|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.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Mildly mature, very very mild ! But just in case people needed warning - be warned ;-)