I revised some of my stories since the last time I posted them. I feel they flow together better as a series now that I have changed them.
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Author’s note: I have used some of the original dialogue from the episodes Back to School Parts 1 and 2 for this story.
Laura meandered towards the Wilder homestead. It was Saturday so Almanzo and Eliza Jane weren’t in town. On her arm, rested a basket which carried a robe — Almanzo’s robe. It was the same robe she had worn home a few days earlier.
Nellie and her evil tricks had caused Laura to fail her teacher’s examination. She had studied for weeks, but Nellie had told her to pay careful attention to vocabulary. Much to Laura’s dismay when she sat down to take the test she found it was mostly history, just as Miss Wilder had told her it would be. After the test was over Laura raced out of the schoolhouse to have a good cry. She found herself alongside the watering hole by the Wilder farm.
It happened that Nellie — who thought Almanzo Wilder could be a possible suitor — was strolling down the road towards town. Nellie couldn’t help but feign polite conversation when she reached Laura.
“Oh Laura dear, how nice to see you. Almanzo and I were just having lunch together. How did the test go?” she asked with a smirk.
“It was all history. Miss Wilder says they’re always all history.”
“Well come to think of it, maybe there was more history on the test than I remembered,” replied Nellie with an evil smile. “I hope you’re not angry.”
“Why should I be? It wasn’t on purpose was it?”
Nellie looked triumphant. “Of course not.”
“Well neither is this!” screamed Laura, pulling her rival into the muddy watering hole.
The stronger, more athletic Laura pushed Nellie’s face into the mud, flinging piles of mud on top of Nellie’s head while Nellie screeched and tried to pull herself out of the water.
It was then that Almanzo Wilder came by in his wagon. A look of surprise came over his face as he tugged on the reins and jumped out. He pulled Laura off Nellie, the two of them falling onto the ground. He had to hold her back to keep Laura from pummeling Nellie.
“Let’s go get ya cleaned off,” he said to Laura, helping her into his wagon and leaving Nellie to fend for herself.
Laura peeked into the basket on her arm and felt the soft fabric of Almanzo’s robe. She smiled and kept on walking. She was almost there.
Almanzo had offered his robe to young Laura so that she could get cleaned off. He soaked her clothes in the wash basin outside.
They sat and talked while Laura drank some hot tea. It was a sweet, romantic moment…at least to her. Laura had her eyes on Almanzo from the first time she met him and had accidentally called him “Manly” instead of “Mannie.” He christened her “Beth” — a woman’s name she had told her pa.
When they heard a knock Almanzo stood up and joked, “I don’t think that’s Nellie comin back.”
He opened the door and a furious Charles Ingalls punched him, sending Almanzo flying over a table. He hit him again and Almanzo toppled onto the staircase while Laura screamed at her pa to stop.
Charles demanded an explanation to why his young daughter was in Wilder’s robe. Laura told Pa what happened, saying Almanzo was only trying to be nice.
“I suppose he was being nice when he kissed you today,” said Charles. Laura looked at him, confused. “Nellie told me all about it. She said that’s why you attacked her.”
“He kissed me on the forehead, for luck on my test.”
Charles’s face fell and his anger diminished. Embarrassed, he looked around the room and then at Almanzo who was still slumped on the stairs, protecting his face from further punishment.
“Yes Sir,” he said to Charles. “Ya didn’t think that I…Beth’s just a little girl.”
Laura whipped her head around to face Almanzo. The romance and sweetness of the moment forever ruined she screamed she was a woman before announcing she hated them and stomping out. After some words of wisdom from her ma, Laura and Pa reconciled, both of them blaming mean old Nellie for the entire misunderstanding.
A few days later Laura was finally ready to retrieve her clothes and return Almanzo’s robe. She had slept with it under her pillow, dreaming Almanzo saw her as more than just a friend. She made her way through the front yard of the Wilder homestead. She pulled the robe out of the basket and smelled it one last time. She had refused to let Ma wash it. She wanted to smell his scent on it.
Dumping the robe back in, she took a deep breath and lifted her hand to knock on the front door.
“Howdy Beth,” Almanzo’s voice called from behind her.
Laura turned. “Hi Manly.”
“Whatcha doin way out here on a Saturday?”
“Well…uh…I…uh…” She shoved the basket in Almanzo’s direction. “I came to give you your robe back.”
“That was awful nice of ya. Why don’t ya come inside. I think your clothes are in the downstairs bedroom.”
She followed Almanzo into the house. She looked around but didn’t see his sister. “Where’s Miss Wilder?” she asked towards the open bedroom door.
Almanzo came out with her red dress and apron. “She’s vistin a neighbor.”
Laura grabbed her clothes. “Thanks.”
They chatted for a few moments, Laura becoming more anxious the longer they spoke. “I really am sorry about the other day,” she said. “I didn’t mean to lose my temper like that…and Pa feels awful about hitting you.”
Almanzo rubbed his jaw and smiled. “I’ll think twice before kissin ya good luck again, that’s for sure.”
“I should be getting home,” she said. “I’ve got chores to do.”
“Ya wanna ride? I gotta go into town anyway?”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure, I’m sure. Let me get my robe outta this basket and you can put your clothes in.”
They both reached for the basket on the floor between them. “Ouch!” Laura exclaimed as their heads banged together, her clothes ending up in pile on the floor. They stared at each other, feeling the connection. Laura was almost afraid to breathe for fear the moment would end. His eyes were so blue; as deep as the ocean. She felt the urge to run her fingers through his hair. Almanzo could feel his pulse racing as he looked into Beth’s face, which seemed so different up close. He shook himself out of it, believing he must be confused by the bump to his head.
He stood up and handed her the basket. “We best be goin,” he whispered.
“Yeah.” She pulled his robe out of the basket and tossed it on the back of a chair. Tucking her clothes inside, she followed Almanzo out the door.
They drove to the Ingalls farm in silence, not sure what had just happened between them and not wishing to speak of it. When they pulled into the front yard Almanzo tugged the reins and his team stopped. Laura jumped out and grabbed the basket before Almanzo could offer to help her.
“Any time Beth,” he replied, trying to hide his discomfort.
Laura walked inside, never looking back. Almanzo stared at the closed door for a few moments, still confused.
“This is ridiculous,” he said out loud. “Beth is just a little girl.”
He chirruped to his horses and drove towards town as he shook off the thoughts of Laura and him standing so close together in the front room of his house.