from each other. But that’s changed. I’ve realized that how I feel to you, it’s love.” Laurie’s heart leaps in his chest as Jo continues. “And I didn’t know that at first because I’ve written I thought what love is, but those are fantasies of my character’s feelings. What I feel for you doesn’t feel like how I imagined it would be. It’s not lighting, but a breeze that gradually grew until I finally realized it.”

Laurie wants to believe her. But after years of telling himself she doesn’t love him, he is still hesitant. “Are you sure? What about all the stuff about our tempers? And things are changing?”

J o doesn’t hesitate to respond. “I’ve learned that change doesn’t have to be bad. And that’s what I want to change for the better. And we’ll always have our tempers, but with our newfound maturity, we can battle our arguments, along with love. Because I love you, and I’ll do my best to show it to you if you’ll let me.” Laurie smiles at how Jo is trying to cover her nerves with her determination. She’s perfect.

“If I’ll let you? Do you doubt my feelings towards you?” He leans closer, Laurie's mouth and inch away from Jo’s ear. Jo shakes her head no, and shivers at his breath on her neck. He whispers into her ear, purposefully more breathy. “Good. Because you know that no girl could compare to you Jo March.” She closes her eyes as he pulls back. She’s shivering from the feel of his breath, of his voice on her ear.

Jo opens her closed eyes to see Laurie down on one knee. She gasps at the small gold band he holds.

“When did you…?” She trails off, closely looking at the ring. It’s a gold ring, cleaned recently if the shine is any indication. Simple, yet elegant, and thankfully not too flashy.

“I bought it in Paris. I saw it in a French vintage store, and it reminded me of you. I would give it to you as a gift, but I think this is better.” He pauses. With a deep breath, he looks into the shiny eyes above him. Laurie smiles before finishing. “So, will you, Jo March, marry me?” Jo nods and jumps down on Laurie to hug him.

“Yes. I will marry you.” Jo whispers into Laurie's ear, just to make sure he believes her. To make sure he knows this is real. Laurie leans out of the embrace to look at Jo’s face. Laurie puts the ring her finger, and brushes a hair out of her face. And she leans into his hand.

“Am I allowed to kiss you?” Jo nods her head and leans in a little. Laurie finished and pure seed his lips against Jo’s. Her lips are warm and soft. Laurie smiles through the kiss, as he can feel Jo’s pucker. It is very obvious that Jo’s not practiced. Careful not to scare Jo, though not much can, he gently opens her mouth with his tongue. When she opens her lips wider, Laurie slips his tongue the rest of the way into her mouth. Soon Jo picks up the motions and is fighting Laurie’s tongue. Both of their hands are running up and down each other’s bodies, exploring the new terrain. When Laurie finally breaks away, desperate for air, Jo smiles and chuckles. They walk back to the March house hand in hand.

“What are you thinking of?” Laurie asks, leaning down, his head burrowing into her neck. Jo smiles and leans her head up. “I was just remembering the reasons I love you.” Jo says, feeling Laurie’s smile against her neck, and her own smile only grows.

“Well, don’t let me interrupt you. That could take all the evening to list every reason, for sure there are many.” Laurie teases, which earns him a smack on his chest and a playful eye roll. He can be so full of himself.

“Maybe a few reasons. Hardly the rest of the evening’s worth, but maybe a few minutes of it.” Laurie pretends to be hurt, throwing a hand to his chest.

“Well then. We’ll just have to make more reasons than.” And with that Laurie leans down and whispers into her ear, his voice husky. “Won’t we?” Jo shivers at his voice, suddenly feeling the strong urge to bring his lips to hers. Just when she thinks he will, Laurie rips away from the embrace, cackling at Jo’s whimper from the loss of contact. Jo chases him around the front garden of the March's house, both laughing and smiling, savoring every single moment together.

Chapter Text

“What are you so happy about, Jo?” Meg asks. She’s visiting the family household, and she, Meg, and Amy are sitting in the living room. It will always feel like somebody is missing, because there is somebody who is missing. Ever since their dear sister Beth died, everybody has grieved in their own way. Laurie has helped her through her pain, helping her finally grieve after a long period of denial. In the past eight months, her happiness has been so full that she can see that everything will be okay. Beth would be happy to know that Jo is finally happy. Beth could accept her death before it even came, and now Jo has accepted it too, and to celebrate Beth’s life rather than grieve it. This makes her smile more, causing Meg’s eyebrow to raise even higher than before.

 

“Jo’s just in love. I think nothing can make her unhappy, not with the way Laurie and her have been these past months. She’s probably thinking of when Laurie returns home from his trip.” Amy says, not looking up from her painting. Jo shoots her a glare as she flushes. Has she really been that lovesick? She missed Laurie very much. They had dragged him with his grandfather to New York for two weeks. He had only left three days ago, but she already missed him. It made Jo irritated that Amy was right though. And she’ll never admit that Amy, of all people, is right.

 

“Well, how would you know Amy? I don’t think you ever come down from your room, writing letters to Fred Vaughn all day. I would say you’re just as lovesick as I am!” Amy blushes. Although Jo had been exaggerating, she wasn’t too far off. After coming back from Europe engaged to Fred Vaughn, Amy’s been writing letters non-stop. Amy sticks out her tongue, and Jo responds with a face. Even grown, they still bring out the immaturity in each other.

 

“Oh, stop both of you.” Meg scolds. Just then, there is a light knock at the front door. All three girls turn their head to the door, but none go to answer. Marmee and Papa are both in the kitchen, and Hannah is doing the clothes outside. Laurie usually will just come into the house, being all too comfortable in the house now. Finally, Meg stands and walks to the door. She slowly opens it, revealing a tall man. His looks are rougher than most men. When he speaks his greetings, his voice is coated by a thick German accent. Jo recognizes this man, and it’s very clear that he recognizes her too. Meg opens the door wider. 

 

“Professor Bhaer, what a surprise it is to see you here! What exactly are you doing here?” Meg and Amy both mouth ‘Jo’ at her blunt rudeness. Meg apologizes for Jo, but Professor Bhaer just chuckles, and responds that he’s used to it. His English has gotten better, Jo thinks. Somewhere in the back of her head she knows there is a conversation happening, but it doesn’t register. Her shock as to seeing him here blocks out other thoughts.

 

“Jo!” Amy whispers, “Who is he?!” Jo shakes her own shock out of her mind, and turns to Amy. She has confusion written all over her face. Meg is ever the hostess and is offering him to sit on the couch. He seems hesitant, and looks to Jo, who looks to Amy, avoiding his gaze on her back.

 

“He is a professor I worked with in New York.” Jo stops there, but Amy gives her a look. She knows that there is more to this story. Somewhere in the years, Amy’s grown into a woman, and Jo forgets that. “Before leaving to come home, I might have had some feelings for Mr. Bhaer. They came to nothing.” Amy’s eyes are huge. Jo thinks it must surprise her. Jo never was good about knowing her feelings, but after knowing what it feels to love Laurie, she realized her past feelings for the professor. But like said, those are in the past, and there is no way he reciprocates her old feelings. Not with the way she acted. Her temper got the best of her sometimes, but she’s matured, and she thinks she has improved. 

 

“Hello Jo.” Professor Bhaer says. Jo looks to where her name is being said. He looks older, more tired than the last time, but is still handsome.

 

“Hello Fritz.” He smiles at her old nickname for him. One that’s out of use for a while. Amy mouths, ‘Fritz?’ at her, which Jo ignores. “What brings you to our happy home?” Jo asks, this time more polite.

 

“I-uh- wanted to see… you?” Jo nods, this much was obvious. Jo picks up her coat and walks over to Fritz.

 

“Why don’t we go for a walk?” Fritz nods and back away so Jo can lead the way. He thanks Meg and Amy, and walks out after Jo, who is already across the garden. She waits for him to reach her before walking further. 

 

“It’s good to see you after so long, Jo.” Fritz says after some silence. Jo nods. Her temper hadn’t ruined their friendship after all

 

“The same to you, Fritz. But may I ask, why are you really here?” Jo needs to know, because something is making her feel weird in his presence. Some air around them.

 

“Well, I wanted to see you… and to tell you that I’ll be going to California in a week and a half. I’ve gotten a job, um, there. Unless there is-uh- reason for me to stay.” He seems to want to say more, but stops himself Jo just nods her head.

 

“Well, you’ll be set in California. If you would like, you can stay at our home until you leave. As long as you’re a gentleman which I know you are. Then we can say our goodbyes a week and a half from now.” Fritz sighs, it seems he’s trying to get at more.

 

“I-um- came for more than, saying goodbye.” Fritz says, his accent thick. It confuses Jo. What more could he have come for? “I came because I, I um, I felt that you might have returned my feelings? I thought maybe…” Jo is shocked. He felt the same way about her as she did back in New York? Those feelings are long gone though, she loves Laurie. But yet, there is something in her, telling her she wants him here. That her feelings haven’t quite died.

 

Jo shakes her head vigorously. “Fritz, I’m flattered, trust me I am! But those feelings I had when I was in New York have passed. It’s been such a long time! We’ve both changed so much! And I-” Before she can say that Laurie is her fiance, Fritz cuts her off. He’s definitely gotten braver since she left New York.

 

“But I can stay, and we can learn about each other! Our new selves, be happy together! You said that you had feelings for me, I feel you still do.” He’s too close now. Jo tries to protest, but before she can, his arm is around her waist. His face is leaning closer. She can get away, she has all the time, space, the choice to move away. But she doesn’t. He moves his face closer until his lips hit hers. She should fight, she should pull away, anything! But Jo just leans into the kiss. She doesn’t touch him, keeps her arm at her side, but she relaxes into the kiss. His lips gentle It’s not as forceful as Laurie’s passionate kisses, the ones that make her shiver. Laurie. What is she doing?! Jo breaks away from the kiss and backs up. 

 

“I- I need to go. Good night, Mr Bhaer.” With that, and not another glance at Fritz, Jo runs back to the house, leaving the professor to stand there confused. 

 

When Jo gets back, she ignores her sisters and runs to her room. Her guilt overtakes her as soon as she’s alone, and she breaks down into sobs. How could she do that to Laurie? Her boy, the man that has loved since childhood. This causes her to bawl even harder. Even with her overwhelming guilt, she feels bad for Mr. Bhaer. It would horrify him to know he kissed another man’s woman. She decides she won’t tell him about her and Laurie, but will make her feelings to him, and to Laurie known. But before dealing anymore with this drama, Jo first had to deal with her sisters, who are no doubt worried about her. Jo dries her eyes and tries to erase all signs she cried before walking downstairs.

 

Meg runs to her as soon as she is down the stairs. “Are you all right, you made us worry!” Amy comes up behind her with a worried expression.

 

“I’m okay, Meg. We were just arguing about some writings, and my temper got the best of me. Don’t worry about me, you’ll get horrible wrinkles and ruin your pretty face.” Meg nods, and Amy looks relieved to know that nothing bad has happened, although Amy must see the puffiness of Jo’s eyes, because she gives her a skeptical look right after. 

 

Meg soon leaves, saying that she had left the children long enough. Throughout dinner Amy gives her weird looks, and Jo pretends not to notice. When Amy comes to her room later, she knows that it is unavoidable. Amy will not let her get off that easily. 

 

“What really happened with Mr. Bhaer?” Jo looks down, so Amy continues. “I know that more than an argument happened. I came up to check on you, and I heard you crying. You never cry Jo, and when you do it is because you care about somebody. Do you care about Mr. Bhaer?”

 

Amy’s eyes bore into Jo’s. Jo sighs. “I do not care about him in the way you ask, and only as a friend.” Amy doesn’t believe her at the scoff she gives at this explanation. “So why were you crying Jo? And don’t lie to me.” Amy’s stern in this, she has grown into a strong woman.

 

“If you must know, Mr. Bhaer has gotten a job in California. He came to me asking my feelings towards him. I told him what I used to feel, but that those feelings had faded. I told him about Laurie resulting in an argument.” Jo fibs the ending. She can’t tell Amy what really happened. Only she and Fritz will know this, she’ll make sure. 

 

“Is that why you were crying, did he give you a hard time?” Jo just nods. If she speaks, her voice will give away the lie. Amy comes and hugs Jo, which makes her feel guilty for lying. But she cannot know the truth. Her sister would be furious with her and Fritz, and Jo already feels guilty as it is.

 

“Don’t listen to whatever he said. You know that Laurie and you are destined for each other. He loves you, and you love him, and for all the years it took for you guys, we all know this much is true.” Jo wants to cry. If Laurie ever found out about this afternoon, he would be so disappointed in her. Jo nods and thanks Amy. She leaves her to her thoughts soon after, when Amy leaves.

 

 Fritz is her friend still, she doesn’t want to lose his friendship, but she has to set boundaries. She loves Laurie and refuses to uproot her life relationship with him. She’ll tell Fritz, and soon.

Chapter Text

Jo is lying in the grass outside the March house. It’s summer, so the weather is perfect for this activity. Jo closes her eyes and takes a deep breath to find some peace. It’s been three days since Fritz had kissed her. She hopes he’ll come back soon.

“Hello Jo” comes a voice with a German accent from above her. Jo opens her eyes to find Fritz standing at her side. She sighs and gets up. Her dress is covered in grass, but she doesn’t mind. Laurie always likes it when she smells of nature. He says it reminds him of her personality. She never understood what he meant by that.

“Hello Mr. Bhaer” He winces at the use of his last name. She’s rarely ever called him that, but using his nickname now doesn’t feel right. Not until her feelings towards him are made clear.

“Before you say anything Mr. Bhaer, I would like to make some things clear. I am flattered, and I did once return your feelings. But I no longer do and have feelings for another. Somebody who I love. And yesterday’s actions were a mistake and shall not happen again. I would still like to remain friends and expect you to stay until your departure for California.” Jo states, doing her best to sound strict to get the message across.

Silence. Nothing more is to be said. Jo has clearly stated her feelings, and her wishes. Jo is not lying when she says she wants to stay friends for as long as he’s here. It would be nice to have somebody other than her sisters.

“I am sorry for yesterday, Jo. Obviously I misunderstood your feelings. I would very much like to stay on good terms this week before I leave though. I hope that we can enjoy these days as friends.” Says, Fritz, embarrassment creeping into his voice. He does well to cover it though. Jo nods and smiles. Everything will be fine. They walk away from the garden. Jo realizes she’s directing them to her and Laurie’s field. She likes to think of it as theirs, since everything important has happened there. It’s almost sacred, and most definitely not for her and Fritz.

“Why don’t we head to town instead?” Jo suggests. She doesn’t want to go with Fritz to the field. It feels like betrayal. And yesterday was betrayal enough. Jo wishes so much that Laurie was back, not Fritz.

“You lead the way. But isn’t this field a nice place where we can talk and, uh how do you say, catch up?” Fritz suggests. Jo shakes her head and walks them away. She doesn’t want to give an explanation, for any excuse would be stupid. So instead she just ignores his question and leads them to town.

They spend much of the long walk in silence. Jo doesn’t know what to say, or what to talk about. “How is your writing?” Fritz asks when they’re. Jo is always ready and willing to talk about her writing.

“I’ve been working on this novel. It’s about me and my sisters. Just our lives. I’ve made a deal on it with a publisher. I’m working out the details now, but soon I will be a published author.” Jo can’t help but beam with pride saying this. That’s what Laurie had said to her when she told him about her novel getting approved. A published author that will be known across the world, he had said to her. Coming from him, somebody who’s opinion she valued highly, she felt giddy. He’s very supportive of her ambitions, saying it’s one thing he loves most about her. She was grateful to have such an amazing person love her, somebody who doesn’t put up with her ambition and ink covered hands, but encourages her.

“Congratulations. You finally wrote about what you believe in. As you said before, ‘nobody will forget the name Jo March’.” Fritz says, adding emphasis to the last part. Jo blushes at the memory of losing her temper back in New York, just before she had left.

“I really let my temper get the best of me. Although I think I have gotten better about that. I’ve gotten better at a lot. Have you noticed I’m much more mature now.” She sticks out her tongue and crosses her eyes. Fritz laughs.

“Yes, you have gotten better. For instance,” He stops walking, and so does Jo. They’re standing next to a tall tree, which Jo leans against. Nobody’s around, just them. He turns to look at her. “You’ve gotten even more beautiful, and your happiness spreads thousands of miles. Even in New York, every time I thought of you, I was happy.” Jo backs up. She just told him he can’t do this.

“What are you doing? I told you I don’t love you.” Fritz takes a step forward. “I know, but even when you love somebody else” and another. “I still can’t help it.” and another. “No matter how hard I try” Now they’re a mere foot apart. Again Jo should run, should move away. But it’s like she’s frozen in place. “I still love you.” Fritz finishes.

She sees the love and sadness in his eyes. She wants to wipe it from his face, but she can’t bring herself to do it. She remembers when Laurie had the same look years ago. Maybe it’s the look, maybe her body wanting to know once again the feeling, or maybe it’s her desperate need for somebody, but she does what she shouldn’t. Jo leans forward and kisses Fritz. She can feel his surprise, which quickly melts away. He kisses her back and pushes her against the tree. Jo wraps her arms around his neck, bringing him closer to her. Fritz rests his gloved hands on her waist. His tongue asks for entry into her mouth, and she opens her lips to his. She knows this is wrong, a voice in her head is screaming at her to stop this. Stop this before it goes further. But when he pushes his tongue into her open mouth, the voice leaves and bliss creeps in. She shouldn’t be, but she enjoys this kiss. Jo enjoys the moans Fritz makes when she lightly bites his bottom lip. She enjoys his hands running up and down her middle.

She doesn’t know how long they are in this embrace but at some point Jo breaks away, and her senses come back. She’s horrified by her actions. She’s betrayed Laurie twice. Not only physically, but emotionally. During this time, she thought about her feelings for Fritz. She questioned her love for Laurie. The worst part is, she enjoyed his kisses, her daydreams about the man standing next to her. This wasn’t right, Jo knew this, so why does she keep messing up? She thought of if Laurie found out, his face would come to her mind. His hurt, sadness, pain. Jo feels the tears in her eyes.

“I’m sorry Fritz. But I have to leave. Please excuse me. I hope you enjoy California, but please don’t come to my house. Goodbye, Fritz. And I’m sorry for what I’ve done.” Jo turns and runs to the house. Her tears are hot in her face. Sweat drips from her forehead, but she keeps running. She runs from her guilt, Fritz, Laurie’s probable hurt, everything. When she reaches the house, nobody is there. They all went on a picnic, but Jo claimed to be too tired and stayed behind.

Jo sobs until her eyes are too dry to leak anymore tears. How could she mess up again? Jo thinks about the mistakes she’s made in just the past week and a half, questioning her actions. Her guilt is overbearing, and she doesn’t even know the real reason she’s crying anymore. Her head hurts, and her eyes feel puffy and bloodshot. What is she going to do now?

Chapter Text

Finally, after a week of only conversations with Amy, and days of doing nothing, Laurie is finally returning home. Jo can’t wait for him to be back, but dreads telling him what’s happened. Fritz has been writing her letters. The first two she burned before reading them. But after she couldn’t take it anymore, she finally opened and read the third one. It was a love letter. Jo shamefully will admit, a very well written one. She never wrote back, only read the incoming letters. They were beautiful. What she had dreamed a love letter to be. She should stop him from sending the letters, but she doesn’t. But Jo doesn’t want them to stop deep down. Teddy never wrote her love letters, she assumed that he thought she wouldn’t like them. Before, he would have been right. But getting them from Fritz, she felt loved.  Jo knew that Laurie loved her, it was very obvious, but to have physical evidence of love from somebody. It was the feeling she missing when Jo was missing when she said she would never marry. She hasn’t gotten one in two days, when before they were coming daily. Jo assumes Fritz stopped on his own accord.

Jo hears a carriage being pulled through the front of the Laurence house. She looks out the window to see Laurie and his grandfather stepping out of the carriage. She expects Laurie to come straight over, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t even look over her direction, but walks into the house immediately. It puzzles Jo, but she assumes he is just tired. She’ll visit him later.

“Is Laurie home?” Amy asks from behind Jo. Jo leaves the window and straightens her dress. Amy has a bowl in her hand, she’s probably helping Marmee. 

“Yes. Although I assume he’s fatigued because he’s gone straight into his house.” Amy looks bewildered, which is explainable. It’s not like Laurie to go home willingly, and even more strange, before saying hello to Jo. Amy walks back to the kitchen with a shrug. Jo tries to write to calm her nerves, but every time she tries she thinks of Laurie. Soon she gives up after many failed attempts and walks down to help in the kitchen. She had learned to cook and clean after all of her sisters had gone their ways, Meg married, Amy in Europe, and Beth... Jo still tries her best to accept Beth’s death, but sometimes it really is impossible.

There’s a knock at the door sometime later. Jo practically leaps from where she is, to the door. When she opens the door, she is about to jump into Laurie’s arms, when Laurie looks at her. His expression is unreadable, but Jo blanches. She expected him to be happy, hug her immediately, but he looks almost in disbelief.

“Are you okay, Teddy?” Laurie grimaces. Jo steps towards him, she reaches an arm out to touch his arm. Laurie takes a step backwards and pulls away, leaving Jo’s arms hanging in the air.

“We need to talk.” He walks away from the door. Jo runs after him and closes the door behind her. They walk in uncomfortable silence and somehow end up in their field.

“What do we need to talk about?” It confuses Jo. They hadn’t seen each other for nearly two weeks. There was nothing that could have elicited this from Laurie. He couldn’t have known… could he? How would he have found out?

Laurie takes an envelope from his coat pocket and hesitantly hands it to her. Jo takes the paper from him. It has his name on the outside, written in her handwriting. Her letter? She opens the envelope and takes the letter out.

Dear Fritz,

Where do I even start? For one, I would like to apologize for my behavior. What I did in the forest was unacceptable. What has happened in the past few days, it was a mistake. I never meant this to happen. I am in love with somebody else. I know that I said this the first time, but I have finally come to my senses. I cannot be with you. Even though I thought of what could have become of us had these emotions come when we were both in New York. I wondered this week what could have happened yes, but those daydreams will never come true.

I regret what I have done and am sorry that it happened to you. For your ego’s sake, I enjoyed the kisses we shared if I am being honest. But, even if I had been the one to initiate the second kiss, it was a moment of weakness. Your confession of your feelings made me rethink mine. I am sorry for bringing you into this horrible drama. I hope that you enjoy California. You deserve to find a beautiful woman. Somebody better fits you. They will know your name across the world. I’ll make sure of it. You will do great things, and I’m sorry I won’t be there to see them. Good Luck.

Best wishes, Jo March.

Jo can’t believe it. She sent the wrong letter to each person. Fritz must’ve gotten the letter full of sentences of love. She wrote at the top ‘her boy’, so he doesn’t know it wasn’t really to him. He must think she loves him. It all makes so much sense, the love letters, his continuation in pursuing her.  Laurie. What he must think. She’s betrayed him, and he found out by a letter meant for another. Jo looks up from the letter. Laurie has turned his back to her. She doesn’t know what to do. So she waits.

Chapter Text

“Is it true? Did you really…?” Laurie trails off. He can’t form the words. When he had first gotten the letter, he had been furious. But soon after that, he was heartbroken.

 

There is a letter waiting for him in his inn room. Laurie sees the writing on the envelope. It’s her handwriting. He would know it anywhere. He thought it would be a response to his letter he sent a few days ago. He always got excited when Jo wrote him back quickly. He thought of it as she was thinking of him. He was wrong this time.

 

He sat in the chair beside him and reread the letter. She addressed it to somebody else on the inside. This wasn’t for him. But he had read it still. Jo had cheated on him? At first he refused to believe it. His Jo would never do this. It had taken years to figure out her feelings towards him. How could she so suddenly figure them out for another? But this wasn’t sudden. The evidence was in front of him. They had been friends in New York. She had feelings for this man before. She thought of an alternate ending with him.

 

Laurie stood and ran out of his room. He ran down the streets of New York, past curious onlookers and angry walkers. He had no clue where he was going, but he just kept running, his anger pushing him forward. Soon he stopped and leaned against the building to catch his breath. Jo cheated with a man she had feelings for. He slid to the floor and curled in on himself. As hard as Laurie tried, he couldn’t keep the tears from falling. He kept thinking of what she wrote. She had written the letter with passion, something he loved about her. Apparently some other man loved it too.

 

After his sobs had passed, and his tears had dried, he walked back to the inn. He didn’t know what to feel anymore. He was angry with both of the participants. He tried to focus on his anger, because it drowned out the sounds of his heartbreaking, but he couldn’t keep that going for long. His devastation was all he could think of on his way back home. He thought of going to Jo right away. To beg her it was a lie, a mistake, a joke. He would take a horrible joke over the truth. But he couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eyes yet. So he waited until he couldn’t wait anymore.

 

A tiny trembling voice broke through the air. “It’s true. Teddy, I am so sorry! Please. Teddy. Look at me.” Laurie could hear the tears in her voice, even before he turned around. She looked broken, but she couldn’t be worse than he was. 

 

“Do you love him?” Laurie asked, to which Jo looked appalled.

 

“Teddy, No! I don’t love Fritz, I swear! I love you!” She touches his arm, and he yanks away from her and turns his back to her. She can feel the fire burning in his eyes.

 

“Don’t lie to me, Jo! I’ve seen the letter. I’ve seen what you intended for him to read. Do you know how many times I read this piece of paper?” He turns, and the letter that was a moment ago clenched in her hand. “Do you know what reading this did to me? Every day, I read this damn letter in hopes something would change. That all of this was a mistake. But it was always real.” Laurie’s voice cracks, and he turns his head. He doesn’t want Jo to see his tears.

 

“I’m so sorry, Teddy. I swear I regretted the kiss the second after it happened. Teddy, please…” Jo begs.

 

“Do you really think the kisses caused this? The kiss is just a physical thing, something to show your love for somebody. But Jo, I can see it. The passion in the letter you wrote to him. How when you said his name just now, the look in your eyes when you mention him. The Jo I know cares about the people she let’s in, and lives and dies for them. And you let him in.” Laurie tries to hide the envy that fills his tone. He doesn’t want Jo to know the jealousy he feels to this man.

 

“Teddy-”

 

“Don’t call me Teddy.” Laurie exclaims harshly. Jo gasps. Her eyes fill with new tears. Laurie looks away. Jo was the only person he allowed to call her that. Amy tried once, but he told her not to call him that. He wanted to hurt Jo, he knew stopping her from calling him that nickname would. But now that he sees the fear in her eyes, is that what he wanted? 

 

“Please… all of it meant nothing. It was a mistake. I’m sorry.” 

 

“Sorry isn’t enough Jo! Don’t you get it? You may not see it, but I can. I can see the love you have for him. And you may say the kisses meant nothing to you, but they meant something to me. You would never give yourself up that easily, Jo. Not unless you loved him.” Laurie’s tears fall freely now. He poured his heart out already. The tears just added to his words. He cries because he’s made his choice now.

 

“I have to let you go, Jo.” 

 

Jo’s perspective.

 

She takes a sharp breath in and steps backwards, catching herself on the fence behind her. She feels her hands dig into the wood, so much that her hands hurt from the splinters. But that doesn’t matter. The pain in her hands is nothing compared to the pain she feels from Laurie's words. 

 

“No. Teddy, no, please. You don’t have to let me go. All of this was a mistake, I swear! Please, just don’t do this. I won’t let you do this. Not for me!”

Laurie shakes his head. “Maybe some part of me is doing this for you. Because I don’t think I’m the man that you want. But I am also doing this for me. In that field years ago, you are the only person I will ever love. And I don’t doubt your love for me. But I can’t do this. I’ll always have some doubt in my mind that you love another more than me. Our relationship will suffer from my doubts, and paranoia, something an apology cannot mend. So for both of our sake, I’m letting you go, Jo. And you have to let me.”

 

Jo feels her face wet from the sobs that rack her body. She can’t let him give up that easily. They have been through so much together. It can’t be over that quickly. She still loves him, why can’t he see that. But she knows this isn’t true. He  knows she loves him. But is what he says about loving Fritz true? She doesn’t think it is, but then every time she says no, something inside her says yes.

 

“I’m sorry, Jo.” Laurie turns and walks away. Jo hates the sight. Laurie leaves her, walking away. 

 

“Teddy, wait-” She cuts herself off when he turns around. His expression shows his broken heart, the regret and sorrow he feels. 

 

“Goodbye, Jo.”

 

Jo wants to chase after him. Grab his arm and beg him. Do anything to stop him from leaving her. But her body refuses to move. After a moment, Jo crumples to the floor and sobs into her hands. She remembers when she sobbed over Beth. Teddy had been there to comfort her. She remembers him enveloping her into his arms, digging her wet face into his chest. She remembers him helping her get through her sadness and grief. He’s not here now. Laurie isn’t here to comfort her, dry her tears and hold her until she stopped crying. This thought makes her cry harder. 

 

Jo doesn’t know how much time has passed, but she sees the sun has gone down, so it must have been around two hours. She doesn’t want to move. She wants to stay by this fence post, never accepting reality. Jo shoves her face into her bent knees and closes her eyes, trying to block her thoughts out. She hears footsteps walking towards her. Her heat leaps at the thought it might be Laurie. The closer they get, the more she realizes the steps are delicate and light. Amy. 

“Jo?” She looks up from her lap at her name. Amy is standing above her. Jo can feel her face and eyes are red from crying. Her weeping had stopped, but tears were still in her eyes. The ones that wouldn’t go away. At the sight of her sister’s anxious face, Jo breaks down again, her tears replenished.

 

“Oh, Jo.” Amy kneels and wraps her arms around her older sister. Just another reminder to Jo that Amy has grown up from the teenager she used to be. Jo rests her head in Amy’s lap, while the latter brushed through her hair, whispering words of comfort. Once Jo had calmed down, Amy spoke.

 

“What happened, Jo?” Jo stiffened and sat up, composing herself. She sighed and told Amy the whole story. The entire thing, all the way to when she had heard Jo crying before, to now. It was a long story, and Jo had to pause for her occasional tears. Amy was still and silent all the way through. Finally, Jo finished. A long period of silence followed.

 

“He’s right, Jo.” Amy said, breaking the silence. Jo turned to look at her sister. What? 

 

“Right about what?” Jo questions.

 

“Laurie. He’s right about stepping back.” Jo whitened, and Amy continued. “Both of you needed time to sort through your feelings about this whole mess. And as Laurie says, you may say you know your feelings, Jo. But from experience, witnessing you and him, you really don’t.”

 

Jo’s stubbornness, despite the situation, flares. “I know my own feelings! What happened shouldn’t  have happened-” Jo’s cut off when Amy Exclaims,

 

“But it happened, Jo! And you have to come to terms with what’s happening now! These are the consequences for your actions, that you have to deal with!” Amy stops, and says in a calmer tone. “Jo, I will always be on your side, because you are my sister. But you need to understand that what you’ve done, what you’ve done, may have pushed Laurie to where he won’t come back. And if he does, it will never be as before. Do you understand that?” 

 

Jo nods somberly. She’s right, she needs to sort through all of this, and denying it won’t help. Jo stands and brushes off her skirt. “Thanks for being on my side.” Jo says, holding a hand for Amy to grab.

 

Amy takes her hand. “I know we never got along, but we’ll always be sisters, I’ll always love you. And I will always stand by you, even if you’re wrong, which you always are.” Jo elbows Amy in the ribs for her tease. Amy takes Jo’s arm and hooks it with her own, walking back to the March house together.

Chapter Text

Laurie's POV

As soon as Laurie walked away from Jo, he wanted to run back. He wanted to run to her and tell her it was okay. That they could still be together and live a happy life. That the events of the past few days were nothing, that it meant nothing. But he knew if he did that, all of it would be a lie. Being with her, staying there would not have been right to either of them. They both needed space and time to think. He still loves Jo, that’s the one thing he is sure about. He isn’t sure what to do with this knowledge, though. As much as Laurie loves her, he can’t be with her. His anger and his feelings of betrayal are too strong right now to be with Jo. But the part that still loves her, his hope, that tells him maybe someday it can work out. 

 

Laurie walks into the Laurence household and closes the door behind him. Maybe a little too harshly.  His grandfather is walking through the grand foyer holding a stack of papers as Laurie cringes from the loud sound from the door. His grandfather looks up, probably ready to scold him, but stops when he sees Laurie’s face. Covered with tear streaks, with new ones flowing out. His face is red, and his eyes red and puffy from crying. His hair’s disheveled from running his hands through it so many times, and his clothes are far from neat and proper. He isn’t normally a crier, mostly when something goes wrong he turns his hurt into anger, but this time it’s different.  Laurie tries to hold them back in front of his grandfather, but soon gives up because the tears are winning the battle.

 

His grandfather scrunched his eyebrows together, perplexed at the sight in front of him. He had never seen his grandson in this state before, crying with no restraint, angry, broken.

 

“What happened, my boy?” His grandfather questions, stepping forward. Laurie’s tears double as he thinks back to Jo. How hurt she was when he left her standing there, the way she could hear her sob as he left her behind. Laurie doesn’t know what to tell his grandfather. How does he tell him he walked away from the woman he loves, has loved since he was 15?

 

After debating about it for a second, he decides that being straightforward is best. “I left Jo.” Laurie mumbles, looking at the floor. Laurie had expected him to be shocked, angry even. But he just looks even more confused.

 

“Why?” He asks. Laurie doesn’t want to bring shame to Jo, but any reason he could come up with other than the truth, those were worse. So he told his grandfather what happened, everything that he knew. He even showed him the letter that was burning a hole in his pocket. Maybe letting it all out will help him. His grandfather isn’t the type to comfort and hug him, but Laurie can see that if he was, he would be right now. Even though he and his grandfather don’t agree on many things, Laurie loves him, and his grandfather loves Laurie. They just show it in different ways.

 

“I’m sorry, boy.” His grandfather says sympathetically. Laurie shrugs and wipes his tear-stained face, willing the tears to disappear. His grandfather puts down his papers on the table near him and walks closer to meet his grandson. 

 

“Laurie. Laurie, look up.” He doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to show his grandfather his weakness. After he still doesn’t look up, his grandfather grips his shoulders and forces him to look him in the eyes. “There is no shame in crying, Laurie. I never went through what you are going through, I’d say many haven’t, but any blind man can see that you love this March girl, and she loves you. So, what I ask is, why?”

 

Laurie shakes his head lightly. “I can’t look at Jo and think about her the same way. I look at her, and I see the letter. I see the professor. I see her and him together. I can’t get the thought out of my mind that she loves him. Because I know she does! I can just see it. She loves him, and I refuse to be an obstacle to her. I love Jo too much to put her through pain. So, I let her go. It was the best choice for both of us.”

 

Laurie’s grandfather is shaking his head. “You speak through anger and grief, Laurie. You are too sensible and love Jo too much to see her through that light. You won’t forget what’s happened, Laurie, and you probably never will. You say you see the letter, and her betrayal when you look at her. But can you get past that? Can you forgive Jo for this? I tell you, Laurie, that you need not forget, because this changes things, and it need not be the same. These events change your relationship with the March girl. But can you forgive her for all of her mistakes?”

 

“Grandfather-” Laurie cuts in, but his grandfather cuts him off.

 

“I’m not done. You are a stubborn boy, and I can tell you’ve gotten yourself to believe that she loves this man. And even if Jo does, she also loves you. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Your love for each other is strong and now is being tested. If you love Jo, truly, then you will forgive her with time. And if she loves you, she’ll be there waiting. Whatever you decide is up to you, but don’t leave her for the wrong reasons.” With that, his grandfather picks up his papers and turns to walk away, before he turns at the last minute. 

 

“Make the right choice for you, Laurie. If you go back to her, then you have to forgive her fully. And if you choose not to, then do it, but do it for you. Because any other reason will cause her and you both pain.” His grandfather left with those lingering words.

 

Will cause you both pain. Laurie walked to the window slowly and drew the curtains back just enough for him to peak out. He searched the area from where he had just been with Jo moments ago, and his eyes landed on the body crumpled to the floor. He could see her with her hands hugging her knees to her face. Her form was shaking, and she was rocking back and forth in her ball. The sight broke Laurie, and he quickly let go of the curtain and walked away from the window. Jo was crying because of him. He had caused Jo pain, just as she had to him. And as much as he wanted to run out and comfort her, his grandfather was right. He needed to go back when he had forgiven her.

 

Laurie walked through the large house, processing the advice given to him. His grandfather’s words ring through his ears. If you love Jo, then you will forgive her with time. And if she loves you, she’ll be there waiting. He doesn’t doubt Jo’s love, and even in his grief and anger, he hopes that Jo will be there waiting for him. With time. 

 

Three weeks later.

 

Laurie is walking out of the Laurence house and heading in the direction he hasn’t dared to walk in for a long time. It’s been almost a month since he last talked to Jo, or really anybody of the March family. He thought it best to distance himself entirely, less the chance of ruining things. During this time, Laurie had a lot of time to contemplate Jo. And what he will do. He found that he could slowly forgive Jo, although not yet fully. He was at the point where he wanted to talk with Jo. He’d missed her all these weeks, seeing her come out of the March household every so often. It seemed, like him, she stayed confined in her room, and the garret. He just hoped that she was there, for he had seen little of her these last few days, maybe even a week.

 

He knocked on the March’s door, and Amy’s smiling face appeared a moment after. She gasped when she saw who the guest was and jumped to hug him. “Laurie! We haven’t seen you in so long!” She exclaimed. He chuckled and gave her a brotherly hug. 

 

“Yes. I am sorry for my lack of visitation, I’ve just been, um, busy.” He wonders if she knows what happened between him and Jo. She nods her head and looks at him with sad eyes, so he assumes he does.

 

“Is that Laurie I hear?” Marmee rounds the corner from the kitchen a second after. Just like Amy, she smiles and comes to hug him. “Hello, my son.” She says kindly. He smiles when she calls him that. He always wanted a mother and missed his own experiences with one. Marmee felt like his own, and she treated him like he was part of the family, which he was grateful for.

 

“Hello, Marmee. You look well. I’m sorry for not visiting often these past weeks.” He said, releasing her from the hug and straightening to his full height. She smiled and nodded, her smile not quite making it to her eyes.

 

“Yes, I am well considering. It’s been a rough few weeks for us, as Jo’s temper was on edge more than usual. Would you know why? I thought it had something to do with your lack of being here, and Jo’s always been a little needy.” Marmee jokes, chuckling to herself. Laurie stiffens at the mention of Jo, but forces a smile. Amy must see his reaction and is quick to cut in.

 

“That’s just Jo being Jo. You know her, she was probably upset about something she’s writing.” Amy glances at Laurie with a barely visible smile, He gives her a thankful look in response.

 

Marmee laughs and shakes her head, saying “I love my daughter very much, but I’m glad to no longer have to tiptoe around the house anymore to avoid her temper, that is when she came out of the garret.” It confused Laurie. What did she mean she no longer had to?

 

“Where has Jo gone?” Laurie asked. His answer was silence. Amy gave him a sympathetic look, one that told him the truth before Marmee could even give her hesitant answer. 

 

“She-um, went to California with the money she got from Aunt March. She said she would see a-uh, friend.” Marmee said carefully. She didn’t seem to know what had happened between him and Jo, but she was observant enough to figure out that her leaving was not normal. It paralyzed Laurie with despair. California. She went to visit a friend. Laurie scoffed inwardly. Yeah, a friend. Jo had said she would use that money for good, to start something of herself. Apparently her professor was more important. It hurt Laurie to know why she had left. She didn’t love him enough to wait for him, and he wondered if she had ever been waiting for him.