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Written for the "communication" challenge at fan_flashworks, June 2013. Thanks to xsabrix for betaing! And thanks to Beecharmer for reminding me that the finishing branch wasn't originally called St Mildred's - I've edited accordingly :)

My dearest Hilda,

please excuse the subterfuge of a letter-within-a-letter, but I thought the rest of the Staff would want to hear the news from Welsen - if they don’t, they should! - and there are some things I’d rather weren’t passed around. Can I continue to use this method?

As you’ll see in my other letter if you haven’t read it already, the finishing branch seems to be off to a good start. We certainly have many more girls than I’d bargained for! Do you know, I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing? I know you always want a school to start well, and to grow, but I’d rather have just had our own crowd, for the first year at least. It would have felt more like a single school - this feels like several in one. I suppose they’ll come together and be one school eventually (like when St Scholastika’s joined us - do you remember?), but it’ll take time. I just hope we don’t get any real nastiness springing up. At least we can’t complain of boredom, or having nothing to do!

Oh, but I miss you so much, my dear. Especially at night - I can see your blushes on reading that! Well, I can’t say I don’t miss you that way, too, but it wasn’t what I meant. You see, my days are so full with all the business of running a school, I’m simply too busy to miss you most of the time. I notice your absence, of course, and I would love your help and advice, but I’m too run off my feet to dwell on it. It’s when I sit down to unwind in the evenings that I really miss you, miss talking to you. There are times when for two pins, I could tell Madge she can find herself another Head, and persuade her to send me back to St Briavel’s! (Don’t worry, I haven’t any intention of really doing such a thing. If nothing else, I know that she’d be certain to fix on you as new Head, and there’s hardly any point in us switching places, is there?)

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so maudlin. I’m happy most of the time, I do enjoy the work and I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to do it - and what an honour it was. I just get lonely sometimes. Still, it’s only for a term - and when I remember the last time we were separated, I can only thank God that I still have you, safe and sound. You are being careful not to overdo it, aren’t you? I know it’s been several years since the accident, and you’d say I worry too much if you were here, but I know you, Hilda. The school won’t fall down if you step back and rest occasionally! Promise me you’ll take care of yourself, or I shall set Matey on your track.

I’m sure you want to know what Switzerland is like, but I don’t know where to begin. The Oberland is well beyond my powers of description, even if I spent a year on this letter (and I certainly don’t have the time to spare for such an undertaking!), so I’ll simply say it’s beautiful, and must be seen to be understood. You know the Alps of Tirol, of course, but these are different. I’ll try to go out with my Kodak soon and take a few snaps to send you, but I can’t possibly do the place justice, so you’ll simply have to come and visit me in the holidays. Besides, the air would do wonders for you; and if, as seems likely, the San moves here, the School is sure to follow. It’s practically your duty to come and inspect the lie of the land, as it were!

I won’t suggest you come these holidays, though; I’m sure you remember the winters in Austria, and the days of being trapped inside by blizzards, well enough! Besides, Madge and Joey will probably still be in Canada, but I know the Bettanys would never forgive me if I whisked their Auntie Hilda away at Christmas. (The Easter holidays are another matter...) But after Christmas, do let’s go away somewhere. It’s probably horribly selfish of me, but I want to have you just to myself for at least part of the holidays. I want us to have some time on our own to simply be ourselves, without any worry about appearances or anything of the kind.

Still, that’s several months in the future, so I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. Who knows what may happen? Do think about it, though. You don’t have to decide right away! I’ll miss the next post if I don’t finish this now, so I’ll end it here.

All my love, always,

Nell

PS: I dare say several parts of this letter have had your hand itching for your red pen (and yes, one of them was deliberate. Can you guess which?). Well, correct it if you really must - we can’t have you taking out your annoyance on the Middles’ essays!




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