Meg was sleeping at long last. John had finally been able to reclaim his babies from the arms of their doting aunts, and now Daisy was snuggled next to Demi in a dresser drawer that had been pulled out for the occasion–the little cot which they had intended to use back when they had only been expected one little bundle of joy sat empty for the time being. John had spent far longer than he realized just gazing at them, pausing to gently stroke Meg’s cheek with the back of his hand, to fix the blanket that Daisy had kicked loose, to run a hand through Demi’s hair, already thick and wild and the same exact color as his mother’s.
John Brooke hadn’t expected fatherhood to feel like this.
When he finally left the room and wandered into the kitchen, he had the strange sensation that he was floating, and he wasn’t entirely sure that it was just the lack of sleep. He was so caught up with his own thoughts that he didn’t even hear anyone else come into the kitchen until he heard a faint clearing of the throat from behind him.
“How are you feeling?” a now-familiar voice asked, and John turned to see his mother-in-law beaming at him from the doorway. “Do you need to sit down? Can I get you a glass of water. Or maybe…coffee?” she added with a mischievous grin–God, she looked exactly like Jo when she did that–when she noted John’s tiredness. He shook his head, still feeling slightly dazed.
“They’re beautiful,” he said breathlessly, knowing full well that he had said some variation of those exact words all night long. “They both are. Meg did so well…twins, who would have thought–”
“I admit I was taken by surprise too,” Marmee said evenly. “There weren’t too many hints given, or else I’ve lost my touch in my advancing age–”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” John said immediately, and Marmee grinned again to let him know that she had only been joking.
“It is certainly like a March to arrive in such surprising circumstances. Jo was born in the middle of one of the fiercest early snowstorms I’ve ever encountered–ten inches of snow in November!–and Amy chose to make her debut over a week later than expected and hasn’t been on time ever since. Having two at once, while a shock, isn’t exactly out of character for our family. I’m afraid you’re in for quite a wild ride, John.”
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” John said immediately, although he would never admit that just before she had joined him, his mind had been spinning with this new complication–the extra expense of another child, how Meg would fare with two babies on her own during the day instead of just one, whether the little Dovecote would be able to accommodate a family that was growing at a faster rate than he ever anticipated–
“It’s natural to worry,” Marmee said gently, placing a cool hand on top of his. “I promise, every new parent feels the same. You pick it up along the way, and you and Meg will help each other. And you’ll always have a houseful of aunts and one very, very eager grandmother at your beck and call, should you ever need our assistance.” Her smile was nearly as radiant as Meg’s in her joy at the new arrivals, and John swore he had never loved his mother-in-law more than at this moment.
“Thank you, Marmee,” he said, wishing he had the words to say all that he felt. Instead, he leaned forward to place kisses on both of her cheeks, in the European style that Amy favored so much, before wrapping his arms around her in a hug. “Thank you for everything.”
“You’re family, John. You’re a March now, through and through. You and Meg, and sweet little Demi and Daisy…you’re all going to be just fine.”