Young Matey. by Beecharmer
Gwyneth settled back in the low armchair and thought back over the past week. It had been hectic, but exciting. This was her first post after qualifying, as Junior Nurse in a girl's boarding school.
She had been supervising unpacking and checking health certificates all day. Her superior had helped her out of novices mistakes on several occasions. As Gynneth watched the Senior Matron juggle all the different situations, she felt completely overwhelmed. She couldn't even begin to imagine being so organised and confident.
She sat there, cup of cocoa in hand, her eyes just beginning to drift shut. Gradually she shifted from thinking about the day to being asleep and dreaming about the day.
She was just being chased down a corridor by a giant health certificate with measles, when a gentle hand removed her cup, which had been gradually tipping as she slept.
As she struggled awake, she saw in front of her a small woman bending down to her level. She had a pale face with deep brown eyes and a slightly quizzical expression
"Wha..oh..thank you...I..." said Gwyneth, worried to have been caught dozing. She wasnt totally sure when her duties stopped and her free time began, and didn't want to be thought lacking. But the young woman in front of her was clearly just amused at her confusion, so Gwyneth calmed down and introduced herself.
"I'm Margery Young," the stranger said. "My husband works here as a music master, I work in the secretary's office. I came along to find you and invite you over to our flat for a welcome drink, but I think it might be as well if we did that another night. Why don't you head off to bed?"
Gwyneth wasn't totally sure when she was allowed to go to bed, but didn't like to betray her ignorance.
"I.... Er, well I will go and report to Matron, and see if she needs me, but I would be very grateful for that drink another time, thank you."
"Matron won't thank you for reporting now. On the first night of term she is sure to have several homesick girls, upset stomach from overindulgence in tuck boxes and such worries. She will have gone to bed by now, to get what sleep she can before the night time dramas begin. You ought to do the same, in case you are needed.
Grateful for this explanation, Gwneth thanked Margery, and took herself off to her own little room just off the San.
Throughout her dreams that night, a small dark face returned again and again. "She is married, remember that, married" Gwyneth told herself firmly when she awoke.
She finally made it over to the little flat that the Youngs shared. Margery's husband was an unusual man, who wore long tail coats. Even Gwyneth had to supress a smile when she saw him flap out the tail before he sat down. Another quirk was a habit if sitting on his piano stool and spinning round to change the height.
The biggest surprise for Gwyneth had been that they had a small child, a tiny dark little daughter with pale skin. They had married at a very young age, and if Gwyneth was to believe the gossip in the staff room, the child was quite a likely reason for this. Margery was only working part time in the secretary's office, so was able to remain onsite and still care for her daughter.
Gwyneth repeated her mantra of "She is married, She is married" several times, and tried to keep her feelings to that of simple friendship.
But as the months went on, she found herself doing anything she could to be in Margery's company.
One rare free evening, she went to visit the Youngs, only to find they already had visitors. Brushing away Gwyneth's excuses, Margery made her stay for dinner, where she gradually loosened up enough to join in the conversation.
The guests were an old friend of Mr Young's, who was now a singing master at a nearby boys school. He and his sister lived out of the school in a nearby village, and they were apparently frequent visitors to the Young household.
Throughout the evening, Gwyneth had the strangest feeling about the friendship the two music masters had. She decided it was none of her business, but being aware herself of same sex attraction, she had that feeling that there was at least a spark of that with the two men.
She concentrated on getting to know the sister, Sarah, and found her interesting to talk to, and protective of her brother in an amused sort of way. As the evening drew on the two began debating heatedly the merits of various composers. Finally Sarah said to her brother.
"Come on Tristan, we must be going. Let these people get some rest."
Both Tristan Denny and Peter Young looked so distressed at the idea of having to cut short their discussion that Sarah modified this by suggesting Peter come back to their house to continue the discussion, so they wouldn't continue to keep Margery up late.
Gwyneth would have been surprised at this, if it wasn't for a silent communucation between Margery and Sarah just before Sarah made the offer. Sarah had quite clearly asked with a raise of her eyebrows, and Margery had given a slight laugh and a nod.
As the three left, with Tristan and Peter still debating fiercely, Gwyneth made to go too. But Margery put a gentle hand on her arm and softly asked her to stay a little longer.
They sat in silence for a short time, enjoying the peace that the two musicians leaving had created.
Margery seemed pensive, and trying to decide something. Finally she spoke.
"Gwyneth, I feel I want to explain something. But it is very important that it remain private."
Gwyneth simply replied with a nod, which Margery took as encouragement to continue.
"Peter and I ... We were very young when we married and had Claire. We both were searching for something. Please don't misunderstand, we do love each other. But we ... We both follow different paths in some aspects of our lives... one of those is who we love..."
She stopped, looking up at Gwyneth to gauge her reaction. What she saw there could only be described at delight. The young woman had not had much experience in hiding her reactions, and her face was an open mirror to how she felt.
"I, I would like to get to know you better," Gwyneth said shyly, "If you would be, I mean... If you are meaning what I think you are..."
Margery smiled and they settled down to talk more, learning about each other's lives and when they had realised that they were more attracted to women than men.
As the night drew to a close, Gwyneth reluctantly got up to leave. Just before she opened the door, Margery held it shut with one hand, and leant in for a gentle tentative kiss. Gwyneth felt as though her whole body had become lighter. They said goodnight and she went off to her little room to sleep the few remaining hours left of the night in a warm cocoon of happiness.
Over time, Gwyneth began to spend more and more time at the Youngs' flat. Peter welcomed her and was always glad for an ear for his latest compositions. Sadly for Peter, Tristan Denny had become ill and had had to move away.
But it wasnt too long before another 'friend' appeared on the scene, living in a nearby town. Peter would usually eat with them, then go for an "evening stroll" down to the town.
Every free moment Gwyneth spent at the flat with Margery and baby Claire.
Claire was growing up to be a cheerful young girl and adored her "Aunty Gwyn". Gwyneth on her part was besotted with her, and would do anything for the young child.
One morning, Gwyneth was happily making up beds in the San, thinking about her free aftenoon later that day, when she heard a knock on the door. The senior mistress, a Miss Grayling, was standing in the doorway.
"Can I have a word?" asked Miss Grayling.
Gwyneth nodded, slightly worried she had forgotten something vital. She didn't expect the conversation that followed in the slightest.
Miss Graying paused, trying to put things as delicately as she could.
"Gwyneth, before I say this, I want you to know that I have a huge amount of respect for you and Margery. But...unfortunately, your ...er... situation... has come to the attention of some of the parents, and well the head has had a request to ask you to leave. I wanted to warn you, she is doing her best to fight for you to stay, but a few parents have already withdrawn their daughters. I can't see that she will have a choice. I wanted you to have some warning, so that you can talk to Margery about things before they become too official."
Gwyneth was in shock. How had this happened?
When she went to see Margery, the whole story came out. A week or so before, Claire had been in a particularly naughty mood. She had got out of her bed in the early hours of the morning and managed to open the front door. Both Margery and Gwyneth had instinctively leapt out of bed and chased after her. Unknown to them, several members of staff had heard the noise and seen the two of them come out of the flat in their nightwear and then go back in.
The rumours had spread quickly, and some of the more malicious members of staff had spread the word to some parents.
Such was the situation that they were in.
Gwyneth looked at Margery, at the space set up for the little family, and made one of the hardest decisions of her life.
" Only I have to go," she said. "We can't risk people finding out about Peter, he would go to prison. And Claire needs both of her parents."
Margery wanted to say no to this brave offer, but she knew Gwyneth was right. They cared deeply for each other, but not enough to weather a storm like this.
As Gwyneth packed, she heard another light knock on the door, and turned again to see Miss Grayling.
" I wanted to say goodbye, and tell you how I wish things could have turned out another way. What are your plans now ?"
Gwyneth gave a slightly grim smile and said,
" I always said that I wasn't going to be a spineless jellyfish. I want to be able to help create the next generation of girls, make them good strong women the world can lean on."
Miss Grayling nodded, while mentally thinking she ought to remember that last phrase, it was a good one.
"A friend has told me about a school newly opened in Austria. I am going to see whether I will suit them and they me."
Miss Grayling wished her the best of luck, and left her to her packing.
Wary of the situation repeating itself, Gwyneth devised a plan where she created a sister, who she could then visit in England and write to, without risking causing suspicion in her new school. Sarah and Tristan Denny had had their own suspicions about the situation with her and Margery, but with their customary discretion and good humour, they never mentioned it.
A hard time came when little Claire caught pneumonia and died, only a year later. Margery wrote to Gwyneth and told her she still cared, but being in touch was too painful a reminder of Claire.
A new care came into Gwyneth's life - Joey Maynard, so like the way she imagined Claire would have grown up to be. Gwyneth, now known almost entirely as Matey, worked tirelessly to keep Joey in good health and fitness.
She still kept up the fictional sister, as it allowed her a reason to go for holidays alone without people enquiring too closely where she was going. As the Chalet school became a larger and larger part of her life, she went less and less to visit England.
It wasn't until that terrible day many years later, when she recieved a letter telling her that Marjory had died, that her fortress of reserve was broken. The story of her "sister" broke down, and all the grief for Margery and Claire overwhelmed her.
Jack and Joey, finally knowing her secret, looked after her and helped her back on her feet. After this incident, they encouraged other staff to call her Gwyneth, telling her that it was important that Gwyneth wasn't lost completely in the persona of "Matey"