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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.




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