Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Eight: Five Years Later

Elouise Laurence scurried around, tidying up and preparing luggage for their surprise trip. Both her and her husband were off to Mississippi to visit the March's, and of course celebrate Jo March's twenty seventh birthday. They were all almost thirty now, how old the thought made her feel. They were just children when they first met, how long ago a time that was.

"Laurie!" Elouise called from the living room, fluffing a few pillows to move her hands, trying to ease her nerves. It would be almost two years since they were back home, she wondered what the March's would think to see them again. "We must get going, we cannot miss the train!"

They were only a few hours away, having travelled the day before. Laurie assured her that they needed to take a break, finding a beautiful lodge by the river. Elouise still wasn't used to the beautiful views of the places they travelled, or the large rooms of the places they stayed. She always asked Laurie to, if he could and wanted, to choose a place more small and cozy. Not everything needed to be big and luxurious, even if that was all he was used too. He was always surprising her with gifts, for the most part only because she never spent a dime unless it was of ones she made. She had a closest back at their residence in Italy full of fancy dresses but she always found herself in the faded blue one Meg had given her all those years ago.

"I am ready." He came out of nowhere, holding his bag in one hand. He smiled, staring over at her. "You look lovely."

Elouise rolled her eyes, "You're a charmer, Laurence."

"I was good enough to snag you."

She chuckled, collecting her own bag and shuffled to the door. He appeared behind her and opened it for her, she thanked him and made her way out. "You've managed to keep your younger wits, I might say."

"And so have you."

Elouise smiled over at him, "We keep each other young."

"Yes, as there are no others to watch over." He chuckled, "I'm beginning to feel a little older though."

Elouise brought her attention to her feet, a frown forming on her face. She knew he wanted children, but Elouise wasn't sure if she was ready— or the large fact that it seemed the world doomed her of the possibly. By twenty-six, her cousin had four children with one on the way, as well as Meg who began a year after her marriage to John Brooke. Laurie was a few years older than her, she was still only twenty six and if they did want children, she supposed their time was running out.


She blinked, glancing to her side at Laurie who gave a concerned look, "Yes?"

Laurie studied his wife, pursing his lips. "We should be at Jo's academy before dinner."

"Hopefully so." She brought a smile to her face, "Amy and Meg are supposedly there as well with John and Fred. I cannot wait to see them all."

Laurie nodded, "I'm sure it will be lovely."

They walked in silence down the many steps of their accommodation before finding their carriage waiting for them. He opened up the door and helped her in while the driver took their luggage and placed them in the trunk. Laurie closed the door gently behind him, taking a seat across from her.

"You know I would like children, right?" She glanced over at him, "It's only I'm beginning to believe it's not possible."

"I know."

"I know you would love them, I really do, I just feel as if god is playing a mighty trick on us." She told him, knowing full well her missing two months of her cycle wasn't a coincidence. But every time that happened it was a false alarm, it truly felt as if the world was laughing at her. "It's not as if we haven't been trying—"

"Elouise." He leaned over, scooping her hands up and holding them tightly. "It does not matter to me if we have children or not. I see it in your eyes you feel guilt, but there is nothing to feel guilty about. If it happens, we shall celebrate and if it does not we continue to travel and live our lives to our highest desire. It does not matter as long as you are by my side until the end."

Elouise took a deep breath nodding, "Until the end."

He leaned back, a small smile playing at his lips. "Sometimes I still can't believe you said yes."

She rolled her eyes, "I almost let you walk away, remember. I was foolish."

"What's with us always calling each other fools?"

"I suppose it's because we are, Mr Laurence."

He chuckled, "I suppose we are, Mrs Laurence."

Elouise smiled, a genuine one which was always easy to come by. She smiled at everything and everyone, "I like the way that sounds."

"Good, you're stuck with it for eternity."

When the carriage finally came to a stop, the door propped open and Laurie jumped out, offering a hand as she gracefully leaped next to him. The door closed and the driver picked up their luggage, "Do you have other appointments today, sir?" She questioned.

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded, he looked to be barely seventeen. "But I am more than happy to bring your luggage up to your platform."

Elouise shook her head, "We can take our own luggage, it's all alright."

The boy looked between the two, stopping at Laurie. Elouise was always used to this, being a woman and all. Especially now that she was married, whoever she was speaking with would always turn to him for the final answer.

"Come on." Laurie flashed a smile, "Hand them over."

The boy set them carefully on the ground, Elouise motioned for him to wait as she dug through her pockets. She pulled out a handful of coins and handed them to the boy, his eyes were wide before thanking them profusely as he jumped back up onto his seat and grabbed the straps, the horses galloped into action.

They each picked up their own bag and walked towards the station, they hadn't brought much. Both carried a small bag, nothing they couldn't handle.

"You are very kind." Laurie glanced at her, "I wish I was more like that."

"You are the kindest man I've ever met, Laurie."

He shook his head, "When I was a child, I was not so kind. But I grew up, and for the better."

Elouise moved closer to him, falling into comfortable silence. When they found their train, Laurie pulled their tickets from his pocket and handed them to the greeter. He nodded and ushered them in, Laurie snagged her bag and put them away over top of them next to his. They sat down, Elouise against the window staring out.

"I cannot wait to see my mother as well." Elouise nodded, "I'm very grateful for your grandfather, letting her stay with him in that large house."

"He never had many friends. I'm glad he found one in Mrs Myer."

"I'm glad she does not have to deal with my father any longer." She nodded, "I hope he lives the rest of his days in sorrow and suffering for all he's done. Not just to my mother, but to everyone he's conned."

Laurie raised a brow, "I'm not quite sure how you could be his daughter. Do not get me wrong, I'm sure your father has kindness within him but the few times I've been in his presence have not been well."

"I wish he was more like your grandfather, that man is unbelievably swell."

He broke out into swift laughter, leaning forward a few curls covered his eyes. Elouise grinned, reaching over and moving them away.

"I haven't heard you use that word before." He calmed, "I'm not sure why I found it so funny."

Elouise shrugged, "Perhaps I'm a funny person."

"Remember last year, while we were moving through Rome?" He questioned, eyes trained on hers. "We were walking down one of the cobbled streets and you spotted a rose vine growing up against the building."

"Yes" She nodded, remembering her embarrassment.

"You reached out and snapped off a rose, explaining that it was for me because that's what couples supposedly did. Three thorns jabbed you and you threw it at me in a panic, one hit my face and next thing I knew my cheek was bleeding."

"I wouldn't stop apologizing."

"And you went to wipe the blood of my face with your own bloody hand which did not end well."

She nodded, cheeks flushing. "You laughed for what felt like forever. I thought you might suffocate from lack of air, you were almost on the ground."


Elouise sighed, "You would have liked that particular rose."

"What about the other time, when we were visiting Amy in Paris. We were all watching her teach a painting class when a girl spilt paint on her dress, she went into a panic because it was new and her mother spent a fortune on it. You told her not to worry, went inside and gave her one of your own to keep." He leaned back, "She cried even more then."

"Her name was Abigail." Elouise nodded, "I remember. Amazing artist, gifted that girl is."

Laurie pursed his lips, "You have another appointment with Doctor Erwin?"

"Yes. It's later, since he managed to squeeze me in. Ten o'clock tonight."

He gave her a reassuring smile, "Shall I join you?"

"No, stay home. Spend some time with your grandfather, he's growing ill and you need to be with him."

"Are you positive?"

She nodded, "If I wasn't I would not say such things."

"Do the March's know we are coming?"

"Meg does, the others do not. She thought it would be a pleasant surprise if we kept it a secret. Jo and Amy believe we are visiting my hometown for a month."

"I cannot wait to get there."

Elouise smiled, the thought of seeing her family again thrilled her. She missed them dearly. "Neither can I."


They were quick to drop off their things at Mr Laurence's before rushing off to Aunt March's old estate, considering it was now Jo's since the woman's passing. Elouise couldn't contain herself as they approached the large building, she could hear children's shouts and laughs coming from behind it. Laurie grasped her hand tightly as they turned and walked around the building, both smiling at what their friend had accomplished.

Amy saw them first, with a childlike squeal she placed her paintbrush down and ran towards them. Elouise couldn't help but throw her arms around the girl, "I thought you two were in—"

"No, we are not." Laurie chuckled from beside them, Amy let go and turned to him. "What, did I not get a hello?"

Amy hugged him next, followed by a small child who clung to her side.

"And who is this?" Laurie knelt down, waving to the boy.

"This is Fredrick." Amy nodded, "Just turned four."

"Hello." Laurie smiled, "It's nice to meet you."

"Fred has Sophia, she's only just a baby and is the quietest little girl I've ever seen. Thank goodness, I've had enough sleepless nights."

Elouise nodded slowly, "Is Meg around?"

"She should be inside with Jo." Amy replied, "Marmee is around somewhere as well."

Laurie lead her to the looming home, they shuffled by children running out the back door towards the field. They found Jo in the living room, throwing logs into the dancing fire.

"Well, if it isn't Jo March." Elouise beamed, the woman turned and smiled.

"I thought you were away."

"No." She shook her head, "We missed you all so much we just had to come right away."

Jo stood up straight and brushed off her dress, her hair was pinned up at the back with clips keeping the wispy pieces at bay. She looked the same, only older.

"Happy Birthday!" Elouise clapped, "You can't think we forgot, can you?"

The other woman snorted, "I think Amy did."

Laurie stepped forward, "I see you still have your sense of humour."

"And you're still a pain in my—"

"Hello!" Marmee's voice echoed, cutting off her daughter as she strolled into the room. She looked much older than the last time Elouise saw her, age was definitely nicking at the woman. "You both look so well! How has your travels been?"

"Incredible!" Laurie beamed, "Especially with this one."

Elouise rolled her eyes, "It's nice to see you again, Marmee."

She wrapped her arms around the older woman, a smile on her face as she remembered her days staying at her household. If it wasn't for her kindness, who knows where Elouise would have ended up.

When they separated Meg sauntered into the living room, John followed close behind. "Brooke!" Laurie shouted, giving the man a hand shake.

"Meg!" Elouise cheered, both exchanging a quick hug. "You both look wonderful."

They shared a smile, Meg also looked more drained from the last time she saw her. John looked just as tired, but when they looked at each other everything seemed to vanish and all she could see was love.

"I can't believe Jo is another year older!" Meg clapped, "You'll never catch up to me."

"Ah yes, my one foot is deeper in the grave."

Elouise snorted, "I'm only a year behind."

"And I'm much further ahead." Marmee joked.

Meg scolded her mother, telling her not to think such things while everyone else, including Marmee shared a laugh. They stood in the living room, falling into silence that they were all so used to now. Amy wrote to her when both her and Laurie left, telling her how quiet the March household had gotten without Meg and now more than ever, Beth. It was difficult to not hear Meg's cheers and laughs in the morning and Beth's lovely piano playing the March sister's missed so much. Elouise kept every letter any of the women ever sent, keeping them safe in a box in her closet.

"You've done a wonderful job here, Jo." Elouise finally said, breaking the small blip of silence.

"Thank you." She nodded, "I'm glad I did it. Oh! Let me show you two around, it will be fun!"

Jo grabbed ahold of her hands and lead her further into the house, when Laurie didn't follow they both turned and shot him a weird look. "You're much slower now than before." Jo said, "Is it old age—"

"I'm coming!" He shouted jokingly, rushing after them. Jo showed them around the entire estate, explained what each room was, what subject was taught and every little secret she knew of the place. When Aunt March died, she left everything behind. Almost everything in the house was still original or was transformed into something new for the school to use. It was incredible what she had managed to create, and create it so perfectly. All of her sisters helped out, including their husbands when they were working their own jobs or taking care of their little ones. When the tour was finished and they made it outside, standing on the pathway to the front door Laurie suddenly jumped, "What's the time?"

"Almost dinner, why do you ask?" Jo questioned, raising a brow.

"I must be going." He said quickly, planting a kiss on Elouise s cheek. "I will see you tomorrow Jo, at your party. And you Elouise, tonight at the manor."

He ran down the path and didn't stop until he was out of sight, both women stared down where he vanished with confused looks.

"What was that all about?" Jo looked to her.

"I'm not sure." Elouise answered truthfully, "I haven't seen him run like that in years."

Jo chuckled, guiding her back inside. "How long are you sticking around for?"

"A week, hopefully more." She told her, "You're all here and so is my mother and Laurie has his grandfather here— I love it when we come home."

"It's nice to know you think of this place as your home."

Elouise nodded, fiddling with the ends of her hair. She let it grow long, now it almost reached her hips, now dark brown, nearly black. "I'm forever grateful for your mother, Jo. And all four of you girls."

"Have you not met Beth?"

Elouise blinked, "Pardon?"

Jo chuckled, now leading her away once again. "Meg had another daughter." Jo explained, "Named her Beth, in honour of ours."

When they found Meg, she was outside with John, playing with two little children. Two older ones laughed around them, a teenage boy and girl to match the little ones. "Quite the family."

"I'm glad she'll never be alone." Jo nodded, "That she will always have someone by her side. Wether it be John or her children, someone will always be there."

Elouise pursed her lips, "I'm afraid I may not be able to have children."

Jo turned and looked at her with wide eyes, "What?"

"I shouldn't have said that." Elouise shook her head, "My bad, it just slipped out and I haven't had anyone to talk to about it."

"You can trust me." Jo told her, motioning to a set of chairs placed in a circle towards the back entry. They sat next to each other, Jo watching the other woman with curiosity. "Do you want to have children?"

"I mean— yes, I suppose. I know Laurie wants them dearly, and we've been trying but nothing has happened. Maybe it's me? I'm not sure, but I'm worried I won't be able to give this to him. He's done so much for me—"

"You do not have children because someone has done much for you, or as a form of giving back. You have them because you want them, and you know you'll love them with all your heart. I know I will never have children, and sometimes I do think about what my life could have been like if I met someone and had them, but I haven't." Jo stared at her, "You know if you want kids or not, Elouise. You would make the best mother, you can ask Meg, she'd be helpful with questions like this."

"She would tell me to not be worried. That it's not scary, that it's wonderful and it's made her life whole. I can hear her speech in my mind."

"You do not do this for Laurie, you do this for both of you." Jo took a deep breath, "I'd appreciate it if you'd name one after me."

Elouise broke out into smile, "I must be going then. I have a doctors appointment later today and perhaps he'll get me in early."

"An appointment for what?"

She stood up, straightening out her dress. "I've had false hope before, missing things that are supposed to be there every month and such. But it was never good news, just my body playing tricks on me. Perhaps this time it will not be a trick."

Jo gave her a small smile, "Go, and bring me back good news."

"You're very wise." Elouise chuckled, "But I suppose that comes with old age."

She heard Jo groan as she rushed out of the school, she'd walk back to the manor and ride one of Mr Laurence's many horses into town. Doctor Erwin was supposed to meet her at the manor, but she was to excited to wait. Elouise always managed to get herself wild up, already excited and thrilled for things not to be. Would this be another one of those moments? To add to all the ones before.

The sun was setting by the time Elouise checked off all her stops and made it to town, she left the horse she'd name Ruby and walked to the front door. With four knocks it flew open, revealing an older grey haired man.

"Mrs Laurence? Aren't I supposed to be meeting you later during the evening?"

"Yes, and my apologies for arriving unexpectedly and very early." She rushed, "But if you had time I was wondering if we could do the tests now. All of them."

He pursed his lips, and Elouise swore she could hear the time as if it was a clock, ticking away in the moments of silence it took for him to answer.

"I suppose." He ushered her in, "It won't take long."

Elouise thanked him, waiting as he lead her through his office towards the back room. He told her to sit and she did, he grabbed a stack of papers and a writing tool and asked a series of questions before performing a series of tests. Elouise couldn't help but be nervous, hoping that maybe this time fate would not play with her. It felt like forever for Doctor Erwin to return, a grim look on his face as he took up her file again and scribbled things down.

Elouise's heart sank, she was foolish to think anything could have changed.

"I have some news, Mrs Laurence." He looked over at her, "Good or bad, you can choose which one it is."

"I don't understand." She blinked slowly, her hands fiddled with the lace of her dress.

"Is Mr Laurence not coming?"

"What is it, Doctor?"

He broke out into a smile, she forgot he'd known Laurie since his was a child. He was only playing, a joke she wanted the punchline too.

"Twins. A boy and a girl."

The world seemed to stop, Elouise stared wide eyed at the Doctor, not believing the news. Finally some good news— she couldn't believe it.

"You're two months along, so no more drinking if you've been at all. I'm sure you know the rest."

Elouise jumped up, "Thank you— thank you for taking me in early but I really must go find Laurie!"

"Have a wonderful evening."

She burst out of the house at record speed, finding Ruby and mounting the animal swifter than she ever did before. Elouise tore through the town, excitement and happiness bubbling up within her. It finally happened. She was going to have children, and for some reason felt more ready then ever.

Laurie was waiting outside the manor when she returned, an amused smile on his face. "Off on an adventure?"

Elouise snorted as Ruby came to a stop, she slipped off gracefully and a man she didn't recognize came forward and took the animal from her. Laurie grinned, "I have a carriage ready to take both of us to a surprise location."

"A surprise?" Elouise raised a brow, "Before we go, I must tell you something—"

"Shh, wait, I would really like you to see it. I've been holding it back for years—" He cut himself off, face telling her he said to much. Instead he grabbed her hands and lead her around the house, their ride waiting for them. He carefully opened the door and helped her in, like he always did, and took the same seats across from each other. It was like a routine, always doing the same little stuff over again.

"So, what is this surprise?"

The carriage kicked into motion and they were off, "If I told you than it wouldn't be a surprise, would it? Besides, it's not to far from here."

Elouise leaned towards the window, staring out as they made their way down the gravelled road. It was a rather long ride, noticing the way the were going was the same way she used when Jo picked her up from her grandmothers house in 1861. When they finally stopped, Laurie was bubbling with energy. He leaped to the ground, boots landing with a small thud. Elouise followed suit, a small laugh escaping her lips as he caught her. A hand raised and covered her eyes, he pressed her back up against him as they slowly began walking.

"This is where my grandmother used to live, isn't it?" Elouise couldn't help but ask.

"I figured you remembered the way."

"You were correct."

They walked a bit more before they came to a stop, he held her tight before letting go. His hand fell away and when her eyes landed on what was in front of her she gasped.

It was a house. A farmhouse, like Mrs Gibson, the woman she used to do work for, but much smaller. It looked to be the size of the March household, but it was painted white and had a wrap around porch with seats and planters already set up.

"Our home." Laurie whispered, eyes bright. "Close to my grandfather and your mother and of course the March's. A place where we can be alone and call our own."

Elouise turned and looked up at him, engulfing him into a hug. "I cannot believe you did this."

"I remembered what you said that day we were here, about where you wanted to maybe stay and what your home would perhaps look like if you could choose."

They parted, tears blurred her eyes. "How many bedrooms?"

"Three." Laurie nodded, "I thought that was a good number. For guests or for any others who might—"

"Twins." She blurted out.

He froze, "What?"

Elouise grabbed the collar of his shirt, "A boy and a girl. Ours. It's finally happening."

His face broke out into a large smile, one she'd never witnessed before. His eyes shone against the sun, he wrapped his arms around her and picked her up in joy. "Elouise! My dear Elouise, I cannot believe it!"

He set her down, hands finding hers and holding on tight. "How- how far along?"

"A couple months."

"This is incredible news!" He pulled her up to the porch, pulling out a set of keys from his pocket and jammed them into the front door. When it opened he yanked her inside and practically dragged her up the steps to one of the bedrooms. "This can be the nursery, for both of them a-and when they get older than can each have their own rooms and we can decorate however they want and—"

Elouise watched as he rushed on, cheeks flushed with colour. He was walking around the room now, explaining what they could do and what could change along with the children's ages. Elouise couldn't believe how lucky she was, to have met this man. He was truly not like the rest, and she was amazed he ever had thought about her in this way.

Elouise walked over to him as he was pointing at the closest, she shook her head and wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down her height. He paused as she connected their lips, then his arms were wrapped around her waist and pulled her as close as he could get her. He smiled against her, and when they finally pulled apart she matched the look on his face.

"Until the end." He told her, gently moving a piece of hair away from her face. Her heart raced quickly, so many things happened within one day, she wasn't so sure it was real. So she pulled him in close once again and smiled against his lips, "Until the end."