A Christmas Arrival by brie
Summary:

The younger Maynards celebrate Christmas, but the arrival of their shy cousin on the Platz causes some problems 


Categories: St Agnes' House Characters: Cecil Maynard, Felicity Maynard, Felix Maynard, Jack Maynard, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Phil Maynard
School Period: Future, Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Family, Friendship, Seasonal
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 16 Completed: No Word count: 19029 Read: 45033 Published: 10 Jul 2011 Updated: 10 Jul 2011

1. Chapter 1 by brie

2. Chapter 2 by brie

3. Chapter 3 by brie

4. Chapter 4 by brie

5. Chapter 5 by brie

6. Chapter 6 by brie

7. Chapter 7 by brie

8. Chapter 8 by brie

9. Chapter 9 by brie

10. Chapter 10 by brie

11. Chapter 11 by brie

12. Chapter 12 by brie

13. Chapter 13 by brie

14. Chapter 14 by brie

14. Chapter 14 by brie

16. Chapter 16 by brie

Chapter 1 by brie

"Christmas time" sang Cecil Maynard as she bounded down the front stairs of her School.

"Cecil Maynard! Is that the correct way to descend the stairs?" asked Miss Annersley sternly.

"No, not at all Miss Annersley." replied Cecil meekly, but then her merriness broke out, "Oh Auntie Hilda! It's Christmas, and it will be heavenly! Don't you just want to run and skip and sing too?"

Miss Annersley laughed at her brevet niece's excitement.

"One would never imagine that you were almost sixteen Cecilia."

Cecil's younger sisters came dancing up at this.

"Cecilia, Cecilia, Cecilia Marya, Cecilia, Cecilia." they sang dancing around their sister.

"Aargh! Don't call me that" pleaded Cecil covering her ears.

But the over-exuberant sisters had spotted their head-mistress.

"Oh Auntie Hilda" clap clap, "Auntie Hilda, We wish you a Merry Christmas, Auntie Hilda, Auntie Hilda, Oh we wish you a Merry Christmas, Auntie Hilda, oh Hilda- join in Cecil!".

Cecil joined in grabbing a hand each of her two sisters, and they formed a ring around Miss Annersley.

"Girls, honestly.." protested Misss Annersley.

But the sisters just ignored her, singing louder..

Miss Annersely was only freed when Cecil spotted her older sister.

"Fliss! What took you so long? We've been waiting!" she asked indignantly.

"Don't be grumpy Cecey we're going home now!"

The reason for their overwhelming joy was that they had very nearly missed Christmas at home this year. None of the girls had seen their parents for almost two months as the whole household had been in quarantine for measles, and then at the last moment, in the final week of quarantine Rosli had decided to come down with it too. Quarantine had only ended last night, and the girls had already been cooped up in the school for two days of their Christmas holidays by this point.

Now, Miss Annersley watched smiling as the four girls trudged along the snow packed path to go home.

Felicity led the way, tall and slim with silvery blonde hair. She was in her last year of school, being eighteen and one of the elite group of Prefects. Cecil skipped along behind her, small, with a thick brown fringe and plump, freckled cheeks, and with her eyes dancing, she certainly did not look like the senior that she was. Phillippa followed, her long red pigtails streaming behind her as she shouted back to little Marie-Claire. Phil had been delicate for the first years of her life, but in a fit of rebellion she had run away, walking the length of the alm and back, and arriving home in no worse a condition than she had left in. She had demanded to go to school, or else she would get a house of her own and live like Pippi Longstocking! Forever after she was teased and called Pippa, but she got to go to school like she longed for. Marie-Claire was at the end of the jolly line, and with her rosy cheeks and bouncing brown curls no one would ever have known of her sad start in life.

"Deck the halls with boughs of Holly." sang Felicity as she unfastened the gate, hung with holly branches.

"Fa la la la la la la la." hollered back the younger girls.

"Oh my babies!" was the replying shriek to this. As the big front door, with a huge wreath hanging from it, swung open.

"Mamma" cried the girls, throwing themselves at their Mother.

"Oh I have missed you all." cried Joey hugging them all at once.

Then she grabbed them each singly.

"Felicity, your hair! It's lovely. You do look old though! How is the singing? I heard you were wonderful in the play." said Jo proudly.

"Oh Cecey! Laughing as ever! How I have missed those giggles!"

"Pippa sweetie, you are almost as tall as Flissy now. Poor Cecey, soon you will be the smallest of all! Now wheres my Claire-bear?"

"Mamma" complained eleven year old Claire although she was beaming.

"Let's see you Baby. Are you growing your curls? Oh you do look so old all of you!" exclaimed Joey, as she hugged her youngest, surrepititiously wiping away a tear.

"Now you must come through to the Saal, silly me forgetting for a moment there!" said Jo, momentarily creasing her brow, "Now, boots off, and you shall all come through. Remember my letter earlier this term?"

With this Jo ran back to the Saal looking rather guilty, and the sisters were left together.

The girls had received a letter from their parents a few months ago, just before the epidemic, telling them that their delicate, home schooled, shy cousin would be joining them for Christmas before starting the school.

"Oh I forgot" said Pippa sitting down on the stair to tug at her boots.

"Untie your laces Pip!" exclaimed Fliss, "and I think we all did for a moment."

"It's 'cos we all missed Mamma so much." put in Marie-Claire.

"Yes, well what do you think she will be like?" asked Cecil seriously.

"She's the same age as you." said Fliss.

"Well then I hope she's not a bore! I want to enjoy my Christmas!"

"Cecey! She's our cousin." said Fliss, who was undoubtedly the most conscientious of the girls.

"I know! But you won't be stuck with her all the time will you?" pouted Cecil.

"We won't leave you alone with her" promised Marie-Claire, "Even if she's horrid."

"Thanks Claire" said Cecil, "What do you think Pip?" for that sister had been unusually quiet.

"Well I feel sorry for her." said Pippa decidedly, "You all don't know what it's like to be delicate! And at least I escaped when I was ten. She's sixteen. She probably doesn't even know what fun is yet!"

"Well she will discover it soon enough in this house!" pointed out Felicity, standing up, "and we'll all do our best to help you Cece, won't we?"

The girls all nodded.

"Okay, now let us go meet our mystery cousin!"

and with this the girls all trooped through to the Saal.

"You took long enough" observed their Mother.

Felicity's face reddened slightly at this, but the others were all to busy staring at the stranger on their couch. Jo mercifully came to their rescue.

"Girls this is your cousin Daphne. Daphne dear, these are Felicity, Cecil, Pippa, and Marie-Claire."

Daphne remained silent.

The four girls smiled at her encouragingly.

"Hello" she said at last timidly.

She was very pretty, with dark brown ringlets that went just past her shoulders, and dark brown eyes surrounded by lovely, long lashes. Her father, Jo's brother Dick, had finally agreed to her going to school when it was clear that she really was no longer delicate. Much younger than her brother's and sisters she had been doted on all her life, but she was painfully shy around strangers. Dick had wanted to keep his little sunshine at home with them, but Mollie had grown concerned at Daphne's growing solitude as more and more of her siblings flew the coop.

On hearing of their problem Joey had immediately offered her home as a stepping stone for her niece, promising to keep her at home until Daphne felt ready for school. As Jo's house was often like a busy junction it was hoped that Daphne would soon get over her timidness, and make friends of her own age.

Daphne had arrived a week ago, but had been forced to board with the Sheppards until yesterday, it had been hard for the little girl having to live with complete strangers, and to have to start completely over again within a week, had been awful for the poor dear.

Chapter 2 by brie

"Well what do you think?" asked Pippa, swinging her legs from her seat on the table- a position which had Anna seen it, would have caused her to throw up her arms in dismay.

"Of Daphne?" asked Cecil her eyes twinkling, "Or of life, or of what you are getting for Christmas.."

"Cecey! I mean Daphne of course!"

Cecil became more serious, "I know Pip, she seems awfully sad. It's different for us, she's never been seperated from her family before in sixteen years. I think she's just really homesick."

"What are you going to do?" asked Pippa matter of factly.

"Me?" exclaimed Cecil, "What can I do?"

"Cheer her up." said Pippa calmly.

"What? Why me! I thought you were all going to help too."

"Because you are the most cheerful person I know, and you're the same age as her.."

"I knew you were all going to leave her to me" interrupted Cecil triumphantly.

"If you would let me finish! It can't be Flissy because she is too old and serious, you know she acts older than she is Cece! and it can't be Claire, she's just a baby."

"Well what about you then?" asked Cecil, managing to refrain from teasing her sister about calling Marie-Claire a baby, when she was hardly three years older.

"Me? I'm too cynical to be of any use to anyone" said Pippa honestly, "and anyway what do you think Mamma and Pappa would say if we turned out another rebel?"

"She doesn't seem like the rebellious type to me." said Cecil thoughtfully.

"You are meant to say, 'No Phil you're not cynical, you are a lovely, happy person'" exclaimed Pippa.

"But Pip you are cynical." said Cecil looking puzzled, "You just admitted it."

Pippa glared at her older sister, whilst Cecil giggled madly.

"What's going on in here?" asked Jo, sticking her head through the door, "Cecil what are you laugh.. Pippa! Get off of the table!"

Cecil giggled again, before covering her mouth with her hand, as Pippa slid of the table.

Jo shook her head at her daughters.

"Come on!" she said "We are decorating the tree. Hopefully we will get it done before the boys get back. Cecil, go bring Daphne down will you? She's in her room." and with this Jo whirled back out of the room.

Once she was gone Cecil raised up her arms as if to say, see i'm being forced to look after her already.

Pippa started to laugh, before smothering it into a very unconvincing cough.

"Subtle isn't she?" she said conversationally.

"Yeah, as subtle as a brick through a window." said Cecil grumpily.

"Oh don't grump Cece. It doesn't suit you. Go up there and smile and giggle and be cheerful like you do."

Cecil glared at her sister.

"It's a compliment really Cecil."

"Yeah sure Pippa. Okay, okay... I'm going. But I was so looking forward to Christmas." she said wistfully.

"I'm sure Santa won't ignore you because you are too busy being nice Cecil."

Cecil rolled her yes. "I'll be sure to come to you again Pip when I'm next in need of comfort." she said sarcastically, before leaving her sister and trudging up the stairs.

She knocked on the door quietly, completely unsure of what to say, or do.

"Hello" she said, opening the door slowly, when there was no reply.

"Oh Daphne." she said as soon as she got through the door, forgetting all plans of giggling nervously or re-introducing herself. "Are you okay?"

Daphne wiped her face in her knitting.

"I'm fine" she muttered from this position.

Cecil remained in the doorway unsure of what she should do, something told her she should hug this poor forlorn girl, but Cecil was not a cuddler. Instead she came and perched on the side of the armchair Dapne was sitting in.

"Well" she said in her normal tones, "In that case you must come down stairs and see.... what is that? Oh Daphne it's beautiful."

"It's an angel." whispered Daphne, who seemed incapable of speaking in a normally pitched voice, but for the moment Cecil was enraptured and hardly noticed.

"Did you make this?" she asked

Daphne nodded.

"May I see it?"

Silently Daphne handed over the ragdoll which had been acting as her handkerchief for the last few minutes.

"It's beautiful." repeated Cecil as she examined the angel doll Daphne had been working on. She had sewn different coloured threads around stretched wire and the angel had two large multicoloured wings. There were even little red stitches to give her rosy cheeks, and a halo: made of a curtain ring, which was held above the doll by thin wire.

"I'm a dud at sewing, and knitting." admitted Cecil, "I've never liked it before, but if this is the kind of results you can get from it, well, I'm almost persuaded."

"What is it?" said Cecil, seeing that Daphne looked like she wanted to say something, "do you want this back?" she said, holding out the doll.

"No" said Daphne quietly, "You can keep it."

"I couldn't possibly" said Cecil, who apart from thinking that it was far too valuable for her careless self, had never been a big fan of playing with dolls, even in her youth.

"It's okay." said Daphne, still in that scared, faint voice.

"Oh Hallellujah" shrieked Cecil suddenly.

Daphne sqwuaked in surprise, looking quite scared of her cousin.

"Oh sorry Daph- Can I call you Daph?- it's just I have the most brilliant idea ever! Are you coming downstairs? and we can show Mamma!"

Daphne just looked at her bewildered.

"Oh sorry Daphne." said Cecil, suddenly remembering who she was talking to. "I just had a great idea! We really ought to put this on the tree! It's much prettier than the ugly cherub thing we normally have. I'm sure we could make it stand up. Oh, Daphne, please say yes!"

Daphne relaxed for a moment, allowing a little giggle to escape, possibly from nervousness, or because of Cecil's over-energetic ways.

"Okay." she said lowering her eyes slightly.

"Please come down with me" pleaded Cecil, "We could really use your help, or" she said backtracking a little, "you could just sit and watch, and then join in if you want to?"

This appealed to Daphne slightly more.

"Here" said Cecil gently, "you just wipe your eyes, and we'll go down the stairs. I won't tell anyone okay?"

Daohne nodded slightly, and inwardly Cecil frowned, this was certainly a challenge, for the girl would hardly string two words together

Chapter 3 by brie

The two girls went down the stairs together, Cecil trying to tone down some of her natural exuberance, and Daphne trying to pretend she wasn't terrified and homesick. The scene they met when they got downstairs was enough however to put a smile on both the girls faces.

Marie-claire was unwinding a long roll of paper streamers, and Phil- balanced somewhat precariously on the back of the settee- was hanging them round the walls from the lights. Felicity was decorating the tree, with the beautiful and decidedly varied, christmas decorations which were a mixture of wood carvings, delicate glass, and homemade card ones. Marie-claire was calling out her commands to both girls, confusing them both by not saying whom she meant.

"More left?" gasped Phil, "Wait till I leap to the windowsill..."

"No Pippa!" moaned Marie-claire, "Fliss must move the pink bauble thingy left- swap it with the giraffe Fliss- Pip you go more to the right I think."

"Right... right... of course right.. what was I thinking?" muttered Phil rebelliously as she bounded back onto the settee, almost upsetting the whole thing.

"Hey bossy." said Cecil as she entered the room, ruffling her little sister's hair. "Where's Mamma?"

Felicity giggled. "Anna's telling her off! Mamma left all her clothes in a heap and Anna's going to have to re-iron them now."

Cecil gurgled appreciatitively. "Serves her right, for all those times she's told us off for being careless."

"Are you just going to stand there looking like a lunatic or are you going to help?" asked Felicity meditatively.

"Yes commander!" replied Cecil cheekily, "What can I do for you Sir?"

Felicity shook her head. "Stop being silly for a start, and then if you are feeling particuliarly generous you could get me the steps."

Cecil saluted, and left the room.

"Silly ass" said Felicity, although she was laughing, "You couldn't pass me something Daphne could you?"

Daphne, who had been hoping to hide in a corner, was now finding herself unexpectedly in the spotlight.

"What would you like?" she asked shyly.

"Your choice, anything from that big box there. And don't let little Claire boss you about now." she said, with a fond smile at her little sister.

"I'm not bossy!" exclaimed Marie-Claire indignantly.

"Of course you're not." said Phil, joining in, "Now instead of instructing everyone, could you please pass me some more of those garlands."

With Phil once more dangling at a dangerous angle, Marie-Claire busy untangling the paper chains, and Felicity standing on the step-ladders gazing at the tree critically, Cecil and Daphne were free to do what Cecil complained was the most boring job.

"I hate sorting through all this junk." she pronounced, after a few moments of silence.

"It's not junk, it's all old and beautiful." said Felicity her voice floating down.

"Then why don't you do it?" asked the irrepressible Cecil.

"Because you are too small, even on the stepladders you wouldn't be able to reach the top." pointed out Felicity.

"I think you should use this one."

Everyone turned and stared at Daphne, it was the first time she had voluntarily said anything since she had arrived.

"Pass it up." said Felicity, once she had recovered. "Oh this is one of my favourites too, it's one of the one's Mamma got when she was still at school, they went on a camp, I forget where, and they visited a village, where a famous carpenter lived, I forget his name, anyway thats a likeness to one of his carvings."

"Thanks for that very informative explanation Fliss" chuckled Cecil.

"Yes, I am in awe at the wealth of your knowledge." agreed Phil, snorting.

"Ughh Phil that was gross!" exclaimed Cecil.

"Do it again!" demanded Maire-claire, her eyes bright.

"Baby" commented Cecil.

"No more than you" pointed out Marie-claire.

"She has a point you know." said Felicity.

"Humph." said Cecil, although her eyes were sparkling. "I don't know where you could have got the idea that I was anything but an oracle of maturity?"

"Umm Cece, I don't know about mature, but i'm pretty sure an oracle is someone who can predict the future, or give brilliant advice or something."

"Are you saying i'm not these things?" asked Cecil indignantly.

There was silence for a moment as everyone digested this, then there was a huge explosion as they all burst out giggling.

Daphne looked bewildered for a moment, but then her lips creased up too, and as the laughter bacame more infectious, she too started to giggle.

Yes, thought Cecil smiling wider, she would be a laugh when they dragged her out of her shell. At least she hoped so...

"What is all the laughter about?" asked Jo, arriving at the door.

"Laundry, all done?" asked Pippa in an innocent voice.

Jo's lips opened and shut, but no noise came out. The girls took full advantage of this, for it was not often that they floored their Mother.

"So Felicity, don't you agree that Mamma was quite right to make you re-iron that dress when you let it get all crushed?" asked Cecil.

"Oh yes" replied Felicity seriously,"I could hardly be mad, when I know that Mamma only ever leads by example. She would never ask us to do anything she wouldn't do herself. That's why I knew she wasn't being too hard on me."

Jo's eyes widened.

"Cheeky brats" she said regaining her tongue, with a vengeance. "I am seriously considering making you do that ironing for me Felicity. Or at least I would if I hadn't just done it myself. Because I always lead by example, and it isn't fair to give people more than their fair share of work, just because you have been careless."

"Don't look at me like that Phil!" she said grinning, "You fully deserve all the preaching I can give you, after the teasing you just tried to give me... Phil get down from there!" she exclaimed, suddenly realising that her daughter was perched perilously.

Phil slithered down, and peace reigned, for perhaps a full minute.

"YEOWWW!" shrieked Cecil.

Jo just about hit the roof, and Phil, who had covertly clambered back up on top of the settee, fell back- luckily not onto the floor.

Cecil ran out of the room, and could be heard thundering up the stairs.

"What on earth" wondered Jo aloud.

Daphne opened her mouth to say something, but changed her mind, the last few minutes had been rather too much for her.

"Mamma look! She will go on the top of the tree won't she?" asked Cecil excitedly if rather breathlessly, as she fell rather than walked back into the room.

"Cecil! Where did you get this?" asked Jo sharply, as she took the doll.

"It's beautiful isn't it? Daphne made it all by herself." said Cecil proudly.

"Wow" said Fliss, jumping off the steps. "Daphne, this is amazing."

"Daphne?" asked Marie-claire, sounding shyer than anyone had ever heard her before, "Will you make a doll for me? I know i'm too old but please?"

"Maire-claire! You can't ask Daphne to make you a doll." exclaimed Jo.

But Daphne was beaming.

"Of course I will." she said kindly, "It might not be very good though." she added doubtfully.

"Of course it will." said Cecil decidedly, "But Mamma's right, you don't need to make it for Claire."

"No, I would like too." she replied shyly.

"Thank you" said Marie-claire excitedly, "Wait. You won't tell the boys will you?"

Chapter 4 by brie

After they had all solemnly sworn that they would not tell the boys that Marie-claire was to get such a babyish thing as a doll, they all got down to decorating the room in earnest.

"When will the boys be back?" asked Pippa curiously.

"Goodness knows!" sighed Jo, "They only came back last night luckily, So we could actually let them in! But Papa dragged them off to the San at some ridiculous hour this morning, I don't think either of them were frightfully keen, but the poor dears weren't given much of a choice in the matter, and it is only one day of their holidays I suppose. Even if it is the first one."

"Is it just Felix and Geoff, or are there any last minute arrivals?" asked Cecil curiously, this was actually quite a sensible question for in Cecil's experience there was always someone there for Christmas who had sworn they would be unable to make it.

"No" replied Jo cheerfully, as they had all half-expected., "Roddy is coming up- tomorrow I believe- I think the words he used were "I have no clean clothes, and I miss eating food too much", which was as you can imagine slightly worrying considering the boy has only been back at College three months!"

"Oh goody! Christmas wouldn't be the same without a Roddy disaster." laughed Cecil. For Roddy was notoriously clumsy, and previous incidents had included bloody noses, pulling the curtains down, and most re-told was the story of how he had tripped and landed face first in the cranberry jam. A story he had not yet managed to live down, despite the fact that it had happened a full four years ago.

Jo was as excited as the girls about having her boys back, though she was saddened that this year followed the pattern of past years, with less and less of her children and adoptees coming home. Len and Reg, with little Patricia and Reg jr. had come every year but last year had seen them move, as Len was offered the deputy head-ship at the other branch of the Chalet school- in Wales. Reg was now working for the Welsh San, and they were happily settled, finally out of the shadow of Len's parents. Con was a travel writer and if she was relatively nearby would come home for Christmas, but as she was constantly globe trotting, there was always little chance of this. This year she had resolved to go out to Niger where Margot was a medical missionary. Steve the next eldest, was following in his Papa's footsteps, and was in England studying Medicine. Charles was studying Law, and hoped to someday open a small practice in London. Mike had not long left school, and had no intention of spending his life in the Navy. He was seeing a young nurse, and was taking a year in college to work extra hard on his studies with the view to following in his brother Steve's footsteps. Whatever his mischievous ways in the past, Mike was long reformed. This three, with such a fearsome study load had all declined their Mother's invitation home. Felix and Geoff were still in school, and therefore were coming home. Geoff having very little idea of what he wanted to do, whilst Felix, rather to his Father's horror, wanted to act. The Richardson's too were settled. Roger was an Engineer with a small Chalet in Austria, and Ruey was a P.T. teacher, and she was going to spend Christmas with Len and her young family. Roddy was currently in college hoping to become an apprentice in the firm his brother worked for. Erica was working as a nanny for a wealthy family over in America- friends of the Von Eschenau's- and was engaged to marry an American sailor, and it was far too far of a distance for her to come home for.

Jo took a sneaky look at her wristwatch, it was almost four now. Hopefully nothing had come up at the San, and Jack would be able to keep his promise. Sure enough, right on the dot, the big doorbell rang.

"Who's that?" demanded Cecil immediately.

Unnoticed by everyone but Jo, Daphne quivered slightly.

"Pippa, why don't you put your dear sister out of her misery and go open the door please?" asked Jo promptly.

Pippa slid down off the couch reluctantly.

"Do you know who it is Mamma?" asked Cecil suspiciously.

Figuring she had given Pippa enough time to react, Jo replied, "Why don't you go see for yourself if you are so curious?"

"You do know!" accused Cecil, before bounding up and running out of the room. Marie-claire hurried after her.

"PAPPA!" they heard Cecil shriek as she reached the hallway.

"I see we haven't lost our voice in the past few months then." they heard Jack say mildly.

Casting off her young elegance, Felicity copied her sister, rushing out of the room calling, "Felix!"

"Are you coming Daphne?" asked Jo gently, as they stood in the now empty room. "They are kind creatures I promise."

Jo held out her hand, and shyly Daphne took it. As hard as meeting her girl cousins had been, meeting her boy cousins would be infinitely harder.

They entered the hall to find mild pandemonium. Jack was standing in the middle of it all, looking decidedly bemused.

"A flower, kind damsel?" asked Felix, who was the first to spot Daphne.

Daphne looked too bewildered and scared to talk.

With a smart flick of his wrist, and a tap on his cap, Felix produced a bunch of fake flowers from his flat pocket.

"Don't take them Daphne!" warned Felicity, catching her twin in the knick of time.

"Yes lets put the squirting flowers away for now Felix." warned his Mother.

"Spoilsport." muttered Felix to Felicity, before covertly squirting her.

Fliss contented herself with giving her brother a fierce glare.

Cecil appeared to be involved in about three conversations at the same time. She was talking to her Father, but every so often she would tilt her head back and interrupt the second twins conversation.

Marie-Claire was calmly sitting on Geoff's shoulders, wearing a paper crown (which had no doubt appeared from the depths of one of Felix's pockets). Pippa who was talking animatedly to Geoff, was sitting with her legs swung casually over the bannister.

"Quiet!" shrieked Jo finally in desperation.

Everyone turned to stare at Joey, and it was so quiet that they could hear the wind howling outside.

Then the doorbell rang.

"Who is it now?!" shouted Cecil excitedly, as Jo sighed.

"Rudolph!" exclaimed Marie-Claire for no apparant reason.

They all started laughing.

"Oh I give up." murmured Jo, before throwing herself wholeheartedly into the competition to shriek the most excitedly.

There was a large rap on the staircase.

"The door." reminded Geoff, rolling his eyes.

Cecil threw herself at the door.

"Roddy." she exclaimed unneccesarily.

"You don't say." said Roddy sarcastically, "Now can we come in? What on Earth did you leave us on the porch for so long for?"

"May we?" said Jo suddenly.

"What?"

"May we come in", repeated Jo.

Roddy glowered at her. "May I remind you that it is December?"

Jack sprung to the rescue.

"Instead of doing a bad imitation of Hilda, why don't you get the fire going Jo? Geoff, Felix grab these young men's suitcases will you? I'm Jack Maynard by the way" he extended his hand out to shake the other young gentlemans hand, "This is my family. I promise they are all human even if they are acting like they are out of the local zoo, just now."

"Pappa!" exclaimed Cecil looking hurt.

"Oh Cece, don't look like that, you know you are the worst of the lot of us." said Pippa calmly.

"This is Seth" announced Roddy, "I hope you don't mind him coming to stay."

Seth, a curly haired man with dark blue eyes, looked horribly embarassed.

"Of course not" said Jo appearing back in the hallway with a black smudge on her left cheek, "The more the merrier, and when you said you were coming home I half expected Seth to come to when you said in your letter that one of your friends couldn't get home for Christmas."

Seth looked slightly less mortified at having arrived unnanounced.

"May we have a snowfight tomorrow?" asked Marie-claire hopefully, calmly changing the subject.

"And can we make a Christmas pudding too?" chimed in Cecil animatedly, "Frau Meiders showed us how to make them."

Jo opened her mouth to say something.

"and toboganning." interrupted Geoff.

"And we should have a carol concert." contributed Felicity.

"We could put on a play" exclaimed Cecil excitedly.

"I want to practice my skiing" admitted Roddy.

"Okay." said Jo suddenly, "Firstly, yes you can have a snowfight if the weather is okay; Cecil you can ask Anna.."

"Do you not mean I may ask Anna?" asked Cecil cheekily.

Jo's cheeks went red, as she was caught out like this, but she ignored the interruption, "Cecil you may ask Anna but it is entirely up to her, and if she lets you, you must clear up afterwards; You may all go toboganning and skiing, you will have to teach Daphne afterall; If you can manage to arrange a carol concert then you may certainly have one, but we might be better just having a sing-along one evening; and Cecil as admirable as the idea of putting on a play is I think it might require slightly too much organisation but you may certainly try. Now is that everyone?"

When everyone declared themselves out of plans, Jo calmly moved them through to the Saal.

"Where is Ugly Joe?" asked Roddy once he was settled.

Cecil stifled a giggle, and the others all grinned.

Seeing the uncomprehending looks on Seth and Daphne's faces, Felicity hastened to explain.

"Ugly Joe is our cherub." she said laughing, "He sits on the top of our tree, and growls down at us all."

"He's a relic from Pretty Maids- Jacks old family home.I think it was Margot who first called him that, and somehow it stuck." joined in Jo.

"I always did mean to get rid of him" admitted Jack himself, "Having him at the top of the tree was not one of the Maynard traditions I planned on carrying on, but somehow we never quite got round to getting another one."

"Well now we have!" interrupted Cecil excitedly.

"What?" asked Jack surprised.

"Don't tell me you actually managed to find something even more hideous!" laughed Felix in his deep voice.

"No" replied Cecil scathingly, "We found something very beautiful. So there!"

Felix pulled a wild face at her.

"And" she added impressively, "It was hand sewn by a member of the family."

"Oh no" gasped Felix, "Cecil! you haven't tried sewing again have you? Just give me a moment to faint in surprise."

"Shut up!" said Cecil crossly, although she was having to work hard to stop herself from smiling, "It wasn't me idiot."

"Really?" exclaimed Felix sarcastically.

"Oh Felix stop winding her up." moaned Felicity, aiming a gentle kick at his shins.

"Your right." said Felix seriously, "She's far to easy a target."

Chapter 5 by brie

After a rowdy supper, Jo sent Cecil, Daphne, Pippa, Geoff and Marie-Claire to bed. She knew that Daphne was exhausted, and it had been a hard day for her. And since she secretly still worried about Phil she decided to send them all to bed too. Hopefully, that way Daphne wouldn't feel like she was being sent away. She no longer gave Felix and Felicity a bed time. Times had changed, even on the Platz, and all the children were given much more freedom now, especially when they were over the age of sixteen.

Cecil had complained, she was almost sixteen after all, and resented being given a bed time, especially such an early one. But Jo had insisted, promising a snowfight the next day as a bribe.

She re-entered the Saal after tucking all her children up although she had a suspicious feeling that upstairs the children were probably all gathered in one room with no intention of going to sleep.

"Jo" said Jack, giving her a warm smile, "We were just discussing the Christmas dance."

"May I go this year Mamma?" begged Felicity, the dance was for over eighteens only, and she had missed out on going last year.

The Christmas dance was a relatively new addition to the social calendar of the Platz. It had first happened a few years ago, when Miss Ferrars and Miss Wilmot had gone on a temporary "job swap" with two mistresses from Carnbach. This was one of the traditions they had picked up from the other school. For every year at Christmas, the Welsh school had a Party for the mistresses, local friends, and the staff of the San. It was for over-eightens only but they were very happy to have the Prefects there too, as they felt it was a good introduction to the social world of adult life.

"Yes, the pair of you may go this year." said Jo, resisting the temptation to sigh, she knew that the Christmas dance, and the Summer Fling were the social events of the year for the young adults of the Platz, but she did hate seeing her children grow up.

"And you two should go to" said Jo pointing at Roddy and Seth. "It's great fun, honestly."

"We probably will." agreed Roddy, "It was a good laugh the year I went."

"Jo. Did you promise Cecil a snowfight towmorrow?" asked Jack suddenly.

"Yes, why? Do you not think Daphne is strong enough?" asked Jo worriedly.

"Oh no. I think some exercise would do the mite some good. But if you would care to take a look out of the window?"

Felix drew the curtains back with a dramatic flourish.

"It's snowing." said Felicity disappointedly.

"Thanks for pointing that out for us Fliss." said Felix grinning, "I couldn't quite make it out myself."

Felicity stuck her tongue out at her brother.

"What shall we do tomorrow then?" asked Jo despairingly.

"I suggest you start begging Anna to let them use the kitchen." said Jack chuckling.

"Anna's busy enough as it is, I don't suppose she really wants to spend the nest week scraping cake mixture off the ceiling." pointed out Jo.

"Just because you can't cook, doesn't mean your daughters can't either." said Jack gently.

As expected his wife rose to the bait.

"I may not be able to cook Jack Maynard, but at least I know how not to burn!"

"Ouch." said Jack suddenly looking rather embarassed.

"Why do I have a feeling there is a story in there somewhere?" asked Felix slyly.

"Did I ever tell you about the time your Father made me breakfast in bed?" asked Jo dreamily.

"Green!" exclaimed Jack suddenly.

And Jo stopped looking so smug all of a sudden.

"What?" asked Seth quietly, to Roddy.

"No one has any idea why, but if Aunt Joey is about to embarass Uncle Jack, all he has to do is remind her of green and she will be quiet."

"I know, Mamma, when are you going to tell us that story?" asked Felix indignantly.

"The only people that know have been sworn to secrecy, for the last twenty or thirty years!" laughed Jack.

"I shall write the story down in my will" promised Jo, "Then you can all have a good giggle at my funeral. I should hate to have you all sad and sombre."

"And on that cheery note, may I suggest bed?" said Jack, "It is only just after ten, but you have all been travelling this last few days."

Everyone was quite tired, so there were no protests for once. Jo remained behind to tidy up the last of the things, and put out the fire. Once she had done this she too trudged up the stairs. At the other end of the hallway she could hear the rustles of the twins getting changed, and up above her she could hear the pipes creaking as someone turned on the shower. But she was sure she could hear something else too. She went along to her left, and finally she realised where the noise was coming from. She was outside Daphne's room.

She bit her lip as she heard the crying inside. She wasn't sure whether or not to go in. Daphne might need to be left to cry in peace for a while. Hesitantly she turned away, but if the girl was crying again tomorrow night she would go in. She couldn't leave the poor child to feel alone like that. She had just turned the corner when she heard a door creak open behind her. Hidden against the wall Jo stuck her head around the corner, and saw Cecil's door swing open. Cecil padded along, and just like Jo had done moments before, she stuck her ear up against the door. Jo saw Cecil sigh, before she knocked on the door lightly. Smiling now, Jo turned and walked away towards her own room.

Cecil, was the most friendly, and sunshiney (if there was such a word) of Jo's children, but she didn't like responsibility, and although she was friends with every girl in her class, and was never short of partners for walks or dances, Jo worried that she was missing out on having a close friend. Felicity and Lucy Peters had been best friends practically since they were babies, and Pippa had Emily Jakobs, in her own form, and the strange friendship she had with Marie Rosomon despite the difference in their ages.

Perhaps Daphne could do Cecil as much good as Cecil could do for Daphne.

"What took you so long?" asked Jack sleepily, when she entered their room.

"I was just checking on the children." said Jo.

"And?"

"I think they are all going to be absolutely fine." she beamed.

"Unless they kill each other over the next few days." said Jack, as he gazed out of the window at the snow which was still falling heavily.

"Pot. Kettle. Black," said Jo fondly, as she slipped into bed.

"What?" asked Jack blankly.

"Jack, if you can't get to the San tomorrow, you will be the worst and most impatient person for me to deal with." pointed out Jo, "And Jack I know, the San is important to you. It's important to all of us. But there are no urgent cases at the moment, and there are several doctors within walking distance of the place. This snow could be a blessing in disguise."

Jack smiled at Jo. "I'll try not to climb the walls Jo, but I do worry."

"I know dear." she said softly.

Chapter 6 by brie

Breakfast the next morning was a rowdy affair. With the snow still falling about them, Jack sat at the top of the table, sipping his coffee leisurely.

"Mamma, what shall we do today?" asked Cecil, as she scoffed her toast.

Beside her Daphne was delicately nibbling at hers.

"No idea." said Jo calmly.

"Oh." said Cecil.

"No Pippa." said Jo suddenly.

"What?" asked Pippa, wide-eyed. "I never said a word."

"No, but I saw that look in your eyes, and I am forbidding you from whatever prank you were considering."

"Oh" said Pippa, looking downcast.

"Christmas Pudding?" begged Cecil.

"Ask Anna." was Jo's prompt reply.

"I'm not cooking. It's girly." said Geoff, wrinkling up his nose.

"No one asked you." pointed out Cecil.

"Cookings not really girly." said Roddy consideringly, "All the best Chefs are men."

"No they are not!" exclaimed Cecil indignantly.

"Name, a really good female chef." asked Roddy.

"Anna." Marie-Claire replied immediately.

"Anna's not a chef." scoffed Geoff.

"Anna's the best cook I've ever met." exclaimed Marie-claire loyally.

"She's got you there." agreeed Jo, "For I very much doubt that any of you have had better food than some of the things Anna can create."

"You'll love Anna's food." said Felicity to Daphne, "Karen's up at the school is good, but Anna's is heaven. It's why Mamma's so fat!"

"FELICITY MAYNARD!" exclaimed Jo outraged, whilst everyone else, even Daphne, laughed.

For Jo, despite having eleven children, was still almost as boney as she had been as a schoolgirl.

"How about today, we all just find our own things to do?" asked Jo, when the giggles had subsided, "And then tomorrow if it's still like this, we can consider thinking out a plan of attack?"

Cecil, with Phil, Marie-Claire and Daphne in tow, went in search of Anna. At first Daphne had been about to slink up to her room, but Cecil had begged her to join them.

Jo had disappeared into the study, ostensibly to finish a chapter of her novel, but really to curl up with an old and extremely battered copy of Little women.

Roddy and Seth, were going up to the Attic with Geoff, and pretending that they were only helping him with his Meccanno because they had nothing better to do.

Felicity had disappeared to her room to practise her singing, and Felix was next door, learning his part in the school play.

As everyone else was scurrying off busily, Jack put his feet up, and took out a long letter from his twin Mollie Maynard, which he was long overdue in replying too. However within a few minutes he was dozing, and within half an hour he was snoring away.

Jo ordered everyone to be quiet when going past the Saal, and left him to catch up on all his lost sleep.

To their great surprise Anna agreed readily to let them use her Kitchen, although Cecil had a sneaky suspicion that it was because Anna had heard Marie-Claire calling her the best cook ever. She showed them where all the ingredients were before leaving them with a final warning that the Kitchen had better be tidy when she came back.

"Okay Pippa you can beat the eggs, we used five in school. Marie-Claire if you can grate the the nutmeg? I'll get the scales and me and Daphne can measure all the fruit out."

"Who made you the boss?" asked Pippa.

"Me." was Cecil's calm reply.

Things were quiet for a few minutes, until there was a squeal from Pippa.

"What is it Pip?" exclaimed Cecil, who had up until now had felt that this was going really quite well.

"Oh yuck." said Marie-Claire who could see what her sister had done.

Pippa had been cracking the eggs, and she had done the first three with no problems at all, but the fourth one had cracked on the wrong side of the bowl, and there was runny egg on the surface, and all down one of Pippa's legs.

"Maybe we should have worn aprons" said Cecil eventually.

Marie-Claire burst out laughing.

"It's a bit late now!" pointed out Pippa exasperatedly.

"For you maybe." said Cecil giggling, "But not for the rest of us!"

"Cece!" exclaimed Pippa dismayedly.

They cleaned up Pippa by the simple method of lifting her skirt into the sink and running hot water over it. Then Cecil made Pippa stand in front of the open oven until the skirt was mostly dry.

They eventually got everything measured out, and into the giant bowl. Then they all took a turn at stirring the stiff measure.

"Have we remembered everything?" asked Cecil at last when they all had sore arms.

"It's your recipe." pointed out Pippa.

Marie-claire just nodded, taking her hand guiltily out of the mixture.

"What do you think Daphne?" asked Cecil at last, reminding her sisters that there were actually four people in the Kitchen.

Daphne looked like she wanted to say something.

"What has the idiot left out?" asked Pippa grinning.

"The brandy." murmured Daphne.

"Scoot and get it will you Pippa?" asked Cecil, "I knew I had forgotten something, Frau Meiders said a real Christmas pudding should have brandy in it, but we didn't put any in the school ones."

Phil returned with the Brandy, which she had calmly removed from a cupboard in the dining room.

"How much do we put in?" she asked.

Cecil looked blank. Frau Meiders hadn't given them an amount.

"I don't know." she admitted. "What do you think Daphne?"

But Daphne just shrugged her shoulders, she had helped her mother make a Christmas pudding a few times, but she had no idea how much Brandy went in.

"Well we can just dribble in a little bit and see what looks right." suggested Cecil.

Cecil poured some in, but in the vast mixture it looked like hardly any, so she kept pouring.

"Do you think thats enough?" she asked.

Eventually they agreed it was enough, and with a final stir of the slightly squidgy pudding, they covered it and put it in to steam.

"Now we just leave it." said Cecil.

They had great fun clearing up, but they were grateful they had put on the aprons in the end, for all the mess they cleaned off the floor, and the surfaces, seemed to have landed on them.

When Jo came into the Kitchen the place was sparkling, and the grils were looking quite proud of themselves.

"Did you get any Pudding in the basin?" was her first question however.

"Mamma, we cleaned everything up." said Cecil sounding offended. But then she glanced around at the others, and she had to start giggling.

"Daphne you even have some in your ear!" she giggled, at first Daphne just looked embarassed, but then she saw the friendly laughing faces around her and she burst out laughing too.

"Well at least I don't have it all over my nose!" she exclaimed.

Jo grinned brightly at this, but all she said was, "Go get changed pets, and I'm just teasing I'm sure your efforts will be well worth it."

Once they had trooped out she lifted the covering curiously, and almost keeled over. It was absolutely reeking of alcohol. Jo however was no cook, and she just presumed this was because the pudding was boiling away.

Jo covered it back over and went into the Saal to wake Jack.

"Jo" he said blearily, as he opened his eyes, "Have you been... drinking?"

"No, no" she assured him hastily, "It was just the children."

"WHAT?"

Chapter 7 by brie

"Mamma" shrieked someone.

Jo almost jumped out of bed in fright.

"What? Cecil?" she asked blearily.

"Mamma" a tousled head appeared by her side, "Mamma it has stopped snowing."

"Marie-Claire?" asked Jo, rubbing her eyes.

"Mamma, you have slept in, Pappa left ages ago." said someone sensibly.

Jo sat up, and looked her red haired daughter in the eye.

"What time is it?"

"It's nearly ten o'clock" muttered Cecil exasperatedly.

"Okay, Im just getting up." said Jo, "Now give me some peace girls. I'll be down in a few minutes."

"But Mamma.." said Cecil desperately.

Felicty gave her a quick kick.

"Give her five minutes to wake up, goose." she said.

Fifteen minutes later, and much more alive, Jo appeared in the Saal.

"Well Mamma?" asked Cecil, almost quivering in excitement.

"Please Mamma!" begged Marie-Claire, looking almost as exuberant as her sister.

Jo sat down. "I have no idea what you are talking about dears." she said at last.

"The snow has stopped falling" said Phil calmly, "and I rather think if you don't let Cecil out soon she may collapse with the excitement of it all."

"Pippa!" exclaimed Cecil, glaring at her sister.

"Please, pretty please Mamma! May we have a snowfight?" implored Marie-claire.

"Does everyone want to?" asked Jo, after going to the window to check that the snow had actually stopped.

"Yes, yes." said Cecil, doing her utmost to stop herself from jumping up and down.

"I think even I had managed to work out that you wanted to Cece." said Jo dryly, "What about the boys?"

Cecil went red, and let someone else reply.

"We are going to issue a challenge to them, " said Felicity, "Boys versus girls, they will never be able to resist!"

"Okay" said Joey, " Now all of you go get ready then, and dress warm! Tell the boys to do the same. Cecil wait a moment please."

The other girls all left to go get ready, and Cecil looked curiously at her Mother.

"What is it Mamma?" she asked quickly.

"Now, I'm not trying to spoil you fun pet, but this is going to be quite hard for Daphne, and she'll probably find it scary at first. Although I think it will do her all the good in the world!"

"Thats okay Mamma, I asked Felicity to tell the boys to be more gentle with her." replied Cecil, surprising Jo with her thoughtfulness.

It was also the first time Cecil had not moaned about the extra responsibility during her holiday. It would seem that her Cecil was starting to grow up.

However aloud all Jo said was, "Thank you Cecey, now you'd better hurry up, or you'll miss out on all the fun!"

Upstairs Phil and Felicity were knocking on the attic door.

"What is it?" asked Roddy rudely as he opened the door.

"Can we come in?" asked Felicity.

Silently Roddy pointed to the sign on the door.

" 'No girls allowed' " read Felicity, "Oh how very mature." she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

"What do you want? Or are you just here to annoy us?" asked Geoff, who had joined Roddy at the door.

"I think they are scared personally." said Pippa in an aside to Felicity, that was meant to be heard by everyone.

"Oh yeah definitely." agreed Felicity.

"Scared of what?" asked Roddy suspiciously.

"Our challenge." said Pippa sweetly, "But if you are scared of being beaten by girls thats okay. We'll just go now."

Pippa and Felicity both turned and started to walk down the stairs.

"Wait." they heard Roddy call.

"Yes?" said Felicity turning around.

"We never said no."

"It's okay, we don't want to humiliate you."

"Whos being humiliated?" asked Seth, his curly head also appearing at the door.

"Your friend here, he's scared of being beaten by girls." said Felicity with a grin.

"Well I sympathise with him. You are a terrifying bunch."

"We're not terrifying!" exclaimed Felicity outraged.

At this moment Cecil appeared at the bottom of the stairs dressed up in a good imitation of an Eskimo.

"What on earth is taking you all so long?" she asked annoyed, "Mamma says we can only go out until Mittagessen and thats in an hour and a half. Are the boys scared or something?"

With this the four boys came charging down the stairs, almost taking Felicity with them. Seth stopped to make sure she was alright, just as Felix reached the bottom of the stairs, and beating his chest with his fists shouted, "And now we fight to the Death, Arghhhh!"

Cecil just stared at him, and went, "Okay then" before turning to the others and saying, "Get your lazy selves down to the kitchen in five minutes. Me and Claire and Daphne are all ready."

Down in the Kitchen Jo surveyed them all critically.

"Cecil lend Daphne your spare woollen cardigan will you? Geoff, those are last years gloves, go put your warmer ones on. Someone lend Seth a jumper will they? And a scarf preferably. Did no one warn you what coming to Switzerland would be like? Honestly Roddy, you would think you would have gained some sense at twenty!"

Eventually she proclaimed them ready to go outside, having made sure they were all wearing snow goggles.

"Have fun chickadees" she called as she waved at them, "Anyone feeling too cold can come back inside. Felicity keep an eye on my Claire-bear alright?"

"Mamma I'll be fine" moaned Marie-Claire, "Im not a baby!"

"Okay" said Pippa when they were outside, "Boys you can choose what side of the garden you want since we have one more person."

"Don't be silly," scoffed Roddy, "You are the girls, you are at the disadvantage. You choose what side you want."

The girls huddled together.

"Okay" whispered Pippa urgently, "If we don't wipe those smirks off of their faces I might have to cry. We are in this to win."

Felicity rolled her eyes. "They will probably win you know." she said.

"Don't even speak like that!" ordered Pippa.

Cecil and Felicity exchanged glances.

"Pip here has a bit of a competitive side, in case you hadn't noticed." said Cecil to Daphne.

"Cece! This is serious!"

"No it's not." said Cecil. "It's our first snowfight this year, and I'm going to enjoy it! Now let's show Daphne how to pack snowballs."

"Okay, okay" said Pippa finally, "But at least admit that you would rather we won than they did."

"Well duh, but lets at least have a laugh while we wipe them off the floor- or should I say snow?" she finished thoughtfully.

Chapter 8 by brie

"Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh..." sang Cecil, as she bounced, glowing and red cheeked into the house.

"Hello Poppet" greeted Jo, "How was your snowfight?"

"We smashed the boys!" yelled Pippa triumphantly as she kicked off her boots.

"You did not 'smash' us" said Roddy haughtily, grabbing one of her pigtails playfully, "We let you win!"

"You did not let us win!" said Cecil indignantly, "and anyway Daphne smushed your face in the snow!"

"Daphne did what?" asked Jo, sitting down.

"And what kind of word is Smush?" asked Roddy.

"You were smushed! And you were smushed by a little girl!" laughed Cecil.

"Roddy was smushed by a girl, Roddy was smushed by a girl" sang Marie-Claire over and over in an annoying voice, as she warmed her hands in front of the fire.

"Hush little one!" said Roddy grabbing hold of the family baby and tickling her, until she shrieked with laughter.

"Where is Daphne?" asked Jo at this point.

But her own question was answered, as Daphne and Felix appeared at the door, both of them laughing loudly.

"Kind damsel, would thou be so kind as to help me get off my Boots."

"But of course good sir." replied Daphne, with a cheeky smile.

As she entered the house though, into the suddenly silent kitchen, she started to blush, and became quiet again.

Behind them there was a shriek, and they all turned as Felicity, hat in hand and hair streaming wildly, slipped and went flying with a rather unelegant, "Yeowww".

She was caught gracefully by Seth, who had until then been on a quest for a lost glove.

Firmly he grabbed her hand and walked her up the path.

"Felicity" greeted her Mother, "that was a shriek worthy of young Cecil."

Cecil promptly sqwuaked in protest, proving Jo's point completely.

"Thank you Seth" continued Jo, "For saving some of Fliss's dignity, its unlike her to be so clumsy."

"She seems to keep falling about since you've been here Seth" said Roddy laughing, "She practically fell down the stairs this morning."

Felicity blushed bright red.

"Well perhaps that's because you boys were charging down them like a herd of wild animals" replied Pippa hotly.

"Mittagessen?" suggested Jo, putting an end to the scrapping.

There was a scramble for the table, with even Daphne being pulled into the rabble, as Cecil grabbed her hand.

They all wolfed down firsts, seconds and in some case thirds, and Jo was pleased to note that Daphne was eating as much as Cecil, rather than just daintily nibbling on something.

"More spuds Daphne?" asked someone, and Daphne nodded eagerly.

"Oh yes please! They are lovely thanks." she replied enthusiastically, as they were heaped onto her plate.

"Can someone pass the gravy?" asked Pippa, from the other end of the long table, where she was engaged in a game of "footsies" under the table, with her twin.

"Of course they Can" stressed Jo, "you should say Will..."

"Shut up!" chorused most of her children as one.

Felix made a long arm for the gravy, managing to knock it over, and spill it all over his twin.

"Felix!" shrieked Felicity, who felt as if her mortification was now complete. She jumped up, and ran out of the room.

"What! I didn't mean to!" exclaimed Felix sounding injured as everyone turned to stare at him.

Chapter 9 by brie

“What's wrong with her?” demanded Felix, the look of surprise on his face genuine.

“Shut up Felix! You big mean.” exclaimed Pippa, immediately ready to defend her sister.

“Come on.” said Cecil grabbing Pippa's arm.

The two left the room in search of their sister, with Marie-claire trotting behind them.

“Really Felix, could you be any less tactful?” said Jo disapprovingly from her end of the table.

“What! What did I do?” he asked cluelessly.

Wisely Jo remained silent, as all the boys looked blankly around at each other, whilst Daphne, momentarily forgotten by Cecil, tried to remain invisible at her place on Jo's right.

“Felicity” called her three little sisters as they mounted the stairs in search of her.

“What do you think is wrong with Fliss?” asked Cecil tentatively, as they methodically opened all the doors on their route down the hallway.

“Embarassed?” asked Pippa. “I would never say it in front of the boys of course, but she is making a silly fuss isn't she?”

Cecil shrugged her shoulders.

Marie-claire sighed loudly.

“You two are so silly!” she moaned.

Cecil and Pippa exchanged glances.

“Excuse me?” asked Pippa, in her most condescending way.

Again Marie-claire sighed. “Don't you see! She likes Seth.”

Her sisters looked blank.

“You goops! I mean she like likes him! Like as a boy!” explained Marie-claire in a motherly way.

“No!” exclaimed Pippa looking disgusted. “She wouldn't be so silly.”

But Cecil looked thoughtful, “Wait a moment Pip, I think little Claire might be right. Have you noticed how long Flissy has been spending in the bathroom since Roddy and Seth arrived? I remember Con telling me once that that was how Len was just before her and Reg got engaged. She said she had always been able to tell since, when her friends liked someone because they always spent more time in the bathroom!” Cecil finished this speech with a grimace at the idea.

“I think both you and Con need to stick your heads under a cold shower.” said Pippa calmly.

“If she does like Seth then we'll deal with that, but I think you are both being stupid. Really Cece, I thought you had more of a brain than that.”

Cecil stuck her tongue out at her sister.

“Come on” moaned Marie-claire tugging on her sister's arms.”Lets go find Fliss.”

“Okay, okay.” said Pippa shrugging off Marie-claire's hand. “I think you're both being idiots though and I bet Fliss will tell you so.”

“Fliss will tell you what?” asked Felicity herself, appearing at the end off the hallway, looking remarkably composed apart from some rather red eyes.

“Fliss!” exclaimed Marie-claire wrapping her arms around her big sister.

“Hey Claire bear” said Felicity affectionately.

“Fliss sure you don't have a crush on Seth?” asked Pippa confidently.

Cecil glared at her sister.

Fliss blushed slightly before replying, “Of course not! What put such a bizarre idea into your head?”

“I told you so” mouthed Pippa triumphantly to Cecil and Marie-claire.

“Are you okay now Fliss?” asked Cecil worriedly, choosing to ignore Pippa.

“Yes of course I am, why wouldn't I be?” asked Fliss quizzically.

Cecil opened her mouth, then thinking better of it, closed it again.

“No reason.” said Pippa quickly.

Chapter 10 by brie

Cecil arrived in the back salon with an extremely loud sigh, throwing her bundle onto the floor.

"I hate mending." she stated.

"Really?" said Jo,"I hadn't noticed."

"You can't talk." pointed out Phil from her corner, where she was attacking her sewing viciously.

"You're doing that more damage than anything else," said Joey sweetly, "Anyway what are you complaining about you only do your own mending!"

"But there's always so much." said Cecil sadly, "I don't know how it happens."

"That wheelbarrow race you indulged in yesterday might have had something to do with it." pointed out her Mother.

Cecil stuck out her tongue in reply.

"But they won." pointed out Marie-Claire.

Cecil grinned at the recollection. "We did rather didn't we Pip? Weren't Seth and Geoff surprised when we zipped by. Seth dropped Geoff's feet."

Jo laughed. "Seth is a nice boy isn't he. It's a shame he couldn't get home for Christmas. We shall have to try extra hard to make it a nice one for him, and you too Daphne of course." she finished, smiling at the dark-haired girl beside her, whose face was industriously bent over her mending. Not that she had much for she was far to gentle to batter her clothes, unlike rough and tumble Cecil and Phil.

"We always do have the most" grumbled Cecil to Phil, for she was in a bad mood. It seemed such a waste of a morning to spend it sewing and darning.

"Don't grump Cecey." said Jo, whilst she eyed one of Jack's more dilapidated socks warily. "Almost the entire Platz will be here this afternoon, surely that will be enough excitement for one day."

Daphne's hold on her sewing tightened as Jo spoke.

"Have you any ideas yet?" asked Jo, kindly pretending not to notice her niece's discomfort.

"Roddy is to be Santa Claus." said Marie-claire gleefully.

"Except we haven't told him yet." added Phil lightly.

Jo giggled apprreciatively. For several years now the Maynard siblings had been the chief organizers of a mini Christmas-themed fete which they, along with the rest of the "young people" of the Platz performed for the patients of the San. It had been Con's idea originally, and she had written several comical little plays in previous years. With no creative geniuses adorning the Platz this year they were planning to have a Christmas themed parade, and they had all been busily working on costumes although Daphne had faded to a shadow in the background at any mention of todays Grand Meeting, or the parade itself.

"Mamma tell us a story." implored Marie-claire, who was rapidly becoming bored with her mending, though she wasn't yet fractious like her sisters.

Jo glanced at her little wrist-watch, "It's almost ten now, we've wasted an awful lot of time already. I for one don't intend on wasting a whole day doing mending."

"Oh please Mamma." begged Marie-Claire, "We'll be quicker if we're interested in your story."

Jo gave in easily, "Alright then but just a short one, I have some sewing to do too you know! What is it Felicity?"

"Mamma can I be excused? I'll finish the rest later." asked Felicity anxiously. "I didn't realise the time."

Jo looked at her daughter sadly. "Of course you can dear." was all she said however.

Felicity bounded out of the room, her little bundle of mending clutched in her arms.

"Why does Fliss get to go?" asked Cecil moanily.

"May we be excused to?" was Phil's eager question.

"Oh girls" said Jo sadly, dragging her thoughts back to the group in the room, "Do you remember last term some of the Prefect's went to visit those girls who were in that accident on the shelf above us?"

"Yes", said Cecil slowly, "Fliss said Auntie Hilda had asked if any of the Pree's would like to visit them because they were the same age as them and they were bored and lonely and had no family out here."

"But that was at the beginning of last term." interjected Phil.

"Yes Pippa it was, but whilst two of the girls got better quickly and are now back at home, one of the girls, Keren, was very ill a few weeks after she arrived. She was the girl whom Lucy, and Jean and of course our Fliss had become very friendly with. The reason I let Felicity go is because it was her turn to visit Keren. Lucy had been up earlier in the week."

"When will she be better Mamma?" asked Marie-claire. "Can I go and visit her please?"

Jo smiled at her youngest daughter. "That's very sweet of you Claire-bear, but she is still very weak, so the doctors are only letting her have a very few visitors just now. Now girls, Keren is quite ill and Felicity is her friend and worried about her, so I would like you to be nice to her, by just being yourselves. The last thing she needs is everyone tip-toeing around her. But please don't ask her any awkward questions. If you want to know anything you can come to me and i'll try to help you, okay? Now how would you like me to tell you about my first Christmas in the Tyrol?"

"Oh yes please." exclaimed Marie-claire, clapping her hands excitedly.

"Well, I was pretty young then." said Jo, with a little laugh, "Only a year or two older than you are now Claire, and your Auntie Madge was only twenty four or so, the same age as Chas. We had Robin with us too, and she was just a little chubby angel of six. Apart from us three the whole Chalet was deserted, and outside everything was completely still, with snow lying right across the ground. It felt like we were in our own little world. It was a bit spooky at first, but after a while it felt so peaceful."

"Didn't you go stay with Tante Frieda?" interrupted Cecil.

"Hush little one! I was getting there, give me some time." laughed Jo.

"I don't like scenery much, I'm more interested in people." said Cecil adamantly.

"Well if you don't shut up Cece, we'll never get to the people in the story." pointed out Phil, less than politely.

"Shut up yourself Pippa."

"Girls! Girls! Get on with your sewing, and we'll just skip to the part where the three of us arrive in Innsbruck. Okay?" said Jo, defeated.

"Well Claire" ,carried on Jo, "We arrived in Innsbruck, tired and out of breath- we had walked almost the whole way down, and you know from our holidays at Die Blumen how far that is! Well we arrived, and the city was so beautiful in the snow. With sleighs going down the street, and all the shop windows beautifully decorated."

"Your still going on about the scenery, you're just doing it in a different place." complained Cecil.

"Cecil just because you have heard this story before that doesn't mean Claire and Daphne have."

Everyone looked at Daphne after Jo's mention of her, they had quite forgotten she was there.

"Anyway, we eventually reached the Mariahilfe where Frieda and her family stayed in an apartment on one of the higher floors. Daphne dear, Frieda is one of my oldest friends, as you can see from my age in this story," here she laughed, "and her daughters all went to the Chalet school."

"Gretchen was Head girl, but she's left now, and Lotta should be a Pree, but she's been off school for over a year, and Marienne the youngest is in the same form as Pippa." here Cecil laughed for no reason that Daphne could see.

Pippa grimaced loudly, but no one took any notice of her.

"Now shall I get on with this story?" asked Jo teasingly, "I would prefer an audience that is at least slightly interested."

"Oh Mamma are we hurting your vanity?" laughed Phil.

"Pippa Maynard! I'll scrag you for that!" shrieked Jo, momentarily looking like a schoolgirl again, as she jumped up from her armchair leaving her sewing in a dilapidated heap as she chased her daughter around the room.

Chapter 11 by brie

Roddy sat up in bed with a bang as someone knocked on his door.

"Can I come in?" he heard Seth asking on the other side of the door.

"Well I was sleeping.." he growled.

"Oh good you're awake." said Seth letting himself in. "You sleep like the dead, man."

"I do try." grumbled Roddy pointedly.

His friend ignored him. "I mean really, you're the last one up, you never even see breakfast..."

"Did you wake me up just to tell me this?" asked Roddy glaring.

"You should have seen her this morning. She looked so beautiful. She's radiant." said Seth longingly.

Roddy rolled his eyes. "You think she's beautiful. Now there's a revelation." he said sarcastically, preparing to turn over and go back to sleep.

"Who's beautiful?" asked Felix sticking his head round the door.

Roddy groaned, and pulled his pillow over his face. "Is it completely impossible to expect some quiet, and oh I don't know... some SLEEP maybe?" he growled through the pillow.

Felix ignored him crossing the room, and pulling open the curtains. "Are you trying to set a record or something? If you're not careful it won't just be Fruhstuck you've missed. Mittagessen is in half an hour."

Roddy groaned for at least the third time that morning. Felix yanked his pillow away unsympathetically.

"So who were you two talking about anyway?" he asked curiously, "Not someone up here surely. I don't think we rise to howling beauties sadly. Lucy Peters is alright or she would be if she shut her gob occasionally! Thank goodness she hasn't been over since we got here. Her and Fliss are awful when they get together. They never shut up."

Seth remained silent.

"Do you know someone else who never shuts up?" asked Roddy pointedly.

"She's coming up this afternoon though, the whole crazy lot of them are!" continued Felix not one whit abashed by Roddy's comments.

"That'll be a good opportunity for you to ask her to the dance then won't it?" asked Roddy.

"I'm not asking that blabbermouth..." began Felix indignantly.

Roddy raised his eyebrows sceptically.

Felix relaxed easily, "Okay I'm doing it." he admitted, "I'm a glutton for punishment it would seem."

"Of course" said Roddy in his heavily sarcastic tones, being woken suddenly didn't agree with his temper, "it's nothing to do with those shining black locks and starry blue eyes you were rhapsodising about the other day?"

"She's a clever wee minx" replied Felix with a laugh that betrayed him, "Not coming round here even once this holiday, always inviting Fliss over there, she's trying to extract an invite, thats what it is. And I can't let down such cunning can I? Anyway what about you?" he asked carrying the war into the enemy's camp.

"Oh me?" said Roddy carelessly. "I asked Rita Donnelly of course."

"You asked nurse Donelly?" asked Felix his eyes open wide in awe.

"I might have done." admitted Roddy, a twinkle in his eye for the first time that morning.

"Wow." said Felix, impressed despite himself. "And she said yes?"

"Well no." said Roddy laughing, " I'm going with Lise Van Schweib."

Felix grinned. "I should have known. Poor Lise, imagine being second choice."

"To Rita Donnelly though." pointed out Roddy, "If you thought you had a chance you would ask her before Lucy.

"Hmmm." said Felix consideringly, "You do have a point, she doesn't talk as much. Well what about you Seth, do you have your eye on anybody? Not that you've really had a chance to meet anyone yet. Well I suppose you'll meet everyone at our meeting this afternoon. I'm sure we can dig up someone for you."

Roddy and Seth looked at each other, Roddy nodded almost imperceptibly.

"Uh", said Seth, reddening slightly. "Well actually I was thinking about asking emmm..."

"Who?" asked Felix blankly.

"Uh.. well..."

Roddy kicked his friend.

"Felicity." he blurted out.

"Fliss." repeated Felix.

Chapter 12 by brie

I have news." said Phil with a grin, as she fell into a vacant armchair in Felicity's bedroom.

Felicity didn't bother to look up.

"News Flixy! Did you hear? Of the exciting sort."

She seemed to have caught her sister's attention slightly.

"What?" asked Felicity without looking up from the magazine with which she was curled up.

"I wish Adrienne had let me go to Cece first, she would have been so much more fun.." said Phil wistfully.

Felicity sat bolt upright. "Phillipa Anne Maynard! When did you hear from Adrienne?" she asked, finally rising to the bait.

"She sent me a letter." said Phil tantalisingly.

"Pippa" wailed Felicity.

"Thats better." said Phil, satisfied. "Much more Cecey-like of a reaction."

"Pippa" said Felicity warningly, "Give it!"

"That's hardly a polite way in which to talk to your sister Felicity dearest. I mean you are supposed to be a role model to me..."

Felicity's reply was to lunge at her sister.

"Careful you'll rip it!" shrieked Phil.

Felicity forsook dignity, and sat on her sister.

"Give it." she repeated, this time with a sweet smile, and syrupy tones that were far more menacing than before.

"Alright, alright spoilsport. Now gerroff already."

Felicity acquiesced and re-settled herself with a crumpled letter now in her hand.

"Well read it!" glared Phil impatiently.

"Shh." was her only reply.

Dear Pippa (and everyone else whom this letter gets passed to),

How are you poppet? Yes, I know, you're not delicate I'm just asking a caring question of my favourite red-haired rebel. Since this letter is probably going to get passed around I had better not write favouritie Maynard! But enough! I have some very exciting news. I'm coming up for Christmas, but it is already the twenty-somethingth you say. Alas you do not reckon with this Desmoines extreme cunning. For you see I am travelling with someone, and no not Ailie or Jane or someone dull like that, but a certain Nun who happens to be on a short remove back to Paris, and who during this stint has to go to Basle for a few days, OVER CHRISTMAS. I have no idea how she 'wangled' it, as you say, but you will all have to come down on Christmas morning, and me being the charmer that I am I shall hitch a lift back with you for my Christmas tea. Oh and don't you even think about dreaming of telling Auntie Jo. This is my christmas present to her, and yours to if you like. Pretty please get one of the boys to drive you all down down, Souer Marie-Cecile will be so thrilled. If you must tell Uncle Jack then you must but it would be so much better if you didn't. Well see you in a few days,

Adrienne.

P.S. Tell Felicity before you and Cecil go haring off with plans, she at least has a sensible head on her shoulders.

P.P.S. Just re-read this and don't have time to re-write so apologies for the drama. That's what I get for sharing digs with an Actress. But i'll tell you all about Jane when I see you.
Adieu for now.

Felicity folded up the short letter with a giggle.

"Hasn't Adrienne improved since we first met her, not that you will remember, being as you were just an adoring babe at the time. But as sweet as she was she was dull as dishwater!"

Phil stared at her sister. "You're awful." she proclaimed, "going about with that angel face and then startling people by saying things like that."

"Well it's true" said Felicity sweetly, "Ask Mamma if you don't believe me. But not now or she might guess something is up!"

"Well duh! We'll have to tell Roddy because he is the only one of us who can drive."

"Oh I can't wait to meet Auntie Rob. I mean I have met her, but I was so tiny I can't remember her at all. Does Auntie Daisy know? Cos we'll have to invite her if she doesn't. She would never forgive us else, she always says Aunt Rob is as much a sister to her as Auntie Prim" said Felicity thoughtfully.

Meanwhile in her boyish room next door, Cecil was struggling with her own letter. Cecil glanced around her fairly bare walls searching for inspiration. The room had used to belong to Mike, but when it had become clear that there would be little or no roof left if Cecil and Phil remained sharing, Cecil had been upgraded, and Mike had been moved upstairs with the 'old 'uns' into Len's old bedroom from before she was married. This had left Phil bemoaning the fact that she had a rosey pink room, whilst Cecil now had one that had been decorated around young Mike's naval dreams. Pippa being Pippa this had of course resulted in her 'borrowing' of several tins of paint from the school. Somehow the re-decoration hadn't been noticed for a full three months after, by which point Phil, at least, felt it would be rather unfair to punish her for something which had clearly done so little harm!

Cecil began re-reading what she had written, knowing it would not be nearly enough to satisfy Con of the readily flowing pen. In such a large family it was perhaps natural that they all had their 'favourites' as it were. They were very clannish as a whole, and to insult one Maynard was to insult them all, but of course underneath that, close friendships had been formed. To the younger members of the Maynard family at least, the Richardsons, Erica and Adrienne were all part and parcel of their jumble of siblings. Marie-claire who had been adopted by Jo and Jack when she was only two, didn't remember a time before the Freudeshiem nursery, and indeed no one on the Platz remembered any longer that she was adopted. To all and sundry she was the twelfth Maynard, the baby of the clan.

Con was decidedly Cecil's favourite sister, although Cecil was so close to Pippa, and the two of them had always felt the need to 'protect' homely Felicity. Although why this was was unknown as Felicity, like everyone else in their family, had more than learnt to fight for her corner. But exotic Con who lived in London, and travelled to lots of far-flung places held a very dear place in Cecil's heart, perhaps because in so many ways they were very alike in temperament, and Con seemed to Cecil like the only person she could ask about Felicity, Who was growing up, and perplexing Cecil by doing so.


Dear Con, the note ran so far

I know you won't get this for ages, since you are with Margot just now, but I thought I would write you before Christmas madness completely takes over. By the way Len was on the 'phone last week, and wasn't she just wild? She was just dying to come over with you, but of course she couldn't leave the babes at Christmas, and she had the Christmas play to deal with as well. She was cursing you for that too! Mamma said she said that she hadn't seen such ghastly acting in her life, and she hoped to goodness Her plays weren't like that to watch! I think they made an awful hash of things by the sound of it, and Len was raging with them 'cos of course it's your play and she wanted it to be special. It was her first as producer and everything as well!

But anyway you probably want to hear about here, not there I expect. Len's probably sent you one of her scathing epistles anyway, it's probably waiting for you at home as a present for when you get back! Well we have had a strange time of it here I can tell you! Of course first it was just everyone having measles, and trying to spoil our holidays, we had to stay at the school for TWO days of the hols it was awful with only some of the mistresses there, everyone else that was staying was away on their term trips. Auntie Hilda's a dear but she does have such a fearsome glare, and she sees EVERYTHING. Mamma told Papa that Auntie Hilda's started wearing glasses in private. I don't think I was supposed to hear that but I was walking past the door and it was open. I wonder why she doesn't have to wear them in public. It can't be looks- she's quick enough to lecture us lot when it comes to vanity. She had the whole Middle school on the Mat because some of them had started wearing make-up in school. Pip was disgusted afterwards: for once she hadn't even been involved. It was all Marienne Von Ahlen's fault: she started it, though you wouldn't have thought butter would melt in her mouth to look at her. She's lucky she didn't try it while Gretchen was still head girl she would have eaten her for breakfast. Gretchen always was a goody-good! Carlotta's still off too so really Mari got away a lot easier than she might, because Lotta would have been a Prefect this year, with Fliss, if she was here.

I hope you don't mind a rambly letter Con, 'cos I'm NOT starting this again, and I've barely even got into the problems yet. Well, we finally got home, about four days ago now, and who was waiting for us but Daphne Bettany! She's coming to the school at some point and boy is she a queer fish! You know the Bettanys much better than me are they all odd? Daph's really nice- she's the same age as me, so yonk's younger than even Maeve- but she is SO quiet, and Mamma has thrust her upon me. I like her but I don't know what to do with her Con! I mean she sews for FUN. She doesn't talk, or play sports and she clings to me like a barnacle when the boys are about. The only one she'll utter a word to is Felix, which is the biggest mystery of all because Felix has come back more melodramatic than ever! He's starting talking Shakespearian, or at least his idea of it. Of all the odd things he's started doing he's been practising 'playing dead'. Yesterday Mamma went to open the Nursery door and Felix fell out to quote her looking "Still, gray and to all appearances dead" she nearly had hysterics, especially when the corpse started giggling! I think Pappa's started accepting that Felix at least isn't going to be a Doctor or a Lawyer, though he still insisted on dragging him and Geoff round the San on the first day of their holiday.

We've been preparing for the San show, it's been left really late this year because of the measles and quarantines and stuff but everyones coming over later this afternoon and we'll rig something up. We won't let you down Con I promise, none of us have ever forgotten the looks on their faces that first year, when you tried to inject some Christmas cheer into the place. It's so little to do, especially now when there are so many of us older ones living on the Platz. Even me and Pip have taken part in the mending of last years costumes- now thats dedication for you! I can see your mind whirring as you read this, probably thinking including Daphne in this would help bring her out of her shell? Well i've tried! Oh, she wants to help of course, who wouldn't? She's spruced up more costumes than me and Pip and Claire put together but she won't go. She won't even go and not say a word. I don't know what to do. We need all the poeple we can get, and people will think badly of her if she doesn't go, even though she's making doll's clothes for some of the stockings. She has to go to school with the girls at least and they will wonder, even if they don't say anything. Oh this is such a mess, and there are only two days 'til Christmas eve to sort out what we are doing, its going to be hard enough without sticking my neck out for Daph.

I suppose I ought to wind this up now it shall cost a fortune to post, and i'm planning to slip it in with Mamma's so when she sees how thick it is she will rant- not that hers will be any thinner! I just have one last thing I need to ask, but you can't tell anyone Con, 'cos she'll kill me if she knows, and I feel bad for saying anything behind her back, but i need advice and I haven't got anyone else to ask. It's about Fliss. Well you see Roddy came back unexpectedly- "there's always one" Mamma said- except he brought a friend Seth something-or-other from college.

Here Cecil was stuck, she already felt bad for talking about her sister behind her back, even if it was just to Con, and she didn't really know what to say. It wasn't even like anything was happening between them. She stuck her pen resolutely down on the paper, Felix had offered to do the post run and he would be leaving in an hour to catch 'Postie' on his way back from the San and all the houses at the other end of the Platz.

Well Con the thing is I think Fliss likes him, she has been acting all, well, un-Fliss-like recently. She blushes like anything at the least provacation, and she's being snappy and clumsy. She's not talking to us the same anymore either. Just this morning I found out that she's been visiting this girl in the San, who is really ill- and she hasn't said a word about it to any of us. I mean why wouldn't she tell us something like that? Oh I don't know. I know you think I'm talking an absolute cartload of rubbish. Seeing it written down in black and white it does look that way and maybe it is all in my head. I know Pip doesn't think there is anything to it, but Claire does. I know- I know, why am I taking an eleven year old's relationship advice? Well thats why I'm writing you Con. I don't know what to think? It is silly to be writing to you of course. By the time you even read this we will all be back at school and it probably won't matter anymore...

Well I really had better go if this is to make the post. Make sure you write ALL about Margot when you come back, and i want my OWN letter i'm not being fobbed off by a Dear Freudesheim or Dear Maynards or the like!

Yours,
Cece

Chapter 13 by brie

A pair of hand's covered Jo Maynards dark eyes with a soft, "Guess who?"

"Jack!!" screeched Jo excitedly as she swung around to face her husband. "What are you doing here?"

"Well the San was quiet, and I found myself missing my wife, and the peacefulness of home so I came."

Jo grinned but all she said was, "Well if you're looking for peace you have come to the wrong place."

This was proved a moment later when there was a loud scream of, "THAT'S MINE." followed by a small crash and a loud thud.

Jo winced. "I suppose we should check that out." she said resignedly and started to hare up the stairs.

On the first floor landing, Felix was lying full length on the floor, his feet flailing wildly, with Cecil calmly sitting on his back, effectively pinning him to the ground. His hands and Marie-claires were tangled together, both fighting for control of a book of some sort.

A quiet , "Het hmmm", momentarily caused them to pause in the midst of their squabble.

Jo eyed them dispassionately, "No one hurt?" she asked, "Alright then well me and your Father are going out for a walk, try not to kill each other please oh and make sure the house is still tidy for the teenage invasion this afternoon." and with a final glance back she left them to it.

The children had barely gotten in a "Hello Pappa!" before they had retreated back down the stairs.

"I'm stealing you for myself today" said Jo with a grin, grabbing Jack's hand.

"Roddy" she yelled back suddenly, with little regard for her image as a wife and mother, "Make sure everyone is still in one piece when we get back. You're in charge."

"Come," she continued to Jack, now in her normal tones, "Let's have a little time to ourselves."

Jack grinned down at his wife, and grabbed both her hands in his. "You're as much of a scaramouche as you always were" ,he said fondly, "and I love you for it."

Jo reached up and kissed Jack tenderly on the cheek, "I love you too." then with a quick pat on the shoulder, "Last one to the gate is a rotten egg!" before she dashed off.

Jack laughed and chased after her, grabbing and tickling her just before she reached the door. With a soft kiss, and a little push, he raced past her down the lawn.

"Jack, Jack, JACK!" she squealed as she slid down towards him across the icy grass.

"What's that rotten egg?" he asked from where he was standing, slightly out of breath at the gate.

Jo burst out giggling as she reached him, "Thank goodness the School is on holiday just now. Can you imagine what they would think if they could see the way the respectable head doctor of the Sanatorium was acting?"

"And what about you, esteemed authoress and Mother of twelve?" asked Jack teasingly, as he scraped together some snow and threw it at her.

"Ughh Jack." was Jo's response as she ducked out of the way, before pelting him back, "You make me sound so old!"

"Well by golly Jo my lass, we are rather getting on a bit." said Jack placidly.

"JAAAACKK" wailed Jo rising completely.

Jack ignored her temper, "Let's go for a stroll" he said, grabbing her arm, "I never do seem to get to see you."

Jo grinned at him cheekily. "We should soon get tired of each other I expect. We'll have plenty of time together once we are both firmly established in rocking-chairs on the front porch, and your sandy hair will have turned a whiter shade of grey than it is now."

"My gray hair indeed." said Jack indignantly, "You stop wittering on and let me kiss you before we are so far emaciated that we can no longer move without the assistance of our canes."

And before his wife could protest he gathered her into his arms.

Chapter 14 by brie

Cecil gave the piano one final vicious thump before slamming the lid down. She was not musical. She could sing averagely, and she could play the piano very averagely but that was the extent of her talents. Piano practice was not one of her prefered pastimes.

There was a light knock on the door. Guiltily, she started picking up the sheet music which was scattered carelessly about her feet.

"Cecil." Daphne's voice was little louder than a whisper, as she stood timidly by the door.

"Yes?" asked Cecil sighing inwardly.

"Are you finished practising? People are starting to come to the door."

"Yes, yes. I'm finished," she grinned, "It's not like i'm ever going to improve. Are you alright Daph? You look pale."

"I'm okay." said Daphne in her quiet way.

"Well there's no need to be so shy anyway. I can hardly hear you." said Cecil bluntly.

Daphne's face fell. "I'm so sorry" she cried, "But there is so many of you, and you are all so loud, and you know each other so well, and i'm all alone."

Cecil looked at her cousin blankly unsure what to say. "I've been so worried about saying the wrong thing, and yet there I went, just saying the first thing that came into my head. Sorry Daphne I didn't mean to make you cry. I'm just not very good at this sort of thing.." she trailed off.

Daphne didn't say anything, and Cecil suddenly realised how unexpected that little outburst had been. "Well" she said bravely, "I expect we should go along and meet the crowds. It will be alright Daph" then after a slight hesitation, "you just stick with me."

Daphne edged closer, and her face was worryingly pale.

Cecil gritted her teeth, and tried to keep her temper as best as she could. She really had no idea how to handle Daphne.

"Come on." she said as cheerfully as she could at last, "There's not so many of us really. There's the van Aldins, Elise and Meg. They are staying with Aunt Grizel, so you probably met them briefly. Elise is friends with Fliss so she wont really bother us, and when it's not term time she's alright. Just don't try anything funny with her in School. She is Head girl after all. Meg's one of us and she's in my form at school, she's a good egg. They'll probably bring Nigel, John and Heather. But you've met them already too. I won't deny it- those three are loud, but even Nigel's only thirteen and the rest of us are vaguely sensible or," she conceded "We can be when we like. Then theres the Rosomons- they are sort of our cousins you know- Tony is the same age as us two more or less. He's a bit of a lark, he likes playing practical jokes and stuff but don't worry he won't pick on you or anything and he worships the ground Felix walks on. I never have understood why though, I must admit. Peter is the same age as Pip and Geoff but he's awfully quiet, you probably won't really notice him, except that he's frightfully sensible. Mary is the last and she's a year or so younger than Claire but her and Pip are awful good friends out of school. Now i've been yabbing long enough. Theres also the Peters, and the Courvouisors and the Graves's and that is all. Oh except, Jen McLaren and the Helston's might come too but they live a bit farther afield so you never know."

Then not waiting to see the effects of her speech on her cousin, Cecil simply grabbed Daphne's arm and wheeled her towards the door. They had just left the room when there was a wild shriek of "CECEY" which could have rivalled even one of Cecil's patent yells.

"Guita!" shrieked Cecil in reply at the full pitch of her lungs. Forgetting her promise of a mere moment before to her cousin she made a bee-line for her partner in crime.

Elise van Aldin momentarily forgot that it wasn't term-time and automatically started towards the pair to seperate them. They were afterall sworn enemies of the prefects, and major thorns in the head girls side.

Guita turned a pair of extremely cheeky brown eyes on her headgirl. "Elise you can't seperate us" she laughed, "It's not school!"

Elise grinned, "Perhaps not, but you can't blame a girl for worrying. You two reunited after the best part of two weeks apart, its enough to turn my hair grey thinking what you might get up to!"

Cecil looked indignant. "We're seniors. We behave... well mostly... that you know about..." she trailed off.

Elise chuckled "Wait until you are prees. You'll even get the dubious joys of Phil and Marienne von Ahlen being in the fourth. I tell you it's karma." and she slid away leaving the two of them looking at each other in horror.

"I wonder" she said to Felicity, "If they look so horrified at the idea of being prefects some day or the idea that Phil and Marienne may get even more wild when they reach the fourth?"

Felicity laughed, "I can't say i'm not glad that we will be leaving before that monumentous occasion. Although I shouldn't admit it I've always been rather glad that Pippa and Marienne hate each other. I don't even want to think about the ideas they might come up with if they actually condescended to talk to each other."

"Don't worry, that's my guilty secret too." grinned Elise.

At that moment their attention was diverted by what appeared to be rapidly turning into a shouting match between Roddy and the infamous Phil.

Elise sighed, and mimed putting a hat onto her head. Felicity looked at her in confusion.

"It's my prefect hat, you had better put yours on too."

With that she started to walk towards the rabble, every inch the head girl and dripping icy disdain.

Without a word the chalet school girls melted away. Cecil and Guita took one look and left Phil to her fate. Cecil had also just realised that she had abandoned Daphne and grabbed Guita, and Elise's sister Meg to help track her down.

"Well...." drawled Elise, arriving just in time to see Phil hurl a book at Roddy.

Phil turned bright red and looked meaningfully at her shoes. Roddy turned to tell her to mind her own business and realised three things simultaneously. One: he had made a mistake asking Lise van Schweib to the dance. Two: this girl was bloody terrifying and Three: if she wanted him to play santa claus he was going to have to play santa claus.

Seth appeared at Felicty's side. He had spent the last ten minutes thoroughly enjoying himself as he took Phil's side in the argument and tried to convince an increasingly angry Roddy that he would be a perfect Santa Claus. Now he decided to retreat as quickly as possible and finding Felicity standing by herself he decided, somewhat nervously, to kill two birds with one stone.

"Lets get out of here before Roddy explodes." he said. "I know he'll give in eventually, but you know what he's like he'll need to have a temper tantrum first."

Chapter 14 by brie

Cecil gave the piano one final vicious thump before slamming the lid down. She was not musical. She could sing averagely, and she could play the piano very averagely but that was the extent of her talents. Piano practice was not one of her prefered pastimes.

There was a light knock on the door. Guiltily, she started picking up the sheet music which was scattered carelessly about her feet.

"Cecil." Daphne's voice was little louder than a whisper, as she stood timidly by the door.

"Yes?" asked Cecil sighing inwardly.

"Are you finished practising? People are starting to come to the door."

"Yes, yes. I'm finished," she grinned, "It's not like i'm ever going to improve. Are you alright Daph? You look pale."

"I'm okay." said Daphne in her quiet way.

"Well there's no need to be so shy anyway. I can hardly hear you." said Cecil bluntly.

Daphne's face fell. "I'm so sorry" she cried, "But there is so many of you, and you are all so loud, and you know each other so well, and i'm all alone."

Cecil looked at her cousin blankly unsure what to say. "I've been so worried about saying the wrong thing, and yet there I went, just saying the first thing that came into my head. Sorry Daphne I didn't mean to make you cry. I'm just not very good at this sort of thing.." she trailed off.

Daphne didn't say anything, and Cecil suddenly realised how unexpected that little outburst had been. "Well" she said bravely, "I expect we should go along and meet the crowds. It will be alright Daph" then after a slight hesitation, "you just stick with me."

Daphne edged closer, and her face was worryingly pale.

Cecil gritted her teeth, and tried to keep her temper as best as she could. She really had no idea how to handle Daphne.

"Come on." she said as cheerfully as she could at last, "There's not so many of us really. There's the van Aldins, Elise and Meg. They are staying with Aunt Grizel, so you probably met them briefly. Elise is friends with Fliss so she wont really bother us, and when it's not term time she's alright. Just don't try anything funny with her in School. She is Head girl after all. Meg's one of us and she's in my form at school, she's a good egg. They'll probably bring Nigel, John and Heather. But you've met them already too. I won't deny it- those three are loud, but even Nigel's only thirteen and the rest of us are vaguely sensible or," she conceded "We can be when we like. Then theres the Rosomons- they are sort of our cousins you know- Tony is the same age as us two more or less. He's a bit of a lark, he likes playing practical jokes and stuff but don't worry he won't pick on you or anything and he worships the ground Felix walks on. I never have understood why though, I must admit. Peter is the same age as Pip and Geoff but he's awfully quiet, you probably won't really notice him, except that he's frightfully sensible. Mary is the last and she's a year or so younger than Claire but her and Pip are awful good friends out of school. Now i've been yabbing long enough. Theres also the Peters, and the Courvouisors and the Graves's and that is all. Oh except, Jen McLaren and the Helston's might come too but they live a bit farther afield so you never know."

Then not waiting to see the effects of her speech on her cousin, Cecil simply grabbed Daphne's arm and wheeled her towards the door. They had just left the room when there was a wild shriek of "CECEY" which could have rivalled even one of Cecil's patent yells.

"Guita!" shrieked Cecil in reply at the full pitch of her lungs. Forgetting her promise of a mere moment before to her cousin she made a bee-line for her partner in crime.

Elise van Aldin momentarily forgot that it wasn't term-time and automatically started towards the pair to seperate them. They were afterall sworn enemies of the prefects, and major thorns in the head girls side.

Guita turned a pair of extremely cheeky brown eyes on her headgirl. "Elise you can't seperate us" she laughed, "It's not school!"

Elise grinned, "Perhaps not, but you can't blame a girl for worrying. You two reunited after the best part of two weeks apart, its enough to turn my hair grey thinking what you might get up to!"

Cecil looked indignant. "We're seniors. We behave... well mostly... that you know about..." she trailed off.

Elise chuckled "Wait until you are prees. You'll even get the dubious joys of Phil and Marienne von Ahlen being in the fourth. I tell you it's karma." and she slid away leaving the two of them looking at each other in horror.

"I wonder" she said to Felicity, "If they look so horrified at the idea of being prefects some day or the idea that Phil and Marienne may get even more wild when they reach the fourth?"

Felicity laughed, "I can't say i'm not glad that we will be leaving before that monumentous occasion. Although I shouldn't admit it I've always been rather glad that Pippa and Marienne hate each other. I don't even want to think about the ideas they might come up with if they actually condescended to talk to each other."

"Don't worry, that's my guilty secret too." grinned Elise.

At that moment their attention was diverted by what appeared to be rapidly turning into a shouting match between Roddy and the infamous Phil.

Elise sighed, and mimed putting a hat onto her head. Felicity looked at her in confusion.

"It's my prefect hat, you had better put yours on too."

With that she started to walk towards the rabble, every inch the head girl and dripping icy disdain.

Without a word the chalet school girls melted away. Cecil and Guita took one look and left Phil to her fate. Cecil had also just realised that she had abandoned Daphne and grabbed Guita, and Elise's sister Meg to help track her down.

"Well...." drawled Elise, arriving just in time to see Phil hurl a book at Roddy.

Phil turned bright red and looked meaningfully at her shoes. Roddy turned to tell her to mind her own business and realised three things simultaneously. One: he had made a mistake asking Lise van Schweib to the dance. Two: this girl was bloody terrifying and Three: if she wanted him to play santa claus he was going to have to play santa claus.

Seth appeared at Felicty's side. He had spent the last ten minutes thoroughly enjoying himself as he took Phil's side in the argument and tried to convince an increasingly angry Roddy that he would be a perfect Santa Claus. Now he decided to retreat as quickly as possible and finding Felicity standing by herself he decided, somewhat nervously, to kill two birds with one stone.

"Lets get out of here before Roddy explodes." he said. "I know he'll give in eventually, but you know what he's like he'll need to have a temper tantrum first."

Chapter 16 by brie

"We have to find Daphne." stated Cecil to her friends once they had left the room. She had to admit she didn't want Fliss to know she had already lost her.

"Who's Daphne?" asked Guita as Meg simultaneously asked "Do you think Phil will be okay?"

"Pip?" said Cecil, "Of course. Elise will just glare at her a bit, then glare at Roddy a bit and hopefully agree with Pippa that Roddy should be Santa Claus in the parade. She can hardly punish them its not term and Roddy not a chalet school girl, at least not that I know of." then turning to Guita, "Daphne's my cousin. I'm sort of supposed to be looking after her..." she trailed of guiltily.

"Well can't she look after herself?" asked Guita nonplussed, "Is she just a kid? Why on earth did Aunt Joey entrust her to you?"

"Don't be mean Guita." scolded Meg. "I'm sure Cecils doing a bang up job... well 'til now anyhow..."

"She's not a little kid." Cecil herself interrupted now, "She's our age and she's very shy."

Guita looked unimpressed.

"Guita" started Cecil somewhat indignantly, "We can't all be like you (and well me and Meg) she's never even been to school before and her brothers and sisters are awfully older than her and she was ill and oh there's all sorts of reasons, so don't you be looking down on her like that. She's my cousin and i'm going to look out for her!" and Cecil stamped her foot.

"Okay, okay" said Meg playing peacekeeper, "Guita you don't know this girl give her a chance. Cecil you're sixteen not five. Why don't we just try and find your cousin. Maybe if she knows all three of us she'll come back down."

"It was my fault she left." said Cecil somewhat ashamed, "I said I would stick with her this afternoon, and then I saw you Guita- and well I forgot all about her."

"It'll be fine Cecey." comforted Meg, "you're only human."

"Well we might as well get this over with." groaned Guita, "Will we try her room? Lead on Cece."

Upstairs Cecil knocked on the door of Daphne's room.

"Daph it's me. I'm sorry I left you like that, but I've brought up a couple of my friends to meet you."

"Go away!" came the muffled reply.

"At least she's got some spunk." said Guita, "I thought she sounded like an awful goody good the way you were talking earlier Cecey." then she raised her voice. "Hi Daphne i'm Guita one of Cecils friends from school. Cecey knows she's made an ass of herself and if you're worried about meeting everyone well now at least you'll have met Meg and me. And you missed the greatest fight between Phil and Roddy."

"Oh really Guita" interrupted Meg" as if thats helping. Hi Daphne I'm Meg we met for like five minutes the other week remember. Look both Guita and Cecil come from big families but well for me theres always just been me and my older sister Elise. The first time we stayed on the Platz in the school holidays (you can probably tell from my voice that i'm american)."

"Probably?" muttered Cecil sotto voce.

Meg glared at her friend before carrying on, "and even though we stayed with Elise's godmother, Grizel Sheppard that you stayed with, meeting everyone, and everyone living inside each others pockets and everyone knowing everyone else was quite weird at first and it takes some getting used to. You've had it worst really staying with the Maynards, oh stop squealing Cecil your families massive and you know it, but really if you can get along with all these crazy people then I can assure you the rest of us are quite tame."

Finally Meg stepped away from the door, to be encountered with Cecil's glare.

"Oh Cece your crazy in the loveliest way possible and you know it." she hugged her friend.

Cecil giggled "gerrof me already." then to the door, "Daph i'm coming in."

There was no reply so Cecil slowly opened the door.

"Oh no" was all she said. The room was empty.

"I guess your Maynards are crazy speech didn't soothe her down then." said Guita with the a hint of a grin.

"Guita shut up and look at the wondow." and Cecil grabbed her friend.

"Oh the silly idiot." Guita stared at the open window.

"Well come on we have to go get her."

***

"Fliss! Fliss" shrieked Cecil at the full pitch of her lungs as she barrelled into the room. She almost cannoned into the two people standing so close together but she was so upset she hardly even noticed Seth's presence.

"Cecil." Felicity grabbed her sister. "What is going on? What are you doing barging in here like that." she sounded annoyed.

Cecil lifted tearful eyes to her sister. "Oh Fliss its all my fault." she trembled.

"Cecey, are you crying?" said Felicity startled, pulling her sister into her arms.

She looked questioningly at her sister's friends clustered in the doorway. She hadn't seen Cecil cry since Bruno died four years ago.

"It's Daphne" mustered Guita at last, "She's run away."

"Run away?" exclaimed Felicity. "But where? Does she even have any money? The trains aren't even running now it's Christmas time."

"We don't know." shrugged Meg. "She vaulted out of her bedroom window."

"Daphne." repeated Felicity slowly, "Her bedrooms on the second floor."

All Meg could do was shrug.

"Look Guita put on you outdoor things and check she's not just in the garden, she might have fallen" said Felicity taking control. "Meg go with her check the cloakroom and see if her coats still there, its brown none of the rest of us have a brown winter coat."

Once the others had left she continued, "Cecey, dearest, you need to pull yourself together just for now okay, I don't want the kids worrying and I need you. Now come on." and she pulled her sister up.

Felicity marched into the room, with Cecil and Seth on her heels.

"Fliss there you are. Guess what?" said Elise flashing one of her biggest smiles, "We've found ourselves a Santa Claus. Roddy's just volunteered."

"Great." Felicity forced something close to a smile, "Can I speak to you two outside for a second. Now."

Elise and Roddy looked at her curiously but followed her out. Phil pushed by trying to come to.

Felicity turned to her little sister. "Pippa I know you want to be involved but I need you to do me a huge favour. Stay here. Look after the little ones and generally be in charge. Please." Felicity was coming as close to begging as she knew how.

With a mutinous glare, and a questioning look at Cecil Phil went back into the room and closed the doors.

Meg came running back at that moment. "Everything's still here."

Cecil looked at her sister scared. "It's okay Cecey. You two look round the whole of the rest of the house. I know you think she's gone but she might have come back in and is hiding away please."

"Daphne's gone missing" she said to the people left, "she ran away, no coat, no nothing. Seth you go back inside and take charge if you don't mind. You don't know your way round the Platz." Seth looked about to argue with this but she wasn't even looking at him anymore so he shut up. "Roddy go down and tell Anna whats going on, she can let Mama and Papa know as soon as they get back and run a hot bath and whatever else. Then if you head off on the main road towards the San. Elise you head off towards the houses. She might unconsiously be going back to Auntie Grizels. I'll go find Felix and then i'll head up past the school and towards the Auberge, and that just leaves Felix the last main-ish road down towards the train station she won't know the trains are off."

None of them asked what happened if she had gone off the main paths.

Roddy sloped of to the kitchen. Elise hugged her friend before heading to the cloakroom for her coat and boots "lets all meet back here in an hour." she said.

"Where's Felix anyway?" asked Felicity of Seth, who was still standing there looking hesitant.

He went slightly red before replying, "I don't know. We had a bit of an argument."

Felix burst through the door at this moment, "Sis whats going on? Pip looks ready to burst with curiousity." he saw the two of them standing together in the hall, and barged his way in between them.

"Come on Felix" she said looking at the two of them in confusion, "I'll explain on the way. Get your boots on."

The two of them left and Seth was left standing in the hallway. Briefly he closed his eyes, before taking a deep breath and going back into the room

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