|Joey leant back on her several pillows, relaxing luxuriously as she gazed at the worried, loving faces which looked back on her. Those faces were her beloved older sister and brother, Dick perching on the side of her bed, and Madge standing right next to her. Further back, in one of the few chairs the room boasted, there was the slightly grumpy looking one of their uncle who always seemed at least slightly forbidding to Jo when she saw him.|
A gurgle of laughter broke from her, from sheer excitement. It was here at last, even if she had to celebrate Christmas in bed. Unfortunately, the giggle was swiftly followed by the coughing fit, which overtook her if she ever did anything in the least bit energetic and the loving looks on the faces of her family turned to frowns of concern. Madge hurriedly brought her a glass of water, and urged her to sip at it, while Dick gently came round and raised her still further – slipping his tall lean frame in behind her to support and hold her up, in the hope that not lying quite so far back would ease her cough, and, eventually, it came under control again.
Madge then gave her a tender hug, as she lay back against her brother. “Do try not to laugh too much Joey-baba” she pleaded. “You know that it only makes your cough worse. And you really have been unwell this year.”
Jo merely frowned at her, before giving in, and nodding in agreement. Madge raised an eyebrow at her younger sister pointedly. “Alright Madge. I’ll try” She replied, still sounding rather breathless. Madge kissed her lightly on top of her head. “I know it’s difficult, but just do your best. That’s all I ask.”
It was at this point that Dick suddenly interrupted with “Alright, now it’s time for presents!” Joey only just avoided giggling again, as his chest rumbled against her back while he spoke.
“Dick!” Madge warned quietly, causing him to send her a repentant smile. They knew from long experience that Jo found this experience to give a similar sensation to being tickled, and he usually tried to avoid speaking whenever he was ‘propping’ her up in that fashion.
It was at that point their uncle broke in. “Good idea Richard” he stated gruffly “let Josephine rest now, and you, Margaret and I can go and get prepared.”
It hadn’t taken long for them to go and gather all they wanted in the room, and soon they were back, giving gifts of all kinds. Joey felt rather sad, as she hadn’t been well enough to do much in the line of purchasing gifts for her family. However, she had managed to create some small scrap books, and had done her best to use images that her three relatives would like looking at. Though she had grumbled to herself about the unsuitability of ‘scraps’ when making gifts for men. At which pronouncement Nanny shook her head, and told her that she had better do her best this year, and she may be able to do something else another time, before reminding her that if she grumbled she would probably end up in bed for longer.
On this day though, Jo wasn’t grumbling, and her kind relatives thanked her for her gifts. Jo herself was thrilled with the gifts she had been given – including the book she had been begging for since she had heard about it, Quentin Durward. Madge had been rather concerned that it might prove too much for Joey, but had eventually given in, on the stipulation that Jo didn’t try to read too much of it at a time – and didn’t start trying until after she was far better than she was currently. Until that point her older books would have to satisfy her.
Once the gift giving was complete Uncle Andrew stated that he was heading back to his own room – he was also quite unwell, and it was only due to the fact that Joey was under an injunction to remain in bed, while he was not, that the Christmas celebrations had taken place in her room that year.
As the family departed to let her rest, Joey lay back on her pillows again, wondering what changes the next few years would bring.
Posted on the board in 2010
Author's Chapter Notes:
Pre CS, this is a family scene taken from the hints of the past given in 'School At.'