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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for your reviews people.  They're much appreciated, especially through this section of the story.

I'd also just like to add a very large thank you to MaryR, who has patiently proofread all of this saga so far as this chapter.  Now, I've finally bit the bullet and am continuing alone, so apologies for any glaring errors I may have left in.

Jem returned to Jo’s cottage around midnight. He was tired, but happy that he’d left the Sanatorium in the capable hands of one of his most trusted doctors. He hoped that Jo had gone into a natural sleep and wasn’t disturbed by nightmares. It had been a long day and he wanted to be able to sit down and relax for a short while.

He was out of luck. As soon as he stopped the engine outside the cottage, he could hear the screaming. Locking the car, he ran inside and up to Jo’s room. He arrived just in time to see her lash out and hit her sister in the eye. Madge reeled backwards at the force of the blow and Jem caught her. He turned to Robin and Daisy.

“Take Madge downstairs and put some ice on that eye. I’ll deal with Jo. You might make some tea and a sandwich or two as well.” His tone was peremptory and they obeyed without question.

Meanwhile, Jem turned to the bed and saw that Jo was still deep within her nightmare, though the screaming had stopped for now. He hoped he could rouse her and help her. Raising his voice he spoke to her.

“Jo! Wake up! You’re dreaming!” Nothing. “Jo!” This time he practically shouted her name and was rewarded by seeing her eyelids flutter. After another attempt, she opened her eyes and turned a terrified face towards him. Jem perched on the edge of the bed and held her hand.

“It’s all right, Jo. You’ve been dreaming again. Just lie still and get your breath back.”

“Oh, Jem! It…”

“Shhh. Don’t talk just yet. Concentrate on breathing for now and I’ll call for someone to bring some tea up. I won’t be a minute.” He went to the top of the stairs and called Daisy, asking her to bring them some tea and a sandwich each. She disappeared back into the kitchen and Jem returned to Jo. He could hear her breathing becoming less laboured as he sat back down.

“Daisy is going to bring us a drink up and something to eat as well.” He turned thankfully to the door as a tap came on it and Daisy came in with a tray. He took it from her with a word of thanks before she disappeared off back downstairs. Helping Jo to sit up, he pushed a few pillows behind her before handing her one of the plates.

“Eat that, Jo.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“You’ve barely eaten in the past few days. The baby will be hungry, even if you aren’t.” Jo sighed. She didn’t want to think about the baby. She just wished she could go a long way away and forget all about what was happening now. She wanted to be back in carefree times, before her illness and all that had followed. She had been so happy then. She had been invincible. Nothing could stop her. Now, all her world was coming crashing down around her and she had no safety net, no barriers to hold it back. The baby growing inside her was the last thing on her mind. She was tempted to throw the plate back at Jem, but something stopped her. She slowly picked up the sandwich and began to eat. Jem watched her as he ate his own sandwich. When he was satisfied she had eaten enough, he took the plate back from her and made her lay back down.

Once Jo was comfortable again, Jem persuaded her to tell him her dream. He listened quietly, allowing her to describe it in vivid detail. He wasn’t surprised she had been screaming again, and realised that he had been right in his surmising of why Jo was writing. It was an outlet for her imagination. Madge was correct when she had suggested that Jo wasn't resting properly because she couldn’t write. Looking at his sister-in-law, Jem’s heart went out to her. She was so pale as she lay against her pillows, her black hair a shocking contrast. As much as he’d lost a friend, he knew that Jo had lost her soul-mate. Although the couple had never spoken of their feelings, Jem knew they meant the world to each other. Jack’s death had knocked Jo for more than six and he was unsure how she would ever recover from such a blow.

As she finally ran down, Jo stared at the ceiling, unable to meet Jem’s eyes. She was exhausted, but she was afraid to sleep. The nightmare might come back and she didn’t think she could go through it again. She didn’t want to be left alone, either, as her imagination would run away with her. Jem’s voice cut across her thoughts.

“Jo, would writing help you with these nightmares?” He spoke quietly, almost hesitant. He knew that Jack had told him in confidence and he was reluctant to break it. He wasn’t sure how Jo would react to him knowing the reason why she wrote.

“How do you know about my writing?”

“Jack told me just before he left. He wanted me to know the reason why it was important you spent time writing. He didn’t tell me any details, but I’m guessing it’s a sort of therapy for you.”

“It’s worked before. I thought you wanted me to have complete bedrest, though?”

“I do, but you aren’t resting are you? Your thoughts are crowding in and they’re finding the only way out is in your dreams, hence the violent nightmares. If writing is going to help, then I have to allow it so you can rest properly.”

“Thank you.”

“You ought to try to sleep again, now. It’s late.”

“No! I can’t sleep! The nightmare will come back, I know it will.” Jo attempted to sit up as she said this.

“Lie back down, Jo. Just because I’m going to allow you to write doesn’t mean you can attempt to sit up. Look, I’m going to leave the little lamp on and I’ll stay in the room with you. If you have a recurrence, I’ll be here for you. In the morning, I’ll see about bringing your writing things up and you may spend an hour at it.”

“Are you sure you won’t leave me?”

“I promise one of us will be with you throughout the night, Jo. We won’t leave you.” He tucked the bedclothes around her and turned on the small bedside lamp before retreating to the corner of the room and the comfortable chair there. Jo lay still in obedience to his instructions and found the small light source helped. Jem quietly watched as her breathing became more regular as she drifted off once more. As he watched, the door opened softly to admit his wife. He put his finger to his lips and came across to her, motioning her back out onto the landing.

“How is Jo?”

“Asleep for the moment. I’ve promised her one of us will stay with her all night.” He looked at his wife and saw the discolouration around her eye. “You have a lovely shiner there, darling. Does it hurt?”

“A little. I’m sure Jo will be mortified when she sees it.”

“I’ll get you some painkillers and then you should go and get some sleep. I’ll take the first watch and wake you when I need you.”

“You’ve been up all day, Jem. You must be tired out. Let me take the first watch.”

“I’m fine, darling. You ought to sleep that headache off for a while. Have the girls come up to bed yet?”

“They were just tidying up downstairs, before they come up.”

“Let them sleep in tomorrow and ring Hilda in the morning to let her know they won’t be in school this week. They’ve had a shock as well and need to have some time to recover from it.”

“We’ll have to explain what’s happened. I’m not sure if Jo is ready for anyone else to know, yet.”

“I’m sure we can ask Hilda to keep it to herself until such time it’s necessary for anyone else to be told.” Footsteps were heard on the stairs, followed by the appearance of Robin and Daisy. Both girls looked tired out and Jem told them that they wouldn’t be going in to school in the morning.

“You’ve both had a shock, and you need some time to yourselves as well. We’ll explain the situation to Miss Annersley.”

“Thank you for all your help tonight, girls,” Madge added. “You’ve both been invaluable.”

“Now, I think it’s high time you were both sleeping. If Jo is up to it, you shall both have a few minutes with her tomorrow.” Jem kissed them both and sent them on to their bedrooms, before turning back to his wife. “I’ll get you those painkillers and then you can get some sleep, too.” He disappeared back into Jo’s room to fetch his bag and fished around for the tablets for her. Handing her a couple, he then bade her goodnight with a kiss, then turned and went back into Jo’s room. Madge watched him go, before she too, sought her bed and was soon sleeping soundly.

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