“Hilda! Hilda, wake up!”
Hilda opened her eyes reluctantly in response to the call, wondering why on earth her partner had such a deep aversion to sleeping in occasionally. ‘Just for once, couldn’t she simply get up quietly, and let me sleep?’ she thought grumpily, as she looked around for Nell.
“What is it?” she asked of the tall figure by the window, her voice still sleepy.
“Can’t you hear? There’s a blizzard outside,” Nell replied rather grimly, turning round to look at her.
Wide awake now, Hilda sat bolt upright in the bed, meeting Nell’s eyes in dismay. “A blizzard? But that means…”
“That we’re trapped in the School on Christmas Eve,” Nell finished the sentence. Stalking back across the room, she flung herself down on the bed and glared at the ceiling, muttering a stream of invective directed at the Swiss weather. Hilda lay back down next to her, sighing, and waited for Nell to run down. She knew from long experience that interrupting would simply mean coming in for a share of the insults herself!
“We should have listened to Joey when she said she could squeeze us in at Freudesheim, instead of insisting on staying at the School,” Nell said presently, having exhausted her long and colourful list of adjectives.
“Must I remind you why we insisted on staying here?” Hilda asked, one eyebrow raised, and Nell smirked.
“Oh, I think I remember,” she answered, and rolled over to kiss her.
A few minutes later, they pulled apart, both smiling now.
“What can we do about the blizzard?” Nell asked, returning to their problem.
“Wait for it to blow itself out, I suppose. What else?” Hilda replied, thinking. “We can’t possibly go out in it… We could try to phone the Maynards if by some miracle the lines aren’t down, but that’s all I can think of.”
“Freudesheim isn’t very far - ” Nell began, and was cut off by Hilda’s strictest tones.
“Nell Wilson, don’t you even think of trying to get across! It’s madness, as you know perfectly well.”
“All right, it was just an idea,” Nell said, attempting to pacify her.
“One of the worst you’ve ever had! Aren’t you supposed to be a sensible, weatherwise Guide Captain?” Hilda replied, frowning, then couldn’t help smiling at Nell’s grimace on hearing this description of herself.
“What a romantic picture you paint of me, love,” she complained.
“It’s not a very accurate one, if that’s any consolation,” Hilda said teasingly. “I would never describe you as sensible, and as for weatherwise, I don’t recall you predicting this blizzard.”
“Oddly enough, an ability that is based around observing weather signs isn’t much good when I’m asleep!” Nell retorted. “Well, we may as well get up now, and see if we can get in touch with the Maynards.”
Hilda nodded, though not without a longing thought of her projected lie-in. “We could do some work after, while we’re waiting to see if the weather clears.”
“What fun,” Nell said sarcastically. “Oh, I know it needs to be done, but on Christmas Eve? Have a heart, Hilda!”
“Just until lunchtime, I promise,” Hilda answered, rising and pulling on her kimono.
Nell looked at Hilda’s bedside clock and pulled a face. “That’s hours away!”
“It would be less if you’d stop waking up so ridiculously early,” Hilda pointed out with her sweetest smile from the doorway, then swiftly vanished before Nell could reply.
Left alone, Nell contented herself with sticking her tongue out at the place where her friend had stood, and began to get ready for the day, devoutly hoping the snowstorm would blow itself out soon.