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.
Almanzo watched Laura mosey over to the school with a sad expression on her face. She joined the other children who had started a game of baseball. Shouts and laughter drifted from the school yard over to the platform of the Feed and Seed where Almanzo sat. The only time the kids seemed to have fun anymore was before Bart Slater arrived each morning.
Bart teased and bullied the other students. He disrupted class to the point where Eliza Jane complained to Almanzo about the lack of order in the schoolhouse. The school board, led by Mrs. Oleson and her greed, refused to interfere. Wealthy Mr. Slater spent a great deal of money in town she had been quick to point out. With no options left, Eliza Jane decided she and her students would be better served by another teacher; someone more suited to dealing with the likes of Bartholomew Slater. Almanzo and his sister would have to move on.
Almanzo saw Laura saunter up to home plate.
“Bring me home,” her brother Albert shouted from second base.
The children in the outfield backed up. She swung the bat a couple of times and got ready for the pitch. Crack! The bat connected and sent the ball flying through the air. Her teammates shouted when Albert touched home plate. By the time the ball made it back to the pitcher, Laura stood on third base. Almanzo smiled. She was more athletic than a lot of the boys on her team. No wonder they always picked her first.
She sure had pounded the dickens out of Nellie Oleson that day he had stumbled upon them fighting in the mud. Almanzo chuckled. Laura had an awful way of getting into mischief.
Out of all the people he had met in Walnut Grove, he would miss her the most. Why was he so fond of the girl? One of her pranks had left him gasping for water and another had left his girlfriend standing in nothing but her bloomers at the circus.
He knew she had a crush on him, but he couldn’t help but say hi to Laura each morning as she passed by the Feed and Seed on her way to school. Her smile and those freckled cheeks made his day go smoother. Almanzo had made a conscious effort since the circus not to encourage her feelings for him, but he connected with her more than the ladies he had dated since coming to Walnut Grove. And he loved that feisty nature of hers.
Almanzo remembered the day of Laura’s teaching exam. After her mud fight with Nellie, he had brought Laura back to his house to get cleaned up. Dressed in his robe while her clothes soaked, the two chatted about her failing the test because of Nellie’s trickery. Charles Ingalls had barged in on them and punched Almanzo twice before Laura explained. Almanzo’s fatal error had been in telling Charles that Laura was a little girl. Her eyes had turned as red as her hair and she spat fire-filled words out at both her father and Almanzo before slamming the door behind her.
The school bell rang and the children raced to get their books and pile inside. Laura shot a glance over at Almanzo, but quickly turned away when she saw him looking in her direction. He tried to figure out what kind of man would be a match for Laura’s temper. Whoever married her sure would have his hands full.
Mr. Slater’s wagon pulled into town. Bart Slater sat triumphantly on the seat next to his father. Bart smirked at Almanzo as they drove by. Almanzo glared at him. He hated feeling helpless. Because of Bart he was leaving the town he had begun to call home. And being forced to abandon his friendship with Laura gave him one more reason to dislike the boy and his father.