Summary: A little Nancy backstory to a situation mentioned in Kathy Filespace, although no need to read that to read this.
Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Hilda Annersley, Jack Maynard, Nancy Wilmot, Nell Wilson
School Period: Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Alternate Universe, Romance, Slash
Chapters: 9 Completed: Yes
Word count: 10635 Read: 22958
Published: 13 Jul 2011 Updated: 16 Sep 2011
Nancy Wilmot visits the new finishing branch of the Chalet School. Nothing deeply exciting, but Kathy FileSpace wouldn't move forward until I at least started this story, so hope it works ok as a little drabblet !
1. Chapter 1 by Beecharmer
2. Chapter 2 by Beecharmer
3. Chapter 3 by Beecharmer
4. Chapter 4 by Beecharmer
5. Chapter 5 by Beecharmer
6. Chapter 6 by Beecharmer
7. Chapter 7 by Beecharmer
8. Chapter 8 by Beecharmer
9. Chapter 9 by Beecharmer
Nell Wilson rubbed a hand over her forehead, trying to smooth out the frown she knew had settled there. It had been a long term, but she was happy with the way that it had turned out, after a difficult start. Coming to Switzerland to run the finishing branch of the Chalet School had been a good way to try to move on from the rut that she had settled in recently. The busy days had meant that she didn’t have as much time to miss the old school and staff (Hilda) as she had thought she might.
However she was overdue for a break, overdue for some time as an adult, well away from school girls, however near adulthood her current charges were.
The paperwork in front of her did not have to be done really, her secretary Gillian having achieved a huge amount more than Nell had expected. The head of the finishing branch had found that she could work well with Gillian Culver, despite the fact of the young woman relatively recently having been one of her students. Those extra few years after leaving school were a steep learning curve for most people, and the growing up that they did then always amazed Nell when the girls returned as staff.
The first term was finally over, and the girls were beginning to settle to the changed systems and responsibilities that they had here. Nell herself was only now realising how much tension she had been under herself for most of the term. She sat back in the chair and tried to decide whether to try to continue with the paperwork, or to go to bed.
The paperwork didn’t need to be done. But now that it was just her and a few of the kitchen staff in the building, she didn’t have enough distraction for her brain to be able to go to bed as early as this. Her brain would run onto topics that she did not really want to think about, like how she should pass the time while the holiday period was going on, and how far away all of her friends (and Hilda) were at the moment.
The paperwork swam before her, she couldn’t concentrate on it, there was no point in doing any of it now, she would just have to repeat it tomorrow if she did.
Nell stood up and stretched. She looked over at the bookshelf, trying to convince herself that she just felt like reading. Even as she went over and picked up the copy of The Origin of the Species, she knew that she had no intention of reading it. She knew that it was unhealthy. She was in her forties. She should be past behaving like a school girl with a crush. She should be able to move on. She should be chosing the book for the topic, for distraction or education. Not for the incription in the front. That should just be something that she noticed once, when receiving the book. There was no need to look at the handwriting there, see the words that she knew would not have changed since the last time that she looked.
“To my dearest friend Nell, I noticed that your old copy has become a little battered. With love at Christmas 1948, Hilda”
The words didn’t mean anything. Hilda just wanted friendship, nothing more.
Nell knew this, and that the word ‘dearest’ just meant the close friendship that Hilda felt for her. Nell had tried for so long to hope that this might change. Kept the secret hopes that she had for the relationship within her, although she was sure that at least Joey suspected, after her own unguarded words when Hilda had the head injury.
Then about a year ago, a rare moment of weakness, a drunken night and the comfortable rut had filled with dangerous water. That night Hilda had seemed more relaxed, more talkative than she had been for a while. Nell had suddenly found herself spilling the words out, telling Hilda how she felt.
Nell closed her eyes, trying not to focus on that memory. Then finally, as ever, giving into it.
The silence from Hilda after the confession. The kind voice, one of Hilda’s greatest assets normally, here almost painful in the memory. The carefully chosen words of reply, trying to let Nell down gently, acknowledging finally that she had known, known for years, that there was a chance Nell felt that way. The voice going on to say how carefully Hilda had tried not to give any suggestion that she could offer any more than friendship.
Nell, despite her drunken state, finally realising that there was just no hope, there never was going to be any more than this. Having to just run away, leave the room to avoid breaking down, her personality couldn’t cope with showing such a weakness.
Nell pushed her way back out of the memory. It did no good focusing on why she was here, why she had jumped at the chance to put distance between her and Hilda. She needed a distraction, and this focussing on the past was not healthy.
She was about to give up and start on the paperwork again when the telephone rang. Surpised, Nell answered.
“ Hello ?” came a voice down the rather poor line. “ I’m sorry, I know that it is late, but is Gillian Culver there?”
“ She is taking a short break, did you want me to take a message for her?” said Nell.
“ Oh no, it isn’t really her that I was looking to contact really” said the voice again. “ I just found out that there was a branch of the Chalet School nearby and thought that I would ring to see if there was anyone there that I knew. I got Miss Culver’s name from the friend that I was visiting in the area”
Nell was intrigued. This sounded like an old girl, or a mistress, but the voice was not really familiar. She decided that she would have to take the initiative, since the voice seemed to have forgotten that it was normal procedure to at least introduce oneself on a phone call.
“ Well my name is Nell, if that helps? Nell Wilson ?” she said.
“ Oh hello Miss Wilson!” the voice replied. “Are you well?”
Nell thought furiously. The voice was still unfamiliar, but the use of the respectful term meant that it had to be an old girl rather than an old mistress. It seemed unlikely to be one of the older old girls, since she had long since graduated to being Nell in their form of address to her. So she was estimating it must be an old girl of no more than 5 years standing. It seemed unlikely to be a recent old girl, since the new school had been discussed for some time, so the girl/woman would have known about her being the head there.
“ I am very well thank you, and...er how are you....er..”
“ Oh did I not say?” came the irrepressible reply “ Nancy, Nancy Wilmot. I used to go to the Chalet School. Only for a while though, so I don’t really expect you to remember me, after all I’m not sure if you even taught me for more than a term. I was one of the girls from St Scholastikas”
Nell thought back, and a plump, cheerful person came to mind. Quite laid back, from memory, which certainly fitted with the casual lack of attention to details such as providing her name from the beginning of the conversation. She thought back, and did some quick sums. Nancy must be in her mid twenties by now, if not a little older.
“ Well Nancy,” she said. “Were you wanting to come up to see anyone in particular ? I’m afraid the girls have gone back for their holiday. You might have remembered a few of them, although as mere babes perhaps. One of them is Peggy Bettany, Madge Russell’s niece? She was the head girl at the Chalet School before coming here”
“ Oh help!” was the rather startling reply. “ Peggy Bettany is old enough to be Head Girl? Who stole all of those years !”
Nell was beginning to find it hard not to laugh. While she had little memory of the school girl Nancy, this breezy young woman sounded most entertaining. Surprising herself, she suddenly asked Nancy if she would like to come up to the school anyway, to see the area. She was fully expecting the young woman to say no, after all there must be far more interesting places for her to visit on her holiday. So it shocked her to hear Nancy happily accept the invitation and say that she would be up there the following morning.
After Nell put the phone down, she stood looking at it for a while, then chuckled at the cheery way that the young woman had dealt with everything. It would be fun to have some company, even if it were only for a few hours. She had seen barely anyone other than the girls and staff for some time, and the prospect of not only a visitor, but one that she did not know much about, was something that lifted her spirits. Some new conversation would be a welcome change, and they would surely know enough people through the school connection to be able to have a good gossip the following morning.
Nell went off to bed, smiling at the memory of the friendly voice, and quite excited at the change of routine.
Mildly mature, very very mild ! But just in case people needed warning - be warned ;-)
The following day Nell woke early, still in a good mood at the possibility of some company.
She had a quick look around the school in preparation for showing her visitor the set up they had created. Everything was spick and span, and she was satisfied that the finishing branch would make a good impression.
It was very important to Nell that this venture made a good impression compared to the main branch when they relocated. Even though they had been joint heads at the Chalet School for some time, Hilda's natural authority and greater experience had made her the person people tended to see as the head. That hadn't mattered when Nell was in full adoration mode, since she was glad to just see Hilda respected in that way.
However, after that night Nell had finally open her eyes about their situation being so one sided when Hilda made it clear there would never be more between them. Feeling so unsure about herself and a little as though she had made a fool of herself, the situation with them being joint heads but not quite equal had started to rankle a little with Nell. The move to the Oberland was a way to strike out a bit more on her own, so the success of the place meant a lot to her.
As she finshed looking at the flowers in the hallway and making sure there were no dead blooms, she heard a small cough behind her.
She turned to see a sturdy, slightly plump young woman, with mouth clearly used to frequent smiles, slightly contrasting with a slightly pale, worry worn appearance to the rest of her face.
" Hello Miss Wilson," came a cheery greeting that contrasted strangely with the tired appearance of the young woman. " I saw the door was open and thought I would let myself in, I hope that wasn't too cheeky?"
Nell laughed, and indicated that it was fine.
" Would you like some coffee, or indeed tea?" Nell asked, as she led the way to a small salon with comfortable chairs around a tiled stove.
" Tea would be great," said Nancy, "It seems a lot easier to get coffee than tea out here, and I have missed it."
They settled down in the salon and Nell made some general small talk, and then asked why Nancy was in the area.
"Just on a break before heading back to England to find a new job" said Nancy. "My last school closed down, and I felt I needed a break before starting all over again"
"Are you are a teacher, then?" asked Nell, starting to wonder if this wasn't the social visit it seemed, but a form of job application. Why this should make her feel a little sad, she didn't know. After all the young woman wasn't there to see her personally anyway, she was there to make contact with her old school.
" Yes, Maths or Physics. Though mainly Maths, since there aren't many girl's schools providing Physics as a seperate subject. Most of them just do a mixed science. I'd be no use at that, my Biology is useless, and much of my knowledge of Chemistry too."
"Nice to know I was so unsuccessful at teaching you those things" commented Nell drily.
Nancy looked embarrassed, then clearly decided to explain rather than just move on, which was what Nell had been expecting.
"I forgot that those were your subjects. You can't really take credit for my lack of knowledge however! I barely had 3 lessons with you if my memory serves correctly. St Scholastika's didn't have much of a science department, and when I moved to the Chalet School I dropped most subjects in favour of maths and general subjects useful for getting to my university."
Nell smiled and moved on to other subjects. After a short while she suggested a look around the school, and Nancy agreed.
" Very neat and private " she commented about the girl's cubicle arrangements. The arrangement of the school into streams and lectures rather than lessons also met with approval. "It would have been very useful to be more used to things like that before university, I'm quite jealous of the girls here, they are very lucky."
Finally they ended up back at the Salon. Nell was strangely reluctant for the visit to end, a reaction that confused her completely. When Nancy suggested a walk around the area, she agreed with enthusiasm and went to get her outer clothes.
Left alone in the Salon, Nancy was herself quite confused. She had suggested the walk on the spur of the moment, and didn't really have any great interest in the area. She really ought to be starting on her way back to her hotel, there weren't many transport options available.
'But I want to spend more time with this woman', she found herself thinking. How silly, after all they barely knew each other, why would she feel this irrational desire to stay?
Nell had returned, and they set off through the pine trees, lightly chatting, suprising themselves by how easy they found it to talk to one another. Nancy found herself telling Nell about her real reason for the holiday.
" Someone... Special to me, they died quite suddenly. It shook me up quite a bit, and I buried myself in work. When the school closed I realised that I needed to get away for a while" she said.
Nell expressed her sympathy, all the while telling herself not to read anything into the gender neutral description of "Someone Special". After all it didn't always mean anything, when people were unspecific about things like this.
As they returned to the school, Nancy looked at her watch and uttered an expletive under her breath. Nell fought the urge to laugh. One of the things that had been slightly wearing with Hilda was that she always used such correct language all the time. Nell found herself warming to Nancy even more.
"I've just missed my last chance of a lift" explained Nancy. "Now I will have to walk down, damn."
"There's no need for that" Nell suprised herself by saying. "There is plenty of room here if you want to stay"
Nancy thought for a moment. She could feel the spark between them, and within herself she realised that she had unconsciously dawdled to have an excuse to stay longer. If she stayed, she had a shrewd idea what might happen. The chemistry between them physically had grown throughout the afternoon, and she was fairly sure that Nell was feeling the same way.
'Was it too soon?' She worried to herself. Despite the implication to Nell of it being recent, it had actually been 18 months since she lost her girlfriend, and she had been almost catatonic with grief for the early parts of that time. She was just about starting to feel close to being herself again, but was she ready for something like this ? A fling, maybe more? Also was it too strange that Nell had been a teacher at her school? After all, it wasn't as if they had really known about each other then.
She had begun to frown, and Nell noticed.
" I can see if someone here would drive you down, if you prefered?" she said. Then she added "I would like the chance to spend a bit more time together if you didn't have to go " suprising herself more than Nancy, who had actually been more aware of their chemistry that Nell had.
Nancy made her decision. Nell was clearly asking her to stay. If it developed, it did. After all, it wasn't as if they were likely to ever see each other again. She knew her late partner wouldn't have wanted her to be alone, and something like this, likely to be a one off and no strings attached, could well be a good way to get back into the idea of a relationship again.
She accepted the offer of a bed for the night, and Nell showed her to a guest room. Disappearing for a moment, Nell returned with a nightgown.
" I thought you, well you would need one" she said, almost shyly, which was a strong contrast to the normal strong and sarcastic exterior she presented. Nancy accepted with a smile.
They retired back downstairs to the salon, Nancy on a long settle and Nell on one of the chairs, and continued to talk, each making the other laugh with their wit and dry sense of humour.
Nell went off to do her last checks of the doors and windows, while Nancy sat back on the settle and waited for her return.
Nancy was beginning to wonder whether she had imagined the chemistry between them, when she heard Nell's return and looked up with an unconscious smile. The way their eyes locked together answered everything for them, and Nancy motioned to Nell to sit beside her on the settle, rather than returning to her own chair.
With the briefest of hesitations, Nell nodded slightly and joined her on the settle, still with a tiny question in her eyes as she looked into Nancy's.
The lean forward, resting of hand on Nell's and kiss that Nancy gave in reply removed all doubt. There was a little initial awkwardness for them both, coming back to physical expression after so long, but it felt so right that they soon lost that in enjoying the kiss. Nancy shifted position gradually, and they found themselves lying beside one another, looking into each other's eyes. Putting their worries aside they just went with what felt natural to them, eventually leaving the salon for the more private space of Nell's bedroom.
The guest room and loaned nightdress remained unused that night, as they did for the several days following.
Nell looked up at the treasured face, staring into those beautiful eyes that had never yet needed glasses. She lifted her hand to stroke Hilda’s cheek, taking her time with the contact and feeling so happy just to be near her.
“ Nell” she said, in the voice that everyone always said was her greatest asset. “ Nell...Nell... I need to go...”
Nell frowned, confused. The voice continued, but gradually changed in tone, became younger and more hesitant. The face before her faded and Nell found herself lying in her own bed, Hilda gone, and Nancy’s face above her, looking slightly worried.
“Nell, I’m sorry” said Nancy, gently touching to Nell’s cheek again “I need to go, I have to catch my train, I just wanted to say goodbye. I... I’ll be back in a few days, if you wanted... I mean, if it was alright to come back here?”
Nell was still slightly hazy from the strength of feeling in her dream, and had to move her eyes from Nancy’s for a moment to try to get herself under control before replying. She didn’t want Nancy to see the slight disappointment she was feeling as reality hit.
“ That would be nice” she said, and tried to get her features under proper control. She looked at the young woman before her, and tried to get herself back to the place she had been before the dream. They had had a wonderful few days, barely leaving the bedroom, making excuses to the remaining domestic staff to eat in her rooms, and simply enjoying the freedom of not having to think too deeply about things.
Now Nancy had to go on to meet a friend at her next destination, and reality was starting to make itself known again. Nell sat up and tried to concentrate properly on what she was saying.
“Are you sure it’s ok, Nell?” Nancy said, looking worried. “I … I mean, I don’t have to come back here afterwards”
Nell looked at her, suddenly seeing how young she was, she seemed quite vunerable somehow. Nancy had been so confident physically, that Nell had forgotten that she was so much younger, that she had not been in a relationship recently either.
“It will be great, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you” She said to Nancy, using the fondness she felt for the girl to create a smile to go with the words. After all, it was early days, and they hadn’t really had much time to get to know one another. Although Nell didn’t like to analyse the fact much, every time they started talking more seriously one or other of them had found far more interesting things to do with their time. They really did need to get to know each other proplerly, get an idea of where they each thought this was going. A few days break might set them on a better track.
Nancy leant forward and gave her a slightly hesitant kiss, resting her hand to the side of Nell’s leg as she leaned in. The chemistry between them was still like a powerful spark on the contact, and Nell was hugely tempted to suggest Nancy return to bed and catch a later train. However they had already pushed back her leaving by a day.
After all, she was coming back soon, there would be plenty of time for talking and other activities then.
Nell realised that she had been daydreaming, and the other woman had left the room. She began to dress, meaning to accompany her to the station, but suddenly she looked out the window to see a fast retreating figure, and realised that Nancy had already gone, perhaps worried about missing the train.
Nell felt so confused, she didn't quite know what to think. On the one hand, Nancy’s sudden departure left her feeling slightly empty, on the other she still had that unsettling dream about Hilda, making her almost glad to be alone to think about things. It was only a dream after all, it was just her brain organising some thoughts. (And feelings said that small voice inside her she was trying to ignore)
Nell looked at the time, and decided to go for a brisk walk, try to clear her head. She felt the need for some fresh air, and hoped that the exercise would help her to make more sense of things.
On the way down, Nancy was also trying to order her thoughts. She had only really expected a short fling, not the days of exploring each other that had just passed. As she reached her station, she left the train and felt a sense of loss that she was heading away from this new situation so soon. She was almost tempted to cancel with her friend, and simply take the next train back up the mountain, surprise Nell. They could maybe go for a walk together, as they had been planning to for days, visit this Auberge with the echos.
She hovered on the platform in indecision. Then she thought of her friend, already put off for a day with a vague excuse about travel connections. It would be unlikely that she would have the money to leave England again for some time, and she DID want to see her. It was only a few days, a week at the most.
Nell might not want her back there so soon anyway, after all she might have things she needed to do, people she wanted to visit herself.
She might only have been being polite when she said that she wanted Nancy to return...
Nancy gripped her bag and told herself firmly not to get too silly about Nell, after all they had only agreed... well they hadn’t really agreed anything, she realised. They had just found themselves unable to leave each other alone, which didn’t really mean anything necessarily. Did it ? Nancy had only really felt that way with a few people, and it usually was within a relationship... she usually did know the person first. It was strange to realise that she both felt that she knew Nell in some ways, but also didn’t really in so many others. It was particularly strange when they had been so close over the past few days.
Nancy wandered along the road, barely watching where she was going, daydreaming about the recent time with Nell, and wondering whether there was anything nice she could bring back as a surprise for her. After all, it was only polite to bring something back from a trip, when someone was letting you stay with them. Something nice, that would make Nell smile. That would be a good idea. Nancy smiled as she walked, looking forward to her return already.
Nell stared out at the mountain peaks unseeingly. Beside her a group of tourists were trying several different noises with the echos, making quite discordant sounds return like fairy music. She knew they were there, but her thoughts made them seem removed, far away and separate.
Nancy was a really nice, friendly person. She made Nell laugh, and was one of the few people who could keep up with Nell’s sense of humour, they had spent almost as much time laughing over the past few days as other activities. They had a strong (very strong, Nell thought to herself with a slight shiver) physical connection, and enjoyed spending time together.
What were they doing ? Where was this going ?
The dream was just a dream. Not surprising really, after all she had been with no one since Con except this almost relationship with Hilda. It was just a dream. Didn’t mean anything. No reason to let it interfere with her relationship (was it a relationship?) with Nancy, in fact it might be a good reason to carry on. After all, Hilda was miles away in Carnbach, and she wasn’t interested anyway. So it was silly to let a dream spoil something that was at least fun, and maybe might be more.
Nell sat there for a long time, repeating the same thoughts in different forms. When she had finally settled them all in the correct places, she felt lighter and happier. There wasn’t a need to analyse the dream, it was just a dream. Nancy was coming back up to see her in a few days, they could see where their relationship (was it a relationship? No, stop that thinking, it was, it was) was heading then.
She walked briskly back to the house and settled down to some paperwork. Time enough to think about things when they happened or didn’t happen. If she was to have some time free for when Nancy returned then she needed to get ahead now, and work was a good distraction.
She noticed the Origin of the Species book out on the desk, and firmly picked it up to put away on the shelf, before heading back to the piles of post that had arrived while she had been so occupied with Nancy. As she moved the book, a few of the letters fell un-noticed from the pile and slipped down the back of her desk, coming to rest on the floor just out of sight.
A few days later Nancy was sitting on the train heading back up towards Welsen. She was happy to be returning, but still slightly nervous as to what the situation was between them. She made a firm promise to herself that they would manage some talking, and get some idea of what each of them were thinking about where their relationship (was it a relationship?) was going.
She made her way to the house, and knocked on the door, still slightly unsure and nervous. When Nell answered however, the grin of welcome was spontaneous and warm. Nancy couldn’t help but grin back. Nell linked her arm through Nancy’s and led her to the salon, where tea and cakes were already sitting. Nancy looked at her with a question in her eyes, slightly afraid that Nell had been expecting other company.
“Its not magic,” Nell laughed in response. “ I hoped you might come back by this train, and kept a look out towards the station. When I saw you coming along I asked the kitchen staff to bring these bits to the Salon for us. I thought you would probably be hungry after your journey.
Nancy was touched by the thoughtful gesture, and tried not to be too pleased, after all it was maybe just the trick of a good hostess. It was a nice feeling however, to think that Nell had been looking out for her.
Shyly, she reached inside her bag and handed Nell a small box of Belgium chocolates, wrapped with a pink and purple ribbon.
“ I thought it might, you might, I wanted to, there isn’t much I could get without knowing more, I thought, after all, I … um... hope you like them” she said, rather incoherently.
Nell took the box with a slight blush. She hadn’t had gifts bought for her in this way for a long time, and the fact that Nancy had been thinking of her while she was away touched Nell.
“ I wondered if you wanted to go for a walk somewhere?” she asked. Nancy agreed, and they went to go and change to go out. However, this time Nell had barely the pretence of Nancy’s possessions being in the guest room, and carried her main case directly to Nell’s own room. Nancy looked at her walking ahead of her into the bedroom, and felt more secure about things. They would talk later, she knew that. In the end, once there were other people around who might take up their time, they could go for plenty of walks then. As Nell went towards her wardrobe to get her outdoor clothes, Nancy put a hand on her arm.
“I was wondering...” she said, then felt unaccountably shy, so far they had not had to verbalise wanting to be together that way, it had just happened “ I was thinking, I mean, we could go for a walk later... if, you know, if you wanted.”
Nell’s answering grin took away that last bit of shyness, and they found their way to the bed, looking forward to taking it slowly, reintroducing themselves to each other. They enjoyed just lying together kissing to begin with, and were just starting to explore further when a knock on the door shocked them both upright and off the bed. Nell cleared her throat.
“Er...what is it ?” She asked, while Nancy suddenly saw the funny side of the situation and lay back down on the bed, face into the pillow to muffle her laughter.
“Please Fraulein, there is a visitor, they are in the Salon” came the voice.
“ A visitor?” Nell said, then replied throught the door. “ Fine, thank you, I will be just one moment, please can you make sure that they have everything they wish while they wait.”
She turned to Nancy with a slight frown. “Must be a mistake, or perhaps someone selling something.” she said, then she started to laugh herself at the idea of someone coming this far up to sell door to door. She gave Nancy a gentle kiss, and told her to settle herself in, she would be back as soon as she could. Nancy smiled up at her and reminded her to tidy herself up just in case. Nell wondered initially at the suggestion, then looked in her mirror and had to laugh at her shock of white hair sticking out at all angles.
Nancy undressed and settled herself between the sheets with a book, looking forward to Nell’s return.
Nell tidied herself and set off for the Salon. It was most likely another visit from a tourist being nosy about the school. It wouldn’t take long to let them know that there were no vacancies at present and give them a few details and a prospectus.
She entered the salon, and stopped short at the unexpected vision before her.
“Hello Nell, I did manage to catch the earlier train after all” said Hilda, getting up from the settle and smiling happily at her friend. “ The girl who opened the door said that you were in your room, I do hope you aren’t unwell?”
Nell stared at Hilda.
“ I ...er … I … um... No... not ill. I mean. I’m not ill. Why, why are you here?” Nell stammered, frantically trying to work out what was going on. Was Hilda staying? Should she try to get a message to Nancy?
Hilda looked at her in concern. This wasn’t like Nell, she seemed positively idiotic, standing there with her mouth gaping open. She was also looking relatively dishevelled, her blouse appeared to be incorrectly buttoned, which was also most unlike Nell.
Hilda wondered whether to mention being ill again, since she could see no other reason for Nell to have lost her customary confidence. Should she mention the blouse? They hadn't been on as close terms as they used to be, and Hilda was a little unsure. She decided to just ignore it, and continue with her greeting.
“I know we are a few hours early, however we were lucky with connections.”
“We?” said Nell, looking around her almost as if she expected someone else to be hiding under the table. “Who else is here?”
Hilda looked at Nell in confusion. “Jack Maynard of course - didn't you get my letter?"
Nell shook her head. Not just Hilda, but Jack Maynard as well ! A momentary urge to tell Hilda about Nancy, blatently offer Hilda tbe guest room and move Nancy into her own room officially was shelved at this news. If Jack knew, he might tell Joey, and while Nell respected and cared for Joey, she was a terrible gossip.
"He has come up with me to finalise the details of their new home, and for us both to look at the new school premises" said Hilda, wondering what was going through Nell's mind for her to look so confused.
"Ah," said Nell, frantically trying on plans in her mind to explain Nancy's presence and discarding them instantly, neither Hilda nor Jack would be easily fooled. "That is ... Good, however I was just a little surprised, I wasn't aware that you would be coming. Still, er... Hello. Have you had any tea? I'll go and get some tea"
With which words she turned and almost ran to the door, thinking only if the fact that she needed to talk to Nancy.
Hilda was getting worried now. She was sitting there with tea and cakes right in front of her. Nell wasn't making any sense. She considered whether she ought to wait there for Nell's return, but decided instead to follow and see if Nell needed any help, perhaps she was ill and ought to be made to go back to bed.
She rose and followed the sound of Nell's footsteps, then stopped short as she realised they had already passed the kitchen. What WAS going on? She hovered at the door to the staff corridor, suddenly cautious and wondering if she ought to follow or not. Her instincts were to check if Nell was ok, but a tiny inkling of what another explanation might be was beginning to form, and if that were the case, her following would not be appreciated.
Nell's close friendship and truth between them had been so much a part of her life in recent years that she had jumped straight past any explanation other than illness. But as she stood in indecision a vague memory came back to her. She had disturbed Nell and Con in an embrace once, purely innocently, by entering a room with only a brief knock. This could well be a situation where discretion might be more appreciated than friendly concern.
Even as she turned, to go back to the Salon, she heard voices. Despite herself she turned back to see, and her suspicions were confirmed by the sight of a tousled head and plump body nipping out from Nell's bedroom and into the guest room, carrying a bag...and various items of clothing, slightly more than were on her body.
Hilda beat an embarrassed retreat to the Salon, and sat looking out of the window, trying to get her face under control. She had an intense desire to laugh, as she thought back to Nell's confusion at her sudden arrival in the context of her new knowledge. She also felt a little upset that Nell hadn't felt she could just tell her, but also understood why. After all, these things were not commonly discussed, and they HAD been less close of late.
A tiny part of her was slightly sad to realise that Nell would not just be automatically available as before, that she might need to check first to see if she was free. However Hilda wanted Nell to be happy, and as she pondered on this new situation, she wondered whether Nell having someone else could perhaps reduce the tension between them since their discussion of her own inability to see Nell that way.
She looked out along the pathway, and saw Jack Maynard heading towards the house. She went through just the same thought process as Nell. Neither he nor Joey would judge, she was sure of that, but with Joey, to think was to say. Nell's secret would not long remain one if Jack were to find out.
In the spare room, Nancy was quickly finishing her dressing. She then looked out of the window, gave thanks that the room was on the ground floor, and clamboured out of the small opening, nearly getting stuck halfway.
Taking a moment to recover, and vowing to eat fewer of those luscious cream cakes in future, Nancy then sped off into the woods, intending to find the path and walk back casually along it, to enter the house again from the front.
A short distance away, Jack Maynard watched this performance in amusement. This was an interesting turn of events. He assumed the girl not to be a thief, since the average thief might not stand leaning against a tree talking to themselves about pastries, rather than making a quick get away. He realised afterwards that he really should have attempted to catch her, just in case, but she had disappeared off into the trees before he had recovered his surprise enough to think to do it.
He chuckled to himself and put it down to perhaps a girl left at school in the holidays trying to take a short cut out, or perhaps a member of the domestic staff attempting an illicit day out. Either way it was none of his concern, although he made a note to mention it to Nell and Hilda later, in case it was one of the girls.
Nell made her way back to the Salon, touched by how quickly Nancy had understood, and even more, how quickly she had come up with a reasonable plan for getting them out of the situation.
Entering the Salon, she saw Hilda staring out of the window, a strange, slightly wistful look on her face. Hearing Nell, she resettled her features into a smile, and indicated the approaching figure of Jack Maynard.
"Here he comes now. We are going on up to the Platz to investigate the state of the new school buildings, and take some measurements, if you want to come up with us?"
Nell did want to see the school, it was exciting to be part of a new project like this. However the plan for explaining Nancy's prescence would only work if Hilda and Jack were to see Nancy approach from a "walk". She resolved to stall them leaving, and just hope that Nancy didn't take too long to arrive. After that ... Well, they would see. She had some idea of how she and Nancy could fill the afternoon, and it didn't involve tape measures.
Nancy meanwhile, had sped on up through the trees, joined the path a little way up, and then slowed her pace to a leisurely stroll on the way back down.
Now she had had time to think, she wasn't sure what the best thing to do was. With the others there it seemed different somehow. Did she want to risk being caught, getting known as a pervert, a lover of women? Teaching was still a small world, and it needed strength to go against the norm. Did she have that strength? And, a little voice in her head kept coming back to say ' Do I want to risk it for this, for a relationship I'm as yet not sure even IS a relationship?'
She definitely cared for Nell. She liked spending time with her, she liked the things they usually found to do in that time, and the chemistry between them was strong. But did it have any sort of future. Was this dive out of the window a sign of things to come? Would they always be hiding, having to snatch moments, to make sure they had locked doors? That was a hard way to be together, did they really have enough in common to make that work?
Nancy continued along the path, dawdling and lost in thought. She nearly went right past the house and back down towards the station, a fact that she tried not to think of as significant.
She steeled herself for being sociable, and walked up the path and towards the front door. She knocked, was let in by a confused looking maid, who had been sure this fraulein was already in the house, and shown into the Salon.
Hilda looked up. She had seen that someone was approaching, but nit who.
"Why, Nancy Wilmot!" she said, "What a surprise to see you here!"
Nancy smiled, rather pleased that Miss Annersley had recognised her after so long.
"Miss Wilson was kind enough to offer me a place to stay while I visited the area" Nancy said, hoping that she wasn't contradicting anything Nell had said.
"I have told you Nancy, do call me Nell" said that lady, hoping that their little charade would work. "Did you enjoy your walk?"
As Nancy replied in the affirnative, she turned with her back briefly to Hilda. With a small gasp, Hilda recognized Nancy as the same person she had just seen half undressed, running into the guest bedroom. Well! Nell's secret visitor was Nancy Wilmot!
Hilda wasn't quite sure what to think. It ought not to make a difference, but knowing who the mystery woman was suddenly made the situation even more real. Hilda had had a slight hope that the woman was just an acquantaince, a fling, if she were to think of it in those terms. But this was someone with connections to the school, somebody who was perhaps going to be around for some time to come.
Hilda gave a slight sigh as she thought about it all. Nell was going to find someone, whether this relationship worked or not. Their cosy little twosome as joint heads wasn't going to come back. Briefly Hilda wished that she could have found Nell attractive in that way, that she could have kept their closeness. But she just didn't. She wanted friendship, and nothing more interested her.
When the thought even crossed her mind, she had hoped in the past that maybe Nell was the same, that Nell's previous history with Con Stewart had been just an extension of friendship. But today's discovery disproved that, and told Hilda that Nell obviously did have physical drives that way, not just emotional ones. She was a little concerned about the fact that it was a former pupil, but after all, it wasn't like Nancy was still at school. She was an adult after all.
In another part of the Salon, Jack Maynard was finding it hard to keep a straight face as he recognised the window gymnast from earlier. He was tickled further to see Nancy obviously forget her earlier resolve about cakes and tuck into some of the pastries on the table with unconscious enthusiasm.
'What is going on?' he thought, looking from Nell, to Nancy, to Hilda, who seemed in a world of her own. He could see that none of them were going to explain, but he was most intrigued.
Nell was obviously the most tense, but the reason escaped Jack. He looked from her to the younger woman, and wondered whether Nell knew of her guest's unconventional methods for leaving the premises.
'Yes,'he thought. 'Most odd, the whole thing!'
Sorry for delay, plot bunny for this one went AWOL for a while !
Nell wasn't quite sure what to feel, when Nancy accepted Hilda's invitation to view the new school.
She was keen to see the buildings, and to see Jack and Joey's new home, and she was glad not to have to chose between an afternoon with Nancy and one (with Hilda) investigating the new school.
She did want to be involved with the decisions, even if her main domain was to be the older girls now. It would be a nice afternoon seeing the fulfillment of all of their plans.
Nell suddenly realised that everyone was looking at her. Jack repeated his question, seeing that she had obviously been distracted.
"Shall we get going now, or do you have anything that needs doing before we go?"
Nell was briefly tempted to suggest that Hilda and Jack go on ahead, since then she and Nancy could have a little time together, and still visit the school, but it would be hard to find a reason for Nancy to stay too.
She had had the foresight to leave the room for a moment, and to tell one of the household staff to have rooms made up for Hilda and Jack. She had arranged for them to be as far away from Nell's own room as possible without being likely to cause suspicion. So she and Nancy would be able to talk in private later, there wasn't really a need for discussion now.
"No, we can leave as soon as you want to, I just need to get my outdoor clothes" she said, getting up to leave the room.
Nancy was quick to use the opportunity.
"I could do with a quick chance to freshen up, if you will both excuse me for a moment" she said to Hilda and Jack, who murmered agreement and watched her leave.
Jack wondered briefly whether to mention the window incident with Nancy to Hilda. However he didn't see any reason that there would be a need for her to be told, now that he knew it wasn't one of the girls.
Hilda could be quite strict sometimes, he felt, and might not be impressed by Nancy's behaviour. He decided not to say anything for now.
Nancy hurried after Nell. As they reached the corridor and stood outside their respective rooms, they were both momentarily stuck for what to say to each other.
"I wasn't quite sure how to answer" Nancy said at last "I don't have to come up there with you if you would rather I didn't?"
Nell was briefly caught off guard, and a tiny voice said to her that she could suggest Nancy stay there, then Nell could have the afternoon at the school (with Hilda) and the night with Nancy. But, as she looked at the open, honest face before her she couldn't bring herself to do that. Hilda was a friend, nothing more. Nancy might well be the future for Nell, she didn't want to start by deliberately keeping her and Hilda apart.
"I would like to be able to spend the afternoon with you. If you want to come, I would love to have you" Nell said, then was puzzled for a moment at Nancy's grin, before she realised the double meaning of her last statement.
" You are incorrigable!" she said, even as she blushed. Nancy looked around briefly, then pulled Nell into her room. All discussion was ended for a few moments, as they took advanage of the brief chance of privacy.
Nell was again thrown off balance by the sheer physical chemistry between them. Nancy was quite shocked by it herself, she had never had a situation like this where she just couldn't keep her hands of someone. They finally surfaced from a long intense kiss and looked at each other, knowing full well what they both really wanted to spend the afternoon doing.
"We had better get back," Nancy said, reluctantly. Nell had to agree although she wasn't totally sure she could think coherently enough for social chit chat at that point in time. But any longer and they would be too obvious.
They headed to the Salon, then set off up to the Gornetz Platz.
The school was coming together in a really good way. The different houses would fit well, and the dormitories were efficient and compact. The Maynard's new home was nearly ready as well, and all of them had had fun guessing what Joey might chose to do with each room when she arrived.
There were far fewer jobs needing to be done than any of them had anticipated, so while Hilda and Jack went over to check some more details for the Maynard's new house, Nell suggested that she showed Nancy around a bit more of the main school.
They had been trying not to stand too close, almost as if afraid that the physical chemistry and sparks of attraction that they felt between them would show. Once she was sure that Jack and Hilda were away however, Nell put her arm through Nancy's, causing the younger woman to jump at the touch.
"Don't worry, no one is near, and even if they were, then no one would think anything of it. After all we are two women friends. Women link arms all the time" said Nell softly into Nancy's ear, making her ability to concentrate even less than it was before.
"I don't think they use the opportunity to do that though" said Nancy, and Nell grinned and reluctantly moved slightly further away.
"I wasn't complaining" Nancy sais with a wicked smile. "Merely observing. I don't know what straight women do, perhaps they do, do that ..."
Nell had to laugh, and moved her arm back and brought the two of them closer as they walked.
They wandered all round, chatting quietly and getting to know each other better. Nell hadn't laughed as much as she did now since Con Stewart had left. She felt comfortable with Nancy already, which was unusual for Nell, whose sarcasm was usually a wall she used to protect herself.
Nancy was just a good soul, Nell realised, a naturally caring and friendly person. They had a very similar view on life, although Nell had the advantage - or was it disadvantage? - of age and experience. It made her more cynical, more aware that not all people were good and honest, not everything turns out the way that you want it to do. She could tell that Nancy wasn't an innocent, and the loss of her partner showed it's scars, as she could see when Nancy explained the details.
But she still had that belief in herself, in her own judgement, that Nell realised had been eroded out of her own mindset over time. It was refreshing to see, invigorating to be around that bouncy self confidence.
They entered a big airy room, filled with comfortable chairs, tables around the edge under shelves and locker cupboards.
A large table sat in the middle of the room, clearly meant for meetings and larger work projects.
"This must be the staff room?" Nancy said, and Nell nodded. Nancy looked at her watch. "When were we meeting them?" she continued.
"About half an hour's time," Nell replied. "Why?"
Nancy merely reached behind her, shut the door, then grabbed Nell's hand and pulled her over to the large table. Nell was puzzled, until Nancy sat on the edge and pulled Nell towards her.
"It may not be my own staff room - or yours I suppose, but ... Well ..." Nancy said, placing her arms around Nell and pulling her in for a kiss. She considered for a moment then whispered in Nell's ears.
"Seriously?" Nell said with a laugh. Nancy's response was a raised eyebrow and a "Why not?"
Nell laughed, then gave in. After all the door was locked, they couldn't be disturbed...
She was briefly bothered by the reminder that Nancy worked in a school too, a vague concern about about this being unprofessional. But after all, though they were both teachers, they didn't work together, it wasn't term time and after all, what was the harm?
Jack was getting impatient, waiting in the car. Where were those two ? He had suggested to Hilda that she go and look for them, but she seemed unaccountably reluctant to do so, despite the fact that the women were now 40 minutes late and no where to be seen.
Nancy and Nell hurried out of the school, and joined the others.
"Sorry, lost track of time" said Nell briefly.
Jack just wanted to get going, he was not looking forward to the drive down, the gradient of the road was somewhat alarming.
As they finally reached Das Haus unter de Kierfen, Nancy relaxed the death grip she had had on the seat, and enquired in a rather shaky voice what the plans were for getting the patients up to the San.
"Oh there is another road, but it is far longer" replied Jack, trying not to show himself quite how stressful he had found the descent.
They enjoyed a meal, chatted for a while, and eventually retired to sleep, it having been a long day.
Nancy changed, then sat on the bed in the spare room, unsure whether to go and say goodnight to Nell, or what the plans for the evening were. She was glad to hear a knock on the door, and opened it happily, only to have a shock as she saw Hilda standing outside.
"I wanted to have a word, and wasn't sure when we would be leaving tomorrow. There might not be another opportunity. Can ... I mean May...I come in?" said Hilda, in an unusually abrupt way for her.
Trying not to look panicked, Nancy welcomed her in, wondering what on earth Hilda wanted to talk to her so urgently about. She was still rather in awe of the woman who had been Senior mistress and then Acting head during her time at the Chalet School.
As she shut the door, it also occured to her that Nell might well come to her room, and it would be very awkward if she were to walk straight in to find Hilda there. Nancy had a great urge to laugh, or at least fall into nervous giggles at the absurdity of the situation. Oh well, she thought, if it gets too awkward, I can always head out the window again and leave them to it. This thought didn't help, and she had to cover an escaping chortle with a cough, resulting in an enquiry from Hilda as to her feeling well.
Getting her features under control, Nancy reassured her that she was quite well. Hilda looked around the room, embarrassed to find that there was only one chair. This meant one or both of them would have to sit on the bed. She resolved mentally to make sure that staff bedrooms at the new school had an extra chair, it seemed somehow absurd having a conversation with one of them sitting on the bed. She could see that Nancy wasn't comfortable, although didn't realise that this was due in part to trying not to cause the bed to creak as she moved, mindful of how nearby Nell was, to hear.
"I wondered what your plans were" began Hilda. Nancy was floored by this, still thinking along the lines of whether she and Nell had a future or not. She had another bizarre mental image of Hilda actIng like an old fashioned father and demanding of a suitor what their intentions were.
"I believe that you are a maths teacher?" she said. Nancy was completely bewildered by the question, and merely nodded. Hilda stopped for a moment, clearly struggling with a way to phrase something.
"Do you... Are you going to go back to it, or are you thinking to stay around...around here. With Nell." Hilda said finally.
Nancy didn't know where to look, what to say. Hilda KNEW. Had Nell told her? Did that mean Nell was trying to find out how serious Nancy was ? Or was Hilda asking for her own information. Did it mean they were that obvious?
Hilda saw that Nancy wasn't sure what answer to give. She explained a little further.
"Nell doesn't know that I am asking. But before talking to her, I wanted to know if you were serious about ... I don't want there to be problems... but we do need a Maths teacher for the new Chalet School. You would be ideal, I wouldn't hesitate to ask if it wasn't for the Nell... Situation."
Nancy was still looking confused, so Hilda came out abd said it more clearly.
"I wondered if you would be interested in joining the New Chalet School?"
Nancy didn't know what to say. She loved the idea, but would Nell see it as moving them too fast? Hilda saw the confusion on her face and decided to give Nancy some space to process the offer.
"The term starts in a few weeks, so we could really do with knowing as soon as possible." she said, then as there was a knock on the door, she added. "Perhaps you need to have a talk with Nell. I'll leave you to think about it"
She opened the door to Nell, who nearly fell over as she jumped back, seeing Hilda where she had expected Nancy.
"I'll leave you to explain, shall I?" said Hilda, with an amused look back at Nancy, who was mirroring Nell's own shocked expression, her mouth wide open.
Hilda left, smiling at their expressions, but also feeling a little sad about the fact that Nell had moved on from their own friendship being all in all to her.
It had been a hard decision, to offer Nancy the job, with those conflicting feelings inside her. But above all Hilda wanted Nell to be happy, and Nancy would be very suitable for the role they needed within the Chalet School, whether she and Nell were an item or not. It wasn't as if they were working together after all. Nell would be down here and Nancy up at the Platz. But it would be closer than England, and might well give the relationship a chance it might otherwise not have had.
Nell and Nancy looked at each other, each waiting for the other to speak.
Edited as I had Hilda using Can instead of May without realising !!! Shock horror !
This feels like a good place to end. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.
One thing I would be interested to hear is whether people would like a future Nancy/Nell drabble eventually, carrying on from this but not in Kathy FileSpace universe? And if so - who ELSE do you think would suit Kathy then? (You can suggest men, but I won't listen - don't know how they work, and I don't think Kathy would either ) :-D
Later that evening, Nancy settled back against the pillows, with Nell's arm around her shoulder. She rested her head in towards Nell's neck and Nell felt her heart almost skip a beat at the trusting feel of the action.
They had discussed everything in detail, having relocated to Nell's bedroom. The episode at the school that afternoon had resolved some of their physical tension, and they had settled down to cuddle and talk in a far more relaxed way than they had before.
They had both been suprised by Hilda's offer. Nell was quite confused as to what to feel, knowing that Hilda was aware of the situation, and was in effect giving a suggestion of approval to their relationship with this offer.
The contrary part of Nell almost wanted to say not to accept the job, simply because she was irritated with Hilda interfering. But as she saw how nervous Nancy was about what Nell might think, she stepped back from thinking of Hilda.
In the end, they realised that it didn't mean they had to rush into analsying their relationship too much. They would only see each other occasionally if Nancy went back to England. There really would be no chance for them if she did that.
Nancy really wanted to try this job if she could. She loved the idea of returning to her old school. If she worked at the Chalet School, they could see each other on weekends, and then spend holidays together, if it worked out between them. If it didn't work out, they weren't working together, they didn't have to see each other often unless they wanted to, which was far safer than if Nancy gave up work to come to live nearby.
After they had discussed this, although neither was expressing the doubt about whether the relationship was long term, they felt more relaxed and happy in each other's company. The love they made after the discussion lacked that power and energy of their previous situations, but was much more of a bonding between them, an unspoken acknowledgement that, whatever might happen in the future, they both wanted this to be something more than a brief fling.
Now as they lay together, beginning to doze off, Nell felt protective of Nancy, and wanted to do all she could to make this work. The tiny part of her that was still finding Hilda hard to forget was a worry, but if they didn't try, they would never know if it could work or not.
They fell asleep in each other's arms, and left tomorrow to deal with itself. They might end up together, they might end up deciding it wasn't to be, and end up with other people.
But for now, they were together, and they were happy.
The end :-)
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