A Family Christmas by Eleanore
Summary:

Nancy and Kathie spend a Christmas with the Wilmot family.


Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Kathie Ferrars, Nancy Wilmot
School Period: Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Family, Seasonal
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 3702 Read: 15117 Published: 23 Jun 2011 Updated: 02 Jan 2012
Story Notes:

As far as I remember, there was nothing in the Armada paperbacks about Nancy's family beyond the fact that she had five brothers and an older sister; consequently, when it comes to Nancy's family, I've allowed invention free rein.

Please don't ask me why I decided to start writing about Christmas in June, because I honestly couldn't tell you. *shrugs* Don't be expecting frequent updates - I still have to finish WMK, and I have half a dozen other little Nancy/Kathie drabbles in various unfinished stages, so this one will have to compete with the others for my writing time. I should really have kept this first chapter back until I'd finished some of the others, but I don't have that much self-restraint ;)

 

1. An invitation by Eleanore

2. A compliment or an insult by Eleanore

3. Expectations by Eleanore

4. Questions of privacy by Eleanore

5. Cherished by Eleanore

An invitation by Eleanore

"Large pile of letters for Kathie today," Rosalie Dene commented as she doled out the post. "Shall I leave it here for her, or do you want to take it, Nancy?"

"Oh, I'll take it," Nancy Wilmot said, frowning rather as she recognised the handwriting on the single airmail letter that represented her own share of the day's mailbag. "It'll be mainly travel brochures - Kathie's put herself in charge of our Christmas holidays this year. If you see her before I do, Rosalie, let her know I've taken them."

Retiring to her bedroom, Nancy made haste to open her own envelope and unfold the lengthy screed within. Ten minutes later, when Kathie skipped into the room, she was still considering the letter's implications.

"Rosalie said you've got the Italy brochures. All set to plan our romantic Christmas, my love?" Catching sight of the expression on her friend's face, Kathie broke off in concern. "Nance? What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure 'wrong' is exactly the word." A wry grimace distorted Nancy's pretty features as she regarded her letter. "I don't know though, maybe it is. Here, read that." And she held out the airmail sheets to Kathie, who dropped down next to her on the bed and began to read.

Almost at once her eyebrows rose, and she quickly turned to the signature, before fixing a laughing gaze on her partner. "'Babykins', Nance?"

Nancy rolled her eyes. "Trust you to focus on that. I was the youngest, remember? For the most part, I think she still pictures me as being about six. Never mind that, you get on and read the rest of the letter."

"Alright." There was a short pause, while Kathie mentally debated whether or not she could resist saying it. She couldn't. "Babykins."

Nancy poked her in the ribs. "Shut up and read it, before I decide I don't want to spend my Christmas with you after all."

Unfazed by this completely unbelievable threat, Kathie returned to the letter, under close surveillance from Nancy. Leaning back against her pillows in a would-be casual pose, Nancy watched Kathie's expression veer from curiosity to undisguised mirth, passing surprise, pleasure, and complete and utter bafflement on the way.

"Well?" she demanded, as Kathie handed the letter back to her.

"Well," Kathie gurgled, "you might have warned me what she was like, Nance."

"Not what you were expecting?" Nancy grinned.

"Not in the slightest. Although," Kathie's voice grew thoughtful, "in some ways, she sounds rather like you, my lovely."

Nancy choked at this insight. "She does not! I'd never write a letter like that!"

"You'd never write a letter at all, if you didn't have to," Kathie replied sternly.

"Unfortunately, I do have to." Nancy sounded less than thrilled at the prospect. "My mother will definitely be expecting a reply to this effusion. Although if she thinks I'm going to fritter away money on airmail, she's got another think coming. I don't suppose you have any words of wisdom on gracefully declining invitations?"

"Declining?" Kathie's tone expressed her surprise. "But, Nance, why?"

Nancy shrugged off the question. "We already have plans."

"Our plans haven't gone any further than sending for the travel brochures," Kathie pointed out. "I haven't so much as opened an envelope yet. Unless," she eyed her partner doubtfully, "you don't want to go?"

"You mean you do want to go?"

Kathie tried to find an appropriately noncommittal answer that would leave the decision in Nancy's hands. Being unable to think of one, she blurted out her instinctive response. "Yes, I do. I want to meet your family, and your mother invited me too so they're obviously, well, accepting of us, and I feel selfish for taking up all your holidays, and Christmas in a hotel would be very, very expensive."

At this hotchpotch of reasons, Nancy's expression lightened and her laughter bubbled up irrepressibly. "Alright, alright, you've convinced me, we'll go. Only don't say I didn't warn you," she ended ominously.

"Warn me about what?" Kathie was starting to have second thoughts. "You haven't warned me about anything at all!" Consternation crept into her tone. "Your parents, your family - they are accepting of us, aren't they? Nance?"

"Well, I'm sure they will be. I just haven't exactly got round to telling them yet."

A compliment or an insult by Eleanore
Author's Notes:

Sorry for the massive gap between updates - it's been so long that I actually had to go back and read the first chapter to remind myself of what I'd written!

Shivering outside the little station on Christmas Eve, with no sign of their promised ride, Kathie's insecurities began to get the better of her.

"You should have told them, Nance."

"Mmmm, I've been thinking that myself," was the less than reassuring response.

"Maybe," Kathie began hesistantly, "it would be better if we didn't... I mean, if we pretended... If we just..."

Nancy took a quick glance round the deserted car park, before pulling her partner into her arms. "It'll be fine, Kathie darling, I promise."

"You don't know that." Kathie's voice was muffled, as she had her face buried in Nancy's coat. "What if they're appalled? What if they hate me? What if the reason no one's come to meet us is because they've already decided that they disapprove of our relationship?"

"Well, it can't be that, whatever else it is," Nancy said lightly.

"Why not?"

"Because we haven't told them we're in a relationship yet, remember?"

Kathie fully intended to explain to her partner exactly why this was not a comforting thought, when she suddenly found that Nancy had been plucked from her grasp and was being twirled around as though she were no bigger than Kathie herself.

"Happy Christmas, Pipsqueak!"

Kathie wanted to laugh at this; 'Pipsqueak' was definitely not a term she herself would have associated with Nancy, although she had to admit, next to the burly man she assumed was one of her partner's numerous siblings, Nancy did look considerably smaller than usual. In the interests of tact, however, she kept her giggles to herself, and focused on the somewhat disputatious exchange currently taking place.

"You're late, as usual," Nancy retorted, deciding to ignore the highly inapposite childhood nickname.

"So are you," the man replied. "Who doesn't arrive until Christmas Eve?"

"And just when did you arrive?" Nancy asked suspiciously.

"I haven't yet - I'm picking you up on my way." He grinned at Nancy, before turning to meet Kathie's fascinated gaze. "And you must be the famous Kathie Ferrars. Nice to meet you. I'm Nancy's brother Paul - her best brother," he added, to the accompaniment of a snort from Nancy. He shook Kathie's hand, took her suitcase from her, and started to lead the way over to his somewhat dilapidated car. "And I have to say, our Nancy has a better taste in women than you have, Kathie."

Kathie flushed bright scarlet, unsure how to respond to this rather backhanded and completely unexpected compliment.

Nancy, struggling to drag her own suitcase through the snow, had no such qualms. "Hey! I heard that!" she exclaimed indignantly.

"You were supposed to," Paul grinned.

"And was that meant to be a compliment or an insult?"

"Intelligence never was your strong point, was it, Nance?" he asked, shaking his head in mock despair and leaving Nancy speechless with indignation. "I'd have thought by now you'd have learnt to recognise an insult when you hear one - you certainly used to get enough of them!"

"I thought you said you hadn't told them about us?" Kathie muttered, dropping back to keep pace with Nancy and distracting her from whatever retort she had been contemplating.

"I hadn't. Never said a word," Nancy replied promptly.

"You didn't need to," her brother put in cheerily, "if you mean telling us about the two of you."

"What gave it away?" Nancy asked, curious.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" he teased.

Expectations by Eleanore

Standing in the middle of a talking, laughing, teasing crowd, Kathie's head was spinning. Admittedly, she had never actually clarified in her mind exactly what she'd been expecting in regard to Nancy's family, but her rather stunned expression suggested that, whatever her expectations might have been, they hadn't included this.

The house itself had been the first surprise. Theoretically, Kathie had been aware that Nancy was part of a large family, but despite this, she had, unconsciously, been picturing a house not unlike the one she herself had shared with the Graysons. Consequently, her first sight of the Wilmot family home had left her feeling rather overwhelmed; it could, Kathie judged, quite accurately be described as a mansion. It had suddenly dawned on her that a family that could afford boarding school fees for seven children was undoubtedly in a different economic bracket from that in which she had grown up. The Graysons hadn't been poor, by any means, but Kathie had attended a day school, and their home would have fitted into the Wilmot house several times over.

She had, however, been given no time either to indulge these reflections or to appeal to Nancy for reassurance. Even before the car had come to a halt, people had begun streaming out of the front door, and Kathie had soon found herself ushered into a large, warm room, divested of coat, scarf and gloves, and introduced to a quite bewildering number of people.

This, Kathie had decided, had been worse than her first day of teaching - at least there all the girls had stayed sitting at their desks rather than darting in and out of the room like a lot of live eels, as Nancy's younger nieces and nephews were currently doing. And they kept appearing with stunning suddenness from the most unexpected locations: Kathie had even spotted a child of two or three peering out at them from underneath one of the chairs. The adults were more inclined to stay in one place, but the family resemblance between Nancy's brothers left Kathie rather unsure of just who was who. And the Nancy who fitted so well into this hubbub didn't seem to be quite the same Nancy she had thought she knew.

Although she wasn't neglected for a moment, with various people, whose names she struggled to recall, offering food and drinks, and drawing her into the conversation, Kathie was conscious of a craven desire to find somewhere quiet to hide until she could sort out her impressions - and possibly ask Nancy for some sort of Wilmot family crib sheet. It was at this point that Kathie found her hand being clasped by the man who was the nearest thing she would ever have to a father-in-law, and she returned the greeting somewhat nervously.

Once again, the reality of Nancy's background came as something of a surprise. Most of the time, Kathie barely noticed the age gap between herself and her partner, and although, intellectually, she had known that Nancy had been the Wilmot family baby, it hadn't occurred to her that Nancy's father would turn out to be nearly eighty. Her thoughts must have shown on her face, as the eyes looking down at her, so like Nancy's eyes, twinkled in amusement.

"Not quite what you were expecting, Miss Ferrars?"

Floundering in a morass of half sentences as she attempted to find an appropriate reply, Kathie was suddenly aware of Nancy's hand on her arm, and all at once confusion receded and the world seemed to come back into focus once more.

Reassured, she smiled up at her partner, before turning back to Mr Wilmot and saying shyly, "Please, call me Kathie."

Questions of privacy by Eleanore

All in all, Kathie was somewhat relieved when Nancy's mother whisked them off upstairs to unpack and settle in - although it did briefly cross her mind that it might potentially be less embarrassing if she and Nancy were left to discover the sleeping arrangements for themselves. But this, it appeared, had not occurred to anyone else. Quite a number of people were trooping up the stairs in their wake, including several of Nancy's brothers, every one of her sisters-in-law, and a motley collection of children and teenage girls.

"You're still in your old room, of course, Nancy," Mrs Wilmot was saying as she led the way along the landing, "but we've had to do some rearranging to fit a double bed in there."

"Some rearranging?" interjected one of Nancy's brothers - it wasn't Paul, but beyond that Kathie wasn't prepared to risk a guess. "We spent an entire day moving furniture around in there!"

"I wanted to put your bed in the middle of the room, you see," Mrs Wilmot explained to a furiously blushing Kathie. "Just so you're not sharing a wall with anyone else. That way, the two of you can have a little extra privacy."

Much as she appreciated the thought, Kathie would really have preferred not to have it spelt out in public in this fashion. She couldn't help but feel that there was something incongruous in considering questions of privacy in front of such a large audience. Accustomed to the need for discretion in her relationship with Nancy, Kathie was disconcerted to find their most intimate domestic arrangements suddenly a matter for communal discussion, however supportive it might be.

Nancy, it seemed, had similar thoughts on the matter, as she braved a renewed volley of teasing to utter a protest against this very public acknowledgement - only to be met with complete bewilderment on the part of her mother.

"But, darling, after what you said in your letters, I can't imagine why you're suddenly so shy."

Momentarily forgetting the fact that she generally had to stand over her partner uttering dire threats in order to prod her into writing even the briefest of notes, the mention of letters had Kathie darting a panic-stricken look in Nancy's direction. The very idea of someone else being privy to the most intimate details of their relationship dismayed Kathie to the extent that she couldn't think clearly at all. Luckily for them both, Nancy's equal horror at this notion found its expression in a vehement disclaimer.

"I never said a word about walls and beds!" she protested indignantly, doing her best to ignore the posse of giggling teenage nieces who were evidently well informed as to just why Auntie Nancy and Auntie Kathie might want to share a double bed. "Not even so much as a hint!"

"No, I know," Mrs Wilmot agreed, shaking her head disapprovingly at her youngest daughter. "It's almost impossible to pry a letter out of you at all, and when you do condescend to write, well, honestly, Nancy, those censored postcards I used to get from your father during the war had more information on them."

"Then what on earth did you mean about what I said in my letters?" Nancy demanded, ignoring Kathie's whispered suggestion that maybe this wasn't the time to go into it.

"Oh, well, it doesn't really matter now, does it?" Mrs Wilmot dismissed the subject casually, as she opened the door of Nancy's room. "You're both here, that's the main thing."

"Mother!" Nancy's tone was ominous. Kathie's anguished look had not gone unnoticed, and Nancy was determined to remove all trace of ambiguity from her mother's statement - preferably before she had to justify herself to her partner. And while Kathie's eyes were, at the moment, gazing curiously at what she could see of the bedroom that had been allotted to them for the week, Nancy had no doubt whatsoever that her partner's attention was firmly fixed on the conversation that was continuing around her.

"Babykins, when your letters changed from saying 'Kathie and I' to saying 'we', it seemed quite obvious," Mrs Wilmot said, in matter-of-fact tones. "After all, once you get to the point where 'we' always refers to the same person, it does rather hint at something more than friendship. So I bought you a double bed. Now, if you'll decide on what sleeping arrangements you want, we can put the entire subject behind us. Only do hurry up, because if you want separate rooms or beds, though I can't imagine why you would, then we have to start moving everything around."

Groans rose from the assembled men-folk at this suggestion, and Kathie hastened into speech.

"The room's perfect as it is, thank you, Mrs Wilmot," she said. Casting a nervous glance in Nancy's direction, she then qualified her statement. "That is, if it's alright with you, Nance?"

"Don't be a goose," was the unromantically reassuring reply, as Nancy wrapped an arm around her partner and propelled her into the room, closing the door firmly on their uninvited audience. "Of course it is."

The decision having apparently been made, Mrs Wilmot shooed the rest of the family away, leaving Nancy and Kathie to take stock of their new abode.

Cherished by Eleanore
Author's Notes:

As usual, many apologies for the massive gap between updates!

*grovels to any readers who still remain*

I truly am hoping to manage to update more regularly on this one now - and hopefully even have it finished before next Christmas!

I know there was a Hilda Wilmot mentioned in the books, but there was never anything to say that she was Nancy's sister, so I've decided she wasn't. There is a reason for this - whenever I read the name 'Hilda', I get a mental image of Miss Annersley, and I didn't want to have to spend the entire drabble mentally correcting myself!

Although I'd already chosen a name for Nancy's sister, I had no particular thoughts on what sort of a person she was - but after reading jayj's wonderful Where You Belong, I just couldn't picture the woman in any other way, so blame jayj for her! ;)

"Oh, Nance, help!" Kathie had begged, when she had finally found herself alone with her partner. "I'm going to be too embarrassed to get within a foot of you all week!"

Given that Kathie had been clinging to her like a limpet at the time, Nancy hadn't taken this statement too seriously, but had set herself to soothing her partner - an effort that had turned out to be wasted as a hearty thump on the door and a stentorian bellow of "Lunch!" had sent an already nervous Kathie ricocheting out of her arms.

It had taken a significant amount of courage on Kathie's part to walk into the dining room and take her seat at the table, as Nancy was well aware. Her sister's attempt to enforce a seating arrangement that would have stranded them at opposite ends of the lengthy board had been firmly negated when Nancy, with an eye to her partner's anxious expression, had calmly taken her place next to Kathie and refused to budge.

With Nancy's reassuring presence beside her, Kathie felt confident enough to look around the table, attempting to identify the various members of the Wilmot family. All children old enough to manage a meal without significant assistance had, she was thankful to note, been seated at a separate table, leaving Kathie free to concentrate on identifying the adults.

The twins were easily spotted, although she couldn't tell which was which; she knew Paul, of course; and Nancy's sister was a slimmer, plainer version of Nancy. As for the rest of the Wilmot siblings, not to speak of the numerous in-laws, Kathie realised she would have to leave it to time and frequent hints from her partner.

Having got so far in her meditations, she gave her attention to the conversation. Nancy was caught in the thick of it, exchanging reminiscences and friendly insults with her brothers, answering enquiries about life at school, and catching up on the latest news from everyone else. Kathie listened, fascinated, but she gradually began to notice an undercurrent of something rather less pleasant.

The comments directed at Nancy by her sister seemed to have a certain edge to them - although judging by Nancy's unruffled demeanour, these barbs were failing to hit their mark. Kathie, however, was unable to demonstrate quite the same level of unconcern. Each pointed remark and veiled insult left her increasingly resentful on Nancy's behalf, until she was practically bouncing in her seat with indignation, her shyness and embarrassment forgotten.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, Nancy was anything but unconscious of her sister's hostility. Nor had Kathie's response to the spiteful taunts gone unnoticed; Nancy took every opportunity to draw her partner into conversation with some other member of the family, was assiduous in pressing food and drink upon her, and punctuated her own remarks with frequent smiles and glances at her partner, even giving the occasional reassuring touch to her wrist whenever Emily's comments provoked an indrawn breath or some other sign of tension from Kathie.

Oddly enough, Nancy was finding that her sister's words seemed to have lost some of their effect. They were still undoubtedly unpleasant, taking accurate aim at her weak spots as they did, but Kathie's palpable indignation seemed to alleviate Nancy's own feelings - apparently that old saying about a trouble shared was something more than just a platitude. Besides which, the person whose opinion really mattered to her was Kathie; and it was very obvious that Kathie was in vehement disagreement with every word that Emily spoke. Nancy could feel the fury radiating from her partner and found, somewhat to her surprise, that Kathie's anger on her behalf left her feeling cherished in a way she never had before.

On the other hand, Kathie appeared ready to explode, which might not be the best way to start their week, no matter how much of a solace it might prove to Nancy's ego. Under cover of a general burst of laughter, Nancy leant her head towards the younger woman and murmured, "She's always like that. Just ignore her, Kath."

Kathie did her best, concentrating instead on working her way through the man-sized serving of trifle that had been set before her. Emily also seemed to be giving her attention to the pudding, and Kathie relaxed enough to enjoy the dish, although she found herself unable to finish the large portion she had been given. Having eaten her fill, she edged the plate towards her partner, and Nancy calmly helped herself to the leftovers.

Into this little interlude of peace, Emily's next comment dropped like a thunderbolt.

"That's sheer gluttony. No wonder you're the size you are, Nancy."

This was too much. Guest in the house or not, Kathie had no intention of standing for this kind of thing. Even as Nancy went white at this assault, Kathie launched a ruthless counterattack.

"Pretty girls can get away with a few extra pounds here and there," she said, her hand reaching out to cover Nancy's. Pausing in her speech, she surveyed her antagonist, looking her up and down with undoubted disdain, before adding, "Though, of course, you would have no reason to know that."

There was a moment of stunned silence and then laughter exploded around the table.

"She's got you there, Em!"

"You tell her, Kathie!"

"You've got a feisty one there, Nance!"

While Nancy's brothers were undoubtedly highly amused, and even Mr and Mrs Wilmot were biting their lips, Emily was understandably furious at this well-deserved put-down and her expression, as she looked at Kathie, was decidedly unfriendly.

Somewhat belatedly remembering Nancy's injunction to ignore the gibes, Kathie glanced guiltily at her partner. She wasn't exactly repentant - after all, no one could expect her to hear Nancy abused in that fashion without doing anything about it - but she did rather wish she'd held her tongue.

However, Nancy, with a reassuring grin for her other half, went back to licking the remains of the trifle from her spoon, and Kathie found that, after all, she didn't regret her outburst one iota.

This story archived at http://www.sallydennylibrary.co.uk/viewstory.php?sid=254