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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews.  Glad you enjoyed it.


Robin’s final day at home came all too quickly to Jo. Daisy, Flora and Fiona had all started back at school the previous week and, though Daisy was still returning home for weekends, the house already felt empty. Now, Jack was loading Robin’s trunk into the boot of the car and preparing to take her to Armiford station whence she would catch a train to Oxford. Jo was feeling tearful as she stood in the hall to say goodbye.

Robin came up to Jo and pulled her into a fierce hug. Jo held onto her adopted sister for a long moment before letting go, reluctantly.

“Take care of yourself, Robin. Make sure you write regularly.”

“I will, Jo. I’m going to miss you all.”

“We’ll miss you, too.” Jo kissed her on the cheek and Robin turned to collect her coat and bag. She opened the door just as Jack reached it, startling him slightly. He waited as Robin gave Jo a final kiss, before kissing Jo, himself.

“I’ll make she gets on the train safely, Jo. You go on back into the warmth.” Jo nodded, holding the door as Jack exited once more.

“Goodbye, Robin! Enjoy yourself!” Robin waved, and then climbed in beside Jack. He put the car in gear and drove off as Jo waved until the car was out of sight. She returned to the lounge and Stephen who was playing with Daisy in one corner. She looked up as Jo entered and smiled. Stephen saw her and immediately began crawling across the room towards her. Jo picked him up and hugged him to her as she went to sit on the sofa. Daisy joined her.

“It’s not that long until Christmas, Auntie Jo. Then Robin will be back with us all again.”

“I know, it’s just strange waving her off and knowing she won’t be coming back next weekend like you.”

“I’m sure I can make enough noise for both of us, if you like?” Jo smiled at this sally.

“I’m more than sure you and Stephen between you can manage that.”

“Shall I go and ask Anna for some tea?”

“Yes, please.” Daisy ran off, returning a minute later, to state that Anna was just pouring the water into the teapot. The conversation turned as Anna brought the tea into the lounge and Jo listened to Daisy’s description of the new girls that term.

It was almost dinner time when Jack arrived back home. He let himself into the house quietly and after hanging up his things, sought the others in the lounge. Jo looked up at him, questions in her eyes and he came to sit beside her.

“She’s safely on the train and she promised to ring once she’s settled in her room.”

“Thank you.” Jo impatiently wiped a hand across her cheek and Jack pulled her into him for a moment. She pulled back again a few moments later. “Sorry. It’s just…”

“It doesn’t matter, Jo. You’re bound to miss her. We all will for that matter. She’s been part of our family for so long now.” Anna appeared to announce dinner was ready, so Jack rose and pulled Jo to her feet. “Go and freshen up, then we’ll eat.”

Dinner was quiet that evening. Stephen was in bed and Daisy had returned to school not long after Robin’s departure which meant there was only Jo and Jack at the table. They’d told Anna to serve it in the kitchen and eat with them to save on fuel now there were only the two of them at mealtimes. Afterwards, Jo retired up to bed, feeling drained from her goodbyes. Jack was understanding and left her alone for a short while. He was due to start a night shift later, so he wandered up to the bedroom about half an hour before he was due to leave. He could tell Jo was awake, though the light was turned off. The quiet rattle of the rosary in her hand gave her away. Jack came to sit beside her.

“Penny for them?” Jo smiled and rolled over to where he was sitting.

“They aren’t worth it. I was just wondering about making Robin’s room into Stephen’s, that’s all.”

“Well, there won’t be too much to do. She’s taken most of her things with her. I vote we put the few things she’s left behind into the guest room for her. Then we just need to rearrange the furniture a little to accommodate Stephen’s cot.”

“It will be nice to have our room back to ourselves again.”

“Well, there hasn’t been anywhere else to put him until now. I’m not entirely sure what we’ll do in the holidays if Shiena comes to visit the twins.”

“We could put Daisy in the guest room with Robin and Shiena can have Daisy’s room. The only other alternative is that one of them will have to stay at the Round House.”

“Yes, that would work. It’s not as if they haven’t shared before and it would only be for a few nights at most. It’s not fair to have to send one of them to the Round House.”

“How soon do you think we can sort the room out?”

“I’ll have a look tomorrow afternoon once I’m awake.” Jack glanced at the clock on the bedside and bent down to kiss Jo. “I have to go to work now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Night, Jack. Take care.” Jo rolled back over onto her side as he left her alone and she was soon sleeping, never hearing him leave, nor Anna making her way up to bed an hour later.

The next afternoon saw Jo depositing the few possessions Robin had left behind onto a shelf in the guest room. She had stripped the bed and Anna was busy washing the sheets and blankets. When Jack finally rose, he found he was just needed to move furniture. This was soon accomplished and Stephen was shown his new bedroom.

It took Jo a little longer to settle Stephen to sleep in his new room that evening. However, he finally dropped off to sleep and Jo crept from the room and back downstairs to spend the last hour with Jack before he departed for work. They enjoyed a companionable silence, neither of them feeling the need to break it in any way. Eventually, Jack rose to leave. Kissing Jo, he bade her good night and set off to the Sanatorium, leaving Jo to pick up her book for a short while before she sought her bed.



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