Jo's Biggest Challenge, Part VIII by Vick

Jo is back at home after having her first child...

Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Anna Pfeiffen, Daisy Venables, Jack Maynard, Jem Russell, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Robin Humphries, Stephen Maynard
School Period: Armishire
School Name: None
Genre: Alternate Universe, Angst
Series: Jo's Biggest Challenge
Chapters: 19 Completed: Yes Word count: 29925 Read: 44172 Published: 22 Sep 2014 Updated: 25 Jan 2015
Chapter 9 by Vick
Author's Notes:

Thanks for your lovely reviews, people.

Before Jo realised it, summer was over and the girls were looking forward to a new term at school. Robin was due to start at Oxford University this term and, though she was looking forward to the new challenge in her life, she knew it would be hard to be so far away from her family and alone for a whole term. Daisy, Flora and Fiona were due to start back at school on the Thursday, so Jo spent the morning helping the twins pack their trunks ready, whilst Robin helped Daisy with hers.

“It’ll be strange coming home at weekends without you, Robin,” Daisy announced as she put the final few bits into her trunk.

“It’ll be strange not being here at all. I’m looking forward to it, but, I know it’s going to be so different to what I’m used to here. I’m going to miss so much of Stephen growing up, too.”

“I’ll make sure I take lots of snaps to send to you. Then at least you’ll have plenty of pictures.”

“Thanks, Daisy. Don’t forget to give an eye to the twins as well, will you?”

“I won’t. They seem happy enough, though. They’ve not had any problems since that first term when they clashed with Betty and her pals.”

“Yes, that’s true. They’re friendly enough with everyone and seem quite pally with Bride, Nancy and that crowd.”

“When do you go to Oxford?”

“Jack is taking me up on the Sunday after you’ve all started back at school. Jo will find it quiet after we’ve all gone.”

“I’ll still be home at weekends to keep her company since Uncle Jack is in and out at all hours now he’s back at work.”

“True. Did I tell you that I’m giving my room up to Stephen?”

“No. Where are you going to stay when you come home?”

“In the guest room, I suppose. I’m not going to be here forever and they do need the room now Stephen is growing so quickly. He’s seven months old and really needs to be in his own room since he rarely wakes during the night anymore. Considering I’ll be away most of the year, it makes sense to let him have my room. I suppose when Shiena comes to visit the twins, I can always stay at the Round House. It’s not fair for her to have to stay elsewhere when I have a home there too.”

“If it comes to that, I could always stay there and Shiena can have my room. After all, it’s my official home, too. It’s odd, isn’t it? We’ve both found a happy home here with Auntie Jo and Uncle Jack, yet our official guardians are Uncle Jem and Auntie Madge.”

“Yes. As much as I love Jem and Madge, I do think of home as here, though. Jo has been a sister to me since I was a small child of six and, apart from when she’s been in the Sanatorium; we’ve not really been parted from each other. I love her dearly and only wish Oxford was closer so I could continue to come home each weekend as you’ll still be doing.”

“You’ll have plenty of new friends and things to keep you occupied and; hopefully, I’ll be coming to Oxford with you in two years, provided I pass my exams. At least we’ll be together again then. You still have all the holidays too. You can have my room and I’ll move back to the Round House for holidays.”

“Don’t be silly, Daisy! I don’t want you to give up your room for me. You’re almost another sister, now. I have no other family since my father died. We’ll work things out, somehow.” Daisy nodded in reply and turned to check she had everything in her trunk. Jack was taking it up to school the following morning, along with Flora’s and Fiona’s, so she needed to make sure it was ready to go downstairs first thing after breakfast. After a final check on the list, she dropped the sheet of paper on top of everything and shut the lid with a thump, Robin helping her to fasten the straps tightly.

“There!” Daisy announced. “That’s finished anyway. Shall we go and see what everyone else is doing?”

“I heard footsteps on the stairs a few minutes ago, so I suspect the twins have finished as well. Let’s go and see if anyone has made any tea. I know Anna took Stephen out with her when she went in to the village earlier so we’ll have to make our own if they haven’t arrived back.”

Together, Robin and Daisy descended the stairs and turned into the lounge to find Flora and Jo in there. Flora was attempting to remove a game from the pile and Fiona was missing.

“Where’s Fiona?” Robin asked as she came to help Flora by lifting up the games above.

“Thank you! She’s making a pot of tea as Anna hasn’t arrived back home, yet.” Flora pulled out the box she wanted and stood back up, smiling. “Anyone want to play Tiddlywinks?” Jo smiled at this announcement.

“Of course. Though we’ll have to tidy it away once Stephen gets back, otherwise he’ll be trying to eat the counters.” Fiona arrived bearing a tray and Daisy came to take it from her, carrying it across to the table whilst Fiona returned to the kitchen for the teapot. Once they were all settled with a cup of tea and a biscuit, the game was set up and they began.

Jack heard the laughter as he entered half an hour later. He discarded his outdoor things and came into the lounge just as Daisy wailed out loud.

“Oh, no! I’ve tiddled my wink into my teacup!”

“You should watch where you’re aiming, Daisy,” thus Jo as well as she could for laughing. Jack smiled to see his wife looking so happy. After everything she’d gone though since that first diagnosis he was pleased to actually see a genuine smile on her face and enjoyment in her surroundings. He crossed the room to the table and dropped a kiss on her head.

“Hello, all, who’s winning?”

“Hello, Dr Jack,” Flora smiled up at him. “I’m not too sure. I think it might be Robin.”

“It’s not me,” Robin replied. “I’ve only managed one so far. I thought it was Fiona.” Fiona shook her head vigorously.

“I think we’ll have to call it a draw, especially after Daisy’s effort.” Jo joined in the conversation, now she’d stopped laughing. Jack could hear her breathing was slightly laboured, but said nothing, not wishing to spoil her happiness at any reminder of her health.

“Anna was just coming down the lane when I arrived back,” he stated.

“We’d better tidy up, then. Twins will you make sure we have all the counters, please. Robin, you might run and turn the kettle on while Daisy and I tidy the cups up.” Everyone turned to and began to tidy up the lounge, Jack running upstairs to change before returning in time to prevent Jo from carrying the tray across to the kitchen. He took it from her and sent her back into the lounge moments before Anna came into the hall bearing Stephen in her arms. He greeted her as she crossed to the lounge door and she replied with a smile, returning to the kitchen once she had left Stephen with his mother.
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