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Story Notes:
Slightly over 500 words, but that's how it worked! I know people don't like her, but I do. She's one of the more realistic teenagers in the series, I think, and she does try to reform, and does regret her actions. She's at the mercy of her hormones and it's very scary being a bit different. It's not right, but some people do deal with that fear with aggression. There's a difference between confused, childish and self centred when younger and being an irredeemable nasty bully.
It was always a scramble in the morning, especially on the first day of term. By the end, even the worst slowcoach had managed to get into routine: Up, Show a leg; Bathed, Back; Bed stripped, Hair brushed; Dressed, Tidy; Ready and Out.

However on the first day there were always grumbles, always hold ups. Jack was a dormitory prefect, and normally groaned inside at the slowness of her charges. Today it was a blessing, a reason to be busy and an outlet for all the mixed feelings within her. She just held on to herself enough to not snap at the younger ones, she knew they were trying, and the more mature and thoughtful Jack knew that they shouldn't suffer for her own feeling of loss. No. She wasn't focusing on that. Life goes on, things can't stay the same forever.

Prayers, Fruhstuck, Unpacking, School. Swap the news, think about lessons and who will be prefects now. No, don't think about that, it means she has left, isn't Head Girl.

"How are you, Jack?"

"D'you have a good hols?"

"Get up to anything interesting?"

"Jack Lambert? Matron wants your group for unpacking"

"Jack! Jack, you there ? Wake up sleepy, not like you to be dreamy!"

The voices all rushed around her, and she tried to play her part. She was annoyed with herself, gave herself a strict talking to, mentally to shake herself out of it. Things had to go on the same, after all. She might not be here, you might suddenly feel as though it was your first day ever. Despite your age and new found maturity, you might not feel ready to stand alone - but you must, no time for moping; Don't be such a babyish girl. A babyish girl.

Life must go on school and friendly chatter doesn't stop. Nor does the hustle and bustle of the busy school day. It's not as if you're a brand new Junior, Jack. You know the ropes, the rules. You've tested the strength of them often and in many inventive ways in your time.

A break in the panic inducing chatter and rushing all around you. A gentle voice, a familiar task.

"The car's ready for you when you want a look, Jack. She's done some long drives with us this holiday, but we've tried to look after her for you. Glad to see you back. Keep going, it'll get better"

The mistress was gone before Jack could register the reassurance, and wonder how she knew.

A tap on her elbow, and then a little hand passing over a note to the older girl, the messenger gone almost before Jack could register that she was there, little Maynard head bobbing away amongst the crowd of juniors. Later Jack would appreciate the foresight of giving it to young Cecil, not older and more curious souls like Erica or Felicity.

Unfolding the paper, assuming it to be from a mistress, or a list of jobs to do. Recognizing the handwriting, and standing stock still, trying not to do something so girlish as to cry as she read and re-read.

'Have a good term, you'll be fine, L x'

Jack folded the paper carefully, and pushed it into a safe pocket of her blazer. She looked up, as Jane came to find her, and pull her gently towards their group of friends. For once Jane didn't chatter, didn't pepper her speech with exclamations. Just a friendly arm through Jack's and a show of solidarity, deflecting some of the less aware of their group from noticing Jack's preoccupation.

Jack couldn't yet say thank you in words, but she squeezed her friend's arm, and Jane gave her a grin.

She would be fine. Even though her mentor might mot be here, even though the world might be making Jack grow up with petrifying speed, even though it felt as if life was rushing towards her without Len there as a buffer. Even though it seemed suddenly as though the very painfulness of Len's absence might be throwing new questions at the younger girl, ones that could well take a few years before answering.

She would be fine. Life would go on, questions would be answered and worries would go.

She would be fine.

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