Disclaimer: I'm only borrowing these ladies - nobody will profit by their conversations (because squee is free).
"We're putting a band poster above our bed? Are you at all serious, Luce?"
"It's not a band poster, it's Amanda Palmer. What on earth do the het folks listen to these days?"
"Oh I know who she is, Tessa emailed me all excited when the thing with Neil Gaiman thing happened. . . isn't he a bit old for some crowd-surfer in a fairy costume? Or is she a pirate?"
"That's just her performance clothes. She's all sorts of crazy - maybe she'll dress up as a robot next time."
"Well it's not going above our bed, that's certain. I feel like I'm back at uni."
"It is, because it's perfect with the paint you picked. Who, in this room right now, gets paid every day to make things pretty by adding just the perfect finishing touches?" Luce tossed the packet of thumbtacks down to her girlfriend and finished fastening the poster as she continued her previous thought. "And you are, you know. In a way."
"Am what? And we're at least getting a frame for it."
"Ah, the great AFP, in state! I see scrolls and gold leaf. But I mean, the youthfulness of it. You get all that again now. Didn't you sort of skip it the first time?"
"I didn't skip it" Rachel stepped up behind her girlfriend, bouncing slightly on the bed. "I just did the important bits. School, fancy job, marriage…"
"Exactly. And the dancing and karaoke and snogging in public toilets?"
"If you'll remember, that last one would have been a little challenging until this year . . . "
"Mm, lost time to make up for then." Lucy turned from the poster, wrapping her arms around Rachel's waist with a grin.
"Not now, you." Rachel brushed a quick kiss across Luce's cheek and stepped back down. "Your best girl is coming by to approve the new colours. Maybe if I'm lucky she'll help me convince you to take the awful fringed curtain down."
"Oi, that curtain defines the space without mucking up the light, I'll have you know. And you," Lucy paused, catching Rachel's hand and moving around to face her, "are my best girl." She dipped her head slightly, and Rachel relented with a laugh, tilting her chin up and pressing a warm kiss to Luce's lips.
"And you're still a woman after my own heart."
Lucy followed Rachel out, pausing to admire the new arrangement of what had, until recently, been her solo bedroom. The doorbell rang, and she grinned as she listened to her oldest friend's commentary, which began before they'd even exchanged greetings.
"Well this is a lovely start. Newspaper flooring. All the rage, I say!" Edie Jones had many strong points, but self-restraint was not among them.
"Oh shush, Edie." Luce said. "Here, show her paint colours we tested in the kitchen, Rachel. That'll give her some distraction before she decides we've creating installation art and starts trying to sell tickets."
Quick hugs all round and Lucy moved away, laying Edie's coat on the bed - despite the cold weather the coat rack was still piled in a corner with other odds and ends of furniture while they prepped the hall for painting. She paused again, listening to the scraps of conversation as her best friend and her girlfriend discussed pale yellow versus pale green. It had been a whirlwind few months, and despite how comfortable and long-established her relationship with Rachel seemed, it felt like much about their shared lives was still in transition.
Rachel and Luce had neither the money nor the inclination to move into the lushly appointed flat that had been Rachel and Heck's home through their engagement and short marriage. After a couple of months when Rachel stayed with her parents or - more frequently - with Luce's mother, with whom she got on startlingly well, they had decided that Lucy's flat could be taken from its current serviceable state to something cozy and inviting. So now, three months after Rachel's tumultuous birthday, they were nesting.
Lucy twitched the bedroom curtains back, fixing them so that the room was receiving as much light as possible. Edie's careful help in appointing the flower shop two years ago had acquainted her with her friend's critical eye for color and light. Somehow her friend's approval of their newly decorated bedroom felt symbolic to Lucy, as if it involved more than just the design decisions, and instead was a signal of the life that Lucy and Rachel could build as a couple, regardless of their unconventional beginning.
Lucy was still somewhat shocked at how well her consistently irreverent friend got on with the sometimes hesitant, sometimes impulsive Rachel. They seemed to bring out the best in each other. In the course of the time the three had spent together over the last three months, Lucy had learned more about her friend's adolescence and coming out than she'd ever known in the years just after university when both topics had been the frequent subject of laughter-filled stories. Lucy drifted towards the kitchen, smiling at the lack of bravado in her friend's tone as she listened to Edie prompt Rachel's current train of thought.
"After dealing with the lease on the other flat, and with divorce paperwork that spans god knows how many countries, how many continents, by now, this is the easy bit, you know? This is stuff I'm good at - choosing towel colors and changing the address on magazine subscriptions and figuring out where we'll do which holidays. Is it terribly straight or terribly . . . I don't know, wifey of me to wish I could just stay in this phase for a bit?"
"Of course not, babe. It's great that making these decisions together is fun for you two. So long as it's not the prelude to you both being total shut-ins I think it's wonderful."
"But that's just it." Rachel sighed a bit, and shifted in her chair. "I'm so happy sticking here after all the change, I sort of want to stay in this phase for as long as I can to . . . to compensate, I suppose, for having no idea about what the next steps are. I've spent the last three months coping with crazy, trying to act normal when I actually feel ecstatic about everything with Luce. I have no frame of reference for the queer community beyond you two. I'm worried that the first time we end up . . . god, who knows? . . . at a dance club or a poetry reading I'll just bollocks it all up and stick out like this little straight girl who's tagging along."
"Alright silly, stop there. First off, poetry readings? Really? If that's still our image I think you'd better quit that magazine job and start the Greater London Bureau of Lesbian Public Relations to get word out as quick as possible that queer culture is not stuck permanently in 1989. I mean, yes, poets, history, all that, and the last poet I dated - my goodness was she something. But Rach, I've got to tell you, Luce is out and about with you now more than she has been in years. Isn't that right, Lucy?"
"I don't know," Luce joined the other two at the table, spinning her chair around so she was straddling it. "I seem to remember a rousing good time in the A&E waiting room a while back."
"Oh shut it!" Edie wrinkled her nose in mock indignation. "Looking after the fallout of my tumultuous social life is a far sight off from having one yourself."
"Yeah, I know I'm a hermit, but with my mum having a hard time and everything there's been no time . . ."
"Sod time, Luce. You're scared. Face it - and back me up here, Rach - you sit in Flowered Up every day helping other people be romantic, and once closing time comes around your brain's so stuck in flowers and ribbons and romantic fluff that you forget to have fun."
"It's true, Luce. I mean, if you ever stop being all mushy I'll be looking to see where the trouble is, but we should have some adventures. I assumed you were toning down your big gay night life so I wouldn't be intimidated."
"Ok, yes, yes, fine, you're right . . . " Luce interrupted, paused as if she wasn't quite sure what came next, and reached up to re-settle the greenery around the vase of roses in the middle of the table to buy herself time to think. "What about a deal?"
Rachel and Edie exchanged glances, Rachel's excited and hopeful look turning mischievous as she caught Edie's knowing eye-roll.
"You two make the plans," said Luce, "and I'll come along. No matter what it is, no complaining. Edie, you get to expose my dear impressionable Rachel's mind to whatever's going on that's fabulous, and Rach, you get complete control over exactly which of Edie's bizarre plots you drag me into."
"So, you mean it'll just like always, except you'll actually leave your front door instead of making up elaborate excuses about deadheading gladioli?"
"And I'll be in charge of making decisions, rather than bumbling along into things I've got no idea about?" Rachel grinned and bounced out of her chair. "I like it! And if I wanted to make you blush, Luce dear, I could say that you know exactly how good I am at being in charge." She pulled away the cardigan that was draped over Luce's shoulders, dropping a quick kiss on the top of her girlfriend's head before shrugging the wool around her own shoulders and doing up the buttons. "If it's all the same then, I'll just run down to the corner for a Time Out - no point in waiting, I imagine there are some fun listings for tonight."
Edie grinned and shook her head as the front door slammed. "I know I've said it before, but you've got yourself quite a catch, there. Any chance you could find me a girl like her? Will I know her by the white dress, maybe?" Te two friends dissolved, Luce still blushing, and laughed until they were breathless.
Rachel thumbed carefully through the paper as she strolled home. Perhaps she could find something unfamiliar to Edie as well, an event where they'd all be a little off balance. She grinned, and started searching for poetry readings.