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Finally Together: Jo and Laurie

An Alternate Ending to the Little Women Classic

Finally Together: Jo and Laurie

Jo wrapped her cloak around her to ward off the chill of the late September air. She was rejected yet again by another publisher, but she decided to push herself to do another round with another story. 

As she trudged through the muddy streets of New York City, she thought about Professor Bhaer and wondered how he was doing. She had seen him, once, after Beth had passed. Her heartache over the loss of her dear sister kept her heart closed to whatever Professor Bhaer’s sad eyes and yearning looks were offering.

He is better off out West. Frank and Emil will keep him company, she reassured herself. Though time has made her realize that whatever feelings she had for the professor were not based on a solid foundation, she still felt pangs of melancholy thinking about the prospect of her life as a spinster.

Beth was gone. Meg had John. Amy was engaged to Laurie. Jo was destined to be alone. Alone and unsuccessful.

After Beth’s demise, Jo returned to the city and found another boarding house to stay in. Though this was near Mrs. Kirke’s own boarding house, Jo could no longer return to her old position; she had stayed too long in Massachusetts. Her new home was owned by a kind lady named Mrs. Needham. Unlike her previous situation, Jo no longer had a governess job to rely on. She needed to make her writing career work. Very soon, she would have to resume writing her romance stories, if only to pay for her expenses.

“Were you successful today, dearie?” Mrs. Needham looked up from her embroidery; her corpulent figure sat in comfort in an armchair by the foyer.

“Unfortunately not. ‘The Adventures of Captain Apollo’  will need to wait another day,” Jo reported regretfully. “I have other stories that are more promising; I can submit them to publishers I had some success with previously. You will get your rent.”

“Oh, I’m not worried,” Mrs. Needham assured her. “You are a very talented young writer. Someone is bound to notice that sooner or later!”

“I hope so,” Jo sighed. She settled herself beside Mrs. Needham and looked at her ink-stained fingers. “I mean to write a letter to Marmee tonight. I was hoping to give her some good news.”

At those words, Mrs. Needham suddenly put down her embroidery and collected an envelope from the table beside her. “I almost forgot. Here’s a letter from Massachusetts.”

Jo greedily took the letter and excused herself. “You know how I look forward to getting news from home!”

Mrs. Needham waved her away with an understanding look. “Go ahead, dear.”

Ensconced in the privacy of her bedroom, she made quick work of opening the letter. She sat on her bed facing the window, grateful that there was still some light left for her to fully appreciate each and every word. She recognized Meg’s flowing scrawl.

Dear Jo,

I hope you are feeding yourself properly there! We are all well. Marmee has taken on a project at the town hall — of course. She is not our Marmee if she has not made herself busy and useful somehow.

As I write this, little Daisy is beside me insisting that I tell you she loves you and that she has a pretty pink ribbon. Demi is here as well and wants to ensure you know that he knows his ABC’s. Please ensure you congratulate them both properly in your next letter home.

I write today because I have some news — news that I am unsure you would hear of directly from the concerned parties. It seems that our dear Amy has broken off her engagement to Laurie! I do not know how Aunt March or Mr. Laurence had received the news of the broken engagement. Aunt March, I believe, would have been very disappointed. Amy wrote that she believed neither of them entered the engagement with the right intention — she was sad and he was eager to be useful and to show his grandfather how responsible he was. Regardless, it is now completely over, or so Amy says.

Laurie is quite bereft, apparently, and had taken a boat back to America. Mr. Laurence had thought it appropriate to assign him to another office where the source of his despondency can at least be farther away. Amy and Aunt March will stay in France a while longer.

What an unmitigated disaster! I wonder if this should change our relationship with Mr. Laurence, who has been the most excellent neighbor and benefactor.

I do not know if this news should distress you. You seemed happy enough and content enough when you learned of their engagement. Write back of your feelings since I wish to know if you received this news well.

We give you our love!


Jo dropped the letter on her bed and stared at the window dumbfounded. This was unexpected! She had been quite content to think of Amy and Teddy together in wedded bliss. In some ways, it was a very suitable match. Teddy needed someone who would be presentable and would know how to properly conduct themselves in his social sphere. Amy needed the security and comfort wealth provided, and she would have delighted in the status a marriage with Teddy would have given her.

Jo sighed. Perhaps it was just as well that Amy realized this; before it could have gotten any further.

She thought of poor Teddy. To be spurned by two March women! He did not deserve such treatment from them. She loved Teddy, but he was too much like a boy when he had expressed his desire to marry her. She had preferred someone more like Professor Bhaer — he had the gravitas that appealed to her.

She did miss him, however. There were nights she dreamt of his open boyish face as they raced together across a meadow, or when they threw snowballs at each other. He reminded her of a happier time — a time when Beth was still alive.

A month later, Jo was busy writing a most passionate romance story. It wasn’t her best work, but she knew the formula. This, she knew, would get published and she can finally pay her rent. That should provide her with enough rent to at least cover two weeks, after which she would need to seek steady employment again. She enjoyed working as a governess, but she liked writing more.

She was deep into her manuscript when she heard Mrs. Needham’s distinctive quick raps at her door.

“You have a gentleman caller, dearie. I have left him at the front parlour,” she called out.

Jo wiped her hands quickly at the ink-stained rag she kept beside her writing desk. It was useless. She would need spirits to take it out and she did not have the time.

“Coming, Mrs. Needham,” she said loudly. “Who is he?”

“He said his name is Laurence.”

Jo gasped. Is it Teddy?

She ignored the mirror, opened her door, and almost knocked over Mrs. Needham who waited behind it.


“There’s no need to rush, dear. I left him with a pot of tea and some fairy cakes. He is quite comfortable, I assure you.”

Jo found him in the parlour as promised. He sipped his tea though he had yet to touch the iced fairy cakes on the table.

“Teddy!” she exclaimed, holding out her arms as she entered the room.

He put his saucer down, stood, and grasped her hands. “Oh, Jo!” He immediately took her into his arms and gave her a tight embrace. He then held her away from him and inspected her. “Why, Jo, you have changed. Have you been eating?”

“Of course I have! Look at those cakes that Mrs. Needham serves here!”

Jo, in turn, let her eyes roam around his face and figure, taking in the new lines around his eyes and the chisel of his jaw. This was not the face that filled her dreams — this was a man’s face.

“And you, Teddy. Are you well?”

“As well as can be. You heard about Amy and me?”

“I did,” she admitted. “I was disappointed for you both.”

“I was as well, but after my long journey across the Atlantic, I have had enough time to think about it. Amy was right. We were in it for the wrong reasons.” He shrugged his broad shoulders. (Were they always that broad? ) “C’est la vie. I am home now; I have been working at our New York office this past week. As soon as I received your address from Meg, I came right away.” He squeezed her hands. 

“How great it is to see you, Jo!”

She smiled fondly at him. Despite his sad serious eyes, she still saw mischief in them.

“Now that you are in New York, what fun we could have!” she declared.

“What fun indeed! Please, let me take you out today. There is a concert. Droll stuff, but they have a nice restaurant just beside it. Please?”

“Of course! You’ll have to give me time to prepare. It may take some time to get the ink off my hands.”

Laurie noticed her fingers for the first time. He gave a hearty laugh. “Still the same as always, dearest Jo. I heard you’ve been writing some more. How is it? Are you dazzling New York’s publishers with your talent yet?”

“Not at all. They haven’t recognized my talents, despite my efforts to show them.”

“Pay them no mind. You write like Edgar Allan Poe! They are the ones missing out!”

Jo felt herself warm at Laurie’s compliments. She knew she could count on him to lift her spirits.

“If you insist on paying me such compliments, then I may have to ensure you see me at regular intervals to keep my morale up,” she laughed.

“Whatever you need, Jo,” he assured her. “I will compliment you til your heart’s content. Tonight. Wear something nice!”

“Could you not have picked a livelier concert for us to watch?” Jo complained as they settled into the restaurant.

Jo looked around her. She had never spent time in such an establishment! The room was covered in candlelight and the tables had thick white linen and shiny silverware to adorn it.

Laurie, at ease in his surroundings, leaned back and gave her a lopsided grin. “It wasn’t so bad. It suits my melancholy.”

“Are you still feeling low? About Amy?”

“No, not about Amy. Just about how my life is going, I suppose.”

“I think you have a lot to be proud of.” Jo put a comforting hand on top of Laurie’s. He looked at her gratefully as he turned his hand and opened his palm. Jo’s slender warm hand fit perfectly into his.

“I have never seen you so self-assured. And your work, the way you discussed it with me earlier… There is a lot to be proud of, Teddy.”

“Thank you. I suppose things happen for a reason; for the moment, I intend to put all my focus into learning grandfather’s business and being as much help as I can. He intends to leave it to me and I would not want to disappoint him anymore than I already have.”

“I hope you’ll still have time for an old friend.” Jo pretended to pout before giving him a wide grin.

“All the time I can spare, Jo! All the time I can spare!”

The fall months quickly flew by. Soon, signs of the upcoming holiday could be seen in every street. Jo was enjoying herself immensely.

After speaking with Laurie at length about her options and the way she had been supporting herself, she came to the conclusion that she would rather write what she wanted to write than to pander to pay her bills. Laurie introduced her to a family friend who ran a small school. They needed a teacher for the younger children for half the day. Jo’s animated storytelling made her popular with her students and their antics provided her writing with lots of fodder.

Despite working and writing, Jo managed to set aside one weekday evening and a Sunday a week to spend time with Laurie. Finally, she didn’t feel so alone and so homesick in New York.

She was amazed at the changes she saw in him. She saw how focused he was and how intent he was to make his grandfather proud. Where he used to lead a life purely for himself, he now thought also about the workers in his charge. This responsibility made him more considerate and thoughtful. She was glad to see that he maintained his sense of humour however. In those moments, he was still Teddy to her.

His mood had improved considerably in the months they had been spending time together as well. Soon he was able to mention Amy’s name without a tinge of sadness or embarrassment.

“What are your plans for Christmas?” Jo asked one Sunday as they walked through a park. She herself was expected back in Massachusetts for the holidays. She realized that the prospect of separation was making her anxious.

“I had no plans. I was going to stay in New York. Are you heading home?”

“That was the plan,” Jo admitted. “I hate the thought of you spending it alone here in New York.”

“I will be fine.”

They continued on in silence. When they reached the entrance of the park where Laurie had left his carriage, they heard someone call out, “Mr. Laurence! Mr. Laurence!”

Laurie turned around. “Why Mrs. and Miss Carlton! What a pleasant surprise!”

Jo turned as well. She spied a woman dressed in the frilliest of materials followed by a much younger woman, perhaps their age, dressed in all white and covered by a thick ermine coat. Miss Carlton was a beauty! Jo admitted as much to herself.

“Mr. Laurence, how pleased we are to see you,” Mrs. Carlton tittered. “Aren’t you glad to see him, Lavinia?”

“Indeed I am. Mr. Laurence, I hope you are well,” Miss Carlton said in her smooth voice. “I admit I was disappointed when I did not see you at the Collinses’ supper ball the other night.”

“I had to work late, unfortunately,” he replied. “But where are my manners!” He motioned for Jo to come forward. “This is Miss Josephine March, a very dear childhood friend. Jo, this is Mrs. Carlton and Miss Lavinia Carlton.”

Jo bobbed a curtsy. “Pleased to meet you both.”

“And we are pleased to meet any friend of Mr. Laurence’s, aren’t we, Lavinia?”

“We are indeed,” she responded, even though she didn’t look pleased at all. The society miss eyed Jo from the top of her lopsided hat to her worn-out leather boots. Jo fought an inclination to cringe at the less-than-amicable assessment.

“Well, we won’t keep you,” Laurie said, bowing to the pair. “But perhaps we shall see each other in one of the many Christmas-themed events.”

“I hope we do,” Lavinia said throatily, batting her eyelashes at Laurie.

When the two women had walked towards their own carriage, Jo frowned. She recognized the uncomfortable feeling at the pit of her stomach. She felt jealousy! Why should she be jealous?

Laurie took her home with a promise to see her one more time before she left for Massachusetts. When Jo returned to her room, she dropped her reticule on her table and collapsed on the bed. Staring at the worn ceiling, she asked herself, “Are you in love with Teddy?”

She realized then that, in the course of a few months, her feelings for Laurie had transformed. She had always loved him, but his transformation had made her fall in love with him. Perhaps time and living their own separate experiences for a while was all that was needed to force this transformation; whatever the cause, she was in love with him now. She knew that she enjoyed his little touches — a hand on her elbow or on the small of her back. She felt giddy whenever she came home after time spent with him. She knew that she looked forward to the days she would see him again. She knew that she had noticed the dashing figure he presented in his fine tailored suits. She also knew that she wanted to spend Christmas with him…this year’s and every year moving forward.

Upon admitting her feelings to herself, she was seized with a sudden panic. She had rejected him once before. Her own sister had walked away from him as well. What motivation would he have to return her feelings?

She could not quash her feelings of unease. Now that she knew her own mind, there was a chance that “happily ever after” would still be out of reach. She had a fitful sleep that night; when she awoke, she was not improved.

“What is wrong, my dear? Are you ill?” Mrs. Needham asked over the breakfast table.

“I am quite well,” Jo answered. Mrs. Needham looked at her with doubt, noticing Jo’s fidgeting of the table linen.

“If you say so,” Mrs. Needham acquiesced.

Jo decided to take a walk after breakfast, despite the light powder that fell from the sky. Soon she found herself in front of a large modern brick mansion, Laurie’s house. She climbed its stone steps and rang the bell on the door. His butler answered the door.

“May I see Mr. Laurence, please,” Jo asked.

“Miss March! It is very early; fortunately, he hasn’t left for the office yet.” The butler ushered her inside and led her to an eastern facing parlour. A soft glow bathed the room.

After a few minutes of waiting, she heard Laurie’s long strides come down the stairs and through the hallway.

“Jo!” he exclaimed with concern in his voice. “Is anything the matter?”

“I— I was wondering if you could consider going home to Massachusetts with me,” she stammered awkwardly. “You’ll be alone in this big house; it’s not even decorated for Christmas. Wouldn’t you want to see everyone again?”

He peered at her curiously. “I…Is that it?”

Jo breathed in. She knew that, at this moment, she had to be the one to declare first. “I wanted you to spend Christmas…with me. I want you with me, Teddy.”

He looked at her with confusion. “I don’t understand.”

“Are you trying to make me say it, you oaf?!” she huffed in frustration.

“You’ll have to speak plainly, Jo.”

“Remember what you confessed to me a long time ago?”

“Yes,” he answered carefully. “I remember.”

“I did not feel like you did then. But,” she emphasized, “I feel it now. I don’t know how and when it happened. You know I’ve always cared about you, but somehow it has grown into something deeper and so much more.”

“Are you saying you love me?” he asked, his face all-seriousness.

She pushed his shoulder in frustration. “Fine! You are making me say it first! I love you!”

He stared at her for a moment. He was so still and quiet that Jo could hear the pounding of her heart in her ears.

“Well it’s a good thing I still feel the same way, Josephine March,” he finally said.

Jo looked at him, flabbergasted. “Are you serious, Teddy? You are not jesting me?”

“A moment with you, and all those feelings I have had for you all these years came rushing back. But I didn’t want to scare you away. I thought, if I cannot have you as a wife, then I would have you any way I can,” he admitted, staring into her eyes. “You would not marry me then, but would you be willing to marry me now?”

“I would never make a flawless wife. I will argue with you and I will probably make a bad hostess. I will keep writing and I would still like more of my work to be published one day; I might even want to be published in my own name. My fingers will forever be ink-stained, and I might get along with the boys more than I would with the silly girls that attend your parties. Will you still have me even now?”

“I would still have you even if you promise to be all those things and more,” Laurie answered loyally.

He raised a warm hand and cupped Jo’s cheek. Jo rubbed her cheek against his palm.

“I want to marry you, Jo. I want to spend my life with you.”

“Then yes, Teddy. I will marry you,” she finally answered, leaning forward. Laurie took this as an invitation to finally give her a kiss.

No one at the March household was surprised to see Laurie accompany Jo. They had seen from both their missives that much time was spent together. However, everyone was very surprised to hear their announcement that they had decided to wed. Amy, who had arrived home with Aunt March weeks before, smiled at the news and admitted that she had her own secret to share with the family. Fred Vaughn had reconnected with her after the end of her short engagement and their friendship has blossomed enough to lead to a betrothal as well. He was to return back to America for the wedding after the holiday season.

On Christmas Day, Jo, Meg and Amy stood hand-in-hand in front of Beth’s final resting place to give her the good news. Though Beth did not stand with them, they felt her spirit amongst them. On this day, the March sisters were together again.

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