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Nell paused in packing her trunk and looked at Hilda “I don’t want to go.”

Hilda went to her and held her “I don’t want you to go either, but you must, you deserve to be head in your own right.”

“But leaving you.” Nell whispered into her partner’s shoulder.

Hilda’s arms tightened, she spoke huskily” I know, I know, you will be so far away.”

“I could tell Madge no.” Nell said not very hopefully.

“What reason could you give?” Hilda smiled slightly “She doesn’t know about us, she can’t, we both realise that. So you can’t say no darling, she trusts you to make good her new venture, and I know you will, I believe in you, only” her voice broke “only it’s so far away.”

“I’ll be in Switzerland, you on the island. “Nell whispered “when will I see you again?”

“Christmas. “Hilda said firmly “Nothing will stop me coming to you there, or do you want to come here at the cottage?”

“We’ll discuss it later, but we will see each other.”

“For certain.” Hilda continued to hold Nell to her savouring her closeness, her mind trying not to dwell on just how much she was going to miss her. They had been together for so long, as colleagues, as friends, as partners’.” She relied on Nell’s common sense, her straight forward ways, her humour, her love. How would she cope as Head after having Nell beside her, just how would she manage alone, her arms tightened around Nell at that word, alone. She smiled slightly at her doubts, how others would wonder at them, Miss Annersley doubting herself. They must never know of course but some would guess.

Nell straightened up, rubbing her eyes. “I suppose I should get on if I am to get this done.”

“You still have three days before you need to go. “Hilda reminded her gently.

“Yes, but I want it done, out of the way, I want to be able to concentrate on us. “Nell told her fiercely trying to hide her pain.

Hilda nodded her understanding “I want that to.”

Nell heard Hilda go to make the ever healing cup of tea and she paused, looking around. It wasn’t so much the cottage, the building, but what she and Hilda had made together, a home, a haven. Yes, they were together at school but they had to be careful, wary, never letting their guard down, always, externally at least, the heads. Here they were safe, could be themselves. How would she cope by herself? Apart from that dreadful year when Hilda was injured they had always been together in some way, her impatience tempered by Hilda’s calm. Would she cope on her own, it was what she had always wanted wasn’t it, to be the head in her own right. She wasn’t sure, her confidence letting her down for once, or was it just the ever closer parting causing her to doubt. She sighed, turning back to her packing, wanting it done, finished, then she could forget it and pretend for three days that nothing had changed.

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