Jo's Biggest Challenge, Part III by Vick
Summary:

Jo is back in the Sanatorium again, this time in Guernsey.  War breaks out and Jack is called up within weeks of their marriage.


Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Daisy Venables, Jack Maynard, Jem Russell, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Madge (Bettany) Russell, Robin Humphries
School Period: Guernsey
School Name: None
Genre: Alternate Universe, Family, Romance, War
Challenges:
Series: Jo's Biggest Challenge
Chapters: 15 Completed: Yes Word count: 20581 Read: 38823 Published: 06 Jun 2011 Updated: 06 Jun 2011

1. Chapter 1 by Vick

2. Chapter 2 by Vick

3. Chapter 3 by Vick

4. Chapter 4 by Vick

5. Chapter 5 by Vick

6. Chapter 6 by Vick

7. Chapter 7 by Vick

8. Chapter 8 by Vick

9. Chapter 9 by Vick

10. Chapter 10 by Vick

11. Chapter 11 by Vick

12. Chapter 12 by Vick

13. Chapter 13 by Vick

14. Chapter 14 by Vick

15. Chapter 15 by Vick

Chapter 1 by Vick
The next day, Jo was taken over the channel to Guernsey and straight to the hospital there. She was given a single room at one end of the building, where it was quiet. Jem intended to build a self-contained sanatorium but, until he had permission from the authorities, he had been given a small side wing in the hospital.

Once she had been settled into the bed, Jack came to sit with her for a while. She smiled at him, holding out her hand. He took it and returned the smile.

“At least you know what to expect this time around,” he said. Jo just nodded. She also knew how long the hours seemed when she was unable to do anything for herself. She yawned.

“Go to sleep, Jo. You don’t need to stay awake for me.” Jo obediently closed her eyes and slept. Jack just stayed there, watching her and wishing he could do more for her. At least she was safe now, he thought vaguely to himself. He slumped in his chair, his head on the bed, and fell asleep, too.

When Jem came to check on Jo an hour later, he found them both fast asleep. He woke Jack, quietly. When they had left the room, Jem told him to go home and sleep properly. Jack looked at him, questioningly. He had no idea where home was. Jem realised this and offered him a lift, which was gratefully accepted. He drove Jack to a small cottage not far from the hospital. He handed him a set of keys, telling him that Madge had made a bed up and there were basics in the kitchen. Jack thanked him and went to the door. Once inside, he quickly found the bed and dropped into it. He was asleep again immediately, never waking for the next twenty-four hours.

When he finally woke, it wasn’t because he had had enough sleep; it was because someone was knocking on the door. He climbed out of bed and slowly made his way downstairs to answer it. Jem was standing there. Jack just held the door open and stepped back to let him inside, closing the door behind him.

“Did I wake you?” Jem asked him. Jack just nodded. He was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep. “I just dropped by to invite you to dinner with us.”

“Thank you, but no. I don’t think I’ll be particularly good company at the moment.”

“Of course. We understand. Another time, maybe?” Jack nodded again. Jem took the hint and left. Jack went into the kitchen and made himself a drink, taking it back up to the bedroom. He drank it and then lay back down to sleep again.

Jack did very little else for the next week. He was exhausted. He had spent so much time looking after Jo, that he had neglected himself. He ate little and slept most of the time. He didn’t even have the energy to clean himself up and had not shaved since he had arrived at the cottage. Even Jo was pushed to the back of his mind as he tried to concentrate on getting as much sleep as possible.

Back in the hospital, Jo was starting to worry. Her sister had visited, whom she was overjoyed to see, but Jack hadn’t been for over a week now. When Jem came to check on her during his rounds late one night, he found her wide awake. He came into the room and sat down.

“What’s wrong, Jo?” he asked her. She looked at him, tears in her eyes.

“I’m worried about Jack,” she confided. “He hasn’t been in over a week. Is he okay?”

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Jem replied. He was also beginning to worry at Jack’s disappearance. It was so out of character. “He’s probably been busy trying to get himself settled in and work out the island. I’m sure he’ll come and visit you soon.” Jo didn’t look convinced by this.

“That doesn’t sound like Jack. Will you go and check on him for me, please?”

Jem nodded. “I’ll go round tomorrow afternoon and see him.”

“Thank you.”

“Try to sleep now. It’s far too late for you to be awake.”

“I’ll try.” Jem left her alone once more. She tried to sleep, but found she couldn’t. She was desperate to know that Jack was all right. She stared into the darkness, watched the dawn come creeping around the edges of the curtains, and still she did not sleep. When morning arrived, Jem looked in before leaving for home.

“Have you slept at all, Jo?” he asked her. She just shook her head. Her imagination had been working overtime and she was beginning to fear the worst. Jem realised that, until she knew Jack was okay, she would not be able to rest properly. He quickly left the room, re-appearing a few minutes later with some tablets for her.

“Take these, Jo,” he told her, handing her them and some water from the bedside cabinet.

“What are they?” she asked him, suspiciously.

“Sleeping pills. If you don’t rest properly, you won’t be able to see anyone, let alone Jack.”

“I don’t want them,” she said, shaking her head at him. Jem continued to stand there, unmoved.

“Fine. If you don’t take them, then you won’t be in a position to have a visitor tomorrow. Nor will I tell you how Jack is, when I find out.”

“Jem! You can’t mean that!” she cried.

“I mean every word. If you want to make yourself worse, and end up in complete isolation, then carry on as you are. If you don’t, then take them and go to sleep and I’ll bring you news of Jack this evening.” Jo knew she had lost. She reluctantly choked the tablets down, knowing that Jem would carry out his threat if she didn’t. Jem didn’t comment further. He just pulled the covers up a little further and left, informing the nurse on duty to let her sleep and to give her something to eat when she finally woke.

It was late afternoon when Jem finally knocked on the door to Jack’s cottage. He waited a few minutes before knocking again, louder this time. He was about to knock for a third time when he finally heard movement from inside. Eventually, the door was opened and Jack stood there, wearing a dressing gown and unshaven. He looked haggard, despite the beard covering his face. Jem was worried. He had never seen Jack look anything but respectable, even when he went to fetch Jo back from Switzerland. The man standing in front of him wasn’t the same person. Jack just opened the door further and motioned him inside. Once he had closed the door, he led the way to the kitchen and sank into one of the chairs there. Jem followed him, sitting down opposite.

“How are you?” Jem asked.

“Exhausted,” Jack replied, shortly.

“Have you eaten today?” Jack shook his head. “Do you know how long you’ve been here?”

“A few days?” Jack hazarded. His brain was still foggy and he couldn’t work out where this conversation was leading.

“Over a week,” Jem told him. “No one has seen you in that time and people are starting to worry about your disappearance.” He didn’t specify who, leaving Jack to work that out for himself. Jack rested his head in his hands as he tried to work out how he had managed to lose a week and who would be worrying about him. Jem watched, silently. Eventually, Jack rose from his chair and busied himself making a drink for them both. When he had finished, and was sitting back with a strong coffee in his hand, he finally looked at Jem once more.

“How is Jo?” he asked.

“Worried about you,” Jem replied, bluntly. Jack just nodded. He understood Jem’s meaning. “It’s visiting day tomorrow. I think she would like to see you,” he added.

“I’ll be there. When do I start back at work?”

“You’re not ready to come back, yet. You need to make sure you’re fully fit first.” Jack looked ready to argue this point, but decided against it. He knew that Jem was right.

“In that case, I should go home for a few days and see my family.”

“Good idea, but clean yourself up a bit first, eh?” Jack ran his hand through his beard, and nodded. Jem’s intervention had made him realise he had been neglecting his own health. Jem stood up at this and prepared to leave. Jack thanked him, promising he would go to see Jo the next day.

Once Jem had left, Jack went slowly back upstairs and into the bathroom. He ran himself a bath and sank into it. Once he had finished, he shaved and felt much better for it. He discovered he was hungry and went to look for something to eat. On finding nothing in the kitchen, he decided to go and investigate his surroundings, in the hope of finding a hotel restaurant. Just as he was getting ready to leave, a knock came at the door. He opened it to find Marie, the Russell’s maid, standing there, her arms full of groceries. He immediately tried to take them, but she refused, stating that she could manage and to go and sit down until she called him for dinner. She bustled off to the kitchen and he heard the rattle of pots and pans. He was thankful that she had appeared, saving him from having to search for somewhere to eat. Eventually, she called him in, and set a lovely meal in front of him. He ate everything she gave him and he thanked her, gratefully. She just smiled at him and left once she had finished washing up.

The next afternoon saw Jack walking to the hospital to see Jo. He hadn’t seen her in over a week and he felt guilty about staying away so long. It had suddenly occurred to him the previous evening that if she had been worrying about him, she may have made herself worse. He hoped not, since Jem hadn’t mentioned it. He realised that he needed to buy himself a car, as well. When he did go back to work, he wouldn’t be able to walk all the time, in case he was needed in an emergency. He had spent the morning sorting his affairs out at the bank, so he had access to some money. He didn’t expect to receive anything whilst he wasn’t working and he needed to be able to pay someone to come and cook and clean for him.

When he arrived at the hospital, he felt better for the fresh air. He walked rather slowly towards Jo’s room, suddenly feeling a little apprehensive. He hoped she was improving, but didn’t dare raise his hopes too much. If she had been worrying about him, he knew she wouldn’t have been doing much resting. He reached her room at this point. Slowly, he opened the door and peered round it. Jo was lying quietly and had her eyes closed. He came in and sat down by the bed, examining her face as he did so. He noticed faint circles under her eyes and was concerned about her.

“Jo?” he whispered. She opened her eyes and looked at him. As she realised who it was, he saw tears forming. “Don’t cry, darling. I’m sorry, I haven’t been sooner.”

“Are you all right?” she whispered. “I’ve been so worried about you.”

“I’m fine. I just needed to sleep and sort myself out. I didn’t mean to worry you.” He gently wiped her tears away.

“I can’t help worrying when you disappear for so long with no explanation. I couldn’t even come looking for you.”

“I know. It won’t happen again.” He took her hand in his, and gently squeezed it, the only way he could show affection for now. “How are you doing?”

“I’m okay. Happier for seeing you, though.” Jack managed to move the conversation on to other things after that, spending the time telling her about where he was living and what he had seen of the island so far. When it was almost time to go, he changed the subject again.

“I won’t be here for the next week or two,” he told her. “I have to go home. I need to let my family see that I’m all right.”

“I wish I could come with you,” she replied, wistfully.

“I’ll take you when you’re better,” he promised. “You need to concentrate on getting yourself well again, for now.” He stood up. “Look after yourself and I’ll come and see you as soon as I get back.” Jo nodded. He squeezed her hand once more and departed.

As he was walking through the hospital, Jem caught him up, walking out with him.

“How was Jo?” Jem asked him.

“She was upset that I hadn’t been to see her, but I suppose I asked for that,” he answered.

“You needed time to sort yourself out, too. She needs to understand that you can’t be with her constantly.”

“She does understand, but I didn’t need to cause her to worry by my disappearing act.”

“Will you come to dinner, tonight?” Jem asked him, changing the subject.

“Yes. That would be lovely, thank you.”

“I’ll send Andreas to pick you up about seven o’clock.”

“Thanks. That should just give me time to pack.”

“You’re going home, then?”

“Yes. I’m catching the ferry tomorrow morning.”

“Andreas will give you a ride to the port. Just tell him what time you need to be there. Have you told Jo?”

“Yes. She was upset that she couldn’t come as well, but she accepted that I needed to go.”

“Good.” They reached Jem’s car at this point. “Do you want a lift home?”

“No, thank you. I’d rather walk, as it’s a fine day.”

“I’ll see you at dinner.” Jack nodded and left Jem to climb into his car and drive off, whilst he set off on the walk back to his cottage.

The next morning found him at the port, waiting to board the ferry for England and his family home.
Chapter 2 by Vick
Jo spent the following week quietly. She missed Jack, but knew he was at home with his family, where he was safe. She had seen her sister each visiting day, but did not wish to see her friends for the moment. Jem didn’t push the matter. He knew she was struggling to adjust to being back on complete bed rest and that she was sleeping a lot as she recovered from her trek across Europe. Once she had reached the safety of her family, her nightmares had begun to subside, much to his relief.

One afternoon, when her sister came, she brought with her a few things she had managed to rescue from Jo’s bedroom and sitting room in Tyrol. She asked Jo if she wanted to have them with her whilst she was in the hospital. Jo was very unsure. She was still raw from the nightmare journey. Madge was understanding, though she did take one item out and insist she have it. It was Jack’s rosary. Tears clouded Jo’s eyes as she looked at it. She managed a watery smile at her sister and thanked her.

When Jack had been gone for just under two weeks, Jo was taken for a chest X-ray. Jem came to see her later on that day.

“You’ll be pleased to know it is still only on your right lung, Jo,” he told her. “The haemoptysis you had when you arrived in Switzerland has done more damage to it, though. You’ll have to continue on compete bed rest and we need to start pneumothorax again. Then, we’ll see what it’s like in another month.” Jo just nodded and Jem left her. She picked the rosary up off the bedside cabinet and toyed idly with it until she fell asleep, the beads tangled around her fingers.

Three days later, Jo was dozing while she waited for her sister to arrive. The door opened quietly and someone slipped into the room and came to sit with her. When she opened her eyes a few minutes later, she looked straight into those of Jack. He smiled at her, and tears pricked the back of her eyes.

“Jack! You’re back.”

“I am, indeed,” he replied, taking her hand and squeezing it. Jo held on, tightly, wishing she could hug him.

“How was everyone?”

“They are all doing well, though they were relieved to see me. They send their love to you, by the way.” Jo managed a smile at this. “How are you doing?”

“Another month of this, Jem says.” He didn’t question her further, as he didn’t want to spoil her sudden happiness. He changed the subject and they talked at length until Jack glanced at his watch.

“I have to go, now.” He stood up, reluctantly. “It’s well after visiting hours officially ended and I have to get to a meeting.”

“Are you going back to work, then?” Jo asked him.

“I’ll find that out at this meeting. Look after yourself, Jo. I’ll see you in a day or two, I expect.” Jo nodded. He gave her hand a final squeeze and then left for his meeting. Jo lay staring at the ceiling for a while, before she picked the rosary up once more and fell asleep again.

When Jack had finished his meeting, he poked his head around the door to Jo’s room, intending to say goodnight to her. She was fast asleep, so he silently withdrew again and headed for home. He would see her the next day. Jem had finally allowed him back to work. He had been off for nearly three months and was glad to be going back. He had been through a terrible experience during his escape from Austria and he had needed the time to recover from both that and the shock that Jo’s tuberculosis had returned. The two weeks he had spent at his family home in the New Forest had helped him to regain his equilibrium and he was now ready to deal with whatever new challenges were presented to him. He realised that he had been lucky in his life, so far. He had a loving family, a job he enjoyed and was now engaged to someone he had loved for a long time. He didn’t think there was anything else for which he could possibly ask.

When Jack arrived to start his shift the next day, he was shown a tiny room which was to be his office and given a rather large pile of paperwork and patient files to trawl through. He thanked Jem, who had passed them to him, and checked if there was anything urgent in them. When he found out there wasn’t, he dumped everything onto his desk and sought a cup of coffee, before returning to sit down and look through the pile. He dealt with the patient files first, working out what stage each one was at in their treatment and how they were reacting to it. He was relieved to find they only had a handful of patients at the moment, thanks to the small amount of space they currently had in the hospital wing.

Eventually, he reached Jo’s file. He opened it apprehensively. He had no idea what to expect, having not been party to any of her treatment so far. He had a sip of his coffee and tried to clear his mind, determined to try and look at it as impartially as he could. He had to treat it the same as the other patient files and try to forget that his fiancée’s name was on the front of it. The first few pages were in German, dating from the time she was in the Swiss hospital, before it changed to English and Jem’s unmistakable scrawl. When he had finished reading, he picked up the accompanying envelope and slid out the last X-rays. He studied them at the light before putting them back with a sigh. He sat back in his chair and finished his coffee, which was lukewarm by now.

Setting the mug down on his desk, he stood up and set off to check on his patients. He deliberately left Jo until last. It was quite late when he finally entered her room, but she was still awake. He sat down beside her, but didn’t take her hand. He knew he needed to distance himself when on duty and had decided that not touching her would be the best way for them both to be able to understand this. He gently told her of his decision, before stating he had to get on and that she ought to get some sleep. Promising he would come and say goodbye, he left her alone and went back to his office.

Jo watched him leave, then rolled over and picked the rosary up from the bedside cabinet. She was upset by the distance he had deliberately put between them. Deep down, she knew she was being irrational. Jack had to do his job and she just happened to be one of his patients when he was on duty. She let the beads on the rosary slip through her fingers, as her thoughts swirled around.

She didn’t sleep well that night. When Jack checked on her in the early hours, he could hear her muttering in her sleep. He hoped it wasn’t a recurrence of the nightmares she had been having when she was in Switzerland. He sat with her for a while, but she didn’t stir, much to his relief. He left her just before dawn came creeping in and went back to his office, where he sank heavily into his chair. He put his head into his hands and tried to re-order his thoughts, before he finally picked up his pen to update the records.

When Jem came in to take over the next morning, Jack was a very relieved man. He handed the files over and answered Jem’s questions in a non-committal way. He paused outside Jo’s room on his way past, unsure whether to go in. Remembering his promise, he poked his head around the door to see if she was awake. She had her eyes closed, but he knew that didn’t mean she was asleep.

“Jo?” he asked, softly. As he suspected, she was awake. “I’m going now. I’ll see you later.” Jo just nodded. Jack withdrew and left the hospital. He drove quickly home. Once there, he let himself in and slumped into a chair in the lounge. He was tired out. He went into the kitchen and made himself some coffee and a sandwich, taking them back into the lounge. When he had finished, he dumped the pots in the sink to wash later and headed upstairs to his bed. He undressed and climbed in, falling sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Back at the Sanatorium, Jem was dealing with Jo. He had read Jack’s notes and went to see her.

“How did you sleep last night?” he asked, sitting down next to her.

“All right,” she replied. Jem looked carefully at her. He noted dark circles under her eyes, which hadn’t been there the day before.

“You don’t look as well as you did.” Jo didn’t reply. “You’re worrying about something, aren’t you?” Jo looked away at this. She felt foolish for fretting about something she knew was right. Jem guessed it had something to do with Jack. He had no wish to interfere with their relationship, unless it affected his patient but, at the moment, it was doing just that, because Jo wasn’t resting properly.

“Did Jack come to see you last night?” Jo nodded. “I’m guessing that he said something which you aren’t happy about.” Jo nodded once more. “What was it? I don’t want to interfere, Jo, but something has upset you. You should be resting - and fretting isn’t doing that.”

“H-he told me that he couldn’t hold my hand and had to stay at a distance when he was working,” she whispered, not looking at him. Tears welled up, once more.

“He needs to do that so he doesn’t blur the boundary line between his personal and professional life, Jo. He’s in an uncomfortable position. He wants to spend time with you, but he also has to look after you as part of his job. It’s the same for me. I can’t take care of you and help you to get better, unless I separate out the fact that you are my sister-in-law and treat you as any other patient. Jack is just doing the same thing. Think yourself lucky. At least you’re getting to see him nearly every day. Other patients only get to see their loved ones twice a week.” Jo looked a little happier at this explanation, although she said nothing. She yawned, and Jem decided to leave it at that. He got up from the chair. “Try to sleep, now. I’m sure Jack will call in to see you before he comes on duty later.”

Jem left her alone at this. She slept for a few hours and felt better for it, though she was still worried. This time, she worried she had made trouble for Jack. She felt as if everything was going wrong, and her imaginings spiralled out of control. In the end, she felt under her pillow, looking for the rosary to comfort her. It wasn’t there. Nor could she feel it on the bedside cabinet. In desperation, she felt down the bed in case she was lying on it and hadn’t noticed, but had no success. This was too much for her and she burst into tears, just as Jack entered the room.

“Jo? What’s wrong?” he asked, concerned, and he quickly crossed the room. He couldn’t understand the incoherent things she was trying to tell him. “Stop crying first, and then tell me.” He handed her some tissues and she blew her nose, calming down slightly. “Now, tell me, slowly, this time.”

“I can’t find it,” she gulped. “I had it last night and, now, I can’t find it.”

“What can’t you find?” Jack was confused. He couldn’t think what she had managed to lose, when she had so few possessions with her.

“Your rosary,” she whispered. “Madge brought it in for me and, now, I can’t find it.” Tears started to fall again.

“Don’t cry again,” he said, tenderly. “Let me have a look for it.” He had a quick look on the bedside cabinet and around it, in case it had fallen off. He bent down and looked under the bed, suddenly dropping onto his hands and knees and reaching underneath. He handed it back to her, before sitting down. She managed a watery smile as she took it.

“Th-thank you.” She just looked at it, unable to meet Jack’s steady gaze.

“Something else is bothering you, isn’t it?” he ventured, as the silence between them continued. Jo didn’t answer. “What’s wrong, Jo?” Still, she didn’t speak or look at him. He heaved a sigh and glanced at his watch. He had to go and start his shift in ten minutes, but he didn’t want to leave her like this. He leant forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “If you won’t tell me, then I’ll have to guess. Does it have anything to do with what I said last night?” Jo just nodded, she didn’t trust herself to speak without crying again. “Oh, Jo. I didn’t mean to upset you. I thought you’d understood why I have to do it. I love you, but, as your doctor, I have to step back. I want you to get better, so that you can come home and we can spend the rest of our lives together. Don’t you think it’s a small price to pay?”

“I suppose so,” Jo admitted, in a small voice. “I-I know you’re right, but I’m just finding it hard to accept. We’ve just gone through so much and you’ve been there with me, every day. Now, you aren’t and I don’t think I can cope alone.” Jack clasped her hand in his at this admission. He had never meant to upset her, or to leave her thinking she was alone with her illness.

“You’ll cope, Joey. You’re a fighter. You’ve come through this once. Yes, we’ve had a terrible experience, but that’s all over. You have to concentrate on this battle, now. Every time I come to see you, remember that I love you, even when I’m working and have to be your doctor. It’s just as hard for me, you know.” He squeezed her hand at this, before rising from the chair. “I have to go. I’m due to start work now. I’ll always be here for you, Jo, no matter what. If you just want to talk, please, tell me, and I’ll make sure I’m here.” He let her hand drop at this and quickly departed. Jo watched him go, a little comforted by his words. She absently toyed with the rosary as she allowed them to sink in, until she fell asleep. When Jack came to check on her during his rounds, he saw she was sleeping properly, and was relieved. He noticed that the rosary had fallen to the floor again, so he picked it up and placed it on the bedside cabinet, where she would easily reach it the next time she wanted it.
Chapter 3 by Vick
The days and weeks passed very slowly for Jo. She was becoming accustomed to the routine of being a tuberculosis patient once more. She was having regular pneumothorax again, and was concentrating on trying to forget the pain it gave her. She had another chest X-ray a month later. It was Jack who came to tell her the results, this time. He came in immediately after rest hours one afternoon, and sat down beside her. Jo had been sleeping, but his arrival woke her.

“I’ve just gone through your latest X-rays,” he told her. Jo didn’t reply, but she watched him steadily. “They don’t show much improvement from the last lot, so I’m afraid you’ll have to stay on complete bed rest for another month.” Jo felt tears pricking her eyes, but she was determined not to let them fall. Jack noticed, but refrained from saying anything. He appreciated how hard it was for her. He stood back up and started towards the door. When he reached it he turned and spoke again. “I’ll come back later, Jo, when I’ve finished.” Jo nodded and he left her alone.

Jack kept his word and, once he had handed over, he duly went back to Jo’s room. She was lying quietly when he entered. Though she smiled faintly at him as he came to sit by her, she said nothing. He took her hand in his, showing her that he was no longer her doctor.

“How are you feeling?” he asked her. She just shook her head and looked at the wall beyond his shoulder. She knew that if she spoke, she wouldn’t be able to stop the tears from falling. Jack realised that she was only just holding herself together. He clasped her hand tighter and spoke again. “It’s going to be all right, Jo. It will take time, that’s all.” At these words, Jo found the tears falling. Jack just held her hand tightly in his, wishing he could take her in his arms. When the tears finally slowed, Jack passed her a tissue and she blew her nose.

“S-sorry,” she mumbled.

“Don’t be,” he replied. “We’ll get there. We just have to be patient. You’ve only been here for three months, and most of that has been spent letting your body recover from the journey. That week I disappeared was the same for me. All I wanted to do was sleep, to the exclusion of everything else going on around me. When Jem knocked on my door, I think he was surprised to see the state of me. It’s just taken you longer to recover because of your illness. Hopefully, you’ll turn the corner now and start to improve again.”

“I hope so,” Jo whispered. She was struggling to stay awake.

“Get some sleep,” he said. He gently stroked her hair from her face, continuing to do so as Jo closed her eyes and drifted off. When he was sure she was sound asleep, he reluctantly stopped and headed for the door.
Chapter 4 by Vick
The next month passed slowly for Jo as she continued to rest in bed. Jack came to sit with her whenever he could, but he never stayed long. Jem also stopped by when he had a few minutes, and brought the news that she had a new niece. She was happy for them, but knew she would be unable to see her sister for a while. She made Jem promise to bring in pictures of his newest daughter for her to see. Jem also brought the sad news that his sister had died. Jo was upset to hear this, but she knew how much his sister had gone through, both in Australia and then having to leave Austria.

When she had more X-rays at the end of October, she steeled herself for the worst. She fully expected to be told that she would have to continue on complete bed rest for yet another month. She was, therefore, surprised when Jack came in one afternoon, holding a book and pen and paper. He deposited them onto the bedside cabinet, smiling as he did so.

“I said you would start to improve,” he told her. Jo managed a smile at this, before Jack continued, “you only get half an hour for now, but it’s better than nothing.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“My pleasure.” He left her to investigate the book he had brought.

She found time moved slightly faster, now she had something to do each day. She spent the first week writing letters to her friends and to her brother in India. After that, she read for the allotted time each day. Jack saw that she was much happier, now she had some small occupation. He had posted her letters for her and eventually brought the replies back to her.

Jo’s next lot of X-rays showed yet more improvement, and Jem came to see her one afternoon, after rest hours.

“You may have an hour sitting up now, Jo,” he told her.

“Really?” Jo beamed at her brother-in-law, happy that she would, at last, be able to sit up for longer than just her meals.

“Yes. You’ll have to work up to the full hour ten minutes at a time, though. Your body is used to being flat after five months of bed rest. If you feel anything is wrong when you sit up, make sure you tell us. We don’t want you to be set back again.” Jo nodded. Jem smiled at her and left to continue his rounds.

When Jack came in just before he started work, she was still smiling. He came to sit with her.

“Why so happy?” he asked, pleased to see her smiling for a change.

“Jem’s just told me I can have an hour sitting up,” she replied. Jack clasped her hand in his at this news. He was genuinely happy for her, though she still had a long road ahead of her.

“That’s great news, Jo. Let’s hope it continues to be good.”

It was a week before Jo was finally sitting up for the full hour each day. When she woke up on her birthday, she realised that she was twenty-one, now. She had finally reached her majority. She didn’t feel as if it was something to celebrate, though. She thought back to her birthday last year. It had been so nice to have a few friends to dinner. This year, she was lying in a bed in a Sanatorium, only allowed to sit up for one hour and to read and write for half an hour each day. She sighed, and picked her book up from the bedside cabinet. It didn’t hold her attention for long, though. It fell from her hands, and she stared blankly at the wall. Jem had called in briefly to wish her many happy returns, but otherwise, she had been left alone. She was beginning to think that Jack had forgotten, and felt tears forming. She resolutely drove them back, determined not to cry on her birthday. She ate her lunch and went to sleep.

A few hours later a noise disturbed her. She briefly opened her eyes, but didn’t register that her fiancé had just seated himself by her bed. She rolled over and went back to sleep. Jack just sat with her, until she finally woke properly.

“Happy Birthday, Jo,” he said, when she looked at him.

“Thank you,” she murmured. She was still a little groggy.

“Since I can’t take you out to dinner, I thought we could have it here, instead.” Jo smiled faintly at this suggestion. She was feeling a little happier, now Jack was there. “Have you had your hour up, today?” Jo shook her head. “Good.” He went across the room and dragged a folding table to the bed. On it was a board game. “I managed to borrow this from Rix.”

“You must have been very persuasive,” she remarked. “Rix is very possessive of his games.”

“I know. I’m under strict orders not to break it and to make sure it’s returned to him by tomorrow lunchtime.” Jack laughed, and Jo joined in, stopping quickly when she thought she might start to cough. He came and gave her a hand to sit up, before passing her a wrap for her shoulders. They spent the next hour joyfully playing Sixty-four Milestones, until dinner was brought in. They ate in companionable silence, and when they had finished, Jo was obliged to lie back down once more. Jack stayed with her for a while longer, but he could see she was starting to tire.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t do anything else for your birthday. Hopefully, next year, we’ll be able to have a meal out in a restaurant.”

“That sounds lovely,” Jo replied, sleepily.

“Don’t try to stay awake for me, Jo. I should get going, anyway. I have to start work in fifteen minutes.” He stood up at this and collected the game, intending to pass it onto Jem to take home. “Goodnight.” Jo just smiled at him, then rolled over and was asleep before he had left the room.
Chapter 5 by Vick
Before Jo knew it, it was Christmas Day. She looked out of the window at the rain which was coming down in torrents and half-wished she was back in the Tyrol. She hated the wet weather, so typical of the English climate. Sighing, she picked her book up from the bedside table and settled down to read. She was allowed an hour to read and write, now, for which she was grateful. She was soon absorbed in it, not hearing when someone sat down in the chair next to her.

“Merry Christmas, Jo,” Jack said, when she finally glanced up. She smiled happily. She quickly put the book down and held her hand out to him. He took it tightly in his own.

“Merry Christmas, Jack. I wasn’t expecting anyone today.”

“I couldn’t let you spend Christmas Day completely alone. I can only spend an hour with you, though. Your sister has invited me to have lunch with them. I’m on duty tonight, so I’ll be around then.”

“I hope you’re prepared for it. The children are all allowed to join the meal at lunchtime. It won’t be a quiet one, by any means.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage,” he grinned.

“I wish I could be there, too,” Jo continued, wistfully. Jack squeezed her hand at this.

“I know. It won’t be the same without you, but you know you can’t be there this year.” Jo just nodded, tears misting her eyes as she thought about last Christmas. Not wishing for her to brood over what couldn’t be, Jack produced a parcel wrapped in Christmas paper and handed it to her.

“Thank you.” She slowly unwrapped it and found six books.

“It’s nothing exciting, I’m afraid, but I knew you were in need of something else to read.”

“They’re lovely. Thank you for thinking of them.” She admired the dust jackets, before carefully putting them on her bedside cabinet. Jack reluctantly stood up.

“I have to go, or I’ll be late. I’ll see you tonight, when I come on duty.” He quickly clasped her hand once more, before letting go and departing. Jo watched him leave, and then lay toying with the rosary until her own lunch arrived.

She slept all afternoon, only waking when her dinner was brought in. After she had eaten, she lay back down and went to sleep once more, never hearing Jack look in on her when he was doing his rounds.
Chapter 6 by Vick
Towards the end of January, Jo had more X-rays and Jem came to tell her the results.

“Your X-rays are slowly improving, Jo,” he said. “I think you can try sitting up for two hours a day, from now on.”

“Really?” Jo asked, surprised. She had steeled herself for the worst, again.

“Yes. Add ten minutes on each day until you get to the full two hours. I don’t want you to rush things. Once you’re comfortable at two hours, we’ll see how you’re progressing.”

“Thank you.”

Jem smiled and stood up. “We’ll get you back home again, Jo. We just have to take it slowly, that's all.”

A week later saw Jo sitting up for the allotted two hours a day. She was beginning to find herself in a little routine, now, spending her time up after rest hours. Her emotional state was improving, too, and she had asked to see the few friends she had living on the island. Her sister came one visiting day each week and one of her friends came on the other. Jack was secretly relieved at this progress. He had worried that she was isolating herself from the world in order to protect herself from being hurt. He knew she still had a long way to go before he would be able to make her his wife, but he could finally start to hope, once more.

After another month and more X-rays, Jem told Jo that she would be able to start building slowly up to three hours up each day. Jo realised that walking to her meals was just around the corner. She wasn’t looking forward to this. She had found it an ordeal last time, when she had been on the Sonnalpe. Although she was improving physically, her mental state was still very fragile. The quietness of the Sanatorium had helped her, but it had been seven months before she had asked to see any of her friends. Meeting complete strangers was another challenge altogether, and one she wasn’t sure she was ready to face, yet. She brooded on this and, subsequently, her appetite started to diminish. When she had barely eaten anything for two days, Jem came to talk to her.

“How are you, Jo?”

“Fine”

“The nurse tells me you’ve barely eaten over the past two days.” Jo didn’t answer. “Do you feel ill, at all?”

“No. I’m okay, Jem, I promise.” He looked keenly at her, and she blushed under his steady gaze.

“Well, something must be bothering you. It’s isn’t like you to just stop eating for no reason, Jo. I just want to help you, but I can’t if you won’t tell me. If you start losing weight, you’ll end up back on bed rest. That’s the last thing I want to put you through, but I don’t have much choice at the moment.” Jo pulled her knees up under her chin, wrapping her arms around them as she stared at the wall beyond Jem’s shoulder. He watched her. Suddenly, she put her head down and started crying. Jem waited, patiently, until the storm had passed. Then he tried again.

“Tell me what it is, Jo, and let me help you.” Jo drew in a shuddering breath, and coughed. Jem quickly passed her some tissues and waited, silently. When she had finished, Jo spoke.

“I-I’m scared.”

“What’s scaring you?”

“Eating. Going to eat in the dining room.”

“You aren’t doing that, yet.”

“No, but it’s what comes next, isn’t it?” Jem nodded, wondering where her imagination was taking her. “I can only just manage talking to my friends. How am I going to talk to complete strangers?”

“You’ll manage it, Jo. You aren’t even at that stage, though. You’ve only just reached three hours time up. I would never make you do anything before I thought you were ready for it.”

“But, last time, I started to go there almost as soon as I had three hours time up.”

“That was last time. When you were on the Sonnalpe, you were able to take on the challenges put before you much more quickly. This time is different. You’re still recovering from an extremely stressful and frightening experience, as well as tuberculosis. You have to be mentally ready for the challenges, as well as physically. At the moment, you aren’t ready mentally, as you’ve just admitted. You need to stop worrying about what comes next and concentrate on what is happening now. Let me worry about the next steps for you. It’s what I’m here for, after all.” Jem stood back up at this. He had other patients to see and Jo was tiring. “Get some sleep, Jo. I want to hear that you ate everything on your plate at your next meal.” He removed her pillows and she lay down. “You’ll get there. It will just take time, that’s all.” He departed at this, and Jo fell asleep, exhausted by her emotions.

Jo had been on three hours time up for a month before Jem decided she was ready to try eating in the dining room. He came to tell her one morning, after breakfast. Jo was worried at the prospect, but he told her that, if she wanted to continue improving, she had to do it.

“It’s not like last time, Jo,” he reassured her. “We only have a handful of patients here, at the moment and, of them, there are only two who are currently eating in the dining room.” Jo didn’t look convinced.

“Are you sure I can do this?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t think you were up to the challenge. You’ll have to meet new people at some point. You can’t hide in here, forever. Now, Nurse will come for you with a wheelchair at twelve o’clock.” Jem left on this note, allowing her no chance to argue further.

When she was deposited in the dining room, she found that Jem had spoken the truth. She was wheeled to a table with two other patients and left to it. Jo found herself talking to them, and actually enjoyed her meal. When Jack asked her how she had got on when he came to see her during his rounds, she told him that she had enjoyed it. He smiled at this, pleased to see that she had finally turned a corner and was improving.
Chapter 7 by Vick
Towards the end of May, Jo was told she could have six hours time up. She was progressing well, now, and hadn’t looked back since she had started using the dining room for her meals. The weather was improving, and Jo longed to be able to go outside once more. It wasn’t possible, though, as she was still in the small hospital wing, which had no outside space. Jem was busy converting an old building into a Sanatorium, which he hoped would be ready by the end of June.

When her sister came to visit, one afternoon, she brought news that the school was to re-open at the beginning of September. Jo was interested to know who would be returning. It distracted her from her illness and her sister was glad to see flashes of the old Jo starting to appear as they discussed it. Madge knew her sister would never be as carefree and happy as she had once been. She had been through too much for that. When Madge reluctantly left at the end of visiting hours, it was in the knowledge that her sister was finally coming to terms with her life and was preparing to move on.

When Jack came to see Jo one afternoon in late June, he had news for her.

“It’s good news, Jo. You can have eight hours time up, now.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” Jack smiled at her. He was just as pleased as she was. “I have more news, though.”

“What is it?”

“The new Sanatorium is ready, at last. You’re being transferred there in a couple of days.”

“Does that mean I get to sit outside, then?”

“Yes, there’s plenty of space for that.” Jo just smiled in reply to this and Jack continued on his way.

Two days later saw Jo being put into an ambulance for the short journey to the new Sanatorium. Jack accompanied her, and escorted her to her new room, before he left her to continue with the transfers. Jo looked around the bright and airy room. It was simply furnished, and had a small balcony. She went to sit outside, once Jack had left, taking the chance to finally see a view of the island, however small it was.

She was still there when Jack came back. He had finished his shift and brought a chair out with him, placing it by her side. He sank into it, taking her hand in his, and just enjoyed being able to sit in a companionable silence with her. He finally broke the silence when she shivered.

“Maybe it’s time to go back inside, Jo.” Jo just nodded, and he gently hauled her to her feet, before picking the chair up and following her indoors. Once he had replaced the chair, he came over to where she was standing and drew her into a hug. It was the first time he had done so in a year. Jo hugged him back, leaning her head into his chest. He dropped a kiss onto her hair.

“I’d best get going, now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Jack. And thank you.” Jack just smiled at her, then turned and left for home.

Five minutes after Jack had left, a nurse came to collect Jo and show her to the dining room. Once she had finished, she was accompanied back to her room, where she climbed into bed and fell asleep.

The next morning, after breakfast, a nurse offered Jo the chance to sit out in the gardens. Jo accepted and quickly gathered some things together to take with her. She couldn’t wait to spend some time outside. She was taken to a small shelter, which overlooked a nearby bay and, once she was comfortable and warmly wrapped, was left alone. The island was completely different to the Sonnalpe, and she spent most of the morning taking in the scenery.

Jack found her there, just before he was due to start his shift. Jo smiled at him as he came to sit next to her.

“Happy?” he asked her. Jo nodded. She had been starting to feel a little claustrophobic in the room in the hospital wing. The fresh air had cleared her brain and she felt as if she could do so much more than she was allowed. He stayed a short while longer, chatting happily, before he reluctantly got to his feet.

“I’d better go and take over. I’ll see you later.” He kissed her head and left her. Jo watched him go, wistfully. She wanted to be able to spend more time with him. She enjoyed the few snatched minutes, but it wasn’t the same. She wanted to be able to be alone with him without any restraints on his time. However, she knew this was impossible until she left the Sanatorium and was back at home.
Chapter 8 by Vick
Two weeks after her transfer to the new Sanatorium, Jem came to find her in her little shelter.

“How would you like to spend tomorrow at home?”

“I’d love to.” Jo smiled happily at the prospect, before adding, “Where is home, though?”

“In Torteval. At least, that’s where we live.” Jem smiled at this point. He realised that, though it was Jo’s official home, she had never seen it, and would probably only be living there for a few months, at most, when she finally left the Sanatorium. “I’ll collect you after breakfast, so make sure you’re ready.” Jo nodded. She was intrigued to see where her sister lived and looked forward to seeing her nieces, nephews and Robin and Daisy. Apart from Robin, she hadn’t seen any of them since before her flight from Austria.

Jem came to collect her after breakfast, as promised. They walked out to his car and he quickly drove her across the island to his home in Torteval. When he pulled up, Jo slowly climbed out and looked at the house. It was a charming old farmhouse, with large gardens to the front and back. Jem came around the car and took her arm.

“Welcome home, Jo. This is your home as much as ours, even if you haven’t had a chance to see it, yet.” Jem smiled at her, but saw that she had tears in her eyes. He realised that she was going through a whole series of emotions as she tried to take it in. She hadn’t made it home, until now. She had fled from Austria and ended up in a Sanatorium in Guernsey. She had taken over a year to finally get here, even for a day, and it was something she was struggling to take in. He waited with her as she tried to re-order her thoughts, knowing he couldn’t push her. Eventually, she turned and looked at him, managing a faint smile. He led her up the path and in through the front door. Once her had taken her coat, he showed her to the lounge where her sister was waiting to greet her.

Madge drew her sister into a hug, realising that words would be inadequate. Jo had been through so much. Jo returned it, holding on for longer than normal. When she finally pulled back, Madge saw tears in her eyes. Sitting on the sofa, she gently pulled Jo down next to her.

“Don’t cry, Joey-baba. You’re home, now. We may be in a different house in a different country, but it’s your home, just as much as it’s mine.”

“I know. It just seems strange. Being here. I’ve been on Guernsey for over a year and, yet, I’ve not seen anything other than the hospital and the Sanatorium. I’ve not lived here before. I expect it’ll just take me a while to adjust.” Jo ran down at this point and looked anxiously at her sister, in case she had caused offence. Madge just smiled at her.

“I understand, Jo. It’s bound to take time.” Madge steered the conversation onto other things. She wanted her sister to enjoy her first taste of home in over a year.

Jo found the day passed quickly. She saw her nephews and nieces for a short time, and also Robin and Daisy. When Jem appeared with her coat, she felt ready to go. She had forgotten just how busy her sister’s house was, even when there were no visitors. When she reached her room that evening, she speedily undressed and dived under the covers, only waking when a nurse came in to remind her that it was nearly time for breakfast. She was sensible enough to decline sitting out in the garden the next day. When Jack came to seek her before he started work, he found her out on the balcony, fast asleep. He checked she was warm enough, throwing another blanket over her, to make sure, and then left her to sleep on.

Two weeks after her visit home, Jo was given another chest X-ray. Jem came to find her in the garden the next day.

“You are doing really well, now, Jo,” he told her as he sat down next to her. “So well, that I think you can go home.” Jo gaped at him. She hadn’t been expecting him to say that, at all.

“Home?” she finally managed to ask.

“Yes. I don’t see why not. You’re improving in leaps and bounds. I think it’s time for a new challenge.”

A week later saw Jo leaving the Sanatorium for good. She was still unsure about whether she was really going home. She had never lived at her sister’s house on Guernsey, and she probably wouldn’t be living there for long. Once he knew she was to go home, Jack was keen for them to start thinking about their marriage. They had been engaged for over a year, now, and he wanted the right to be able to look after her as her husband.

When she arrived at Bonne Maison, the Russell’s home, she was quickly drawn into the lounge by her sister. Madge explained that they didn’t have the space to offer her her own sitting room this time, but there was a chair in her bedroom for when she needed some solitude. Jo thanked her, and went to unpack the few possessions she had brought home with her.

Those first few days living at her sister’s house were strange to Jo. She couldn’t decide whether she was a guest, or if she truly lived there. As much as she loved her family, she realised that she needed to have some peace and quiet, something which was in short supply at Bonne Maison. Jack had been busy working, and had only managed to visit a couple of times. Her sister had discreetly left them alone on each occasion, but Jo knew it wasn’t an arrangement which could be kept up for much longer.

When Jack finally had a day off, he came to collect Jo and whisked her back to his own cottage for the day. Jack was insistent that they just spent the day relaxing. Jo acquiesced, relieved to be somewhere quiet. She was happy to curl up on the sofa with Jack’s arm around her and just enjoy the companionable silence between them. In fact, she fell asleep in his arms for a good hour. Jack just held her close. When she eventually woke, she stretched and looked up at Jack who smiled at her.

“I’m so sorry for falling asleep,” she apologised.

“There’s no need to apologise, Jo. If you want to sleep, I don’t mind.”

“It’s so much quieter here than at Bonne Maison. There are so many people, you can’t have any peace at all. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a smaller house, or I’m just not used to the noise, any more.” He looked at Jo, noting faint circles under her eyes, which bore out the truth of her statement.

“Maybe it’s a good time to think about organising our wedding. Then, you’ll have all the quiet you need, once you’re living here.” He smiled down at her, before adding, “I don’t think I make too much noise.” Jo smiled and slowly nodded. “Shall I talk to the priest then?” Jo agreed. They spent the rest of the morning discussing when it should be and who to invite. Jack made Jo rest after lunch. She slept on the sofa for a good two hours, only waking when Jack brought them both a drink in. Jo sat up and accepted hers, moving slightly so Jack could sit down next to her. They spent the next few hours talking and listening to the radio, until Jack finally stood up and collected their coats. He drove them back to Bonne Maison, where he was invited to stay for dinner. He accepted easily. Jo retired to bed immediately afterwards and he left for home.

Jack duly spoke to the priest and their wedding day was arranged for late August. Suddenly, there was a whirl of activity as everything had to be organised and made in a short space of time. Jo was a little overwhelmed by it all, but her sister told her not to worry and to allow her to deal with it.

A week before her wedding day, Jo was taken to the Sanatorium for X-rays and pneumothorax. She spent rest of the day in bed, as she recovered from the procedure. She didn’t manage to sleep well, though. She found Bonne Maison to be extraordinarily noisy that day. When Jem came to see how she was, he found her nearly in tears through tiredness and frustration.

“Is something wrong, Jo?”

“I can’t sleep. Every time I drop off, something wakes me back up. It’s so noisy, here, and someone keeps passing my door every two minutes.”

“I’ll have a word with everyone and make sure they don’t come near for the next few hours. You try and sleep again.” Jo obediently closed her eyes, and Jem stalked off downstairs to the lounge, where most of his family were currently congregated. He sent Robin to find the rest of them and, once she returned with them, proceeded to inform them all that they weren’t to go upstairs again until after tea and to keep the noise down.
Chapter 9 by Vick

Finally, the day of Jo and Jack’s wedding arrived. It was a lovely sunny morning, and Jo hoped it would stay that way all day. The ceremony was to be at ten o’clock, followed by a wedding breakfast back at Bonne Maison. They didn’t want a big wedding, and had only invited a handful of guests who weren’t family to join in their special day. A knock came on Jo’s door at this point. Her sister poked her head around the door, smiling when she saw Jo was awake.

“Good morning, Jo,” she said, smiling at her sister. “You stay here and I’ll go and fetch your breakfast.” Jo nodded, sitting up in bed, ready. Madge quickly returned, bearing a tray, which she placed across her sister’s knee. Jo smiled and thanked her, before tucking in to the contents. Once she had finished, she set the tray to one side and climbed out of bed. When she returned from the bathroom, her sister helped her to dress in the simple white gown, trimmed with lace, and brushed her glossy black hair until it shone, before settling her veil for her. When she was ready, Madge smiled at her with tears in her eyes.

“I hope you have a very happy day, Jo, and that your future with Jack is long and loving.” She hugged her at this, and then turned to leave. “I need to check the children are all ready and looking clean and tidy. Jem will be with you shortly, I expect.” Jo nodded. She was staring to feel nervous, now, the time was so close. She had waited for this day for over a year, and now it had finally arrived. She went over to the window and stood looking out at the view. She never heard the door open and Jem slip into the room. He came to stand next to her, waiting patiently for her to finally turn and notice him. Eventually, she did so, smiling faintly at him.

“Ready, Jo?” She nodded. Jem held out his arm to her and she took it. He could feel her trembling. Together, they went downstairs and out to the waiting car. Andreas drove them through the leafy lanes to the tiny church where the ceremony was to take place. Jem helped Jo to climb out of the car and Madge quickly straightened her dress for her. Then Jem took her arm and walked her down the aisle to give her away to Jack.

Before she knew it, Josephine Mary Bettany had become Josephine Mary Maynard and they were walking back down the aisle as husband and wife. Jack smiled down at Jo, who returned it happily. Andreas drove them back to Bonne Maison and they enjoyed a lavish wedding breakfast provided by Marie and Rosa. Afterwards, Jo disappeared up to her room to change. When she came back down, she threw her bouquet. Grizel Cochrane caught it, much to her surprise. Then, Jack took her arm and they left.

When they arrived at Jack’s cottage, Jo found she was tired. Jack made her sit down in the living room, while he made them both a drink. When he returned, she had fallen asleep, curled up in the corner of the sofa, her head on the arm. He woke her gently, and took her upstairs to the bedroom, where she laid on the bed and was soon asleep once more. Jack threw a blanket over her and went back downstairs.

Jo slept for most of the afternoon. When she finally came back downstairs, she was full of apologies. Jack waved them aside, telling her that it was only to be expected. She came over to him and they curled up together on the sofa, planning what to do over the next week as Jack was on leave. He knew they wouldn’t be able to do too much as Jo still only had eight hours time up, but they wanted to make the most of their week.

Once they had settled what they planned to do, they went into the kitchen to make something to eat. Between them, they managed to make a reasonable meal, washing up afterwards. Jo pointed out that they would have to go shopping in the morning if they were to be able to eat for the rest of the week. Jack acquiesced, suggesting that they spend the next morning in St Peter Port.

After they had eaten, Jo retired to bed. She was still tired from the excitements of the day. Andreas had brought her suitcase over earlier on in the day. She quickly found her pyjamas and washing paraphernalia, leaving the rest to unpack the next day. When Jack came to bed later, he found her fast asleep. He quickly undressed and climbed in. Curling up behind her, he laid his arm across her waist and followed suit.

Jo woke early the next morning. She rolled over and looked at Jack, who was still slumbering. She slipped out of bed and went downstairs to the kitchen. She made a pot of tea and placed it onto a tray along with two cups and some milk. She carefully carried it back up to the bedroom. Just as she was placing it on the bedside cabinet, Jack woke. He smiled sleepily at her. She climbed back into bed, feeling awkward. He pulled her into his arms, holding her close.

“Are you going to pour the tea, then?” He asked her after five minutes. Jo nodded, climbing back out of bed. Jack sat up and she handed him a cup, before she came to sit next to him with her own.

“I think I could get used to tea in bed in a morning,” he joked. Jo just smiled at him. “Do you want to use the bathroom, first?” Jo nodded and disappeared, returning ten minutes later. Jack then went off, leaving Jo to dress. Once she was ready, she pulled the bedclothes back to air and opened the windows wider. Jack came back at this point and pulled his own clothes on.

“I really should unpack my case,” she said. Jack obligingly hefted it onto the bed for her.

“There’s plenty of room in the drawers and wardrobe. I’ll go and start breakfast.” Jo smiled at him and turned to her case. Jack picked the tray up and went downstairs to the kitchen. Twenty minutes later, Jo had finished. She fastened the case, leaving it on the bed for Jack to move, before going to join him in the kitchen.

“Can you make another pot of tea, Jo?” he asked her, as she entered. Jo obligingly did as she was asked, placing it on the table when it was ready. She set two places and then sat down to wait for her breakfast. Jack placed it in front of her five minutes later.

“It’s nothing special, I’m afraid,” he told her.

“It’s fine,” she smiled. “Will you say Grace?” Jack obliged and they ate in silence. When they had finished, Jo cleared their plates away, ready to wash up. They enjoyed a second cup of tea together, before Jo went to the sink. She washed the pots and Jack dried for her. Once they had finished Jo asked for a pen and some paper and made a shopping list. Jack got the car out and they set off to St Peter Port to do their shopping.

They spent a happy morning shopping for everything they needed. Jack took Jo for lunch at one of the hotels. Afterwards, they returned home. Jo went straight upstairs to rest. She was tired and soon fell asleep on the bed, only waking when Jack brought her a drink up mid-afternoon. They spent the rest of the day curled up on the sofa listening to the radio.

The rest of the week passed quickly. They spent their mornings exploring the island, and the afternoons at home. Jack noticed that Jo had settled down into a routine and was starting to thrive now she was somewhere quieter.

Their week drew to an end, and Jack informed Jo that he would be going back to work the next day. Jo looked upset at this news, but said nothing. When she woke the following morning, she was alone. She spent the day pottering around, not really able to settle to anything. After lunch, she went and lay on the bed to rest, as usual. Normally, she would sleep but, today, she found it difficult. When she finally slept, it wasn’t restful and when she woke she still felt tired. She rolled over in an attempt to sleep some more, but it didn’t work. She decided to get up and make herself a hot drink. Just as the kettle started to whistle, the front door opened and Jack appeared in the kitchen doorway. He smiled as he watched her carefully pour the water into the teapot, before crossing the room to her. She broke into a smile as she realised he was home and turned to greet him, happily. He drew her into his arms and dropped a kiss onto her hair. Jo leaned her head on his chest as she returned the hug. She pulled away and continued making the tea, whilst Jack removed his jacket and tie and went to sit in the lounge. Jo came through a few minutes later with their drinks and curled up on the sofa next to him.

“How was your day?” she asked.

“Busy. What have you done, today?”

“Not much, really. I couldn’t settle to anything, for some reason.”

“I’m sure you will, once you’re used to having the place to yourself.” Jo nodded, but didn’t look convinced. Jack moved the conversation on to other things. When the clock chimed six, Jo went off to the kitchen to make a start on dinner. Jack could hear plenty of noise and, sensibly, decided to stay out of the way until Jo should call him. When she eventually came through to fetch him, she was covered in flour, even her hair had white streaks, where she had run her fingers through it, in her attempts to keep it out of her face. She set the dinner on the table and they both sat down to eat, talking about what Jo planned to do the next day. When they had finished, Jo removed the plates and prepared to wash to up. Jack stopped her.

“I’ll wash up. You go and have a bath. I don’t know what you were doing with the flour, but you’re covered in it, including your hair. How on earth did you manage that?”

“Oh, I had it all over my hands and my hair fell into my face,” Jo replied, smiling at him.

“Well, go and clean yourself up.” Jack kissed her and pushed her gently towards the door. He turned to survey the mess she had made and laughed. Turning on the hot tap, he slowly filled the sink and started to wash up. When he had finished, he put the kettle on the stove to make them both a drink. Going upstairs, he found Jo in the bedroom trying to rub her hair dry.

“Let me do it,” he offered. Jo handed him the towel and turned so her back was to him. He gave her hair a vigorous rubbing, until it was almost dry. The kettle started to whistle in the kitchen. “Come back down when you’re finished, and have a drink.”

“I’ve had my eight hours up, though,” Jo said, sadly. Jack came back across the room to hug her.

“In that case, I’ll bring our drinks up here.” He quickly departed and Jo could hear him in the kitchen. She slowly brushed her hair and climbed into bed. Jack soon returned with their drinks and came to sit on the bed with her. Jo drank hers, and then snuggled down under the covers. She was feeling tired, now, and yawned. Jack smiled at her, before gently smoothing her hair from her face and kissing her goodnight. Picking his book up from the bedside cabinet, he read, until he, too, was tired.

The next morning, Jo and Jack spent the morning listening to the radio. At quarter past eleven, they heard the news they had been dreading. Britain had declared war on Germany. Jack pulled Jo into his arms. He could feel her trembling, as she fought emotions forgotten since she had left the Sanatorium. He knew she was still easily upset by anything like this. He held her close for a long time, before he looked down into her black eyes, full of unshed tears.

“It’ll be all right, Jo,” he said, gently.

“It won’t be, though, will it? And what about all those people who are already suffering? All my friends who are still in Austria and Germany? All the people who will have to go and fight? They may make you go, too. You’re the right age and they’ll need doctors.” The tears trickled down her cheeks, and Jack realised she was letting her imagination run away with her.

“Stop it, Jo! You’ll make yourself ill again if you keep this up.” He shook her slightly and she gulped, though the tears still fell. He went to make them both a drink, returning with a steaming cup in each hand.

“Here, drink this,” he told her, handing one to her.

“I-I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“I know. You have to stop letting your imagination to run away with you. I may be conscripted, but I hope not. We can’t worry about things that may or may not happen in the future. For now, I think you should go and lie down and rest.” Jo just nodded. Jack pulled her to her feet and she made her way up to the bedroom. When he checked on her ten minutes later, she was fast asleep.

He made himself something to eat. He had to be at work in a couple of hours. He looked in on Jo, just before he left, but she was still sleeping. Scribbling a note, he propped it on the bedside cabinet, where she would see it when she finally woke. Jo slept for most of the afternoon, only waking because she was hungry. She saw Jack’s note and picked it up.

Gone to work. Will be back late. Don’t worry. I love you. Jack xxx

She smiled and replaced it. She put her dressing gown and slippers on and headed to the kitchen to make herself something to eat and a drink. When she had finished, she collected her book from in the lounge and headed back upstairs to bed. She intended to read for a while, but she soon fell back to sleep, the book slipping from her hand. When Jack arrived home, he found the lamp still burning and the book open on the bed. He picked it up, before gently removing the pillows from behind her so she was more comfortable. He crawled in beside her and kissed her forehead.

Chapter 10 by Vick

You have your appointment at the Sanatorium, tomorrow,” Jack told Jo when he arrived home from work, a couple of weeks later.

Jo just nodded in acknowledgement. He came over to hug her, but she quickly pulled away, going into the kitchen to make them a drink.

“Is everything all right, Jo?”

“Everything is fine, Jack. Go and sit down.” Jo busied herself with the teapot and cups. Jack left her, realising that she wanted to be alone. It was her way of coping with her illness. He knew she still found it difficult to accept that he was also her doctor. He found her to be distant that evening as she withdrew into herself.

Once they had eaten dinner and washed up, Jo went to the door.

“Goodnight, Jack.” She disappeared upstairs, not even kissing him goodnight, something she would normally do. Jack watched her go, wanting to be with her. He felt oddly alone and realised that this was probably how Jo had felt most of the time she was in the Sanatorium. He made a drink for himself, debating whether he should go upstairs to her. When he had finished he decided to risk it and went to check if she was still awake. She was lying with her back to the door, but he could hear the quiet rattle of his rosary as she allowed the beads to slip through her fingers. He lay on the bed next to her, but remained silent, not wishing to force her confidence. Eventually, she rolled over to face him. Saying nothing, she just snuggled into the crook of his arm, laying her head on his chest. He stroked her hair and the slow, rhythmic movement soothed her more than words could have done. She fell asleep with her arm across him.

The next morning, Jo woke to another note from Jack. This time it was about her appointment.

Jem will pick you up at 2.30 and I’ll bring you home when you’ve finished. Love, Jack xxx

Jo spent the morning reading, before making herself a sandwich for lunch. Normally, she would make dinner for them, but she knew she would be unable to do much when she arrived back. She decided to prepare the vegetables, now. This was quickly finished and she left the pans on the stove. She went upstairs and lay on the bed to rest until Jem arrived. She was woken by knocking on the door. Sliding off the bed, she poked her head out of the window. Jem was standing at the door.

“I’ll be two minutes,” she called down.

“Don’t rush!” Jem called back, but Jo had disappeared. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and smiled as she opened the door. She returned it as she stepped back to let him inside.

“I won’t be long. You woke me, so I just need to straighten myself out.” Jem grinned to himself. Her hair was all over and her skirt was looking crumpled.

“Hurry up, then. I have to start work in half an hour and it’s still a good fifteen minutes drive from here.” Jo disappeared back upstairs, returning ten minutes later, looking much neater. She grabbed her coat and handbag from the hallway.

“Ready,” she said.

Jem quickly drove them to the Sanatorium. He left Jo to find her own way to X-ray and the operating theatre waiting room. Once she had had her pneumothorax, she was taken to Jem’s office.

“I think you’re doing well enough to try ten hours time up now, Jo.”

“Thank you.” Jo beamed at him. Jem went to the door and stopped a passing nurse.

“Please could you take Mrs Maynard to the entrance hall to wait for her lift home.” Jack was already waiting for her and he helped her to the car, driving quickly home. He unlocked the door and helped her upstairs to the bedroom, leaving her to undress and climb into bed. When he looked in on her ten minutes later, she was sleeping.

It was nearly seven o’clock, when Jo woke again. She could hear movement downstairs and the smell of cooking wafted up to her. She lay quietly, trying to breathe normally, as she had been told to. She was just dozing back off when she heard Jack coming up the stairs. He came in bearing a tray in each hand. Setting one carefully on the bedside cabinet, he turned the light on. Jo quickly closed her eyes against the harsh glare, before slowly opening them again.

“Sorry,” Jack said, seeing her blink. “I didn’t wake you, did I?” Jo shook her head. “I’ve brought you some dinner.” Jo slowly sat up in the bed. Jack pushed some pillows behind her, and then placed one of the trays across her knee. Jo smiled her thanks at him as he sat next to her with the other tray. When they had finished, he returned them to the kitchen. After he had finished washing up, he brought a hot drink up .

“What did Jem say?”

“Ten hours, now.”

“That’s good news,” he said, smiling at her. Jo nodded and yawned. “Shall I leave you to sleep in peace?” Jo shook her head. Jack stayed where he was, holding her hand until she fell back to sleep.

Chapter 11 by Vick
A week after Jo’s appointment, Jack came home from work one afternoon to find a letter waiting for him. It was his call-up papers. The war had been going on for three weeks, now. He had hoped that he would avoid at least the first round of conscription, but it wasn’t to be. He went to find Jo. She had obviously picked the letter up and placed it on the mantelpiece for him. She wasn’t in the house. This was unusual, as she generally left him a note if she went out. He quickly checked all the obvious places, in case he had missed one, but none was to be found. He went outside to check she wasn’t in the garden. Nothing. He was extremely worried, now, it was so unlike Jo to just disappear. Going back indoors, he put the kettle on. He was just about to go and phone her sister to see if she was there, when he heard the front door open. Going into the hall, he saw Jo slowly hanging her coat up, breathing heavily.

“Jo? Where have you been? I was worried about you.”

“I needed to walk,” she gasped out.

“Go and sit down. I’ll make you a drink.” Jo obeyed, going slowly into the lounge. Jack went to the kitchen and made them both a drink. He returned a few minutes later, to find Jo curled up in the corner of the sofa, her head on the arm. Setting their cups on the table next to her, he crouched down so he could see her face. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears, and she was still breathing quite heavily.

“That letter. You’ve been called up, haven’t you?” she whispered.

“Yes. I have to report in the next few days. Is that why you went walking?” Jo nodded.

“I couldn’t stay here. I needed to clear my head.”

“By walking yourself into this state? That won’t help either of us.” Jo’s tears began to fall, and Jack gently wiped them away. “Don’t cry, Joey. You knew it might happen.”

“Not so soon, though.”

“We saw what was happening when we were still in Austria. I had a small taste of it that week I was taken to Innsbruck. If I can help the people fighting that regime, then I should go.” Jo didn’t answer. She knew he was right. She managed to sit up and picked her drink up. Jack watched her, anxiously. When she replaced the cup, he suggested she go up to bed. She just nodded, but made no attempt to move. She was exhausted. He hauled her gently to her feet, placing his arm quickly around her waist when she swayed. Once he got her up to the bedroom, he helped her into her pyjamas and tucked her into bed. Kissing her, he left her to sleep.

When Jack woke the next morning, he rolled over and looked at Jo. She was still sleeping, and looked even paler than normal. He knew that she would be spending the next few days in bed to recover. He wasn’t at work until later on, so he could look after her until he had to leave. He slipped out of bed and quietly dressed. Going downstairs, he made himself some breakfast. He checked on Jo an hour later and found she had just woken up.

“How do you feel?” he asked, sitting down on the bed.

“Tired.”

“Stay where you are and rest for today. You did too much, yesterday. Would you like something to eat?” Jo shook her head.

“Just a drink, please.” Jack looked keenly at her. He knew she needed to eat, but wasn’t going to force her, yet. He went off to the kitchen, quickly returning with a drink. She had dozed back off, so he gently placed it on the bedside cabinet, in case she woke. When he appeared at lunch time with a sandwich for her, she was still sleeping. He woke her and told her to sit up.

“I’m not hungry,” she protested.

“You have to eat, otherwise you’ll end up back in the Sanatorium,” he told her. He passed her the plate and picked up the now-cold drink from earlier. “I’ll go and get you a fresh drink. When I get back, I want that plate to be empty.” He walked off at this, leaving Jo alone again. When he reached the kitchen, he dropped heavily into one of the chairs, rested his elbows on the table and put his head in his hands. He hated having to be so authoritative to his wife. She was impulsive in her nature, though. He knew the reason for her walk yesterday. She hadn’t thought about how easily she could make herself ill again. Jack worried how she would cope when he was gone. He decided to have a word with Jem, when he got to work. He had to tell him about the call-up papers, anyway. He stood back up and made a drink for himself and Jo, slowly returning to the bedroom. Jo had managed to finish the sandwich, and he smiled at her. Setting the cups down, he sat down beside her, pulling her into his arms.

“I’m sorry,” Jo said into his chest. “For yesterday. I didn’t mean to worry you. I just needed to stop myself from thinking about all the awful things that might happen to you. Walking was the only way I could do it.”

“I know, Jo. I can’t help worrying, though. You mean the world to me and I don’t want you to make yourself ill again. You could so easily have set yourself back, by walking like that. I understand why you needed to do it, but it hasn’t helped. You’ve ended up having to spend today in bed, and tomorrow, too.” Jack held her tighter, wishing he could stay with her, but he needed to get to work. He reluctantly let her go, and she lay back down. “I have to go to work, now. You get some more sleep. Your sister is coming over, so you won’t be alone.” He kissed her and left her to sleep.

Jo slept all afternoon. Her sister came to sit with her, but didn’t disturb her. When Jack had rung her that morning he had just told her that Jo was unwell, and could she come and sit with her, while he was at work. It wasn’t until Jem came to the cottage on his way home from his own shift, that she discovered the reason why. Madge let him in and they went into the kitchen, where they would be unlikely to disturb Jo, as the bedroom was above the lounge.

“Jack’s been called up,” Jem said, as he sat down in one of the chairs.

“That’s awful news. When does he have to go?”

“In a few days. He found out yesterday. Apparently, Jo guessed when the letter dropped through the door and she picked it up.”

“Is that what’s wrong with her? Jack just said she was unwell on the ‘phone this morning.”

“She went walking to try and stop her imagination running wild. She was in a terrible state when she finally arrived back home.”

“Why didn’t she just ring me? If she didn’t want to be alone, I could have come over.”

“You’d have to ask Jo that question. All I know is that she’s now exhausted herself, and Jack’s making her stay in bed whilst she recovers.” Madge just nodded. Her thoughts alternated between anger at Jo for going walking when she wasn’t up to it, and feeling sorry for her as she had had such a short time to enjoy married life with Jack.

“Is she still sleeping?” Jem asked.

“She was when I checked an hour ago. Do you want me to go and see?” Jem nodded and Madge quickly ran upstairs, returning a minute or so later. “Still fast on. I don’t think she’s even moved since last time I checked.”

“Good. Jack also asked me if we could think of anything to keep Jo occupied, while he’s gone, so she doesn’t fret. I told him I would ask you.” Madge looked thoughtful for a few minutes, before going to turn the ring on underneath the kettle. When she had placed a drink in front of her husband, sitting down opposite him with her own, she had an idea.

“What about if Robin comes to stay here, with her? She’s missing Jo, now she doesn’t live with us,” she asked.

“Hmm. That may be an idea. She isn’t noisy and would be at school during the day, so Jo can still rest properly.”

“The only thing is that Daisy would miss her company. Unless Daisy comes here, too.”

“It’s certainly much closer for them to cycle to school from here. Daisy is so much more boisterous than Robin, though. I don’t know if Jo could cope with her as well as Robin.”

“It’s mainly the weekends that Jo will struggle with her. We could insist that they both spend Saturdays at our house, so Jo can have a break.”

“We could always try it. If it’s obvious that Daisy is too much for her, she can come back to us. I’ll suggest it to Jack and see what he thinks.” He stood up at this. “I’ll just have a quick look at Jo, and then I’ll get off home.” He disappeared upstairs and was gone a good ten minutes. Madge concluded that her sister had woken, and set about preparing something for her to eat. She had just put the meal onto a tray, when he came back in. He smiled at her, but she could see he wasn’t happy.

“Make sure she eats it,” he told her. He kissed her goodbye, and left. Madge took the tray up to Jo. She was sitting up in bed, but looked very tired and pale. Placing the tray across her knee, Madge smiled at her. Jo returned it with a wan one of her own.

“I’m not hungry, Madge.”

“Jem says you have to eat it. If you don’t, you’ll be facing his wrath, as well as Jack’s.” Knowing Jem’s wrath all too well, Jo reluctantly picked up her fork and tried to make an effort. She managed to eat most of it, though she refused anything else. Madge didn’t push her. She was just relieved to see she had eaten something. She took the tray from Jo, who immediately lay back down, and was soon asleep once more. Madge departed back to the kitchen to wash up. Just as she had finished, and was putting the last plate away in the cupboard, Jack came in through the door.

“How is Jo?” he asked her.

“She’s just eaten something and gone back to sleep again.” Madge replied.

“Good. Thank you for staying with her.”

“You’re welcome. Do you need me to come tomorrow?”

“No. It’s my day off, so I can manage.”

“Just ring me if you need me. I don’t mind coming to sit with her.” Madge picked her coat up at this. Jack escorted her to the door, and watched her climb into her car and set off for her own home. Climbing into bed as quietly as he could, so as not to disturb Jo, he was soon asleep.

Jo stayed in bed for the next two days. Jack finally allowed her up again the day before he was due to present himself at the recruiting office. Jem had given him the day off so he could spend the time with Jo. They didn’t go out since Jo wasn’t allowed to do anything strenuous. Jack could see she was trying to keep her emotions in check, so she didn’t spoil his last day at home. Towards the end of the afternoon, they were sitting on the sofa, Jo curled up next to him, her head on his chest and his arms around her.

“Jo?” he murmured.

“Mmm?”

“I want you to promise me something.” Jo didn’t reply, so he carried on, “Promise me you won’t go walking again, like you did a few days ago and that you’ll try not to worry too much. I don’t want to come back and find you back in the Sanatorium.” Jo made no sound, but he could feel her body shaking as she sobbed silently into his shirt. He tightened his grip on her, allowing her to cry. Eventually, he moved, forcing her to sit up. He wiped her tears away, and held her face up to his. He could see love and anguish in her eyes, and felt tears pricking the back of his own eyes. “Promise me, Joey.”

“I-I promise,” she whispered.

“I love you, Joey Maynard. I love you more than anything, and I’m going to come back to you as soon as I possibly can. I want you to be here when I do come back.” He drew her back into his arms again at this, his tears falling on her hair.
Chapter 12 by Vick
Three weeks after Jack’s departure, Jo was beginning to settle into a new routine. Robin and Daisy had duly moved in with her, and were sharing the spare room. Their company was a distraction from her worry over what might be happening to Jack. She enjoyed hearing their chatter about school, and what their friends were doing. When she was alone, she tried to occupy herself with other distractions. She was mindful of her promise to Jack on his last day and hadn’t gone walking to try and clear her mind. Her sense of responsibility towards Robin and Daisy also stopped her.

Winter drew in, and with it the bad weather. Jo had received a few brief notes from Jack, but none of them calmed her fears for his safety. She tried to keep them to herself, not wanting to worry anyone else. As a result, she had a shorter temper than usual, snapping at the smallest provocation. Jem spoke to her the day after her next appointment at the Sanatorium when he came round to see how she was managing. They were alone in the house, as Robin and Daisy were at school.

“How are you coping, Jo?”

“Okay. I think I’ve got used to taking it slowly for the next few days after my treatment, now.”

“I don’t mean that. You’re worrying, aren’t you?”

“Oh.” Jo lapsed into silence as she tried to gather her thoughts. Jem watched her, concerned. “I just feel as if something isn’t right. With Jack. I don’t know what it is, though. I haven’t heard from him, at all, this past week.”

“I’m sure he’s fine. He probably just hasn’t had any time to write, that’s all.”

“That’s not like him. He’s written every week, however briefly.” Jo stared, uneasily, at the fire in the grate.

“Don’t let your imagination run away with you, Jo. Remember what happened last time.”

“I know. I’m trying not to. I promise.”

“If you want to talk about anything, your sister or I will always make time for you. We don’t want you to make yourself ill again, through worry. Nor would Jack want it.” Jo nodded, though she stayed silent. She knew Jem cared about her well-being but her feelings were too deep for her to try and talk to anyone, let alone her brother-in-law. He left her not long afterwards and she managed to occupy herself with innocuous tasks until Robin and Daisy arrived home.

Her worries re-surfaced that night when she was alone in bed. She tossed and turned, unable to sleep. In frustration, she climbed back out of bed and went downstairs to make herself a hot drink. Turning the ring on below the kettle, she slowly prepared the teapot. She was tired and not paying attention to what she was doing. When the kettle started to whistle, she turned the ring off and lifted it to pour the water. She was holding the teapot steady in her left hand when the water missed the teapot and she poured it over herself. Dropping the kettle onto the side, she screamed as the pain began to register. This woke both Robin and Daisy, who came racing downstairs to see what the noise was about. Jo was just standing in the middle of the kitchen in tears and holding her left hand.

“Jo? What’s happened?” Robin asked. She saw Jo was holding her hand and wrist, which were bright red. “Have you hurt yourself?” Jo just nodded, unable to speak. Catching sight of the steaming kettle on the kitchen side, she ran across the room and pulled Jo to the sink. Turning the cold tap on, she thrust Jo’s hand underneath it.

“Daisy, go and ring Bonne Maison and ask Jem to come.” Daisy nodded and ran to the telephone. Robin could hear odd words over the noise of the tap and hoped Jem was home. Daisy re-appeared a minute or so later.

“He’s on his way,” she said. “He said to keep running cold water on it until he got here.” Robin nodded. Daisy shivered, feeling cold. She realised that neither she and Robin were wearing dressing gowns or slippers, such was their haste to get downstairs. She quickly ran back up and put hers on, bringing Robin’s down for her. She had just dumped them on the kitchen table, when a knock came at the door and she ran to let her uncle in. He strode over to the sink and gently moved Robin out of the way, telling her to dry her hands and to put her dressing gown on, then wait in the lounge with Daisy.

Jem quickly dealt with Jo, who said nothing the whole time. She was in shock and, once he had bandaged her up and given her some painkillers, he escorted her back up to bed and tucked her in, telling her to stay where she was in the morning. He then went back downstairs and into the lounge. Robin and Daisy were both curled up together on the sofa.

“Do you know what happened?” he asked, as he sat with them.

“No. We just heard a scream and came down to see Jo standing in the middle of the room, holding her arm,” Robin explained. “Is she all right?”

“She’s a little shocked, but otherwise, yes. She’ll have some pain from that scald for a while, though. You did the right thing to call me,” he replied. Daisy yawned. “Now, I think you had both better go back to bed. It’s late and you should both be asleep. Don’t worry about school in the morning, we’ll let Miss Annersley know you won’t be there for the first lesson. I’ll come back first thing to check on Jo and talk to you then.” He stood up at this, the girls following suit. They both went upstairs and quickly climbed into bed, Jem tucking them in. “Goodnight.” He left them at that and let himself out the door, pushing the key back through the letterbox.

The next morning, Jem came to check on them. The girls had just risen and were eating breakfast when he knocked on the door. Picking the key up from the mat, Robin let him in. He followed her to the kitchen, where he accepted a drink. They both looked a little tired, still.

“Is Jo awake, yet?” he asked them.

“She wasn’t half an hour ago, when we came down,” Robin replied.

Jem nodded. “You had both better get off to school, if you’ve finished. If you go now, you’ll be there in time for break.” Robin stood up at this and went to find her things, whilst Daisy quickly finished her drink, before following. Jem looked after them and smiled. It had been a good idea to send them to Jo. They were growing up fast, now, and the calm they had showed the previous night had impressed him. He thought of his sister and how proud she would be of Daisy. Once he had seen them both setting off for school on their bicycles, he went upstairs to check on Jo. She had just woken, and was rather dejected.

“How are you feeling, Jo?” Jem came over to the side of the bed.

“It hurts.”

“I’m not surprised. What were you doing downstairs at that time of night, anyway?”

“I couldn’t sleep. I thought if I went and made a drink it might help. I managed to miss the teapot somehow.”

“Luckily, Robin and Daisy heard you scream and came to investigate.”

“Where are they?”

“Gone to school. They left about ten minutes ago. I’ll leave you some painkillers on the kitchen side.” He set off towards the door. When he reached it, he turned back to her. “Try not to do anything with that hand. I’ll come to look at it tomorrow and change the dressing.” He left her alone once more at this.

Jo sighed and threw back the covers with her good hand. She went to the bathroom and managed to have some sort of a wash. She found getting dressed to be a challenge, especially trying to fasten buttons one-handed. She felt thankful that she had kept her hair in a short bob since leaving the Sanatorium.

Madge came round to see her and stayed for lunch. Jo was thankful for some company to take her mind off the pain and her worry about Jack. Madge kept the conversation light, but could tell her sister was still worrying. She didn’t push the matter, knowing that if Jo wanted to talk, she would do so in her own time.
Chapter 13 by Vick
A week after her accident with the kettle, Jo went over to visit her sister one morning. When she returned, she let herself in, closing the door behind her. She was slowly undoing the buttons on her coat, when Jack appeared in the doorway of the lounge. Jo stared at him for a minute, before flinging herself into his arms.

“Oh, Jack! How I’ve missed you. I’ve been so worried about you, too.” She hugged him tightly. He returned it, before putting her away from him.

“I’ve missed you, as well. How about you finish taking your coat off and then we can sit in the warmth, instead of standing here in the hallway.” Jo smiled and finished her buttons, before shrugging her coat from her shoulders. Jack noticed she was doing everything one-handed, and then caught a glimpse of white covering her left hand. He came and took her coat from her, before it landed on the floor. After he had hung it up, he gently took her left arm in his hands.

“What have you been doing, Jo?”

“I managed to miss the teapot,” she told him, ruefully. Jack sighed and released her arm, before leading her into the lounge where a fire was burning merrily in the grate. He sat down on the sofa, and Jo curled up next to him, leaning her head on his chest. They sat in silence for a while, just glad to be together again. Eventually, Jack broke the silence.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m back?” Jo sat up and looked at him, enquiringly. “I’ve been ill. They’ve given me three weeks sick leave.”

“Oh, Jack!” Tears welled up in her eyes. “How ill? It must have been bad for them to send you home.”

“It was quite bad.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want you to be worried, Jo. You’ve enough on your plate, as it is.”

“That doesn’t stop me from worrying about you, Jack. That’s how I did this.” She pulled back from him and held up her bandaged hand. “When I hadn’t heard from you in over a week, I couldn’t sleep one night and decided to get up and make myself a drink. Somehow, I managed to pour the water over my hand, instead of into the teapot.” Jack drew her into his arms once more, dropping a kiss onto her hair.

“I’m sorry. I thought it would be better if you didn’t know at the time. I didn’t want you to worry any more than you already were and make yourself ill again.” He changed the subject. “How have you been managing to do anything, with only one hand?”

“Slowly. Robin and Daisy have been wonderful. They’ve helped out with everything, including making dinner every night.”

“Speaking of eating, isn’t it lunch time, now?” Jo glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece and stood up.

“It is, but you’ll have to make yourself a sandwich, I’m afraid. Robin made one for me this morning but, since we had no idea you would be back, there isn’t enough for you as well.” She led the way into the kitchen and produced a plate carefully wrapped in greaseproof paper.

“Will you put the kettle on, please?” Jack obliged, before making his own sandwich. Jo managed to prepare the teapot and, when the kettle started to whistle, went to pick it up. Jack was quicker.

“I’ll do it. You sort out the cups and sit down.” Jo did as she was asked. She knew Jack just wanted to help but, for some reason, it irritated her. She said nothing, though, preferring to keep the peace.

When they had finished, Jo departed to rest in bed, as she normally did. Jack followed her upstairs and snuggled down next to her, his arm across her waist. He lay thinking for a while as he listened to Jo’s quiet breathing. He realised that she had become very independent during the weeks he had been away. Although she had said nothing, he had seen the look of irritation cross her face when he told her that he would make the tea. She had managed alone for the past week with only one good hand, and hadn’t come to any harm. His natural instinct was to try and protect her but, he realised, she didn’t want to be protected. She wanted to prove that she could cope with whatever challenges were put in her path. He made a mental note to try to think before his instinct made him do things for her. He then fell asleep, as he was still recovering from his own illness.

When Jo woke, Jack was still asleep. Robin and Daisy were due home in an hour, so she left him to sleep on, knowing there wouldn’t be any chance of resting once they saw him. She went into the kitchen and made a pot of tea, sitting down at the kitchen table with it. Just as she was finishing her first cupful, Jack came into the room, looking apologetic for having fallen asleep. Jo smiled up at him, before standing to fetch another cup. He sat down opposite her and accepted it with a smile. Ten minutes later, the front door opened and Robin and Daisy appeared. When they saw Jack they came running to greet him. He returned their hugs with a smile. Robin made a fresh pot of tea and they all sat down to enjoy it as a family.
Chapter 14 by Vick
It was early December, and Jo was drying the pots as Jack washed up after breakfast. Jo’s hand was healing well now, and it was no longer bandaged. It felt strange to her, but Jack assured her that it would improve, as she started to use it more. Jack had been back home for two weeks and was feeling much better than when he had arrived. He had spent quite a lot of time sleeping and Jo had been inclined to worry over him. He had managed to alleviate her worst fears, telling her it was the best thing for him. Just as they were finishing the washing up, they heard the rattle of the letterbox. Jo went to pick the mail up and sorted it on the kitchen table. She picked her letters up and went off to read them in the lounge. Jack collected his, but stayed to read them at the kitchen table. When he had finished he put the kettle on, and made a drink for them both. Taking the cups through, he went to sit beside Jo, who was reading a lengthy screed from an old school friend. She looked at Jack with a smile.

“Anything of interest?” he asked, as he passed her a cup.

“Thank you. Just a letter from Mary Burnett. Yours?”

“Nothing exciting, I’m afraid. I have to go and see the medical board next week, though. They’ll be sending me back before long.” Jo’s smile faded at this news. She had known it would happen but, she had secretly hoped he would be home for longer. Jack put his arm around her, pulling her in to him. She leaned her head on his shoulder.

“You knew it must come, Jo.”

“I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“But if it’s to rid the world of something evil, surely it’s a small price to pay? You’re one of the lucky ones, Jo. You have family to support you. Many women watch their loved ones go, knowing they have no one else.” He cupped her face in his hands, looking into her eyes, full of unshed tears. “As hard as it is for you, it’s just as hard for me. I want to stay here and look after you but, I know I have to do what I can to help those who are fighting for us.” He kissed her gently, before drawing her back into his arms. They stayed like that for a long time, both reluctant to let go.

An unexpected knock at the door finally broke them apart. Jo slowly went to answer it. Whoever she had expected, it wasn’t the person standing there.

“Frieda!” she cried, before pulling her, quickly, into her arms. Frieda returned the hug. Both were so happy to see each other, they never gave a thought to the door which stood wide open, letting the cold rain in on them. Jack had heard Jo’s cry and came to see for himself. Frieda broke away from Jo to greet him, and he returned it, happily, before suggesting that they should close the door before anyone caught a chill. Taking Frieda’s coat from her, he sent them into the lounge, before going into the kitchen to make a fresh pot of tea. When it was ready he took it through, joining the two women, who were both rather tearful. While they were talking, Jo suddenly noticed a gleam of gold on her friend’s left hand. She wanted to know when it had happened and who the lucky man was. Frieda blushed, telling them that she had married another of the doctors from the Sonnalpe Sanatorium. Both Jo and Jack were overjoyed to hear this news and that he was also safe. Jo enquired why he hadn’t come with her, but Frieda informed them that he had had other things to do that morning. Eventually, Frieda noticed the time and reluctantly took her leave as she was expected elsewhere. Promising that she and her husband would come to dinner one night next week, she left them alone once more.
Chapter 15 by Vick
Before Jo had chance to realise it, Jack was gone again. Robin and Daisy had spent Jack’s last day at Bonne Maison, allowing Jo to have some time alone with him. They missed him, but knew he was helping those fighting for freedom. Christmas was almost upon them, but Jo didn’t feel inclined to celebrate. Her husband was away at the front and she spent her time anxiously waiting for any news from him, hoping he was safe.

At her next appointment at the Sanatorium, Jem decided to have a word with her. He had noticed that she was looking a little thinner than normal. Careful questioning of Robin and Daisy had revealed that she wasn’t eating properly. When a nurse had pushed her wheelchair into his office, he came round the desk to sit with her.

“What’s bothering you, Jo?”

“Nothing.”

“I don’t believe that. You aren’t looking as well as normal and, I’m willing to bet that you aren’t eating properly.” Jo didn’t reply. She stared at the wall, unable to meet Jem’s steady gaze. He sighed, before continuing, “I can’t let you have any more time up, until you start to show more improvement. Worrying over Jack like this isn’t helping you to get better. He wouldn’t want you to be in a permanent state of anxiety. He wants you to keep on improving, just as much as I do. At the rate you’re going, you’ll end up back in here.” Jo just sat there, tears coursing down her face. She had tried to keep her worries to herself, hiding behind a façade of normality, but Jem had seen through it. He saw the girl he had known for so many years, determined to try to carry on as normal, whilst her imagination was running away with her. He let her cry on for a few minutes, knowing she had to have some release, though he was concerned for her. She had just had pneumothorax and was breathless enough, without the added stress of crying. As soon as he saw her starting to struggle, he spoke again.

“Jo. You need to stop crying, now.” Jo gulped, trying to catch her breath. Jem passed her some tissues. Eventually, she calmed down, though she was still struggling to breathe. He wondered whether he should keep her in the Sanatorium overnight, then decided against it. He knew she would fret even more if he did that, as she would think he was re-admitting her. She needed to be back at home where she was with people she loved. Robin and Daisy were only young, but they were Jo’s family, now, even more so with Jack away. He gathered his things together, and then turned back to her.

“Let’s get you back home, or Robin and Daisy will be worrying about you.” He pushed her out to his car and helped her in, before driving as quickly as he could back to Jo’s cottage. Helping her upstairs, he left her to undress and climb into bed while he had a word with the girls. When he went to check on Jo, just before he left, she was fast asleep, worn out by her emotions.

Jem came to check on Jo the next morning. She was still in bed when he arrived, Robin letting him in as she and Daisy left for school. He looked in on Jo and saw she was still sleeping. Going back downstairs, he went to sit in the lounge and wait. He was determined to see her eat a proper meal, so he had planned to take her to Bonne Maison for lunch. When he checked on her an hour later, she had just woken. She managed a faint smile at him, which he returned, before suggesting she got up and came down for some breakfast.

Jo appeared twenty minutes later and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Making a pot of tea, she poured one for Jem as well as herself. Jem thanked her and watched as she produced some cereal from a cupboard and ate a bowlful. Thankful that she had eaten something, Jem kept their conversation light and observed that she looked a little better than she had the previous day. He invited her to lunch, which Jo accepted. When she had woken during the night, she had done some serious thinking. She knew that Jem had been right when he said that Jack wouldn’t want her to make herself ill through worry. She had remembered her promise to him before he had first departed. Jem’s intervention had reminded her of that promise.

Lunch passed off, easily. Jo ate everything she was given and Jem was thankful to see it. He didn’t want to have to re-admit her, but, he knew that it would have been unavoidable if she had started to lose weight through worry and not eating. He hoped that she was back on the way to recovery once more, and that she would learn to cope with her worry over Jack. He knew she wouldn’t be able to completely escape it and she would always have it in the back of her mind, but if his intervention had done something to help her, he was happy.

When they had finished lunch, he drove Jo back to her cottage. They sat in silence for the most part, Jo watching the countryside passing her window. When he pulled up at the cottage, Jem spoke.

“Jo?”

“Mmm?”

“Don’t let yourself get into that cycle of worry, again. I know it must be hard to deal with, but, bottling your feelings up doesn’t help you. If you need to talk, do so. I don’t mind listening. In fact, I’d rather listen, than have to threaten you with being re-admitted.”

“I won’t.” Jo turned to face him, her eyes full of unshed tears. “I know I’m not the easiest of people to deal with, but I am who I am. I can’t help it. Sometimes, thoughts just carry me away and once it starts, I can’t stop it.”

“I know, and I don’t want you to try and be something you aren’t. I’ve known you for half your life, now, and I can tell when something isn’t right. You’re just as much my sister as you are Madge’s, and I worry about you as much as she does. Perhaps even more so, over the last couple of years.” Jo didn’t answer this, she just leaned over and hugged him, as well as she could in the confined space of the car. Jem returned it, confident that she had turned the final corner, now, and wouldn’t intentionally go down that path again.
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